Sunday, January 11, 2009

Enviro-Buzzwords 101

I found this article on the Women’s Health Mag website and thought it was very helpful in trying to understand all the new Enviro-Buzzwords. What does organic really mean and what is the difference between free-range and cage free farming? This is an excerpt from What all that green lingo really means…The Daily Fix by Alexa Fishback.

It is increasingly hip to be a “foodie.” Fine wines, local cheeses, and seasonal organics are the newest luxury items. This trend is in part a reaction to increased awareness about the processed food industry as well as a return to quality and taste over convenience and low cost. But it can be a little difficult to know when it is really worth spending a few extra dollars. Let’s review some of the newfangled terms and trends proliferating up and down the grocery aisles.

Organic: Organic farming refers to produce grown without the use of pesticides, herbicides, or chemical fertilizers, which are routinely used in conventional farming to increase crop yields. For meat, organic means that the animal was raised without growth hormones or antibiotics, which are used in conventional farming to maximize animal growth and reduce the spread of disease. In some cases, organic foods pack in more nutrients than conventional ones do for the same number of calories due to superior soil integrity (for produce) and organic and non-genetically modified animal feed (in the case of meat and dairy).

Local foods: Foods with this label have traveled the shortest possible distance from farm to table. The definition is flexible, but usually refers to local, farm-raised fare that travels no more than 150 miles, or a day’s worth of driving, to be sold for consumption.
You can feel good about purchasing local foods as it helps support your local economy and is typically better for the environment, as less fuel for transport reduces carbon emissions.

Pesticide-free: This label indicates that food was grown without the use of pesticides, though is not necessarily 100 percent organic. This is a good label to watch for: When you buy pesticide-free foods, you won’t have to worry about ingesting chemicals along with your fruits and veggies.

Free-range, free-roaming: Animals (such as cows and chickens) raised under free-range conditions have access to the “outdoors.” Unfortunately, this term can be misleading because the requirements are vague for this designation. The “outdoors” may mean anything from a grassy pasture to a concrete deck, and “access” can mean animals are outside all day or not at all.

Cage-free: More specific than free-range, cage-free hens have the run of a large indoor space; conventional hens are typically caged tightly together. This is a good label to watch for if you are concerned about the humane treatment of animals.

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