Does Organic Mean the Food Is Healthy?

Natural, Organic and Healthy Road Signs

One of the main reasons that “shopping the periphery” of the grocery store is recommended by so many health experts is that the food industry is so rife with buzz words for brand marketing, and this makes it really difficult to make good food choices.  Words like organic, natural, vegan, vegetarian, diet, low-fat, and light can make things look like healthier choices.  Sometimes these foods are healthier choices, but it always takes careful reading and comparison of packaged products to tell which are healthier, and which are not.

Organic simply means they didn't use additional chemicals like pesticides, hormones, and antibiotics in the farming processes.  An organic ice cream is still an indulgence, full of fat, carbs, and largely empty calories.  Natural is an even dirtier word in the food industry.  It is a completely meaningless buzz word, and the FDA hasn't defined what it means exactly.  As a result the food industry abuses it, using it to draw health conscious consumers in. 

Other words that can be tricky in the labeling of products includes vegan, vegetarian, light, low-fat, diet, and even high-fiber.  Vegan only indicates that there are no animal products included, and these things can be as processed and salt, fat, preservative and carbohydrate ridden as any fast food value meal.  Similarly, vegetarian only indicates a lack of meat in a product. Diet, low-fat, reduced-fat and light designations indicate the use of artificial sweeteners instead of sugar, or the use of chemistry to replace fats for texture in things like sour cream. 

High fiber is a very specific label that tells the consumer nothing except that there is fiber.  Sugar, fats, and all manner of other chemicals can be included with the fiber content.  Label reading is the only answer to packaged foods like these, as these marketing ploys are the food industry's way to lure consumers back out of the periphery of the grocery store.


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