Marketing and magic are frequent bedfellows, and entire teams of people get paid to create David Blaine–worthy illusory campaigns in order to make a product seem better/healthier than the 20 others just like it on the shelf. But not all this packaging-speak is useful — or even truthful — and marketing experts bank on the assumption that you won’t do your homework. But you can outsmart the marketing mayhem and make the best choices possible for yourself and your family. Here, we dive into some common verbiage used on product packaging — what it means, what it doesn’t and what it may or may not mean for your health.


The organic food market is booming, and in 2016, consumers spent more than $43 billion on organic products. In order to get a USDA-certified organic label, farmers must adhere to specific guidelines for the cultivation of both produce and livestock, and farms are inspected annually to ensure compliance. Inspectors test things like soil quality, animal-raising practices, water systems, pest and weed control, and use of additives.

Whether organically raised produce and livestock are

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