Consumers have more choices than ever before on where and how to source their food, yet when asked the majority of consumers purchasing organic, local, antibiotic free and grass-fed do not fully understand the labels or the production processes behind them. Below is a breakdown –
- USDA Certified Organic
- Those who raise organically-grown food must follow a strict set of guidelines outlined by the USDA which indicates that the food has been produced through approved methods. These practices are often more expensive to implement, causing organic food to be two or three times more expensive.A common misconception is that organically raised foods do not use pesticides or fertilizers. Organic farmers can choose from certified pesticides and fungicides on their crops. They can also use organic matter (livestock manure) for fertilizer.Additionally, consumers often believe that organic food is healthier and provides their family greater nutritional value – this is unproven. Organic is no safer or better for you than conventional according to a recent systematic review by Stanford University which examined hundreds of studies.
- Farmers have intentionally changed the genetic makeup of all the crops they have grown since domestic agriculture began 10,000 years ago. Every fruit, vegetable and grain that is commercially available today has been altered by human hands, including organic and heirloom seeds. In the late 20th century, advances in technology enabled the expansion of the genetic diversity of crops. A major result has been GMO seeds that maintain or increase the yield of crops while requiring less land and fewer inputs, both of which lessens the impact of agriculture on the environment and reduce costs for farmers.Before crops from GMO seeds reach the market, they are studied extensively to make sure they are safe for people, animals and the environment. Today’s GMO crops are the most researched and tested agriculture products in history.Biotech crops currently available on the markets are the same compositionally and nutritionally as non-GMO crops. Testing has shown and FDA review has confirmed that GMOs are nutritionally the same as non-GMO crops. Food from GMOs is digested in the body the same as non-GMO food. Hundreds of studies have and continue to demonstrate that GMOs do not present any health risk, allergies, cancers, infertility, ADHD or any other diseases. In the years that farmers have grown GMO seeds, approximately 1994, there has not been a single documented instance of harm to human health from GMOs.
- There are multiple standards for grass-fed labels or certifications, but all of cattle and sheep spend the majority of their life eating grass in pastures. The determinate of grass-fed are those cattle or sheep that have been raised on a pasture their entire lives. This takes the animals longer to reach maturity and is difficult to do in the majority of North America due to seasons and changing weather conditions causing an increase in price. Grass-fed meat has not been proven to be more nutritious or healthy, but all types of meat provide essential nutrients to your body (link to Is Meat a Four Letter Word blog).
- Antibiotic Free
- Some consumers are concerned that antibiotics used in animals have contributed to the emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in humans; however, there has been no proven link to antibiotic treatment failure in humans due to antibiotic use in animals.Healthy animals are the basis of a healthy, humane and safe food system. That is why it is important to prevent and control diseases in farm animals and to treat animals when they are sick. Farmers and ranchers use antibiotics judiciously to keep the risk extremely low of developing antibiotic resistant bacteria that is harmful to people.Additionally, a common misconception is that antibiotics used on animals will be present in the meat purchased at the store. All animals treated with antibiotics must go through a withdrawal period and meet federal standards for antibiotic residue before the meat enters the food supply.
- The definition for locally produced food products in the U.S. applies to food products transported less than 400 miles or within the state in which they were produced, according to the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008. Using this label presents challenges for stores with multiple locations and for stores near state boarders as if a farmer’s produce was raised in Glenwood, Iowa, it would not meet the official definition of local at the Omaha Farmers Market.
– Kassi Williams is a proud farmer’s daughter raised up on a cow/calf and grain farm.