When you shop, make sure of certain things.

  • Always read the label before you buy.
    When you read the label on the product you are about to buy, you get a history of the product. Don’t forget to:

    • check its production date, its composition, how it has been made and its use-by date;
    • be wary of meat products whose label reads ‘mechanically processed meat’ or ‘meat mechanically separated’. Also, it has been shown that many of these products contain processed waste materials such as animal carcasses and cartilage which were formerly discarded but which today can be specially treated and used for such food products as frankfurters and croquettes.
  • Not all fish are good to eat.
    Limit your consumption of large species of fish such as tuna or swordfish. These fish over time have developed a musculature which is able to absorb massive doses of mercury, a metal that is extremely toxic to humans. Also, such fish need several months if not years to eliminate the mercury, so it is advisable to stick to other fish species such as trout, sea bass or sea bream, which according to recent research are not dangerous to our health in that they do not contain dangerous substances. Ateneo Verde also advises you to beware of ‘surimi’ or ‘mock fish’ products. These are produced by processing fish waste, and have nothing in common with the ‘crab meat’ under which they are sold. Surimi are given artificial flavours and sold at quite high prices, and are marketed as quality products, both in their fresh and frozen versions. (source:
  • Beware of tinned meat.
    Even if tinned meat is economically convenient and easily carried, you should be aware that you should not eat too much of it, since the long-life nature of such products mean that they contain high levels of salt; also, the equally high quantities of various flavour-enhancing agents can increase chlorestorol in your blood.
  • Be careful when you buy fruit and vegetables: check where they come from.
    Try not to buy imported fruit and vegetables, because the different regulations concerning the use or amount of pesticides permitted in their cultivation in other countries means that imports can have a high level of pesticides present. In Italy, the laws on their use are fairly strict, but since we live in a free-market environment, much of the fruit and vegetables grown abroad under less strict regulations can find its way to our dinner tables. One good way of ensuring you are buying Italian products is to get hold of a table that lists fruit by season, and check where it comes from.
  • Fruit juices and drinks: have you ever wondered what percentage of actual fruit there is in supermarket-sold juices.
    Ateneo Verde advises you to beware of most industrially produced fruit juices, which contain high levels of sugars, calories and colouring and very low percentages of fruit. Suffice it to say that research carried out by Swinburne University of Technology showed that regular consumption of fruit juice is connected to an increase in blood pressure, to heart attack risk and a decline in cognitive functions, due mostly to the presence of sugars and calories, which along with a low level of vitamins make the quality of these drinks rather questionable. Better to make yourself a drink of freshly-squeezed orange at home – genuine and above all, healthy (source: from
  • Are industrially-produced snacks good for you or not?
    You can’t tell if a food is good for you or not unless you find out its ingredients – this goes for all the regular snacks on sale in suermarkets. Before buying, check that:The snack does not contain more than 200 calories per item:

    • it has a low level of vegetable fats;
    • it has less than 10g of sugars per item;
    • the ingredients show the category of the eggs used in its manufacture (cat. A);
    • it does not contain preservatives. (source:
  • Be careful of palm oilBy now most people are aware that palm oil, whose use is widespread in many baked goods, is harmful to our health. Nonetheless, certain facts about it need clarifying. One should realise that palm oil was introduced into many food products as a substitute for butter; in fact it is a saturated fat which, compared to butter, is of vegetable origin, and because of its fatty acid composition, it was regarded as highly suitable for foods produced on an industrial scale. Its present massive use is due to the severe regulations imposed by the World Health Organisation on the use of hydrogenated fats, which saw the replacement of butter by margarine, as having vegetable origins, and the subsequent ruling that margarine was also harmful and should be gradually substituted by palm oil.

    There is at present a heated debate over the use of palm oil and its effects on our health, and Ateneo Verde recommends a moderate consumption of this product, which, like any substance based on saturated fats (like butter or lard) can give rise to cardiovascular problems. Another major problem is the intensive cultivation of palm trees which in South-East Asia is causing considerable damage to tropical forests. In fact, the deforestation caused by palm plantations is adversely affecting the biodiversity of the region, including not only the destruction of the habitat of the orang-utan but a notable increase in pollution in general. One solution might be to introduce a form of sustainable cultivation, according to a programme of regulations to limit these side effects. To this end, the “Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil”  has been set up to try to certify  palm oil that is produced in ways that are more environmentally friendly.(Source:

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