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The Whole Truth About Whole Foods: The Not-So-Organic Grocery Store

Although Whole Foods is marketed as a grocery store that sells the “finest natural and organic foods available,” that’s not the whole truth regarding the products they sell and the food they prepare in-house.

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Right off the bat, I’d like to make it clear that this is not a hate piece against Whole Foods. I’ll be the first to admit that the store offers a wide range of organic and plant-based foods, making it easier for the health conscious among us to find quality organic food and beverage products.

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However, that’s not all Whole Foods sells, and I’d like to bring further awareness to that. Although Whole Foods has an incredibly large supply of high-quality, plant-based, organic foods, the retailer also offers a ton of GMO, pesticide-ridden, and unhealthy products.

Although Whole Foods is marketed as a grocery store that sells the “finest natural and organic foods available,” that’s not the whole truth regarding the products they sell and the food they prepare in-house.

The Whole Truth About Whole Foods’ Prepared Foods  

To start, let’s take a look at the foods Whole Foods actually cooks in-house. If you’ve never been to Whole Foods, they have an awesome prepared food bar. Not only is much of the food delicious, organic, and vegan, but there’s a wide range of items to choose from.

Envision a long buffet bar filled with cold foods, another filled with hot foods, and then tons of other prepared foods surrounding the store based on different dietary preferences. Whether you’re looking for baked goods, desserts, salads, cold foods, hot foods, pizza — you name it, Whole Foods probably makes it. 

 And although some of these foods are truly high-quality and healthy for the body, some are not quite as healthy as you’d expect to be eating at a place called “Whole Foods.” For example, in recent years, Whole Foods has been facing a lot of criticism for the oils they use in their prepared foods.

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A lot of the food Whole Foods makes contains canola oil, a low-grade oil that isn’t very good for the body. It is estimated that 95% of canola oil in Canada is genetically modified. The comparison between the number of GMO and non-GMO crops in the U.S is similar, as the U.S. is the leading producer of GM foods globally. Since so many of the crops grown in North America are GM, cross-contamination can easily occur between GMO and non-GMO crops.

Despite the “Organic” sticker on canola oil, there is still a risk of GMO contamination in some crops, particularly ones that are predominantly GMO. GMO contamination can happen in several ways:

  1. cross-pollination between GMO and non-GMO crops
  2. trace amounts of GMO ingredients found in animal feed
  3. seeds traveling by wind
  4. migratory birds taking root in the soil of an organic farm
  5. ingredient suppliers that co-mingle various sources.

That being said, of course organic is always the better option than conventional, but it’s important to note that canola oil is still unhealthy if it’s organic and can still be contaminated with GMOs. Whole Foods maintains that they use a non-GMO canola oil in their foods, although they do sell GMO canola oil in their stores. Keep in mind that pesticides are still used on non-GMO products, because that is not the equivalent to organic.

In addition, when it comes to low-grade oils like canola oil, they still pose health risks even when they’re organic or “expeller-pressed.” They perform similarly in the body as things like margarine and animal fat do, because they still coagulate in your blood (which is associated with blood clotting).

This isn’t the only concern regarding their prepared foods, either. Popular blogger Food Babe reported: “On several occasions, I’ve found less than stellar ingredients hidden in their prepared foods – like GMOs, hidden MSG and the over use of cheap oils like corn, soy, and canola, which I will get to in a minute.”

Again, although lots of the food prepared by Whole Foods is genuinely organic and healthy, it’s clear that not all of the food is healthy. This serves as an excellent reminder for us all to always read ingredients, regardless of where we’re buying our food!

Other Issues With Whole Foods 

Whole Foods is currently under public scrutiny after launching their produce rating program. Tons of organic farmers have vocalized their concerns surrounding this new rating system, as they claim it devalues the organic label and threatens their business models.

Whole Foods’ rating system, Responsibly Grown, was designed to provide customers with more information about how their food is grown. However, suppliers must pay for this rating, resulting in a steep cost for organic farmers.

Organic produce farms are often smaller farms that aren’t owned and operated by rich and powerful corporations like Monsanto. The organic certification is costly enough already, and many farmers can barely afford that, let alone an additional rating system.

The new rating system takes into account much more.

Whole Foods is asking its suppliers to pay a fee to get into the program, then answer a long questionnaire. There are questions about how they protect the soil and wildlife on their farms, whether they limit their use of pesticides, how they conserve energy and irrigation water, and how they treat their workers.

