Friday, August 12, 2011

How can I be sure the meat I buy is good?

Ask Ida

Dear Ida B. Green,

I try to cut meat out of our diet at least one day a week because of the huge environmental impacts of animal production, but how do I make sure the meat I buy is not harmful to my family?


Mad Cow


Dear Mad,

Congratulations for cutting meat out of your family's diet at least one day a week. There are lots of wonderful meat-free menus to work with and a world of new flavors and combinations to try.

To get the most out of the meat that you do buy and to make sure that you're buying meat that provides your family with the safest and most nutritious carnivorous experience, check the labels with care. Like all foods, labels on meat and dairy can be misleading.

You will be sad to hear, as I was, that Consumer Union has a list of familiar good-sounding labels that are not verifiable and so generally useless: "antibiotic free," "free range," "no chemicals," "no additives," "natural" and even "fresh." Check out their very useful Eco-labels tab at www.HYPERLINK ""

The same organic labels that apply to other foods apply with meat and dairy. USDA organic is a verified label and extends its credibility when it's partnered with "certified humane raised" and "grass fed."

For a fun and informative interactive eco-label page, go to

Keep it Green,


—Elizabeth Jeffrey

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