Is Our Food Poisoning Us?

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***Just a quick note to tell you about the fabulous Bake Sale For Haiti that is going on today! My X’s and G’los Valentine’s Day Variety Pack is up for auction (includ. the new S’moooooooooooore bar!!) in addition to a TON of other delicious looking goodies!*** :mrgreen:

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Hey guys!

Sorry about my disappearance today. I have been going through some personal stuff and had to attend to that in addition to my work.

But alas, I am here as soon as I could be, and I have quite an interesting topic I would like to discuss!

You may or may not be aware that I am a huge Dr. Oz fan. I saw his very first appearance on Oprah and I was immediately a fan. I own almost all of his books and I just love his balanced approach to health. Each week I check his website and see what shows I want to see and then I set the VHS to tape it. (Yes, I said VHS…remember those? No PVR here. We don’t have cable!) :oops:

I taped today’s episode because I love the topic. It was on common everyday foods that may be poisoning us. I was intrigued to find out what Dr. Oz had to say!

Dr. Oz said there are three main poisons in our food:

xin 17110224070425008551 thumb   Is Our Food Poisoning Us? 1) Mercury

90% of all mercury in our blood is derived from eating fish. High levels of mercury have been shown to attack the brain and nervous system. ‘Fish Fog’ is a term used to describe a person with mercury poisoning; symptoms often include foggy and unclear thinking, difficulty concentrating, etc.

While most fish contain some mercury, the fish with the highest level of mercury is the sushi-grade tuna, according to Dr. Oz. He advised against eating tuna often. Interestingly enough, Dr Oz’s study found that Albacore tuna (which is an expensive type of tuna) actually had higher mercury levels than regular chunk light tuna (the cheap stuff!). I found this quite shocking! When I used to eat fish, I always tried to buy Albacore because I thought it was safer. Not true, says Dr. Oz. Albacore tuna is higher in mercury because it is a bigger and older fish. As a general rule of thumb, bigger and older fish will have higher levels of mercury in them. Fish with high levels of mercury include: Sushi, tuna, and tilefish, among others.

Dr. Oz recommends selecting small and young types of fish like herring, sardines, and even salmon as safer choices for lower mercury levels.

There was a time in university when I used to live off of tuna. I’m not even joking. Canned chunk light tuna was cheap and I ate a can everyday. :cry: Maybe my exam scores would have been higher had I not?? ;)

2) Pesticides

On virtually all non-organic fruit and vegetables, pesticides can be found. Inchfa 03 img0699 thumb   Is Our Food Poisoning Us? some human and animal research, pesticides are thought to increase the risk of ADHD, autism, and obesity.

Now don’t stop eating your fruits and veggies, instead become a wise consumer of what you select.

Obviously organic produce is expensive, so that is why we can find out what fruits and vegetables are at the lowest risk for pesticides and try to purchase those whenever possible. I tend to follow the Dirty Dozen (and clean fifteen) rules of thumb whenever possible.

If you can only purchase one fruit that is organic, they suggest buying organic apples. Why? Because people tend to eat a lot of apples and it is on the dirty dozen list.

If you can only purchase one organic vegetable than purchase organic potatoes. I didn’t know this, but potatoes are one of the worst vegetables for pesticides, so much so that the pesticides seep through the skin into the actual potato. For some reason I thought that potatoes would have a thick skin and be resistant to pesticides, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. I would like to add that two vegetables I always buy organic are spinach and kale, as they are near the top of the list and I eat them very frequently (For organic spinach that is about half the price- go to Costo! I just discovered this myself.) Low-risk vegetables like cucumbers, onions, cabbage, eggplant, asparagus, and broccoli, I do not buy organic in an effort to save money.

3) Bisphenol A (BPA)

BPAcanfood thumb   Is Our Food Poisoning Us? Ninety-three percent of adults have some amount of BPA in their blood. BPA is a building block found in many plastics and linings of cans. BPA is thought to increase the risk of infertility, cancer, diabetes, and obesity (however this is widely debated).

How can we protect ourselves against BPA?

