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Pesticide punch

Wading through the produce aisles

If you think apples don’t taste like they used to, you’re probably right. The Environmental Working Group (http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/) has just updated its list showing pesticide levels in 53 types of produce, and apples – formally No. 4 of their “Dirty Dozen” – now weigh in at No. 1!

Researchers at Purdue University in Lafayette, IN, analyzed 51,000 pesticide residue tests done over 10 years (2000-2009) by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Federal Food and Drug Administration. 98% of the apples tested contained pesticides out of over 700 samples. And most of the fruit and veggies under scrutiny had been washed and peeled, in order to represent more realistic eating conditions.

Others that made the Dirty Dozen were celery, strawberries and peaches – which contained 57 different chemicals – along with greens such as kale, lettuce and hot peppers – treated with as many as 97 pesticides.

If we stick to Canada’s Food Guide we’d consume a minimum of five servings of Mother Nature’s bounty every day. By choosing these from the least contaminated foods we’d ingest less than 2 pesticides. However, picking them from the Dirty Dozen would up our daily pesticide intake to 14 different chemicals – some of which are associated with nervous system disorders, chronic problems including cancer, endocrine system dysfunction, and lower intelligence levels in kids – who may (along with those in the fetal stage) be the most vulnerable to the synthetic residues.

There’s also evidence that the phosphorus-rich fertilizers used in fields have contributed to the toxic blue-green algae blooms in our freshwater lakes, reported to cause vision loss and difficulty walking in some people who’ve been in contact with it, but that’s another story.

When organic produce isn’t readily available -- at the market, or due to budgetary constraints – these lists could be your best shopping companions.
Milena Katz

UBC hospice gets rubber stamp

Hospice residents are the winners

It’s been five months since the UBC put their plan to build a hospice on the Point Grey Campus on hold. After checking out 15 locations, the Board of Governors agreed yesterday to stick with the plan, despite objections raised by the mostly new-immigrant Asian community living in the high-rise condo facing the sight. They say their opposition to the 15-bed facility has nothing to do with fears that property values might decrease or the "idea" of a hospice but rather deeply held cultural convictions based on their conceptions around death.

According to Professor of Chinese Religions Paul Crowe, Chinese believe “on the assumption the world as we understand it is a unified, single place that’s inhabited by both the living and the spirits of the deceased; and there’s this deeply held concern that we need to keep the spirits of the deceased separate from the living.”

Residents of the luxury tower say the prospect of having the hospice as neighbour has already triggered sickness and stress for them and their families.

UBC delved deeper into possible concerns and did further study on the potential impact on traffic and property values. They concluded that the hospice development be ratified with additional conditions. They recommended that UBC plant trees between the two facilities, maintain outreach programs for new immigrants, and “identify other housing opportunities on campus for residents of the adjacent building who wish to move.” Also, UBC’s VP Stephen Owen stated, “An open-air courtyard in the hospice will be open-air but screened so that it is not visible to the outside.”

The $15 million hospice would be used as a place for research and education, along with providing hospice care, a sorely lacking service for dying Canadians.
Milena Katz