Sunday, September 30

The Hawk, the Snake and Homer's Superstitions

A Homeric omen: A Greek wine cup with a scene of an eagle battling a snake

Last month I saw, on two separate occasions, a hawk flying with a snake caught in its talons. I found it strange, living most of my life in semi-rural areas, that I had never seen this before. The first occasion was driving back to my Grandparents house after picking up the take-out chicken bar-b-q from the Prattsburg Flower Festival. The hawk flew across the road in front of our car with a dead snake dangling from its claws.

The second occurrence happened a couple of weeks later at my parents house as the little man and I were walking down the driveway to meet Grandpa. It flew from the floor of the woods that run the length of the driveway and up to a thick branch where he eyed us menacingly. He wanted to enjoy his meal but did not want to take his eyes off of us, just in case. He flew away after a few minutes but I found it odd that this was the second time I had seen this predator and prey scenario in as many weeks.

Normally, I am not one for signs. Or omens, premonitions, or blatant superstitious behavior. But sometimes, very rarely, something just strikes me as so odd or so coincidental, that I can not help but think there must be something else going on.

A little research turned up that in mythology, the eagle and the snake represent the conflict of opposites. Ok, the eagle hunts and eats the snake. Predator and prey - you can't get more opposite than that.

Hawks have the keenest vision of all the birds therefore, they are seen as visionaries and messengers.Snakes represent transformation death and rebirth (growth). Am I going to experience some big changes soon? Is the hawk bringing me the message that I will go through some sort of rebirth (hopefully not death!)? What does the vision of a dead snake mean?

Homer’s description of a high-flying bird carrying a snake in its talons was an omen the Trojans saw as they attacked the Greek forces. Homer's snake was still alive and was dropped by the eagle before it could be eaten, whereas my snake was most definitely dead. Polydamas warns Hector to heed the omen and not attack the Greek ships. What attack should I call of or be wary of? The only attack I was planning would be the one against the wasps making a large nest inside one of my storm windows. Surely someone is not telling me to go ahead and let a hoard of wasps into the house when I close up my screens?

A warning of some sort, it must be. How serious the situation or result remains to be seen. All I can do is to pay attention to things around me, if I am taking this seriously at all.

All I can say for certain is that the hawk ate well that night and I was made to think about something a little deeper.

Mother Earth News Fair

We were so excited to go to the Mother Earth News Fair in Seven Springs PA last weekend. It was amazing! Just amazing!
Beautiful setting, countless workshops, vendors, demonstrations, presentations, exhibits, great food, like-minded people and a positive atmosphere.
So much to do! So much to see! So little time and two demanding and uncooperative children.
Where to start?  We drove the 6 +/- hours to Seven Springs PA early Friday morning with minimal stopping and no bathroom accidents. Little man slept and watched a Scooby Doo DVD and the baby kept herself amused by napping and talking to her reflection in the baby seat mirror.

