Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Teflon and Microwaves

Ahhh, the joys of easy cooking. Since my kids don't really eat that much and I am also no wizard in the kitchen, we tend to rely on the microwave to heat things up. Its not used for cooking per see but more for melting cheese or heating up leftovers. I always wondered why they told me to stay away from the microwave when I was pregnant. Is it a form of radiation? Does it cause cancer over time with prolonged use? And what about when I'm not pregnant, is it still unsafe to linger by eagerly waiting for my delicious leftovers?

Here are some factoids that I just learned about the microwave that may change your mind about using it to cook or even heat up your food. Microwaves are electromagnetic radiation. Its not nuclear radiation but it still has the ability to change the molecular make up of what is being "microwaved". We were all taught that microwaves just energize the atoms in the food and make them go faster thus heating it up. In a way that is true, but its more than that. In the process of making the atoms energize, they also get pulled and stretched and can "ionize" which means electrons can become free radicals and the molecular make up of the food is essentially different. This happens even more dramatically when the power is set to high. But who really lowers the power on a microwave? I certainly don't unless I am defrosting. Usually I just hit start and the default setting is high. Well, the high setting has much more of a destructive effect on the food that is cooking. Most of the nutrients will be destroyed as well as any enzymes. The food will be completely dead and do nothing to nourish your body once eaten. This is sad news to me since I do rely on the microwave quite heavily but I have some ideas to limit my usage.

1) I will put all the items I want to defrost outside in the heat (at least in the summer this works nicely)

2) I am going out this week to purchase a high quality toaster/broiler/convection oven

I am going to get one that will work quickly, maybe not as quickly as a microwave but at least I know I won't be ionizing my food. Free radicals are not something you want in your body. Back when I lived in NYC in my tiny apartment, I did not have a microwave. I look back and think, "how did I survive?" The answer is easy, I ate out every night!!

So I am not saying to toss your microwave out the window immediately, but I am saying to try and limit your use. We all know that cooking destroys nutrients in food and that the best way to get those nutrients is to eat food raw. Well, the microwave does even more damage to the food than traditional cooking does. So keep that in mind when you think about your food. Plan ahead for a slower cooking method. It will pay off in the end.

Speaking of cooking methods, how about those wonderful non-stick pots and pans that you spent hundreds or even thousands of dollars on. Names like calphalon or circulon or whatever. They all have a coating of teflon on them that is absolutely toxic. The teflon, when heated, leaches into your food and can cause toxicity or disease. This is especially true if the teflon is scratched and then cooked on but it still happens if the teflon is unscarred. Heating teflon above 200F will cause it to release toxic gases that can cause flu-like symptoms in humans. The chemical compound used to make teflon (perfluorooctanoic acid) is a known carcinogen and Dupont (the makers of teflon) settled for $300 million in a 2004 lawsuit filed by residents near its manufacturing plant in Ohio and West Virginia based on groundwater pollution from this chemical. Currently this chemical is not regulated by the EPA. So how does this nonstick substance still make its way onto our cooking tools? I am really not sure why its still being used but all I can say is that Dupont is a huge company with deep pockets and they fund the studies that say teflon is safe. So there, it must be safe.

I personally threw out ALL my nonstick pots and pans. I did not donate them, or give them to a friend. I threw them out. I guess they will wind up on a landfill somewhere (probably not a good thing) but I had no choice. I will not cook on that substance ever again. Instead, I bought stainless steel pots and pans (All-Clad). I don't think steel is the answer either but I couldn't afford cast iron nor did I want to go through all the trouble of seasoning those things. There are pots and pans made from ceramic which seems much safer and I plan to look into those types as well. For now, I am sticking with All-Clad and making sure my baking tins are also free from teflon.

