This Summer the school aged kids learned about the importance of Organic, Whole Foods. As a farming community who apparently believes the more chemicals the better, organic produce is not in abundance locally. That makes it even more important to know what you are buying when shopping at the grocery store.
Since we don't have a Whole Foods here, or any kind of real Farmer's Market, at least not like I am used to, we have to really do our homework when buying from local growers. I found many grow without chemicals or GMOs, but do not seek organic certification. This is something I can understand. Organic certification is a very costly process and takes years. So as the consumer, I have to ask all the questions directly to certify for myself which farms I deem safe to purchase food from. I have not found many that meet my own standards. Actually I have found only two, and even then I'm making some concessions. But two is a start.
So I'm back to helping children know what to look for as they help their parents shop for produce in the store, since I can't really direct them to any kind of local sources.
Something I've learned as an early childhood educator, is that children are great teachers! When you help children acquire the knowledge- they understand FAR far more than most people believe- there is a trickle UP effect. Children get excited about new information, then raise awareness at home and influence their families to make changes, which in turn spreads to other relatives, friends and sometimes neighbors. It's often subtle, and slow, but it works.
Anyhoo, this fun picture helps illustrate the sticker 'codes' used on produce in a colorful, easy to understand way. And really, anytime you tell kids about secret codes they are on board, so my work was half done once I mentioned that part.
Alex learned this last year and is Inspector #Uno when we shop at the store. He checks stickers like he's one of those militant health department agents who fail a restaurant because there was a micron of dust on the salad bar sneeze guard (I'm surprised he hasn't taken to using a magnifying glass). Alex has NO tolerance for non-organic or GMO foods. There's actual hissing and curses (not profanity- actual curses; "A pox upon your soil, evil GMO farmer!!").
He knows to stay away from any produce with a sticker that starts with an eight, and he assures me if the world ended and he was the only survivor he would let all the 'eights' rot and not touch them, even if he was starving! He cracks me up.
Nines are golden and 99.9% of what we buy, though you really do have to count how many numbers there are total, because there are stickers out there that have more than 5 numbers and start with a nine, but they are NOT organic. Threes and fours are for emergencies only, like when a recipe calls for something that is just not available as organic and we really really really want it. :-)