There are many ethical food labels in New Zealand. Foremost amongst them, “Organic” is an oft-said, sometimes misunderstood term that has become something of a trend in recent years. Suppliers, restaurants and cafes like to flout their organic wares, and it is often used alongside “fair-trade”, “vegan” and “natural”. To many in the mainstream public these terms are interchangeable, but they are in fact very different and regularly confused.
Ethical Food Labels Summary
- Organic – There is no one set definition of “organic”, as it refers as much to a philosophy as it does to an agricultural style. It is generally agreed, however, that for a product to be organic – be it meat, grain, fruit, coffee or vegetable – it must be created in an ecosystem that is humane, sustainable and non-polluting, should be part of natural earth cycles rather than external control, and should avoid synthetically produced fertilisers, pesticides, additives and stimulants.
- Fair-Trade – Fair-trade means that the fair price has been paid to the original farmer or labourer who grew and harvested the produce in their own country. In many undeveloped nations it is almost impossible to negotiate better conditions and prices, and exploitation is rife. Fair-trade organisations give farmers what their stock is actually worth, independent of local working conditions or unbalanced economy.
- Vegan – Veganism technically has nothing to do with either organics or fair-trade, but often people with vegan diets are conscious of and use both. Vegan simply means a diet with absolutely no animal products consumed – including by-products such as milk and eggs.
- Natural – This has no real legal meaning in terms of ethical food, and can therefore be used by products using their own arbitrary definition to try and appeal to a growing consumer consciousness market. Vague terms like this are why you should always inspect the labels to make sure that whatever you’re buying meets your own ethical standards.
Though it can be tricky distinguishing different ethical food label terms, it’s important to get it right if you want to be able to make informed food choices.
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