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Educated Eater’s Guide

Originally complied April 2012

What to Do:


  • Be an Educated Consumer - Read labels!

    • Buy organic or sustainable food with little or no pesticides

    • Determine where your food came from (country or state of origin)

    • Avoid Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO)

    • Be suspicious of anything w/corn, soy, canola or cottonseed unless “100% organic”

    • GMO sugar beets and alfalfa are a new concern


  • Vote with your wallet

    • Support local farms: join a CSA and/or visit local farmers' markets

  • Milton: Farmers Market Details TBD

  • Ride your bike there & get a $2 coupon!

    • Support restaurants and vendors that buy locally produced foods

    • Ask your favorite restaurants and vendors to offer local, sustainable foods

    • Download/use/share this very helpful guide:

    • Consider what you put “on” your body too (hair and skin care products)


  • Bring it Home

    • Eat seasonally.  Foods in season have more nutritional content and taste better!

    • Cook at home and enjoy dinners as a family

    • Visit local farms, grow a garden and teach children how to garden


  • Spread the Word

    • Request places serving food to children stop providing junk food, sodas and sports drinks

    • Encourage classroom/office/other party planners to provide sustainable foods in/on reusable dishware

    • Tell Congress that food safety is important to you

Making Sense of Labeling Terms:


  • “100% organic”: all ingredients organic & minimally processed; no pesticides, artificial fertilizers, human waste/sewage sludge, radiation, GMO or food additives; no growth hormones or routine use of antibiotics


  • USDA seal w/o the words “100% organic”: > 95% of content by wt (excluding water and salt) is organic; 5% includes products not available in organic form; no sludge or radiation


  • “made w/organic ingredients” (no USDA seal): >70% organic ingredients; no restrictions on other ingredients


  • organic ingredients listed on label: contains < 70% organic ingredients


Deciphering Produce Codes:


In addition to often telling you the country of origin, the first digits of those little produce stickers tell you how the food item was grown:


  • Conventional Produce – when the prefix is:

    • 3 = hybrid (nectarines are a hybrid, hybrids aren’t necessarily bad)

    • 4 = conventional inputs (synthetic fertilizers, herbicides & pesticides)

  • Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) 

    • begins with 8 (not often used per request of industry)

  • Organic – five digits beginning with 9


  • Example: bananas

    • Conventionally grown: 4011

    • Conventionally grown hybrid: 3011

    • GMO: 84011 (theoretical label)

    • Organic: 94011 (actual label)


Suggested Reading:


  • Michael Pollan: “Omnivore's Dilemma”, “In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto”


  • Eric Schlosser: “Fast Food Nation”


  • Marion Nestle: “Food Politics”, “What to Eat”


  • Barbara Kingsolver: “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle”


  • Vandana Shiva: “Stolen Harvest” 


  • Robyn O’Brien: “The Unhealthy Truth”


  • Mark Bittman’s column in the NY Times


  • Frances Moore Lappe & Anna Lappe: “Hope’s Edge: The Next Diet for a Small Planet”


  • Didi Emmons: “Wild Flavors”


  • Jo Robinson: “Pasture Perfect The Far-Reaching Benefits of Choosing Meat, Eggs and Dairy Products from Grass-fed Animals” 


  • Norman Wirzba, ed: “The Essential Agrarian Reader” 



  • Upton Sinclair: “The Jungle”


  • Jackie Newgent: “Big Green Cookbook: Hundreds of Planet-pleasing Recipes and Tips for a Luscious, Low-carbon Lifestyle” 



  • Julie Gabriel: “The Green Beauty Guide” (see Appendix B: personal care products to avoid)


Suggested Viewing:







  • “Fast Food Nation”


  • “Food Beware: The French Organic Revolution”


Seed Supply Concerns:



Allergy and Food Safety Info:







Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), and Fishing (CSFs):



Some CSA’s convenient to Milton:






Sustainable/Local Food Options:



Plastic Container Guidance:


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