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What are we adding to our food?

Posted on February 22nd, 2011 by Alf | No Comments | Print | RSS

Just a cursory glance at supermarket shelves and refrigerators cabinets will attest to the staggering variety of food available to consumers. While supermarkets do sell fresh food, like fruit and vegetables, most of the food sold in supermarkets is treated or processed in some way. Even the contents of a humble carton of milk, to all intents and purposes a “fresh” product, are not what has come out of a cow. FIrst, the milk has been heated briefly to high temperatures (pasteurized) or even higher temperatures for UHT milk and homogenized, to distribute the cream and fatty components throughout the milk. In some cases all or some of the fat may have been removed (skim milk and low fat milk respectively), or it has undergone treatment to remove the milk sugar lactose (lactose free milk), or it has been fortified in some way by adding nutrients such as extra calcium, vitamin D or even fish oils. These treatments are relatively minor (although this may be disputed by those opposed to pasteurization and homogenization), when compared to some other ways we treat our food. The conversion of a simple grain of rice into a well known breakfast cereal, or the extraction, deodorization and bleaching of oil extracted from seeds, a two very good examples but there are many more. Read the rest of this entry »

Krill oil: Taking the long term view

Posted on February 8th, 2011 by Alf | No Comments | Print | RSS

In two earlier blogs on fish oil supplements, I wrote about the lack of convincing evidence for some of the claims made about fish oils. We have discussed the evidence for and against the benefits of fish oils in great detail in our eBook: “Fish Oils – Everything You Want To Know” – available through this website. There is no doubt omega-3 fats, (specifically EPA and DHA), believed to be responsible for the beneficial effects of fish oils, are essential for the normal function of many of our organs, particularly the brain and retina. However, in some quarters, fish oils have been increasingly portrayed as a cure or treatment for almost everything. I have always been very skeptical of anything that is put forward as a universal cure or treatment. Nature just doesn’t work that way. And I am not alone in this, with others describing fish oils as the “Emperor’s New Pills” (1).

The fatty components of fish have uses other than as nutritional supplements. In this blog I want to talk about their use in the rapidly growing area of aquaculture.

Aquaculture is now a large international industry. The 2010 State of the World Fisheries and Aquaculture report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) illustrates this point very well. The FAO concluded that of the worlds wild fish stocks:

28% were overexploited;
8% were depleted;

and 52% were already fully exploited (2).

The report goes on to say that the top 10 species of fish comprising 30% of the world market are already overexploited. While these figures were for 2007, it is unlikely the situation will have improved since. With the world population due to reach 7 billion fairly soon and the rise of large and affluent middle classes in China, India and other parts of the developing world, one would expect the situation to get a lot worse. Read the rest of this entry »