Thanks to greater awareness surrounding the dangers of food that's processed and doused with pesticides, consumer attitudes have blossomed from an interest to a demand when it comes to knowing what's in our food and understanding what's healthy.
However, consumers aren't the only ones who've changed their attitude toward "conventional" food. Large food manufacturers have also transformed their tactics in regard to producing and labeling food products (mostly labeling), but instead theirs is driven by money rather than concern for consumer health.
While many have become diligent at reading labels and checking ingredients, there are some foods out there that are cleverly marketed as "healthy" but are anything but. Sometimes these products need to be examined more closely for harmful ingredients.
One product to watch out for is yogurt.
Advertisers market yogurt as a quick, low-calorie, healthy snack, even labeling it with a seal that reads "Live and Active Cultures." This is meant to fool customers into believing that it provides a high level of healthy microorganisms, or probiotics.
The "Live and Active Cultures" seal is used only on products made by popular brands like General Mills or Groupe Danone. Interestingly, organic companies don't use this seal at all.
Tests done by the Cornucopia Institute, an organic watchdog group that promotes family-scale farming, showed that many farmstead organic yogurt products without the "Live and Active Culture" seal actually contain higher amounts of probiotics than conventional yogurt.
When you study the ingredients in "conventional" yogurt, you'll find that it's made from milk produced by a cow that's been confined to one space its whole life, pumped with antibiotics and hormones, and fed GMO grain. Ingredients can also include artificial sweeteners, chemical defoamers, processed sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, synthetic preservatives and the controversial thickener carrageenan.
Numerous health problems have been associated with aspartame, including migraines, blurred vision, depression, gastrointestinal complications and many others. Carrageenan, or seaweed extract, is a preservative used to maintain the thick, milky texture of yogurt and to keep contents from separating. It's been linked to inflammation, ulcerations and even bleeding. It's also received FDA approval to be used in USDA Certified Organic food.
These ingredients make for anything but a "healthy" product. In fact, if you eat them regularly, you could be doing more harm than good.
When you're buying yogurt, look for products that have the USDA Certified Organic label. This is regulated by the USDA's National Organic Program and must meet strict requirements.
Try to avoid buying products just because they say "all-natural." This sounds really good but doesn't mean anything because it's completely unregulated.
Any business can use this label for advertising without changing any of their ingredients. It's basically a loophole for companies trying to be part of the healthy, non-GMO food revolution without actually being healthy or non-GMO.
Look for yogurt brands that say "grass-fed, no added hormones" or, even better, "gluten-free." Stonyfield Organic Greek yogurt uses NO toxic pesticides, artificial hormones or antibiotics. It's also non-GMO and USDA Organic.
Popularity surrounding organic, non-GMO food has reached an all-time high but has also sparked the attention of food manufactures, and not always in a good way. Be skeptical when you see companies labeling their products as "all-natural," especially major name brands like General Mills, Kraft Foods and PepsiCo. If possible, try to stick to items made by smaller companies interested in providing a healthy product through practices that often give back to the environment, rather than buying food filled with chemicals and packaged with lies.