Food and drink 

Flying under the chemical radar

When it comes to good health, the CancerSmart guide is your GPS

We’ve had Earth Hour and Earth Day. Then there was World Water Day. Daffodil Month for Cancer Awareness (April) has just ended. But Naturopathic Medicine and Mental Health weeks are about to take off.

If you’re confused, even exhausted, trying to keep yourself and the planet in tact, on stream sustainably and under the chemical radar, I have a simple solution. Declare the next 10 minutes Healthy, Sustainable Me and Everything Else time, go on-line to the LEAS web site at and order yourself a copy of CancerSmart 3.0: The Consumer Guide .

This amazing little book, the result of efforts by the non-profit Labour Environmental Alliance Society (LEAS), now called Toxic Free Canada, will cost you 12 bucks, but it’s worth its weight in (fair trade) gold.

Written by Sean Griffin, who helped us out last week on the ins and outs of bisphenol A and polycarbonate plastics, this guide easily and quickly points you in the right direction as a consumer not only to be “smart” about cancer, but about so many other environmental issues that implicate life forms other than we short-sighted humans.

It’s long been touted by Mark Forsythe on CBC Radio One’s B.C. Almanac and by other media pundits, including those at the Georgia Straight , the North Shore News and the Toronto Star . More to the point, Toxic Free Canada’s executive director, Mae Burrows, was honoured earlier this month with a partnership award from the Canadian Cancer Society for her work improving the knowledge base of British Columbians and helping them create healthier homes and communities.

Finally, I’ve gotten round to ordering my own copy and have just received it by mail — the updated latest version, 3.0, which holds twice as much info as the original edition done in 2004. More than 25,000 copies have been sold across Canada, making it a huge best-seller. Now I get what all the fuss is about.

This is an amazingly straight-forward, comprehensive way of navigating the more than 80,000 chemicals that are in use in North America when — and here’s the kicker — barely 10 per cent of them have been fully tested for their health and environmental effects. Bonus: while the latest in information is drawn from a wide range, including the latest in what other jurisdictions are doing to regulate these chemicals or warn consumers about them, the products and practical details are totally Canadian-centric, talking about real products we can find on real store shelves.

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