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Food 101

I don’t think we’ll ever really know which came first, the chicken or the egg but nowadays we are left wondering what even happened to the chicken?  Is it even a chicken anymore?  There are some things we can be certain about, though, like the differences between Conventional, Natural and Organic Foods, and why it’s important for us to know what they mean.




Conventional: con·ven·tion·al

1.Based on or in accordance with what is generally done or believed.

(of a person) 

2.Concerned with what is generally held to be acceptable at the expense of individuality and sincerity.


-Conventional farming uses chemical fertilizers to promote plant growth

-Conventional farming sprays pesticides to get rid of pests

-Conventional farming uses chemical herbicides to manage weeds

-Conventional farmers give animals antibiotics, growth hormones, and medications to spur growth and prevent disease

-Conventional farming also uses every acre of farmland to grow crops




Natural: nat·u·ral

1.Existing in or caused by nature; not made or caused by humankind


- Food labeled "natural" does not contain any artificial ingredients, coloring ingredients, or chemical preservatives, and, in the case of meat and poultry, is minimally processed.


-Meat from animals treated with artificial hormones can (and is) labeled “natural,” as is meat injected with saline solution (claimed to add flavor, which it does, but it also adds considerable weights to a product sold by the pound)


-Foods containing “natural flavors,” such as processed proteins that you may or may not consider desirable, can legally sport the label “natural.”





Organic: /ôr?ganik/

1. Of, relating to, or derived from living matter: "organic soils".

2. Of, relating to, or denoting compounds containing carbon (other than simple binary compounds and salts) and chiefly or ultimately of...


 -Foods that are produced using methods that do not involve modern synthetic inputs such as synthetic pesticides and chemical fertilizers


-Foods that do not contain genetically modified organisms (GMO's)


-Foods that are not processed using irradiation, industrial solvents, or chemical food additives




In the United States, a food can be labelled as "organic" if it contains a minimum of 95% organic ingredients.


In most other countries, organic produce may not be genetically modified.



The funny thing is, we, for some reason, have been programed to think that “organic” is something new.  A fad, if you will.  Some even think that we have started “making” organic food, but the reality is “organic” was here before us.  


With today’s USDA regulations, or lack thereof, what we used to consider ‘junk food’ in our childhood holds higher standards than many of our healthiest foods of today.  A chicken nugget from 1965 had way more nutritional value than any ‘reduced fat’ container lining today’s shelves.  




Here are some helpful tips:


-Read labels (if you can’t pronounce it, stay away)

-Where are your crops growing?  

-How far does your food travel before you see it on your local grocers shelf?  

-Ask questions, even at Farmers Markets (ask if they are growing produce with GMO’s)

-Know what is in season in your area

-Find local farms that have taken the “safe seed pledge.” This will assure you that they are doing everything using organic methods.  Some may not be USDA certified due to it’s cost and lack of regulations.  Learn more about that HERE

-Join a co op

-Buy Organic when you can

-When buying meats, know what type of feed the animal has been fed. Understand that by the USDA standards “grass fed” means only 30% of the animals life.  Know what they are being fed 100%  (most animals are being fed genetically modified corn - a food not meant for their diet, especially after modification that has been shown to grow tumors)

-Find restaurants that are locally owned and have seasonal menus or offer “farm to fork” options

-When buying dairy products be sure that it say’s “from milk of cows that have NOT been treated with rBGH”




In a downward economy think of the change we can make when we support our local farmers.  Plus, you’d be shocked to see how much cheaper it can be as local farms have  minimal overhead costs.  Also, you can feel really good about dining at locally owned restaurants that are offering better options.  


It really is a win win!

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Food 101