I know it seems overwhelming even daunting to think about all the toxins that bombard us everyday. They are in our cleaning products, personal products, cooking tools, food, fabrics, furniture, our water and in our air. Its impossible to rid yourself completely of all of them. You would have to go back in time before the industrial revolution and live like a peasant farmer. Obviously this is not possible so our options are to try a little at a time. Remove what you can afford to remove. Change comes in baby steps and over time you will begin to see the difference. These are expensive endeavors at times but think of all the money you will save in doctor bills!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Pesticides in Our Drinking Water

Atrazine is a very popular weed control herbicide that is used by a majority of farmers in the mid west as well as some farmers on the east coast. The big monoculture farms of corn and soy use this herbicide during the summer months and its also popular on golf courses to keep nasty weeds at bay. However, it is proven to run off into rivers and streams and contaminate our water supply. Its effects on humans to date are inconclusive (probably because any study that says its harmful has been burned or kept from the public) but we know that it has detrimental hormonal effects on wildlife. Some male frogs exposed to atrazine were later seen to lay eggs. There are other examples of this hormonal change on aquatic life in the DC area but the EPA does not seemed concerned because atrazine hasn't done any damage to humans....as far as we know.

This story reminds me of the movie Erin Brokovich. A story from the Huffington Post reads:

[One of the nation's most widely-used herbicides has been found to exceed federal safety limits in drinking water in four states, but water customers have not been told and the Environmental Protection Agency has not published the results. Records that tracked the amount of the weed-killer atrazine in about 150 watersheds from 2003 through 2008 were obtained by the Huffington Post Investigative Fund under the Freedom of Information Act. An analysis found that yearly average levels of atrazine in drinking water violated the federal standard at least ten times in communities in Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Kansas, all states where farmers rely heavily on the herbicide.

In addition, more than 40 water systems in those states showed spikes in atrazine levels that normally would have triggered automatic notification of customers. In none of those cases were residents alerted. In interviews, EPA officials did not dispute the data but said they do not consider atrazine a health hazard and said they did not believe the agency or state authorities had failed to properly inform the public. "We have concluded that atrazine does not cause adverse effects to humans or the environment," said Steve Bradbury, deputy office director of the EPA's Office of Pesticide Programs.]

Essentially, the EPA has not been forthcoming with its information. This is putting the general public at risk. We should all know what is in our drinking water. And if we decide its not safe then we have the right to choose other sources for our drinking water.

In Europe, atrazine is banned because of the potential risks to the human population. What does Europe know that we don't? NOTHING. America just chooses to put money above public safety. The company that manufactures atrazine [Syngenta] has conducted scientific studies that show atrazine exposure contributing to prostate cancer in humans. In fact, employees of Syngenta that actually handle the herbicide have elevated levels of prostate cancer (3.5x higher than the Louisiana state average). Do you think there is a link here?? But why isn't the EPA getting involved? One word.... Pharma. Syngenta is a merger between two major pharma companies and they have deep pockets and a large lobby in Washington. Sometimes I feel like I am repeating myself but the patterns I am pointing out are no coincidence. Money and greed are at the root of all of this and we are paying the price with our health.

So the EPA did not publish the elevated levels of atrazine in the water supply of 4 states and those people were drinking that water over a period of 5 years. Who knows what the health ramifications were and if those people could do anything about it even if they were to draw a link back to atrazine.

Here is what you can do. Buy a water filter. You can get a professional one installed on your faucet or you can get a simple carbon filtration system like Brita. The carbon will filter out an herbicide like atrazine. Bottled water is always an option but make sure its from a protected spring source and has been tested for contaminants. The only issue there is the plastic bottles it comes in. They are bad for the environment and build up in our landfills. Our choices are limited so the best option for you and the environment would be a water filter. I would go even further to say that fluoride should be filtered from your water as well because it is a contaminant too but I will save that discussion for another post. Here is a link to the NRDC's (Natural Resources Defense Council) article on atrazine. Its another eye opener, especially when you read about the hormonal effects it has on aquatic life!


