food labeling laws and other fairy tales

As some of you know I spent this last week with Hadyn at Disney watching her perform with her theatre troop. I love Disney. I grew up less than 80 miles from Anaheim and some of my fondest memories of childhood were of the Magic Kingdom. However, neither Holly or Hadyn had ever expressed any desire to go and we just hadn’t until now.
Hold on, I swear I have a point
So it was with great excitement that we packed to go to Disney World. I joined a Disney veg group and figured I would be just fine. I mean vegheads are completely main stream now, right?
So for the last five days I ate like the rest of America (albeit the segment of the population that doesn’t eat meat) and I will tell you if I NEVER EVER EVER eat something fried again it will be too soon. Granted there were dining establishments that had complex menus designed to appeal to foodies and entrées that would need to be a budget line item but I was there for the kid. The last thing she wanted to do was to take two hours for dinner when Space Mountain was a 45 minute wait, right? So we ate vegetarian junk food and fried food and fast food and I returned today feeling like a 5’7″ tofu sausage that was bursting out of its casing.
So this post is entirely self serving. I ate like a vegetarian piglet and have reaped the consequences. The very salty, fatty, preservative laden consequences.
Accordingly I am going hard core WHOLE clean food for the next month and invite you to join me. I had my taste of the veggie standard American diet and I am ready for an intervention.

This subject is like catching snowflakes on your tongue. Devilishly hard to pin them down and then they melt away as soon as you catch them. A big part of the problem is that fact that food labeling is controlled by the government. Government is in turned controlled by the lobbies. There are as many differing opinions on the importance of labeling laws as there are big agribusiness lobbies. Most people recognize the commonsense of labeling foods accurately and clearly (if it’s a GMO then for Heaven’s sakes just tell us that and let us decide) but the games that are played with serving size, sugar, proteins, GMO’s, allergens and dairy products is truly spectacular. I mean how many ways can you say sugar without actually saying it? How many ways can you say milk proteins? Why are simple ‘carbohydrates’ not labeled for the sugar they instantly convert to?

The LIVE presentation 2/22/17 at 5:30 pm EST will be more on figuring out what foods to consider WHOLE and INTACT foods. I have included the labels governing animal production but the caveat that I will add is animal production and processing is horrific and the labels that govern them are designed to cover that up. Paul McCartney said, “If slaughterhouses had glass walls we would all be vegetarian.”

Below are a few of the agreed upon rules that you can pretty much count on being followed or abused in some way. Serving sizes are constantly opened to interpretation.

Low calorie – less than 40 calories per serving
Low Cholesterol – less than 20 mg of cholesterol or 2 gm or less of saturated fat per serving
Non calorie – less than 5 calories per serving
Fat free – less than .5 gram of fat per serving
Zero Transfats – Means that it contains less than .5 grams of transfats per serving but does not mean low fat.
Saturated Fat Free – means only contains monounsaturated fats but does not tell you what type of fats those are.
Extra Lean – governs only animal products and means must contain less than 5% of the calories from fat.
Lean – labels usage governs only animal products and means contains less that 10% of the calories from fat
Light – no definition or guideline so it could mean light in color or in flavor; light maple syrup means a lighter color not less sugar as an example
Sugar free – Means less than .5 gram of sugar per serving and/or uses a sugar substitute. Does not mean that it is lower in calories or has no natural sugar derivatives. Watch the caloric content on these labels.
No added sugar – Means there is no added sugar in preserving process (not that it wasn’t there to begin with). This is a completely literal translation of the statement that means very little when you are looking at fruit juices that contain fruits (concentrated as well) that are high in sugar content. Even if you don’t see sugar on the label beware of the many disguises it assumes. Remember anything ending with ‘ose’ is a sugar. Molasses, honey, brown rice syrup…these made be better forms of sugar but they are still sugar. Also none of these names include white flour which is also a form of immediate sugar.
Reduced sugar – 25 percent less than the original form so for example reduced sugar jam must have less sugar grams than its original counterpart. What it doesn’t tell you is what they used to fill the empty space with. Generally the fillers are no more desirable. Also doesn’t mean that the original product wasn’t crazy high in sugar to begin with.
Made with real fruit – does not mean made with whole fruits just merely not made with artificial fruit and what is an artificial fruit exactly? Something concocted in a test tube.

