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“Who has time to read labels? Between racing all over to get the kids to school, and soccer, and dance, and doctor appointments, I’m lucky to have time to plan and shop for meals, let alone stop and read food labels.”

We understand, and we’re trying to make it easier. By gathering information and giving you easy access to it, we’re trying to help busy moms feed their families tasty, nutritious meals—and still make sure they get the kids to practice on time.

“What do all the different ‘organic’ labels mean?”

To be labeled organic, food must be grown, handled and processed according to certain U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) standards. Producers of these foods cannot use conventional methods to fertilize crops, control weeds or prevent livestock disease.

100 percent organic Must be completely organic or made of all organic material
USDA organic Must be at least 95 percent organic
Made with organic ingredients Must contain at least 70 percent organic material

Keep in mind that the value of “organic” is in the eye of the purchaser. All foods produced in the United States—especially meat, poultry and milk—are highly regulated and monitored for food safety and quality. If organic farming methods are important to you, we support your right to choose organic foods. But you don’t have to worry that you’re cheating your family if you choose otherwise.

Dr. Sam Beattie, Food Safety Specialist - Iowa State University Extension, talks about what it takes to make a food certified organic. Learn More

“What about other food labels like ‘natural,’ ‘grass-fed,’ ‘antibiotic-free’ and ‘free-range’?”

This subject is a little sketchier, because state and federal regulations don’t cover labels like these. The definitions are not uniform, and, in some cases, they’re downright vague. As an example, there’s no regulatory definition of “natural,” so food processors can use it in any way they see fit.

This doesn’t mean you should assume every retailer or farmer is trying to hide something. We just want you to be aware that labels like “natural,” “hormone-free,” “no chemicals,” etc., are used freely and voluntarily—and while they might be strictly true, they aren’t backed up by consistent regulations. If you’re ever in doubt, go directly to the source. We know lots of farmers who’d be happy to talk about how they grow and raise your food.

“My family has an ongoing debate about expiration dates. How closely should we follow these dates?”

You might be surprised to know that except for infant formula and some baby foods, there are no federal regulations and only a few state regulations on expiration dates. These dates are placed on labels voluntarily by the manufacturer or retailer, and there are differences between Use By, Sell By and Best By dates.

Here are some general guidelines provided by

Milk Generally good until a week after the Sell By date.
Eggs If purchased before the Sell By date, good for 3–5 weeks.
Poultry and Seafood Should be cooked or frozen within a day or two of purchase.
Beef and Pork Should be cooked or frozen within 3–5 days.
Canned Goods High-acid foods like tomato sauce can keep 18 months or more. Low-acid foods like canned green beans should be good for up to five years. All canned foods should be stored in a dry, dark place between 50–70° F.

All foods produced in the United States—especially meat, poultry and milk—are highly regulated and monitored for food safety and quality.