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Fermentation of Our Foods

My last post focused on soy and why its consumption can be detrimental to our health. What I didn't discuss was the Japanese and Asian diets that are rich in soy. Why do these cultures have such long and healthy lifespans if they are eating so much soy? The answer is fermentation. I talked about Phytic Acid in soy and its anti-nutritive properties but once fermented, it actually has the opposite effect by boosting the nutrients and priobiotics that are naturally present in the soy but need to be "unlocked". Miso is a great example of fermented soy, as is soy sauce. Most of the soy in the American diet is not fermented and thus not good for you. The Japanese have a diet high in fish and fermented vegetables. They pickle many types of vegetables and add them to their meals. You have probably seen fermented vegetables at a sushi restaurant but chose not to eat it because of its outlandish color, texture or super intense flavor but these pickled delights pack a nutrient punch and help boost the immune system as well. The fermentation process is defined in a couple of ways. Pickling (letting a vegetable/meat sit in a salt bath until the enzymes work through the food) is one way. This method creates enzyme rich food as well as helps to preserve it and increase the flavor. Our ancestors pickled vegetables and meats in order to preserve them, but they were also getting the most out of their food as an added bonus. Other fermentation processes such as culturing use fungi and bacteria to predigest the food thus creating, cheese, yogurt or kefir. These foods are alive with active cultures that aid in digestion and boost the immune system. The pasteurization process can kill off a lot of the good bacteria in these products so its best to get raw when you can. Consuming alive bacteria is way more effective than consuming dead bacteria. Here are some of the health benefits that fermenting provides:

1. Unprocessed fermented foods boost the immune system by increasing antibodies that fight infectious disease.

2. The flora in living cultured foods form a "living shield" that covers the small intestine's inner lining and helps inhibit pathogenic organisms including E.coli, salmonella and an unhealthy overgrowth of candida (yeast).

3. Some ferments create antioxidants (glutathione and superoxide dismustase) that scavenge free radicals which are a cancer precursor.

4. Fermenting transforms hard-to-digest lactose from milk to the more easily digested lactic acid. It neutralizes the anti-nutrients found in many foods including the phytic acid found in all grains and the trypsin-inhibitors in soy.

5. Fermentation generates new nutrients including omega-3 fatty acids, digestive aids and the trace mineral GTF chromium.

Many processed foods on the shelves of our grocery store claim to be fermented foods. Examples would be olives, pickles, roasted peppers or any anti pasta type food. The problem with these foods is that big business and over processing has once again stripped them of their natural nutritive properties. Some store bought olives are washed with a lye solution to remove bitterness and then packed in salt and canned. These types of olives are not fermented at all but you would not know that and lye is a poison in my book! No matter how you look at it, processed foods are not real, they are not alive and do nothing but take our health away from us.

If you want real fermented olives go to an olive bar in your health food store and see the process happening right before your eyes. Those olives are so delicious! Also, don't buy any of those commercial yogurts that come in 120 different flavors. There probably aren't any active cultures in them and the sugar content is through the roof. They are no different then pudding at this point. Its actually easy to make your own yogurt and then flavor it with your own fresh fruit. You will feel better knowing that what you are eating is real and alive. The flavor will be more potent and your immune system will thank you!

Future posts will be about making your own yogurt and pickling vegetables. I will try it on my own and blog about it so you all can see how easy and tasty it can be. I haven't done it yet because raising twin boys can be a time sucker but I do plan to undertake this experiment and taste the difference in my foods! Stay tuned!

Monday, August 17, 2009

10 Reasons Not to Ever Eat Soy Again

By now, you should feel pretty informed about commodity corn and how its ruining our environment and polluting our food supply. Well, guess what? Soy is essentially the same culprit. Many farms across the US are turning to monoculture to grow the soy bean. Its also a commodity and used in just as many processed foods as corn. Its grown with fertilizer just like corn and is processed into oils, fats, emulsifiers and preservatives just like corn. However, the American public has been taught to believe that soy is healthy for us. When we think of soy, at least traditionally, we think of the far east; tofu, edamame and healthy lifestyle. Many vegetarians and vegans turn to soy for their protein requirements. It has been given a positive association with health and diet over the years but nothing could be further from the truth. Soy is not good for you no matter how you look at it. Here are the reasons why:

1. High levels of phytic acid in soy reduce assimilation of calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and zinc. Phytic acid in soy is not neutralized by ordinary preparation methods such as soaking, sprouting and long, slow cooking. High phytate diets have caused growth problems in children.

