Even with products in the natural and organic sections of the supermarket, it’s essential to read the labels and ingredient lists carefully.
Annie’s Homegrown products—especially the macaroni and cheese—have become a go-to for those looking for better packaged food items.
However, not all Annie’s macaroni and cheeses are the same and the subtle differences in the products are easily overlooked. It took me several minutes to break the code.
Pictured above are two versions of Annie’s “Shells & White Cheddar.” While the word “organic” appears on both boxes (click on photo for more detail), only the product on the left can qualify as an organic product under USDA regulations.
The product on the right is made with organic pasta, but its cheese, buttermilk and butter are not organic, meaning there’s a decent chance the milk used to make those comes from cows administered hormones and antibiotics and given feed made from genetically modified and pesticide-laden crops.
The product on the left contains organic cheese and organic whey (no hormones, antibiotics, pesticides), and it is “certified organic.” The further claim of “no pesticides or hormones” has been added to the green box on the bottom left of the package.
Remember, the words “natural” and “organic” are not interchangeable. For a product to use the USDA Organic seal, at least 95% of its ingredients must be organic.
Here’s a helpful graphic courtesy of the USDA: