Mindful Monday – Toxic Food on our Retail Shelves

MindfulMondayEach time You eat something, You are endorsing the journey it has travelled to your mouth so here are some delicious and mindful eating recipes for you to enjoy.

Sweet potato gnocchi

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500g of sweet potato
90g of Eureka bread flour
2 egg yolks
2 tsp of chopped dill
2 tsp of finely chopped parsley
2 tsp of chopped chives
1 pinch of salt
1 pinch of black pepper
30g of unsalted butter
iced water, to cool the gnocchi

To serve
50g of Parmesan, grated (optional)
200ml of passata
50g of rocket
50g of flat-leaf parsley
1 tbsp of olive oil
1 tbsp of hazelnuts, chopped

Preheat the oven to 170°C/gas mark 4. Bake the sweet potato until cooked through, approximately 1 hour. While still warm but cool enough to handle, use a blunt knife to remove the skin. Use a fork to break up the sweet potato and then allow to cool slightly. Sift the flour over the sweet potato and use your hands to mix in well. Add the yolks, herbs and salt and pepper, mix together to form a dough. Add more flour if the dough is too sticky. Roll out the dough into long sausages, approximately 1cm thick. With a sharp knife cut into 2.5cm wide dumplings Bring a pan of salted water to the boil. Drop in the gnocchi and cook for 2 minutes Remove with a slotted spoon and place into iced water – this will stop the cooking process immediately. Drain well on kitchen paper Heat the butter in a frying pan and once it starts to foam, add the gnocchi and cook for 1 minute. The gnocchi should take on a nut-brown colour. Warm the passata in a small pan until hot. Divide the gnocchi across 4 plates, pour over the hot passata sauce

Finish with shavings of Parmesan cheese, rocket, parsley and a drizzle of olive oil. Serve immediately.


Practically all supermarket foods are processed in some way but many are highly processed and usually also contain chemical preservatives, additives and very little real or fresh food in them. The main purpose of these additives and colourants is to make the food look, smell and taste appealing so that you will purchase them. What is concerning is that we are not aware of the dangers of many of these harmful ingredients because we are not alerted to them by our health professionals or media, with some exceptions. To compound the problem, food labeling in South Africa is inadequate and often misleading. Almost every locally produced item and some imported items have labels that state ‘colouring’ and ‘preservatives’ but not actually stating which ones. South Africans therefore often remain in the dark on the true contents of the food we purchase. CODEX Alimentarius South African food regulations are aligned with CODEX Alimentarius Commission 
guidelines. CODEX was created in 1962 as a trade Commission by the UN to control the international trade of food. Its initial intentions may have been altruistic but many believe it has been taken over by corporate interests, most notably the pharmaceutical, pesticide, biotechnology and chemical industries. The organisation which oversees CODEX is the World Trade Organisation (WTO), under the auspices of the United Nations (UN). CODEX aims to tell us what is safe globally, but in the process often uses criteria that are manipulated to support the interests of the world’s largest corporations. Some important issues which CODEX affects, that impact our ability to manage our health naturally due to South Africa’s food regulations being aligned to Codex standards:

    • Approved as safe around 300 different food additives (mainly synthetic) including aspartame, BHA, BHT, potassium bromate, tartrazine, etc. No consideration given to potential risks associated with long-term exposure to mixtures of additives.
  • Allows significant pesticide residues of over 3,275 different pesticides, including those that are suspected carcinogens or endocrine disruptors, e.g. 2,4-D, atrazine, methyl bromide (- despite 127 Nations agreeing to forbid the use of nine of the worlds most dangerous persistent organic chemical pollutants (POPS); chemicals which are so dangerous to human health that the agreement to ban was unanimous: Under Codex seven of these nine chemicals have been reinstated for use; hexachlorobenzine, toxaphen, aldrin, dieldrin, pentachlorophenol, endrin and mirex. ). No account taken of long-term effects of exposure to mixtures of pesticide residues in food
  • ‘Dumbing-down’ of organic standards to suit interests of large food producers

A paper published in 2006 in the New York University Law Review Journal, examined the increasing prominence and power of international institutions through a study of the Codex.

“The standards of the CODEX carry binding authority in the WTO system”, explains Michael Livermore, the paper’s author. “They act to restrict and structure the policy choices of states.”

Dr Bruce Ames, Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of California, Berkeley, and a Senior Scientist at Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute (CHORI), is one of many scientists who have long argued, that Codex, and regulatory regimes based on it, undoubtedly present one of the greatest threats to any healthcare system which seeks to deal with the fundamental causes of disease by addressing micronutrient intakes. GRAS The idea of something “generally recognized as safe” seems so reassuring, but the more you know about ingredient regulation, the less cause there is for comfort. For starters, the GRAS process, is one of self-regulation. If a food ingredient company wants to introduce a new additive, they ‑ not the FDA ‑ hire some experts or a consulting firm to make the determination about whether this new ingredient is safe. The agency merely has the option to review what companies tell them. In October, 2014, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) agreed to finalize its rule for the process of determining food substances as “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS). The decision is part of a settlement agreement with the Center for Food Safety (CFS), which sued the agency, seeking to vacate FDA’s 1997 proposed rule on GRAS. The settlement agreement, pending approval by the court, will require FDA to finalize the GRAS rule by August 2016. If FDA does not meet this deadline, CFS can ask the court to order the agency to fulfill its commitment and issue the rule. Many of the food additives on the GRAS list are accepted as safe and used in food products in South Africa. These will need to be critically looked at.


Livermore, Michael, “Authority and Legitimacy in Global Governance: Deliberation, Institutional Differentiation, and the Codex Alimentarius”. New York University Law Review, Vol. 81, p. 766, 2006.)
Caduceus Journal, Issue 77, Spring-Summer 2009. Caduceus_Verkerk_article_Codex.pdf (Italics -my inclusion of information)
Ezzedine Boutrif, The Future of the Codex Alimentarius workshop, Lancaster University, 16th March 2010

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