When you go to buy organic food online, you might feel a little nervous. There are a lot of food claims out there that don’t seem to match up.

One of the things we’re most proud of at Lettuce Deliver is our commitment to an honest relationship with food. When we say food is organic, we mean organic food. This is why we include labelling and information when you buy organic food online with us you may not see elsewhere.

We want you to be making an informed decision on what items you purchase. And we want you to know that when you buy organic food online at Lettuce Deliver, organic food is what you’re getting.

The trouble with food terminology is that what we assume or think something means may not always be true. Unfortunately, Australia has some pretty glaring loopholes with the sorts of claims that can be made with food. We like to think that marketing and packaging has a certain degree of honesty about it, but it’s not always that simple.

While we may not have the systemic issues of say the American food system, food marketing is not always clear cut.

So today, we’re going to take a walk through some of the pitfalls in food marketing and what you may encounter when you buy organic food online in the descriptions. We want you fully informed on the issues you may encounter.

Certified organic versus the rest

When you are shopping to buy organic food online, you should always look for certified organic foods . This means a food has met the qualification of a proper regulatory body in relation to its organic status. All businesses that use the term ‘certified organic’ need to be registered, tested and meet the requirements as set down by the body that has certified them.

In Australia, there are a few bodies that can certify organic produce and food. Some do differ slightly in the stringency of their qualifications. Much of the confusion that is created by having different bodies certifying foods is partly due to the voluntary nature of certified organic and biodynamic food registration. This is further complicated by the classifications not being standard the world over.

What we do at Lettuce Deliver is list a product’s organic certification status and list the body that has given that status. That way, you can always make an informed choice about your products.

We also make a commitment to never substitute a certified organic product for an uncertified product. And if we do need to make substitutions, we always make a reasonable attempt via our produce notes and website to ensure you are fully informed and can opt not to have a particular certified organic product as opposed to accept one you are not happy with.

Free range falsehoods

The beginning of the year saw the media blow up with issues around the definition of free range eggs. And with very good reason as many of the egg producer claims of free range are at odds with what consumers believe them to be.

In Australia, egg producers can be classified as producing free range eggs with up to 20,000 birds per hectare . Similar classifications in the EU mean a legal maximum of 2500 birds per hectare. Some countries and bodies will only certify eggs when a maximum of 750 birds are present.

Many of the so called ‘free range’ eggs found in major supermarket chains have up to 20,000 birds per hectare. Most are around the 10,000 mark. As you can imagine, this leaves very little space for dust bathing, scratching and other natural happy chicken habits.

Choice and the RSPCA have made it their business to educate consumers about the problems related to free range egg classification.

At Lettuce Deliver, when you buy organic food online with us, you can do so knowing we have checked the claims of the farmer and know them personally.

We choose certified organic eggs from farms that are below the EU birds per hectare standard. Many of whom we have long standing relationships with that include meeting them and even touring the farm.

Sugar subterfuge

Sugar is potentially harmful to our health, yet we’re often subjected to labels that disguise sugar content.

‘No added sugar’ is a common claim for example. That doesn’t mean something does not contain sugar. It simply means that additional sugar wasn’t added in the last stages of the food’s creation. Yet 28% of people surveyed by Food Standards in Australia and New Zealand in 2006 thought no added sugar meant the product didn’t contain any sugar. And a further 30% thought it meant the sugar content was low.

Neither of which is usually the case with ‘no added sugar’ claims.

At Lettuce Deliver, we avoid stocking products that make claims about health properties we can’t validate. We also choose products that are not mixed in a science lab or drenched in marketing spin.

Gluten free but not free from problems

Gluten is increasingly becoming a problem for people. Many food manufacturers who create processed products have added additional gluten as a thickener to recipes where gluten has not been seen before. Our increased exposure to gluten through these sorts of practises could have contributed to the deterioration of bowel health if left unchecked.

We’re seeing an increase in digestive illness in Australia and higher rates of bowel cancer. So of course people are looking at ways to change their diet to avoid gas, bloating, pain and sickness.

What’s working against us is that talking about the loo can be a little embarrassing. One of the hardest parts of digestive illness is admitting going to the bathroom is problematic. Changing to toilet habits can be pretty scary as well, especially if you see things like excess water, mucous and blood.

The issue with gluten-free claims isn’t necessarily that the claims are disingenuous. It’s that a lot of people are leaning towards gluten-free and wheat-free products without quite understanding that gluten may not always be the culprit.

For example, digestive diseases such as diverticulitis may not be triggered by gluten. It could be a sensitivity to sugar or the additional or subtraction of too much fibre in one hit. Chron’s is also another digestive illness that many mistakenly treat with less gluten when lowering fibre content, using the FODMAP diet for isolating problematic foods and avoiding lumpy bumpy foods that don’t digest well can provide relief.

At Lettuce Deliver, we provide gluten-free and wheat-free foods that meet the gluten free and coaeliac standards of Australia. And we label them accordingly. But we also encourage our members to have that conversation with a GP so that any food as medicine route is using the right approach for your particular issues.

Why food terms and proper labelling matter

We get a bit of a mixed reaction from people at dinner parties when we talk about the Lettuce Deliver commitment to food labelling myth-busting. Not because people don’t care about their food. In fact, most people do care quite deeply about the sorts of food they feed themselves and their families. It’s usually because the average person has no idea that the good faith and trust they place in food labelling is often being abused or even broken.

At Lettuce Deliver, we do what we can to increase our customer’s ability to get proper information. We make sure that we list the type organic certification and the place of origin on all our foods. When you buy organic food online from us, you get the entire story.

And we provide additional details to help you in each product description and we’re completely transparent about our network of farmers and product suppliers. Plus we never substitute products we sell as organic for any other kind.

Sometimes it makes us a little sad and a little cranky that our food system is set up to bamboozle people. It shouldn’t be this hard to buy organic food online and trust the labels and the marketing claims. It’s unfair that companies take advantage of people’s desire to do well.

But as the proactive, positive bunch we are, we don’t dwell on the negative emotions for long.

We just work harder to help you navigate the claims made about food. And to introduce you to the producers, farmers and companies who care as much about the truth as you do.

If at any time you would like additional information about Lettuce Deliver and the products we stock, don’t hesitate to drop us an email.

We want to make it easy for you to buy organic food online without worries or concern.