Table of Contents

Label Index

Saturday, June 30, 2007


Union Label

When you see a union label -- whether it is on a product, on a union shop or union store placard in a place of business, or on a union button worn by a worker - it signifies quality goods and services.

Moreover, these emblems demonstrate that the employees who make the product or provide the service are skilled workers who are treated fairly and decently by their employers.

Union labels are symbols of quality and fair play and are found everywhere, from washing machines to baked goods, from shoes to skyscrapers, from clothing to barber shops. They are evidence of quality goods and services produced by proud American workers.

A Union Label product attempts to eliminate one commodity fetish. With this label you can trust easier that the product was made in a conscientious manner. American made products are likely to be produced closer to Manhattan, reducing the amount of energy used to get the product here. They are produced in a socially responsible manner and without using child or other exploitative labor in other countries.


How do you know if and item is considered recycled?

Most items will be labeled if they are recycled including how much of it has been made out of recycled material.

Why choose recycled items?

Recycling helps eliminate the amount of waste being produced and it eliminates the amount of new resources being used unnecessarily. Recycling helps save our environment, supports our economy and helps you save money. The best way to really make recycling work is to use recycled products and packaging. It's up to you to close the recycling loop.

What are recycled items made out of?

Recycled items can be made out of a variety of items and materials. A lot of recycled materials are made from scrap metal or paper items since these things are the easiest to recycle. But recycled items are not limited to these items, they can be made out of anything that you can think of.

Monday, June 25, 2007


What can be considered used goods?

Well it may seem rather simple but anything that was used before and is going being used again in its same form. This usually means that it has not been changed or remodeled into something else.

Why buy used goods?

To save money on items that could normally be expensive and to be resourceful. By buying used goods you are reducing items that otherwise would go to waste, and just as importantly you are keeping a product from being manufactured if you otherwise would buy it new.

Where to Look:

Check local papers for companies that are moving or closing. Scan auction announcements, yard-sale notices and online sites such as eBay. Find out about firms and companies that resell corporate cast-offs, used, old, and previously leased goods.

Avoid Risks:

If you don't have the expertise to evaluate what is offered, do your research. Nowadays you can find ample information about products and types of products online with a few searches. Put the time and effort into the research to ensure that you get what you want. Plus, the more work you put into it, the more you will appreciate the product when you have it! Keep in mind that some products are not good to buy used.

You can also buy certified used equipment directly from manufacturers such as IBM and Dell, or you can purchase from a remarketer. Canvas Systems of Atlanta refurbishes many brands of used IT equipment and sells them with warranties. Ask for references from any reseller.

Where to buy or look for used goods in Manhattan

  • Look in the newspaper classifieds such as the Manhattan Mercury
  • If buying a car look at used cars at dealerships
  • Used books - The Dusty Bookshelf is a business that is dedicated to selling used books, Hale Library has a sale during each semester with used books
  • Used clothes - Look at places like the Salvation Army, Goodwill, and R&R clothing
  • Used furniture - go to The Grand Ol' Trunk, Second Time Around, and other various antique stores around Manhattan
  • Garage sales in the spring and summer are great places to look for used item
  • Online resources such as Craig´s List and Freecycle are options as well

Free Range


The term is most commonly used to refer to turkeys, chickens and ducks that are allowed to roam and forage for their feed out of doors, rather than being raised via the “factory farm” processes implemented to mass produce birds in crowded, lightless conditions.

While it is unnatural for any bird to be contained in the manner of commercial poultry suppliers, the conditions presented by the factory farm are especially at odds with the requirements of ducks. Roughly twenty-two million ducks are raised annually in the US with no access to water for bathing. Ducks are aquatic creatures which, when given the option, play, socialize, and sleep as often on water as out of it.

Factory farming of poultry can be particularly harmful not only to the animals, but to the people whose grocery stores these producers supply, as well as those who live in a close proximity to the farms themselves. “Chicken houses” can encompass as much ground as a football field, and house up to 25,000 birds at a time. These highly engineered birds – designed to reach slaughter age at a staggeringly brief six weeks of age for chickens, fourteen weeks for turkeys – are increasingly susceptible to disease, and their crowded conditions make the threat of outbreak stronger still. Birds are generally considered the largest threat as a transmitter of zoonotic viruses, or viruses that can be contracted from animals by humans.

The selection criteria for poultry in the modern era of production has favored exaggerated, accelerated development of the most profitable divisions of the birds' anatomy, especially the breast. The close confines and limited mobility of factory farmed chickens and turkeys has almost totally eclipsed the traditional priorities of soundness, docility, and imperviousness to disease. Skeletal problems – frankly, a frame that can't support the excessive burden of the fast-developing bodyweight – and poorly developed organs, especially the lung and heart, mean an early death for many of these birds.

