FOOD LABELS: just fancy marketing?

By Heather LaPergola
October 18, 2012

Society has started to become more conscious of what they put into their bodies. Eating “healthy” or “clean” is a popular trend, but it’s also a life choice. People who seriously pay attention to what they eat have to be prepared to work hard. However, there has been controversy over Organic Food versus GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) and which is better in terms of nutrition, cost, and effects on the environment.

Jenna Caroccia, a senior social work major, was diagnosed with Celiac Disease about four years ago, so not only does she prefer to eat organic, she needs to.

“I’m not allowed to have gluten in my diet. I have a really bad allergy to it so I get really, really sick if I have any wheat- or flour-based things. The chemicals that are added in GMOs, Genetically Modified Organisms, a lot of them contain a gluten base, so I would be not eating flour and still getting sick.”

“Going organic has basically saved my life,” Caroccia said. It really did, because I wasn’t sure why I was getting so sick. I was always tired and not feeling well, just constantly sick. So I went organic and I feel 100 percent clean and better. I think this whole new eating healthy thing is a trend. I mean you see ‘gluten-free’ and all these fun things like the gluten-free organic healthly diet. I just hope it stays. I hope it sticks and that people do feel better as a result of doing all of these dietary things.”

Caroccia went on to say, “I try to encourage my roommates and friends all the time just to try it for a little while, like eating organic and see if they feel better, especially if they have any kind of food allergies or any type of illness or anything. It helps them feel a lot better, so I would like people to try.” Junior Trevor Cross doesn’t like the negative connotation people give GMOs. “A lot of the crops that we produce [in America] are genetically modified in some way,” Cross said. “There’s what’s called golden rice, where they put genes into the rice that allow it to synthesize vitamins that it wouldn’t otherwise synthesize. So you get rid of a lot of diseases by being properly nourished like that, of course. That’s one example.” Cross went on to explain that GMOs also afford food security and offer less expensive prices compared to those of organic food. He also finds the science behind the entire process extremely interesting itself. One of the most frustrating issues with GMOs isn’t the controversy of whether they’re good or bad, but that even though these foods make it easier for third-world countries, many large companies are patenting their gene processes and making it impossible for those poorer countries to purchase and consume these more affordable foods.

“It has to do with making the best out of a bad situation, especially for places where crops are hard to grow because you can modify them in a way that they can grow where they wouldn’t be able to normally. And with that population where food shortage, food supply and water supply is a big deal, having that there is sort of a crutch you can work with depending on the environment and population.”

Senior Megan Ryan is indifferent about organic and GMO foods.

“I would buy organic food more often if it was not so expensive,” Ryan said. Many people today feel the same way about organic foods. Megan really likes golden corn, which falls under the GMO category.

In relation to current political importance, both candidates and their families eat healthy organic diets and promote the benefits they see in doing so. However, neither truly have a stance on one against the other. Both have been known to promote untested GMO foods as well. It seems that taking the side of organic or GMO is as wide as choosing a political party.


Interesting Facts:

-Many popular brands, such as Kashi, Kraft, General Mills, Nature Valley and Hershey contain GMOs

-All organic food is label as such with a USDA Organic sticker.

-Labels on fruits and vegetables:

-If it is a 4-digit number, the food is conventionally produced.

-If it is a 5-digit number beginning with an 8, it is GMO.

-If it is a 5-digit number beginning with a 9, it is

-The products that are most likely to be genetically modified are soybeans, corn, canola, rice, dairy, and farm-raised salmon.


5 Stigmas Organic Foods Face:

– The cost is the biggest disadvantage of organic foods

– They’re not always available

– It takes a lot of time and space to produce organic items

– Up to 500 chemicals are absorbed when farming

– Medicine used for animals can be absorbed when you eat organic meat


5 Benefits of Organic Foods:

– They’re better for your health

– They can reduce the effects of or prevent some allergies and diseases

– All natural; no genetically modified ingredients

– Grown in and further create a healthier environment

– Saves wildlife by decreasing harsh chemicals in the soil


5 Stigmas GMO Foods Face:

-Harmful to the environment

– Foreign foods may cause allergies to young children

– Health concerns for humans

– Bringing foreign food into the U.S. is very costly

– Increase pesticide use


5 Stigmas for G.M.O. Foods:

– More cost-effective

– Higher crop yields

– Have a longer shelf life

– Strict and complex standards for GMOs make them safer

– Enhances the taste, quality, size, and smell of the food

Heather LaPergola

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