Archive for the ‘Food to Avoid’ Category

It’s proven — you live longer without meat

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A five-year study of over 73,000 people found that eating meat can shorten your life. To support longevity, the following kinds of diets worked the best, in this order:

  • Pesco-vegetarian (fish is the only animal product eaten)
  • Vegan (no animal products at all)
  • Lacto-ovo-vegetarian (no meat, but includes dairy and eggs)
  • Semi-vegetarian (meat 2 x week or less)
  • Meat regularly included in diet

The study, published last month in the Journal of the American Medical Association (Internal Medicine), was conducted on members of Seventh-Day Adventist churches. Considering that the SDA philosophy discourages meat eating, one might assume that even the meat eaters in this study consumed less than average Americans. Yikes! So if researchers had included a group of average American meat eaters, the benefits of omitting meat would probably be even more obvious.

 The researchers, led by M.J. Orlich, concluded, “Vegetarian diets are associated with lower all-cause mortality.” So regular meat eaters come in, shall we say, dead last. And from other sources we know that the worst meats are highly processed ones like sausages.

 Another study, published earlier this year by S. Tonstad and colleagues in the journal Nutrition, Metabolism, and Cardiovascular Disease, found that “Vegetarian diets (vegan, lacto-ovo, semi-) were associated with a substantial and independent reduction in diabetes incidence.”

 My headline is strongly worded – obviously there are exceptions to this research because so many factors are involved in health and longevity. But if anyone tries to tell you that going vegetarian is riskier than eating meat, you can tell them they just might be dead wrong.

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Fish are disappearing

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It’s natural to think that there are always more fish in the sea, but our modern fishing methods – which are more like floating industrial packing factories – are scooping up millions of tons of fish. Did you know that trawlers may use heavy nets that reach the ocean bottom to scrape up everything in their path? Such trawlers have left muddy trails so wide and so long that they can be seen from the International Space Station.

As I mentioned in my book, “Fish aren’t the only ones to suffer. Jobs disappear when fisheries go out of business from overfishing; 40,000 jobs were lost when Canada’s Atlantic cod fishery collapsed in the 1990s, and it has yet to recover. Over 72,000 jobs were lost in the Pacific Northwest due to declining stocks. In 2008 and 2009, the fishing season was closed on the West Coast.”

But the problem now faces New England states. According to John Bullard, a member of the New England Fishery Management Council, “We are headed, slowly, seeming inexorably, to oblivion… It’s midnight and getting darker when it comes to how many cod there are,” he said. “There [aren’t] enough cod for people to make a decent living.”  The article describes the anguish of fishers afraid of losing their livelihood, furious that the agency wants to set lower catch limits.

What a dilemma! But should we allow today’s fishers to exterminate the entire stock of fish? I’m reminded of the redwood debate of a decade or so ago, when a wise soul opined: “We’re going to stop cutting down redwoods. The only question is, When shall we do it? Right now, or after they’re all gone?”

What you can do: Go to Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch to see what fish are acceptable to eat, which ones are dubious choices, and which should be strictly off your menu. Better yet: say goodbye to fish altogether.

Another additive makes headlines – flame retardant chemical in sodas

bromine water Just when you thought there couldn’t be one more unholy chemical concoction in our food, another one emerges from obscurity. BVO – brominated vegetable oil. It’s found mostly in citrus-flavored sodas, so maybe I shouldn’t say it’s in our “food” – but some of us are ingesting it anyway. And it isn’t even a new invention – according to an article in the New York Times, it’s been in food since the 1930s, and attempts to establish safe levels in humans are inadequate, so BVO has coasted on a grandfathered or interim regulatory status for decades.

And, as we are sadly aware, the U.S. is far behind other countries in protecting its citizens. BVO has not been approved in other countries, or even outright banned: European Union, India, Japan. Could they know something we don’t? One young woman, 15-year-old Susan Kavanagh, investigated this and found that Gatorade has somehow magically found a substitute formulation to sell in those other countries—but doesn’t use it here.

Interested in being heard? Susan set up an online petition to ask Gatorade to stop adding BVO. Your signature would be added to the signatures of 200,000 other people.

Just over a year ago, Scientific American weighed in on the issue and pointed out that BVO was patented as a flame retardant and can be found in 10% of the sodas in the U.S. (including Mountain Dew, Squirt, Fanta Orange, Gatorade Thirst-Quencher Orange, and Fresca Original Citrus). Joseph Mercola, a prominent physician and food activist (he made a major donation to the Proposition 37 campaign) has some eye-opening information. Bromine – the element that chemists bond with vegetable oil to make this concoction – is an endocrine disruptor, and can displace absorption of iodine, which our bodies need.

Soda is my own (very) guilty pleasure but I’ll sure check labels for BVO from now on.

Nano food — a new form of genetic engineering

You may have heard about nanoparticles – they are tiny bits of matter, microscopic in size, that are being used in a variety of ways. In medicine, nanos are used in detecting disease, delivering drugs, gene engineering, MRI studies, and more.

They are found in over 1,000 consumer products, including car batteries, appliances, alum foil, cosmetics, sunscreens, and computers.  Let’s look at food and kitchen. Nanotech can be round in certain brands of oil, tea, shakes, cutting boards, cleansers, nonstick pans, vitamins, and more. Check out the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies (PEN) list of consumer products with nanos in them.

