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Local Food 101

Have you ever wondered why certain foods are labelled Organic and others Natural.  What is the difference between Grass Fed Beef and Corn Fed Beef?  Should you buy the Free Range Eggs or those from Free Run Hens?  Are there Nutritional advantages of one over the other?  And who makes the decisions concerning Certification and Labelling in Canada?  If you have asked any of these questions, then this section is for you! 

Based on some of the most commonly-asked questions about our food, Foodlink has compiled Local Food 101 to help you navigate through the confusion that surrounds food and agriculture terminology today. 

Choose topics to explore from the categories listed below.  This list will grow over time.  Should there be a term that's not here that you'd like to see covered, please let us know.  We'll do our homework to help get you the facts on your food!

Phytochemicals

Phytochemicals are non-nutritive plant chemicals that have protective or disease preventive properties. There are more than one thousand known phytochemicals. It is well known that plants produce these chemicals to protect themselves from internal and external damage, but recent research also suggests that they can protect humans against diseases.

Many phytochemicals act as antioxidants, giving fruits and vegetables their bright colours, so it is important to eat a wide variety of foods that are dark green and orange (high in lutein and beta carotene), red and purple (lycopene and anthocyanins) and white, brown and tan (allyl sulfides and polyphenols). 

Other phytochemicals modulate hormone activity (isoflavones in soy products), stimulate or inhibit enzymatic reactions (indoles in cabbage and terpenes in citrus), interfere with the growth of cancer cells (capsaicin in hot peppers), produce antibacterial effects (allicin in garlic) and prevent adhesion of pathogens to human cell walls (proanthocyanidins in cranberries).

Whole foods, such as whole grains, vegetables, beans, fruits and herbs, contain many phytochemicals so the easiest way to maximize one’s intake is to eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables - at least 5 to 9 servings a day.