  • Check the number on the bottom of the plastic. Number 7 (hard clear plastic) contains BPA. Number 3 (PVC) and Number 6 (Polystyrene) are also known to leach chemicals.
  • Buy fresh food whenever possible
  • If you can’t buy fresh food, buy frozen food instead of cans
  • Select glass containers as opposed to cans
  • Do not freeze or microwave plastic

So there you have it, three poisons in our everyday foods, according to Dr. Oz.

Personally, I think it is a shame that we have to worry about our food so much in this day and age. Everything just seemed so much more simple a 100 years ago! It is quite sad when I think about the state that our food system is in. For the most part, the food industry is all about cranking out the most amount of food for the lowest amount of cost. In turn, our food has become compromised in a huge, huge way. Pesticides, GMO’s, and other chemicals are the norm.

I feel like everywhere we turn, there is a new study out there saying that this food is bad to eat or this chemical is in our food. When will it end? And most importantly, will there ever be a day in our future when we can feel confident in the food that we put in our bodies? Or will the system continue to get worse?

I try not to get bogged down too much about BPA or other such things because I think that it is impossible to avoid it entirely. I also think it is still too early to really know what effect these things are having on our bodies. For now I just try to make sensible choices when I can and not let myself lose sleep over it. If I listened to all the reports, there wouldn’t be anything left to eat!

What are your thoughts on the 3 above mentioned ‘poisons’? Do you avoid any of them :?:

Time to catch some zzzzzz’s. Been a long day. Nighty night, don’t let the bed bugs bite.

Angela Signature thumb29   Is Our Food Poisoning Us?

There are no seasons in the American supermarket. Now there are tomatoes all year round, grown halfway around the world, picked when it was green, and ripened with ethylene gas. Although it looks like a tomato, it’s kind of a notional tomato. I mean, it’s the idea of a tomato. ~Michael Pollan

[photo sources 1, 2, 3]

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{ 95 comments… read them below or add one }

Sophie @ yumventures January 27, 2010

I find that every day we should or shouldn’t be doing more and more things. Microwaves cause cancer, cell phones will give you brain tumors, soy has too much estrogen…it gets overwhelming! In my life I try to focus on eating healthy, balanced meals. Its difficult to try to keep all of the no-nos in mind while staying on budget and being satisfied with what you are eating. You gave some great information, it is always important to know these things, even if you keep them in the back of your head!

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CC January 27, 2010

I’ll probably endure the wrath of many readers, but I highly disagree with a couple of statements made in the article and in the comments that imply our food is not as safe as it was years ago.
“Personally, I think it is a shame that we have to worry about our food so much in this day and age. Everything just seemed so much more simple a 100 years ago!” One hundred years ago (104 to be exact) a book was published called “The Jungle” that attempted to expose the horrible labor practices of the meat industry. However, the author, Upton Sinclair, was disappointed to find that he had aimed for readers’ hearts and hit them in the stomach. The public was more outraged at what they were eating than how the laborers were being treated. Evenutally this led to the development of a federal agency that was the precursor to the FDA which, love it or hate it, has played a role in the advancement of food safety in the US.
Anna above comments “Our desire for cheap, convenient food has come with a price: food safety.” I disagree. Huge food safety advances have been made in the milk industry for example through the paseturization process. Yes, the jug may contain BPA, but it no longer contains pathogens that cause illness and death. The canning thermal processing standards prevent people from ingesting botulinum toxin which is fatal. An interesting note: most botulinum deaths are from home canned vegetables.
While I would never argue that improvements are not needed as research uncovers risks and correlations previously unknown, I think it very unwise to assume we are worse off today than we were years ago because of the food available. If we want to talk about the choices we make of what to eat, that is another conversation entirely.

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Morgan @ Healthy Happy Place January 27, 2010

I agree COMPLETELY!!!

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Ellen January 27, 2010

Yes, but a 100 years ago, most people were eating homemade meals made with fresh, local ingredients. Today we are eating “food” that comes pre-cooked and pre-packaged, treated with tons of chemicals, and is determined “safe” my government officials who have a vested interested in favoring the big food companies.

