Page 119 - Cityview May-June 2017
P. 119

best nutrition for our money.
In the midst of great hype over “eating clean,” however, it’s not really clear how. We see labels touting claims like organic, local, clean, and antibiotic-free. How do we navigate the sea of labels and claims made by food producers to ensure we get the best value?
It is difficult, if not impossible to
nail down standards for many of these claims. Elizabeth Hall is an RDN, LDN, Corporate/Retail Registered Dietitian at Food City. Her role is to be a resource for nutrition and health for customers, store communities, and associates. As
a Registered Dietitian, one of Hall’s primary goals is to translate science
to the public and help dispel myths of “fad” diets that are often popularized in modern society.
When asked about clean produce, meat, or dairy, Hall makes a startling point. “‘Clean’ is a new term that has gained popularity in the media and therefore in the American public
as well,” Hall says. “The term itself
has no recognized definition in food science and is not regulated by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration).” “Clean” means different things to different people.
“Some food manufacturers view ‘cleaning up the label’ as replacing artificial ingredients with more natural ingredients and shortening their ingre- dient list,” Hall explains. “Unfortunately, the FDA does not provide a specific defi- nition for ‘natural’ either.”
However, “organic” food production and labelling is regulated by the United States Department of Agriculture. Organic produce is grown without the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, GMOs, and other harsh chemicals. Organic dairy and meats are produced without added antibiotics and added growth hormones. Before a piece of produce, meat, or dairy can be sold as organic, the farm or business must go through five rigorous steps to become USDA certified. First, the farm or business selects a USDA-accredited certifying agent, submits the standard application and fees, and adopts organic practices. The agent reviews the appli- cation, and then an on-site evaluation is conducted. After passing, every produc- er is audited yearly to ensure integrity to the standards. The result of this process? An organic label meant to take the guess work out of avoiding chemi- cals and fillers.
Though their prices are higher than average, specialty food stores, such as
WholeFoods and Earthfare, stock a wide variety of organic food. If you’re only look- ing for a few high-quality organic items, check out Kroger or Food City, which is known for sourcing its produce locally.
Another thing to note before you ven- ture out to the land of organics: they are not all equally organic. Organic foods come in three grades: 100%, 95%, and 70% organic, the last of which cannot use the USDA Organic seal but instead uses the phrase, “made with organic ingredients.”
Many people prioritize other con- siderations over a USDA seal though. Manjit Bhatti, self-styled “cow guru”
at Cruze Farms, suggests that “you will always stand the best chance of getting the highest quality food if you either grow it yourself or get it from somebody you feel you know.” And Hall reminds us that, whether they choose organ-
ic or not, everyone needs a variety of food groups in the right amounts. She encourages doing the bulk of your shop- ping from the perimeter of the grocery store while keeping an eye on eating less sodium, fat, and sugar. “Buying foods
in their whole form and doing most of the preparation yourself helps you to control what all you put in it, which can help to lower those more harmful nutri- ents, such as sodium,” she suggests.
Once upon a time, everything was organic.
If you know where to look,
you can find fresh food just as good as what comes with an official label.
MAY JUNE 2017 117

   117   118   119   120   121