'Eco-Friendly' Food Labels Are So Confusing They're Meaningless

Rant 2

Food labelsOrganic. Eco-Friendly. Natural. Pasture-raised. Grass-fed. So many foods making claims that they're better for you. So little time to figure out what it all means. Food labels, catering to our desire to feed our families the healthiest and most environmentally-friendly food we can, have become as common and as useful as Kardashian tweets.

Hundreds of new food labels have popped up on both fresh and processed grocery store items in the past few years, and it's enough to make your head spin. But do eco-claims actually mean anything?

While many labels can be helpful in helping us choose food from producers who care about our health and the environment, a lot of them seem to be nothing but hot air.

On the plus side, USDA-certified organic food is regulated by the government, so producers have to meet government guidelines to put that label on their food. But even then, "100 percent organic" means what it says. Food labeled "organic" needs to have 95 percent organic ingredients. "Made with organic ingredients" means 70 percent must be organic. That leaves wiggle room for 30 percent of a food to come from elsewhere. If nearly one-third of your ingredients aren't organic, how can you even be allowed to use the word?

If you're gung-ho about making sure you make the healthiest choices for you and your family (which, who isn't?), there's some help. Consumer Reports has an online tool to help you make sense of some food labels. But having to cross-check everything you want to buy against a database is irritating.

The FDA clearly needs to step up its game and create a more reliable, more accurate system for labeling foods so that we know more about what we're buying. Without real information, how can we be sure? What consequences are there for people who lie?

It's frustrating for sure. Kinda makes you wish for the good old days when food didn't actually come with labels, doesn't it?

Do you think food labels are helpful or misleading?


Image via libertygrace0/Flickr

eco-friendly, food, food benefits, organics


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lalab... lalaboosh

The only labeling I rely on is the ingredients list, organic certification (even if it's not 100% rad it's still less toxic), fair trade (most soaps and candies and sugars are brought to you by SLAVE LABOR, often child slaves who were kidnapped), and on diary I look to see if it was made with milk from cows not treated with growth hormones. My advice to those who want to shop eco friendly is this: stop relying on shiny bright stickers and learn what is eco friendly and what is not. Avoid buying products with a lot of packaging (stop buying packaged produce!!), buy organic when you can because it's better for the environment, don't buy soaps with phosphates and things like that in them, see if your city has a composting program and start composting your pizza boxes and such (our city just has us put our compost scraps in with the yard waste), and most of all BUY LOCAL WHENEVER YOU CAN. Good luck, all.

lalab... lalaboosh

Dairy. Boo.


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