Farmfront Board Member
When you walk down the aisle inside of your favorite grocery store, it’s easy to spot buzzwords that may grab your eye. With consumers’ rising interest in what is in their food, words that give more details stop and make you think: “All natural,” “locally grown,” “no antibiotics,” and “naturally raised.” What does it all mean? Do these labels really fit the goals in your head as a consumer? In this third installation of the no-nonsense guide to food labels, we are going to dive into understanding the pork you buy.
Pork listed as “All Natural” means that it does not contain any artificial ingredients or added colors. As well as being minimally processed, the label means the product was not fundamentally altered during processing. This can also be seen as “No Artificial Ingredients” or “Minimally Processed”.
No Antibiotics Added
Pork that is labeled as “No Antibiotics” or “No Antibiotics Added” means that there is documentation to prove that the animal was never given any antibiotics during its life.
Sodium Nitrates are often used in cured meats like bacon.hen it comes to cured pork there are some uncured products that use alternative ingredients. These include beet or celery juice or sea salt to make a product that is similar to cured meats.
Free Range/ Pasture Raised
In order for pork to be “Free Range” the USDA states the hog must have had continuous access to the pasture for 80% of their life or more. This can also be labeled as “Pasture Raised”, “Free Roaming” or “Raised Outdoors”.
Naturally Raised labels have no USDA standards when it comes to pork, because of this the meaning can be different from one product to another. Things that Naturally Raised sometimes refer to are animals that have been given no antibiotics or growth hormones, and sometimes even referred to animals that have been raised outdoors or given specific types of feed.
Locally Grown pork is another label that has no USDA standard in regard to pork. This is usually defined as pork that comes from a farm in the area and is often seen at either farmer’s markets or in the grocery stores. Consumers often like to purchase products labeled as locally grown to feel they are supporting local farmers.
Pork that is certified organic means that it was raised on only certified organic land, fed only organic feed, and has access to the outdoors.
Pork that is certified organic means that it was raised on only certified organic land, fed only organic feed, and has access to the outdoors. The USDA has four different levels of organic products that include 100% organic, organic, made with organic, and less than 70% organic.
- 100% Organic means the product has been produced using only organic methods defined by the USDA
- Organic means that the product is 95% or greater organically produced
- Made with Organic means that 70-95% of the ingredients in a product are organically produced and those ingredients are listed on the display panel as organic
- Less than 70% Organic products are allowed to list that they include a certain percentage of organic ingredient
The Power is in YOUR HANDS!
When it comes down to it, I encourage you to research any labels you are unsure of the definition for, to make sure they mean what you think they are supposed to. If those labels don’t meet the standards in your head maybe you should re-evaluate your purchases.
Remember consumer dollars drive the industry. If nothing else, always look for local means of food markets in your area, where you can approach the farmer and they can tell you about all their practices and why their products are worth it!