One of the hottest trends of the decade is the farm-to-table movement, or the Local Food Movement. Many top chefs in restaurants across the country plan their daily menus by sourcing vegetables and meats from local farmers or farmer’s markets.
Coeur de Jardin, a Parisian outdoor restaurant at the Plaza Athenee Hotel in Paris, has an organic vegetable garden in the middle of the courtyard; the organic vegetables from the garden go straight to the customer’s table.
A diet rich in fresh foods not only ensures that meals are healthy and more flavorful, but the food is safer to eat because there’s no need for chemical preservatives, additives, or irradiation to artificially extend shelf-life.
“Chemicals in Fast Food Wrappers Migrating to our Bodies”
One recent toxic chemical found in food was disclosed in a study led by environmental chemists from the University of Toronto published in Environmental Health Perspectives. Chemicals used in fast food wrappers and microwave popcorn bags to prevent grease from oozing through the wrappers are being absorbed into food, ingested by humans, and appearing as contaminants in their blood.
The specific chemicals investigated are perfluorinated carboxylic acids (PFCAs), which are produced by the break down of polyfluoroalkyl phosphate esters (PAPs). “We suspected that a major source of human PFCA exposure may be the consumption and metabolism of polyfluoroalkyl phosphate esters, or PAPs,” said one of the researchers.
“PAPs are applied as greaseproofing agents to paper food contact packaging such as fast food wrappers and microwave popcorn bags,” a researcher explained. The US Agency for Toxic Substances claims PFCAs such as perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) are associated with changes in sex hormones and cholesterol levels. Additionally, studies have found rats exposed to high levels of PFOA tend to develop tumors. See this ScienceDaily article for more information.
BPA – Bisphenol A
Another chemical threat in food is BPA – Bisphenol A. According to Consumer Reports Magazine, the chemical Bisphenol A in food-can liners has been found in almost all of the 19 name-brand canned foods they tested. High levels of BPA in humans pose a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, breast and prostate cancers, diabetes and liver-enzyme abnormalities; Exposure to BPA is also associated a higher rate of miscarriages.
In a report published in PLoS ONE, researchers established that people with higher levels of bisphenol A in their urine are more likely to have heart disease than those with lower urinary BPA levels. “Higher BPA exposure reflected in higher urinary concentrations of BPA, is consistently associated with reported heart disease in the general adult population of the USA,” says the report.
FDA Hearing on Food Dyes
And finally, in a December 1, 2010 statement issued by Center for Science and The Public Interest (CSPI), the Food and Drug Administration, in response to CSPI’s 2008 petition, will convene an advisory committee meeting to discuss the link between food dyes and children’s behavior. “Yellow 5, Red 40, and other commonly used food dyes have long been shown in numerous clinical studies [pdf] to impair children’s behavior. But for years, FDA—which actually commissioned one of the first controlled studies—dismissed the mounting evidence against the dyes”.