Monday, September 15, 2008
FARM to FORK" Shopping Guidelines
This morning, I received a newsletter from Cook's World Cooking School with a list of upcoming classes. This is what I do for fun. I check out the cooking classes available.
Correction: This list happens to be an abridged version of a list posted by Cuesa, the center for urban education about sustainable agriculture. This is a non-profit that runs the
Ferry Plaza Farmer's Market in SF. For the full version , click here. While you are checking out the site, be sure to check out the recipes.
FARM to FORK" shopping Guidelines for our Food Friends at Market
Sustainable Agriculture: Agriculture that is socially just, humane, economically viable, and environmentally sound.
Conventional: Refers to standard agricultural practices widespread in the industry. Can include use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, "mono-cropping," antibiotics, hormones and other agribusiness approaches. Conventional farming in the U.S. may also include the use of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). The Ferry Plaza Farmers Market prohibits the sale of any products known to contain GMOs.
Transitional: Farmers need to practice organic methods for three years on a given piece of land before the products grown there can be certified organic. "Transitional" means that the farmland is in the midst of that transition period towards organic certification.
Organically Grown/Certified Organic: All products sold as "organic" must be certified. Certification includes annual submission of an organic system plan and inspection of farm fields and processing facilities to verify that organic practices and record keeping are being followed. Certification is carried out by organizations accredited by the USDA. Organic farmers are not allowed to use synthetic pesticides or fertilizers, genetically modified crops, growth hormones, or antibiotics. Organic meat and poultry can be fed only organically-grown feed.
Heirloom: Heirloom crop varieties, also called farmers' varieties or traditional varieties, have been developed by farmers through years of cultivation, selection, and seed saving, and passed down through generations.
Vine-ripened/Tree-ripened: These terms are applied to fruit that has been allowed to ripen on the vine or tree. Many fruits that are shipped long distances are picked while still unripe and firm, and then sometimes treated with ethylene gas to "ripen" and soften them
Artisan/Artisanal: The terms "artisan" and "artisanal" imply that products are made by hand in small batches.
Free range: Free range (or free roaming) implies that a meat or poultry product comes from an animal that was raised out of confinement or was free to roam. Its use on beef is unregulated and there is no standard definition of this term. USDA requires that poultry have access to the outdoors but for an undetermined period each day. "Free range" claims on eggs are not regulated.
Grass-fed: The diet of grass-fed animals consists of freshly grazed pasture during the growing season and stored grasses (hay or grass silage) during the winter months or drought conditions. Grass feeding is used with cattle, sheep, goats, and bison. (Other terms for "grass-fed" products include "pasture-raised," "pasture-finished," and "grass
Humane: If an animal product is labeled "humane," it implies that the animals were treated with compassion. "Certified Humane" means that the animals were allowed to engage in their natural behaviors; raised with sufficient space, shelter and gentle handling to limit stress; and given ample fresh water and a healthy diet without added antibiotics or hormones. Not all "humane" claims are regulated.
No hormones: Hormones are commonly used in the commercial farming of animals such as cattle to increase the size of beef cattle or to increase the production of milk in dairy cattle. Some of these hormones are natural, some are synthetic, and some are genetically engineered. If a ranch or product professes "no hormones," this means that they do not engage in this practice.
No antibiotics: Antibiotics are given to animals such as cows, hogs and chickens in order to prevent diseases that run rampant in the cramped conditions in which many food animals are kept. When a ranch or product professes "no antibiotics," this means that they do not engage in these practices.
Naturally grown/all-natural: USDA guidelines state that "natural" meat and poultry products can only undergo minimal processing and cannot contain artificial colors, artificial flavors, preservatives, or other artificial ingredients. The claim "natural" is otherwise unregulated
Raw milk cheese: Cheese and other dairy products made from milk that is not pasteurized say "raw milk" on the label. In the U.S., raw milk cheeses are required to be aged for 60 days as a safety precaution.