Locavore Lingo

What All the Food Labels Really Mean

Locally grown foods are more likely to have been bred for flavor and nutrition than durability and a long shelf life, says Emily Akins, outreach director for the Kansas City Food Circle, a cooperative that links residents with farmers that grow and raise organic and free-range food. An added benefit is getting to know the farmer and being able to ask the questions—and receive the answers—that are important to us.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports that local food sales totaled $12 billion in 2014, up from $5 billion in 2008. They continue to grow.

Organic or Certified Organic

Consumers want to know the difference between organics and certified organics. Today’s number of U.S. certified organic operations has jumped nearly 300 percent since 2002 to more than 21,700.

Although a certified organic designation might be the preferred index of how foods are grown and raised, it is not always possible for certain foods in some climates. Sometimes there’s a tradeoff in buying organic foods in the carbon footprint of its transport to market.

According to the Sweetwater Organic Community Farm, in Tampa, Florida, “Organic refers to a specific method of growing and processing foods, and is defined as produce grown, packaged and stored without synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides or irradiation.”

To be considered certified organic under the Code of Federal Regulations 7 CFR Part 205, products must meet these standards:

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