In the grocery store:
Look for labels like "grassfed," "pastured" and "animal welfare approved" for meat, eggs and dairy products.
Be wary of labels like "natural," "humanely raised," "cage free" and "free range," which have shallow implications for environmental and ethical practices.
Seek out local and certified organic produce, meat and dairy whenever possible. For locally made products, look for the "Humboldt Made" label.
Add whole, plant-based and seasonal foods to your shopping cart as much as possible.
For products not available locally, like coffee and chocolate, look for a "fair trade" label, indicating the growers were more equitably compensated.
Consider doing some of your shopping at a co-op, which are community- rather than corporate-owned, or a local or regional store.
At the farmers' market:
Use your EBT card and make use of the MarketMatch program.
Talk to farmers about their growing practices instead of relying on official certifications — unlike in the grocery store, you can actually talk to the person who grew your food. Try it.
Ask farmers to help identify foods you don't recognize and for recommendations on how to prepare them.
To deepen your involvement:
Join a CSA. Many farms accept EBT cards and have flexible payment plans, so don't hesitate to ask. Learn more at www.localharvest.org/csa.
Stop by a farm stand or pick your own produce at a u-pick.
Grow some of your own food in your backyard or in a community garden. Many community gardens have plots available — check out www.northcoastgardens.org for more info.
Visit, volunteer or intern at a farm. Many farms offer open volunteer days, internships and apprenticeships. HSU's Campus Center for Appropriate Technology holds workshops and the University of California Cooperative Extension offers master gardener and master food preserver programs.