The best time is now! Why?

“A happy person is a healthy person”, “health is the most precious asset”, many say.

Researchers say that healthy people are ~20% happier. But we only start thinking about our health and become seriously concerned about it when it starts failing. Every year, we promise ourselves to be more active, eat healthier and make preventive medical visits, but most of the time we don’t keep our promises. The main reason for this is procrastination.

That’s why we say: the best time is now! Be aware and make the right decisions that can affect your health. Follow the golden rule: don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.

The objectives of the Choose EU programme:

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Promote the consumption of organic products.

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Promote the principles of a plant-based diet.

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Raise awareness of the high quality standards of EU food production.

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Raise awareness about the EU food labelling system.

CHOOSE  THE EU ORGANIC FOOD  THAT CONTRIBUTES TO SUSTAINABILITY AND QUALITY OF YOUR LIFE.

More and more people around the world are becoming interested in ecology and organic products. Although such products still represent a relatively small share of the EU’s agricultural production, they are no longer niche products.

The Choose EU programme aims to provide consumers with as much information as possible about ecology, organic farms and their products.

The European Union strictly regulates organic farming and the organic food chain. This production ensures a sustainable agricultural system that respects the environment and animal welfare, and extends to all other stages of the food supply chain.

Key Principles of Organic Farming and Production

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The use of chemical pesticides and synthetic fertilisers is prohibited

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Antibiotics are strictly limited

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GMOs are not allowed

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Compulsory crop rotation

Clear and Standardised Labelling of Organic Products Produced in the European Union

The EU Regulation on organic production and labelling ensures that the same high quality standards are met throughout the EU. The rules cover farming practices in agriculture and aquaculture, food processing and labelling, farmer certification procedures, and imports of non-EU organic products.

Organic farmers in the EU use energy and natural resources responsibly, promote animal health and contribute to biodiversity, ecological balance and water/soil quality.

Why Choose Organic Food Grown and Produced in the European Union:

  • You choose products that are cleanly grown. The food on your family’s table will not be contaminated with unwanted chemicals.
  • You care about your and your loved ones’ health and well-being. A varied and nutritious diet is essential to stay healthy. For allergy-prone people, foods grown without herbicides, pesticides, antibiotics and other artificial substances can help to control allergic reactions more effectively. It is important to note that organic vegetables, fruit, porridges and other products are ideal for even the smallest members of the family, who have very sensitive digestive systems.
  • You eat delicious food made with fresh produce. The storage and transport of organic food is subject to the same strict requirements as its cultivation and production. This means that organic vegetables, fruit, dairy, meat and other products that have not been exposed to antibiotics and other chemicals cannot be stored for long periods. Fresh produce that reaches your table retains more nutritional value and better taste.
  • You enjoy flavours that are not distorted by artificial sweeteners, flavourings and colours. If you choose organic food, you do not need to waste time studying long lists of ingredients written in small print. Organic products do not use artificial colours, thickeners and other additives that do not add any nutritional value, but only distort the natural taste of the products.
  • You expand and diversify your daily diet. In the organic section, you will find more interesting products, rarer fruits and vegetables, and less popular cereals and pulses. By buying at least one new product every time, you will enrich your daily diet as well as expanding your gastronomic knowledge.
  • You will contribute to reducing environmental pollution. By choosing fresh, nutritious and tasty organic food, you are also helping to reduce environmental pollution. Organic farms and processing plants are sustainable and clean, avoiding both groundwater and soil pollution. So when you put organic vegetables, cereals or any other product in your shopping basket, you are supporting a responsible approach to the future of our planet.
  • You support biodiversity conservation. The elimination of pesticides, herbicides, fertilisers and other chemicals facilitates the conservation of natural habitats.
  • You support sustainable consumption. The slightly higher price of organic products and their shorter shelf life can be another great incentive to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle and reduce unnecessary consumption. Choosing carefully and buying well planned organic products will also reduce food waste.

Europeans’ opinion/knowledge on organic food

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Very limited amounts of pesticides, fertilisers and antibiotics are used in production
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Better environmental practices are used
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Higher animal welfare standards are ensured
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Better quality products
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Healthier food

Read more about the popularity of organic farms and products on
www.organicseurope.bio

CHOOSE  THE EU PLANT BASED FOOD  PRODUCED WITH RESPECT TO ENVIRONMENT FOR YOUR HEALTHY LIFE STYLE.

What is Plant-based Nutrition?

  • This is a diet that consists mainly (or exclusively) of foods of plant origin. People often misunderstand a plant-based diet as a vegan diet, where all animal products are avoided.
  • This diet is based on plant foods: fruit, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and legumes. This means that meat, fish or dairy products can occasionally be used.
  • The health benefits of a plant-based diet include: boosting the immune system, helping to maintain a healthy weight and prevent inflammation and hormone imbalances, high fibre content, and reducing the risk of cancer, heart disease and diabetes.

Plant-based Diets Save the Planet. Why?

Plant-based foods produce around 30–90% less greenhouse gas emissions than conventional meat.
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This diet reduces water consumption. For example:

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Basic Principles of Healthy Eating:

  • Eat a nutritious, varied diet, more plant-based foods than animal-based.
  • Eat wholemeal products (bread, porridge, pasta, etc.), a variety of (preferably fresh) vegetables and fruit (at least 400 g per day) several times a day.
  • Reduce your fat intake. Replace animal fats high in saturated fatty acids with vegetable oils.
  • Replace red meat (pork, beef, lamb) with white meat (poultry, rabbit), legumes or fish.
  • Use skimmed milk and low-fat dairy products (buttermilk, natural yoghurt, sour milk, kefir, cottage cheese or cheese).
  • Choose foods and drinks that are low in sugar. Do not sweeten tea or coffee.
  • Eat food that is not salty. The total salt content of the daily diet should not exceed 5 g. Choose salt with iodine.
  • Limit your alcohol consumption.
  • Maintain a normal body weight (body mass index 20–25).
  • Move vigorously every day (adults at least 30 min/day, children at least 60 min/day).

