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Abstract

Food has nutritional and non-nutritional components. The latter are not well-studied despite the fact that food adulteration has been common. Food adulteration may have reached its peak in cities of Western Europe and the US in the 18th and 19th centuries when foods were often purposely contaminated with additives to increase bulk, attractiveness, disguise spoilage, and increase profit. Effective regulation of food began in the late 19th and 20th centuries. Nevertheless, today food recalls for bacterial contamination are common, while pesticides and compounds from manufacturing are detected in many foods. Foods with strong reputations for healthiness, such as salmon, may have sizable contaminant contents. The contaminant content of many foods varies by origin and season. Nearly all commercially raised salmon has higher contaminant levels than wild caught salmon. Opting out of the commercial food distribution system is an option, but the value depends on the habitat in which the food is obtained. Traditionally, the Akwesasne Mohawk Nation has depended on local fish and wildlife for their diet. Now pollution of local waterways has led to the contamination of many local foods, and levels of the contaminant polychlorinated biphenyls in the Akwesasne Mohawk people reflect current or past dietary patterns. Many other communities in nonurban settings are exposed to contaminants through long-trail distribution of contaminants in food, air, and/or water. Human biologists considering nutrition, disease, growth, reproduction, aging, to name a few areas, may consider the non-nutritional components of food as many have the ability to alter physiological functioning. Am. J. Hum. Biol., 2012. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.