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Advertising agencies know that how a food is marketed and the perception the public has about certain words can command a bigger profit in the grocery store. Both “natural” and “organic” grab the public’s attention. But the real question is, do either of these words mean that the food is any more nutritious than the foods that do not have either of these labels.
The term natural can be confusing. Most of us feel that natural means not artificial. But what, exactly, does it mean for our food?
According to USDA, natural can be used on foods that do not contain any artificial flavor or flavoring, coloring ingredient, or chemical preservative AND minimal processing was used to make the food edible or safe for human consumption.
Natural methods of preparing foods include freezing, drying, smoking, roasting, pressing fruits for juices, grinding meat, and separating eggs. Canning could be a natural method only if no chemical preservatives is used in the process. The use of solvent extraction, acid hydrolysis, and chemical bleaching is not considered a natural method.
Prepared foods can be labelled “natural” if an ingredient used is does not significantly change the character of the product. In this case, the label must identify that ingredient. For example, “All natural ingredients except dextrose and modified food starch.
The government has identified substances that can and cannot be used when raising foods that are organic. Most of us would like to think that organic means natural or non-synthetic, but, it does not. This is how it is stated on the Nation List web page.
“In general, synthetic substances are prohibited for crop and livestock production unless specifically allowed and non-synthetic substances are allowed for crop and livestock production unless specifically prohibited.”
So, exactly what is allowed and what is prohibited? For the complete list, you need to look at the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances.
And, to increase confusion, the list is reviewed every five years so some substances that were not prohibited could end up on the prohibited list and, of course, some substances that we thought should not be used, can now be used.
In addition, some of the prohibited substances could be used on certain crops or up to a certain amount.
Even if a product is labeled “organic” it may not be certified as organic. Organic farmers whose sales are less than $5,000 are exempt from certification.
But the bottom line is – is organic food better for you? Yes, if you are concerned about GMOs. But, if your organic fruits and vegetables need to be shipped in, you may be better off by purchasing fresh, natural foods from your local farmer.
KeiLin Farm, a producer of farm fresh beef and eggs, as well as premium hay, is located in Rose Township, Michigan and is in the process of acquiring the required licenses
A few days ago Skittles® made the headlines in Wisconsin and beyond. No, they were not introducing a new color or flavor. A truckload lost its load and they were dumped on the highway! So the question was, where were they going? Was someone going to eat this candy of candy that was not packaged in its traditional red bag? Why was it in the bed of that truck?
The candy were rejects – because they were missing the “S” on them – and were being sent to be part of the feed mix for cattle. Cattle? Who would give candy to cattle?
I decided to do a little research because, knowing that our horses liked a peppermint from time to time, I thought maybe I needed to get some candy for our cattle as well.
The answer was – Yes, candy not suitable for human consumption is often mixed with feed for cows – primarily dairy cows. Other livestock can also be fed candy as part of their diet. Notice, the key word here is PART – not solely, not primarily, but PART. Just like sugars are part of a human diet.
But isn’t sugar bad? For the cow or for the human? Over ten years ago fats, oils, and sugars were added to the food pyramid. I remember that because I was always watching sugar intake for both myself and my children.
It turns out the sugar, added in small amounts, is actual good for digestion. The sucrose in plain table sugar helps break down other complex sugars so your body can absorb, process, and distribute them to other parts of your body.
Similarly in cows, sugar is used to break down the healthy bacteria, fiber and protein found in the cattle’s feed. By adding the candy to their feed ration is actually helping their system to absorb the nutrients in their food. Remember – the cows are not fed pure candy any more than you would serve your child candy for dinner. It is simply used as a supplement that has a job to do.
I then checked out nutritional information for our horses. First and foremost, the horse’s digestive system is nothing like a human’s or a cow’s. Most of the simple sugars and carbs are broken down in the small intestine and absorbed. A look at the amount of simple sugar and carbs in different hay or grasses told me that they receive a substantial amount every day.
My thoughts? Skip the peppermints for the horses, but candy for the cows may be the better choice than having it go into a landfill.