The rating system essentially grades farmers on their produce in regards to pesticide usage, conservation efforts, water usage, and more. Based on these findings, they’re graded as Unrated, Good, Better, or Best. This in theory could create more transparency between farmers and consumers, which would be awesome.

However, farmers have been quick to point out holes in the program. NPR reported:

But here’s what is making organic farmers angry. At a Whole Foods store in Washington, D.C., I found nonorganic onions and tomatoes, presumably grown with standard fertilizers and pesticides, that were labeled “Best.” A few feet away, I found organic onions and tomatoes that were graded merely “Good” or just “Unrated.”

This isn’t the only large-scale issue with Whole Foods. Just last year, Whole Foods was under public scrutiny for supporting GMOs and selling so many GMO foods in their stores. You can read more about that in the following CE article:

Whole Foods Caves To Monsanto To Kill GMO-Labelling Bill?

GMOs aren’t the only cause for concern within the ingredients lists of some of the foods sold at Whole Foods. CE covered another story on this, which you can read below:

Whole Foods Boycott? They Knowingly Sell Dietary Products Significantly Contaminated With Toxic Heavy Metals

Final Thoughts

To be clear, Whole Foods still sells some awesome products. They have a wide range of organic produce and serve as a massive supplier of plant-based and non-GMO foods that are rarely found in conventional grocery stores. For example, I visited the Whole Foods in Hawaii recently and was thrilled to purchase lots of organic plant-based foods, including some products I hadn’t been able to find in Canada, such as the vegan Beyond Meat burgers.

It’s clearly convenient for those of us interested in health to go to a big box store and be able to purchase the products we love that are not only delicious, but healthy for the body as well. However, it’s equally clear that these aren’t the only products Whole Foods sells, as they do sell some non-organic produce and GMO foods.

I’d encourage you to check out some local farmer’s markets instead of going to Whole Foods once in a while. Although local doesn’t mean organic, many markets typically offer organic options, and it’s really nice to be able to support local farms. Plus, the prices are typically a lot more affordable at organic markets than at Whole Foods, where they inflate many of the prices.

At the end of the day, this is a really important lesson for all of us to remember to read the ingredients in everything we buy, whether that be food, drinks, body products, cleaning supplies, or whatever else. Just because something is marketed as being “all-natural” or is sold at a health food store, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s healthy.

Free Franco DeNicola Screening: The Shift In Consciousness

We interviewed Franco DeNicola about what is happening with the shift in consciousness. It turned out to be one of the deepest and most important information we pulled out within an interview.

We explored why things are moving a little more slowly with the shift at times, what is stopping certain solutions from coming forward and the important role we all play.

Watch the interview here.
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Awareness

Organic Certification: What the USDA Organic Label Means

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Organic and natural labels mean different things, and various types of labels tells you what percentage of ingredients are actually organic. We'll explore what to look for.

  • Reflect On:

    Do you sometimes buy products thinking they are organic or fully natural based on their wording? Have you later found out that those products aren't natural or organic at all? Read labels more closely at grocery stores to be aware.

Don’t get conned by fraudulent claims of “natural” or “organic.” Learn what to look for, and why it’s important, to ensure you’re getting the quality you are paying for.

The industrial age of the 20th century brought about changing agricultural practices that have generated increasing alarm about the effects of these practices on the environment and health. The use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, antibiotics, hormones, irradiated and genetically altered food and fiber products has created a groundswell of rightful concern. It has led to the growing demand for non-toxic, organic products that many are willing to pay a higher price for to ensure the healthful purity of food and clothing provided for their families.

With such profit opportunities, it’s little wonder that the lucrative organic product market has suffered abuse with so-called “organic” labels being fraudulently placed on products that have not earned the right. As a result of pressure from farming and consumer groups, legislation for the standardization of organic certification was introduced in the 1980s. It has been updated to include more vigorous enforcement and control methods since, with the current standards established in 2002 by the USDA.

The Standards of USDA Organic Certification

Specific standards must be met in order to legally claim a product as USDA certified organic. Organic producers must utilize methods that conserve water, maximize soil health, and reduce air pollution. The specific standards to earn USDA organic certification include:

Free of synthetic chemicals such as insecticides, herbicides, fertilizers, hormones, antibiotics, and additives

Free from irradiation and genetically modified organisms

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Agricultural products grown on land that has been free of prohibited substances for a period of three years

Animals used for meat, eggs, milk or other animal products must be exclusively fed foods that are organically grown, may not be given antibiotics or hormones, and must have access to outdoors.