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CC January 27, 2010

Still, people acquired all kinds of illnesses from the foods they ate because sanitary conditions were well below what they are today – Typhoid Mary is just one example. The clean water from the tap you use to wash your hands and the dirt off your produce is not perfect either, but it beats the alternative.
And 100 years ago, a lot of our superfoods (goji, chia, maca, rice protein, etc) were not widely available and vegetarians/vegans were quite rare becuase the variety needed to sustain this lifestyle was not available.
Many fruits and vegetables were rarely placed on the table during the winter months and those that could be stored were kept in cellars where the mold counts grew to numbers we would consider unhealthy and unfit for consumption today.

I’m not saying eat Oreos and hot dogs – I’m just saying when you eat a banana in the middle of winter, don’t assert everyone was better off before BPA, mercury and tomorrow’s food scare.

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Ellen January 27, 2010

True, true. Good points.

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AGS January 27, 2010

So glad you posted this, as it saved me much typing. I was thinking of Upton Sinclaire during the reading of this post.

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Jen January 27, 2010

Thanks for the great info! I hope you get your personal stuff worked out!

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Laura Georgina January 27, 2010

Great post! I try to get organic fruit and veg whevener I can, but the supermarkets here in Trinidad don’t sell any so I have to grill the vendors at the farmer’s market (some of which will tell you anything to get you to buy their stuff!) to find out.

I do try to avoid BPA–I just bought a Sigg bottle and I’m trying to avoid microwaving food in plastic. But the cans…. I eat lots of canned goods and, while some can’t be avoided (tomatoes, etc) I really should try to soak and boil my own beans.

Keep your head up, Angela! I hope the personal stuff gets sorted out.

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Morgan @ Healthy Happy Place January 27, 2010

very interesting post!

I also love Dr. Oz, although I think his new show sucks. He’s always touching people and grabbing his guest’s hands…it’s so awkward!!

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Tina January 27, 2010

This is a very informative post and thanks for sharing this information!! I will admit though, that I am one that just tries to focus on eating healthy, balanced meals with lots of fruits and vegetables. I don’t buy many organic things (do buy organic apples…which I didn’t even realize was the #1 recommended thing to buy! they just have them for cheaper at our store) because of a very very tight budget and I can’t keep up with all of the ‘this is bad, this can cause cancer’ stuff. I do sometimes think twice about it, but figure there are plenty of other things to worry about in life ;)

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Lauren @ Eater not a runner January 27, 2010

I honestly try not to think about it. I try to eat natural food and organic when I can, but I hate stressing about things I have little control over!

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Claire January 27, 2010

I hope you’re ok…Happy Hump day!!cc

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Tracey @ I'm Not Superhuman January 27, 2010

Ah, every time I read of a new toxin I get a little more overwhelmed. There are so many things to worry about in terms of eating nowadays. Is this fish better than that in terms of mercury? Is this bottle safer than that because of BPA? Which produce do I need to buy organic? It’s tiring sometimes, but I still try to follow the “rules” because at the end of the day I’m a worrywart. Thanks for all of the great info!

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Susan January 27, 2010

Honestly, I can’t get my panties in a knot over this. If anything, I come from the same place as CC above. I refuse to live in a bubble, so I’ll just make the best choices I can given what food is available and what income I have.

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Ash @ Good Taste. Healthy Me January 27, 2010

Wow thank you so much for this post! This was really informational! A couple things I did know, but not the majority. I definitely plan on buying organic potatoes and apples now.

My nalgene states it is #7 but also bpa free? I sent this out to my family members as well and I plan to link back to it on my blog. Thanks again!

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Katie O. @ Fit to Wed January 27, 2010

I hope that everything is okay. It really does seem like food was much simpler 100 years ago! I love the end quote by Michael Pollan. I recently started eating ahi tuna and tuna rolls with some frequency (1-2x a month). Yikes! Definitely going to stop that. I always but organic apples, for the reasons you elucidated above. Great post!

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Heather (Where's the Beach) January 27, 2010

I feel the same way – what CAN we eat?

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Ellen January 27, 2010

I eat 90% organic. There is no reason that organic should be “too expensive” for someone to consume, unless you are literally living month to month on your paycheck.

Rethink what you spend your money on. What are your priorities? You car? Beauty products? Clothes? Fancy coffees?

It’s your body, your health. What could be more important than that? Think of buying organic as an investment in a better, healthy, happier you.