High Fiber – the USDA allows labeling an item high fiber when it gives you 20 percent or more of your RDA of that nutrient. Fiber requirements are 14 grams per 1000 calories so individual needs are based on caloric intake not age or weight. Needless to say this leads to fuzzy labeling laws. What could be over 20 percent for an elderly person is less than 15 percent for a 20 year old male. Most items that are highest in fiber do not require a label at all. Fruits, vegetables, legumes, pulses and whole grains are where a majority of your fiber needs should be met. Remember the USDA requirements are also a minimum for a healthy diet.
Multigrain – means more than one grain but says nothing about how those two grains are processed. So theoretically it could be enriched bleached multigrain flour that is as white as the driven snow. Oh wait …they do that.
Enriched – Enriched flour is flour in which most of the natural vitamins and minerals have been extracted. This is done in order to give bread a finer texture, increase shelf life and prevent bugs from eating it. When the bran and the germ (the parts of the wheat that contain vitamins and minerals and fiber) are removed, your body absorbs wheat differently. Instead of being a slow, steady process through which you get steady bursts of energy, your body breaks down enriched flour too quickly, flooding the blood stream with too much sugar at once. Your body then has to work hard to produce insulin to process and absorb the excesses which it then stores as fat. This causes quick highs and lows in your blood-sugar level which can lead to type-two diabetes and obesity. All this and you’re not even getting close to the amount of nutrients that whole grains contain. After stripping everything out of the flour they then put it back in and label it like crazy as if that is a good thing. If flour says enriched you can pretty much bet that they took out the good stuff.
Bleached- We like things white as the driven snow in this country and have taken the good brown fiber out of foods by chemically bleaching flour the way you bleach your clothes. When you are eating white bread, you are also eating residual chemical bleach. Flour mills use different chemical bleaches, all of which are pretty bad. Here are a few of them: oxide of nitrogen, chlorine, chloride, nitrosyl and benzoyl peroxide mixed with various chemical salts. Yum!
Organic – governed by the USDA this means that 95 percent of the ingredients of a packed product must be organic or the vegetable must be raised according to the organic labeling laws. Organic labeling laws are very stringent for small farms to adhere to and a lot of local farmers cannot afford the time or money for certification.
Made with organic ingredients – over 70 percent of the ingredients used must come from accredited organic sources. You will want to know what the non-organic ingredients are especially if they contain animal ingredients.

ANIMAL LABELING and a few more reasons not to eat them
Free range – By definition per the USDA, free range only means that the chickens have access to the outside, not that they are ‘grown’ outside. Means animal must have access to the outdoors year round both during grazing and non grazing season. Access can mean a door that is not closed.
Remember the old joke, “Why did the chicken cross the road? He didn’t because he didn’t know the door to the outside was there.”
Cage free –This term is a commercial designation, not one by the USDA. It means that chickens are not raised in cages but little else.
Vegetarian feed – Means the feed the livestock is given must not contain ground up animal bits and bone meal. Ewwww right? Almost all animal feed has some element of cannibalism about it. “Natural” feed should be as close to the original diet as possible right? Then why are cows, that are naturally ruminants, fed corn and soy blends on a feed lot? Granted those are vegetarian feeds but are they actually good for the cow? The answer is that they are fed corn and soy because those crops are subsidized and there is plenty of it. There is no other reason. (Oh yeah and the corn and soy are GMO as well)
No added hormones, antibiotics or steroids – Governed by the USDA it means the livestock cannot be treated and still produce or go to slaughter. This is especially important with hormones and steroids to increase dairy production. Antibiotics are used prophylactically and not merely when an animal is ill. Most chicken plants treat the poultry with massive doses of antibiotics throughout their short little lives to prevent the bird flu and other diseases that can ravish an entire population in a matter of days. Animals are not hardened to be disease resistant so instead are treated constantly and for everything. Growth hormones given to poultry have increased the rate of production to almost one third of the original growth module.
RGbH free – Means cannot contain the bovine growth hormone RGbH but since significant levels of this hormone have been found in certain water supplies it might be a case of too little too late…

