Posted by: conradvisionquest | December 30, 2009

Organic, Free Range, Eco-Friendly, OH MY!

I must say, as my adventure in learning about the food industry continues, trips to the grocery store can take longer than they used to.  But, once I learn more about companies and products , I stick to the ones I like and grocery shopping becomes less daunting again.

Being on a budget and also a conscious consumer can be quite the conundrum! (Oh how I love it when I get to use that word!)  All those labels mentioned above – organic, free range, eco-friendly – they tend to be more expensive than subsidized, factory farmed, cookie cutter, cheap labor made products.  So what’s a thinking woman to do? A little homework… and I thought I would share mine with you.

When I am shopping for groceries, I look for things that do not have MSG, contain non-GMO ingredients, are vegan or vegetarian, organic, locally produced, and recycled.  But what do these labels mean?  Can anyone just slap these words on their products to market to the new movement of thinking consumers?  Let’s take a look-see…

ORGANIC- What does it mean when a product is labeled “organic?”  When products carry the label you see here, it means that 95-99% of the product (by weight) is organic.  You can read more about labeling here.  But what does it mean to be organic?  Get your organic FAQs answered here.

Now that we know a little bit about what it means to be organic, let’s talk PRODUCE!  Giving up meat certainly does free up a little cash for organic produce, but what if you can’t buy organic ALL the time?  Here’s a little list that those out there refer to as “The Dirty Dozen.”  This is the a list of fruits & veggies that you should strive to buy organic because they tend to be the most contaminated with pesticides.  If my budget doesn’t allow for all of my produce to be organic, I usually can stick to this list.   Can’t remember the list?  “There’s an app for that!”  Download the list or the app for your iphone/itouch  here.  This list is updated occasionally, so make sure you are, too!  Of course, your best bet for produce is to check out your local farmers market.

NON-GMO- If you are not familiar with GMO and GE “food,” please refer to my previous post about Monsanto.  Literally, GMO stands for Genetically Modified Organism and GE means Genetically Engineered.  Sound like something you want to put in your mouth?  Nope, not me.  Read more about GMOs and download a shopping guide here.  To sum it up, corn and soy are the most common crops to be GMO.  If something contains corn or soy or ingredients derived from corn or soy (ie corn starch, corn syrup, soy lechithin) chances are you will be consuming GMOs.  The easiest way is to avoid these products OR look for items labeled NON-GMO or NO GMOs.

Speaking of not fooling with Mother Nature, just because you are growing your own garden doesn’t mean your food hasn’t been tampered with!  I prefer to use heirloom seeds, but there are also hybrids and GMOs as well.  Read here to learn the difference.  Also see my previous post about growing your own food.

FREE RANGE and CAGE FREE– How many times have you been standing in the egg section of the grocery store, staring at all the labels… organic, free range, cage free, free roaming.  Which is best?  Is there any difference? Check out these articles that will tell you here and here.  In short, “cage free” is only a commercial designation that simply means the chickens were not kept in battery cages, which are so confining a hen does not have enough room to stand or stretch her wings.  “Free Range” is a USDA designation that means the chickens have access to the outside.  They are usually raised in crowded growing houses, not in an open pasture or field like the phrase would lead you to believe.  It’s pretty disgusting what commercial farms are allowed to get away with.  Ah, yes, the marketing “geniuses” (product pushers is what I like to call them) certainly are smiling while they count their money, happy that they have fooled the consuming public once again.  BUT NOT ME! And don’t let them fool you, either.   If you want eggs, find a local farmer who sells them.  They may even let you visit the farm so you can see how the chickens are raised for yourself.  Better yet, skip the eggs altogether.

Being a conscious consumer does not have to break the bank.  It’s all about quality over quantity, and issues that are a priority for YOU.  It all boils down to this: KNOW WHAT YOU ARE PUTTING IN YOUR MOUTH AND ON YOUR BODY!  Read labels, research companies, learn what the harmful ingredients are and who uses them.  After you do a little digging, you will be shocked at what you discover!

Got some great resources to share? Let’s hear ’em!  Please comment below…



  1. Here’s a good article on the difference between Cage-Free and Battery-Cage Eggs.

    and here is another article on the health threat found in caged hens:

    Great article though!! It is SO HARD to figure out which labels to trust. Consumers need to be educated because labels and marketing can be so misleading!!

    • hey, thanks so much for the additional info, Cary! those are great articles… yeah, i’m just getting to the point where it doesn’t take me FOREVER to do my weekly shopping. more education is making it easier…

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