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Organic Versus Non-GMO Labels

by Guest Blogger: Chris Bekermeier
(Hammond, IN)

The decision to eat healthy is not a difficult one. The challenge arises when a consumer examines labels at the grocery store in order to make the best selections. Some foods are labeled as “organic.” Others are labeled “non-GMO.” Both are perceived as healthier options than conventionally processed foods, but there are both subtle and significant differences between these two classifications, and it’s important to know what they are.

What does organic mean?

Foods certified as organic have experienced limited or no exposure to synthetic pesticides and certain fertilizers. Additionally, meat, eggs and dairy products that are certified organic must come from animals that were given organic feed — and no antibiotics, growth hormones or animal byproducts. Organic foods are often fresher, and organic farming practices are more environmentally friendly than more conventional farming methods.

What does Non-GMO mean?

Foods certified as “non-GMO” are less than one percent genetically engineered (or modified). Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are organisms that have been genetically altered, primarily to make plants be pesticide-resistant. Non-GMO plants, however, still can be grown using synthetic pesticides and can be fertilized with sewage sludge, for example, the same as GMO foods. This is an example of the difference between foods that are certified organic and non-GMO foods.

Look for the official seal.

In both cases, a consumer should look for a seal verifying the designation: “USDA Organic” or “Non-GMO Project Verified,” and not just a generic claim to be “organic” or “non-GMO.” When you understand the label meanings, you will have an easier time deciding what to buy. For this reason, PacMoore has created a infographic on the differences between organic and non-GMO labels. To view this infographic, click on this link.

Healthy eating starts with education.

A variety of factors have triggered a surge in interest in healthy diets. The availability of information, concerns about how synthetic ingredients and processes affect health, and environmental issues all have played key roles. A growing number of consumers are seeking organic and/or non-GMO products, with the goal of eating fresher foods that are free of chemicals, hormones and antibiotics, and which have not been subject to genetic engineering.

There is a new trend in farming.

There is also growing interest in “biodynamic” agriculture, which encompasses a holistic approach via the creation of a farming ecosystem that is in many ways self-sustaining. Ecological and ethical considerations are included, all with an end goal of producing food with enhanced nutrition, quality and flavor while being socially responsible.

Start with the facts.

A basic understanding of the “organic” and “non-GMO” labels is a good place to start so you can make informed choices at the grocery store.

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