What’s In Your Bread That’s Making You Sick

Wheat Contamination By Glyphosate in Canada, Eurupe and USA

Gluten free is all the buzz, and many people feel better when they cut out wheat. But what if it isn’t only gluten – a protein found in wheat, barley and rye – that is causing the problem? Canada has been using the highly criticized herbicide glyphosate in the harvesting of wheat and scientists and medical professionals have proposed that maybe it’s the herbicides residue that our bodies are reacting to. Could it be that the demonizing of gluten has drawn attention away from the potential effects of this industrial agricultural practice?

What is Glyphosate and How Can It Affect Us?
Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Monstantos Ready Roundup. Since being off patent, glyphosate is being used in hundreds of herbicide products around the world. In 2015 the World Health Organization’s (WHO) cancer group classified glyphosate as a probable carcinogen. Research has documented health concerns that glyphosate could be an endocrine disruptor and that it could kill beneficial gut bacteria, damage the DNA in human embryonic, placental and umbilical cord cells and be linked to birth defects and reproductive problems in laboratory animals.

Glyphosate is sprayed on agricultural pre-harvest

Agricultural Lands in North America

What is Glyphosate Doing In Our Wheat?
Ready Roundup is sprayed in high amounts on crops that are genetically engineered to be resistant to the herbicide, meaning you can spray large amounts on the crops to kill the weeds while the crop remains resistant. Wheat in Canada is not genetically engineered, so is not resistant to glyphosate. Since 2000 or so, the USDA and Agriculture Canada have been advising farmers to spray their wheat (as well as oats, barley, edible beans and cane sugar) with glyphosate to kill and dry their crops one to two weeks before harvest. The practice, also known as desiccation, helps farmers get their crops to dry evenly, and can lead to an earlier harvest.

How Much Glyphosate Is In Our Wheat?
In Canada it is estimated that 90 to 95 percent of non-organic wheat acres in Manitoba and Saskatchewan are sprayed pre-harvest with glyphosate. While the pre-harvest use of glyphosate may account for a small amount of overall use of the herbicide (~2%), it may account for up to half of our dietary exposure (~50%). Canada’s food regular has found traces of glyphosate in nearly 30% of a sample of 3,200 products tested, with 1.3% of samples being above the acceptable limit with the majority coming from grain products.

Canadian Food and Inspection Agency - Glyphosate Residue

Canadian Food and Inspection Agency

Is Glyphosate in Wheat to Blame For the Increase In Gluten Related Conditions?
With incidences of Celiac Disease and Gluten Intolerance on the rise it is sensible to consider all the potential instigators. Along with the increase in glyphosate residue in our wheat products is our increased consumption of wheat products through processed foods – cookies, breads, muffins, granola bars and crackers. If glyphosate does indeed affect our gut microbiome then there is a high possibility it can be at least partially related to our growing intolerance to gluten and other foods.

Glyphosate is sprayed on legumes pre-harvest.

Environmental Considerations of Glyphosate Use
Glyphosate is not only a concern for human health but also holds the primary role in the abrupt decline of monarch butterfly populations. The use of this herbicide has virtually eradicated milkweed, the sole food source for monarch larvae, in corn- and soy-growing regions of North America. In 2014 Monarch butterfly were found in only 1.7 acres during hibernation in Mexico, compared to a high of 45 acres in 1996.

What’s Next for Glyphosate Use In Canada
This April 2017, Heath Canada dismissed evidence in its re-evaluation of glyphosate with the decision to continue its registration in Canada. Europe soon followed. Last year WHO stepped back its statement, saying glyphosate was “unlikely to pose a carcinogenic risk to humans from exposure through the diet.” For many, this decision is unfortunate and glyphosate continues to contaminate our food, waterways and environment. Many activist groups, organic farmers and passionate scientists are working to bring awareness to this growing issue in Canada.

If you suspect this herbicide could be contributing to any health problems, or if you would prefer to decrease your exposure to it then try to purchase organic wheat, barley, oats and legumes products when able. If you would like to help the decreasing populations of monarch butterflies consider planting Milkweed. Seeds can be obtained for free or by donation at Save Our Monarchs website.

Website: Common Ground
Website: Civil Eats
Website: GE Free Comox Soil Association
Website: David Suzuki
Website: CBC

Cooking with Olive Oil and Other Usage Tips

Italy - home of the Mediterranean Diet

Where the Olive Oil Grows – The Mediterranean Coastline, Cinque Terre Italy

When asked which is better – butter or margarine? The answer always is – olive oil. One thing that can be certain in nutrition science is that the Mediterranean diet has shown undeniable health benefits. This style of eating encourages an increased intake of nuts, fish, whole grains and vegetables, while eating less meat and processed foods. At the same time it promotes an increase in the good fats (monounsaturated as well as polyunsaturated) and lesser amounts of the bad fats (saturated fats and trans fat). Despite the reported health benefits of monounsaturated rich olive oil there remains much confusion on how to use it in cooking, how to choose the right type and how to store it properly. Switching from butter or margarine seems pretty straight forward – but as you will see, there is a lot more to know about olive oil than we thought! Read more »

