Dispelling nutrition myths, ranting, and occasionally, raving


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Colour me surprised: Organic foods may contain pesticides!

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Last week consumers of organic produce got their knickers all in a knot over news reports of pesticide residue being found on “organic” produce. Now, I thought that we all knew by now that purchasing organic produce didn’t guarantee avoidance of pesticides. Apparently not.

Just a reminder… Organic food is not grown in isolation. There are pesticides in the soil, the rain, the air. Organic foods are not shipped and sold in isolation. There are many stages at which they may become contaminated with pesticides. Indeed, organic foods may also have pesticides deliberately applied during the growing process. Pesticides are allowable in organic farming, provided that they are not synthetic. For a list of permitted substances in organic farming see this from the Government of Canada.

Before we all give-up on organic produce, it’s worth considering a couple of things. One, it appears that the number of samples was quite small (the image at the bottom of the CBC article shows a sample size of 30 for the grapes). This could mean that the numbers are not an accurate reflection of the state of pesticide residue in produce in Canada. Two, only 1.8% of organic samples exceeded allowable limits for pesticides; 4.7% of non-organic samples did. In fact, less than half of the samples of organic produce tested positive for pesticides at all. While 78.4% of non-organic produce tested positive. Considering the numerous opportunities for organic produce to becomes contaminated with pesticides the number showing residue is actually quite small.

Yes, you’re taking a risk that your food is going to be contaminated with pesticides. That risk is present whether you choose organic or not. However, that risk is considerably greater if you choose non-organic produce. It’s also worth taking into consideration that by choosing organic produce you’re choosing to have fewer synthetic pesticides put into the environment. Over time, this may mean that your organic food will be less and less likely to be contaminated with synthetic pesticides.


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Follow Friday: Feed Nova Scotia Day

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Today is Feed Nova Scotia Day. It’s an annual event during which the CBC holds a huge fundraiser for Feed Nova Scotia. This day makes it exceptionally easy to donate to the food bank. The CBC will be holding a donation drive on the corner of Sackville and South Park Streets (outside their radio building) from 6:00 am to 6:00 pm. No food handy? No problem, volunteers will also be accepting monetary donations.

There will be live broadcasts from the location at various times throughout the day. There will also be live musical performances.

Many local CBC stations hold similar food drives around this time of year. Visit http://www.cbc.ca to find out when an event near you will be held.


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Talon, Texas adds sugar to water supply

The CBC recently aired an episode of the show This is That in which they spoke with a resident of the Texas town Talon. This issue at hand: their decision to add sugar to the water supply to encourage residents to drink more water. Many people were outraged; do a google search if you don’t believe me. Rightfully so, if This is That was a legitimate news show. However, This is That is actually a parody show which features fabricated news items.

The thing I want to comment on here is that, aside from the logistical difficulties, the addition of sugar to a town’s water supply is actually somewhat believable (see the outrage it triggered on google and in the comments section of the CBC This is That page). As horrified as people were, many believed it to be true. Our notions of healthy eating have become so distorted that we are often mislead into believing that the addition of one healthful ingredient into a “junk” food makes it healthy (e.g. antioxidants in Seven-Up, fibre in Pepsi, dried fruit in cookies). The flip-side of this is that adding unhealthful ingredients to healthy foods to make them more palatable is also considered reasonable (e.g. mini-wheats, candy in nearly every trail mix, or sugar in water).

We need to accept that healthy food can be delicious rather than trying to delude ourselves into believing that we can only enjoy foods if they’re unhealthy in some manner.