We arrived late, but still had enough time after checking in to enjoy the events and vendors. This place was huge. Both the indoor and outdoor spaces were filled to the brim with tents of vendors and demonstrations. Presentations were going on in all rooms and in large outdoor tents. The food smelled great and the compost stations didn't smell bad.
We had hoped to arrive early enough to see the Off-Grid Living presentation by Christine and Greg Tailer, but we missed it entirely. We spent time wandering the outdoor vendors until it was time to head to the Mother Earth News Stage (a giant tent in the middle of it all) to hear Joel Salatin speak about feeding the world from 4pm till 5 pm.  Everyone had a great time and those of us with kids in tow kept near the back to avoid disruption and keep noise levels to a minimum. We could still hear Joel and the little man got to run around with all the other kids.
Let me just say that we did not expect little man, or the baby for that matter, to be content sitting through hour after hour of presentations and workshops on composting, bacon making and organic gardening. We had a game plan to divide the schedule into things that Roy wanted to see and things that I could not miss and trade off kid watching duties to get the most out of the weekend.
This worked about half of the time due to temper tantrums, potty needs, conflicting interests and conflicting opinions on what was a fun thing to do at the present time.
Friday finished with a meal at the hotel restaurant, that had a special Mother Earth News Fair menu planned, an a long wait for the shuttle to take us back to our section of the complex. This place was huge and we were staying about 2 miles away from the fair grounds.
Saturday started out chilly but things warmed up ad the morning went on. We started the day with vendor browsing, food and planning our attack. We wanted to see as much as we could between the two of us and to learn as much as possible. Given that up to 14 presentations were going on during the same 1 hour slot all through the day, learning a ton did not seem like a hard task. Actually deciding on 1 and getting to that presentations was definitely harder.
We both wanted to start with Matthew Steins presentation entitled When Technology Fails: Self-reliance and surviving the long emergency, and we hoped that the kids would keep it down to a dull roar for that first hour. We never found out if they would because the room that Mr. Stein was speaking in was totally packed. There were people lined up in the hallway trying to catch what he was saying. There was also a long line of ladies with kids in strollers also trying to listen - a stroller was just not an acceptable form of filling space in that room. people wanted to be in there and to hear this guy.
We decided to check out the bookstore instead.
The bookstore was fantastic. We spent a lot of time, and a lot of money, but it was well worth it. We left with the following additions to our homestead library:
Free range Chicken Gardens - Jessi Bloom
The Gardener's Weed Book - Barbara Pleasant
The Gardener's Bug Book - Barbara Pleasant
The Backyard Goat - Sue Weaver
Home Cheese Making - Ricki Carroll
The Complete Guide to Saving Seeds - Robert Gough
Surviving the Apocalypse in the Suburbs - Wendy Brown
Great Possessions - David Kline
Just the Greatest Life - David Schafer
EcoPreneuring - John Ivanko abd Linda Kivirist
When Disaster Strikes - Matthew Stein
When Technology Fails - Matthew Stein
What's Wrong With My Vegetable Garden? - David Deardorff
Joel Salatin's presentation - totally packed!
I was very interested in the herbal healing presentations but I did not get to see many of them. I was saving my "kid-free" time for Joel Salatin and Jenna Woginrich that afternoon. It started to rain after lunch so the Mother Earth News stage was packed to capacity with many more people standing as close as they could to get under the eves of the tent. it was definitely standing room only for Joel Salatin for his talk, Folks, This Ain't Normal. I got to enjoy every bit of it while Roy took the kids inside for demonstrations and vendors. It was excellent and I hope that there will be a video online shortly.
We spent the next hour and a half looking at all the animals they had on exhibit. The baby loved the alpacas. She could not get enough of them. She pulled herself up in her stroller and got as close as she could to them. Little man loved all the animals, especially the pigs and the lamas. We all spent a lot of time going up and down the rows looking and petting and talking with the owners.

Packing with Alpacas demonstration

Jenna Woginrich's presentation, The Need Fire: How kindling community ignites a farm, was very interesting. I am a fan of Jenna's writing and it was a treat to hear her and to say hello. I met her at the Plan B workshop this past spring and I have been inspired by her since I discovered her blog a few years ago. 

Jenna Woginrich of Cold Antler Farm

On Sunday we made time for the Permaculture for Farms lecture given by Darrell Frey of Three Sisters Farm. This was very interesting and it gave me a lot of great ideas for our property, the top one being that we need to dig a pond here. His book, Bioshelter Market Garden: A Permaculture Farm, is highly recommended. Roy attended a workshop entitled How to Cure Your Own Bacon which he was impressed with. "People are very passionate about their bacon..." he told me afterwards.

Darrell Frey of Three Sisters Farm
Matthew Stein was speaking again on Sunday and we made sure that we were there to see it. He was in the outdoor tent so there was plenty of room, although every seat was filled. i ended up having to take little man to the potty about half way through which, if you have an almost 4 year old takes a little time, and i missed most of the rest of the presentation. Luckily, Roy had the video camera out and I was able to enjoy the talk later.

 There were too many vendors to name - so much information and so many ideas......

 And demonstrations....

 And these pictures only show a fraction of what was there. It was just amazing! One of the best parts was that we were not nuts. In that I mean the people attending the fair were mostly all of the same mindset. Sustainability, preparedness, environmental preservation, organic, off-grid, hand made, raw milk and real. You could start a conversation with someone sitting next to you at the lunch table about non-GMO seeds and the virtues of line-drying and they did not look at you like you had a third eye on your forehead. They just started talking right back about the same things, adding in bits about Monsanto and home made pickles.

My kind of people.

Saturday, September 29

An Outlander Summer

This past summer I sacrificed endless hours of sleep in order to feed my Outlander addiction.

Dragonfly in Amber, Voyager, Drums of Autumn, and I am 3/4 of the way through The Fiery Cross. All excellent books that I highly recommend. That is, if you don't mind getting NOTHING else done, including sleeping.

