The Earth Diet is simple. As simple as "if you can't grow it, raise it or pick it, don't eat it". But where should you be getting your food? What is the difference between Organic and Certified Naturally Grown or Grass-fed and Pasture-raised? Let's work through some of those questions here.
What are my options for food types?
Food labels are all over the place these days. The major ones that you should be looking at are:
Organic: This type of food is grown without pesticides, antibiotics or genetically altered organisms. In addition, there are several levels of organic food.
- 100% organic food is entirely organic.
A food labeled "Organic" is more than 95% organic material.
The label "Made with organic materials" means that more than 70% of that product is organic.
Organic meat is hormone and antibiotic free, has been fed organic food (though this can mean corn or soy which is not natural to many livestock diets), and live stock "have access to the outdoors", the "opportunity to exercise" and "clean, fresh bedding".
Generally, produce that is labelled organic is preferable since you are not consuming the pesticides and by products of industrial farming. Conditions for livestock are much better under conditions that pass the organic test and will produce much healthier animals, meat and, in turn, you. While you should stay away from processed food anyway, be aware that an "Organic" label on processed food certainly does not mean "healthy", an often cited example being that even High Fructose Corn Syrup and Sugar can be labelled "Organic".
Certified Naturally Grown: In the US, the "Certified Organic" label is controlled by the USDA. Applying for the label costs money that many small farmers do not have, even though many grow crops without pesticides, antibiotics or genetically altered organisms. To remedy this situation, many farms use the "Certified Naturally Grown" label to distinguish their crops. An independent agency is used to assess the products and standards are comparable to, and sometimes claimed to be higher than, "Certified Organic".
Grass Fed or Pasture Raised: When it comes to buying meat, what that animal has eaten is an important part of how nutritious this food will be for you. Cattle and goats, for example, have evolved as grass eaters and that is what is easiest for their stomachs to digest. Naturally, cattle that is grass fed is healthier and provides more nutritious meat than non-grass fed cattle. Similarly, pigs and poultry that are allowed space to forage and clean pasture will produce healthier meat than those that are confined.
Where should my food come from?
There are lots of options for where you are going to buy your food from. If you've got any chain supermarket near you, chance are you will be able to find Organic, Certified Naturally Grown and Grass Fed products there. Just be savvy as you read the label to discern what exactly you are getting. Stay away from processed Organic foods because chances are they aren't healthy anyway.
Your other major options include Farm Stands or Farmer's Markets, Community Supported Agriculture boxes or even ordering online.
Farm Stands and Farmer's Markets: Simply, these are places where farmers bring their food and sell it. You are getting as close to the fresh off the farm experience as possible without going there and picking it yourself. Keep in mind that unless specified, this does not mean organic. Ask if you like. They may not be certified, but many small farms still grow their food this way. Searchwww.farmfresh.org to find a Farm Stand or Farmer's Market near you.
Community Supported Agriculture: In this system, farms have people pay an upfront cost at the beginning of a season for a weekly box of fresh produce. This system is much like the stock market where each person has bought a share of what is produced by the farm. Unfortunately this means that if it is a bad growing season, you may get less each week than what you were hoping for. FarmFresh.org also lists CSA's in your area.
Ordering Online: If you don't have a car or way of getting to a Farm Stand then ordering online may make sense. Buy from some place local that delivers from local farms. For example, Boston Organics will deliver a box of seasonally fresh fruit and vegetables to your door. They'll even deliver it by bike if possible to cut down of their emissions.