In the free-range situation, a healthier animal is paramount. The often demonized method of debeaking, which is an unfortunate requirement of the factory farming method, is nonsensical when birds are expected to forage. Additionally, it is infrequently a problem in the less crowded conditions provided by free-range techniques; not to mention that when temperament is a consideration in breeding programs, the “cannibalistic” pecking behavior that necessitates debeaking is far less common. In short, a free-range system doesn't benefit from some of the ugliest practices of the traditional factory farm production system, and they are therefore inherently more rare.

Granted, the nonexistence of strict USDA regulations for free-range certification of poultry producers makes many “free-range” operations only slight more humane than the more widespread methods. However, supporting the entire free-range system in turn gives positive feedback to the limited community that is committed to humane, free-range poultry and egg production.

The relatively new certification process available to growers is the American Humane Free Farmed program. Its more strict requirements and recent implementation mean that availability of certified products is still quite low.

While it is unnatural for any bird to be contained in the manner of commercial poultry suppliers, the conditions presented by the factory farm are especially at odds with the requirements of ducks. Roughly twenty-two million ducks are raised annually in the US with no access to water for bathing. Ducks are aquatic creatures which, when given the option, play, socialize, and sleep as often on water as out of it.


Free-range beef is labeled by the USDA beneath the specification that the animals be given space and the opportunity to graze. While some are skeptical about how much space this actually entails, any one with basic knowledge of the habits of a herd of cattle would know that a herd of cattle expected to reach slaughter weight would require a generous amount of acreage of quality forage. The USDA specifies for its “grass-fed” label that 99% of the animal's feed, in its lifetime, must derive from grazing.

A free-range beef animal is spared months of the “feed lot” environment commonly seen, especially in certain parks of Kansas . In a feed lot, steers and heifers are fed grain and contained in order to achieve the most rapid weight gain possible. In a free range system, while cattle are generally “finished” in a feed lot setting, the majority of their lives are spent in a much more natural manner in a pastured herd.

Product distributed by the Niman Ranch must meet sustainable ranching standards. Sustainable ranching, a term coined by a California rancher and Harvard alum, is designed to protect not only the welfare of the cattle, but the welfare of the environment they are a part of. The practice involves grazing fewer cows on more acres and eliminating pesticides from the range management programs. This ensures the natural longevity of the acreage without fertilizers, and provides a higher quality product: an animal fed naturally (without steroids) on quality feed and grass, grown a few months longer than average, that is free of antibiotics. The feed lot situation encourages the spread of disease and other health problems that free-range cattle, especially those in a sustainable ranching system, are far less prone to.

This is not the only small-scale certification process ensuring humane treatment of animals. Other labels, such as the Natural Beef Co. and Montana Range Brand maintain specifications as well.

There is less progression in other livestock arenas, but as product quality becomes an issue, the movement toward a return to free-range practices is gaining momentum. Pork production is typified by enormous buildings choked by ammonia and noise, wherein thousands of pigs of all ages are raised to adulthood frequently without ever seeing the sun. It surprises many to learn that pigs are among the most naturally clean, intelligent, and friendly animals in the food industry. They are arguably the easiest to house and care for in a free-range operation because of these qualities.

The Niman Ranch sustainable farming extends to pork producers. These pigs raise their young, roam, and forage in grassy pastures for the better part of the year, moved to barns during the most intense winter months. Berkshire Pigs of Iowa , du Breton Farms of Iowa , and others are reliably producing pigs that are raised naturally in a manner that is cohesive to environmental sustainability.


In truth, the average US dairy-farmer is a small operator, with roughly 100 cows. However, large-scale operations certainly exist, and are responsible for an increasing percentage of the dairy product in the US every year.

That said, from the humane approach, the “grass fed” label can be more pertinent to dairy production than the “free range” label. Even most small-scale producers are not commonly grass-fed producers. Starchy, grain-based diets maximize milk production, but are ultimately unhealthy for the dairy animal and the consumer. Like fish, when eating optimally cattle naturally produce chemicals that can be beneficial to human health. In the case of a grass-fed dairy cow, the Omega-3 and CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) content in the resulting milk is two to six times higher than in the product of a grain-fed individual. CLA, like Omega-3, is a “good fat” that optimizes human health.

Monday, June 18, 2007


What is Seasonal?

