Canadians tend to define ourselves by what we are not. There are many reasons for this, but the main one is that there is really no such thing as “Canada”.
Yes, there is a national government, but there is no homogeneous culture, That is actually one of Canada’s strengths, but it means that it is very difficult to define what being Canadian actually is. The USA has been described as a melting pot, where people from all over the world come and integrate and become American. Canada, on the other hand, is a mosaic, where people come and bring the best of their old country and add to the fabric of Canada whilst retaining a little of what makes them German, Ukrainian, British, Chinese and so on.
And of course there is the French dimension, probably the most visible expression of this mosaic, a distinct culture that has resisted being assimilated. More on that later.
So what are Canadians not? Fresh Hive Canada A few years ago, it was encapsulated in “The Rant”. This was actually an advert for a beer (called Canadian as it happens). A young chap came on stage and began to speak, becoming more and more agitated, as pictures relating to what he was saying appeared on a screen behind him. The Rant went like this:
Hey, I’m not a lumberjack, or a fur trader….
I don’t live in an igloo or eat blubber, or own a dogsled….
and I don’t know Jimmy, Sally or Suzy from Canada,
although I’m certain they’re really really nice.
I have a Prime Minister, not a president.
I speak English and French, not American.
And I pronounce it ‘about’, not ‘a boot’.
I can proudly sew my country’s flag on my backpack.
I believe in peace keeping, not policing,
diversity, not assimilation,
and that the beaver is a truly proud and noble animal.
A toque is a hat, a chesterfield is a couch,
and it is pronounced ‘zed’ not ‘zee’, ‘zed’ !!!!
Canada is the second largest landmass!
The first nation of hockey!
and the best part of North America
My name is Joe!!
And I am Canadian!!!
The Rant was mainly addressing American misconceptions about Canada, as well as highlighting was makes Canada different from the US. Canadians are not Americans, even if Canada is “the best part of North America”.
But underlying that is the diversity of Canada. To really understand Canada, you need to appreciate that different parts of Canada are not like each other either. Yet somehow, the whole thing hangs together.
Any exploration of Canadian diversity has to start with Quebec, an island of French in a sea of English culture. “La Belle Province” is for many what makes Canada unique. But there are others too, both within Quebec and in other parts of Canada, who feel that both parties would be better off if Quebec weren’t a part of Canada. There is a close analogy here with the situation in Northern Ireland, and indeed terrorism has in the past been associated with the Quebec independence movement. For over 80% of the population, French is the mother tongue, and even more are Roman Catholic (in contrast to resolutely protestant Ontario). Montreal is the largest city (indeed the largest French-speaking city in the world after Paris), but the capital, Quebec, is the soul of the province. In 1976, a separatist government was elected, but two referendums on various types of sovereignty for Quebec have been defeated. For at least the foreseeable future, Quebec is a part of Canada.
The other large province is Ontario, which includes Canada’s capital, Ottawa (although it is on the border with Quebec and many government offices are located there). The contrasts with Quebec are numerous, but the divide is not as great as one might think. While Quebec is resolutely French, Ontario is in fact a bilingual province, and there are large pockets of French speakers, particularly in the north. Toronto, the provincial capital, is one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world. The national pastime in the rest of Canada is to hate Ontario, and Toronto in particular. News Owl Headlines There is a feeling that Toronto has pretensions that it can’t live up to. “We’re a world-class city,” is the cry of Torontonians (as they busily try to find reasons why this is so). “Yeah, right,” says the rest of Canada. But Toronto has a lot to offer. Ontario is the driving force of the Canadian economy, and that’s probably why more people (one third of Canadians) choose to live there than anywhere else in Canada.
In the east are the Maritime provinces. These are New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island (Canada’s smallest province) but not Newfoundland and Labrador, which joined Canada in 1949 and is in a class by itself. Together they form the Atlantic provinces. The economy revolves mostly around fishery and lumber, and it is a relatively poor part of Canada, with Newfoundland and Labrador suffering a great deal from the decline of North Atlantic fish stocks.
West of Ontario are the prairie provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta. Here agriculture is the driving force, especially grains and ranching, as well as oil in Alberta. This is where most of the Eastern European immigrants settled, lured by large tracts of free land, and there remains strong attachment to the old countries, especially the Ukraine.
