To buy real food you need to know what’s in it and where it comes from. These eight guides to how to buy real food will equip you with this knowledge and help stock your home with the healthiest choices.
Part 1 listed four guides to help you look for foods that minimize your exposure to harmful ingredients (like pesticides and genetically-modified foods) and shop more sustainably. Part 2 continues this goal by focusing on important staples in a nutrient rich diet; eggs, dairy, and meat, and concludes with a guide to safe personal care products.
4. Egg Scorecard
The Cornucopia Institute compiled a list of 70 organic egg producers and rated them according to 22 criteria. Their full report, Scrambled Eggs: Separating Factory Farm Egg Production from Authentic Organic Agriculture helps consumers seek out family farmers who are upholding the organic standards. The organic label is no longer enough information to help make the choice, some factory farm operators can still market eggs as organic even while stuffing as many as 85,000 hens in a single building with no access to sunshine.
For those that cannot always buy directly from farmers or farmers markets, this report includes grocery store brands and highlights the “true heroes” who are supplying ethically produced organic eggs.
Read about the benefits of pastured eggs at Cheeseslave.com, How to Buy Organic Eggs: Pastured vs. Free Range Eggs.
5. Dairy Scorecard
Consumers willing to spend more on organic dairy products hope that the label represents a more sustainable and healthier product. “Organic” milk, coming from factory farms housing thousands of cows in confined spaces, are showing up on market shelves. This consumer deception threatens the livelihood of smaller family farmers who are upholding organic standards.
The Dairy Scorecard, from The Cornucopia Institute, rates 110 organic brands based on milk production and purchasing practices. Organic milk from industrial-scale confinement farms- in addition to horrible animal welfare conditions- is nutritionally inferior (reduced levels of beneficial fatty acids, cancer fighting antioxidants, and vitamins). Use this scorecard to choose dairy farmers who uphold the organic standards. Read the full report from The Cornucopia Institute, Maintaining the Integrity of Organic Milk.
Read why I choose raw milk for my family, Three Facts You Should Know About Raw Milk
7. Meat and Poultry
Factory farmed meat, eggs, and dairy products are widely available in the supermarket. These products are nutritionally inferior and cause health and environmental issues.
Eatwild.com is one of the best sources for finding grass-fed and pastured beef, lamb, goats, bison, poultry, pork, and dairy. This site will link you to local farms (it lists more than 1,300 pasture-based farms) or farms that ship for those that can’t find a local source. Eatwild.com is also a valuable source for science based information on the benefits of grass-fed animals. Read Grass-Fed Basics, by Jo Robinson, on the eatwild.com site for a good overview.
Kosher sources for ethical kosher meat are much harder to find. Though kosher meat must be slaughtered according to strict rabbinic laws, these laws do not cover the humane treatment of the animal in a sustainable system. Sources for local grass-fed kosher meat are almost non-existent outside the New York area. The Jew and the Carrot Blog has a list of resources for finding ethical kosher meat. Kol Foods is the only company shipping nationwide at this time.
Why Sustainable Kosher Meat is Hard to Find – an interview with Naf Hanau, ritual slaughterer and butcher
Health Benefits of Grassfed Meat at TenderGrassfedMeat.com. This site is a great resource for recipes and tips on cooking with grassfed meat.
8. Personal Care Products
Daily exposure to chemicals in our personal care products creates a toxic load in our bodies. You now have the resources to find the best quality foods, but don’t forget that what you put on your body is just as important to your health as what you put in your body.
The Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) Skin Deep is an amazing database of safety ratings for almost 64,000 products on the market. You can search by category (makeup, skin, hair, eyes, nails, babies, oral care, and sun protection) or search by a particular product to find out if the ingredients are harmful and look for the safest alternative. The Shopper’s Guide to Safe Cosmetics offers a brief overview of list of ingredients to avoid in everyday products. The What Not To Buy List is EWG’s top recommendations for the most harmful ingredients to avoid.
Ready why you should be consuming a high fat diet to give your body the nutrition it needs to handle environmental toxins at The Healthy Home Economist, Animal Fats as a Source of Toxins?
Do you have other resources to share for finding non-toxic products and clean food?