I read when I should go to bed. I have all intentions of crawling into bed and drifting off to sleep. I am exhausted by the time 10pm rolls around. But then I see the red book on the night stand and I tell myself that I will just read a few pages.

A few pages go by and I look at the clock. It is only 10:15. Not too bad, I have time for a few more pages.


Ok, it is time to get to sleep. The baby will be up at 5 for a bottle and little man can be up anywhere between 4 and 7.

How many pages left in this chapter? Only 3. Ok. I will stop after this chapter....

This is how my night goes, and around 11:30 I finally turn off the light. Then I have strange dreams about colonial times, time travel and men with Scottish accents.

Friday, September 28

Heat Security and Mouse Offerings

I have a fire going in the wood stove at this lunch hour. There is rain and a chill in the air and the fire feels good. Since this is the first fire of the season, little man and I had to go out and bring in a load of wood. He helped me push the green wheel barrow down into the side yard where we have a long, two row deep line of split firewood stacked. I love looking at that woodpile. More than the items in my pantry and my pairs of hand knit socks, this sight says "security" to me. This is heat. We will be warm this winter. I get a deep satisfaction at seeing a good stock of fuel laid by. And using words like stock and laid by just make it a little sweeter.

We loaded up what looked to be the driest pieces and pushed the wheel barrow to the front door where we carried the pieces up the stairs and stacked them on the covered front porch. I had noticed that Bailey had left us a little gift when we first came up to the steps but I did not draw attention to it. A large dead mouse with an obvious cause of death lay on the bottom step and I had no doubt it was a present from Bailey.

I didn't draw attention to it since I did not want to get into a half hour long question and answer session with the little man, followed by excessive observations on his part. I did not want him getting his face right down there to check out the huge chunk missing from the back of the mouses neck and commenting on such things. There will be a time for these kinds of discussions and learning experiences but I was just not up for it this morning.

I had not seen Bailey in about a week and I was very worried for her. Friends had come over before we left for the Mother Earth News Fair, (which I will post about later), and she was around when I was showing them the location of her food. No one had seen her over the weekend I was told and all week I was thinking about her and hoping that she was ok. They coyotes have been out every night this past week barking and howling, and we also have a resident fisher cat who's screams are a constant after dark.

But last night I saw her, waiting patiently by her food dish just inside the barn door. I went out and she jogged a safe distance away while I filled her food bowl. She will get within 4 feet of me now but she will not come any closer or let me pet her. I was so glad to see her safe and sound. I am moving the food dish a little bit further inside the barn each day so she will get used to going inside to get her meal. I am going to get a sturdy box and fill it with warm blankets for her next to her food so she knows she has a warm place to sleep this winter.

And she left me a present. Some sort of offering as a thank you for the food and the consideration. A nice dead mouse. Just her little way of acknowledging our kindness.

Telling myself these things goes a long way in making the half decapitated mouse on my doorstep less creepy.


Tuesday, September 25

Sunny Fall Days, Iris Bulbs and Limited Tantrums

I beautiful fall day today here in upstate NY and I just wanted to go back inside so I could step out the door into it again. And again. And again.

I love that fall smell. Things are still blooming in moderation, the grass is still green but peppered with fallen leaves. Not cold, not hot, not humid, a slight breeze, sun shining, blue sky and happiness on so many levels.

Have I mentioned that I love fall?

The little man, the baby and I did not waste any of it today. After preschool and lunch, we loaded the baby in the stroller and headed out into the yard. I had quite a to-do list planned but with my newly adopted mentality of "don't stress about the to-do list and spend more time being a fun Mom" I started out pushing the little man on his swing. This put him, and me, in a pretty good mood for yard chores.

Together we took out what was left of the tomato plants and stored the cages and stakes in the shed. He carried his blue plastic pail around and picked up any wayward tomatoes that were just this side of no-good and had a great time feeding them to the chickens. The baby's stroller was parked by the coop run so she was in all her glory chatting away with her feathered friends and watching them peck at mushy tomatoes.

That leaves just three pepper plants in the garden which have suddenly started producing peppers again. My garden this year has been a pretty big disappointment and it will be taken down to the bare bones before next spring, both physically and on paper. I need a new game plan. More to come on that front.

Other chores were accomplished as well with limited tantrums from the little man. I have found that if I give him what he thinks is a very, very important job, that he will happily help me pick up all the sticks in the yard. Today it was moving the garden wagon around all by himself. And it is fun for me to see what he can actually do. He is almost able to use the wheelbarrow and he loads the empty recycle bins in his red plastic wagon and tows them back to the barn. I keep thinking of him as a little boy, which he is, but he is also a very capable, strong and helpful young man. Part of altering my mentality is allowing me to see him in a different light.