For more information see: sam.lrv.lt

Guidance on How to Transition to a Plant-based Diet:

  • Take it step by step – like any lifestyle change, plant-based eating takes time and understanding what works best for you. Making small changes to your daily meals is one of the easiest ways to increase the amount of plant foods in your diet. You can go one day a week without meat or dairy products and then increase to two days the following week, and so on. Alternatively, you could try changing one meal of the day: eat a plant-based breakfast for the first week, add a plant-based lunch for the second week and so on. You can also replace one product: cow’s milk with nut or soya milk, butter with vegetable oil.
  • Leave your comfort zone and try new things – it’s easier than ever to find plant-based recipes for all tastes and cuisines. A quick search on the internet will reveal countless recipes that can be prepared by beginners and experts alike. Enjoy trying out your favourite recipes with plant products. Remember that this is not a special diet. In many countries, plant-based food is commonplace.
  • Plan your diet – take some time to plan what you will cook during the week and make a shopping list. Finding plant-based products in the supermarket can be a time-consuming process at first, as animal products predominate supermarket shelves. Once you know which foods are staples in a plant-based diet, shopping will become a joy and your trolley will be full of colour and variety.
  • Keep reminding yourself why you are doing this – you are choosing a plant-based diet. Joining relevant groups on social networks, reading educational books or watching informative documentaries on plant-based diet can really help. There are documentaries that look at this diet from different angles: some focus on animal welfare, others on the health, fitness and environmental benefits of a plant-based diet.
  • Don’t be too hard on yourself – you may find it easy to give up meat and start eating plant-based meat dishes, but you might find it hard to give up cheese. Remember, it’s your life and your choice.

TOP 5 Nutrition Trends in European Union Countries

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Climate change solutions are directly linked to the regulation of the food industry.

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Regenerative agriculture is being increasingly practised. More large farms and corporations are using regenerative farming/rotation.

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Alternative proteins are gaining popularity. Sales of plant-based alternatives to meat and seafood are increasing.

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Young people are becoming the influencers of new habits. Young people are increasingly shaping new habits in terms of nutrition and responsible consumption.

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The importance of the environment is growing. More and more shoppers are turning to the socially responsible producer label.

CHOOSE  THE EU  FOOD AND BEVERAGES WITH  PGI/PDO  THAT IS PRODUCED WITH RESPECT TO OUR HISTORY AND TRADITIONS.

European countries are famous for their food culture, with dishes and foods that are popular around the world. As the food industry and technology evolve, more and more producers are looking to capitalise on the success of a popular product or brand and offer consumers a cheaper alternative under the same name. The EU quality label helps a company to protect a unique product of specific origin from unfair competition, and gives the consumer the assurance that the product is of high quality and exceptional, making it easier to choose products.

European Union Quality Label Scheme Indications:

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Protected Designation of Origin – PDO

These are the products most closely linked to their place of production.

Labelled products: food and agricultural products, wines.

Specifications: all parts of the production, processing and preparation process must take place in the region concerned. For wine, this means that the grapes must come only from the geographical area where the drink is produced.

Example:

“Seinų/Lazdijų krašto medus” (honey from the Seinai/Lazdijai region) has the PDO label, which means that all stages of production must take place within the defined geographical area, from the location of the hives to the final packaging of the honey. Due to the very short growing season of the plants, “Miód z Sejneńszczyzny/Łoździejszczyzny” / “Seinų/Lazdijų krašto medus” is only harvested for three months: from mid-May to mid-August.

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Protected Geographical Indication – PGI

It is the link between a specific geographical region and the name of a product, as the special quality, reputation or other characteristics of a product are mainly due to its geographical origin.

Labelled products: food and agricultural products, wines.

Specification: at least one of the many stages of production, processing or preparation of the products takes place in the region. For wine, this means that at least 85% of the grapes used must come exclusively from the geographical area where the wine is produced.

Example:

The wine produced in the Thracian Lowlands (a wine region in the south of Bulgaria) has the PGI label. The wine of the PGI of the Thracian Lowlands is produced in accordance with the old wine-making traditions and methods of the Thrace region, but not only using grapes grown in that particular region.

The quality labelling scheme demonstrates excellence in European food production and recognises the unique qualities of food that are specific to a particular region. Quality labels identify the unique products as meeting high quality standards, and offer a means of using their distinctive characteristics to set them above the rest and promote them.

FOOD SAFETY IN THE EUROPEAN UNION

Food Production Processes

Key Quality Parameters and Concepts in Food Production Control

HEALTHINESS

  1. Safety (GMP/GHP, HACCP)
  2. Nutrient content
  3. Caloric content
  4. Dietary value

ORGANOLEPTIC APPEAL

  1. External appearance
  2. Smell
  3. Texture
  4. Consistency
  5. Taste

AVAILABILITY

  1. Recognition (type)
  2. Unit size
  3. Shelf life
  4. Ease/convenience of preparation

For more details, see: www.europarl.europa.eu

PROGRAM PARTICIPANTS

To learn more about the other EU-funded projects, click on the links below:

Funded by the European Union. However, the views or opinions expressed are those of the author(s) alone and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Research Executive Agency (REA). Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.
For guidelines on a balanced, healthy diet, visit the website of the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Lithuania.

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