Q. When I am looking at a label and it says ‘organic’, what does that mean?

If you see the term ‘organic’ on a food label, then it means that the food was produced following specific guidelines that are set in place by the National Organic Program of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Animal products, such as eggs, poultry, dairy and meat must be produced from animals that are free of growth hormones and antibiotics and they were given organic feed. Plant products, such as fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes, must be produced without using common pesticides, chemical fertilizers, and bioengineering.

You can also buy ‘organic’ health and beauty products, which means that the product was made using ingredients that are free of pesticides and chemical treatments. Even if you are using the product topically, it is still important to look for the organic label whenever possible because the ingredients within the product can be absorbed into your body through your skin.

Q. How do I know I am getting organic foods and products?

Because organic foods are regulated by the USDA, you need to make sure to read the labels on the foods that you are buying. A certified inspector approved by the government must visit the farm to ensure that the proper regulations are being followed. These visits are completed on a regular basis, in order to make sure that the farm is staying within compliance.

Keep in mind that you can find three levels of organic labeling on food products at the grocery store. Just because it says organic somewhere on the label, doesn’t necessarily mean that all of the ingredients were produced organically. Here is what you need to know:

  • Made with Organic Ingredients: Which means that the food has organic ingredients that consist of at least 70% of the product. Since there are also non-organic ingredients, it does not qualify for the USDA organic seal.
  • Organic, Certified USDA Organic, Certified Organic: When a product is labeled as ‘organic,’ then it means that at least 95% of the product contents are organic. These products may have the USDA seal.
  • 100 % Organic: If a product is comprised of only 100% organic ingredients, then it qualifies for this labeling criteria and the USDA seal.

Q. What are GMOs and why should I avoid them from my diet?

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) are plants that have been modified on a genetic level to change the way they grow. Most GMOs are created to be resistant to pesticides, disease, and drought, in order to make the plant more stable when it is grown on a massive level. These genetic modifications allow farmers to apply stronger pesticides in order to control the weeds, and the plants can grow faster to produce a larger harvest.

The problem with GMOs is the fact that they are largely untested at this point, and early research is pointing to the idea that GMOs are potentially linked with a number of health problems. Some doctors have suggested a connection between GMOs and allergies, cancer, weight gain, depression, insulin dysfunction, digestive disorders, and infertility.

Q. How do I know what ingredients to avoid when reading labels?

It can be overwhelming to read a label and understand the “safe” and “unsafe” ingredients in the product. New ingredients are constantly being added to processed foods, making it nearly impossible to keep a running list of everything that should be avoided. The easiest rule of thumb is to eat foods in their most natural form as possible, and avoid any ingredient that you wouldn’t normally keep in your kitchen.

If you are reading a label and see a bunch of ingredients that are difficult to pronounce, then it probably isn’t something that you should be eating. When a specific ingredient is in question, you can do the research and determine if that ingredient is safe for your family.

Q. Many products are labeled ‘all natural’. Does it mean it’s healthy?

‘All natural’ can be deceiving, because most people assume that it means that the food is healthy. The truth is that the FDA has not developed a specific definition for this term, so it can be used in many different ways. Generally ‘all natural’ means that the food doesn’t contain synthetic substances, artificial flavors, or added color.

But, ‘all natural’ foods could still contain GMO ingredients, non-organic ingredients, processed sweeteners, preservatives, additives, and lab-produced colors and flavors. Conventional meat products could be labeled ‘all natural’ even though they came from animals that were given antibiotics and hormones. So, don’t pay attention to the ‘all natural’ label, because it is better to take a closer look at the ingredient list and source of ingredients in order to make your own judgment about the product.

Q. What is glyphosate and why should I be concerned?

Glyphosate is commonly known as Roundup, and it is a chemical herbicide that is used to kill weeds. This herbicide was created by Monsanto, and it can be found in over two thousand products on the store shelves! Research is starting to uncover the fact that it is possible that Roundup could lead to birth defects and other health problems.

The problem is that weeds are becoming resistant to Roundup, and farmers are forced to use stronger and stronger chemicals in order to get rid of the ‘superweeds’ that are starting to grow. As the farming industry uses more chemicals, the pesticide levels on our food continue to increase.

Q. What does the term ‘non-toxic’ mean?

There is no standard regulation for the term ‘non-toxic,’ which means that it can be confusing to decipher the labels at the grocery store. Technically, the label means that the product has not met the definition of ‘toxic’ that was set by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. But, just because it hasn’t been labeled as ‘toxic’ doesn’t mean that it is good for your health.

Most product manufactures only consider the acute impacts on health and the environment when it comes to labeling their product as non-toxic. If you want to have the peace of mind to know that you are truly using a product that is not harmful to your health, then it is important that you read the ingredient list and understand what is in the bottle.

Q. Why should I do a bi-annual health cleanse?

If you want to achieve optimal health, then you should consider doing a cleanse twice a year. It is the same idea as changing the oil in your car: cleansing helps to clean out the filters in your body, such as the colon, skin, liver, kidneys, and lungs. Your body is constantly bombarded with toxic elements, and these dangerous compounds can begin to build up over time.

Chemicals, pollution, and other poisons in our modern world take a toll and can have a negative impact on your health. A bi-annual cleanse will help to clear out the impurities, so that you can regain optimal health and support the major organs and functions within your body. Many people experience positive benefits from a cleanse, including: improved energy levels, weight loss, better sleep habits, reduced aches and pains, and slower aging.

Q. More people are talking about going organic. Does it really matter if I do?

Some people have said that the organic movement is just a fad, and they wonder if there are any health benefits to jumping on the organic bandwagon. The truth is that your food choices have a direct impact on your health, and you need to be picky about your food sources if you want to achieve optimal health.

Organically grown foods have been found to have lower levels of chemical pesticides and harmful toxins, and they are also higher in nutrition. On the other hand, non-organic foods will expose your family to potentially harmful substances, which can have a major impact on overall health.

Q. I hear pure essential oils serve a purpose in everyone’s medicine cabinet. Why should they be in mine?

Our modern world often turns to medication for every ailment, but the problem is that there are usually negative and harmful side effects from medications. A natural alternative is to use essential oils because they contain powerful compounds that can support your immune system and promote the healing functions within your body. In fact, most medications are designed to mimic the natural compounds that are found in plants, so that they can be mass-produced at a cheaper price in order to increase profit margins.

Essential oils can be used to help many types of ailments, and they are very beneficial because you don’t have to worry about the dangerous side-effects from a medication. Many people use essential oils as their first response treatment for illness, sickness and injury, and then turn to modern medicine if needed. In most situations, the essential oils will provide the support that your body needs, which means that there is no need for medication.

Another benefit to using essential oils is the fact that they have powerful antibacterial and antiviral properties, which means that they can be used for cleaning your home. You can replace your chemical-filled household cleaners with natural essential oils options instead.