Have You Seen the Butterfly??

Have you spent valuable time in the grocery store recently staring at the back of food package? Playing your own version of “this versus that” and wondering what all those symbols mean that are proudly stamped on the packaging? There are so many things to know regarding our food it’s difficult to keep up! Non-GMO, Fair Trade, Organic, Conventional, Gluten-Free Certified, Kosher, Animal Welfare Approved, the list goes on and on!

I will be taking some time over the coming months to delve into each of these deeper. As a Dietitian working in the retail industry it is imperative to know the in’s & outs of these symbols, but it is ever-changing and difficult to keep up! The intention of this information is not to sway you in one way or another but to simply inform you, our valued shopper.

Each person makes choices based on what is right for their family. There have been times in my life where we bought the cheapest of the cheap when it comes to food. I was in college full-time and working in the evenings and my husband worked 3 jobs to keep our bills paid. Quality of what we put into our bodies wasn’t our priority and we just didn’t afford the time or money to invest in our choices.

Life, now has taken some turns and we are responsible for feeding 3 little guys and their health is of upmost importance! Isn’t it ironic how we think that about others in that regard, but not necessarily ourselves?

So…back to this Butterfly! If you’ve spotted the butterfly on food products it means it is Non-GMO Project verified. This is not government regulated and is an independent non-profit started by retailers and members of the natural foods and organic industry. They charge a fee for companies to verify that products and ingredients are not from genetically engineered seeds and that products can be traced and tested at “critical control points.” (1)

Note that just because a product is Non-GMO doesn’t mean it is Certified Organic. The products can still be produced with pesticides and/or antibiotics and it has nothing to do with nutrition or food safety. On the flip side, if you purchase products that are USDA Certified Organic or contain ingredients that are USDA certified organic, these are “non-GMO.”

The process in this graphic shows the steps to acquiring the seal. Click the  image to learn more.

Food companies want this labeling because they know they will capture the segment of shoppers who are choosing to go Non-GMO. They acquire the symbol; through submitting their information or product through a third-party verification process. According to the Non-GMO Project website, the cost is “customized,” but costs can be thousands of dollars. This is a disadvantage for smaller companies who don’t have the cash flow to pay for the expensive seals and certifications.

Note that this is about making an informed choice! Consumers having the right to know how and with what their food was produced. There haven’t been any verified peer-reviewed studies to date on the negative effects of GMO’s.

1. http://www.upstateparent.com/story/life/food/2017/07/02/organic-non-gmo-project-certified-difference/103379790/