Thursday, September 18, 2008

Deciphering Egg Carton Claims

I've realized that lately when I pick out a carton of a dozen eggs at the grocery store, I'm completely guessing about or even rationalizing the veracity of the claims made on the outside of the carton. "Cage free," "free range," "natural," "organic," "vegetarian," I've seen it all and don't know what to think.

I'm a skeptic and assume (rightly, I truly believe) that companies will put anything and everything on a label that they can get away with legally in order to convince you their product is better, safer, cleaner, and more 'natural.'

When it comes to organic labeling the USDA gives us some rules we can follow, but I have absolutely no idea about egg labeling.

Fortunately Catherine Price at the New York Times has done some research for us in her article, "Sorting Through the Claims of the Boastful Egg."
Some claims on egg cartons are regulated by the federal government, some by the states and some not at all. Some affect consumers’ health, some touch upon ethics and some are meaningless. All purport to describe how the hens were raised, or what they were fed, or what extra benefits their eggs might provide. So, what do these terms mean?
Even better, if you don't feel like reading the whole Times article, misterjalopy at BoingBoing has parsed the facts down to an egg buying cheat sheet he carries in his wallet.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Organic To Go's New Seasonal Menus

Organic To Go, America’s first organic fast-casual cafe chain to be certified organic by the USDA, has launched new, seasonal fall and winter catering menus.
“At Organic To Go we dispel the notion that eating ‘organic’ means having to sacrifice our time-tested favorite dishes; we present fine fresh food and work hard to provide excellent service to put Customers First on every occasion, from tailgates and election parties to corporate meetings and holiday events,” said Jason Brown, Chairman and CEO of Organic To Go. “With 40% of our overall business coming from catering, we see an opportunity to offer our bicoastal markets a change toward wholesome organic catering options at work and at home. Now event planners and hosts can bring fresh, delicious meals to the boardroom and the table, free of harmful chemicals and additives. Our catering menu is made with all natural ingredients from sustainable sources for any size group.”
In addition to Organic To Go’s signature breakfast items, sandwiches, wraps, salads and entrees, 30 new seasonal menu items have been added including Beef Stew, Chicken Pot Pie, and Turkey Roulade made with organic and prairie-raised beef and all-natural chicken and turkey. Two new pizzas, Hawaiian and Supreme, have been added to the Pizza Organico selection of 18-inch hand-crafted pies. New snack bowls, such as the Good Morning, Healthy Choice, or the Chocolate Lover’s Snack Bowl are perfect for any meeting or event.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Sustainable Table interview

Food Karma has an informative interview with Sustainable Table founder Diane Hatz.

Diane Hatz develops and manages creative projects to raise awareness and educate consumers about issues surrounding the sustainable food and agriculture movement, while promoting solutions to the problems caused by factory farms. She is founder of, The Meatrix, and the Eat Well Guide.

An excerpt:

Q Are the words "sustainable" and "organic" interchangeable?

A No. "Organic" implies a standard. "Sustainable" is really more a philosophy.

Organic food can be sustainable, but it might not be. A lot of organic farms are sustainable, but the hot-button issue right now is industrial organics-the big agribusinesses getting into the market. Many times they monocrop; you can have acres and acres of one kind of lettuce, and still label it organic. But that is not sustainable.