In Canada, the beginning of (what is now) Nutrition Month started in the late 1970’s. A small group of community nutritionists spearheaded the idea that grew to where it is today. Dietitians in local communities began to plan events and activities that took place in workplaces, shopping malls and even the media picked it up. In 1981, The Canadian Dietetic Association alongside with provincial dietetic associations sponsored the first National Nutrition Week. The main purpose was to increase public awareness about the importance of healthy eating. By the end of the 80’s this annual week-long campaign expanded to a month, the month of March. A great initiative, but every month should be nutrition month.
How Do We Know Our Foods Are Safe?
There is a growing awareness that the food offered to us in grocery stores is not as nutritious as it appears to be. Thanks to many documentaries such as Food Matters, we have learned over the years that the chemicals used on large agricultural farms are not necessarily safe for human ingestion. Soils are lacking proper nutrition which means produce will lack the potential nutrients it is capable of if grown in ideal soils.
Produce loses nutrition from the time it is picked until the time we actually get to eat it. When we eat any produce that has been shipped from hundreds of miles away we have no idea how they are grown (i.e. chemicals used) or what exactly happens in storage and shipping. We are constantly told that many of these pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and insecticides are safe for human consumption in low doses, but when you add up in a day all the foods you have consumed that have been sprayed during growth and treated in storage are these toxins really safe?
Let’s look at this from another perspective. How many times have you seen a sign of a stick person with a cross through it indicating you can’t walk on the grass because pesticide use has occurred? If walking on the grass is not deemed safe, then why are we told chemicals in our food are safe?
Genetically Modified “Food”
This is another hotbed when it comes to knowing if our food is really safe or not. If the corporations who do the studies and push their facts that this type of food is safe, then why have they spent millions of dollars stopping what the consumers want? They want labels so they can make an educated choice.
Food companies that spent the most in 2015 for anti-GMO-labeling legislation and other issues include: Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Kellogg’s, Kraft Heinz Co., Land O’Lakes and General Mills. Disclosures filed by these companies reported $20.6 million in expenditures on K Street lobbying to fight GMO labeling and other legislative priorities. One would think “GMO-free” labels would have cost a whole lot less and it allows consumers to make the choice for themselves.
Are GMO’s safe? That is for each of you to decide but be sure to do some research that includes watching the documentary Genetic Roulette.
Food labels tell us what some nutrients are in a packaged product. In Canada a nutrition fact label must include these 13 core nutrients: fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium, carbohydrate, fibre, sugars, protein, vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, and iron. Optional nutrients to include:
- Vitamin B12
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin E
What I have not been able to find the answer to is are these nutrient values based on grains and produce that were grown in nutrient-dense soil or soil that is lacking in nutrients?
Being a label-reader is vital to your well-being. For example, did you know that some store-bought table salts have sugar as an ingredient?
Dietitians and Nutritionists
There are some great dietitians and nutritionists out there that can help you eat a healthier diet. Should you ever require the services of a dietitian or a nutritionist be sure to ask him or her some critical questions before spending money on a consultation. The person you hire needs to be well-educated on how pesticides, insecticides, and herbicides used on our foods affect human health. He or she should also be well-educated on independent (not industry-based) studies on the effects of GMO’s. He or she should be well-versed on all the preservatives and additives that are used in what author Michael Pollan coined, “food-like” substances we eat. Some of these ingredients have detrimental effects on human health.
Food You Can Trust
Eating organic has become a huge trend but for many who can barely afford a can of beans (and these numbers are sadly escalating) this is not reality. Of course, if you can afford it eat organic. Even better, seek out local farms who grow naturally. Of course there may be good reasons to use insecticides once in awhile and there is nothing wrong with that. There are many local farmers who are trying to stay as natural as they possibly can and we need to support these farmers.
Edible Wild Plants
If you have not considered eating edible wild plants then perhaps now is the time to start doing some research and explore the wonderful world of weeds and other wild plants. Not only is this food free but many of the plants out there are nutrient-dense. Even in winter months there is food to be had out there if you know where to go and what to look for.
Foraging for wild food is a fabulous way to increase your nutrient intake, get fresh air, and if you go with family members it is a great way to spend quality time together. There is so much you can create in the kitchen when you let yourself “go wild”.
Every month should be nutrition month because our food and beverage choices ultimately help our bodies to either prevent disease or to feed disease.
Recipe for the salad image in this post click here.