Organic food label needs clarity

Some food for thought: things are not always as they appear.Our food is rife with pesticides, growth hormones, antibiotics and many other bioengineered chemicals to make it bigger and easier to mass-produce.

As a solution, some people are trying alternatives such as organic foods. But with certain food labels, how organic is organic?

Consumers should be wary of misleading food labels and take caution because added chemicals are dangerous.

Pesticides can still exist on fruits and vegetables even after they have been washed off, according to an article in the April 23 issue of the Sun Journal.

It may seem paranoid to worry about something that has yet to be proven, but the fact of the matter is that scientists have done very little testing to assess or disprove the idea that remaining chemicals in fruits and vegetables could lead to an illness.

According to the June 6 issue of World Disease Weekly, researchers at Centers for Health Research in Research Triangle Park found that pesticides, such as DDT, cause major dysfunctional gland and hormonal problems in lab rats. These problems are not yet linked to cancer in humans, but a lack of research could be attributing to that.

Some meat products contain antibiotics, which are given to the animals to prevent diseases. By consuming a large volume of these antibiotics, certain bacteria will become immune to them, according to the article in Sun Journal. Consumers have to take more medication when they get sick, in an attempt to make their general antibiotics work.

The Sun Journal article states that the food people eat not only could make them sick, but it could block potential cures for some of the diseases it transmits.

I love the English language because a minor change in wording can make a huge difference in meaning. Big industries use carefully-worded phrases in their marketing strategies, such as food labels.

Some food items found in Frog Bytes that claim to be “organic” on their labels include Newman’s Own chocolate cookies and Silk soy milk.

A label that claims its product as being “organic” is allowed to contain 5 percent of nonorganic ingredients, according to the Food and Drug Administration. Unless these ingredients are extremely detrimental to your health, 5 percent sounds OK.

The labels to watch out for are those that read “made with organic ingredients” and “some organic ingredients.” It is here that the importance of a product’s wording comes into play.

If a food label reads “made with organic ingredients,” it is true that it is “made” with them, but the product can also contain up to 30 percent of nonorganic ingredients, according to the Sun Journal article.

For example, Amy’s frozen snacks and meals are made with organic tofu, flour, rice, pasta and vegetables, depending on the type of dish or snack it is. The Snackimals animal cookies are made with organic grains.

When the label reads “some organic ingredients,” it does indeed mean “some.” According to the Sun Journal article the FDA allows the product to contain less than 70 percent of organic ingredients.

The safest and most honest food label is one that states “100 percent organic.” It obviously has to be made with 100 percent organic ingredients, but that doesn’t count added salt and water.

Only one food product in Frog Bytes’ limited organic selection is 100 percent-certified organic and that is the rock-hard Genuine Bavarian Multigrain Bread. The added salt is sea salt, and the water is Mountain Spring Water. Again, unless the manufacturers actually fused two hydrogen atoms and an oxygen atom together, then it’s really not organic or pure.

Since organic food isn’t a solution to the toxic chemical problems in our food, we have to face the risks of disease no matter what type of food we eat.

Joanna Bernal is a junior news-editorial journalism major from Fort Worth.