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Saturday, July 25, 2009

Food Labeling

There are many different food labels that contain information about how food was grown or processed. However, some labels can be misleading. Below are examples of labels to look for, ask questions about, and avoid. Send your questions about food labeling to ask Hilde, our resident expert.

Look for:

USDA Organic LogoOrganic: The National Organic Standards, regulated by the USDA, assure that food products must contain at least 95% organic ingredients and that no synthetic growth hormones, antibiotics, pesticides, biotechnology, synthetic ingredients,or irradiation were used in production or processing. Organic labels can be found on produce, dairy, meat, processed foods, condiments and beverages.

Fair Trade: Fair trade standards are enforced by the Fairtrade Labeling Organization International (FLO). Fair trade products must be produced in accordance with the following guidelines: Workers must receive decent wages, housing, health and safety guidelines, the right to join trade unions and child or forced labor is completely prohibited. Crops must also be grown, produced and processed in an environmentally friendly way. Fair trade standards have been established for coffee, tea, cocoa, honey, bananas, orange juice and sugar.

Free Farmed Certified LogoFree Farmed: The Free Farmed Certification Program was created by the American Humane Association in 2000 to ensure that animals raised for dairy, poultry and beef products are raised in a humane manner. These guidelines ensure that livestock have access to clean and sufficient food and water as well as a safe, healthy living environment.

The following labels depend on farmer and processor information to support the claim that the food products were raised in compliance with each set of standards. However, they are not certified or tested by any third party regulatory agency.

Feel Good Buying (not certified):

Hormone Free, rBGH Free: Some meat and dairy products are now being marketed as hormone free. In dairy products, this means that the farmer has chosen not to inject his cows with the artificial growth hormone called rBGH. Similarly, on beef

products this label indicates that the animal was raised without growth hormones or steroids.

Raised Without Antibiotics: This meat and dairy label indicates that the animal was raised entirely without the use of low-level and/or therapeutic doses of antibiotics.

GE Free, Non-GMO: Food products that use GE Free or Non-GMO labels are regulated by individual companies, distributors or processors. Often, the companies require certification or affidavits from farmers that the materials were not genetically modified in any way. Learn more about Genetic Engineering.

Ask Questions About:

All Natural: While many products have “all natural” labeling or packaging, there is no universal standard or definition for this claim.

Free Range: The Free Range claims that each meat or poultry product (including eggs) comes from an animal that was raised in the open air or was allowed to roam. However, the regulations do not specify how much of each day animals must have access to fresh air. For example, in poultry, the USDA considers 5 minutes adequate exposure to be considered free range. In beef the use of the label is completely unregulated or standardized.


Irradiated logoIrradiated: Irradiation, or cold pasteurization, exposes food to high doses of ionizing radiation, equivalent to millions of chest x-rays, in order to kill bacteria. This process destroys essential nutrients, creates toxins and carcinogens that remain in the food, and perpetuates dangerously unsanitary conditions in meat processing plants.

Source: Farm Aid

Here are some of the foods we grow here on the Neophyte homestead;

Everything except the wheat (for now)

Right now I am eating organically grown popcorn. Everything we grow or raise is organic and raw.

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