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The most colorful apples are the ones that have been exposed to the greatest amount of sunlight and therefore contain more phytochemicals that benefit your health (Robinson, 2013). In her recent book Eating on the Wild Side Jo Robbins talks about how apple trees are trimmed so that more of the fruit is exposed to sunlight making the apples rich in color. The more color they have, the more phytonutrient value (see http://heartynutrition.net/2013/10/07/apples-a-rich-source-of-antioxidants/).

Photo by Rick Ruggles

Photo by Rick Ruggles
http://www.foundhearts.com

Choose organic or locally grown apples. The Environmental Working Group lists apples as having some of the highest levels of pesticides on them when compared to other fruits and vegetables. Organic apples are pesticide free. Many times locally grown apples are also organic, but farmers in smaller orchards and farms often cannot afford to go through the organic certification process, so they don’t have the organic label. The best thing to do is to ask the farmer how he or she harvests the apples when you see them at the farmers’ market. Also, locally grown apples are fresher and are grown in smaller orchards that use smaller amounts of harmful pesticides.

Choosing organic also helps to protect the natural habitat in which apples grow. Apples need bees and other insects for pollination – excess pesticide use can negatively effect crops, habitat and bee populations.

See the following sources for more information:

The Environmental Working Group 

The Organic Center 

Robinson, Jo (2013-06-04). Eating on the Wild Side: The Missing Link to Optimum Health (p. 229). Little, Brown and Company. Kindle Edition.

Wood, R. (2010). The new whole foods encyclopedia. Penguin Group: New York., NY.

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So, while the labels placed on foods should be helping us to make better choices, sometimes they offer contradictory statements that are open to interpretation.

I live in the Washington DC area where we have a number of grocery stores that feature health foods. Yes Organic Market, My Organic Market, the Tacoma Park-Silver Spring Coop, and of course Whole Foods all carry a number of whole foods and supplements to support health – which is not to say that every single thing that is sold in these stores is healthy. And it’s often in these stores where label reading is somewhat more complicated.

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As consumers we sometimes are fooled into thinking that foods that sport labels saying they are “natural,” and “organic” are automatically healthy.  But actually, under Food and Drug Association (FDA) policy, food manufacturers can use the label “natural” when the product has no synthetic and artificial ingredients. The organic label requires that the product meet the standards set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) National Organic Program. Nothing in the FDA guidelines or the USDA’s standards test for the health supporting qualities of the product in question.

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Defined by regulation, the Label “healthy” means that the product must meet certain criteria, which limits amounts of fat, saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium that the product can contain. Additionally, the food must contain minimum amounts of vitamins, minerals or other beneficial nutrients.

So the next time your mouth starts watering when you see some kind of frozen confection that is “organic” and “all natural,” don’t assume you’re making a healthy choice. Remember to read past those claims that suck you in! Read the label and especially take note of the sugars and fats you might be taking in (in the name of virtuous eating)!

Read more at: http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm094536.htm 

Related posts:

http://heartynutrition.net/2013/01/06/whats-in-a-label/

http://heartynutrition.net/2013/01/10/health-claim-labels/

http://heartynutrition.net/2013/01/08/nutrient-claims/

The organic label may help you to choose one product over another – but there are at least 4 tiers involved in organic labeling.

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Food manufacturers can use 100% Organic label if: the product contains 100% organically produced ingredients; any added water and salt are ingredients that cannot be identified as organic. If 100% organic, the label may include the USDA organic label, or an organic label from another certifying agent.

A food label may simply say “Organic.” To use this label, the product must contain a minimum of 95% organic ingredients (excluding added water and salt). Additionally, the product cannot contain sulfites; and may contain a maximum of 5% non-organically produced agricultural products. These products have to include an ingredient statement listing ingredients as organic and include the certifying agent, and can include the USDA organic seal, or a seal from the certifying agent.

Food manufacturers can claim that their products are “made with organic ingredients” if the product contains at least 70% organic ingredients. It cannot contain sulfites (except wine), and may contain up to 30% of nonorganic ingredients. These products cannot carry the USDA organic seal.

And finally, products can be labeled as containing “some organic ingredients” and identify the organic ingredients are “organic” in the ingredients statement. Again, water and salt cannot be included in organic materials and a producer may opt to label the percentage of organic ingredients which can be less than 70%. This product may also contain over 30% nonorganically produced agricultural ingredients.    

Information about Organic Standards is available from the U.S. Department of Agriculture at: http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/usdahome?navid=ORGANIC_CERTIFICATIO

http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/getfile?dDocName=STELDEV3004446&acct=nopgeninfo

Related posts: 

http://heartynutrition.net/2013/01/06/whats-in-a-label/

http://heartynutrition.net/2013/01/10/health-claim-labels/

http://heartynutrition.net/2013/01/08/nutrient-claims/

I continue to explore this question because everywhere you look there are claims being made “eat this, it’s healthy,” “it’s good for you,” “it’s all natural…” Thanks to the Cornucopia Institute and a new report due out tomorrow – you might have available at the click of a mouse more information about the contents of some of the most popular breakfast cereals that we all believed were wholesome options. Turns out “all natural” is not equal to “organic…”  Enjoy this sneak preview of their new report and tune in tomorrow for more information!

Thanks to a young girl’s experiment — we now know that we ought to be careful about the produce we choose. See for yourself:

 

 

Health & Nutrition Counseling

An integrative approach to health and nutrition which includes Earth consciousness.

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