When choosing which foods to purchase for your new paleo lifestyle, one of the easiest, yet most important things you can do is read the labels. You may be amazed at how many pre-packaged foods contain added sugar, salt, preservatives and other non-paleo ingredients. Even things labeled “organic” often contain added sugar. That being said, look for products labeled “USDA certified organic”, “fair trade”, and “raw” While there has been some debate as to whether USDA certifications actually guarantee organic products, at the very least, you know there has been some regulation.
“Fair trade” helps to ensure that the workers farming, picking, and processing the products are compensated fairly for their work. This is meant to help ensure against unfair work practices in other countries. I have seen this label popping up a lot recently, primarily on tropical fruit, tea, and coffee. Raw, means exactly that. The product has not been put through a heating process depleting it’s natural health benefits, or making it into a concentrate. I’m personally not willing to give up sweeteners all together, so when I use them I make sure it is raw sugar, raw honey, or raw agave nectar.
Don’t let labels like “all natural” fool you. This is fine for things like cleaning products, but when it comes to food, this label means almost nothing. If you read the ingredients, there is still almost always a fair amount of preservatives and unnatural ingredients. There is really no regulation for things with a “natural” label. Regardless of any label on the front of that package, you should still read the ingredient list on everything to avoid any surprises. Eventually you will know which brands you trust, and won’t have to do it as often.