What Can Consumers Do?
We live in a world full of information, which can be overwhelming at times. Here are some resources to help you break down what is in your food, to evaluate what marketers are telling you, and to choose what’s best for your family’s health.
Resources for Consumers:
- Information on Sustainable Sourcing:
- Future Harvest’s ‘Amazing Grazing directory‘ will help you find local, sustainable sources for Maryland grass-fed meat, poultry, and dairy.
- Maryland’s Best: Linking Farmers to Consumers showcases local farmers, ranchers, dairies, and nurseries.
- Eat Wild’s ‘Pastured Products Directory‘ for Maryland
- The FoodPrint’s ‘Seasonal Food Guide‘ will allow you to search food by state, season or produce.
- Farm Forward’s guide to confusing poultry labels: BuyingPoultry
- Be an Educated Consumer:
- ASPCA’s labeling guide for meat, eggs and dairy. This guide helps you to decipher and break down labels and certifications related to animal welfare.
- The ASPCA’s Farmer’s Tool for Understanding Animal Welfare Certification.
- Sustainable Table’s glossary to meat production methods
- Make the best seafood choices with this Seafood Guide from Food and Water Watch.
- The FoodPrint’s ‘Glossary of Meat Production Methods‘ for terms related to livestock raising.
- Learn about food labels with Food and Water Watch’s ‘How Much do Labels Tell You?’
- Environmental Working Group’s ‘Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce‘™
- Look for heritage breeds of livestock and poultry when choosing your meat.
- Know the Environmental Impacts of the Foods You Buy:
- Eating with a Conscience database from Beyond Pesticides evaluates the impacts on the environment and farmworkers from toxic chemicals used on major food crops.
- Water Reporter crowdsourcing app for Apple and Android allows you to self-report water quality and pollution.
- Swim Guide app for Apple and Android shows water quality monitoring reports (by location) from Riverkeepers, Coastkeepers, Lakekeepers and affiliated groups.
Supporting a Sustainable Food System:
Third party certification is one way to understand the practices a farmer is using. Check for third-party food certifications and educate yourself about their strengths and weaknesses. Some of the best out there include:
Some farmers choose not to use a third-party certification for financial or political reasons. This does not mean that they are not using organic or sustainable methods, or that you should not support them. It does mean that the responsibility lies with you to find out how they farm. Consider asking to visit farms to see exactly how the animals are raised and how produce is grown. Here are some questions you can ask your local farmer.
If there is a resource you don’t see here but that you recommend, let us know! Email firstname.lastname@example.org.