You’ve walked into the grocery store and are bombarded with food labels that say “organic” and “natural.” You read about clothing that is ethically made and are fair trade, but what does it all mean?

Here’s a short list of some need-to-know terms:

Biodynamic — A reference usually to wine, this label indicates vineyards that rely heavily on compost and insects instead of chemical pesticides and fertilizers. Frey Vineyards offers biodynamic wines.

Co-operative (Co-op) — An organization made up of individuals who work towards the same goal, such as food co-ops. An example of food co-ops are Farmer’s Markets. Local Harvest offers a search of fresh, locally-grown fruits and vegetables that are in your neighborhood. Local organic and sustainable foods are often found at Farmer’s Markets and family farms. Co-ops offer another option to buying foods at corporate-owned supermarkets.

Cradle to Cradle

Products that, at the end of their life, are turned into new material and/or products that are composted. This terms was popularized by William McDonough and Michael Braungart’s book, Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things. The authors’ philosophies adhere to a strict theory of eliminating or minimizing waste and pollution. Cradle to cradle is a new theory in sustainability.

According to the McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry (MBDC) website, “Minimizing toxic pollution and the waste of natural resources are not strategies for real change. Designing industrial processes so they do not generate toxic pollution and ‘waste’ in the first place is true change.

Long-term prosperity depends not on the efficiency of a fundamentally destructive system, but on the effectiveness of processes designed to be healthy and renewable in the first place.”

Cradle to Cradle products stand in contrast to Cradle to Grave products, which are products that cannot be sustained after use and are disposed of.

Fair Trade

Foods and products that are certified as having come from co-ops where farm workers or artisans earn and are paid a fair wage and are provided a safe work environment. According to the Fair Trade website, their goals include giving small-scale farmers and workers in developing nations the ability to support themselves through fair prices for goods on the international market, as well as providing a trade environment that is Earth-friendly.

Ethically Made — Products that are manufactured in safe and healthy environments. These products are not made in sweatshop conditions by underpaid and exploited workers. American Apparel, Edun, and Kuyichi are just some of the companies that offer products that are ethically made.

100% Organic — Certified by the USDA and contains only organic ingredients. Food ingredients are grown without the use of chemicals, and livestock is not injected with antibiotics or hormones.
Ingredients also are not genetically modified.

Organic — Products that may or may not be certified by the USDA and contain at least 95% organic ingredients. Annie’s Naturals offers products that contain organic ingredients.

Made with Organic — Not certified by the USDA. Contains 70-95% organic ingredients. Health Valley offers a variety of made-with-organic food products.

Natural — Products contain no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives. Kashi offers cereals, bars, shakes and crackers that are all natural.

Permaculture — The process of growing several species of crops or vegetation and wildlife or livestock within the same environment, where these animals and crops will complement and nourish one another. An example of permaculture would be a farm where livestock, poultry, fruits and vegetable all live in the same environment through an organically designed system.

Permaculture relies on water-saving solutions, pest management, conservation, co-existence and cultivating this ecology. There are many good books on permaculture, but a great introduction to this philosophy is Rosemary Marrow’s Earth User’s Guide to Permaculture.

Take this brand new knowledge with you and buy some earth-friendly foods and clothing!

Pic of the Day: My dog cuddling with her only newborn puppy

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