It's really not all that hard if you just stop and think and do a little research plus throw in a bit of common sense. Thankfully (with a h/t Marion Nestle) the Strategic Alliance, a component of the Oakland-based Prevention Institute devoted to “promoting healthy food and activity environments,” has produced a working definition of a healthful food. Its report, Setting the Record Straight: Nutritionists Define Healthful Food, (warning PDF) applies three principles:
HEALTHFUL FOOD PRINCIPLES
Healthful Food is wholesome.
- It includes whole and minimally processed fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, eggs, dairy, meats, fish, and poultry.
- It contains naturally occurring nutrients (e.g., vitamins, minerals, phyto-nutrients).
- It is produced without added hormones or antibiotics.
- It is processed without artificial colors or flavors or unnecessary preservatives.
prevents the exploitation of farmers, workers, and natural resources, and
the cruel treatment of animals. The process of healthful food production:
- Upholds the safety and quality of life of all who work to feed us.
- Treats all animals humanely.
- Protects the finite resources of soil, water, air, and biological diversity.
- Supports local and regional farm and food economies.
- Replaces fossil fuels with renewable energy sources.
- Distributed equitably among all communities.
- Available and emphasized in children’s environments such as childcare, school, and after-school settings.
- Promoted within institutions and workplaces, in cafeterias, vending machines, and at meetings and events.
- Reflective of the natural diversity found in traditions and cultures.