Mixed in with sandbox playtime, we got the iris bulbs replanted by the old well house cover and the bird bath. A little color is needed there and next summer I am looking forward to seeing the spiky foliage and those purple and white flowers brighten up that little section of the yard.

Taking it as it comes, getting things done, not stressing and making more time for family.

And it's fall! Did I mention I love fall. Good things always happen in the fall.
I am very guilty of blog neglect but reports of adventures are coming!

Mother Earth News Fair!!!!!!!!

Sunday, September 16

Decoding Food Labels

Very useful information from Tufts University:
Shopping for healthy, sustainably grown food can be a challenge. When buying eggs, what does that “Cage-Free” label really mean? Read on to learn which labels are just for show, which hold weight, and what they mean.
Don’t forget that farmers are usually happy to tell you about their farming and production methods. Try talking to vendors at your local farmer’s market to find out exactly how that egg was produced.

Vegetarian fed label 100% Vegetarian Diet; Vegetarian Fed Only(Not Reliable) Not certified by an independent organization. Producers will say this to indicate that the livestock or poultry was not fed any animal by-products, only hay, grass, or grains, however, there is no guarantee that it is actually true. This label does not signify that the animal was raised on a pasture.
Bird Friendly logoBird Friendly(Reliable) The Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center of the National Zoo has developed criteria and works with organic certification agencies that certify "Bird Friendly" coffee as organic and shade-grown, meaning that the coffee grows beneath a tree canopy that provides quality habitat for birds. This practice contrasts greatly with "sun coffee" where coffee bushes have few or no trees as shade and the crop is a relatively poor habitat for animal life.
Cage Free labelCage Free (Not Reliable) Commonly seen on egg cartons, “Cage Free” indicates that eggs come from chickens that were not confined in cages, but the label is not highly regulated by the Food Safety Inspection Service of the USDA. “Cage Free” does not necessarily mean that the birds were raised with adequate space or that they had access to the outdoors.
Certified Humane labelCertified Humane Raised and Handled(Reliable) Humane Farm Animal Care, an independent non-profit organization, certifies eggs, dairy, meat, and poultry. Their Animal Care Standards require that animals are allowed to engage in their natural behaviors, have sufficient space, shelter, and gentle handling to limit stress, and have ample fresh water and a healthy diet without added antibiotics or hormones. Inspections are carried out annually.
USDA organic logoOrganic soymilk
Certified Organic (Reliable) Farms and processors are inspected yearly by USDA-approved independent certifiers. These include California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF), Farm Verified Organic (FVO), Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA), Organic Crop Improvement Association (OCIA), Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA), and Oregon Tilth. Certified organic means the food cannot be grown using synthetic fertilizers, chemicals, or sewage sludge, and cannot contain genetically modified organisms or be irradiated. For meat labeled organic, the animals must be fed only with organically grown feed without animal byproducts, and should be free of hormones and antibiotics. Animals must have access to the outdoors- although they don’t necessarily need to actually spend time outdoors. Here are some sub-categories of organic labeling:
  • “100% Organic”: 100% of the ingredients must be organic
  • “Organic”: For a USDA Certified Organic seal, the product must have at least 95% organic ingredients
  • “Made with Organic Ingredients”: Must have at least 70 percent organic ingredients, and list up to three organic ingredients or food groups on the principal display panel
  • Any product with less than 70% organic ingredients cannot print organic on their principal display panel, but may list organically produced ingredients in the ingredients list.
Country of Origin labelCountry of Origin Labeling (Reliable) Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) was passed in Congress in 2002 but delayed for several years, with the exception of seafood. It is expected to be implemented in October 2008 for produce, peanuts, beef, pork, chicken, lamb, and goat. COOL would allow consumers who are concerned about lenient pesticide regulations in other countries or mad cow disease to make more informed decisions about their produce and meat purchases. It could also simplify the process of tracing an outbreak of disease.
Demeter Biodynamic labelDemeter Certified Biodynamic® (Reliable) The concept of Biodynamic® farming, developed in the 1920s, views the farm holistically as a living organism and emphasizes contributing to natural resources instead of depleting them. Biodynamic® products must be produced without synthetic pesticides or fertilizers, genetic engineering, and all other requirements of a certified organic label.
When meat is labeled Biodynamic®, there were no animal by-products used in the livestock feed.