In Alberta you hit the Rocky Mountains, and on the other side is British Columbia. This is a rather genteel province, which is proud of its British associations. It also boasts a great deal of natural beauty, with fjords to rival any in Scandinavia for example.
Finally, in the far north, there are the Territories: The Yukon, the Northwest Territories and the newly created Nunavut, which was hived off from the Northwest Territories for tribal reasons. The population is very sparse, mainly native Inuit, and these areas have particular problems with poverty and other issues that subsequent Canadian governments have not found a way to address. Indeed, one of the stains on Canada’s history is the treatment of its native peoples. This has flared from time to time, and in the 90s, a single Native member of the Manitoba legislature denied the unanimous consent required to agree a new Canadian Constitution because it didn’t take into account the distinctive nature of the native populations.
But what are Canadians themselves like? Well given the above differences, there are still some
generalisations that can be made. Canadians are resolutely nice. We don’t like to cause offence, and we will always try to see the other point of view. Canadians are laid back. So laid back in fact that you sometimes wonder if they are alive. This can result in a frustrating lack of efficiency. It can take forever for your bill to come in a restaurant, for example, even if the food has been served quickly. You’ll get an apology when it finally comes, of course. Canadians love to apologise, even when they have nothing to apologise about. I am sorry, but it’s true.
Canada is a young country, and Canadians are young at heart. Play and fun are very much part of the national psyche, but there is also a strong work ethic, which has allowed Canada to become one of the G8 countries despite its small population. Being a huge country, there is a natural tendency to think big, Canadians are resolutely positive, and usually see the glass as half full (sometimes even when it’s only a quarter full).
Unlike the US, Canadians have publicly funded medical care, very similar to the NHS, but run by each province. They also have a robust social safety net, ranging from state pensions to unemployment insurance and welfare (pogey in the local slang). There is good and free education for 12 or 13 years (again depending on the province) and university is not expensive compared to south of the border.
The diversity within Canada is also reflected in Canadian food. Apart from things like maple syrup, there is no Canadian “national dish”. Rather, each region will serve up something different, depending on the background of the local population, and the availability of fresh ingredients. The food is however usually good and plentiful, and travelling around Canada can be a culinary adventure.
As you travel around Canada, you will of course find exceptions to these generalisations. For example, in some parts of rural Quebec, you might find extreme resistance if you speak to someone in English. Likewise, don’t even try to speak French in Alberta or you might be run out of town!
If you are moving to Canada, it is generally relatively easy to integrate. Canada was built on immigration after all, and it is one of the few countries to positively encourage it (especially if you have money to invest or key skills that are in short supply, and even more so if you are willing to spend some time in the far north).
Visiting Canada is best done in bite-sized chunks. Concentrate on a few cities or provinces. There is so much to see, and a “triangle tour” of Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa makes a good start. It is possible to fly between the main centres if you really want to “do” Canada in a couple of weeks.
What you will find is a country united in its diversity, proud of its role in the world today and confident about its future.
And as for the ultimate definition of what it is to be Canadian, I will leave the last word to Pierre Berton, recently deceased author, journalist and national icon: “A Canadian is someone who knows how to make love in a canoe.”
What we do know about food additives is alarming…
Food additives are used in most processed foods today, to keep the food from going off on the shelves in the supermarket, and to entice children (and adults) to purchase them, because they’re brightly colored and tasty. Canadian Reporter Business News Unfortunately, there is a lot that we don’t know about the long term and combined effects that these additives could have on our health, and the health of our children. But what we do know is alarming.
The figures are growing, and growing and growing……
Consumers have been ingesting increasing amounts of food additives each year – in the 1960’s Americans consumed 3 pounds (1.36 kg) of additives per year, and this figure went up to 6 pounds (2.72kg) in the 1970’s. The 1990’s have seen this figure reach the 10 pound (4.53kg) mark. In Australia today, it is estimated that the average adult consumes 5 kg’s of food additives per year. And there is no end in sight, as manufacturers continue adding chemicals that they know help sell their products, while regulatory bodies that should be limiting their use, and protecting us, lag behind.