Clean and sanitized harvesting and processing equipment throughout the process from harvest to finished, packaged product

Detailed chain-of-handling records from the field through final sales

Physical separation of certified organic products from non-organic products throughout the process of production

Regular on-site inspections from USDA-approved inspectors to ensure compliance

Understanding the Certified Organic Label

Once the rigorous process of certification has been completed, organic producers may place the USDA certified organic seal on their products. Currently, there are four levels of certified organic products, with a specific definition of the percentage of organic ingredients the final products contains. They are as follows:

• 100% organic: all production methods and ingredients are USDA certified organic.

• Organic: at least 95% of the production methods and ingredients are USDA certified organic with remaining ingredients included on the National List of allowed ingredients.

• Made With Organic Ingredients: at least 70% of the ingredients are USDA certified organic with remaining ingredients included on the National List of allowed ingredients.

• No organic wording or seal: less than 70% of the ingredients are USDA certified organic and no claims may be made on the front or back of the product.

Manufacturers or producers who knowingly label a product “organic” when it does not meet the USDA standards are subject to fines up to $11,000 per violation.

Why Organic Certification is Important

When you see the official USDA organic certification seal on food, clothing, and bedding products, you can be assured that these products have met the meticulous standards required and are free of chemicals, toxins, antibiotics, and hormones. When you see the USDA certified organic label, you will understand the value of the higher priced organic products as compared to non-organically produced products.

With the current stringent organic certification requirements enforced by regular inspections from USDA accredited agents, the USDA certified organic label has great meaning and importance to the consumer. Look for the label to know that you are getting the quality you are paying for.

Free Franco DeNicola Screening: The Shift In Consciousness

We interviewed Franco DeNicola about what is happening with the shift in consciousness. It turned out to be one of the deepest and most important information we pulled out within an interview.

We explored why things are moving a little more slowly with the shift at times, what is stopping certain solutions from coming forward and the important role we all play.

Watch the interview here.
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Awareness

WHO Finds Global Lack Of Inactivity Rising Especially In Wealthier Countries — What You Can Do

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Inactivity is on the rise and it's the cause of a wide range of health concerns. Our population is only becoming more inactive, not less, and it's time to change that.

  • Reflect On:

    There are many factors of our modern world that make us less active. Our jobs, driving rather than walking/biking, too much screen time. What can you do differently to bring more activity into your life? What story stops you from starting?

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that more than a quarter of the entire population on this planet are not getting enough physical exercise, this number has barely improved since 2001. There are many factors that contribute to this, but just how much damage are we doing by failing to be active?

The lack of physical exercise raises the risk of many health problems, such as heart disease, type-2 diabetes and various types of cancers.

Interestingly, according to their study published in The Lancet Global Health, higher income countries, such as the UK, were among the least active population. Women were also found to be more sedentary throughout the world, excluding two regions in Asia.

The study looked at self-reported data on activity levels from 358 population based surveys covering 168 countries and included 1.9 million people.

The populations of higher income countries, which include the UK and USA showed an increase in the proportion of inactive people and had actually risen from 32% in 2001 to 37% in 2016, in the lower income countries it remained at 16%.

Those who were classified as inactive did less than 150 minutes of moderate exercise and around 75 minutes of intense activity per week.

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It was found that women were less active than men overall, except for in South and Central Asia, the Middle East, North Africa and higher-income Western countries. The authors believe that this was caused by a few different factors including extra childcare duties and cultural perspectives that may have made it more difficult for them to exercise.

Why More Inactivity In Wealthier Countries?

According to the researchers, in the wealthier countries, many of the jobs have transitioned to more office or desk jobs, meaning a more sedentary type of lifestyle. On top of that much of the population of these countries drive automobiles or take public transit to and from work which in many cases accounts for a lot of their time.

In the lower income countries, many of the jobs require the people to be more active, are physically demanding and people often have to walk to and from their jobs.

The WHO has had a goal to reduce the global levels of inactivity by 10% by 2025, the authors of the study feel that at the rate we are currently going, this target will be missed.

Lead author of the study, Dr. Regina Guthold said, “Unlike other major global health risks, levels of insufficient physical activity are not falling worldwide, on average, and over a quarter of all adults are not reaching the recommended levels of physical activity for good health.”

Regions with increasing levels of insufficient physical activity are a major concern for public health and the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases.”

