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When you head to the grocery store, shopping for products like eggs, meat, fish, milk, and produce can be very tricky. You will see signs posted everywhere labeling food as natural, organic, and several other things—but what’s the difference? Learning what specific names mean can help you decide if you should spend extra money on a product if it is a marketing ploy. 

Natural is a term associated with several fruit and vegetable products. Think about the previous sentence for a moment. Typically, this is a marketing ploy to convince you to buy the product. All fruits and vegetables are natural, right? Unless it’s a new food that has been developed and processed, the product is natural. What you probably want is organic. Organic foods are grown without chemical pesticides and fertilizers. 

There are two main benefits to organic foods:

First, you are helping the environment because those chemicals are not being introduced into nature.

Second, you are avoiding ingesting chemicals and are therefore healthy more healthy foods. 

However, organic products are usually more expensive. 

Many people who are on a tight budget, will skip organic fruits and vegetables that can be peeled, like oranges and bananas. Once the peel they discard the peel, the chemicals are also discarded. (There has been an ongoing debate whether the chemicals soak through the peel and get into the fruit. This will continually be a subject that will be researched.)

Instead, opt for organic items like apples, where you eat the peel. No matter what you buy, however, make sure you rinse off the food when you get home. 

Another tricky label you will see is “no hormones.” The label “no hormones” is usually regarding milk or meat products and is false, since all animals naturally produce hormones. Hormones help an animal (even a human) regulate body organs, have young, and otherwise function. All meat products have hormones; natural hormones.

The label “no hormones” really means that no hormones were unnaturally given to the animal, which is sometimes done to increase milk production. Regardless of hormones, however, the milk and meat is safe for a person and not a violation of an animal’s rights. 

Lastly, a label on eggs and meat can show if the animal was caged or penned. This does not make a difference in the quality or nutritional value of the egg, but is a matter of animal rights. These products may be more expensive, but if you want to make human decisions, that is the way to go.

Reading the label and making healthy choices can sometimes be difficult but learning how to do so can help you make the best choices for you diet.

Check back later for more.