What do they mean?

When talking about our food there are many different words used to describe different attributes. Differentiating between them can be somewhat confusing. Do you know the difference between free range and free run chicken eggs? Hopefully this article from my close friends blog “an avocado a day” can help to clear up some of the confusion

  1. Natural/All-natural:  a vague term that refers to foods that have not been “significantly altered” by processing.  This means that foods fortified with vitamins and minerals, foods with additives, and foods with artificial coloring are not considered all-natural.  It also means that if something is taken out of the food in processing, it can no longer be considered “all-natural.”  Be aware that processed foods can contain natural ingredients, and many get around this by saying “98% natural” or something similar.
  2. Organic:  see our post on what “organic” really means for a more in depth explanation of this term.  Also keep in mind that a food that says “USDA certified organic” is different from one that just says “organic.” Similar to “all-natural,” many companies say “made with 96% organic ingredients” which often gets misunderstood as healthier.
  3. Gluten free:  does not mean it is healthier, calorie-free, carbohydrate-free, etc.  It simply means that there is no gluten in that particular product.  Gluten free products can still contain dairy, eggs, etc. and aren’t always healthier than the “regular” product.  Use the same discretion that you would use with “regular pretzels” (as an example) before downing a whole bag of gluten-free pretzels!
  4. Wheat free:  does not mean the same thing as “gluten free.”  For those with celiac disease or a gluten sensitivity, eating foods that say “wheat free” are not all safe to eat!  Remember that gluten can be found in many other grains besides wheat.
  5. Free range:  means that the animal (poultry in particular) has access to the outdoors rather than being stuck in a cage indoors.  However, it has been revealed that some free range chickens are not in significantly better conditions than non free range.  The USDA does not state how long the chickens must be outside for or how big the outdoor area must be.

This is only part 1 of the series so keep checking back for the updated list.

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