Organic Foods

In your quest for health I am sure by now you have heard of

organic foods. There are many different ways to define

“organic”. As of October, 2002, the USDA has implemented a

certification for all organic foods, which Wikipedia defines as

the following:

“Organic certification is a certification process for producers

of organic food and other organic agricultural products. In

general, any business directly involved in food production can

be certified, including seed suppliers, farmers, food

processors, retailers and restaurants. Requirements vary from

country to country, and generally involve a set of production

standards for growing, storage, processing, packaging and

shipping that include:

o avoidance of synthetic chemical inputs (e.g. fertilizer,

pesticides, antibiotics, food additives, etc) and genetically

modified organisms;

o use of farmland that has been free from chemicals for a number

of years (often, three or more);

o keeping detailed written production and sales records (audit

trail);

o maintaining strict physical separation of organic products

from non-certified products;

o undergoing periodic on-site inspections.

Certified organic producers are also subject to the same

agricultural, food safety and other government regulations that

apply to non-certified producer. Being able to put the word

“organic” on a food product is a valuable marketing advantage in

today’s consumer market. Certification is intended to protect

consumers from misuse of the term, and make buying organics

easy. However, the organic labeling made possible by

certification itself usually requires explanation.

In the US, federal organic legislation defines three levels of

organics. Products made entirely with certified organic

ingredients and methods can be labeled “100% organic”. Products

with 95% organic ingredients can use the word “organic”. Both

may also display the USDA organic seal. A third category,

containing a minimum of 70% organic ingredients, can be labeled

“made with organic ingredients”. In addition, products may also

display the logo of the certification body that approved them.

Products made with less than 70% organic ingredients can not

advertise this information to consumers and can only mention

this fact in the product’s ingredient statement. Similar

percentages and labels apply in the EU.”-Wikipedia

Things have certainly changed in the field of organic foods and

we should be encouraged but also cautious at the same time. The

words “natural” and “authentic” are being put on labels of foods

and supplements and should not be misinterpreted as “organic”.

This being said, we need to be diligent in learning the facts

and reading the labels very carefully! As you will see very

soon if not already, some of the commercial grocery store chains

are starting to tout their “organic” sections, but remember to

read those labels. Quite often there is not a clear separation

of certified organic foods and commercial foods in these stores.

Super store Wal-Mart even announced last month that it would

greatly expand its organic products nationally. We shouldn’t be

surprised at that since the $15 billion organic industry has

grown at least 20% annually for the past 15 years, according to

the Organic Trade Association. “Consumers’ awareness and demand

is now there,” says Howard Solganik, a consultant. “The big

retailers now believe they can sell reasonable quantities of

organics.”

These changes leave long time organic grocery chain Whole Foods

executives excited yet concerned. “This is the final sign that

we’re not a fad,” says Walter Robb, co-president of Whole Foods

185 stores in 30 states. But he adds: “They’re chasing our

shadow. We won’t be tomorrow what we are today.” He may very

well be correct. If consumers start buying in commercial stores

thinking that their new “organic sections” are all safe foods,

they may be sorely mistaken. The incentive to buy at the

commercial stores is obvious. There are more of them and based

on their high volume, they are able to get better deals on

pricing. The problem is, these stores will most likely be

buying products from large manufacturers who are also trying to

cash in on the rising healthy food demand.

What that means is, you may see more natural “wonder bread” type

products out there, so make sure you are reading labels to

ensure that these products still line up with what your body

needs. As an example, I tell patients to eat whole wheat breads

but many types of bread out there are labeled as wheat but still

enrich and bleach their flour so you need to read the labels

carefully and look for those key words.

Enriching involves the stripping out of over 40 vitamins and

minerals while putting back three B vitamins and iron,

typically. Hardly enriching by my definition! Bleaching is

just as it sounds, pouring bleach in with the dough. The food

industry can give as many reasons as they desire to explain why

they bleach, but the truth is, its BLEACH! Would you pour it on

your full dinner plates at home? Also, these breads which say

they are made from “wheat” may use hydrogenated oil and high

fructose corn syrup. Hydrogenated oil is the worst oil you

could give your body and high fructose corn syrup is not much

different when absorbed chemically in the body as white sugar or

sucrose.

I know you are striving for excellence, and for that I applaud

you! Make sure you take all the information in this article to

heart. This true info is being shared with you to prevent your

body from failing, so apply it into your lifestyle! Keep up the

good work, and I will speak to you again soon.

In health,

Thomas Von Ohlen, MS