If you’re like many shoppers, you wish to know how the food you buy affects people and the planet, including how it was grown, harvested and produced. Because of this, you seek greater transparency from stores like ours, as well as from your favorite brands and the companies who produce your food.
We, too, believe you have a right to know if what you’re buying aligns with your values! That’s where third-party certifications play a big role. When you see the little labels by independent third-party certifiers on your food, you know that product underwent a rigorous evaluation to ensure it met a set of strict standards.
To celebrate of the positive impacts these little labels make, this October we’re participating in Good Food Month — honoring Fairtrade Month, National Seafood Month, and Non-GMO Month in one! By looking for the Non-GMO Project Verified, Fairtrade Certified and Marine Stewardship Council labels, you can shop sustainably throughout our store! Read on to learn how they’re are driving big, meaningful change in our food systems!
What is Non-GMO Project Verified?
GMOs (or genetically modified organisms) are living organisms whose genetic material has been manipulated in a laboratory through genetic engineering, creating combinations of plant, animal, bacteria, and/or virus genes that do not occur in nature or through traditional crossbreeding methods.
Non-GMO Project verification means that a product is compliant with the Non-GMO Project Standard, the most rigorous third-party standard for GMO avoidance, which includes stringent provisions for ingredient testing and traceability and the most up-to-date definitions around new GMO techniques.
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What is Fairtrade Certified?
Every day, we enjoy products only grown in tropical countries — products like coffee, chocolate and bananas. These farmers and workers often do not earn enough to have a decent living — that is, to eat nutritious food, send their kids to school, have adequate shelter and weather a crisis (like COVID-19). Many live on less than $2 per day.
When you see the Fairtrade Mark on a product, you know that farmers were paid at least the cost of production as well as an added Fairtrade Premium to invest in their businesses and communities. You know that child labor was banned and that measures were in place to protect the local environment and addres the effects of climate change. You also know that workers’ rights were upheld and they have the choice to collectively bargain.
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What is MSC Certified?
The MSC blue fish label is an ecolabel that can be found on seafood products from fresh, canned, and frozen seafood to omega-3 supplements and even pet food. It can also be found alongside seafood items on some menus. The blue fish helps consumers identify seafood that is certified sustainable, wild-caught, and traceable to a sustainable source. The MSC blue fish label can only be applied to wild-caught fish or seafood from a fishery that has been independently assessed on its impacts on wild fish populations and the ecosystems they’re part of.
Your purchase of MSC certified seafood supports continuous changes on the water to help make the ocean healthier tomorrow than it is today. 92% of MSC certified fisheries make improvements so they can continue to meet the MSC Fisheries Standard.
Want to learn more?
Learn how your choices at the grocery store can make a big difference for the health of our ocean at MSC.org. Get to know the people behind the label that make sustainable seafood possible at @MSCbluefish.
Why Do We Need Labels on Food at All?
“Natural” food and “fair” food are big business these days and “greenwashing” has become a serious problem. By making unverified or uncertified claims about how their food is grown, caught, or processed (“self-made marketing claims”), some unscrupulous companies capitalize on shoppers choosing to pay for high-quality food because it supports people and the planet. In response, there is a sea of different labels popping up with claims that sound really good, but have little backing them up.
So how does an informed shopper know what’s backed up and which are empty words? Choosing well-recognized, independent, third-party certification labels on products is the best place to start. Labels like Fairtrade Certified, Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) Certified, and Non-GMO Project Verified represent rigorous standards with requirements that need to be followed in order to receive the label. This may actually require laboratory testing and supply chain accountability that allows for “identity preservation.” That typically requires the strict segregation of ingredients or products that are compliant with the standards from ingredients that are not.
Fairtrade America, Marine Stewardship Council, and Non-GMO Project are all nonprofit organizations driven by their collective mission to change how food is harvested or made in order to better serve people and the planet. Fairtrade has been operating internationally since 1989, MSC’s sustainable fishing standard has been in effect since 1998, and Non-GMO Project has been verifying products since 2010. The nonprofits publish their Standards on their websites to give shoppers transparency, first and foremost. It also helps to check which brands are using these labels: Brands both large and small voluntarily showcase this compliance by including the Fairtrade, MSC, or Non-GMO Project labels on their packaging. This further gives shoppers assurance that it’s not a fad but a sustainability tool used by brands to have a true, positive impact.
What You Can Do
Shop the labels! Our store will be highlighting products that are Fairtrade Certified, MSC Certified, and Non-GMO Project Verified throughout October. Support brands working towards a more sustainable future, and try something new.