Co-author, Dr. Fiona Bull added, “Addressing these inequalities in physical activity levels between men and women will be critical to achieving global activity targets and will require interventions to promote and improve women’s access to opportunities that are safe, affordable and culturally acceptable.”

According to the WHO,

Exercise guidelines for 19- to 64-year-olds

How much?

  • at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity every week
  • strength exercises on two or more days a week that work all the major muscles
  • break up long periods of sitting with light activity

What is moderate aerobic activity?

  • Walking fast, water aerobics, riding a bike on level ground or with a few hills, doubles tennis, pushing a lawn mower, hiking, skateboarding, rollerblading, volleyball, basketball

What counts as vigorous activity?

  • Jogging or running, swimming fast, riding a bike fast or on hills, singles tennis, football, rugby, skipping rope, hockey, aerobics, gymnastics, martial arts

What activities strengthen muscles?

  • lifting weights, working with resistance bands, doing exercises that use your own body weight, such as push-ups and sit-ups, heavy gardening, such as digging and shovelling, yoga

What activities are both aerobic and muscle-strengthening?

  • circuit training, aerobics, running, football, rugby, netball, hockey

Final Thoughts

I was surprised to see that the WHO didn’t touch on inactivity due to too much screen time — watching television, Netflix, Facebook scrolling, messaging, texting, browsing etc. Certainly, the increase in screen time plays a roll with the amount of inactivity, especially in the higher income countries. If you are someone who spends too much time staring at a screen, then it is important to consider the above information. Can you limit your screen time and replace it with something active? Or would you consider jumping rope, or rebounding while watching the television? Our health is our greatest wealth and having awareness about an issue is the first way to create change and take responsibility for our lives.

Could you walk or bike to work instead of drive? What about trying a new sport? Could you commit to adding a few hours each week of physical activity? These small decisions could have a profound impact on your health, longevity and overall well-being.

Much Love

Free Franco DeNicola Screening: The Shift In Consciousness

We interviewed Franco DeNicola about what is happening with the shift in consciousness. It turned out to be one of the deepest and most important information we pulled out within an interview.

We explored why things are moving a little more slowly with the shift at times, what is stopping certain solutions from coming forward and the important role we all play.

Watch the interview here.
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Awareness

List Of Products & Brands That Tested Positive For Monsanto’s Glyphosate

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Glyphosate is a carcinogenic chemical that can be found in an alarming number of food products. Traces have even been found in companies that employ the "Organic" label.

  • Reflect On:

    Think about what you buy and consume. By voting with your dollar and opting out of foods that contain this chemical, you are telling Monsanto you don't want it. The power lies in the hands of each and every one of us.

Finally, the corporate giant Monsanto, an organization that has hailed itself as the answer to global food shortages and is “working to help farmers grow food more sustainably” has been outed and is currently facing backlash after a near $300 million lawsuit was settled proving that glyphosate, the active ingredient in the roundup herbicide, causes cancer. The company was found guilty of malice and covering up the fact that their most popular product does indeed cause cancer.

On their website, it still states that “Glyphosate has a 40-year history of safe and effective use. In evaluations spanning those four decades, the overwhelming conclusion of experts worldwide, including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), has been that glyphosate can be used safely.” Seems they are still in denial, despite the lawsuit.

This is great news, however, as this story was too big to be kept from the mainstream. Many are starting to wake up to the fact that Monsanto isn’t as safe of a company as they would like you to believe. Despite years of mounting evidence that glyphosate is carcinogenic, Monsanto has been able to deny the fact, stating that no products contain a high enough level to pose a risk, failing to acknowledge the cumulative effect within the body.

Americans have applied 1.8 million tons of glyphosate since its introduction in 1974. Worldwide, 9.4 million tons of the chemical have been sprayed onto fields. For comparison, that’s equivalent to the weight of water in more than 2,300 Olympic-size swimming pools. It’s also enough to spray nearly half a pound of Roundup on every cultivated acre of land in the world.” ~Newsweek

Which Foods Have Glyphosate?

