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In the bustling aisles of grocery stores, where choices abound and labels dazzle with promises of freshness and nutrition, many shoppers overlook a hidden complexity: understanding food labels. In a world where convenience often trumps conscientiousness, the shift from “GMO” to “Bioengineered” on food labels marks a pivotal moment in perceiving and selecting the foods that nourish us.

Every bite we take matters—not just to fill our stomachs but to fuel our bodies with the nutrients they need to thrive. Yet, the journey from farm to table is veiled in intricacies that can confound even the most discerning consumers. Terms like “GMO” have long been part of our vernacular, carrying with them debates about safety, ethics, and environmental impact. However, the recent transition to “Bioengineered” heralds a new era of food labeling that seeks to clarify but also challenges us to delve deeper into what these terms truly signify.

The USDA’s National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard focuses on this shift, prompting us to question what’s in our food and how it got there. What does “Bioengineered” mean, and why does it matter? This introduction unravels the intricacies of modern food labeling, empowering consumers to make informed choices that align with their values and well-being.

The Evolution of Food Labels

The transition from traditional “GMO” labeling to the newer “Bioengineered” designation represents a significant evolution in understanding and interacting with food labels. This shift is not merely semantic; it reflects changes in agricultural practices, scientific advancements, and consumer awareness.

In the past, “GMO” (Genetically Modified Organism) was a catch-all term that encompassed various genetic modification techniques. It sparked debates and concerns about genetically modified foods’ environmental impact, ethical considerations, and potential health effects. However, the term lacked specificity, often leaving consumers uncertain about the exact nature of genetic alterations in their food.

The introduction of “Bioengineered” (BE) labeling marks a departure from the broad umbrella of “GMO.” It is a more precise term used in regulatory contexts, especially following the implementation of the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard in the United States. Unlike “GMO,” which could refer to a range of genetic modification methods, “Bioengineered” specifically denotes foods that have undergone genetic alterations through in vitro recombinant deoxyribonucleic acid (rDNA) techniques. [1]

This distinction is crucial as it clarifies that “Bioengineered” foods have been modified in ways that conventional breeding or natural processes could not achieve. While the term aims for scientific accuracy and transparency, it also raises questions and challenges for consumers. What are the implications of these genetic modifications? How do they affect our food supply’s nutritional value, safety, and sustainability?

As we navigate this new landscape of food labeling, it becomes imperative to delve deeper into the meaning behind these terms. The evolution of food labels reflects advancements in agricultural technology and our collective responsibility to make informed choices that align with our health, values, and the well-being of our planet.

The Reality Behind “Real” Mayo

In the realm of condiments, mayonnaise stands as a beloved staple, known for its creamy texture and versatility in culinary creations. Brands like Hellman’s have long touted their mayo as “Real,” a descriptor that implies naturalness and authenticity. However, the shift to “Bioengineered” labeling has cast a new light on what “Real” mayo truly entails.

Under the updated food labeling rules, products like Hellman’s mayo must now disclose the presence of bioengineered ingredients. This disclosure challenges the perception of what constitutes “Real” food, prompting consumers to reconsider the authenticity of products they once deemed natural.

The use of bioengineered ingredients in mayo and other processed foods raises important questions about transparency, health implications, and consumer trust. What modifications have been made to the traditional mayo recipe? How do these alterations impact nutritional content, taste, and overall quality?

The term “Bioengineered” may lack the immediate impact of “GMO,” yet it signifies a fundamental truth: our food supply is evolving and shaped by scientific innovations and industry practices. For consumers, this shift underscores the need for greater scrutiny and awareness when navigating food labels. [2]

As we peel back the layers of food labeling, we uncover the masked reality behind familiar products. The journey from “Real” to “Bioengineered” mayo unveils a broader narrative about the changing landscape of food production and the imperative for consumers to stay informed and empowered in their food choices.

Bioengineered vs. GMO

To grasp the significance of the transition from “GMO” to “Bioengineered” labeling, it’s essential to understand the distinctions between these terms and their implications for consumer understanding.

“GMO,” or Genetically Modified Organism, is a longstanding term associated with genetic engineering techniques applied to crops and food products. It has been the subject of extensive debate and scrutiny, with concerns ranging from environmental impact to potential health risks.

