New UBC dean discusses genetically modified foods, fresh versus canned, and other hot food topics
Nutrition plays a central role in all of our lives, so it should come as no surprise that there is plenty of debate surrounding the food we consume. Food scientist Rickey Yada, the new dean of UBC’s Faculty of Land and Food Systems, sheds light on genetically modified foods, juicing, and why canned fruits and vegetables can sometimes be more nutritious than fresh produce.
Opinions are divided over eating genetically modified (GM) or engineered foods (GE). What’s your take on the debate?
At the moment, current science would say there are no safety issues with consuming genetically modified foods. The issue of labelling GM or non-GM foods has been debated extensively. Presently, there are no regulations in place. My advice would be if you don’t want to eat GM foods, stick with organic.
Juicing is a growing trend. How healthy is it?
Antioxidants are important because they help the body fight aging and disease. While store-bought juices and smoothies are good, some antioxidants are lost through processing. Fresh fruits and vegetables are really the best way to reap the most nutritional benefits.
What’s the biggest misconception people have about food science?
One of the biggest misconceptions about food science is what food scientists actually do. Food scientists develop products that eventually show up on grocery store shelves.
Another misconception is that canned foods are void of any nutritional content. I was involved with a study in the late ‘80s that looked at fresh versus canned fruits and vegetables. What we found was that some fresh produce actually had lower nutritional content because it had been exposed to heat during transport, while the canned produce had been picked and preserved at the height of its nutritional content.