All living creatures (humans included) go through seasonal changes. Whether it is hibernation, pollination, dormancy, or bikini season, all creatures' forms change throughout the year. This is especially true for the Midwest which experiences all the extremities of all four seasons and therefore gives its plants and animals seasonality.

Different plants require unique environmental conditions including time, water, sunlight, soil, and temperature in order to bear fruit and seeds. The end result is an ever changing array of the fruits, veggies, nuts, and grains that we enjoy so much. However, the modern age has allowed us to shop at super markets with the same produce being offered year round. When we shop at large super markets, we are buying fruits and vegetables that have been shipped in from distant states and countries whose seasons differ from our area. This has given our generation the impression that all fruits and vegetables are always in season. However, quite the opposite is true.

Buying seasonally requires us to not only buy what is in season but to also buy it locally grown. The best place to experience locally grown seasonal produce is at your local Farmer's Market.

Educate Yourself

Why Buy Seasonal?

  • FLAVOR, FLAVOR, FLAVOUR! Fruits and veggies that are grown locally and in season have much better flavor because they are allowed to ripen to peak flavor before being picked for selling. Produce grown out of season and sent in from across the nation and even across the world have to be picked early so they can be shipped, distributed to large grocery stores, and then be displayed for many days all without ripening too early. Therefore, these fruits and veggies spend most of their ripening life in cardboard boxes and many times taste of, well, cardboard.
  • Nutrition. In addition to added flavor, fruits and veggies that are allowed to ripen longer are able to draw in more nutrients from the environment and become more nutritious themselves.
  • Saves money. When you buy produce that is locally grown, you save money that would have otherwise gone to transportation costs and to the super market corporation. When you buy produce that is in season you pay less because it is in high supply. Also, sellers at the Farmer's Market are always in for some good ol' fashioned bargaining.
  • Eating with the seasons. What is early summer without that first crisp salad of the season? Or a hot summer day without a refreshing cantaloupe or watermelon? Can autumn really start until you've picked your own pumpkin? As you can see, there are more to the seasons than just a change in weather. Eating seasonally reminds us of the cyclical wonders of the planet and helps enliven the senses to our surroundings.
  • Creativity. Cooking with seasonal fruits and veggies force us to try new things and cooking techniques because every few weeks the options and combinations of fruits and veggies will change. When you're at the Farmer's Market, you can ask the mom and pop who grew the eggplant, squash, or peppers for their favorite recipes. Give your parents or grandparents a call and ask them for tips on how to make homemade rhubarb pie. The possibilities for trying out new soups, salads, baked goods, and other tasty eats are endless!
  • Quality time with friends and family. What can be more fun than spending time with your loved ones picking fresh apples at the local orchard? Or spending the afternoon with your kids canning and freezing the last of the season's green beans? How about hosting a homemade salsa party because you couldn't help buying loads of those red, juicy, and savory tomatoes? Buying seasonal, locally grown produce will open up many opportunities for you and your loved ones to explore the surrounding area, to learn about where your food comes from, to experience how our ancestors survived without grocery stores, and to enjoy life in new and creative ways.
  • Supporting your community. When you buy local, seasonal foods you will give money directly to the community rather than outsourcing it to a large super market and large factory farms with headquarters in distant lands. At the farmer's market, you will meet your not so distant neighbors who farm for a living or for supplementary income. You will place your money into the warm hands that grew your food, not into some cold cash register. That money will then go towards other locally made items, the schools, the churches, the libraries, the charities… the community.

Saturday, June 2, 2007


Organic certification is a certification process for producers of organic food and other organic agricultural products. In general, any business directly involved in food production can be certified, including seed suppliers, farmers, food processors, retailers and restaurants. Requirements vary from country to country, and generally involve a set of production standards for growing, storage, processing, packaging and shipping that include:

* avoidance of synthetic chemical inputs (e.g. fertilizer, pesticides, antibiotics, food additives, etc) and genetically modified organisms;
* use of farmland that has been free from chemicals for a number of years (often, three or more);
* keeping detailed written production and sales records (audit trail);
* maintaining strict physical separation of organic products from non-certified products;
* undergoing periodic on-site inspections.

Maybe not a panacea

Obstacle to small independents

Originally, in the 1960s through the 1980s, the organic food industry comprised mainly small, independent farmers, selling locally. Organic "certification" was a matter of trust, based on a direct relationship between farmer and consumer. Critics view regulatory certification as a potential barrier to entry for small producers, by burdening them with increased costs, paperwork, and bureaucracy.

