Category Archives: Gardening
I’ve heard many of you talk about eating healthier as a consequence of exercise. The more you exercise, the more fruits and vegetables you add in. You eat less processed foods, and eat things that are lighter, and digest more easily.
I’m sure you’ve seen the catch term on these products though. “All Natural” this and “100% Organic” that. But what the heck does it really mean? What is “All Natural?” Isn’t that kind of redundant? Isn’t all food from nature? The term “Organic” also can be pretty frustrating too. People like the sound of it. It seems healthier. When a situation is “organic” it often means it is awesome, unscripted and genuine. But what does it mean for food?
Here are some definitions according to the Food and Drug Administration:
What is the meaning of ‘natural’ on the label of food?
From a food science perspective, it is difficult to define a food product that is ‘natural’ because the food has probably been processed and is no longer the product of the earth. That said, FDA has not developed a definition for use of the term natural or its derivatives. However, the agency has not objected to the use of the term if the food does not contain added color, artificial flavors, or synthetic substances. Link
Wait what? So the FDA doesn’t regulate or have an official definition of what can be labeled “natural?” What about “Organic?”
Does FDA have a definition for the term “organic” on food labels?
No. The term “organic” is not defined by law or regulations FDA enforces. Link
Well… crap? What the heck have I been buying all this time thinking it was healthier. To dig a little deeper, I luckily found a helpful section on the FDA website labeled “Confusing Claims”
The terms “natural,” “healthy,” and “organic” often cause confusion. “Consumers seem to think that ‘natural’ and ‘organic’ imply ‘healthy,’” says Schneeman. “But these terms have different meanings from a regulatory point of view.”
According to FDA policy, “natural” means the product does not contain synthetic or artificial ingredients. “Healthy,” which is defined by regulation, means the product must meet certain criteria that limit the amounts of fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium, and require specific minimum amounts of vitamins, minerals, or other beneficial nutrients.
Food labeled “organic” must meet the standards set by the Department of Agriculture (USDA). Organic food differs from conventionally produced food in the way it is grown or produced. But USDA makes no claims that organically produced food is safer or more nutritious than conventionally produced food.
For example, says Schneeman, “A premium ice cream could be ‘natural’ or ‘organic’ and still be high in fat or saturated fat, so would not meet the criteria for ‘healthy.’” Link
At least the FDA agrees that these terms are confusing . . . and that there is a lot of ambiguity to them. The term “Natural” looks to be more clearly defined at least, though it does trouble me that there is no official set definition. To learn more about what is considered “organic” by the USDA, I headed to their website. I found this document describing at least in part what it could mean.
- Produced without excluded methods (e.g., genetic engineering), ionizing radiation, or sewage sludge.
- Produced per the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances (National List).
- Overseen by a USDA National Organic Program-authorized certifying agent, following all USDA organic regulations.
I guess not having radiation, or sewage sludge in my food is good? Really though, after looking around last night and this morning . . . I do question why I pay extra for things labeled organic. I guess I have this lingering hope that because it cost more, it must be healthier, or at least more difficult to produce . . . naturally?
Who knows! Food for thought for the weekend. I think I’ll be stopping at my local farmers market and pick up some fresh locally grown produce, because I’m sure that has to better for me. =)
I had my first experience with Alzheimer’s Disease on Saturday.
Ellie and I were out walking Audrey for a good while, and when we were nearly home we were stopped by a nice little old lady in all pink with a matching pink hat holding a Michelob Ultra plastic cup—quite a site. The city of Buffalo is hosting Garden Walk Buffalo, a huge city-wide celebration of private gardens and gardeners in the city. All weekend there were horticultural tourists swarming the area. Ellie and I live on the beautiful Olmsted Parkway System in Buffalo, so there are quite a lot of impressive gardens all around.
This little old lady asked where Bird Avenue was, and we quickly informed her that she was on Bird Avenue, thinking she was just out to look at gardens. Then she said that she lived on Bird. That’s when I realized that this wasn’t just a quick stop for directions. After learning very quickly that it was better to break things into “yes” or “no” questions, and realizing that most of the answers were a simple “no,” my mind started to race with the best course of action to take. Ellie left to run the dog up stairs, and I was alone trying to get information to help. While Ellie was gone, I noticed an identification bracelet with this lady’s name and a phone number. I tried calling but nothing . . . It was a very nondescript answering machine . . . with a different area code attached than the one we live in.
Fortunately, shortly after Ellie returned (and even more fortunately before we started walking the opposite direction of where she was supposed to go), a man came running down the street shouting “I got her! I got her!” Rita returned home, cracking jokes the whole way. A happy ending!
However, the experience still shook me a bit. Ellie has had experience with this, having worked in a nursing home and having dealt with her Gram who had dementia. But this was the first time I had interacted with someone in need who wasn’t able to give me anything to work with. It was kind of unnerving; not being able to help quickly without calling outside assistance really sucked.
It got me to thinking about many things, but what I wanted to comment on most of all here at the blog is this: Carrying proper identification—one that is updated—can go a long way to assisting people if you ever are in need of help, but aren’t able to help them. Just having a name from her bracelet was a huge comfort to me because at least it was something. I encourage everyone to run with some kind of identification, just in case. Along with this, make sure your pets’ tags are updated with current contact information, too! They aren’t much good at asking for directions home, and if you have moved a couple of times since getting your puppy, who knows where it will end up. So let’s all try to stay safe!