WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Food companies use cleverly crafted words and phrases to market their products in the hopes of swaying your buying decisions. But what do those labels really mean?
“Imagine this. You’re walking through the grocery store looking for container steaks to purchase. Reading the labels, you find steaks labeled as all-natural, organic and grass-fed. Which one do you choose?” asked Becca Lehman, 11th Grade Agriscience Student, Central Columbia High School.
The choices vary but do you know why?
According to the FDA, “organic” products must be produced using agricultural production practices that foster resource cycling, promote ecological balance, maintain and improve soil and water quality, minimize the use of synthetic materials, and conserve biodiversity.
There are strict guidelines when it comes to labeling food as “organic,” therefore, this may be worth shelling out a few extra bucks. But what about the term “all-natural?”
“The FDA and USDA aren’t inspecting those products to make sure. It’s kind of just the FDA is seeing the label and going ‘okay that’s a label we have.’ But it’s important that we know that those animals can still be given steroids, growth-promoting hormones or antibiotics. All-natural just means there’s no food coloring,” said Lehman.
“So I think that’s an important part of the conversation. We could not do what we do or be where we are without GE [genetically modified] crops and the engineering that we’ve done. Applied practices that are beneficial to larger society, no impacts to the environment and keep up fed every day. That’s an attribute to the farms and the science,” said Russell Redding, Secretary of Agriculture, Pennsylvania.
Back in January, the national bioengineered food disclosure standard went into effect, meaning companies are now required to give a disclosure that lets you know if you’re eating any bioengineered food. Bioengineering is just one of the scientific advancements that made it possible for the less than 2 percent of Americans who are farmers to feed our rising population.
When you see food labeled “non-GMO,” it’s important to know what can’t be genetically modified so you don’t pay more money just for the label.
“I think the marketplace is an opportunist, right. It is using terms and applying terms where the product itself can’t be engineered. There are only seven major crops in the country that actually have GE [genetic engineering] occurring to them. It’s not everything you see in the marketplace. I think that truth in advertising and how we present things is critical,” said Redding.
When choosing your food pay attention to the labels to know exactly what you’re putting in your body.