The pressures of certification on the small farmer producing for the local food market are real and significant, particularly for mixed vegetable production. For instance, certified organic seed is expensive, and the selection is limited: currently, organic seed generally costs 30-50%[citation needed] that of uncertified seed, and only a handful of varieties of each crop are available, compared to dozens of varieties in uncertified seed. Seed producers face the same constraints in certification as do organic farmers, however, unlike farmers who choose to farm organically for an identified market, the majority of smaller scale demand is for uncertified seed. Also, the detailed record-keeping formats, from planting to harvest, are usually designed for larger, single-crop harvests; observed strictly, the paperwork can be onerous for farmers harvesting a wide variety of crop in small quantities on daily or weekly schedules. Balancing strict, rule-based certification with practical concerns such as these necessitates "case-by-case" exceptions for all but the biggest organic farmers to survive within the system. Regardless of the intentions, strict certification in practice favors large-scale production.[citation needed]

Manipulation of regulations

Critics of formal certification also fear an erosion of organic standards. Provided with a legal framework within which to operate, lobbyists can push for amendments and exceptions favorable to large-scale production, resulting in "legally organic" products produced in ways similar to current conventional food. Combined with the fact that organic products are now sold predominantly through high volume distribution channels such as supermarkets, the concern is that the market is evolving to favor the biggest producers, and this could result in the small organic farmer being squeezed out.

Part One Here

Misrepresentation of the term organic

The word organic is central to the certification (and organic food marketing) process, and this is also questioned by some. Where organic laws exist, producers cannot use the term legally without certification. To bypass this legal requirement for certification, various alternative certification approaches, using currently undefined terms like "authentic" and "natural" instead of "organic", are emerging. In the US, motivated by the cost and legal requirements of certification (as of Oct. 2002), the private farmer-to-farmer association, Certified Naturally Grown, offers a "non-profit alternative eco-labelling program for small farms that grow using USDA Organic methods but are not a part of the USDA Certified Organic program."[2]

A related concern holds that certification is replacing consumer education, and this goes against the essential, holistic nature of organic farming. By reducing complex issues and regulations to a simple, convenient certified organic label, consumers may more easily ignore the principles and practices behind organics, leaving the definition of organic farming and organic food open to manipulation.

Friday, June 1, 2007


It makes no sense to import products available locally. Transportation is perhaps the greatest threat to the environment. Choosing the local non-organic product can actually be better for the environment than the non-local organic product. Other than groceries, shopping at local stores cuts down on transportation and supports a sustainable community. With rising energy costs it is likely that the future will consist of much more localized and fully integrated communities. On top of that, when purchasing a product made locally, more money can go to the labor that makes the product and to environmentally safe practices for making the product instead of to transportation costs.

Local Food

Local food (also regional food or food patriotism) is a principle of sustainability relying on consumption of food products that are locally grown. It is part of the concept of local purchasing, a preference to buy locally produced goods and services. Those who eat local food sometimes call themselves "localvores" or "locavores".

The concept is often related to the slogan Think globally, act locally, common in green politics. Pioneering and influential work in the area of local economies was done by noted economist E. F. Schumacher. Those supporting development of a local food economy consider that since food is needed by everyone, everywhere, every day, a small change in the way it is produced and marketed will have a great effect on health, the ecosystem and preservation of cultural diversity. They say shopping decisions favoring local food consumption directly affect the well-being of people, improve local economies and may be ecologically more sustainable.

Fair Trade

What is it?

Fair trade is an organized social movement which promotes standards for international labour, environmentalism, and social policy in areas related to production of Fairtrade labeled and unlabelled goods. The movement focuses in particular on exports from developing countries to developed countries.

Fair trade's strategic intent is to deliberately work with marginalised producers and workers in order to help them move from a position of vulnerability to security and economic self-sufficiency. It also aims at empowering them to become stakeholders in their own organizations and actively play a wider role in the global arena to achieve greater equity in international trade.

Fair Trade Criteria ( Source: Fair Trade Federation)

• Paying a fair wage in the local context

• Offering employees opportunities for advancement

• Engaging in environmentally sustainable practices

• Being open to public accountability

• Building long-term trade relationships

• Providing healthy and safe working conditions within the local context

• Providing financial and technical assistance to producers whenever possible

• Ensuring that there is no abuse of child labor

Common Fair Trade Products:

  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Chocolate
  • Fresh Fruit
  • Sugar
  • Honey
  • Herbs & Spices
  • Stationary
  • Jewelry
  • Home Decorations
  • Candles/Insense
  • Coats
  • Sweaters
  • Wallets/Purses
  • Stocking Caps/ Gloves
  • Pottery
  • Baskets
  • Toys
  • Musical Instruments

How do I know the product is Fair Trade?

  • Look for one of these labels, if they're not there, don't buy!