To the editor:
Who to trust? That is the question. Everyone is more conscious of their food choices now, after seeing Food Inc. and other documentaries like the Future of Food, etc. Everyone wants to know how to eat safely especially after the recent tainted meat recalls. Is large-scale agriculture serving us ‘good’ food?
I respond to Henry Tam (Capital News Oct. 11 letter to the editor: Organic Food Criticism Needs Scientific Backing) who asks really good questions: “Have I been eating the wrong stuff?” He says: “I have the impression that untruthfulness has occurred somewhere between food production to retail sales. Eventually, Canadian consumers are mis-informed and cheated.”
He calls upon me—Heidi Osterman, a certified nutritionist, to answer his questions.
One hundred years ago all food was organic. It was just called food. Then came fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides in food production. Currently genetically modified foodstuffs are also in the supermarkets. We have abundant cheap edible stuff to fill our bellies.
Is it really good? Industrially produced ‘food’ is antibiotic-laced, genetically modified and sprayed with toxic chemicals. The new generation of food is processed to contain Aspartame, transfats, MSG, food dyes, preservatives and the like. Every one of these items are labeled, with the exception of GM (genetically modified) foods.
We all wonder what we are eating and how it affects us.
Food policy in Canada is set by our federal government and on the issue of genetically modified food Canadian MP Alex Atamanenko recently stated his findings in I’d Rather Eat Bugs, published in the Pencticton Herald Sept. 27: “It should be noted that industry studies which Health Canada (HC) relies upon to base its approvals are regarded as ‘Confidential Business Information’ and HC does not conduct their own safety tests. Health Canada claims they rigorously assess all new information including independent and peer reviewed published studies. However, when I requested the findings of HC reviews on a long list of published research through a House of Commons procedure they did not provide me the results of even one assessment.”
Hmm. An elected Member of Parliament cannot get a straight answer on any safety testing of genetically modified food.
Meanwhile, China’s Xinhua news agency reported at the end of 2011 that organic certificates can easily be bought. They quoted ‘organic’ farmers who acknowledged that they sometimes use fertilizers or pesticides to boost their output. Walmart in China was involved in a scandal when found to be selling ordinary pork as organic pork. These events caught the attention of the Chinese Premier, who called on the organic sector to tighten the rules. The new version of the China National Organic Product Standard and the Rules on Organic Certification came into effect on 1 March, 2012.
My take-home message is to buy as locally as possible.
To learn more about food come to a free public forum Nov. 7, 6 p.m. at Okanagan College on KLO Rd. in Kelowna. I, and a panel, will answer questions and you can learn more about food in general and also about genetically modified food.
Heidi Osterman, CN
True Food Foundation.org