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Continuation. . . "Why Localism?"

Quality & Nutrition: Your Standard of Living will Increase!

Not only do people who buy locally grown food consume a greater quantity of fresh and bio-diverse foods, but also higher nutritive foods, i.e. quality. Some foods that travel and require shelf-life undergo irradiation. Irradiation is an ionized radiation (different than pasteurization & sterilization) that kills the good and the bad—in fact it kills anything live, essentially giving you a "dead" product while still looking alive. While it kills harmful bacteria in our food (e.g. e coli), it also destroys the beneficial live enzymes and phytonutrients proven to be necessary to sustain life and prevent diseases.

This benefit is perhaps one of the more controversial points in what non-irradiated and offers. Health Canada insists:

  • Food irradiation, at permitted levels, does not diminish the nutritional value of the food. Any living cells in the food, including potentially harmful bacteria, are killed or damaged."

But I argue, if all living cells are killed in irradiation as Food Canada insists, there is a loss in the nutritional value that impacts our health. The live enzymes in raw produce we eat are critical for digestion and are killed in irradiation. The live enzymes in raw food (e.g. produce and grains) work alongside our digestive enzymes aiding absorption of nurients. Whereas dead foods place stress on the digestive system, the liver and pancreas, the immune system; therefore, stressing your whole body. And North Americans are eating more and more dead foods: supposedly "raw" produce (irradiated produce that would otherwise be live), as well as increasingly more processed food. In short, there is a live enzyme deficiency in our diet associated with the rise of degenerative diseases.

Secondly, irradiation destroys phytonutrients. (Remember, Health Canada insists all living microorganisms are killed in irradiation. They say this!) Phytonutrients are compounds in the plant that prevent disease and protect it the plant, and also give healing to us when we digest them. It's like nature's natural medicine. Amazing! Our ancestors were well acquainted with phytonutrients. Hippocrates, millennia earlier, prescribed willow tree leaves to abate fever—now synthetically produced as aspirin. In short, eating phytonutrients protect our cells from free radical damage—and are only found in raw live produce. Phytonutrients are not yet classified as nutrients, but are necessary to sustain life and aid in fighting degenerative diseases plaguing the western world. They are involved in processes that help prevent cell damage, prevent cancer cell replication, and decrease cholesterol levels. (E.g. the phytonutrients in raw spinach, berries, oatmeal, etc).

Individuals who eat more than five servings of vegetables and fruit a day are less likely to develop degenerative diseases. For example, eating 5 or more servings of produce decreases the likelihood of cardiovascular disease. The largest and longest study to date, done as part of the Harvard-based Nurses' Health Study included almost 110,000 men and women whose health and dietary habits were followed for 14 years. The higher the average daily intake of fruits and vegetables, the lower the chances of developing cardiovascular disease. Compared with those in the lowest category of fruit and vegetable intake (less than 1.5 servings a day), those who averaged 8 or more servings a day were 30% less likely to have had a heart attack or stroke.

So how does eating local food increase our intake of live enzymes and phytonutrients? In short, food that you grow or food purchased at your local farmer's market is not irradiated; thereby increasing your intake of live enzymes and phytonutrients that irradiation would otherwise kill. Eating local food (from your garden or from a farmer you know) does not require irradiation. Again, irradiation (ionized radiation) kills harmful bacteria like e coli, and "neutralizes" food. But the less steps required in the farm-to-table journey, and the more knowledge you have of the farm from where your food originates, the less likely there is to be contamination as well as synthetic processes to increase shelf life. Remember, the recent outbreaks of e coli in spinach? During these outbreaks the government encouraged people not to eat fresh spinach or lettuce — assuming that people were purchasing their fresh spinach from a conventional supermarket. But if you grew your own, bought it from a local farmer you trust, or preserved it for the winter, this warning did not apply to you. Eat away, my friend! Enjoy the incredible benefits of live enzymes and phytonutrients. Of course, government condoned irradiated lettuce and spinach is also e coli free — but dead.

This is why some food is irradiated—to protect the consumer from harmful bacteria, pests, and microbes — as well as increase shelf life thereby increasing sales. But irradiation is rooted in poor logic. Instead of getting to the root of the problem and addressing food safety practices on farms and production lines, or encouraging people to increase a healthy gut flora (probiotics), the government issues another band aid to cover the problem. While few people die from e coli (more likely to occur to people with compromised immune systems), thousands are dying of degenerative diseases plaguing our continent. This is tragic given that irradiation depletes produce from nature's natural medicines. Our bodies are not meant to be sterile environments that intake sterile and nutrient-depleted food. Without access to nature's medicine, we will need pseudo-medicine. You guessed it! Pharmaceuticals will be there to catch and coddle the sick population. Irradiation in the long run will increase illness, not decrease it. Poor logic, indeed!

Currently the following foods are permitted to be irradiated in Canada according to the federal Canadian Food Inspection Agency: onions, potatoes, wheat, flour, whole wheat flour, and whole or ground spices and dehydrated seasonings. Health Canada also states that Mexico and the U.S. permit irradiation of a wider range of foods than Canada. In addition to the ones Canada permits, the US also permits meat and poultry as well as a host of vegetables and fruit. According to the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention: "A facility in Florida has been irradiating strawberries and other fruits on a limited basis, to prolong shelf life. On a trial basis, fresh tropical fruits from Hawaii have been irradiated before shipping them to the mainland, instead of fumigating them to eliminate the fruit fly pests that could spread to the mainland." While all of this appears necessary, my point is that irradiation is redundant if one grows strawberries or buys them from a local farmer (acknowledging of course that I'm still out a local pineapple in Canada!)

While I am arguing that a person who eats irradiated food lacks some critical, life-sustaining nutritional organic compounds, others would go further and argue that irradiation actually changes the molecular structure of food and increases toxicity causing disease. Regardless of how one interprets the affects of irradiation, eating local (growing your food, or buying local food from trusted farms and preserving this local food for winter) makes irradiation pointless.

Radura, the international radiation symbol - Wholly Canadian - Localism - Canada

Always check for the radura, the international radiation symbol. Ironically, this green symbol looks life-giving, doesn't it?

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