Friday, August 5, 2011

Food labels you can trust

Dear Ida B. Green,

I try to read ingredient labels on the foods we eat, but now I feel I have to get a code book to understand the labels that tell me whether foods are grown with poisons or shipped from Mars.



Dear Confused,

Labels are supposed to make shopping choices easier, but there are so many of them. Although some are meaningful, some are intended for marketing rather than giving any real information. (That is, they're lying!).

An easy way to circumvent some of that hassle is to buy local foods at our local farmers' markets or community-supported agricultural organizations such as Idaho's Bounty. In both cases, you have a chance to ask the farmers themselves about their practices. When that's not possible, here are a few labels you can trust regarding environmental or ethical growing practices:

USDA organic

Country of Origin Labels (COOL)—We receive food from more than 170 countries and their production practices vary widely.

Fair Trade Certified—Ensures that farmers and workers receive a fair price for their product and work in fair conditions

Shade-Grown, Bird-Friendly, and Rainforest Alliance-certified—All ensure that farming practices in harvesting coffee, orange juice, chocolate and bananas maintain rainforest health.

Demeter Certified Biodynamic—Ensures that foods are grown without synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, without most animal by-products and without genetically altered seeds, among other requirements.

Keep it Green,


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