Even food on the shelf can be deadly

Food companies confuse consumers by issuing "reports" that serve their own interests.

Three related stories caught my eye this week. You’ve probably read of at least one of them – another large food recall, stemming from an Alberta meat-packing company.

Ironically, a group called Farmers Feed Cities released a study questioning the ability of consumers to make the right choices in picking food off the grocery shelves, ensuring the populace that the dairy and meat and genetically-modified food wouldn’t be on the shelf if it hadn’t been first  inspected and approved by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).

And then there is a report from a group called Value Chain Management Centre that says Canadians toss out 51 per cent of food that they buy. That’s $27 billion worth of food in a year. And most of it goes out with the household trash.

Packaging and processing is blamed for 18 per cent of lost food, followed by retail stores (11 per cent), the farming stage (nine per cent), the food service industry (eight per cent) and transport and distribution (three per cent).

Last month, the U.S. Natural Resources Defence Council estimated that nearly 40 per cent of food in the States ends up in the trash ever year.

According to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, nearly one-third of all food is lost or wasted, which amounts to about 1.3 billion tonnes of food per year.

So, if we’re tossing out all of this bad food, how is it that we’re still getting sick on it?

Actually, I suspect we’re throwing out the good while eating the bad. Meanwhile, about 860 million people in the world are malnourished.

We certainly do live in a country where food is plentiful. Good food as well as bad. Not necessarily food that has gone bad, but junk food that makes us unhealthy.

I don’t suppose it’s a coincidence that Thanksgiving is just around the corner and has everyone focussed on food. The industry wants us to buy it; consumers want easy access to locally-grown nutritious food. There is a middle ground, but you really have to watch what you put in your cart.

Wendy Coomber is the editor of the Ashcroft-Cache Creek Journal