Emma Sgourakis, Certified Nutritional Therapist
In a recent article, seven experts in the fields of both food and the environment (scientists, doctors and farmers) were asked just one simple question: “What foods do you avoid?” Their responses had nothing to do with calories or nutrient-density, but all to do with their insider knowledge on how certain seemingly “healthy” foods that they closely work with are produced and packaged. The findings are scary.
If the farmer who grows the food won’t eat it himself, then I won’t touch it either.
Here’s a summary of the findings. You can add these seven to your ‘Foods to Avoid‘ list:
1. Canned Tomatoes
An endocrinologist and expert on the topic of the synthetic oestrogen bisphenol-A (BCA), linked to heart disease and infertility, won’t go near canned tomatoes. Tin cans are lined with a resin containing BCA which is especially a problem with canning tomatoes, as the acid in tomato breaks this down in dangerous amounts. This is a serious health concern for everyone who loves a Spag Bol, especially children. My advice: if you still want the convenience of stored, ready-to-cook tomatoes, opt for sauces and passata in glass bottles.
2. Conventional Beef
For fat cows (and fat people) feed them grain, corn and soy. This is what farmers do to increase profits. The end product is meat that is nutritionally inferior. Cows were meant to eat grass. Studies show that grass-fed beef (compared to corn-fed) is higher in important vitamins, minerals and the heart-healthy, anti-inflammatory fats. Then there’s also the issue of all the antibiotics used on those inappropriately-fed, sick cows… My advice: Look for “grass-fed” or “pasture-fed” organic beef from strong healthy beasts.
3. Microwave Popcorn
Another poisonous packaging issue: Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) lines the bags of those popcorn bags, and the heat in the microwave leaches this straight onto your movie munchies. The UCLA links this compound to infertility. My advice: Corn kernels + butter + sea salt + plus a big pot (with a lid!) Simple.
4. Conventional Potatoes
More than any other vegetable, non-organic potatoes are heavily sprayed with herbicides, pesticides and fungicides throughout every stage of their growth, harvesting and storage. So much so that potato growers never eat the potatoes they sell and grow their own separate plots without all the chemicals. My advice: Organic or Bio-dynamic potatoes only.
5. Farmed Salmon
This is particularly scary considering that in Australia, the only fresh Salmon we have access to is farmed; all farmed, this includes “Atlantic” Salmon. These fish are crammed in pens and fed all manner of junk from soy and hydrolyzed chicken feathers and pellets. A scientific study on fish contamination showed high levels of DDT and PCB’s (carcinogens). So serious were the findings that the director for the Institute for Health warns that any more than one salmon meal every 5 months increases your cancer risk. Not to mention that fact that the levels of Omega 3 and Vitamin D are devoid in these poor factory-versions that their wild, up-stream-swimming ancestors contain. My advice: For fresh fish, choose small & wild varieties wherever available. For salmon in Australia, your only wild option is out of a tin. Look for brands like Paramount Wild Alaskan Salmon, or other brands form Norway and Canada are often wild too. Even still, eat these only occasionally.
6. Conventional Milk
Dairy cows today are fed growth hormones to maximize milk production. Not only does this make for a potentially breast/prostate/colon cancer milk shake, but it also leads to increased incidence of udder infection for the poor cow, leading to pus in the milk. My advice: if you do drink cows’ milk, make sure it states clearly on the label that it is produced without artificial hormones, and ideally choose organic whole milk from pasture-fed cows.
7. Conventional Apples
There’s no coincidence that farm workers have higher rates of many cancers. Of all common fruits, apples are the most heavily and frequently doused with pesticides. Pesticide reside on conventional fruits is also linked to Parkinson’s. To limit exposure, be wary of apples especially. My advice: Organic. Or at the very least, wash and peel.