Every day, more and more Americans are becoming aware of genetically modified organisms – GMOs – and the frightening reality of a mainstream food supply that is for many intents and purposes, poisonous. Due to this welcome new awareness, organic foods are growing in popularity faster than ever before. Recent data provides that the majority of Americans, when given the choice, will choose to avoid eating genetically modified foods, and are seeking out organic options more often as the rule, rather than the exception. The FDA, in spite of this information, does not require disclosure from food manufacturers when their products contain genetically modified content. This is disturbing indeed, but, there is a reliable way to more effectively avoid brands that are guilty of peddling GM goods. The way to do this is to seek out and purchase products that have been awarded the distinction of being Certified Organic by the USDA.
When shopping for food, look for items that are specifically labeled “USDA Certified Organic”. According to the Organic Consumers Association, by taking this precaution, it’s much safer to conclude that the food you’re buying is free of GMOs because this is the only product label that is federally-regulated to prohibit the use of genetic engineering. Products that bear the seal are at least 95 percent organic, and no GMO ingredients were used in the manufacturing process. The remaining five percent of ingredients are required by law to be non-GMO. The seal is only awarded to products that pass a rigorous series of checks that are used to measure how they are brought to the consumer from the field to the fork.
Single-ingredient products such as fruit and vegetables or eggs can be labeled 100 percent organic under the USDA Certified Organic seal. The seal can also sometimes be found along with the word “organic” on select packages of meat and cheese, and containers of milk. Foods with multiple ingredients such as snacks, beverages, or breakfast cereal for example, fall into the category that is governed by the 95 percent rule. Varying proportions of organic ingredients are sorted by a classification system –
- Products that are completely organic, or comprised of entirely organic ingredients are 100% Organic
- Products that are no less that 95 percent organic are classed as Organic.
- Products that are no less than 70 percent organic are classed as Made with organic ingredients.
- Finally, products that contain less than 70 percent organic ingredients cannot be awarded the USDA seal, and are not allowed to use the word “organic” in their labeling. They can however list organic items in their breakdown of ingredients.
Be aware that the terms “organic” and “natural” on product labels are absolutely not one and the same. Since, as described above, items that contain less than 70 percent organic ingredients are not awarded the USDA Certified Organic seal, advertisers introduce the terms “natural and “all-natural” instead. This is merely jargon and these products have no legal distinction of being organic. Foods containing GMO ingredients are marketed as “natural” on a regular basis, and it’s important to keep this in mind.