(Family Features) - Organic, sustainable, all natural, farm-raised ... Having trouble deciphering the latest buzz words in the world of food? You are not alone. Sustainable foods are certainly a hot topic, but deciphering the new vernacular is a common issue among shoppers.
Federally regulated since 2002, the term "organic" means food grown using methods that foster the health and harmony of the ecosystem, including the people and animals living in it. Natural and sustainable have no federally regulated definitions for most products. Organic food is produced with:
- No synthetic pesticides, herbicides, or fumigants
- No fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge
- No genetically modified organisms (GMOs)
- No irradiation
- No hormones, antibiotics, artificial ingredients or trans fats
For many, the word organic means produce such as apples, potatoes, and oranges. But you can find organic varieties of nearly every kind of food. From milk to meats, choosing organic items helps keep potentially dangerous chemicals out of our bodies, and helps protect the environment.
Hints for Living a More Sustainable Lifestyle
Save a Tree. When you hit your local grocery store or neighborhood market, take a reusable fabric tote with you to carry your purchases. If every American used one reusable shopping tote for one shopping trip, we could save about 60,000 trees. Conserve even more carbon by walking to the store!
Buy Organic Foods. Organic agriculture is inherently more sustainable than conventional farming because it is fundamentally designed to work in harmony with natural systems, without the use of potentially harmful chemicals that affect our ecosystems. Even if you just commit to buying one organic food item - like peaches or milk or lettuce - it can help!
Meatless Meal. Meat carries a higher environmental cost for its food value. Producing beef in feedlots requires about 16 times more fossil fuel energy and generates about 24 times more CO2 than the caloric equivalent of vegetables and rice. Choose a great meatless meal once a week - all organic, of course - and enjoy!
Night on the Town. Don't feel like cooking? More restaurants are cooking with organic ingredients. By rewarding those eateries with your business, you can make a difference right in your own town. If your favorite restaurant isn't using organic food, let them know you'd like to see it on the menu.
Clean Green. Use natural cleaning products to reduce your exposure to harsh chemicals and toxins, and keep the planet healthier, too.
The importance of organic dairy for the environment
People sometimes choose organic dairy because they prefer the taste, but there's more to organic dairy than meets the eye. These products represent a larger ecosystem and process that nurtures the soil and responsibly cares for animals that graze on the pesticide-free land. Horizon Organic, the leading organic dairy brand, works with more than 450 farmers across the country and has adopted its own Standards of Care to ensure the integrity and quality of its products.
Did you know?
Government data shows that the conventional fruits and vegetables below are most likely to carry multiple pesticide residues. Choose organic for these items, especially for infants and children.
- bell peppers
The folks at Earthbound Farm, who've been farming organically for 24 years and whose products are now available in supermarkets across the country, are now offering a Pocket Guide to Choosing Organic - a convenient reference that helps shoppers make smart choices about buying organic produce, defines the term "organic," and explains the benefits of organic farming. Download the guide at www.ebfarm.com.
Recipes can be found in Food to Live By: The Earthbound Farm Organic Cookbook, which offers tempting recipes that combine casual style with the best ingredients.
For more recipe ideas visit www.horizonorganic.com and www.ebfarm.com.