Nutrition Drill-Down: How Organic is Organic?

by • February 2, 2014 • 2014, Big Kids, Cooking & Dining Out, Expert Advice, February 2014, Home Life, Sports, Health & Fitness, Teens and Pre-Teens

by Roy Dittmann, OMD, MH, DM

According to the USDA, “methods like irradiation, sewage sludge, and genetic engineering are all expressly prohibited from being used when growing or processing organic foods.”1

It’s always good to know your food isn’t being produced with the use of sewage sludge. But did you know that not all packaged foods with multiple ingredients featuring the word “organic” on the label are 100% organic? The USDA has strict guidelines for organic labels. Here is how to understand them.2

how to read the organic label

An ingredient or product listed as organic must be non-GMO; the same cannot be said for the label “natural.” In actuality, “natural” doesn’t mean much.

GMO Refresher

GMOs are foods grown with up to ten times more pesticides than non-GMO foods. Pesticides are designed to stick to plants when it rains, which means washing your vegetables does not effectively reduce your family’s exposure. Furthermore, these pesticides kill off probiotics (good bacteria) in the gut and make it harder for the body to eliminate toxins. GMO pesticides (e.g. RoundUp®) have been linked to gut disorders and a host of birth defects, as well as childhood and adult diseases, including autism. There have been no human clinical trials of genetically modified foods; the government regulators seemed to have skipped that part.

If Packaged Foods Aren’t Labeled “Organic,” They’re Probably GMO

There are four major GMO crops: soy, corn, cotton, and canola. And these four products are in so many foods, it makes GMOs hard to avoid without buying organic. Basically, if any of the following ingredients do not have the word “organic” right next to them, they are almost always genetically modified3,4:


Aspartame (derived from GMO microbes)

Canola oil

Cottonseed oil

Corn (including high fructose corn syrup)

Dairy (all non-organic dairy)

DHA oil found in most infant formulas (bathed in hexane and GMO-derived)


Papayas grown in the U.S.

Soy (all soy)

Sugar beets (if the package does not say “pure cane sugar” and just says “sugar,” it is likely made from GMO beets)


Roy Dittmann, OMD, MH, DM is the author of “Brighton Baby: A Revolutionary Organic Approach to Having an Extraordinary Child – The Complete Guide to Preconception & Conception.” Find Dr. Dittmann on Facebook (Brighton Baby) and at


1Organic 101: What Organic Farming (and Processing) Doesn’t Allow. Available online at’t-allow/#more-37348

2Labeling Organic Products. Available online at

39 GMO Ingredients to Avoid. Green America. Available online at

4What are Martek’s DHA and ARA oils? The Cornucopia Institute. Available online at

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