8 Common Fermented Foods You Probably Have At Home

Health Benefits of Fermented Foods

Fermenting foods was first notorious as a means of food preservation. Now we know that a diet rich in fermented has the extra bonus of keeping our gut flora happy and healthy. But the health benefits are not limited to our digestive tracts; evidence shows that gut health can play a role in immunity, inflammation, mood, allergies, as well as autoimmune disorders. Unfortunately fermented foods have all but disappeared in our newly sterile, overly-processed world of food. And what our current Western-style diet lacks, traditional diets thrive on. In Asia it is tempeh and miso from fermented soy, in the Caucasus Mountains it is kefir from fermented milk. In Africa they enjoy fermented porridge and cassava. In Korea it is Kimchi. In Germany it is Sauerkraut. What happens when our modern day diet lacks these all important fermented foods?
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5 Reasons You Should Be Eating Lentils PLUS A Simple Prep Guide

Mixed Bean Winter Warming Soup
Last week I had the pleasure of dining at the notorious Lentils As Anything Restaurant in Melbourne, Australia. Since I got wind of this eatery’s concept some 10 years ago, I dreamed of one day dining there and finally got my wish. It was amazing. The philosophy behind Lentils As Anything is that you pay what you feel the food is worth, and with this you are given the opportunity to contribute towards a world where respect, generosity, trust, equality, freedom and kindness rule. This not-for-profit organization has been successfully working for over 13 years; when diners such as myself can afford to pay the proper price of the meal plus a few dollars more, it allows those that are less fortunate to be able to dine out and be social, regardless of their financial situation. Lentils are in my opinion the superfood of all superfoods. Now let me tell you why lentils should be allowed centre stage at your next meal, and I’ve included a simple prep guide to make it all the less daunting.
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Chia Seeds, Flaxseeds, Hemp Seeds – Which One Is For You?

Flaxseeds are grown in the Okanogan, BC

Mother and Daughter near the Okanogan, where Flaxseeds are now grown.

Superfoods are big money. With their promises of everlasting youth and renewed vitality, consumers will happily spend the big bucks without further question. Some really are super, some are flops (ie. noni juice). We have always known that seeds hold a high nutritional value, but we’ve moved past the common sunflower, pumpkin and sesame seed and are now looking for something new and edgy. Chia seeds, flaxseeds and hemp seeds have all made their mainstream supermarket debut over the last few years. As super as they all are, each of them has individual health properties that are as unique as their consumers are. Some are better suited to certain individuals, and some consumers like to factor in their environmental standpoint. Which one is better for you…?
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What Western Medicine Can Learn From Traditional Aboriginal Healing Therapies

Traditional Aboriginal Healing - Vancouver Island BC

Mural in Chermainus, Vancouver Island, BC

For me there is no denying, there is something so very enchanting about traditional Aboriginal healing. Maybe it’s the images of peyote and smoke ceremonies. Or maybe it’s the idea of the mysterious medicine man, with his limitless knowledge in healing herbs and plants. Or maybe its just knowing that our First People had an effective world of medicine before colonisation. Medicine that came from this land and was specific for the people that inhabited it. Aboriginal healing extends far beyond herbal teas and smudging. At its roots it is the belief and the practice in a holistic approach to health- in treating the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual facets of health as one.

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Why You Might Be At Risk For Zinc Deficiency and How To Improve Your Intake

1 in 4 Canadians are Deficient in Zinc

1 in 4 Canadians Have Diets Low In Zinc, Port Renfrew, BC

Did you know that the diets of 1 in 4 Canadians may be low in zinc? This increased risk of zinc deficiency is especially present in populations such as vegetarians, kids, pregnant ladies and breastfeeding moms. And it’s not just our diets. It has also been speculated that our soils have been depleted of this important mineral, thus putting the wider Canadian population at risk for zinc deficiency. But what does this mean? How important is zinc?
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What Your Health Professional Should Be Telling You About Food Sustainability

Cooking Class, Inle Lake, Myanmar

Cooking Class, Inle Lake, Myanmar

Last month I had the pleasure of writing a piece for the Dietitians Association of Australia’s Vegetarian Interest Group. The topic was food sustainability for health professionals. As consumers become increasingly concerned about the link between dietary consumption and environmental impact, it is important that their trusted health professionals can provide them with accurate, up-to-date information in this area. This version of the article is aimed at Australian Dietitians, although it is helpful for consumers to have access to the information their health professional should be sharing with them. The original version can be seen here.
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Maximising Calcium For Bone Health On A Dairy Free Diet

Cows In Bellingen, NSW

Cows In Bellingen, NSW

Contrary to popular belief, calcium doesn’t only come from cows! Crazy huh? A lot of marketing money stemming from the Dairy Industry has led us to believe that dairy is the one and only superstar in the battle against osteoporosis, which isn’t the full truth. Whether you are a vegan, environmentalist, lactose intolerant or just love your green leafy vegetables, there are other dietary options for  healthy bones.
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The Low Down on BPA – Health and Environmental Concerns

BPA Epoxy Resins Present In Surfboards,

BPA Epoxy Resins In Surfboards

The more and more I think and write about food, the more I put my pantry shelves to scrutiny. One food product that makes a regular appearance in my kitchen is canned tomatoes. They are an essential during the winter months when fresh tomatoes taste like cardboard and come with a hefty transportation induced carbon footprint. If you are not lucky enough to have jars of preserved tomatoes from your summer garden harvest, you could be subjecting yourself to BPA lined canned tomatoes. But what is BPA? Where else is it found? Are we being exposed without even knowing?

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