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Organic Food, Health and Wellness at Stowe Mountain Lodge

The local food system here in Vermont is on to something big. With support for the Organic Food Movement everywhere you turn, we are finding ourselves at the forefront of a healthier, more conscious, consumer-driven network. I have yet to meet a person who does not eat food, so we individually have the choice to go Organic. We have the choice to support dedicated farms & vendors.

We all have the choice to feed our children the best possible source of vitamins & nutrients to support healthy growth. Recently Vermont Governor,  Peter Shumlin signed the GMO labeling bill, requiring all foods sold in Vermont to identify genetically modified ingredients, in the effort to support healthier choices. I know I for one am proud to live in a state that puts so much effort into health, and work at Stowe Mountain Lodge, where health, wellness and eating right are priorities to our staff and our guests! Here are some fun facts I thought I would share with you to celebrate a summer of healthy organic eating!

Q: What does "organic" certification mean? 
A:
 The USDA has developed national standards to assure that agricultural products marketed as "organic" meet consistent, uniform standards and to encourage the use of cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity. Growers apply for the "organic" certification; their farms and products undergo rigorous inspections to make sure they meet the standards for growing and handling. Only products that meet the national standards may display the "organic" seal.

Q: What are the standards for "organic" produce?
A:
 The standards are extensive, but here's a brief overview. According to standards spelled out in the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 (amended in 1995), to be sold or labeled as organically produced, the products must be produced on a certified organic farm without the use of synthetic chemicals, pesticides, fertilizers, poisons that have long-term effects, plastic mulches, sulfites, heavy metals, and other specifically stated chemicals.

Q: Where will I find the "organic" seal?
A:
 Look for the USDA organic seal on raw, fresh products and processed products that contain organic agricultural ingredients. Or it may appear on a sign above an organic produce display. On multi-ingredient products, the seal is usually placed on the front of the package (principal display panel); however, it may be placed anywhere on the package. When you see this seal, you know the product is at least 95 percent organic.

Q: If I only wanted to purchase some organic produce, which foods should I choose?
A:
 The nonprofit Environmental Working Group (www.ewg.org) specializes in providing useful resources to consumers while simultaneously pushing for national policy change. Their Shopper's Guide to Pesticides identifies the conventional fruits and vegetables found to be highest and lowest in pesticides -- the "Dirty Dozen" and the "Clean Fifteen." Visit their site to download a PDF version of the guide or the iPhone App.

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