Genetically Modified Organisms
GMO free – cannot be grown with genetically modified organisms, meaning seeds created by Monsanto rather than by evolution. There are currently a slew of labeling laws being battled that govern the use/or non use of this term and needless to say big agribusiness is opposed and small local organic farms are pro. One of the problems with many GMO crops is that they are invasive and winds will contaminate local growers growing organically close by. Another major problem with GMO crops is that long term testing hasn’t been done to determine their impact on the environment, watershed, your body or just about anything else that matters. If you get into an argument with someone pro-GMO they will tell you that it is about making sure that we have adequate food to survive famine and that the seeds are drought resistant and how important that is but if you talk to a farmer that has grown with GMO seeds they will tell you that they don’t see a significant shift in production modules just an increased dependency on the companies that produce the seeds. Do your research. One little tiny point to remember when you are doing your research is that nobody is governing the types and production of GMO’s.


Preservative free – Preservation involves preventing the growth of bacteria, fungi as well as retarding the oxidation of fats which cause rancidity. Food preservation can also include processes which inhibit visual deterioration, such as the enzymatic browning reaction in apples after they are cut, which can occur during food preparation. Preserving food was the first technology we attempted to master as civilized human beings. Preservation techniques have included drying, salting, packing in oil, smoking, pickling, canning, etc. In order to have entirely preservative free food it must be picked and consumed immediately. What we are actually looking for when we say preservative free is food that is minimally processed and has no added chemical components. Organic preservation methods as dictated by the USDA seem to be the most in keeping with this philosophy. Introduction of new plant products like xanthum gum and guar gum into your vocabulary will round out your knowledge of organic techniques but the best rule is still if you don’t recognize it as something that you would have in your pantry you probably don’t need it.
Natural – Animal products must contain no artificial ingredients, colors and be minimally processed (only processes that preserve it for safety) but other packaged products are not governed or regulated at all. So your cereal/cracker/cookie could contain preservatives or enhancers that make it less than attractive.
Natural flavorings – the flavors must be naturally derived not produced in a test tube. Doesn’t mean the flavors are good for you.
Fair trade – copied from Wikipedia “is an organized social movement that aims to help producers in developing countries to make better trading conditions and promote sustainability. The movement known as fairtrade indicating the certification advocates the payment of a higher price to exporters as well as higher social and environmental standards. It focuses in particular on exports from developing countries to developed countries, most notably handicrafts, coffee, cocoa, sugar, tea, bananas, honey, cotton, wine,[1] fresh fruit, chocolate, flowers, and gold.[2] There are several recognized Fairtrade certifiers, including Fairtrade International (formerly called FLO/Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International), IMO and Eco-Social. Additionally, Fair Trade USA, formerly a licensing agency for the Fairtrade International label, broke from the system and is implementing its own fair trade labelling scheme, which has resulted in controversy due to its inclusion of independent smallholders (selling via contract production) and estates for all crops. (”



See you at 5:30 xogh

One Response

  1. Ugghhh….As a vegetarian for 31 years…(alas the doctor insisted that I include fish after 15 years) I feel your pain. Those trips where there is NOTHING to eat!!! And those dinners at friends when there is NOTHING to eat!!! Waddling home draped in fat is not a pleasant feeling. You feel like you need an immediate roto rooter treatment. For the last two years I have also added the gluten free life. I can’t go anywhere, but I feel like a million—until I do go somewhere without my little bag of my own stuff. I see this was written some months ago. I hope you have had a good recovery from the land of Disney World. (Disney Land cured me of the desire to ever visit that world.)

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