I recently read a great article in the Virgin Magazine (I wish I could credit the author, but I forgot to note it down) which highlighted the irony that a product with the innocent and endearing name “Nan’s” would prompt everyday Australians to stop and think about where there food actually comes from. I know my nana had no need to question where her food came from or whether it was in season the way I do.
If there’s a positive from the case of hepatitis-contaminated frozen berries, it is that more people are questioning the origins of their food. But does food labelling paint a true picture? Surprisingly, a product with a ‘Made in Australia’ logo may not actually contain any Australian ingredients. According to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, if a minimum of 50 percent of the cost of production is incurred in Australia, then the logo is allowed. This cost can also include packaging. Shocking huh?
Even with fresh produce, food can now be transported across the world and eaten out of season. However fruit, vegetables, meat and fish that has to travel, is routinely treated with a variety of chemicals to extend their shelf-life and to make them look fresher and more appealing. So this ‘convenience’ is not without a cost to its level of nourishment or your health.
Throw into the mix the chemical contamination and genetic modification of our food (and absence of labelling required here also); then it’s little surprise that we are not only becoming sicker but are none the wiser to understanding why.
Another labelling irony that often perplexes me is that food has to be labeled ‘certified organic’ (and the certification costs to be able to use this label are huge) to let us know that dangerous chemicals haven’t been used in it’s growing/production. Imagine if chemically laden food had to include a disclaimer like cigarettes. For example, these ingredients are found in a popular breakfast drink marketed to kids and this is the type of disclaimer I believe this product should contain… “460 is generally regarded as safe though it is banned in baby food in the UK. 466 is a suspected carcinogen and may cause intestinal discomfort. 407 is a suspected carcinogen, linked to ulcerative colitis, damaging to the immune system and there is some concern it may cause birth defects. Although more research is required, many authorities recommend it not be given to infants and children.” I’ve heard so many parents take the stance that these breakfast drinks are ‘better than nothing’ – I wonder if this information was made clear to them, that they would still feel this was the case.
There are many things wrong with our food chain and I understand it is tough for the average consumer to make safe food choices. So here a few tips to ensure that the food you are consuming is safe, nutritious and Australian…
In the words of the very wise and learned Michael Pollan, we need to choose to eat food our great-grandmothers would have recognised as food. Purchasing SLOW (seasonal, local, organic, whole) does not only benefit your health but protects the environment, defends food biodiversity, promotes sustainable agriculture and supports small-scale food producers (keeping your money within your own community).
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