The marketing of “natural foods” is becoming slicker as more and more consumers get wise to what’s really going on with the food supply. Food label buzz words abound, but these carry the most weight and value in my book.
Organic foods are produced without the use of synthetic pesticides, fungicides, herbicides, hormones, antibiotics or GMOs.
Organic is not and adjective. It’s a tightly controlled word that only farmers and producers who have gone through the rigors of the organic certification process may legally use.
Here’s the official scoop on what it means to be a certified organic producer:
“USDA organic standards describe how farmers grow crops and raise livestock and which materials they may use.
Organic farmers, ranchers, and food processors follow a defined set of standards to produce organic food and fiber. Congress described general organic principles in the Organic Foods Production Act, and the USDA defines specific organic standards. These standards cover the product from farm to table, including soil and water quality, pest control, livestock practices, and rules for food additives.
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This is deep organics. To be a certified biodynamic farm one must first meet the organic certification process and then go beyond it into the next level of biodynamic certification.
“Biodynamics is a spiritual-ethical-ecological approach to agriculture, food production and nutrition. Biodynamic farmers strive to create a diversified, balanced farm ecosystem that generates health and fertility as much as possible from within the farm itself.”
“Preparations made from fermented manure, minerals and herbs are used to help restore and harmonize the vital life forces of the farm and to enhance the nutrition, quality and flavor of the food being raised. Biodynamic practitioners also recognize and strive to work in cooperation with the subtle influences of the wider cosmos on soil, plant and animal health.”
So much to cover, go to the source, get the full scoop here:
3.Certified Naturally grown
Certified Naturally Grown is the grassroots alternative to the National Organic Program, it was born of a commitment to healthy food and healthy soils, and grew out of the belief that they could create something uniquely valuable to family farms and the communities they feed. CNG was founded when the National Organic Program (NOP) took effect in 2002.
CNG producers don’t use any synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides or GMO seeds, just like organic farmers. Certified Naturally Grown is an independent program not affiliated with the NOP.
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4. LOCAL or Locally Grown
In some stores you’ll simply see the label or shelf card say LOCAL. Often times if you take a closer look you’ll see the name of the farm on the display too.
Ask questions and learn the story of the grower.
Some times these growers/ producers aren’t USDA Certified Organic, but they may be just what your looking for in terms of flavor and value. They may follow the organic standards but don’t want to deal with certification process and that often can’t be put on a label.
Or they may be a conventional farm that’s producing food near you.
You won’t know your options till you ask, go for it embarrass your kids, be bold and kindly grill the produce manager on their local selection.
They may not have all the answers, but there’s always your smart phone for the follow up.
5. GMO free project verified
“The retailers who started the Non-GMO Project were motivated by a simple idea. They believed that consumers in North America should have access to clearly-labeled non-GMO food and products, now and in the future. That conviction continues to guide the Non-GMO Project, as North America’s only independent verification for products made according to best practices for GMO avoidance.”
Personally I think this is one of the most valuable & useful labels in today’s market place.
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6.Pasture-Raised & Grass-Fed
Farmer Shannon Hayes describes pasture-raised and grass-fed this way:
“There are actually two different things: grass-fed meat and pasture-raised meat. Grass-fed meat comes from animals who have lived on carefully managed pastures all of their lives. When they’re indoors, during the winter, for example, they’re fed hay or an equivalent to hay—but no grain whatsoever.Pastured animals are omnivorous animals, like pigs and chickens, who cannot exist exclusively on a diet of grass. They’re kept on fresh, clean pasture, and their diet is supplemented with some kind of grain. So, beef and lamb are grass-fed; pigs and chickens are pastured.”
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7.Grass-fed- or Grass Finished?
The term grass-fed communicates this image of animals being raised eating grass in the pastures rather than in barns eating grains, but that’s not necessarily the case outside of the smaller direct to consumer market. Many animals are grass-fed in their early life and finished on grain which may happen while outside in a pasture.
When your shopping in larger stores with less connection to the producer keep in mind Grass-fed doesn’t mean the animals never consumed grain, or that they are free from hormones and antibiotics. If you want to avoid all that go for the organic and grass-fed, but this meat will often be from other countries.
Ask questions and read labels.
When purchasing meats the only way to truly know the quality of what you’re buying is to know the producer and the story of how they farm.
To find local meat producers near you Check out:
8.No-Antibiotics- No Hormones
Consumers are becoming aware that many of the animal products we consume come from animals that are routinely pumped full of antibiotics and hormones during their life cycle. As a result there have been more and more brands coming on to the natural products scene that say no antibiotics, no hormones.
This is a step in the right direction, but still far from pasture based organic agriculture.
9. Made From Milk not treated with rBGH or rBGH Free
rBGH stands for recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone. It’s just what is sounds like, a hormone that’s administered to cows (bovines) to increase milk production.
The product is already prohibited in Canada, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and in the 27 countries of the European Union.If you’re choices or budget is limited and you cannot buy local, organic dairy look for milk products that are rBGH free or from the above countries.
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Good luck out there!