Is your food REAL?
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.