Organic Food at the Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimo at NYU
Did you know that about 95% of organic milk sold in this country has been “ultra-pasteurized”,
a technique that heats it to a very high temperature and destroys many of the nutrients?
It is perfectly legal and prevents the milk from spoiling too soon so that it can be shipped further and have a longer shelf-life.
This was one of the issues under discussion yesterday at a conference I attended on organic foods in the US and Europe. It was co-sponsored by the NYU Department of Nutrition and Food Studies, Casa Italiana, the Italian Culinary Academy, and Alce Nero, an Italian organization that distributes organic products.
There were several presenters who spoke about a variety of topics including organic certification, food distribution and consumer perceptions. All of the speakers had a lot to say, but the most interesting speaker to me was Mark Dunau, a farmer in New York State who told us about his reasons for dropping out of the US government’s organic certification program. He chooses instead to be involved with a group called the Farmers’ Pledge, whose members advocate stricter regulations than the government and advocate local products, and fair labor practices, which is not part of the government’s program. He also voiced his concerns about big food marketing chains getting involved in organic foods, and how their involvement has impacted the organic food movement, and products such as organic milk.
Other speakers discussed the consumer’s dilemma of finding fresh organic food, and eating seasonally and locally, which even with all of the choices we now have, is not always so easy.
What’s a cook to do? I decided that I would try to learn and participate more in these issues. In the meanwhile, I will follow Chef Cesare Casella (of Salumeria Rosi) who advised us all to
“Choose food that smiles at you in the market.”