Photo Credit: Creative/Wikimedia Commons

This week’s theme for Nutrition Month is Quality Counts, so that’s where we’ll be focusing our attention on the next leg of our 100 Meal Journey.

When it comes to meal-planning and home-cooking, quality of ingredients is incredibly important because it requires a lot less preparation and manipulation to turn fresh and healthy groceries into a delicious meal.

Here are my best tips for ensuring quality in your everyday cooking!


Buying seasonal and local produce is your best bet for eating fresh, high-quality food. I advise my clients to purchase a vacuum sealer and freeze in the freshness to get long term use out of their fruits and vegetables. Local products are also usually less expensive and as a bonus, you can support your local farmers and fisherman while you’re at it!


Whenever possible, get to know your local food suppliers so you know exactly what you’re getting. If that’s unrealistic, do your best to shop at grocers who are purchasing from local farmers and whose stores are curated with the products, their customers and the environment in mind.


When shopping for the week, it’s important to understand the meaning behind all those labels and what to look for when making your purchases. The options can be overwhelming, from Organic to Non-GMO, antibiotic-free to hormone-free. Here’s a primer on what those terms actually mean and how they’re regulated in Canada:


What does it mean for food?

  • No synthetic (man-made) pesticides, herbicides or fertilizers ,but can use approved “natural” pesticides
  • Do not contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs), antibiotics and growth hormones
  • Do not use irradiation or ionizing radiation
  • Higher price point than non-Organic (conventional) foods

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)

What does it mean for food?

  • Health Canada categorizes genetically modified foods as a novel food and defines genetic modification as changing “The heritable traits of a plant, animal or microorganism by means of intentional manipulation.”

What’s the purpose?

  • To lower price points
  • Enhance nutritional value
  • Improve environmental durability

Growth Hormones

What does it mean for food?

  • Used predominately in beef cattle to help produce leaner beef at a decreased cost
  • Not approved for use in dairy cows, poultry or pork


What does it mean for food?

  • Promotes growth in animals (beef, dairy cattle, chicken, laying hens, turkey, pork, fish, sprayed on fruit, honeybees)
  • Used to prevent, manage ,and treat sick animals
  • Prevent disease in fruit crops
  • Used heavily on large commercial farms with high animal populations living in close quarters (translation: living in close quarters means when one animal gets sick there is an increased risk for all of the animals to get sick)

There are pros and cons to each of these designations and in some cases, the line is pretty blurry. For example, I don’t yet feel there is strong enough evidence to support that GMOs, antibiotics and growth hormones are harmful, but I am not convinced of their long term safety either. As a dietitian, I advocate for proper and transparent labelling of our food so that we as consumers can make informed decisions to choose high quality ingredients, regardless of how we define them.


There are many ways to go about ensuring quality in your daily diet and these points I’ve outlined are just some of them. The best thing to do is ensure you’re as informed as you can be about what you’re eating and where it’s coming from, your family will thank you!

Please note that if you find that any of the information provided above is incorrect or insufficient please let me know. I would not only be happy to make changes but be grateful for any updates you can provide me with.

For more information on the regulation of organic products:

For more information on Canada’s Food and Drug Regulations:,_c._870/FullText.html#h-144

Guidelines on how to wash your produce:

Amanda Lapidus is an experienced, innovative and supportive dietitian, mother and wife, living and working in Toronto.   She is one of the few dietitians who offers personalized and family focused care in the comforts of your own home.  Amanda completed her Honours Bachelor of Science in Foods and Nutrition at The University of Western Ontario and her postgraduate internship in clinical nutrition at Mount Sinai Hospital.   She is a member of the College of Dietitians of Ontario, Dietitians of Canada and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.  Amanda draws from a diverse career in the field of nutrition with a wide range of physical and mental health knowledge and a special interest in integrative and functional medicine. Amanda works using real foods and believes in making nutrition in your home simple, satisfying and sustainable. For further information, please visit or to book a session, contact Amanda at:, 416-805-2584


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