Nothing is one-size-fits-all. I am a skeptic when it comes to claims of success on the infomercials, commercials, websites and magazines selling convenience and shortcuts to myriad health concerns. I always wonder what lurks behind the asterisks.
Eating better is a goal of mine. My doctor simply says, “Eat more fruits and vegetables.” But, me? I do better if I have a plan. So, I came across a whole foods plan this week that intrigued me. It looked easy until I started reading the fine print. It requires cutting out processed foods, sugar and dairy, among other things. But, it allows all the fruits, vegetables, meats and black coffee I can stomach.
This plan also has other interesting caveats. (The devil is always in the details.) It recommends eating organic, non-GMO, free-range, grass-fed everything. Name the food marketing moniker, and it was there in the how-to. This takes complicated to a whole new level. Pardon the pun.
It does concede that if you cannot afford to purchase those items, the alternative is fine. The alternative being conventionally raised produce or animals. So why differentiate at all? If there were significant nutritional differences between the products, I could see some merit in the recommendation; however, studies show there is not.
Those labels represent farming methods. So, the asterisks appear as the plan’s validation for its creator’s way of eating as opposed to my doctor’s simpler advice.
No one should be afraid of the choices they find in the grocery store, nor should they feel guilty about not being able to afford the higher price tag some of the labels come with. The higher price tag is reflective of the cost the farmer has to undertake to produce the food in that manner.
Take genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. They are one tool farmers use to allow for less pesticides and less tillage, which conserves soil and protects water quality. Most GMOs in the U.S. are grown for animal feed, but some are grown for human consumption. However, marketers use the non-GMO label on products that couldn’t possibly be GMO in the first place. I would be remiss not to share that in a review of 1,783 studies on GMOs by researchers at the University of Perugia in Italy, ZERO health illnesses to humans or animals were connected to GMO crops.
At the end of the meal, it’s all about more vegetables, fruits and protein. The rest is marketing hype or someone else’s agenda. Consumers should understand, farmers will grow what they demand, but should take care in making demands based on misinformation or someone else’s moral compass. Guilt trips can be expensive and unnecessary. Do your research, and watch out for the asterisks.