With children eating processed foods in large quantities, it is logical to assume they are consuming the same, if not more additives than adults. Furthermore, they have smaller bodies and developing brains, so may experience many more serious side effects from these additives than adults are experiencing.
A possible explanation for additives causing behavioral challenges in children
Artificial colours, flavours and preservatives seem to stop the synthesis of specific detoxifying enzymes, which means that certain foods can have toxic effects, and these toxins can’t be broken down and eliminated, and end up causing damage.
Some of these enzymes are also responsible for breaking down adrenaline and noradrenaline/epinephrine and norepinephrine, which could explain the fidgety behaviour, and lack of focus that many of these children exhibit. Researchers are not sure how much damage this causes, but are certain that it can’t be a good thing for a growing brain to experience these challenges.
Some additives cause other problems
Many of the additives cause respiratory tract problems, such as asthma, rhinitis and hay fever. Many also cause skin problems, such as eczema and hives and some cause headaches and nausea. Some have been linked to neurological damage too.
In particular, one popular additive, tartrazine, actually leaches zinc out of the body, a mineral that is required in more than 200 different enzyme reactions in the body, and brain, and which is responsible for normal growth and development among a myriad of other critical functions.
What types of additives are added to our foods?
Although this isn’t an exhaustive list, it gives you a good idea of the extensive variety of a number of different types of additives that are used to keep ‘food’ from going off, add color and flavor and present products in the form that people have come to expect from processed foods:
Acidity regulators / Acids / Alkalis, How To Save Money in Canada Anti Foaming agents, Anti-caking agents, Anti-caking agents, Bleaching agents, Bulking agents, Carriers and carrier solvents, Colorants, Emulsifiers, Foaming agents, Firming agents / Stabilizers, Flavor enhancers, Gelling agents, Glazing agents, Humectants, Minerals, Preservatives, Propellants, Sweeteners, Thickeners, Vegetable gums, Vitamins and Waxes
Some of the worst additives
Although this list is also not an exhaustive list of all the additives used in the foods that line our supermarket shelves, it is a list of some of the worst ones.
• Tartrazine (102) – has been added to the list of ‘possibly having an adverse effect on the activity and attention of children.’ It is also termed an anti-nutrient by some researchers as it leaches zinc out of the body, and zinc is essential for proper neurological functioning, as well as physical growth.
• Quinoline Yellow (104) – When combined with MSG (621), Aspartame (951) and Brilliant Blue (133) it has been linked to neurological signaling difficulties, as well as interference with normal neuronal growth and development.
• Sunset yellow FCF, Orange/yellow S (110) – has been added to the list of ‘possibly having an adverse effect on the activity and attention of children.’
• Carmoisine (122) – has been added to the list of ‘possibly having an adverse effect on the activity and attention of children.’
• Amaranth red (123) – banned in Russia, Austria, Norway, Sweden, Japan and USA.
• Ponceau 4R, Cochineal red A (124) – has been added to the list of ‘possibly having an adverse effect on the activity and attention of children.’
• Erythrosine (127) – banned in USA in 1990 but not recalled by the FDA. Banned in Norway.
• Allura red (129) – has been added to the list of ‘possibly having an adverse effect on the activity and attention of children.’
• Brilliant Blue (133) – banned in British Commonwealth between 1972 – 1980. Banned in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland. When combined with MSG (621), Aspartame (951) and Quinolene Yellow (104) it has been linked to neurological signaling difficulties, as well as interference with normal neuronal growth and development.
• Green S (142) – Banned in Canada, kmspicosoft Japan, Sweden, USA and Norway – linked to hyperactivity, asthma, insomnia and skin rashes
• Caramel (150, a, b, c & d) – linked to gastrointestinal problems as well as as asthma and may affect the liver
• Brilliant Black (151) – linked to hyperactivity and asthma
• Chocolate Brown (155) – linked to asthma and other allergic reactions
• Annatto (160b) – linked to restlessness, insomnia, hives, head banging and irritability
• Benzoic Acid (210) – additives with benzoate in their name are used as preservatives, and are linked to hyper-arousal, or ADHD.
• Sodium Benzoate (211) – has been added to the list of ‘possibly having an adverse effect on the activity and attention of children.’
