What You Can Do
You can make a difference with the food choices you make everyday. Click on an issue below to see what you can do.
Vote with your wallet and buy sustainably raised beef products. Use the Eat Well Guide and enter your zipcode to find farms, stores and restaurants that provide locally grown, environmentally friendly foods. Help your supplies become aware of the issues surrounding factory farms with the Ask For Change! wallet card or factsheet.
Is there a nearby factory farm that is causing problems? Or is one moving into your area? This "Guide to Confronting a CAFO" is a great resource that outlines how to effectively organize a campaign involving your community members.
Purchase eggs with the hens’ welfare in mind and choose eggs that carry the “Certified Humane” or “USDA organic” label. Eggs that are merely labeled “cage-free” or “free-range” are not certified by a third-party so there is no regulation insuring the hens’ welfare. Learn more about what these labels mean.
Choose meats from animals that were not given “non-therapeutic” antibiotics. This may be indicated by labels such as “USDA Certified Organic” or “no antibiotic use.”
If possible, buy your meats directly from your farmer. Who better to ask about antibiotic usage than the person who raises the chicken, cattle or swine? To find a natural meat producer near you, visit www.eatwellguide.org
At the supermarket
Choose fish listed in the green or yellow columns of the Seafood Watch pocket guide. As of April 4, 2004, supermarkets are required to label unprocessed seafood as to where it is from and whether it is farm-raised or wild-caught. If such information is not available in a store, ask. Explain that this information is important to you as a consumer. Your opinion matters to these businesses because your purchases make or break their bottom line.
At a restaurant
Restaurants are not required to label seafood on their menus. Ask your server or the restaurant management where the seafood is from and whether it is farm-raised or wild-caught. If they’re not sure, we recommend you choose something else. Using the “Become Aware” cards refer the restaurant management to the Seafood Watch site specific for restaurants and retailers. Support business that are already purchasing sustainable seafood with “Thank You” cards.
When preparing seafood at home, be sure to use proper cooking methods to help reduce your exposure to chemicals such as PCBs, dioxins and pesticides. Before cooking, remove the skin, internal organs and fat (along the back, sides and belly) because this is where toxins tend to accumulate. Also, serve grilled or broiled fish instead of fried fish because frying seals in the chemicals that might be in the fish’s fat. Grilling and broiling, on the other hand, allows the fat to drain away.
At largeSupport organizations (including restaurants and supermarkets) that are committed to saving our oceans. For example, join the Seafood Watch Advocates program to stay abreast of the latest seafood news and to help others make informed decisions about their seafood.
Enjoy fruits and vegetables that are grown using sustainable methods. At major grocery stores, produce that carries USDA Certified Organic seal indicates no pesticide use. When you're at the farmers' market, ask your local farmer how the produce was grown.
You can also plant your own garden and enjoy the fruits (and vegetables) of your labor. Don't have a yard to plant a garden? Grow your own herbs like basil, thyme and mint in small pots and use them in your home cooking!
Purchase dairy products that are from cows raised without the use of artificial growth hormones. Look for foods that specifically say they are free of rBGH or rBST or have the “USDA organic” seal. The organic standards include barring the use of added hormones. Learn more about what “organic” really means.
Choose your coffee with the social and environmental implications in mind. Most supermarkets and specialty food stores now carry various ethically sourced coffees. If your local coffeeshop does not carry Fair Trade Certified (or other socially aligned) coffee, request it.
Whenever possible, recycle or compost rather than sending trash to the landfills. Check your municipalities for available services.
Rather than throwing away materials such as plastic bags or used beverage bottles, find a way to use them for other functions. For example, plastic or paper bags can be used as trash can liners or lunch bags.
Reduce food waste. If you have an "all you care to eat" station, take less than what you think you’ll eat and go back for seconds rather than taking too much and wasting leftovers.