You’re probably already aware (maybe uncomfortably so) of the widespread mistreatment of farm animals and pesticide use in our country, as well as the implications those have on human health. Huge CAFO farms (Confined Animal Farming Operations), antibiotics and synthetic hormones in our meat products, animal cruelty, toxic pesticide use, and destruction of the environment are all major concerns. Though we all want to do our part in making our planet a better place, it can confusing trying to navigate the meat or produce departments to locate the cleanest, most humane, and most nutritious options. Luckily, there are third-party organizations who have done the leg work for us, and have developed great (and free!) tools that consumers can use to make informed shopping decisions that are both ethical and health-promoting.
Useful Rating Systems for Selecting the Healthiest Foods (without giving yourself a headache) – The Global Animal Partnership’s 5-Step Animal Welfare Rating
Good news in your local meat department! Whole Foods has teamed up with The Global Animal Partnership, a not-for-profit watchdog organization dedicated to continually improving the lives of farmed animals. Their rigorous, multi-tiered rating system is based on careful observation of the animals’ behavior and environment. Not only does this rating system allow you to be a more empowered and conscious shopper, it also rewards farmers and ranchers who make the effort to improve their welfare practices. All products in Whole Foods’ meat department are rated, and if a source does not meet their basic animal welfare standards (Step 1), then you won’t even see it in the store.
- Step 1: Meets basic welfare standards (a list of over 100 standards, including no cages, crates, or overcrowding, facilities are well-designed and maintained to keep animals healthy, and no antibiotic or hormone use)
- Step 2: Animals have an enriched environment
- Step 3: Animals have enhanced outdoor access
- Step 4: Pasture centered
- Step 5: Animal-centered, no physical altercations
- Step 5+: Animal-centered, have spent their entire lives on one farm
Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch – “Helping people make better seafood choices for a healthy ocean”
Its no secret that our oceans are not doing well. Pollution, over-fishing, and other human-caused destruction have affected even the most remote parts of our oceans. These issues don’t only affect fish and other ocean life, but also the creatures that eat them (us!). Toxins floating around in the ocean environment build up in the bodies of fish, and remain there until they end up on our dinner plate and into our own bodies. Seafood Watch allows you to search through every species of fish on the market, learn how they were caught, what fishing methods are sustainable, and which species are high in toxic materials, like mercury. Download their App onto your smartphone and get informed as you grocery shop or order your sushi!
Check out Seafoodwatch.org for updated articles on other ocean issues and what we can do to protect our seas from further destruction.
Environmental Working Group (EWG) – “Know your environment. Protect your health.”
The EWG is a U.S. based organization whose mission is to empower people to live healthier lives in healthier environments. They target key issues such as pesticide, sustainable energy and farming practices, toxins in our water supply, and how to choose non-toxic body care products. Want to know what’s in you water? How about your shampoo? What the heck is a GMO? The EWG has the answers for you with free consumer guides:
- Use the Clean Fifteen/Dirty Dozen lists for selecting the safest produce.
- Look up your bodycare products with the SkinDeep shoppers guide.
- Find the best water filter for where you live.
- Reduce the toxicity of the cleaning products you use in your home.
- Check out the full range of their amazing (and free!) consumer guides.
Need help with how to shop? Take a Trip with a Cambiati Coach and discover how a Cambiati Coach looks at a grocery store. It’s more than a grocery shopping trip, it is a chance to brainstorm with the ingredients you love & add new ones to your repertoire.