Simple Palate: Eating Green on Earth Day

By Cielestia Calbay

Today marks the 41st anniversary of Earth Day. And though only 36 percent of Americans are concerned about the planet’s well-being, as surveyed by The A Harris Interactive Poll, there are many ways to eat smart and responsibly for those looking to eat green today.

When shopping for sustainable foods, you’ll likely be bombarded with labels like “grass-fed,” “cage-free” and other foreign-language-sounding terms. With the help of, we’ve decoded these less-than-intuitive labels to help you make an informed decision:


Found on: Coffee

Definition: Instead of clearing land to grow coffee, producers grow coffee underneath the tree canopy, which helps keep our air clean, our soil healthy and provides habitat for animals and birds.


Found on: Tuna

Definition: Fishers didn’t use a certain kind of net on or around dolphins, and no dolphins were killed or seriously injured during tuna harvesting.


Found on: Meat

Definition: The animals were fed a diet of “100% forage,” were raised on a pasture and were never given hormones or antibiotics.


Found on: Poultry

Definition: American producers must prove that the birds have “access to the outside,” although the frequency or duration of this access is not defined


Found on: Almost everything

Definition: The product adheres to USDA guidelines and was transported less than 400 miles from its origin, or hasn’t come from another state

Animal Welfare Approved

Found on: Meat, poultry, pork, dairy, eggs

Definition: AWA is a free and independent third-party auditing and certification program for family farms raising their animals humanely — outdoors on a pasture or a range.

Certified Naturally Grown

Found on: Produce, honey, meat, poultry

Definition: It’s similar to USDA certification, but relies on peer-review rather than third-party inspection.


Cielestia Calbay is the associate editor of Competitor Magazine. If she’s not the office, you’ll probably find her outdoors or scouring the area for the nearest juice bar. She may be reached at or @ccalbay

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