Let’s face it: Being a food-conscious parent in the digital age isn’t easy. Simply finding the time to shop for healthy ingredients and turning them into nutritious meals for our family is a major victory. One common barrier to making healthy, bountiful meals are the buzzwords that surround us online and in the grocery store. So, let’s take a look at some frequently used food buzzwords and turn them into meaningful phrases that can help you decide what belongs on your dinner table.
1. GMO: Any food-based initialism can sound scary when presented alongside a long list of hard-to-pronounce ingredients. Fortunately, GMO simply stands for “genetically modified organism,” which means that scientists have given a plant or other product different, beneficial properties.
2. Organic: Organic and conventional foods go through much of the same processing to get from field to plate. The largest difference between organic and conventional crops is whether synthetic pesticides were used during crop production, but there are other considerations to be made about organic food, too.
3. Pesticides: Speaking of pesticides and food, let’s break them down. Pesticides are materials used to protect our crops from insects, viruses, fungi and other unwanted plant-guests. While too much of anything can be harmful, pesticides are only used when necessary, used on the same land that farmers live, eat and drink upon, and are strictly regulated.
4. Antioxidants: In a few words, antioxidants fight oxidation. Oxidation is a chemical reaction process that takes place in our bodies that, when disrupted, can create free radicals that damage our cells, causing unwanted diseases and exacerbating health problems. In short, foods rich in antioxidants help us fight back diseases caused by oxidation, allowing us to stay healthy.
5. Processed: When you hear the term “processed,” cheese from a spray bottle and potted meat probably come to mind. Thankfully, that’s not the real definition of a processed food! Processed food is any food that has been altered mechanically or chemically to change it. Some common, healthy processed foods you probably recognize are pasteurized milk, olives that have been pressed to form olive oil, and beverages fortified with calcium and vitamin D.
While it may seem difficult to make sense of the endless food buzzwords online or elsewhere, know they can be broken down into valuable terms that will help you make meaningful choices about the ingredients you want in your pantry, in your kitchen and on your plate.