dolphin safe logo Dolphin-Safe(Reliable) The Earth Island Institute “Dolphin Safe” labeled tuna fish must adhere to the following standards:
  1. No intentional chasing, netting, or encirclement of dolphins during an entire tuna fishing trip.
  2. No use of drift gill nets to catch tuna.
  3. No accidental killing or serious injury to any dolphins during net sets.
  4. No mixing of dolphin-safe and dolphin-deadly tuna in individual boat wells (for accidental kill of dolphins), or in processing or storage facilities.
  5. Each trip in the Eastern Tropical Pacific Ocean by vessels 400 gross tons and above must have an independent observer on board attesting to the compliance with points 1 though 4 above.
Fair Trade LogoFair Trade Certified(Reliable) Ensures that farmers receive fair prices, workers receive fair wages, and enables more direct access to the global market. TransFair USA certifies coffee, tea, herbs, cocoa, chocolate, bananas, sugar, rice, vanilla, flowers, and honey, based on the principles of fair prices, fair labor conditions, direct trade, community development, and environmental sustainability.
Food Alliance sealFood Alliance Certified (Reliable) Food Alliance certifies farmers, ranchers, food processors, packers, and distributors for sustainable agriculture practices and social responsibility. The Food Alliance logo ensures that employees have safe and fair working conditions, animals are treated humanely, and there is no use of hormones, non-therapeutic antibiotics, or genetically modified crops. Environmental standards include the use of integrated pest management to reduce pesticide use, and the conservation of soil, water, and wildlife habitat. Food processors must use ingredients certified by Food Alliance, conserve water and energy, and reduce waste, among other requirements. Continual improvement of management practices is also necessary.
Free Roaming eggs label Free Range/Free Roaming (Not Reliable)
“Free range” suggests that a meat or poultry product (including eggs) came from an animal that was able to roam outdoors. However, the USDA only regulates the term “free range” for poultry, not beef or eggs, and birds are only required to have access to the outdoors, which could be a concrete feedlot. The USDA considers 5 minutes of outdoor time each day to be sufficient. This claim is not verified by an independent third party.
Cows eating grain Grain-Fed(Not Always Reliable)
This term suggests that livestock have been fed a diet of grain, but it does not guarantee that the animals were only fed grain- the feed could include animal byproducts and other matter. See here for information on grain fed vs. grass-fed beef.
Grass fed meat labelGrass-Fed (Not Always Reliable) The grass-fed label on meat means that the ruminant animal (cow or lamb) has been raised on a diet consisting fully of grasses, hay, and forage. The grass-fed claim is only reliable if the product has a “USDA Process Verified" shield; otherwise, the verification is only voluntary. See here for information on the environmental and health benefits of grass-fed meats.
Healthy Grown labelHealthy Grown (Reliable) Wisconsin potatoes with the “Healthy Grown” label are certified by a third-party verifier, Protected Harvest. “Healthy Grown” potatoes are grown with reduced pesticides through Integrated Pest Management (IPM) techniques, and growers are also required to participate in ecosystem conservation by restoring or maintaining a non-agricultural piece of land.
No added hormones labelHormone Free, No Hormones Administered, No Added Hormones(Not Always Reliable) The use of added hormones in hogs and poultry is banned by the USDA, so any such label on these meats does not signify that the producer went above and beyond the standard. The use of a “Hormone-Free” label on meats is prohibited by the USDA, but “No Hormones Administered” and “No Added Hormones” on beef are meant to signify that no hormones were given to the animals. However, these claims are not verified by an independent organization unless otherwise stated.
rBGH-free, rBST-free: Recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH), or recombinant bovine somatotropin (rBST) is a synthetic growth hormone given to cows to increase milk production. Certified organic milk and dairy products are rBGH-free, but there is no third-party certification for dairy products simply labeled “rBGH-free.” The next best assurance is milk that comes from dairies whose suppliers have signed affidavits declaring that they do not use rBGH. Check out the National Geographic Green Guide for a list of milk brands without rBGH.
Cheeses and other dairy products from Canada, France, Italy, Ireland, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Austria, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Greece, New Zealand, and Australia are all rBGH-free since the hormone is not approved in these countries. As rBGH cannot be used on goats and sheep, dairy products from these animals are also rBGH-free.
Marine Stewardship logoMarine Stewardship Council(Reliable) Seafood bearing this logo comes from fisheries that have been assessed by an independent certifier and found to meet the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) environmental standard for sustainable fishing. During the MSC assessment the certifier examines many aspects of the fishery including the condition of the fish stocks, the impact of the fishery on the marine environment, and the fishery management systems. Read more at
