Product Labels: What Do They All Mean? Part 2

Please recognize that all of these product labels are independent of each other which means that unless specified, you cannot assume that (for example) because a burger is organic that is also grass-fed although those two labels do often go together.

Grass-fed – It is unnatural for cows to eat corn, however, due to the subsidized and low cost of corn, this is mostly what conventional cows eat. Grass-fed means that the cow’s diet is made up of 90% or more of grass.

Wild-Crafted – This is something I see more often regarding beauty than food, this means that the ingredient(s) are not grown either organically or conventionally but instead are grown in natural or wilderness and gathered from the land. Truffles are an example of a wild-crafted food.

Fed a vegetarian diet – Sometimes the “leftovers” from the butchering house are ground into a less expensive meal for chickens which (as you may have guessed) is not how nature intended them to eat. The problem with this label is that chickens will be eating a diet primarily consisting of corn but chickens are omnivores by nature so while they should be is  eating nuts, seeds, fruits, veggies with some insects, they’ll be limited to a vegetarian  in this case.

Fair-Trade – This is one that I go out of my way to look for and support very often. While there is a lot to talk about when it comes to fair-trade, the basic idea of it is this: workers are often terribly exploited between the poor working conditions, hard work, child abuse/slavery and the pennies they earn to endure these conditions daily. The fair-trade label means that workers are making a fair wage and working under fair conditions, however, just as there is a certification for USDA Organic, there is also a certification for fair-trade but often, I find that brands (especially the smaller ones) would rather pay the workers more than to pay for the certification. coffee-1839805_1280

Farm-Direct – When I’m looking to make a purchase, I’ll accept farm-direct if fair-trade isn’t available because it is at least a step in the right direction. By purchasing the goods directly from the farmer opposed to a third party, it allows them to cut out the middle man to make more profit and usually pay the workers more as well. For both fair-trade and far-direct, I’ll ask brands how they assure that everything is done ethically to inquire further to see how involved and confident they are in the practices – ideally, they either own the farm or they make unannounced visits to the farm themselves.

Sustainable and Eco-Friendly – These are pretty vague terms that could mean anything; while it is a good indicator that it could be a “green” option, these two terms can vary drastically in meaning from person to person. If a brand is willing to highlight that they are “green” in some way, it means that they are confident enough to bring attention to whatever it is that they claim and if they weren’t they typically wouldn’t want to label themselves as such but you will have to decide if it meets your standards.

Hormone Free – Technically… this is misleading for two reasons, first, because chickens (like any other animal) will produce hormones naturally as they need them in order to grow and develop but also because the label “no added hormones” is misleading because the FDA has not allowed hormones in poultry or pork for over 50 years “Hormones are not allowed in raising hogs or poultry. Therefore, the claim “no hormones added” cannot be used on the labels of pork or poultry unless it is followed by a statement that says ‘Federal regulations prohibit the use of hormones.’ (Source)”  This can apply to cows, with the proper documentation if it is certified.



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