On the other hand, “Bioengineered” (BE) is a more recent term that emerged within the framework of regulatory standards such as the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard. Unlike the broad umbrella of “GMO,” which encompassed various genetic modification methods, “Bioengineered” specifically refers to foods altered through in vitro recombinant deoxyribonucleic acid (rDNA) techniques. [3]

The distinction lies in the precision of genetic modifications achieved through BE techniques, which often involve inserting genes from other species or altering genes within the organism itself in ways not achievable through conventional breeding. This specificity aims to provide consumers with clearer information about the nature of genetic alterations in their food.

While “Bioengineered” seeks to enhance transparency and scientific accuracy in labeling, it also raises nuanced questions about the nature of these genetic modifications. Are BE foods fundamentally different from their non-engineered counterparts? What are the potential long-term implications for human health and the environment?

Navigating the landscape of BE vs. GMO requires a nuanced understanding of genetic engineering practices, regulatory frameworks, and ongoing research into the safety and sustainability of bioengineered foods.

Making Smart Choices

As consumers faced with evolving food labels and terminology, it’s crucial to equip ourselves with the knowledge and tools to make smart choices that align with our health goals and values. Here are practical tips to navigate the complexities of food labeling in the era of bioengineered ingredients:

  1. Understand What BE Means: Take the time to educate yourself about “Bioengineered” and its implications. Recognize that BE labeling signifies genetically altered ingredients but also consider the reasons behind these modifications. Was it for improved shelf life, enhanced flavor, or nutritional enhancements?
  2. Look for Details on Labels: Pay attention to labels that indicate specific bioengineered ingredients, such as corn or soy. This information allows you to make informed decisions about the products you consume and understand precisely what modifications have been made.
  3. Take Advantage of Technology: Some BE labels come with QR codes that can be scanned with your smartphone. Utilize this technology to access detailed information about the genetic modifications and processing methods used in the food product.
  4. Remember, BE Isn’t a Health Label: While BE labeling provides insights into genetic alterations, it’s essential to note that it doesn’t inherently indicate whether a product is good or bad for your health. Consider a holistic approach to nutrition, focusing on whole foods, balanced diets, and individual dietary needs.
  5. Research Company Practices: Beyond labels, delve into the transparency and practices of food companies regarding bioengineering. Some brands are more forthcoming about their processes and sourcing, which can influence your confidence in their products.

Staying informed and proactive about food labeling empowers you to make choices that align with your health, values, and understanding of bioengineered ingredients. By being mindful consumers, we contribute to a food landscape that prioritizes transparency, sustainability, and consumer well-being.

The Health Risks of Processed Condiments

While processed condiments like mayo, ketchup, and salad dressings add flavor and convenience to meals, they also come with potential health risks that deserve attention. Understanding these risks can empower consumers to make informed decisions about their dietary choices. Here are some key health concerns associated with processed condiments:

  1. High Sodium Content: Many processed condiments are notorious for their high sodium levels. Excessive sodium intake can contribute to hypertension, heart disease, and other cardiovascular issues over time. [4]
  2. Added Sugars: Condiments like ketchup and certain salad dressings often contain added sugars, contributing to increased calorie intake and potential health issues such as weight gain, type 2 diabetes, and metabolic disorders. [5]
  3. Preservatives and Artificial Additives: To prolong shelf life and enhance flavor, manufacturers may add preservatives and artificial additives to condiments. These substances can lead to allergic reactions and may pose long-term health risks.
  4. Trans Fats: Some processed condiments may contain trans fats, which are known to increase bad cholesterol levels and contribute to inflammation and heart disease.
  5. Low Nutritional Value: Processed condiments generally offer little to no nutritional benefits, lacking essential vitamins and minerals from fresh, natural ingredients. [6]

By being aware of these health concerns, consumers can make conscious choices to limit their consumption of processed condiments and opt for healthier alternatives.

Benefits of Homemade Condiments

Amidst the health concerns associated with processed condiments, making homemade versions emerges as a practical and advantageous choice. Here are the key benefits of crafting your condiments at home:

