Organic vs. NON-GMO.
Which one is better?
Grocery shopping these days seems so much harder, doesn't it? Not only are there different terms and ingredients to be aware of, but food companies are becoming sneaky in how they market their products to make them seem better than they really are.
There’s a lot of confusion and debate about what non-GMO and organic labels really mean.
The labels are very different! It’s crucial to understand the difference if you want to pick out the healthiest and safest food for you and your family. Every time we decide to buy a product, we are supporting so much more than our bodies. We are shaping the landscape of the entire food system – everything from the environment, land, air, water to the farmers themselves. And this is why I want you to know the truth about the “Non-GMO” label and what it really means.
What exactly does the “Non-GMO Project” label mean?
The “Non-GMO Project” label only verifies that a product doesn’t contain genetically modified (GMO) ingredients (or technically less than 0.9% GMOs). While that is good, it’s not the whole story about what the product contains, how it was produced, and where it came from.
But when I have a choice, I always choose organic food because of these reasons…
Reasons why “Organic” beats “Non-GMO” every time:
If a food has a certified organic label, it is essentially GMO-free, but this label means many other things.
All organic foods are inherently “GMO-free” ― this is one of the many strict guidelines set forth by the USDA. These must be grown in a way that protects soil quality and without the use of most synthetic pesticides or fertilizers. For organic meat, animals must be raised in responsible living conditions that accommodate natural behaviors (like grazing) and cannot be administered antibiotics or growth hormones.
If a food has a “non-GMOs” label it may not necessarily be organic. This label literally means just one thing.
The Non-GMO Project’s label means only that the product has gone through the project’s lengthy verification process. All at-risk ingredients are tested for genetic engineering and annual audits are conducted to ensure high-risk products continue to adhere to their standards. Due to the limits of testing capabilities, however, this label doesn’t necessarily mean that the product is totally free of any GMOs — it only means the product is made up of 0.9 percent or fewer genetically-modified ingredients.
The non-GMO label claim is unregulated. Essentially anyone can say that their product is non-GMO, because the FDA has not set any standards to regulate the use of this claim on a label. This is not to be confused with the Non-GMO Project label, as they have a process for verifying whether products are non-GMO, and I feel that their label can be trusted (just as Whole Foods will only label products as non-GMO if they carry the Non-GMO Project verification label or are certified organic). However, some food manufacturers have been caught red-handed with unverified claims on their packages that say they are “non-GMO” when they really aren’t. As no independent 3rd party testing is required to verify their claims, there is some corruption going on. For instance, when Consumer Reports tested Xochitl tortilla chips with a non-GMO claim on the bag, they found GMO corn in them. Since most of these non-verified products have not been 3rd party tested and there are no government regulations, it’s not a reliable label claim.
Organic animals aren’t fattened up with growth-promoting antibiotics. The overuse of growth-promoting antibiotics is creating superbugs that could threaten the entire human population. Antibiotics have been used for years, not just to fight infection, but to fatten up farm animals. This use is polluting our environment, water and food supply. Studies show that antibiotics have the same consequences for us, and can fatten us up too. This is because antibiotics kill off healthy bacteria in the gut – beneficial bugs called probiotics that influence how we absorb nutrients, burn off calories and stay lean. Scientists have found that lean people have more of the good, anti-obesity bacteria in their guts, compared to people who are overweight. Growth-promoting antibiotics are only being used to increase industry profits and the best way to stop these practices is to refuse to buy products made with them.
There’s another big reason to eat organic… It can help you stay thin!
Organic foods prohibit many of the chemicals known as “obesogens” that trigger our bodies to store fat. Antibiotics, growth hormones, pesticides, and synthetic preservatives are just a few of the chemicals that researchers have defined as obesogens. The theory that obesogens in our food and environment could be making us fat has been gathering steam ever since researcher Paula Baillie-Hamilton published an article in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine in 2002, presenting strong evidence that chemical exposure caused weight gain in experimental animals. As reported in the New York Times piece, “Warnings From A Flabby Mouse”, exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals can cause weight gain. This is important because many of the synthetic pesticides that can be found on non-GMO conventional crops are endocrine disruptors. Also – the sewage sludge fertilizing some of these crops has been shown to contain endocrine disruptors. Minimizing your exposure to obesogens by choosing an organic diet may be the boost you need to lose weight and keep it off.
By choosing organic food you’ll automatically avoid most of the sickening ingredients. Chemicals like synthetic preservatives, synthetic pesticides, growth hormones and antibiotics are not used in organic food. These are the chemicals that can make you tired, wreck havoc on your skin, make you feel fat and miserable, even though you’ve been dieting and exercising like crazy. Even worse – they may put you at risk for scary, life-shortening diseases like cancer.
I’m not saying that all organic products are perfect. Some of them contain suspect chemicals, too.
While it’s best to choose organic unprocessed food whenever you have the opportunity, it’s still very important to read ingredient lists on organic packaged products. Some organic and non-GMO products contain unnecessary additives and non-organic additives that can be detrimental to your health and waistline. Look for (and avoid) these ingredients in organic and non-GMO foods:
- Hidden MSG – Although monosodium glutamate is prohibited in organic food, they can use other forms of free glutamic acid – such as Yeast Extract, Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, Autolyzed Yeast Extract, Textured Protein. These chemicals are excitotoxins and can greatly influence how much you eat.
- Carrageenan – It’s alarming that this is permitted in organic food. According to research conducted by The Cornucopia Institute, animal studies show that “food-grade carrageenan causes gastrointestinal inflammation and higher rates of intestinal lesions, ulcerations, and even malignant tumors”. Food grade “undegraded” carrageenan is contaminated with “degraded” carrageenan (the kind that’s not considered “food grade”). The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer and the National Research Council of the United States have both determined that degraded carrageenan is a carcinogen.
- Unhealthy Oils – Non-GMO canola oil is used in some products, but canola oil consumption is linked to vitamin E deficiency and a shortened life span in animal studies. Likewise, I often see sunflower and safflower oils on the label, which are very high in omega-6 fatty acids, and not the healthiest oil to use.
- Natural Flavors – These are not so “natural”, as they are created in a lab, may contain addicting chemicals and up to 100 secret ingredients.
If you know someone who needs to know this truth – please share this post with them! It’s so important that we keep spreading the word about what these labels really mean. The more we know, the better we all are!
What are some ways you keep your family healthy? Let me know in the comments below!
Yours in Health & Happiness,
P.S. Did you know that we offer Certified Organic SimTea and all of our other tea products are grown with NO pesticides, NO GMOs, NO artificial flavors/colors, NO fillers and NO corn/soy. You can't find this kind of tea in stores. In fact, we have each tea harvest tested by a third party to ensure the highest quality for our customers. How many other tea brands can say that? It's also amazingly delicious - try some for yourself today!