There has been a lot of discussion about GMOs, Organic, Natural, Simple, Pure, and all of the other words surrounding food. It can be pretty confusing and a bit frustrating.
One of the biggest factors pushing the frustration is that the FDA has declined to set standards for the use of the word "Natural." This is not true with the word, "Organic." We know exactly what that means. I spelled it all out in this
blog post (you will want to click to read about what's the big deal!) but the bottom line is that the USDA has very strict standards that farmers have to meet in order to get the "Certified Organic" label for their food or other products. Lassen's supports organic farmers and producers, and all of our fresh produce (yes, 100% of it) is organically grown.
"Natural," however is murky.
This chart, from Stonyfield, is very helpful.
It also shows that "Natural" doesn't mean much. On the FDA website, they say this: "The agency has not objected to the use of the term if the food does not contain added color, artificial flavors, or synthetic substances." Okay, but a lot of the things in the right-hand column are things that I wouldn't consider natural. So when you see "Natural" on the label, you still need to check the ingredients.
One of the reasons the FDA seems reluctant to define the word "Natural" is that they don't want to take a stand on GMOs.
We attended a couple of lectures at a recent industry show that made me even more committed to organics. As you have probably heard, there is still a lot of discussion about whether Genetically Modified crops have a detrimental effect on health, but I was reminded that the reason that these crops are grown is so that the farmers can blast them with pesticides and herbicides until the cows come home. (Just a figure of speech--they are probably blasting the crops even after the cows come home!) GMO crops encourage the use of more of those toxic poisons on our food supply. So even if (and that is a big "if") GMOs are not harmful to our health, they are without a doubt harmful to our environment. According to just label it
, GE (Genetically Engineered) crops have increased herbicide use by 527 million lbs from 1996-2011. And 61.2 million acres of US farmland are infested with weeds that are now resistant to Roundup, so even more toxic herbicides are being dumped onto our food supply. Those chemicals are definitely harmful to our health.
Lassen's is exploring ways that we can support a better definition of "Natural," as well as partnering with the justlabelit movement. We encourage you to go to justlabelit.org
, learn more about GMOs, and then click on their "Take Action" tab. It's important to get GMO labeling on all products.
But GMO labeling is just a beginning--a first step in helping organic gain a greater foothold in our food supply. We can't be satisfied with GMO labeling, we have to have more access to organically grown and ethically sourced foods and products. This
article from NPR (please take the time to read this!) outlines how non-GMO is stealing a lot of Organic's thunder because if people are satisfied with non-GMO crops, thinking that they are comparable to organic (which they most decidedly are not) then they will be unwilling to buy organic. Just because it is non-GMO does not mean it has no pesticides, herbicides, hormones, steroids, artificial ingredients... You get my drift.
Lassen's will never forget that Organic Matters. We support efforts that move our country toward a more environmentally sustainable, more ethically sourced, and more healthy food supply. GMO labeling is a start. A better definition of Natural is a start. But Organic is the goal. Because it matters.