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The Conscious Omnivore’s Guide to Snacking

by John Neumann

July 11, 2019

by John Neumann

Food guilt. It’s everywhere. Social media feeds often show pictures of animals being treated poorly; we read articles about the long distances food is trucked to get to our plates; and there’s the point of simply not knowing (or trusting) the companies or agricultural system where the food or animals came from.

I totally get it.

But what options does that leave us with? As someone who is constantly on the go with a relatively active lifestyle, a majority of my meals are light and spread throughout the day. A handful of this or a few bites of that. I often find myself wondering what food choices I can make that won’t weigh heavy on my conscience yet still leave me feeling satiated.

It can take considerable effort to find snacks that provide what a conscious eater is looking for: nutritious and fair trade ingredients, plenty of protein and vitamins, no antibiotics or pesticide residues, and no preservatives or nitrates. Then we need to consider the sustainability of the company we’re supporting with our hard-earned dollars. Yeesh. That’s a lot of boxes to check.

It’s always great to get food from as close to you as possible -- gardening, hunting, foraging and raising backyard chickens if you’re able, supporting your local farmers markets and eating seasonally. But these things aren’t always an option, especially when we’re on the go. So what to do?

When you can’t prep your own snacks, choose a brand you can trust.

Beyond being true organic pioneers, Organic Valley and its 2,000 farms across the United States, plus a few in Canada, the U.K. and Australia, continue to raise the bar on what it means to be a sustainable packaged foods company.

Farming often gets a bad rap -- but organic methods don’t deserve to be lumped in with the large-scale confined farming operations winding up in the news.

With an average dairy herd size of 78 cows who primarily spend their days out on organic pastures, and with local-to-you production, this small-scale, regional focus reduces food miles and improves sustainability. In fact, Organic Valley is switching all remaining fossil fuel-based electricity to solar power by 2019!

So here are some quick tips for you on-the-go conscious omnivores. Not all of the following snack suggestions are revolutionary, but the manner in which they’re raised and made for you is (hint: organic!).

#1 The Hard-Boiled Egg

They’re called the perfect package of fat and protein for a reason. With only 120 calories and nearly 25% of the recommended daily value of protein in two eggs, plus one hen will lay more than 7 times her weight in eggs in only one year, eggs are a wonderfully sustainable form of protein. They should be a staple in your diet for good reason. 

But before we even boil the water, start with eggs raised with humane hen care in mind. Make sure the carton you grab has these seals:

  • USDA Certified Organic
  • Free to Forage™

When choosing eggs that meet these requirements, you're supporting farming that requires giving hens access to fresh air, sunshine and organic pasture: an outdoor space that is free of toxic pesticides, herbicides or GMO plants. Learn more about Free to Forage here.

The only problem I ever had with these protein-packed snacks is they can be a real pain to peel. Rejoice! Here’s how to make them perfectly:

If you don’t have time to boil your own or are looking for an easy option while out and about, check out Organic Valley’s convenient pack of two Good to Go Hard-Boiled Eggs.

#2 Beef Jerky (and sticks and bars)

If your initial reaction to jerkies and sticks is “unhealthy meat that's loaded with preservatives and salt,” you’re not wrong. Plenty of the meat snacks you find in grocery stores are full of artificial flavorings, nitrites and nitrates, and contain mystery meat of unknown origin from unknown parts of the animal.

On the other hand, when your meat snacks are organic, they become a seriously powerful force of protein, energy and healthy fats without all those other worries. 

Organic meat has higher levels of beneficial omega-3 fatty acids, which can support overall health and are linked to reducing the body’s inflammatory response. 

Mighty Organic’s animals are also raised with humane animal care practices that go beyond the National Organic Standard. Check out Mighty’s meat origin story, which begins on millions of acres of unadulterated organic pastures on nature’s perfect farm.

<p>A collage of four images. Three show cows grazing in open Australia pastures, and one shows a woman standing in the sand in front of a herd of cows.</p>

A collage of four images. Three show cows grazing in open Australia pastures, and one shows a woman standing in the sand in front of a herd of cows.

Being from Wisconsin, I’ve been raised as a bit of a jerky snob, with our local meat markets and smokehouses that create delicious, handcrafted meat snacks. Mighty Organic stays true to this tradition, with each batch hand-crafted in our neighboring state of Minnesota. I can taste the time they spent crafting recipes and exploring new taste combinations.

If you have a little time to prep before your next adventure, check out this snack hack that uses everyone’s favorite Mason jars and trail mix fixin’s. Keep a small container on hand for a quick refueling in the middle of the day.

#3 Cheese 

Cheese, which is naturally low in carbs, is a well-balanced snack that complies with many diets, including keto, and the protein and fats satisfy those afternoon hunger cravings. Since Organic Valley’s cows spend plenty of time out on pasture eating their natural diet of varied pasture grasses, the cheese has plenty of omega-3 from grass-fed milk, especially the 100% grass-fed cheese

Speaking of pasture-raised dairy, why is it such a game-changer? Well, it’s more of a switch to the way things used to be. For starters, rather than trucking feed and racking up food miles, cows use their own energy to wander the fields and harvest their food. They then “distribute” their manure naturally, where it dries into patties and fertilizes the soil while emitting less methane or other greenhouse gases. 

Pasture isn’t only better for cows, it’s better for bugs too! The variety of plants increases biodiversity, which encourages a healthier local community of insects and pollinators. 

A great pasture-raised snack, Organic Valley Stringles® not only trigger flashbacks of school lunches and field trips, but they are also a low-calorie option that’s high in protein and easy to eat on the run. Check out this other snack hack that includes some crunchy celery.

Snack consciously! There are so many good options for snacks that will satisfy your cravings while also taking care of the earth.