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October 24, 2007

CBC Marketplace goes in search of the Product of Canada

Illustration

CBC's Marketplace aired tonight (watch it!) with Wendy Mesley wondering what the label "Product of Canada" on food packaging really means. Much to our dismay, the regulations state that a product need only have at least 51% of its production costs spent in Canada. That means it could be, for example, grown or caught in Indonesia, processed in China, shipped to Halifax for seasoning and packaging, and trucked across the country to be bought in Vancouver. As long as at least 51% of the shipping, labour, and overhead costs, etc., were incurred in Canada, regardless of ingredients, the product can be labelled Product of Canada. So that explains why your canned pineapple is a "Canadian product." This misleading regulation is out of date in today's Canada that imports 40% of the food we eat, versus 20% in 1985 when the legislation was made.

Even more shocking is the revelation that "modified milk ingredients" such as that found in ice cream can indicate the milk is from elsewhere — New Zealand or the UK. The mixing of the milk with other ingredients (butteroil-sugar blend?) means it is considered a sugar product rather than dairy, thus reducing import tariffs and therefore lowering costs. Canadian milk on the other hand has price controls, making it more expensive.

Marketplace says to watch out for these ingredients:
- modified milk ingredients
- skim milk powder
- milk protein concentrates
- milk protein isolates
- casein
- caseinates
- whey protein concentrates

I'm sensitive to milk protein so I won't be eating any of those for awhile... and hopefully never buying anything with those ingredients again!

Find more tips and information at the Marketplace website.

October 7, 2007

Plight of the turkey? Hey processed food: get stuffed!

It's Thanksgiving weekend, and like many others, I hit the big grocery store to stock up on various items. The bulk of my contribution to my family potluck dinner, however, I did not buy at the grocery store: I bought it at the market. Local white potatoes and local carrots. (I could have bought the thyme and basil there, too, but I wouldn't have used all the fresh basil and I didn't actually know what fresh thyme looked like! Shame on me.) Our dinner consisted of plenty of seasonal items, and nothing processed. Boy was it delicious.

Washington purple potatoes and local field cucumbers

I noticed my mother reading this article so I sent it to myself to post here. "The manufactured meal" dissects the Thanksgiving dinner, and though it's different from mine, the author offers some good and even unbeknownst-to-me insight on food issues, not the least of which is turkey trauma! Fortunately my response to his salad plight is to say that I only bought organic lettuce this summer/fall, and had no difficulty finding it — at my farmer's market.

Read the Globe and Mail article here, and be sure to read the comments.