FOOD LABEL TERMINOLOGY
So what exactly are those terms we’re seeing in our grocery stores and all over the news lately? From natural to organic, grass fed to free range, gluten, sulfites, probiotics, gmos, non gmo… the labels can get confusing really fast.
Many of the terms can be misleading and, in fact, may benefit the purveyors of the health food industry more than the individuals they’re supposedly designed for.
ANTIOXIDANTS We all know that antioxidants are good for you, ne even essential in helping to prevent cancer and other detrimental health problems, but many of us don’t quite understand how they work. Here’s the skinny. Poor dietary choices, environmental pollutants, aging and stress can lead to a buildup of Free Radicals in the body. When these free radicals begin to oxidize they can start the process towards developing heart disease, cancer, stroke, etc. Antioxidants work by blocking these free radicals from oxidation, thus keeping your cells in perfect working condition.
CAGE-FREE or FREE RANGE refers to chickens or other animals not kept in small cages. Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean that they’re living at the Holiday Inn either. Many “cage-free” chickens are actually squashed together in small spaces like elephants in an anthill. A better bet is to buy USDA Certified Organic eggs as these hens are regularly inspected to make sure that they’re living conditions are fair. Your best bet is simply to know where the hens are living. Happy hens produce the best tasting eggs. At Tiller & Rye, we want to offer as many local products as possible so you can assure customers that our cage-free chickens and eggs actually do have happy lives.
CERTIFIED HUMANE is a volunteer based program where farmers pay a fee to have their animals inspected for humane welfare treatment by the USDA and Humane Farm Animal Care.
CERTIFIED ORGANIC refers to products that have been inspected by the National Organic Program of the USDA and meet strict federal standards.
ESSENTIAL OILS are concentrated liquids containing aroma compounds from the plant it is derived from. They can be used for medicinal and therapeutic benefits and can be heated to penetrate the air, applied topically or, in some cases, ingested.
FATS who knew there were this many? Fats are necessary to good health. They provide insulation, “production of hormones and transport of vitamins”
Monounsaturated Olive oil, sunflower oil.
Polyunsaturated Fish oil, flaxseed oil
Saturated are usually from animals and have been known to raise levels of harmful cholesterol
Trans are man-made and are known for (being bad for health)
Unsaturated often are derived from plants and have positive benefits to health
FLAVANOIDS sound like tasty monsters from “Tremors” but they’re really just a group of chemical compounds acting as antioxidants. More than half of the flavanoid benefits to U.S. consumers are found in teas with White Tea carrying the most, followed by Green and then Black.
GLUTEN/GLUTEN FREE Gluten is a protein “found in grains like wheat” that gives elasticity to dough. Many people have adverse reactions to gluten while those with Coeliac Disease can’t break down gluten in their small intestine.
GMO stands for genetically modified organism. Currently, the two most popular reasons for genetic medications are for pest and virus resistance… chew on that for a second. Add to that the fact that fifteen nations in the EU, all of Russia, Australia and even China require the labeling of GMOs, the U.S. still does not.
GRASS FED refers to animals that are raised in a pasture on a forage based diet. To be certified as grass fed by the Food Alliance, farmers must meet standards for humane animal care, soil and water conservation and protection of wildlife habitat. Additionally, animals may not be fed grain or grain by-products, or receive hormone or antibiotic treatments of any kind. Food alliance also ensures animals spend the majority of their lives on pasture or range.
IRRADIATION is a method of preserving food with ionizing radiation
NATURAL refers to foods which contain no artificial preservatives or sweeteners, no pesticides and no antibiotics or growth hormones. While this term is not regulated by the USDA, many farmers use it as opposed to being Certified Organic due to the fees associated with federal regulations. This not only keeps the cost down for producers but for the consumers as well. At Tiller & Rye, we want to support local farmers as much as possible so we will source from multiple farmers who aren’t Certified Organic. Rest assured, these products actually are being raised and cultivated free from added toxins and inhumanity.
OMEGA FATTY ACIDS are thought to provide a wide range of health benefits. Some foods that provide omega -3 fatty acids are fish oil and certain plant and nut oils. They come in three main types: EPA, DHA, and ALA
PASTEURIZED/UNPASTEURIZED or RAW refers to the process by which food (usually dairy) is heated to a certain temperature to kill off certain pathogens. Raw milk is unpasteurized and sought after due to the belief that the pasteurization process actually kills of essential nutrients in the heating process. For example, studies have shown a positive correlation between consuming raw milk and lower rates of asthma.
PREBIOTICS are found in the intestine and serve as a food source for Probiotics
PROBIOTICS are a type of good bacteria found in the intestinal tract that aid in healthy digestion.
SULFITES are a group of sulfur based compounds that may occur naturally or be added to food as an enhancer or preservative.