FROM THE EDITOR: August 2007

January 21, 2008
Written by
Two items in recent news release from the Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers especially caught my attention.

The announcement concerned student prize-winners in the OGVG’s award-winning Healthy Hearts, Healthy Minds™ nutrition program. The news release noted that:

•     Nearly 75 per cent of elementary school students are not eating the recommended five to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables each day.

•     Obesity has doubled in children and tripled in adolescents over the last 10 years.

The adult population of this country is probably in the same boat. We’re just not eating right, and I’m emphasizing the we because I look in a mirror every day and realize the message has been lost on me until now. To my credit, I lost more than 100 pounds the past year; however, 99 of them found their way back. My idea of an effective diet program is to buy clothes one size too large. People notice the baggy attire and say you must have lost weight. It’s fool-proof and quite a confidence builder.

Are Canadians getting the eat healthy message? Indeed, we are, and so much so that the federal government has recently decided to gradually eliminate added trans fat in manufactured foods. There is growing scientific evidence that trans fat can increase the risk of developing heart disease. Perhaps the government can next look at tackling sodium levels in processed foods. High levels of sodium in ‘manufactured food’ is probably just as big a health risk as trans fat, only it’s much easier now to find trans fat-free foods than it is to find low-sodium products.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the U.S. notes the following: “Fruits and vegetables provide essential vitamins and minerals, fibre and other nutrients that are important for good health. Compared to people who eat only small amounts of fruits and vegetables, those who eat more generous amounts — as part of a healthy diet — are likely to have a reduced risk of chronic diseases. These diseases include stroke, Type 2 diabetes, some types of cancer, and perhaps heart disease and high blood pressure.”

That’s got my attention.

What does all this mean to the greenhouse sector? There are obviously numerous niche market opportunities still to tap. We might soon see growers cutting back on the traditional crops of tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers, and adding more eggplants and beans. According to a report posted to www.novanewsnow.com, an organic grower in Nova Scotia has enjoyed back-to-back years of sold-out greenhouse carrot crops.

There’s a lot of talk today about food miles, the distances products travel from source to shelf. There’s a growing movement towards promoting locally grown produce, with programs recently announced in Ontario and Québec.

The opportunities are vast. The markets are ready. It’s time to increase research into other greenhouse-friendly produce.

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