Don’t Let Fear Stop You From Eating Your Five A Day

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Are you eating enough fruits and vegetables to stay
healthy? If your diet is like most New Zealanders, the
answer is probably ‘no’.

Even though fruits and
vegetables are rich in the nutrients that our bodies need,
just over half of New Zealanders are not consuming the
recommended three or more servings a day. On the other hand,
more than half of us are consuming sugary drinks and fast
foods at least once a week.

Our busy lives can lead us
to eating meals on-the-go and relying on snack foods –
making it harder to eat the rainbow of fruits and veggies we
need. Creating more barriers to healthy eating are the
reports that generate unnecessary fear about what might be
on our produce.

Feeling stress or fear around certain
foods or farming practices can take the joy away from eating
– and put people off consuming healthy
foods.

According to the small surveyhttps://www.safefruitsandveggies.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/Report-White-paper-10-19.pdf>
of registered dietitians from the Alliance for Food and
Farming in the United States, 94 percent of dietitians think
fear-based messaging around pesticides on produce leads to
excessive concern about whether conventionally grown fruits
and vegetables are safe to eat.

Promoting organic
produce can also have the ill effect of putting people off
eating fruits and vegetables. This is because most people
can’t afford a purely organic diet. The worry about eating
produce that isn’t organically grown or farmed can result
in people eating less of it over time, especially if organic
produce isn’t accessible.
The worst thing we can do for
our health is to give up eating a diet full of fruit,
vegetables and grains. The fear of eating healthy foods can
lead people to eating comfort foods that aren’t good for
their health. To replace fruits and vegetables with fried
foods and sugar is ultimately far worse for our
health.

Potential residues on either
traditionally-grown or organic produce are tiny – in
amounts that do not cause any adverse effects on
health.

The New Zealand Food Safety via the NZ Total
Diet Study assesses New Zealanders’ exposure to
agricultural compounds, contaminant elements, and nutrients
from a range of food consumed in a typical diet.

The
study is part of the Ministry for Primary Industries’ food
monitoring and testing programme and is a critical tool for
identifying food safety risks in the New Zealand diet. It
provides consumers with the highest levels of assurance on,
and confidence in, the integrity and safety of food consumed
in New Zealand.

For the study, the levels of exposure
for each chemical and contaminant are estimated. They are
then compared to national and international food safety
standards and guidance material to determine if there is a
potential risk to consumers.

The latest Total Diet
Study report issued in May 2018 confirmed that pesticide
chemical residues found in New Zealand foods are at levels
far below the tolerances established by national and
international food safety standards and do not pose a safety
concern. The amount of pesticides found on conventional
produce is very small and lower today than in the
past.

Organic produce might be marketed as healthier
but scientific studies haven’t confirmed that there’s
any advantage to eating organic.

Many healthy food
studies https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22944875>
have demonstrated that organic produce does not have a
nutritional advantage over conventional produce, and organic
produce is not associated with better health
outcomes.

Other studies show that microbial pathogens
— bacteria and viruses — on produce are of much more
concern to consumers than pesticide residues. Hence, the
advice to wash your fruit and vegetables prior to
eating.

So remember to eat and enjoy a variety of
fruits and vegetables and know that you are providing your
body with the nutrition it needs.

• Mark Ross is
chief executive of Agcarm, the industry association for
companies which manufacture and distribute crop protection
and animal health
products.

© Scoop Media

 

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