Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Stop the Confusion: Are Non-GMO Products Organic or Not?

Identifying natural healthy products can be easy if you understand a few label basics.

Trying to shop for healthy food becomes difficult, when terms such as 'non-GMO' (genetically modified organism) and 'organic' are used on labels to describe the package contents.

The term 'genetically modified' means the DNA of one plant has been modified to cause that plant to display some sort of characteristic that is not normally associated with it. Often the DNA of a totally different species is added to the plant, at a molecular level, to achieve a certain result, like hardiness, or resistance to pesticides or temperature extremes.

An example of that would be a soybean plant that is having trouble growing in an environment where a farmer feels the need to use a chemical herbicides to control weeds. It may be more expensive, and time intensive, to physically remove the weeds, so the farmer decides to spray the crop with a herbicide to kill the weeds more quickly and economically.

The soybean plant would be killed, along with the weeds, if it weren't genetically modified to resist the toxic effects of the chemicals. So, the DNA of an insect, a caterpillar for example, might be added to the DNA of the soybean plant to give it the ability to resist the chemical herbicides.

The term 'organic' means the crop was grown without the use of pesticides, herbicides or other enhancement chemicals.

So, how do you know if the food you are considering is healthy, when the labels seem so confusing?

The question to ask is, "in order for foods to be certified by the USDA as organic, do they have to be GMO free?"

The answer to that question is yes. If the label says 'USDA Organic', then it cannot contain any genetically modified ingredients.

On the other hand, a product that is touted as being non-GMO, does not have to be organic, and is often grown using chemical pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers.

So, if you want to be safe knowing you are eating both organic and non-GMO food, look for the label that proclaims it is certified organic. Just because the label says it is 'non-GMO', does not mean it is 'organic'.

Of course, on our farm, we do not use chemicals of any kind, nor do we grow anything genetically modified. Our farm produces healthy organic food specifically because we practice permaculture, which allows the biodiversity of the land itself to fertilize the soil, and healthy soil is what naturally prevents pests and other crop destroyers from taking over.

If you'd like to join our community, and know what you are eating for sure, give us a call or send us an email.


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