About a third of all new food products launched in 2008 claimed to be “natural”, not certified but natural. Do you know the difference? Natural unfortunately doesn’t reveal if pesticides, antibiotics or GMO seeds were used, if animals and workers are treated fairly, or if the production practices are sustainable. Those are big questions to ask of condiments or a bag of chips—we get that. But today no one can ignore the extreme climate shifts impacting crops or the rising prices at the grocery store. Healthy agricultural practices are what will sustain us, and safe fair trade practices can protect many.
The food system is a cosmic pyramid when you think about it. It’s a domino chain of players that begins with one seed and circulates to plant to animal to transportation to packaging. The food system is complicated and massive but it doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be honest. Recognizing healthy practices at each step – from seed to harvest, to sale to recipe – is a near impossible test in traceability. But thankfully, everyone everywhere around the world wants proof that the food on their plates is what it claims to be.
Bottom line in a Law & Order sort of way, if it’s not on the label, the information has not been proven true, and thus isn’t. Traceability is paramount to making smart decisions for your diet and practices. But with with over 463 ecolabels in 199 countries, and 25 industry sectors, there’s a lot to understand about the cute graphics on your food labels. V’s, K’s, Organic, Biodynamic, Humanely Raised, Non GMO—there’s a lot of information packed into the real estate of your food packaging, a billion-dollar industry worth of real estate that can help you navigate the aisles of the grocery store with a savvy ease of knowing what kinds of ingredients enhance your body, and what products bring your body down.
When you stop looking at the packaging’s beauty or the twang of the name, and only see the ingredients and the facts of origin, your relationship with a product will transform. Be old world and find lists of ingredients that read like recipes, not science experiments. Certifications tell an excellent story of how those ingredients came together to create the snack in your hand. Real practices enjoy real transparency for their consumers—so in turn they can taste the goodness, from real food.
Links to Further Your Certification Know How