So what’s the problem? Nanoparticles have not been tested for health of safety to people and environments! Once again, our dreams of scientific wizardry have come true – and regulators have been outfoxed again. Nanos are able to pass through cell membranes and we don’t know what they can do to us, our children, food, pets, and habitats. According to Ethan Huff, staff writer at Natural News, “Deconstructing and reassembling molecular components and injecting these altered molecules back into our clothing, furniture, cars, and food is really more of a giant experiment in human health than it is a successful technological breakthrough.”

Here’s an interesting email exchange between a writer at E Magazine and a representative of the FDA:

E Magazine: What can you tell me about the prevalence of nanomaterials in our food supply?
Sebastian Cianci:
FDA does not have a list of food products that contain nanomaterials.

E: Where are nanomaterials most often found within food products? In colorings or additives?
S.C.:
FDA does not maintain a list of food products that contain nanomaterials so we cannot reliably answer this question.

I admire the creativity and dedication of scientists — and I also believe we need to test inventions before unleashing them on the public.

All those food labels

We’re lucky that our food has been labeled for many nutritional facts for decades. (Of course, it took a big battle to get a law in place to require labeling). I’m old enough to remember when you had no idea what was inside that soup can or cereal box.

For the last 15 years, the labeling fight has moved to other health issues such as salt, sugar, and additives. Even more recently, justice for humans, animals, and ecosystems has taken front page, so we can put our dollars where our morals are.

Well, that’s the hope, anyway. Unfortunately, manufacturers try to dilute this movement by using meaningless words like “natural” or giving false reassurance with phrases like “cage free.” As a result, some labels are truer and more meaningful than others. Earthwatch Institute put up a wonderful page not long ago with detailed assessment of 27 labels.

Here are some of the labels they consider reliable:

Bird-Friendly

Certified Humane Raised and Handled

USDA Certified Organic

Country of Origin

Dolphin-Safe from Earth Island Institute

Fair Trade Certified

Marine Stewardship Council

Rainforest Alliance Certified

Salmon Safe

And here are some that are questionable or frankly misleading:

Cage Free

Grass Fed

Hormone Free

Natural  or  All Natural

Pasture Raised

I encourage you to visit the Earthwatch page to get the details! That way, we can all support the genuine earth-friendly food producers and avoid the fakers.

GMO campaign just getting started

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We lost on Proposition 37, but the campaign is just beginning! Guess who the opponents of Prop. 37 were? Monsanto, Dow AgroSciences, ConAgra, BASF (“The Chemical Company”), Syngenta, and their allies, who put at least $40 million into deceptive ads to defeat Prop. 37 so they could keep earning billions by selling poison. It’s discouraging that their money swayed so many people, because the facts show GMO is not the deliverance they claim.

One of the claims made when genetically modified food was put on the market in the mid-1990s  (over the objections of FDA’s own scientists, by the way) was that crops engineered to withstand pesticides would permit a reduction in the amount of pesticides used. That should have been good for the environment, right?

Yes, if it had lasted more than a few growing seasons. But in fact, pesticide use has gone UP by millions of pounds per year, and I bet you can guess why. It’s called evolution. As has always happened with pesticides, the target creatures (bugs, for instance, or weeds) are not all killed—the strongest survive and produce the next generation. It doesn’t take long for organisms with short life cycles to become resistant to the pesticide in question. Growers solve this problem by using more chemicals, or stronger ones. For years this has been called the “pesticide treadmill” that farmers can’t seem to escape. (Unless they switch to organic).

Just last month a scientific study demonstrated that pesticide use has gone UP since GMOs were introduced. The author concluded, “Overall, pesticide use increased by an estimated 183 million kgs (404 million pounds), or about 7%.”

If that isn’t enough, pesticides are implicated in the mass deaths of millions of bees that pollinate our crops. That is definitely not sustainable! What you can do: keep alert for new strategies to defeat GMOs and the corporations that make billions from them.

Are GMOs sustainable?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the claims made when genetically modified food was put on the market in the mid-1990s  (over the objections of FDA’s own scientists, by the way) was that crops engineered to withstand pesticides would permit a reduction in the amount of pesticides used. That should have been good for the environment, right?

Yes, if it had lasted more than a few growing seasons. But in fact, pesticide use has gone UP by millions of pounds per year, and I bet you can guess why. It’s called evolution. As has always happened with pesticides, the target creatures (bugs, for instance, or weeds) are not all killed—the strongest survive and produce the next generation. It doesn’t take long for organisms with short life cycles to become resistant to the pesticide in question. Growers solve this problem by using more chemicals, or stronger ones. For years this has been called the “pesticide treadmill” that farmers can’t seem to escape. (Unless they switch to organic).

If that isn’t enough, pesticides are implicated in the mass deaths of millions of bees that pollinate our crops. That is definitely not sustainable!

Just last month a scientific study demonstrated that pesticide use has gone UP since GMOs were introduced. The author concluded, “Overall, pesticide use increased by an estimated 183 million kgs (404 million pounds), or about 7%.”

Show your support for food that is healthy for person and planet: Vote YES on Proposition 37.

Guess who the opponents of Prop. 37 are? Monsanto, Dow AgroSciences, ConAgra, BASF (“The Chemical Company”), Syngenta, and their allies, who have put at least $30 million into deceptive ads to defeat Prop. 37 so they can keep earning billions by selling poison.

Vote YES on Proposition 37.