Decoding the Food Labels on Produce

I remember being curious about what those little numbers on my apples meant when I was a little girl. So I thought I would share some information about these numbers. After reading up about our food supply those numbers are quite important if we want to stay healthy. Now, these numbers can be fluff...some things can be manipulated by the ‘powers that be’; but it is still good to be aware of their meaning as this allows us to be better able to make educated decisions.

I make it a point to know what I use as nourishment for my body. And the more I learn about fruits, veggies, organic vs non-organic, superfoods, etc...the more I make choices that will not only help me look and feel great but will also help keep my body and mind as healthy as possible. Like all of us, I want a happy, healthy and long life and our food truly does have the power to strengthen and rejuvenate our bodies.

There are three types of numbers that indicate what category our produce is in.

Conventionally Grown Produce - These have codes that are 4-digits long and begin with the number 4. These fruits and veggies have been grown with the run of the mill, pesticides, herbicides and fungicides that are commonplace commercially farmed produce. For the Dirtiest of these check out this article about it.

Organic Produce - have codes that are 5-digits long and begin with the number 9. These fruits and veggies are grown according to organic standards and are not genetically-modified.

Genetically Modified Produce - have codes that are 5-digits long and begin with the number 8. These cannot be organic and are grown from genetically modified seeds.

Why should you care if your produce is Genetically Modified??

Research has not shown these foods to be safe for human (or animal) consumption. Allergies, food sensitivities, and increasing our risk of cancer are other reasons we should avoid ingesting anything that is genetically modified. If your health isn’t high enough on your list of priorities, think of your children. Children face the greatest risk from these genetically modified foods and pesticides.  

The major food companies, however, know that most well-informed consumers will choose not to purchase something that is ‘labeled’ as a Genetically Modified food, so they can choose not to label their products as such in order to mislead consumers. That being said, in the US there are several foods that are most likely Genetically Modified, if they are not organic. These are the foods that should be purchased organic in order to protect yourself and your family from the health risks associated with these Genetically Modified foods.




**Papayas (grown in Hawaii)

**Zucchini & Yellow Squash (some - but it’s better to be on the safe side regarding this)

**Dairy (from cows treated with rbGH)

Arm yourself with information about your food to protect the health of yourself and your loved ones!

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Rejuvenate your Skin with Berries

Ah Berries… It is Springtime and soon summer will be here and berries will be all over! Not that we can’t get berries at any time of year but it is always better to eat foods that are in season. Did you know that berries are at least 85% water?? Makes sense when you think of how juicy they are huh? They are loaded with water and fiber as well as many antioxidants. The fiber in berries help fill you up and, along with the water in them, help you get into that bikini!

  • Raspberries

  • Boysenberries

  • Blackberries

  • Blueberries

  • Cranberries

  • Strawberries

The antioxidants these little guys contain allow your body to fight off and repair DNA damage and inflammation, that over time can lead to major illnesses. Anthocyanins (give berries their rich, vibrant color), quercetin and vitamin C are a few of the powerful antioxidants in berries. Anthocyanins reduce inflammation in the body and may help prevent and relieve pain from arthritis. Berries can also help slow age-related memory loss as the anthocyanins and quercetin found in them work together to make this happen. Quercetin is another powerful anti-inflammatory; it can help people with conditions like Rheumatoid Arthritis.

Vitamin C helps promote the health of the collagen in our skin and aids in maintaining cartilage stores and joint flexibility. The vitamin C in berries keeps our skin clear and luminous and our hair full and healthy. The fiber in berries help our bodies release excess weight and lowers blood pressure and cholesterol. Folate supports our bodies in producing serotonin, it may also help stabilize our mood and ward off depression.     

It is very important to be aware that most commercially produced berries are loaded with pesticides and fungicides (Strawberries are #2 on the latest Dirty Dozen list) and these chemicals really mess with our bodies by disrupting our hormones and often get stored in our fat cells. So, get your berries from organic sources or visit your Farmer’s Markets and talk to the farmers about their methods for growing your berries.  Be sure to eat your berries and enjoy the benefits of improved health, a slimmer waistline and great skin and hair!

Strawberry Superfood Smoothie

1 ½ - 2 cups unsweetened almond milk (rice/flax milk are options)

1 ½ cups organic strawberries, frozen/fresh

1 organic banana, fresh

1 tbsp raw cacao powder

1 tbsp hemp, cacao , maca superfood powder (this is the one I have)

1 tbsp organic chia seeds

½ cup ice cubes

**Blend and enjoy!

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Dirtiest Produce?? Go Organic For These

Every year a report is compiled by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) from data the US Department of Agriculture gathered in 2012, from samples they took from 48 different kinds of fruits and vegetables, that lists the filthiest and most pesticide-laden fruits and veggies. It’s called the “Dirty Dozen”. Some of the fruits and veggies are always on the list and some switch position within the list. It is very important to know which foods you should prioritize on your grocery list as “Organic”. The economy and our wallets aren’t as prosperous as they used to be so pays for us to know when to buy organic and when it’s ok to buy conventional produce.

Dirty Dozen

  1. Apples

  2. Strawberries

  3. Grapes

  4. Celery

  5. Peaches

  6. Spinach

  7. Sweet Bell Peppers

  8. Nectarines (imported)

  9. Cucumbers

  10. Cherry Tomatoes

  11. Snap Peas (imported)

  12. Potatoes

**SPECIAL NOTE - although Kale, Collard Greens and Hot Peppers aren't on the "official" list - they still contain particularly harmful, toxic chemicals, such as organophosphates and carbamate insecticides. So, go organic for these too! 

According to the research, every sample of imported nectarines and 99% of apple samples tested positive for the residue of at least 1 pesticide and the average potato has more pesticides by weight than any other food. Gross huh?? A single grape sample contained 15 pesticides. And single samples of celery, strawberries, imported snap peas and cherry tomatoes contained 15 different pesticides apiece. This really makes me want to grow my own food!! I wish I had the time and a garden to enjoy as many fresh fruits and vegetables. It disturbs me that our government which is supposed to protect its citizens allows our food supply to be so contaminated but… that is another story for another day. Keep this list in mind when you’re shopping for your fruits and veggies! Oh and if you’re like me and make smoothies or juice fruits and veggies remember that these veggies should be organic even if they aren’t on the Dirty Dozen list. You don’t want to ruin the direct infusion of vitamins and minerals with pesticides!

This is one of my favorite smoothies! I usually have it as my breakfast - quick and clean.

Tropical Detox Smoothie

3 organic kale leaves, destalked

2 cups organic almond milk

1 organic apple, cored

½ cup organic mango, frozen

½ packet organic Sambazon acai, frozen

1 tbsp organic coconut oil

**Blend and enjoy!

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