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Buzz Words

There are lots of buzz words out there to catch consumers attention making them think they are making the right food choice…all natural, organic, sustainable, healthy, local, cage free, free range, GMO Free, minimally processed, no antibiotics used, grass fed, grass finished, hormone free, etc… There is a great article on HuffPost Green which helps demystify many of these terms. Most are used to green wash a product making you think that you are being eco-conscious. Speaking of green, there’s another overused word that has lost much of its true meaning. But for this discussion, we’ll keep it too food labeling. Let’s take a few…you can have local but it may not be organic, you can have grass fed but it may not be grass finished because most cattle producers have to sell their happy cows to feed lots because there aren’t enough USDA approved slaughterhouses. Slapping GMO free or hormone free is a lame attempt to make a product look good. It doesn’t say anything about the way in which the vegetable or animal was grown or raised. Were pesticides used? were they humanely treated? etc… My personal favorite is “minimally processed.” Not sure if that one helps or hinders. I see that and all kinds of ugly images come to mind. Something tells me those two words are not meant to go together and the marketing team who came up with it should be fired. For the consumer though, it’s a clue into how that food was produced. There are of course the easy targets like “all natural” and “healthy.” If you fall for those, be warned…Remember the potato chips that admittedly caused gastrointestinal-itis? They called themselves “healthy.” That’s how easy it to throw otherwise harmless words around. But in my opinion, the most misunderstood terms are cage-free and free-range. Bad news…both are bad. Cage-free just means that instead of stuffing eight chickens into a cage they are left in a concert like mosh pit inside a indoor soccer ring. And free-range just means there needs to be access at some point to the outside in the animals life. In the case of chickens, they don’t get access till they are like eight weeks old and even then it is just a small lot attached to the hen house. They don’t have a concept for the outside by this point and thus never use it. If I see “pasture raised,” I feel a lot better. It at least gives me a glimpse into the animal’s life. Meat, dairy and eggs are typically pretty easy to source locally if you do some research. Dig little deeper and make sure you agree with the farm’s practices and your golden. We all have our own perception of what “being healthy” means. Bottom line…with every food choice, ask yourself the question, “Where did this food come from?”