Is your food REAL?

Santa Fe New Mexican - Healthy Living - - BULLETINS - — PA­TRI­CIA WEST-BARKER

Is your food REAL? That’s the ques­tion REAL Cer­ti­fied asks of restau­rants, univer­sity and work­place din­ing halls and cafés, cater­ers and other meal de­liv­ery ser­vices, and pre­pared food pro­ces­sors.

The green REAL Cer­ti­fied logo — not to be con­fused with the dairy in­dus­try’s red Real seal — was kicked off in 2012 by the United States Health­ful Food Coun­cil, a non­profit, non­govern­men­tal or­ga­ni­za­tion ded­i­cated to help­ing con­sumers iden­tify bet­ter food choices when eat­ing out. The vol­un­tary en­dorse­ment pro­gram, mod­eled af­ter the build­ing in­dus­try’s Lead­er­ship in En­ergy & En­vi­ron­men­tal De­sign (LEED) award, ver­i­fies a food provider’s com­mit­ment to sound nutri­tion and en­vi­ron­men­tal sus­tain­abil­ity by an­a­lyz­ing menus, ver­i­fy­ing in­voices and the sup­ply chain, visu­ally as­sess­ing the front and back of the restau­rant, and con­duct­ing in­ter­views.

Busi­nesses that ap­ply for cer­ti­fi­ca­tion are judged by an in­de­pen­dent, third-party panel that awards points for how well the busi­ness or menu meets USHFC’s cri­te­ria for ex­cel­lence, in­clud­ing from-scratch prepa­ra­tion of soups and sauces; a large se­lec­tion of healthy pro­duce; use of healthy cook­ing oils; mod­est por­tions; a healthy chil­dren’s menu (no mass-pro­duced frozen chicken fin­gers here!); use of lo­cal, sea­sonal and or­ganic in­gre­di­ents; unsweet­ened bev­er­age choices; and the use of lean meats and cage-free eggs.

At this time, the clos­est REAL Cer­ti­fied restau­rants are in Den­ver, Dal­las and Tempe, Ari­zona, but you can see the full na­tional list and sign up to be no­ti­fied when a new cer­ti­fi­ca­tion is awarded in your zip code at www.eatreal.org.

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