The issue is, it can be difficult to know exactly which products are genetically modified, and thus are likely to contain Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide or some form of glyphosate. In the past, a safe bet was to be sure to purchase only organic products; however in recent years even certain brands of organic foods have been compromised as glyphosate has been found in some of these as well. Thanks to WakingTimes for providing this list of foods containing glyphosate:

  • Original Cheerios
  • Honey Nut Cheerios
  • Wheaties
  • Trix
  • Annie’s Gluten Free Bunny Cookies Cocoa & Vanilla
  • Kellog’s Corn Flakes
  • Kellog’s Raisin Bran
  • Kashi Organic Promise
  • Kellog’s Special K
  • Kellog’s Frosted Flakes
  • Cheez-It Original
  • Cheez-It Whole Grain
  • Kashi Soft Bake Cookies, Oatmeal, Dark Chocolate
  • Ritz Crackers
  • Triscuit Crackers
  • Oreo Original
  • Oreo Double Stuf Chocolate Sandwich Cookies
  • Oreo Double Stuf Golden Sandwich Cookies
  • Stacy’s Simply Naked Pita Chips (Frito-Lay)
  • Lay’s: Kettle Cooked Original
  • Doritos: Cool Ranch
  • Fritos (Original) (100% Whole Grain)
  • Goldfish crackers original (Pepperidge Farm)
  • Goldfish crackers colors
  • Goldfish crackers Whole Grain
  • Little Debbie Oatmeal Cream Pies
  • Oatmeal Cookies Gluten Free
  • 365 Organic Golden Round Crackers
  • Back to Nature Crispy Cheddar Crackers
  • Breakfast Cereals as Tested by the Environmental Working Group (2018)
    • Granola
      • Nature’s Path Organic Honey Almond granola
      • Back to Nature Classic Granola
      • Quaker Simply Granola Oats, Honey, Raisins & Almonds
      • Back to Nature Banana Walnut Granola Clusters
      • Nature Valley Granola Protein Oats ‘n Honey
      • KIND Vanilla, Blueberry Clusters with Flax Seeds
    • Instant Oats
      • Giant Instant Oatmeal, Original Flavor
      • Simple Truth Organic Instant Oatmeal, Original
      • Quaker Dinosaur Eggs, Brown Sugar, Instant Oatmeal
      • Great Value Original Instant Oatmeal
      • Umpqua Oats, Maple Pecan
      • Market Pantry Instant Oatmeal, Strawberries & Cream
    • Oat Breakfast Cereal
      • Kashi Heart to Heart Organic Honey Toasted cereal
      • Cheerios Toasted Whole Grain Oat Cereal
      • Lucky Charms
      • Barbara’s Multigrain Spoonfuls, Original, Cereal
      • Kellogg’s Cracklin’ Oat Bran oat cereal
    • Snack Bar
      • Cascadian Farm Organic Harvest Berry, granola bar
      • KIND Oats & Honey with Toasted Coconut
      • Nature Valley Crunchy Granola Bars, Oats ‘n Honey
      • Quaker Chewy Chocolate Chip granola bar
      • Kellogg’s Nutrigrain Soft Baked Breakfast Bars, Strawberry
    • Whole Oats
      • 365 Organic Old-Fashioned Rolled Oats
      • Quaker Steel Cut Oats
      • Quaker Old Fashioned Oats
      • Bob’s Red Mill Steel Cut Oats
      • Nature’s Path Organic Old Fashioned Organic Oats
      • Whole Foods Bulk Bin conventional rolled oats
      • Bob’s Red Mill Organic Old Fashioned Rolled Oats (4 samples tested)
    • Orange Juice Brands as Tested by Moms Across America(2017)
      • Tropicana
      • Minute Maid
      • Stater Bros.
      • Signature Farms
      • Kirkland
    • Ben & Jerry’s Ice Creams
    • Staple Crops as Reported by Friends of the Earth Europe(2013)
      • Soybeans
      • Soybean fodder
      • Cotton seed
      • Maize grain
      • Sorghum
      • Barley straw and fodder Grass hay
      • Lentils
      • Sweetcorn
      • Sugar beet
    • Miscellaneous

 Final Thoughts

The most effective way to avoid glyphosate in your diet is to eat a whole-food plant-based diet, which means limiting your intake of processed foods as much as possible. Look for the “Non-Gmo Verified Project” stamp to ensure your foods do are not genetically modified and thus should not contain glyphosate. The fact of the matter is, the more informed we are in regards to these chemicals, the more power we have over our own health. It’s up to us to take responsibility for our own lives, our bodies and what we are putting inside. Vote with your dollar and avoid GMO’s whenever possible.

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Much Love

Free Franco DeNicola Screening: The Shift In Consciousness

We interviewed Franco DeNicola about what is happening with the shift in consciousness. It turned out to be one of the deepest and most important information we pulled out within an interview.

We explored why things are moving a little more slowly with the shift at times, what is stopping certain solutions from coming forward and the important role we all play.

Watch the interview here.
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