Five Guidelines for Going Beyond Organic

As the old saying goes, it’s not easy being green. Organic, GMO–free, grass-fed—in a world full of purportedly health- and eco-conscious food options, it’s hard to know what to choose. Whole Foods’ Errol Schweizer and Consumer Reports’ Urvashi Rangan have the answers to how to go organic—and beyond—in this 2014 CIW Talk.

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1. Be wary of companies that throw around the terms “natural” and “organic.”

“We actually have a campaign to ban the natural label altogether…it’s undermining credible labels that are really trying to do the right thing, and our survey data shows that people are being mislead by it, frankly.” (Rangan)

2. Check your product’s credible third-party rating here.

“There [are] different certification bodies for Hillel, likewise with Kosher. For us, it’s really important that any of those claims have that backup, and that provides us that integrity.” (Schweizer)

3. Get educated on grass-fed foods and animal welfare.

“All these labels stack up against each other in these very discrete criteria. So if you care about slaughter, know that really there [are] only two labels that are really out there…dealing with slaughter practices.” (Rangan)

4. Dig below the surface.

“The USDA hasn’t defined ‘humane.’ They ought to, but [there are] these private labeled programs that have, and that’s important to know.” (Rangan)

5. Pay attention to labels.

“Always question…and always scrutinize a label. And make sure that you’re holding our suppliers to their highest possible standards.” (Schweizer)

Erin Robertson is managing editor at Chicago Ideas.

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