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Friday, June 22, 2007

Check the label on that can of New Zealand Fruit before you buy

Big food retailers and manufacturers are cutting costs by dumping New Zealand suppliers and sourcing more food from giant farms and factories across the globe. Cheap oil and long distances to market underpin the new food order.

Forty per cent of New Zealand's pork now comes from overseas, as does half of our wheat. Last year, we even imported 9% of our lamb. We brought in $220 million of processed fruit and vegetables - more of those products than we exported.

When I looked closely on the cans of Watties and Oak in our pantry I was horrified to discover that they were from China!

Now, having spent a little time in China years ago I can confirm that it is as dirty and polluted as they say it is - probably more so than ever today. There are few controls on the use of pesticides and the air pollution is unbearable in many regions. Industrial chemicals are disposed straight into the fields and waterways to finally get into the food chain. Pre industrialisation, the practice of filtering human and other wastes through the stepped systems of paddy fields before being discharged into the waterways was perfection in recycling of nutrients. But this system is not the place to dump industrial wastes which then find their way into the food chain where it concentrates to toxic levels. Fruit trees suck up and concentrate these poisons in the fruit. Who knows what poisons find their way into that can of fruit salad that you are buying in the supermarket?

What quality of water do they use to wash and cook the fruit during the canning process? Sure its sterilised; but have you ever seen Chinese drinking water? I wouldn't even drink it after boiling!

How robust is the quality control, including monitoring of toxins?

The fact today is that the food you are buying in clean and green New Zeland - and under the labels that are synonymous with our way of life (Watties and Oak) may actually be coming from one of the most polluted places on the planet.

Take action: If you are unhappy, as I am about this sad situation, write to your MP and insist that there be mandatory labelling detailing the place of origon of foods sold in New Zealand. Read the labels and favour foods that are grown and processed in New Zealand. You might have to pay a little more. Buy fresh fruit and vegetables that are locally grown.

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