All Natural labelNatural or All Natural(Not Reliable and/or Misleading) There are no standards for these labels, with the exception of meat and poultry products. For meat and poultry, the USDA defines natural as, “ A product containing no artificial ingredients or added color and only minimally processed (a process which does not fundamentally alter the raw product.)”1 In addition, the product must also bear a statement explaining the use of the term, such as “no artificial ingredients.” While the USDA has defined “natural” and can enforce its appropriate use, there is no verification system for certifying meat as “natural.”
No antibiotics labelNo Antibiotics Administered, Raised without Antibiotics (Not Always Reliable)For meat and poultry, the USDA has defined “No Antibiotics Administered” to mean that the animal was raised without low-level or therapeutic doses of antibiotics. Unless there is an organization identified as a third-party certifier, there is no organization backing the claim other than the producer.
No chemicals added labelNo Chemicals Added(Not Reliable and/or Misleading) This statement is not backed by any reliable certification system, and it may be deceptive. For instance, antibiotics are not considered chemicals, and meat with this label could have been given antibiotics.
NE Eco Apples logoNortheast Eco Apple Project (Reliable)
Distributed by Red Tomato, Eco Apples are grown with minimal use of toxic pesticides. Eco Apples are certified by a third-party inspector based on requirements in the following categories: soil and water conservation, pesticide use and hazard reduction, grower education and self-improvement, food safety and product quality, energy conservation, and recycling.
Nutriclean logoNutriClean Residue Free Certification(Possibly Misleading)
This label is based on an independent certification system that tests for pesticide residues. Although the label seems to indicate that there are no pesticide residues on labeled products, NutriClean sets a limit for the amount of allowable pesticide residue. For some pesticides, the NutriClean limit is the same as the limit set by the EPA, so the product is not any more environmentally friendly than an unlabeled product.
Pasture raised porkPasture-RaisedThis term implies that cattle were raised outdoors with access to pasture and allowed to engage in natural behaviors. However, the USDA currently does not have standards for this term, so it is a subjective label determined by the producer.
Rainforest Alliance sealRainforest Alliance Certified ™ (Reliable) This label from an independent certifier shows that crops have been grown sustainably and workers were treated justly. Products bearing this seal (such as bananas, coffee, cocoa, and tea) are certified based on the Sustainable Agriculture Standards set by the Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN). Farms are audited annually and surprise audits are carried out for certified farms at least once a year. The standards are based on ten categories:
  1. Social and Environmental Management System
  2. Ecosystem Conservation
  3. Wildlife Protection
  4. Water Resource Conservation
  5. Fair Treatment and Good Working Conditions for Workers
  6. Occupational Health and Safety
  7. Good Community Relations
  8. Integrated Crop Management
  9. Soil Management and Conservation
  10. Complete, Integrated Waste Management
Salmon Safe logoSalmon Safe(Reliable)
Salmon Safe is an independent nonprofit that certifies West Coast farms, vineyards, municipal park systems, and corporate and university campuses as protecting salmon habitat in the Pacific Northwest by employing management practices that protect streams and rivers. For farms, there are six categories in the certification standards, including water use management, erosion and sediment control, chemical use management, and animal management.
Seafood safe logoSeafood Safe(Somewhat Reliable, Possibly Misleading)
This label notifies consumers of the amount of fish that is safe to consume at a particular contaminant level, based on EPA recommendations. The two main contaminants measured are mercury and PCBs. The label shows how many four-ounce servings per month of a particular fish product are safe to eat for women of childbearing age. The actual labeled fish is not tested, but samples of the same species, from the same location and of the same size, are tested in independent laboratories. “Seafood Safe” is funded by EcoFish, a sustainably-harvested seafood distributor which raises concerns about conflict of interest. However, testing is done by independent companies and the nonprofit Environmental Defense Fund converts the data from testing into the recommended number of servings.
Wild Caught salmon labelWild-caught(Somewhat Reliable)
Starting in 2005, Country of Origin Labeling rules require unprocessed seafood sold at supermarkets to be labeled as wild-caught or farm-raised. The wild-caught label is not always reliable, as shown by a Consumer Reports study that found 7 out of the 17 samples of salmon bought in the off-season that claimed to be wild-caught were actually farm-raised. All of the samples bought during salmon season (summer) labeled wild were correctly labeled.