Should I Eat That?: Decoding Grocery Store Food Labels to Help You Decide What Belongs on Your Family’s Plate

Aug 25, 2020 | Recipes


Finally, you remembered to create your grocery list ahead of time, and (for once!) it made it with you to the store. But, as you are standing in the aisle trying to decide which applesauce your kids will like this week, you are overwhelmed with the number of choices and all of those labels.

So. Many. Choices.

We can help!

So you can feel more confident, and a bit less confused in the aisle. Let’s clear up what some of those labels mean! That way you can make the best choice for your family and know why you are making it.

Let’s focus on the big ones:





If you are on the hunt for organic products to serve your family, make sure you see the USDA Certified Organic label. This one is legit with some crazy high standards.  Any other label, and you can’t guarantee its quality.

When you see this label you are getting a product that was grown and produced on ground that was tested multiple times to make sure there were no synthetic chemicals used or traces left behind. The USDA label also lets you know that only chemicals are approved for organic production use. (No, organic does not mean chemical-free. Herbicides and Pesticides are still used, they are just created using plant based-chemicals that occur naturally vs. lab-created.) The process to get this label is controlled from seed and soil to shelf.


Natural is a word we like to hear.

It creates a wholesome picture of fruits and vegetables, freshly picked, glistening in the morning light. So beautiful, but incredibly misleading. The term ‘natural’ is unregulated and means nothing if you see it on product packages. Each company that uses the term ‘natural’ can decide what it means for themselves.

If you are searching for a naturally produced product, I would stay away from green packaging that reads ‘natural’ in a farmhouse font. Instead, look for the USDA Organic label. However, if you want to buy a product that is labeled as natural, just make sure you research the product and its ingredients to make sure it meets your standards.


There are currently no government-regulated Non-GMO labels – a label that would tell you if a product did not contain GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms). That means any label you see that reads ‘Non-GMO’, is either labeled by a third-party (that could be doing it for profit) or done by the product’s company, just like the term natural.

If GMO products are the ones you want a choice in, I suggest that you just know what crops are genetically modified. There are only 11 approved in the US:

• Corn

• Soybeans

• Cotton

• Sugar Beats

• Papaya

• A few varieties of Apples

• Potatoes

• Summer Squash

• Canola

• Alfalfa

• ‘AquAdvantage Salmon’, not widely raised/market

Just read the ingredient list to know if a product contains GMOs or not. If you would like to know more, Purdue University has great simple explanations of the process and answers to other questions that surround the GMO discussion.

Now that all of that is cleared up, it is time for you to take this new-found food label knowledge to the store. Use it and be confident in picking out that applesauce knowing that whatever decision you make, it will be the right one for your family.

Just as what’s inside your meals is important, so is your mortgage! EPM is here to help with that, by phone or online. You can reach us toll-free at 877-255-3554 or start your journey to homeownership online by finding a Mortgage Loan Originator in your local area.