  1. Control Over Ingredients: When you make condiments from scratch, you have full control over the ingredients. This means no hidden preservatives, artificial additives, or excessive sodium and sugar levels. You choose wholesome, quality ingredients that align with your dietary preferences and health goals.
  2. Customizable Flavor Profiles: Homemade condiments allow you to tailor the flavor to your liking. Whether you prefer tangy, spicy, sweet, or savory, you can adjust the ingredients and seasonings to create a condiment that perfectly complements your meals.
  3. Freshness and Nutritional Value: Homemade condiments retain their freshness and nutritional value by avoiding preservatives and processing. You benefit from the vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants present in real, whole ingredients, enhancing the overall quality of your diet.
  4. Allergen-Free Options: Homemade condiments offer a safe alternative for individuals with food allergies or sensitivities. You can omit allergens and customize recipes to suit your specific dietary needs, reducing the risk of adverse reactions.
  5. Cost-Effectiveness: Making condiments at home can be more cost-effective in the long run. You purchase ingredients in bulk, reduce packaging waste, and avoid the markup associated with commercially processed products.
  6. Environmental Sustainability: Homemade condiments contribute to environmental sustainability by reducing plastic waste from packaging and minimizing the energy and resources used in industrial food production and transportation.
  7. Mindful Eating: The process of making homemade condiments encourages mindfulness and awareness of what goes into your food. It fosters a deeper connection to your meals, promotes conscious consumption, and supports a healthy relationship with food.

30-Second Homemade Mayo Recipe

Transitioning from store-bought condiments to homemade alternatives doesn’t have to be daunting or time-consuming. In just 30 seconds, you can whip up a batch of fresh, flavorful mayo using simple ingredients. Here’s a quick and easy homemade mayo recipe that embodies the benefits of making condiments at home:


  • 1 large egg (room temperature)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon mustard
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • Salt to taste


  1. Combine the egg, lemon juice (or vinegar), and mustard in a blender or food processor. Blend until the ingredients are well mixed.
  2. While the blender is running, slowly pour the olive oil into a steady stream. Continue blending until the mixture emulsifies and thickens to a creamy consistency.
  3. Once the mayo reaches your desired texture, season it with salt to taste and blend briefly to incorporate the seasoning.
  4. Transfer the freshly made mayo to a clean container and refrigerate until ready to use.

Why Homemade Mayo?

  1. Healthier Fats: Olive oil, a key ingredient in homemade mayo, is rich in monounsaturated fats that support heart health compared to the unhealthy fats often found in store-bought mayo.
  2. Freshness and Flavor: Homemade mayo offers a superior taste and freshness compared to pre-packaged versions, free from preservatives and artificial additives.
  3. Control Over Ingredients: By making mayo at home, you have control over the quality and type of ingredients used, ensuring a wholesome and nutritious condiment.
  4. Customization: Adjust the seasoning and flavor profile of homemade mayo to suit your preferences, creating a personalized condiment that elevates your dishes.
  5. Cost-Effective: Homemade mayo can be cost-effective, especially when using pantry staples like eggs, oil, and vinegar, reducing reliance on store-bought options.

This 30-second homemade mayo recipe exemplifies the simplicity, health benefits, and deliciousness of making condiments from scratch. It’s a small yet impactful step towards healthier eating habits and mindful consumption.

Your Kitchen, Your Rules: Empowering Food Choices

Understanding food labels, exploring homemade alternatives, and embracing mindful eating are not just individual actions—they represent a collective shift towards informed and empowered food choices. As you embark on this journey, remember that your kitchen is a space of empowerment, creativity, and wellness. Here’s why taking control of your food choices matters:

  1. Empowerment Through Knowledge: By educating yourself about food labels, ingredients, and nutrition, you can make informed decisions that align with your health goals and values. Knowledge is the foundation of conscious consumption.
  2. Creativity and Customization: Making condiments and other foods at home allows you to unleash your creativity in the kitchen. Experiment with flavors, tweak recipes to suit your taste preferences, and discover new culinary delights.
  3. Wholesome Ingredients, Wholesome Living: Choosing whole, unprocessed ingredients for homemade condiments promotes a healthier lifestyle. You nourish your body with nutrients, reduce exposure to additives, and contribute to overall well-being.
  4. Environmental Consciousness: Homemade alternatives contribute to sustainability by reducing packaging waste, minimizing reliance on industrial food production, and supporting local, seasonal ingredients.
  5. Mindful Eating Practices: Preparing and savoring homemade meals fosters mindfulness around food. It encourages you to slow down, appreciate the flavors and textures, and cultivate a deeper connection to what you eat.
  6. Community and Sharing: Sharing homemade creations with friends and family fosters a sense of community and connection. Food becomes a vehicle for sharing stories, traditions, and love.
  7. Continuous Learning: Embracing homemade cooking is a journey of continuous learning and growth. Explore new recipes, techniques, and ingredients to expand your culinary repertoire and enrich your culinary experiences.

