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Vouchers for organics

Published (4/10/2009)
By Patty Ostberg
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Vouchers for the special supplemental program for Women, Infants and Children could be used to purchase organic foods, under a bill approved April 2 by the House Health Care and Human Services Policy and Oversight Committee.

Sponsored by Rep. Karen Clark (DFL-Mpls) and Sen. Sharon Erickson Ropes (DFL-Winona), HF285/SF213* would require the health commissioner to evaluate the list of WIC foods and add any organic foods determined to be cost neutral.

The bill now goes to the House floor. The Senate passed the bill 58-4 Feb. 19.

“This is a matter of consumer choice,” Clark said. The cost of organic foods continues to go down, so they are more affordable, she said.

Tom Petersen, chairman of the Organic Advisory Task Force, said the proposal is one the task force has been working on for a number of years. He said the state of Washington has a similar program that allows for the purchase of some fruits, vegetables, breads, brown rice and legumes.

Rep. Tina Liebling (DFL-Rochester) said there is always concern for substances found in foods as it pertains to childhood consumption, and the bill is a step in the right direction. “These are our youngest most vulnerable kids and pregnant women and little children.”

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