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What Grocery Store Buzzwords Really Mean


What Grocery Store Buzzwords Really Mean

Part I : What does this label actually mean?

Over the past few years, the rise in popularity of eating local, organic and/or sustainable is leading grocery stores to provide more detailed information about the selections of produce, dairy, seafood and meat they offer. If you’re like me, the extra details on labels at Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s can more confusing than informative. Not knowing where to start when picking up my groceries was one of the big influencing factors for me to learn more about nutrition. I knew if I was struggling with this, then my friends, family, and clients likely were, too. Over time, I’ve found my passion for nutrition to be rooted around coaching people to make educated decisions and changes in their day-to-day lives. Navigating your way through the store to select the most nutrient dense foods to put in your body shouldn’t be an obstacle on your health and wellness journey.  

Photo Credit :  ThruTheEyesOfEmily

Photo Credit : ThruTheEyesOfEmily

Learning what labels mean is the first step in navigating through selecting your food. Let’s start with reviewing the key terms you’ll see while shopping.

Sustainable: An approach to agriculture where raising food is healthy for both the animals and consumers, safe for the environment, is humane for the workers, provides a fair wage to the farmer, and supports rural communities.

Pasture-Raised: A traditional approach to farming that involves animals being raised outdoors on a pasture in a humane manner, where they eat foods that are consistent with their diets intended by nature.

Photo Credit :  Tookapic

Photo Credit : Tookapic

Cage-Free: Applies to the environment specific to egg-laying hens. While the hens aren’t restricted to cages they are generally raised inside barns or warehouse.

Organic: Farmers that sell more than $5,000 of organic products are required to obtain a certification from the USDA National Organic Program specific to production and handling standards. The USDA standards limit the use of chemicals, pesticides, hormones, and antibiotics, however, it doesn’t have specific standards about production practices such as outdoor access.  

Natural:  Refers only to how meat or livestock products are processed after being slaughtered. *There are no national guidelines that cover how animals are cared for, fed, or raised.

Free Range: Refers only to poultry meat and requires the producer to show the USDA that animals have access to the outdoors. While access has to be demonstrated, the type of outdoor environment or if the animals go outdoors isn’t regulated.

Photo Credit :  Skitterphoto

Photo Credit : Skitterphoto

Grass Fed: Refers to the diets for cattle, sheep, goats, and bison. Currently, there are USDA grassfed label standards that only stipulate the diet itself and not whether the animals are given access to a pasture or given supplements, antibiotics and/or synthetic hormones. The American Grassfed Association (AGA) has higher standards for ranchers, which include being a 100% forage diet, raised on a pasture, no confinement along with no antibiotics or hormones given to the animals.

Part II : Putting It Together

To help you become a grocery shopping pro, I’ve created this quick and easy chart to cross-reference next time you find yourself stuck in the aisles, confused about what to buy. Ideally, it would be great if your food ranked in the first row of 5-star quality food, but I understand that time, money, and a lack of information can all be obstacles. The important thing is that if you’re reading this article, you’re already taking steps forward in your journey to wellness - so high five to you!


Stay tuned for the next installment of "Navigating Through The Grocery Store" for more education and practical tools for you to use. If you can’t wait, I’d love to offer you a complimentary 15- minute consultation to see what changes we can make to your nutrition routine to improve the results you’re getting.







    5 Places to Unpack Your Passion


    5 Places to Unpack Your Passion

    Last September, I found myself sitting in front of my computer, debating whether or not to sign up for a 3-part course called "Confident Cooking" at Sur La Table. I wanted to sign up, but I knew that I wouldn’t know anyone there and frankly, my cooking skills were severely lacking. In a moment of blind ambition, I pressed purchase.

    Fast forward to the first class: I showed up early, put on my name tag and apron, then took a seat waiting to see who I’d be working with for the next 3 weeks as we conquered making chowder, biscuits, risotto, pasta, and more. I ended up getting paired with a newlywed about my age and her mother-in-law. As we talked, I discovered we had a lot in common and that they too weren’t pros in the kitchen - it was quite a relief to learn that we all had this in common.

    Image Credit :  Kaboompics

    Image Credit : Kaboompics

    Over the next couple of hours, I learned how to properly use a Chef’s Knife and worked with my team to prepare a great meal. By the end of the class, we’d made a delicious salad with purple grapes and toasted walnut vinaigrette, buttermilk biscuits with maple butter, and a pot of sweet potato chowder with chicken and corn. The first class was a success: the food was delicious, I didn’t burn any food, and no injuries from the knife work. I left feeling energized, accomplished, and proud of myself for trying something new. I couldn’t wait to tell my roommates about the class and pick a night to cook for them that week. Needless to say, they were impressed by my new skills. Over the next few months I took a few more classes, cooked for more friends and along the way, I discovered a passion for cooking - one I never thought I’d have.

    Image Credit : Kaboompics

    Image Credit : Kaboompics

    How did I end up at a cooking class?

    Earlier that September I had been doing quite a bit of soul searching - I was trying to find my happiness. I asked myself a couple of hard questions: aside from continuing education for work, what have I learned for myself lately? When was the last time I tried something new?

    During my search, I realized that learning makes me happy.  I missed everything from the challenge of a new activity to conversing with family about these challenges. Most of all though, I missed the fulfillment that conquering these new challenges gave me.  
    Three hours into Knitting Boot Camp...

    Three hours into Knitting Boot Camp...

    Realizing that the only learning I had done in the past few years was centered around work was a motivator to sign myself up for my first cooking class - and I’m extremely happy I made the decision to do so.  Since September, I’ve continued to go to new classes outside of my comfort zone. Last Saturday, I spent my day at Workshop SF learning how to knit! Not my most successful endeavor but it was a fun day meeting new people and trying something I hadn’t done before.


    I’m so happy that I made the decision to step out of my comfort zone and try something new, and I would encourage others to do the same.

    San Francisco has an abundance of places to take workshops/classes to learn or even just try something new. I invite you to get our of your comfort zone and explore interests that may bring you happiness.

    Top 5 Places I Recommend:

    Workshop SF: Their motto is “Drink Beer and Make Stuff.” Workshop SF offers a wide variety of classes, ranging from making leather wallets to sewing to brewing your own beer and pretty much everything in between. Check out their website to see everything they’ve got to offer.

    Image Credit :  Pixabay

    ODC: Located in the Mission, their facility offers traditional dance classes (tap, ballet, jazz) and even goes into an eclectic offering of Salsa, Belly Dancing, Bollywood and admittedly what sounds the most fun to me: “Vogue and Tone.”

    Image Credit : Pawel Kadysz

    San Francisco Outdoor Adventure Club: Full of multi-sport weekend trips, this is the one if you’re ready to brave a new physical endeavor. Their trips include weekends in Tahoe, rock climbing, and whitewater rafting. If you need a getaway, consider signing up their surfing and beach vacations in Costa Rica.

    Image Credit : Dino Reichmuth


    Endgames Improv:  Most classes here are about 3 hours long but are fairly small, allowing for a lot of personal interaction. You can hone your skills in character or scene work, sketch writing, or musical improv. While you’re a student there, you also receive free admission to all of their shows.

    Image Credit : Markus Spiske

    Sur La Table: Classes include basic knife skills all the way through baking macarons and cooking various cuisines (French, Thai, Italian, etc). Classes are offered on weeknights and weekends -  they even have date night options that both friends or couples could attend together.

    Image Credit : Tranmautritam