We are partly to blame for the cost and quality of foods if we accept the way our foods are grown/treated/processed/modified by continuing to consume them. Organic foods will only become more accessible to the general public if those that can create the demand.

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Jenna January 27, 2010

youre so right, this is so hard to balance. it’s hard not to become obssessive about it. the information you provided is great b/c most people can not afford to buy all organic and i would have never guessed to buy potatoes organic. Groceries have gotten so expensive it’s almost scary…It worries me people don’t realize the importance of buying locally.

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Tracey January 27, 2010

My husband is really concerned about the BPA issues. He recently went through all of our kitchen items and donated all the plastic.

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Lauren January 27, 2010

I love that last quote. It makes me think of Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, which was truly a life-changing book. Thanks so much for sharing all of this with us!

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heather dawn January 27, 2010

I try to eat as organically as possible. However, some produce is really expensive so I try to buy organic on the things I eat everyday.

Tune in to Oprah today: The episode is all about the food you eat, where it comes from, and how it affects your health. Alicia Silverstone will be on as well. I thought you might be interested!

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Nikki T January 27, 2010

Great info!

I hope the doctors can get your health sorted out and that it’s not anything really serious…You are stronger than you think!! You will get through whatever it is and I’m sure you’ll GLOW while you do it :)

YAHHH I’m winning the globar pack on the bake sale auction right now!!

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Nikki T January 27, 2010

Shit!!
I’m not on Twitter to reply, but I saw the threat to be out-bid by @sweettaterblog!!
Ahhhhh- must.win.globars.!!
I want to taste the S’mooooooore bar so bad!!

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Jessica @ The Process of Healing January 27, 2010

Haha I’m loving that quote!!

I find this post extremely interesting. And scary! The thing about the albacore tuna realllly surprises me because like you, I’ve always bought it over the chunk light because I thought it was better for you. Now I know better.

And I think organic produce is SO worth it when you can afford it. I also had NO idea about the potatoes!!! I have heard of the dirty dozen and usually buy organic apples, grapes (when they are available), pears, strawberries, spinach, lettuce, etc. but potatoes? You know, they don’t even have organic potatoes in most grocery stores.. scary!!

I do think it’s sad that we have to worry so much about our food just because companies want to be able to produce the most food at the least cost. Even where I work at a small family owned farm, they have to use pesticides to compete with local growers!!! The owner has looked into growing without it but it’s so expensive!

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Anne @thefitbridesmaid January 27, 2010

What’s interesting about tuna is that it’s also supposed to be one of the best foods to keep your mind alert (so eat it for lunch at work!). I wonder how the alertness & mercuy fog work together.

I am just now starting to get into the “organic” movement and reading about how HORRIBLE the American (western) food industry is. I read “In Defense of Food” and it makes me want to go join a CSA right now!

Very interesting points though.

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Claudia @ ...and so I ran January 27, 2010

Most of the Fruits and veggies I buy are organic. However Potatoes I wasn’t buy organic as I didn’t think it was a big deal… that will change this week!!
I think one of my pet peeves is ORGANIC Veggies in cans, like Tomatoes or beans? I don’t understand why they can’t come in glass jars like the tomatoe sauce.
I just watched the Cove this weekend and they talked about Mercury in Fish and that it’s higher as the fish is bigger.It’s scary to think what my kids will eat when they are my age.

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Beth @ DiningAndDishing January 27, 2010

I try to not eat canned fish too often because of the mercury concern. It is worrisome but also seemingly unavoidable! This is a great post :)

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Kelly January 27, 2010

I have to be careful about the mercury thing because I love tuna! I agree it’s so cheap, healthy and easy!

