Environmentally friendly food, also known as eco-friendly food, encompasses a wide range of food products and food production methods. As more and more people become conscious of what they eat and where it comes from, an increasing number of options in environmentally friendly food become available. Environmentally friendly food might include organic, sustainable, local and all-natural products. Sometimes it is possible to purchase foods that fall into one or more of these categories, such as organically and sustainably grown cabbage.
When a product is labeled as organic, it generally means that the product was grown without the use of antibiotics, pesticides, herbicides and other products, making it an environmentally friendly food. A farmer or food producer is usually inspected and certified as an organic producer by a government authority, although the criteria for such a certification can vary by location. Some foods might be labeled 100 percent organic, meaning that they are completely organic; others might be labeled simply as organic, meaning that most of the ingredients are organic.
Sustainable foods are foods that have been grown or produced using sustainable methods. This term is often heard in conjunction with the terms "locally grown" or "community-supported agriculture." Sustainable foods are usually food items that come from a person’s local farmers and food producers. This generally ensures that the food is fresh, has not traveled very far, was grown using practices that do not harm the environment or the farmland and provide fair compensation for growers and producers. The term applies to items other than produce as well; coffee, tea, chocolate and rice are all foods that might be sustainable because of the growing methods, fair wages paid to growers or animal-friendly production methods.
When looking for local sustainable foods, many people turn to community-supported agriculture. Many localities offer a service to residents, allowing them to purchase a weekly share of produce from local farmers. Each week, a box filled with seasonal locally grown produce is delivered to each shareholder, allowing them to support local agriculture while eating fresh produce. Some services even offer additional products, such as nuts, meat and eggs.
All-natural products are another type of environmentally friendly food. The term "all-natural" refers to a food that is made with ingredients that have been processed very little, if at all, and that are as close to their natural state as possible. All-natural foods do not contain any preservatives or artificial ingredients.