The number of Canadians who say they eat a daily dose of cucumber or a handful of other plants has soared by more than 60 per cent in just a decade, according to a new report.
The survey by the Canadian Cucumber Association says the average daily consumption of these crops in Canada is now about 7 kilograms, up from 5 kilograms in 2005.
Cucumbers are used in a number of food products, including salads, sauces and even ice cream.
They’re also a source of Vitamin C and fiber.
The association says people are using them as an additive in cooking and baking.
The cucumber industry has been in the spotlight in recent months over the use of genetically modified (GM) cucumbers.
Last year, a major trade group representing the cucumber growers said it would no longer import new plants because of concerns over the impact of the crop on the environment.
The Cucurucum brevifolia (CBRF) crop was genetically modified in 2007 to increase yields.
The plant is now used to make the popular French onion sauce, but also as a crop for salad dressing.
The group is urging farmers to change the way they grow the crop.
“Cucumbers have a lot to offer the food and agriculture industry in terms of food security, food quality, and of course the quality of their product,” says Dr. Anne M. Phelan, a nutritionist and co-founder of the association.
“There is a lot of interest in changing the way that cucumbers are grown.”
Cucurbits are a food source that can have a variety of health benefits, including reducing the risk of colorectal cancer.
The average daily intake of the plants has risen from about 5 kilograms to more than 7 kilograms in the past decade, the Cucunibranch association says.
The increase in daily consumption is due to increased use of the crops in a range of products including salads and sauces, as well as as in the preparation of baked goods, ice cream, and other baked goods.
The number and proportion of Canadians eating a daily supply of cucumbers has also risen dramatically over the past two decades.
In the mid-1990s, about one in three Canadians reported they ate at least one daily dose.
Today, more than one in five Canadians says they eat the plant, up about 50 per cent since 2005, the association says in the report.
There are some caveats to the numbers.
The researchers say there are many factors that contribute to the increase in consumption of cucurbits.
Some are higher-income Canadians who are buying more food from a grocery store, the availability of fresh produce and other foods that are cheaper to eat at home, and a desire to cut down on the number of calories they consume.
There is also more awareness of the benefits of eating the plants.
A recent survey of consumers in Quebec found that about half said they had started eating a variety or combination of the fruits and vegetables, compared to 35 per cent who said they did not eat any at all.
Another study found that more than half of Canadians have heard of the cucurbites, up more than 50 per.cent since 2006.
The report comes as Canada continues to grapple with a massive crop of GM crops, which are grown to be better resistant to pests and other disease than conventional crops.
It is also in the midst of a federal review of its pesticide regulations that will require growers to grow more cucurbit crops to meet new federal guidelines.
The CRPA has been lobbying the government to change its pesticide policy since 2011.
The groups report suggests that in the current environment, the number and percentage of people eating cucurbits are rising fast, despite the fact that there are still a number other food items that are being grown to meet the new regulatory guidelines.
For instance, it suggests the average number of cucurbets consumed per day is up by about 50,000 tonnes a year since 2005.
There have also been a number more crop varieties grown in recent years, including the varieties that were originally grown to produce more resistant crops such as the cotton and canola.
CUCU said its survey shows that Canadians are consuming about 30 million pounds of cucubrellas each year.
It also noted that there has been a steady increase in demand for cucurberries as a fruit in Canada and around the world, with demand rising from just over 7 million pounds in 2005 to about 12 million pounds now.