Making Green Living Logical

Sustainable Food


In a perfect world, we would all eat local, sustainably grown, organically produced food.  These foods generally contain no genetically modified organisms (GMOs), no growth hormones, antibiotics, solvent extracted oils, or artificial ingredients.  Since this is not always possible, there are a few things to think about.

Buying food that is locally grown is fresher and also has the environmental advantage of having a lower carbon footprint due to reduced travel distances.  A great place to find locally grown food is at your local farmer’s market (find local food).  Coop grocery stores also offer many locally grown foods (find a Coop).

Organically grown food offers benefits to us and to the environment.  Organic farming practices are designed to benefit the environment by reducing pollution and conserving water and soil.  Growth hormones and antibiotics are not used in organically raised animals.  Often, organically and sustainably grown foods are healthier for us than their conventional counterparts.  An example of this is grass-fed beef, which is higher in beneficial nutrients than grain-fed beef.  Products need to be 95% or greater organic in order to display the USDA organic seal.  See the USDA Organic Standards web page for more info.

Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) can include insertion of genes from one species to another.  In the food supply, this includes products such as soybeans, corn, sugar from beets, and canola.  Cotton is also often genetically modified.  Genetically modified plants are often associated with a much higher use of pesticides, with lower crop yields, and with many under-studied health effects.  Currently, there is no law in the United States that requires food containing GMOs to be labeled as such.  You can, however, find foods that are labeled as containing no GMOs (see the Non GMO Project).  Organically grown foods are not permitted to contain genetically modified organisms, so buying organic can help you to avoid them.

The majority of oils used in foods are extracted with a solvent (typically hexane).  Once extracted, the oil/solvent mixture is heated to distill off the solvent.  Some residual solvent may remain in the oil.  Check the ingredients to see if the oils are expeller pressed.  This is a mechanical extraction process that does not use solvents.

Growing your own food is the best way to insure that it is grown in a healthy and sustainable fashion.  If planning to grow all your own produce, it is good practice to have your soil tested before beginning.  See our Gardening page for additional information.

Check out our Composting page to learn about composting your food waste.

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