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Buy Organic, Local and Fair Trade
Organic, local and fair trade foods can have far-reaching benefits.
Organic, local and fair trade foods can have far-reaching benefits.
Justin Sullivan/­Getty Images

­Organic, local and fair trade foods and products all have a green advantage over conventionally farmed and produced goods. While organic foods can be local and fair trade certified, the three sometimes, but not always, overlap. Here are the differences:

Organic foods are grown under strictly controlled practices that promote healthy soil and water and reduce pollution. Organic methods discourage the use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers in farming, and animals aren't given antibiotics and hormones. Look for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Organic label for foods that are certified organic.

Alternatively, try out locavore living. Locavores buy their food from farmers' markets, local farms (CSAs) and co-ops, and often grow their own gardens. Eating locally grown foods may mean forgoing fresh strawberries in December if you live in New England. It helps support the local economy and reduces the miles your food travels from farm to plate.

­When a product is certified as fair trade it means it was produced under conditions that encourage environmental sustainability, fair prices, fair labor conditions, direct trade, democratic organization and community development. You can identify them by their label. Available products include coffee, tea and herbs, cocoa and chocolate, fruit, sugar, rice, flowers, honey and vanilla. Another bonus is that fair trade products are often also certified organic -- more than 60 percent of fair trade coffee sold in the United States fits that bill.