Understanding Organic Food Labels

The amounts of goods our supermarkets offer and the variety in which most products come is vast. While most often a large range from which you can choose is highly desirable, at points it can become confusing. Every single add you see claims their product is the best, but in reality, you simply don’t have enough time and energy to comprehensively analyse each item and make sure you are truly purchasing the option that suits your needs the most. Food labels can be especially confusing since they contain names of additives and ingredients in their scientific form and it can be extra hard to know what you are buying. Although the word “organic” cannot be used on packaging unless the food lives up to it, there are still nuances to consider if you want a truly naturally grown food.

The standards

The standards

When we hear “organic”, we usually picture a field in a family-owned farm full of naturally grown and beautiful veggies or fruit that are handpicked by a happy farmer. In reality though, the label “organic” allows various non-organic ingredients that can sometimes amount to a staggering 5%. What is more, the standards for what counts as organic are being gradually lowered. The reasons are debatable, but essentially with the population we have on our planet, it is challenging to feed everyone, let alone produce a supply of organic food that matches the continuously growing demand. And especially when people want their food to look nice and taste good, both of which are truly difficult to achieve in organic farms.

What to look out for

First, for a truly organic food experience, it is up to the buyer to understand how the food is grown; this is at the core of organic farming. Non-organic substances may be used for treating the soil which is at the risk of contamination or significantly lacks fertility. Algicides, disinfectants, sanitizers, such as alcohol, chlorine, ozone gas products and others can all be used for such purposes in organic farms and can present an issue for those with extreme sensitivity. Herbicides used to prevent unwanted plants in the field or insecticides meant to protect the crops from insects can also be used in organic farms. However, the farms are obligated to inform the buyer one way or another about the means and substances they use to treat their food. You will most probably be able to find such information on the label and it is up to you how much of such materials you can or wish to tolerate in your food.

That being said, organic food does not just entail the way the food is grown, but also the way it is processed and where it is sourced. Although the list may vary country to country, there are numerous non-organic, non-synthetic or synthetic ingredients that are allowed in organic foods. Some of them might seem intimidating because an average buyer might not be familiar with their names, but most of them are more than safe to ingest. Remembering all of them could be a challenge, so a piece of advice would be to dedicate some time, take the list of allowed and forbidden ingredients, analyse one or two labels of products you eat all the time and see whether there are any ingredients that you are uncomfortable with.