Saturday, March 21, 2009

Know what you're eating

My nutritionist friend, Wendy Wallace, just sent me a few very interesting tid-bits that peeked my curiosity. These are some "hot topics" that I'd heard about, but hadn't really gotten around to researching. I've included the links where I got this information.

Genetically Modified Produce:

This is a controversial method of making "hybrid" fruits and veggies quickly and accurately by combining genes from other plants or organisms (animals, bacteria) with a plant's genes to give the GM plant specific desirable qualities (pest and drought resistance, nutritional value). Before this process, "genetically engineered" just meant a careful and complicated series of cross pollinations between similar plants with desirable characteristics. This resulted in prize-winning beefsteak tomatoes and nectarines and the like. The changes were incremental and took a while to get the desired result. However, genetically modified foods can be created relatively quickly, thus many varieties can be experimented with, and the changes that are made to the food can be less predictable. Some may not have a change in their outward appearance, but the change in genetics can make a big difference in the resulting plant.

To my mind, this is not necessarily a bad thing, if due caution is taken, and sufficient research is done to observe the implications of each variety on human health and the environment. However, as new GM plants are quickly propagated, I don't really foresee the appropriate amount of caution and research being taken before these foods quickly become a part of our diet, especially since our culture pays very little attention to where or how our food comes to us.

Here are a few sites for further reading:

Science, Religion and Technology Project
Genetically Modified Foods: Helpful or Harmful?
Mercola <- This one is more the scary stuff, but it does talk about how prevalent GM foods are already! It also talks about how to identify what produce in the supermarket is GM, which was very helpful to me.

High Fructose Corn Syrup contains Mercury:

Apparently, part of the process for making it can involve mercury. You would think that food manufacturers would know that they would get in trouble for this sooner or later, but hey, don't people who use lead paint on toys know that too?

Washington Post
Institute for Aggriculter and Trade Policy

This is just yet another reason why consuming high fructose corn syrup is a bad idea

Instead of being subjected to unhealthy sweetener, give some of the low-glycemic, natural sweeteners a try! Here are a few of my favorites! (Okay, organic honey and real maple sugar aren't low-glycemic, but they are super tasty!) Use these to put your body on a healthier and happier track!