Decoding Those Tricky Labels Gets A Bit Easier


Let’s say you’re at the grocery store looking for the right kind of food to serve your family for a healthy, well-rounded dinner. Sounds simple enough, right?

Not so. These days it’s easy to get bogged down by all the label descriptions. What do “Animal Welfare Approved,” “Halal,” and “rBGH-Free” actually mean? The decoding process can be a daunting task for even the most well-informed consumer.

But never fear. We’ve got you covered with two of our favorite go-to websites, Environmental Working Group, and Slow Food USA. They have taken the chore out of the grocery store shopping by compiling a list of meat labels, along with clear explanations of what each one actually means. Brilliant, right?!

For example, using EWG’s system, we now know what the label “Cage-Free” is really all about.

The term refers to hens that are not raised in cages, but it does not necessarily mean they have access to the outdoors. There is no standard definition of “cage-free,” but it generally implies that the birds are free to perform natural behaviors. Many cage-free claims are not certified, though some cage-free eggs are certified by American Humane Certified label.”

And following the information on Slow Food USA we understand what “USDA Grass Fed” entails.

Products with this label come from animals that eat a diet of grass and forage. Cattle can still be confined for long periods of time but they must have access to pasture during the “growing season.”

While you’re at it, take a moment to read “Slow Meat: In Search of a Way to Ensure All Meat Is Good, Clean and Fair,” a recently launched campaign to take on “all the issues surrounding meat head-on.”

Hey, the information above might not be exactly comforting but at least we can feel a little more informed when it comes to our food shopping.


 Read all articles by Juniper Briggs

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