Last week, in part 1 of Green Your Grocery List, part of my Resolutionize Your Green Life series, I talked about Organic Food Labels. This week, we’ll look at the labels you find specifically on Meat and Dairy products. Being aware of what all the labels mean will help you build a healthy, green grocery list.
Organic Food Labels – Meat and dairy can earn the USDA Organic food label. As stated last week, this means the product is antibiotic-free, hormone-free, not genetically modified in any way and has not been irradiated. Looking for the USDA Organic label will ensure what you put in your cart is both healthy and green.
Antibiotic Free – Antibiotics are given to animals raised in confined spaces to halt the spread of any infectious diseases. Antibiotics are also given to help accelerate growth rates in these animals.
Even the FDA has stated antibiotics in meat pose a “serious public health threat.” This is due to the fact the drugs create antibiotic-resistant bacteria that can infect humans who eat it. Look for meat raised free of added antibiotics to best protect your family from antibiotic overuse.
Not Treated with rBST or rBGH– rBST and rBGH are growth hormones given to animals to accelerate their rate of growth to bring more meat to the table faster. For dairy cows, administering growth hormones can accelerate the amount of milk they produce.
Why should this concern you? They are finding that these growth hormones can be passed on to us when we ingest them. This is of particular concern to our girls because it may be the cause of early onset puberty. Look for the labels “no rBST” or “no rBGH” to make sure your food is free of these hormones.
It’s important to note that federal regulations prohibit the use of growth hormones in raising pigs, bison and poultry. So when you see “raised without growth hormones” on a package of poultry – don’t pay extra thinking you are getting something different from any other package.
Vegetarian Fed – Look for labels that say “vegetarian fed” or “no animal byproducts.” Why? Animals that eat feed that may contain other animal by-products is what leads to diseases such as Mad Cow Disease. Diseased animals can lead to diseased humans and these diseases can lead to serious consequences – including death.
Nitrate Free – Nitrates are used in products such as lunchmeat and hot dogs to help preserve them. Why avoid nitrates? Nitrates are thought to lead to some forms of cancer. Of course, there are studies on both sides of the issue. The fact is, it is pretty easy to find products without them, so why not avoid any possibilities?
Grass-Fed – For cattle, grass is the most natural form of feed. When you purchase grass-fed beef, most likely that cow was given free range of a pasture. It was not raised in a feeding pen where most of the diseases are passed from animal to animal. It is also leaner and healthier meat than the meat from its corn fed counterparts. Grass fed beef also tastes a bit different and has different cooking requirements because it is so lean. Read this post for more information on grass-fed beef.
Cage-Free – This is a misleading food label. You’ll find it on poultry products such as eggs. It implies the animal was raised outdoors. However, in reality, all this label means is the animal was given access to the outdoors – not that it ever went out there!
Poultry that is given outdoor access actually produces healthier eggs higher in Omega-3s.
There are egg producers who are truly raising their animals cage-free. This can especially be true if you shop the farmer’s markets. This is a great case to know where your food comes from. A small producer is most likely to give this label true credit.
On The Natural Green Mom, I’m spending the month of January Resolutionizing Your Green Life.
The Better Living Network has lots of other great topics to help you Resolutionize!
Resolutionize Your Finances with Kay@Bucksome Boomer
Resolutionize Your Home with Nikki@Coupon Cookin‘
Resolutionize Your Wallet with Jennifer@The Coupon Mommie
Resolutionize Your Mommy-tude with Brandy@Savin Some
Resolutionize Your Kitchen and Cooking with Tiffany@Eat at Home
Resolutionize Your Mom Groove with Crystal@Crystal&Co.