As you navigate the complexities of modern food choices, remember that every meal prepared with care and intention is a step towards a healthier, happier lifestyle. Your kitchen is not just a place for nourishment—it’s a space for self-expression, creativity, and empowerment. Embrace the joy of homemade cooking, and savor the delicious journey ahead.

The intersection of informed food choices, homemade alternatives, and mindful eating represents a holistic approach to wellness—one that prioritizes health, sustainability, and joy in every bite. Cheers to a vibrant and flavorful culinary adventure in your kitchen!

My Personal RX on Mindful Eating

From a doctor’s perspective, practicing mindful eating is a powerful way to foster a healthier relationship with food and improve overall well-being. By paying attention to what and how you eat, you can better nourish your body and prevent overeating. Here are some tips to help you incorporate mindful eating into your daily life:

  1. Slow Down: Take your time to savor each bite and chew your food thoroughly. Eating slowly allows your body to better digest and absorb nutrients, while also giving your brain time to register feelings of fullness.
  2. Listen to Your Body: Tune in to your body’s hunger and fullness cues. Eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re satisfied, rather than relying on external cues like the clock or portion sizes.
  3. Mindful Portions: Use smaller plates and utensils to help control portion sizes. Pay attention to serving sizes and avoid mindlessly overeating.
  4. Eat with Awareness: Eliminate distractions while eating, such as watching TV or scrolling on your phone. Instead, focus on the sensory experience of eating—the flavors, textures, and aromas of your food.
  5. Choose Nutrient-Dense Foods: Prioritize whole, unprocessed foods that nourish your body. Consider incorporating supplements like my Men’s & Women’s Core Essentials to support specific nutrient needs for optimal health.
  6. Hydrate: Drink water throughout the day to stay hydrated and help prevent dehydration from being mistaken for hunger. Aim to drink water before meals to avoid overeating.
  7. Plan Balanced Meals: Use my Superfoods Cookbook for wholesome recipes that integrate nutrient-rich superfoods. Planning balanced meals ensures you’re getting a variety of nutrients and flavors.
  8. Practice Gratitude: Before eating, take a moment to express gratitude for your food and the nourishment it provides. Cultivating a mindset of gratitude can enhance the enjoyment of your meals.
  9. Be Flexible: Allow yourself to enjoy occasional indulgences without guilt. Moderation is key, and permitting yourself to enjoy your favorite foods can prevent feelings of deprivation.
  10. Reflect on Your Choices: After eating, reflect on how your body feels and how the food you ate nourished you. Pay attention to any emotional triggers or patterns around eating, and practice self-compassion.

Incorporating mindful eating practices into your daily routine can lead to greater satisfaction with your meals, improved digestion, and a healthier relationship with food overall. By being present and intentional with your eating habits, you can nourish your body and mind in a more balanced way.


  1. Hernandez, J. (2022, January 5). GMO is out, “bioengineered” is in, as new U.S. food labeling rules take effect. NPR. https://www.npr.org/2022/01/05/1070212871/usda-bioengineered-food-label-gmo
  2. Understanding the new bioengineered disclosure. (2023, August 24). Center for Science in the Public Interest. https://www.cspinet.org/blog/understanding-new-bioengineered-disclosure
  3. National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard. (2018, December 21). Federal Register. https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2018/12/21/2018-27283/national-bioengineered-food-disclosure-standard
  4. Xue, X., Li, W., Xie, M., Wang, D., Li, D., Xin, P., Zheng, W., & Jiang, G. (2022). High sodium diet intake and cardiovascular diseases: An attributable death study in Tianjin, China. Journal of Clinical Hypertension, 25(1), 30–37. https://doi.org/10.1111/jch.14599
  5. Stanhope K. L. (2016). Sugar consumption, metabolic disease and obesity: The state of the controversy. Critical reviews in clinical laboratory sciences53(1), 52–67. https://doi.org/10.3109/10408363.2015.1084990
  6. Weaver, C. M., Dwyer, J., Fulgoni, V. L., 3rd, King, J. C., Leveille, G. A., MacDonald, R. S., Ordovas, J., & Schnakenberg, D. (2014). Processed foods: contributions to nutrition. The American journal of clinical nutrition99(6), 1525–1542. https://doi.org/10.3945/ajcn.114.089284

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