Panel cites pluses of organic food in schools, facilities

Touting the benefits of organic foods, a City Hall committee is pondering ways to ensure that schools and city facilities go organic with their food service.

While The City has adopted various policies advocating more organic or sustainable food supplies in its food service, implementation is still being hashed out. The Environmental Commission has endorsed the goal of having 20 percent of all city facilities, including schools, serve locally grown and organic foods within the next seven years.

Any food service, from the cafeteria at City Hall to jails and hospitals, may one day serve mostlyorganic or sustainable foods, which are considered more nutritious for the consumer.

The City’s Environmental Policy Committee has invited prominent organic food advocates to a forum Monday in a move to hash out a plan to realize that goal.

“Ultimately it will probably boil down to us creating a resolution” detailing an implementation plan for a vote by the Board of Supervisors, said Angelo King, a city environmental commissioner.

One possibility, he said, is to stipulate in future city contracts with food vendors that they use organic products.

One of the most challenging aspects of using more organic products is the cost, which is considerably higher than other foods. Using pesticides saves more of the crop, which keeps costs down, King said.

The City’s Health Commission will develop a plan this year on “increasing sustainable products of food in the food purchasing and food service” at Laguna Honda and San Francisco General hospitals, according to Christina Carpenter, health consultant with the Department of Public Health.

Carpenter said the industry is not yet prepared to realize this goal, adding that the hospitals’ food distributor is not equipped to incorporate organic food on “any grand scale.”

Anya Fernald, director of California Alliance of Family Farmers, said any increase in consumption of organic foods would go a long way toward helping out Bay Area farmers, who “really are a dying breed.”

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