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Scan the item’s barcode with EWG’s Food Scores free mobile app for full nutritional information.

How does your food score? When you look at food ingredient labels, you’re probably checking to make sure there are no trans fats or latent sugars, but what about all those other chemicals that are impossible to pronounce? And is that really the only thing you should be concerned about when you are buying food for you and your family, what about how it was processed or how nutritious it is? By Laura Turner Seydel

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rom the amount of sugar to whether BPA is present in the packaging of your food, these factors can have a profound effect on the overall well-being of you and your family. Up until recently, understanding the full impact of your family’s favorite foods could be an overwhelming task, but thanks to the Environmental Working Group’s new food database EWG’s Food Scores: Rate Your Plate (www.ewg. org/foodscores), you don’t have to guess anymore. Their website rates more than 80,000 packaged foods from 1,500 brands with more being added every month. Each food item is rated along three criteria – nutrition, ingredient concerns and processing – from one to ten, with one being the best. This in-depth view offers a more complete profile of what is in processed foods so you can make the best decisions. You can look up foods on their database, or you can download their free app on your smartphone, scan the item’s barcode and instantly get the food score! So what are Americans eating from the supermarket? Only one out of six foods earns Food Scores top rating. A meager 18% of foods score in the ideal green zone, 57% in the moderate yellow to orange, and 25% score the worst in red. Across all products scored, 58% of them contain added sugar!

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This is a serious problem in the American diet. Here in Georgia, we have the third highest rate of child obesity in the nation, as well as a growing number diagnosed with Type II diabetes, an adult disease previously unheard of ten years ago among kids. But fighting back against the growing youth obesity crisis is a national imperative. In addition to sugar being heavily present in kids’ diets, there is also a dramatic dietary absence of vegetables. I was invited recently to speak at the School Nutrition Industry Conference where it was evident that the school nutrition professionals are working hard to figure out how to get kids to make healthier choices at school. Research was shared showing kids don’t often choose the vegetable, and when they do there’s a high chance it will end up in the garbage untouched. In Atlanta, there is groundbreaking work underway to educate and provide better food options for the city’s residents, including children and youth. I have experienced firsthand how kids love to plant in a garden and how much they enjoy preparing and eating the fruits and veggies they grow. Any type of garden will do the trick! For many inner-city children this is the first exposure they have to learning vegetables are not born in plastic bags. Whether a farm-to-school program, where kids visit production farms, or gardens in the classroom programs like Captain Planet


Southern Seasons Magazine Spring 2015