• Potassium Benzoate (212) – linked to skin irritations, asthma, hyperactivity and headaches
• Calcium Benzoate (213) – linked to similar reactions as additive above
• Propyl p-hydroxy-benzoate, propyl-paraben, paraben (216) – linked to skin irritations, such as redness, swelling and itchiness, as well as asthma
• Sulphur dioxide (220) – linked to respiratory discomfort, such as asthma and bronchitis, as well as hives
• Sodium sulphite (221) – linked to similar reactions as additive above
• Sodium metabisulphite (223) – linked to hay fever and asthma
• Potassium nitrate (249) – linked to asthma, headaches and stomach upset
• Butylated hydroxy-anisole (BHA) (320) – linked to asthma, headaches and insomnia as well as depression
• Stannous chloride (512) – linked to nausea, vomiting, fatigue and headaches and is a possible neurological toxin
• Monosodium Glutamate (621) – when combined with Brilliant Blue (133), Quinolene Yellow (104) and Aspartame (951) it has been linked to neurological signaling difficulties, as well as interference with normal neuronal growth and development. However, on its own it is also a problem, having been linked to numerous health issues, many of them neurological, such as seizures and headaches. Chest pains, nausea, and tightness of the face have also been linked to this additive. It is also used in another additive, called HVP (Hydrolysed Vegetable Protein.)
• Aspartame (951) – See above for the combined effect, but alone it is also linked with neurological problems, such as memory difficulties, headaches and ADD. People who already have mood disorders seem especially susceptible to this artificial sweetener. Artificial sweeteners can save food manufacturers as much as a third of the cost of a bottle of soda, which is why they prefer using them to costlier ‘natural’ sweeteners like ordinary sugar.
Two additives that kill brain cells!
These two additives, MSG and Aspartame, are also called excitotoxins, which is the scientific name for a substance that can excite a neuron (brain cell) to death. A child’s brain is four times as sensitive to this type of additive, making it very dangerous for a developing brain. However, this doesn’t mean that an adults brain is safe, as there are researchers who believe these additives are linked to cognitive decline, and the more serious condition Alzheimer’s.
Simply reading the label of any processed food will show you that there are always a combination of additives – the difference is that they have not all been tested as the four described above were tested, so it is impossible to know what the interaction between the additives could mean for your health. Also, don’t be fooled into thinking that nature identical flavorings are safer then artificial ones – they aren’t!
More additives best to avoid – artificial sweeteners
Artificial sweeteners save manufacturers of soft drinks and other processed foods a lot of money. There have not been any long term tests done on the safety of any of these sweeteners and it is best to avoid them.
• Acesulfame-K (950) – linked to respiratory disease and leukaemia in animals
• Cyclamate (952) – linked to skin conditions like hives
• Saccharin and its NA, K and CA salts (954) – linked to various allergic reactions, like hives, as well as nausea, headaches and insomnia
• Sucralose (955) – liver and kidney damage caused to laboratory animals
• Neotame (961) – suspected of being a neurotoxic compound, potentially more toxic than aspartame
Surprise – a few safe additives…
There are a few additives added to foods that are safe and won’t cause any harm. However, keep these two points in mind. Firstly, the food manufacturer has often removed most of the nutrition from the food in the processing of it, to keep it shelf stable, so has to add something back to make the product seem nutritious, and secondly, if you eat food that is as close to nature as possible, you won’t have to be eating foods that have had nutrients added to them. You’ll be eating the foods that contain them naturally!
However, just so you know what they are, these are the safe additives:
Vitamin B1 (101)
Vitamin A, Carotene (160)
Vitamin C (300-304)
Vitamin E, tocopherols (306-309)
Follow this really simple rule to avoid additives
Don’t go into the centre of the supermarket! Stick to the outside, where the fresh produce is kept and you’ll be healthier, lighter and smarter. Choosing food as close to nature as possible means very little, if anything, needs to be added to the food. And then you won’t have to worry about reading those irritating, misleading labels either.
Delia McCabe is a Nutritional Neuroscience Researcher. She has a Masters degree in Psychology and has been doing research for over ten years. Her specific area of interest is Essential Fatty Acids and how they effect brain and general health. She has discovered that many chronic illnesses and mental health problems can be traced back to a lack of Essential Fats. Find out if you are deficient by doing the quick assessment