I know I SHOULD eat seasonally but I just want everything I want all year round :)

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Derryl Stroup January 27, 2010

It almost makes me sick thinking of all the harmful chemicals I ate before going organic. So much that I started gardening. Of course, I still make trips to the store, but it helps keep the food bills down. I even use this organic bug killer by a company called Safer. Here’s the link if you’re interested:
http://www.saferbrand.com/store/garden-care/5102

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amanda@thegrainsofparadise January 27, 2010

Thanks for the great post…I don’t have a TV so I have not seen Dr. OZ but I always hear so much about him! Thinking I should get one of his books :-)

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Kim January 27, 2010

Personally, after years of worrying about food, I try not to get too obsessive about this stuff. I’m sure there are bad things about consuming non-organic foods, or fish with mercury, but if I think about it too much, I’ll find something wrong with every food out there (and I don’t want to do that). We only live once and I don’t want to be afraid to eat. I’m sure food is pretty safe. That said, I do try to buy organic when I can, but I don’t stress out if I’m eating food I didn’t purchase myself. My grandma is nuts about this stuff. She has a huge number of food restrictions because she considers people like Dr. Oz to be God. I don’t want to live in a bubble with too many rules and fears. I consider myself pretty educated on the food industry, and I’m sure I could make healthier choices at times, but I think I’m doing well enough :)

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Diana @ frontyardfoodie January 27, 2010

Another couple foods to get organic are strawberries and carrots. Both have such thin skin that the pesticides seem through into the flesh and can’t be washed off.

I didn’t know about cans! I’ll definitely be changing my ways with that!!!

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Wendy January 27, 2010

…scarey!!! And on a happier note…just got home from work and my Glow Bars are here!!! “Adore” my fist taste lol.

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Wendy January 27, 2010

first lol

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Christina January 27, 2010

Thanks for the info! I’m totally shocked about the tuna. I had no idea it had such high mercury levels! I eat tuna pretty often :(

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Jaime January 27, 2010

Yes, I love Dr. Oz too and saw that episode. It’s scary!

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mallory January 27, 2010

I gotta say i am not a fan of Doctor OZ… nor do i think mercury or pesticides are doing anyone much real harm. the human body is adapt to dealign with toxins. it is in a constant state of detoxification.

However, i do think there are 3 things causing all the diseases of civilization

i just found you blog it looks good!

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Lisa (bakebikeblog) January 27, 2010

Wow – great post. Thanks for sharing Angela :)

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Jil January 27, 2010

I have heard that about apples before…it’s definitely something I will be more conscious of in the future.

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Tracey @ TropicalHappiness January 27, 2010

So interesting. I have actually been hearing more and more about this stuff. I think that it’s important to be conscious of it, but not go crazy overboard worrying. I am trying to figure out all of the facts (and your post is great for this!) so I can make sure I am buying the right organic foods, eliminating the #7 plastic wherever I can. etc. One thing that has stood out to me in the past few weeks is the bpa in canned goods. I eat a decent amount of canned goods. Now I think I might switch to frozen wherever possible.

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Jolene January 27, 2010

My mom had mercury amalgam fillings (the metal ones) when she was younger. The side of her face went numb in her 20s and she was tested for mercury poisoning. It was found that mercury was leaking from her fillings. She had them all replaced with the porcelain fillings, and was fine for about 25 years. 6 years ago she was diagnosed with primary progressive (the worst kind) of MS. I think there is a connection. I don’t drink tap water, and I avoid fish that is high in mercury, eating cheap tuna only about once a month.

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Gabriela January 27, 2010

I try not to eat too much fish, which is difficult for me since I love it! But other than that, I purchase organic produce whenever it’s available (always organic apples, since I eat so many!). And I’m not too educated about BPA, but I don’t eat much out of cans besides soup, so I guess I’m ok :)

Thanks for the info!

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Megan @ Healthy Hoggin January 27, 2010

Thanks for this post! A few years ago, I was one of those people who didn’t think buying organic produce mattered, but ever since I started educating myself, I make it a priority– especially when it comes to the “dirty dozen!” For me, I still buy some things non-organic, for budget issues, but I feel like I can taste the difference lately; especially with bananas!

Also, I’ve started re-thinking the use of our microwave! According to Natalia Rose, author of “The Raw Food Detox Diet,” microwaving our food does way more than quickly cook away all the nutrients– it actually creates a negative impact on our body! I’ve almost completely eliminated the use of our microwave– heating everything over the stove or in the oven. It might take a little longer, but it’s worth it to know I’m NOT ruining all the organic produce I just spent good money on! ;)

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Kristy January 27, 2010

Very well said! Thanks for all the fun facts!

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