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The Question of Organic Food

Posted Mar 03 2010 12:00am
By Sandra Crockett

So you want to eat healthy but are confused about all the different guidelines. It’s pretty clear to most people that trans fat is something to limit in your diet or stay away from altogether. The same is true of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), although hard to do since it is in so much processed food products.

Perhaps going organic is the safer way to go. But what exactly makes any produce “organic?” And what if you have the choice of going to a grocery store and buying something labeled “organic” or going to a local farmers market and purchasing fresh produce without the “organic” label? It's clear that the road to good health, healthy eating, and being kind to the environment is not always easy.

A food label “organic” means the producer has been certified organic, says Laure L. Sullivan, resident district manager, Food and Nutrition Services for LifeBridge Health . The producer has to meet certain standards to gain certification, and it is not the same for all countries.
In the United States, a food labeled “organic” usually means only organic ingredients were used. Legally, if a food is 95 percent organic, it can be labeled organic.

That said, buying from a local farmer’s market whenever possible would be your best bet, Sullivan explains.

“Buy local at your local farmer’s market and support the farmers,” Sullivan says. Farmers at local markets can have organic produce without having the organic label. “Farmers’ produce can be chemical free but not all farmers can afford to get the certification,” she says.

“You can get organic strawberries from China. But then you have the whole carbon footprint question.”

LifeBridge Health buys as much seasonal produce from local farmers as possible, Sullivan says.

Like we said, living healthy and being environmentally aware is not always easy. However, if you love yourself and your planet, it is worth it.

If you want to learn more about how sustainable food practices, several hospitals in Maryland and D.C. are being recognized tomorrow night for improving nutrition, maximizing carbon footprint and purchasing sustainable-produced meat through the Balanced Menu Challenge.

The “Balance Meets Taste” event kicks off National Nutrition Month for March 2010. It is being organized by Maryland Hospitals for a Healthy Environment .

If You Go
What: Balance Meets Taste
When: Thursday, March 4
Where: Pier 5 Hotel, Baltimore Inner Harbor, 711 Eastern Avenue, Baltimore, MD
Time: 6:30 - 10 p.m.
Cost: $100 (hors d’oeuvres and cocktail hour, four-course meal including wine. Proceeds donated to Future Harvest – Chesapeake Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture .
For More Information: 410.706.1924 or click here . You can also e-mail Lmitc001 (at) son.umaryland.edu
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