• Updated Website Address: LocalBanquet.org
  • Looking Back on a Decade of Maple Innovation
  • Listening to Farmers’ Voices in the Ecosystem Services Discussion
  • Updated Website Address: LocalBanquet.org

    We've changed our website. Please update your bookmarks to LocalBanquet.org LocalBanquet.org is where you will now find the latest Local Banquet stories, a new Story of the Day update feature, features from the archives, and information on how to contribute to Local Banquet if you're interested in writing about Vermont agriculture. 

    Read more

  • Looking Back on a Decade of Maple Innovation

    Back in 2007, Local Baquet ran an article by Bonnie Hudspeth on maple innovation and production in Vermont. Since then, maple production in Vermont has tripled to 1.8 million gallons a year and innovation seems to have entered a new golden (or perhaps amber) age. We did a quick maple innovation news round up for 2018 / 2019 to help everyone keep up with the some of the trends. 

    Read more

  • Listening to Farmers’ Voices in the Ecosystem Services Discussion

    In 2015, the USDA funded a project for UVM researchers to engage in discussions with Vermont farmers about the idea of being paid for ecosystem services. Ecosystem services are things farmers do that improve the environment for everyone, a common example is grass-based farms capturing carbon in the soil as a way to combat climate change. Some services happen naturally through sustainable farming, others take more of an incentive to implement, and either way some policy makers believe that farmers shoudl be compensated for their contribution. 

    Read more

0
Shares

What Do Food Labels Really Tell Us?

What Do Food Labels Really Tell Us?

Written on

September 02 , 2018

Article taken from the Vermont Fresh Network series on food labels first published in their Fresh Insider newsletter.

 

Are there too many food labels? There’s certainly a lot of them, although probably that’s been the case since commercial food packaging began. There are enough food labels it’s hard to even talk about “food labels” as a general category since that covers everything from allergen warnings to health claims to representation of how much product is inside.

 

Labels that suggest how our food was raised seem particularly fraught with intrigue - perhaps because they symbolize how little we actually know about the origins of the items we’re eating, perhaps just because the regulations can be a tad Wild West-y . . . if the Wild West had cared much about questions like what defines a heritage breed chicken.

 

Consumers look at many different things when learning how their food is raised, from pesticides to soil health to animal welfare to worker welfare to varying levels of vegan. And within this universe of labeling, we find different types - some good, some less good. There are third party certified labels, marketing claims that aren’t certified, uncertified marketing claims with pseudo-labels (a symbol of the Earth is sometimes just a symbol of the Earth), trusting the individual farmer (direct markets, here you are), and increasingly trusting the “gatekeeper” selling food. Food co-ops are perhaps the best known examples of this gatekeeper role, curating food choices based on clear guiding principles and input from the member-owners. Restaurants, especially “farm to table” restaurants, have become another common curator over the past decade. In recent years the rise of mail order meal or snack kits claim to do conscientious shopping on our behalf. 

 

The statewide nonprofit organization Vermont Fresh Network works to strengthen the local food systems through farmer-chef connections. They recently completed a series of posts to to help chefs, farmers, and consumers understand more about what labels do / do not tell us about our food. 

 

A point of editorial clarification: these are not opinion pieces, but the Vermont Fresh Network does advocate for local food purchasing and greater transparency in the food system. 

 

Read the series here:

 

Other recent articles related to food labels:

Leave a comment

You are commenting as guest. Optional login below.

What we do

Our stories, interviews, and essays reveal how Vermont residents are building their local food systems, how farmers are faring in a time of great opportunity and challenge, and how Vermont’s agricultural landscape ties into larger questions of sustainability and the future of our food supply.