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Thursday, May 13, 2010

What Does it all Mean?

You want the best; for yourself, for your family, for your pets-especially when it comes to feeding them, and supporting the world they are a part of. Lately, however, a trip down the aisle at the grocery store can be very confusing. A look back at last week’s post may have even left you thinking “What the heck does organic mean, anyway?”

Other common terms like certified humane, whole grain and naturally grown are bandied about often enough to confuse Webster. To undo a little bit of the confusion, here is a helpful list of commonly used terms and definitions, so you can make the best decision for you and your family.

-Whole Grain: The 100 percent stamp means all grains in the product are “whole” and include the germ, bran and endosperm that is otherwise stripped during processing. You don’t necessarily need to see the stamp to enjoy the benefits of whole grains though. Just look at the ingredients list. The first ingredient should say “whole grains” or “100% whole wheat”. If the first ingredient is “enriched” you know the product is not a whole grain.

-Organic: This label can apply to raw, fresh, and processed foods that contain or are 95% or more of organic ingredients. The remaining ingredients must consist of non agricultural substances that are not commercially available in organic form. Genetically modified organisms (GMOs), conventional pesticides, herbicides, sewage sludge (yep, sewage sludge), antibiotics, growth hormones and irradiation are not allowed. Then the product may sport the USDA Organic label.

-Naturally Grown: The organization behind this label uses the USDA’s certified organic standards as its basis to certify products that are free of chemicals and GMOs. You can look for it on produce, meat, dairy, eggs and honey.

-Certified Humane: Products with this label come from facilities that use responsible practices to raise and handle farm animals. That includes providing ample space and shelter, clean water, and hormone free feed. No antibiotics are allowed, cages and crates are prohibited and sites are inspected yearly. Look for this label on meat, eggs and dairy products.

Now that you are familiar with a few of the more commonly used terms, don’t forget to try to purchase seasonal, locally grown produce that doesn’t have to travel so far to reach your plate (it has more nutrients, more flavor and is more earth friendly). Lastly, to best support the world you will be passing on, try to purchase your food from North America where the pesticide, herbicide and insecticide regulations are much more strict. Congratulations on making the choice to guard your plate!

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