Great opportunities to help others seldom come, but small ones surround us every day. ~Sally Koch
You are a star for being mindful and eating more whole foods to get healthier! If you've decided to buy organic and/or local foods, you've made the decision to support clean, sustainably produced food in the most vocal way possible - with your wallet.
How do you know that your food is being produced the way you want? I mean, if I'm spending more money to buy organic eggs, I want to know that the chickens are running around outside and not just stuffed in a cage being fed organic grain. My extra dollars are going towards both more nutritious eggs AND chickens that are able to do chickeny things (like scratch in the grass)! Our dollars are valuable votes - we should be getting what we think we're paying for.
The best way to get what you want is to get to know your farmer, then you can always ask. Visit his farm and ask around at the farmer's market. However, that's not always possible. For eggs and dairy, the Cornucopia Institute is a consumer watchdog organization. The Institute publishes informative reports and producer scorecards on ethics. If the food you are buying is branded, check out their website for more info and e-mail them with your questions. Any company should answer (if they don't, that says something).
Milk used to have a lot of loopholes for an organic label (cows could be jam packed with no room to move but fed organic grain), but as of June 2010 the regulations have been tightened enough that organic milk actually means the cows are treated well. You may want to check on the pasteurization - anything ultrapasteurized means very high temp pasteurization that diminishes vitamins and taste. Organic eggs are a whole different story. Chickens still be jammed in cages and fed organic food and labeled organic. Cage free is also tricky - the chickens can be jammed in a house and have a little door to limited outdoor space and called cage free. Check Cornucopia to see where your eggs rank.
What to do - Buy With Confidence
- Decide what you are spending your dollars on. We know it's whole foods. Anything else? Organic? Local? Ethically raised? All three?
- Talk to your farmer (if possible) and make sure he is producing the food the way you want. Stop by and visit the farm!
- Review the farmer's website for more information. If it isn't what you're looking for, check the other alternatives (see #4).
- Buying dairy or eggs? Go to the Cornucopia Institute and check their scorecard to see where your brand ranks.
- Can't talk to the farmer and the product isn't listed at Cornucopia? Send the producer or the retailer an email with all your questions. If you don't hear back, move on and find another company!
Not to be biased, but New Yorkers have nyfoods which guarantees small family farms producing food locally and sustainably, the way it should be. All animals roam free on pasture.
- Why Your Shopping Counts
- Milk 101 - learn the basics
- Cornucopia Institute for reports and scorecards on dairy and egg producers
- Pasteurization - learn the different levels and how it affects milk
What I ate: latte, hardboiled nyegg, whole wheat fusilli + roasted vegetables, roasted brussel sprouts, macadamia nuts, fish and chips, Mariebelle hot chocolate, 1 Almond Roca, 50 oz. water
Exercise: Ran 4 miles + 15 minutes lower body weights