Local, organic, gluten-free, raw, vegan, 100% natural; the list goes on and on. We can all agree that the vocabulary required for grocery shopping nowadays is potentially more extensive than the one required for scoring an 800 on the SAT Critical Reading section. These new terms can quite easily be mocked, but as it turns out, many of them exist for substantial reasons. The groceries we purchase ultimately have a drastic impact not only on our bodies, but also on our communities and on our planet.
Although natural, ethical foods are known for breaking the bank, this is not always the case. For example, maple syrup and honey are often least expensive when they are bought organic and local. Beyond this, it is actually possible to eat conscientiously on a college budget. If you are unsure about which products to watch out for and where to acquire them for the least amount of cash, here’s your cheat sheet:
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Organic foods legally cannot contain any synthetic additives such as pesticides, chemical fertilizers or dyes. That is, unless they are processed. Certified organic processed foods must contain 95% or more ingredients that are from certified organic sources. The USDA recognizes most foods that meet these standards but not all foods are acknowledged. Look out for products with “Certified Naturally Grown” on their labels; these foods typically meet all of the same standards as USDA organic foods, but are just not certified by the same program. This is not to be confused with “natural,” which has no official meaning.
● Why you should buy organic: keep toxins out of your body and out of the planet’s precious soil.
● What you should buy organic: apples, berries, grapes, celery, peaches, beef, popcorn, potatoes, milk, kale and spinach.
● Where you can buy organic on a college budget: Lewisburg Farmer’s Market and Giant.
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Pasture Raised/Free-Range and Free-Roaming:
These standards require that the animals involved with the product are uncaged, free to walk and that they have some sort of access to the outdoors. This is different from cage-free, which does not indicate any form of outdoor access.
● Why you should buy pasture raised/free-range and free roaming: be kind and ethical to the creatures with which you share a planet.
● What you should especially buy pasture raised/free-range and free roaming: eggs and meats.
● Where you can buy pasture raised/free-range and free roaming: Paradise Valley Organic Farm, Lewisburg Farmer’s Market and Giant.
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This program strictly monitors its farms and ensures that every animal is comfortable up until the very moment they are slaughtered.
● Why you should buy certified humane: again, be kind and ethical to the creatures with which you share a planet.
● What you should especially buy certified humane: any animal product possible, but particularly poultry and beef.
● Where you can buy certified humane: Giant.