2. Trypsin inhibitors in soy interfere with protein digestion and may cause pancreatic disorders. In test animals soy containing trypsin inhibitors caused stunted growth.

3. Soy phytoestrogens disrupt endocrine function and have the potential to cause infertility and to promote breast cancer in adult women.

4. Soy phytoestrogens are potent antithyroid agents that cause hypothyroidism and may cause thyroid cancer. In infants, consumption of soy formula has been linked to autoimmune thyroid disease.

5.Vitamin B12 analogs in soy are not absorbed and actually increase the body's requirement for B12.

6. Soy foods increase the body's requirement for vitamin D.

7. Fragile proteins are denatured during high temperature processing to make soy protein isolate and textured vegetable protein.

8. Processing of soy protein results in the formation of toxic lysinoalanine and highly carcinogenic nitrosamines.

9. Free glutamic acid or MSG, a potent neurotoxin, is formed during soy food processing and additional amounts are added to many soy foods.

10. Soy foods contain high levels of aluminum which is toxic to the nervous system and the kidneys.

When I was a baby (back in 1974) my mother said I was not tolerant to cow's milk so she put me on soy formula. She didn't nurse so that wasn't an option. I drank the soy formula for over a year of my life. As an adult, I am now very short in stature. I realize that I do not come from a tall family, but even amongst the shorties, I am the shortest. I suffer from a hormone imbalance called PCOS which can cause infertility (thankfully in my case I was able to conceive). I believe in my heart that these issues were caused by my early intake of soy.

In my house there is as little soy as possible. I do realize that in some processed foods, even organic, soy is present. I don't think that the organic community realizes how dangerous soy is to the human body so they still use the ingredient abundantly. In fact, soy milk was considered for a long time to be much healthier than regular cows milk. But now you can know better.

There are so many diseases burdening our population these days. Autoimmune disease has become so much more prevalent even in the past 20 years or so. It seems I know almost 10 people with either Chrone's or Colitis or Rheumatoid Arthritis. I know there is a link to our diets and I think soy and corn are a big part of it. The good news is that we can begin to heal ourselves. To start, just remove the soy from your diet. You will see the results because your immune system will begin to get stronger. You may even get your thyroid to work better and find it easier to lose weight. Your thyroid is a very important gland in your body that controls your metabolism. When not working properly, the body can either become obese or extremely emaciated. Soy can cause the thyroid to slow down and make it extremely hard to lose weight. Sometimes I wonder why certain vegetarians I know look overweight and seem sickly (skin tone and overall appearance). I think its partly due to over consumption of soy. Just because you decide to not eat meat doesn't mean you will become skinny. In fact, grass fed animal fat has the opposite effect on your body because the animal does not contain any grain that was processed with corn or soy. Think about what you put into your body, think about soy and what I am saying. Do some research on your own but don't fall prey to the myth that soy is a healthy alternative to milk or meat (traditional proteins). There is nothing healthy about it!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Chemicals Chemicals... Everywhere!

I am so sick of trying to buy products that I think are healthy and throwing my hands up when I look at the ingredient list. We are essentially blind when we go to the store and reach for something that we think will enhance our beauty or make us smell better. We have no idea what these products contain and the effect they have on our bodies over time or in conjunction with one another. I added a link at the end of this post with some of the more common chemicals found in our personal and household care products and the list is pretty extensive. It does a good job of defining these chemicals and explaining how they affect the human body. We go shopping and buy personal and household care products everyday but do we ever take a look at the ingredients? I bet you have and then looked away because you couldn't even read what was written. What is the point of reading the ingredients on the bottle if none of it makes sense? Maybe if we knew what to look for then we could have an easier time navigating our way around the countless numbers of products containing harmful synthetic chemicals.

Synthetic chemicals number on the hundred of thousands at this point and they are in so many products its dizzying. They are made from petroleum, a non-renewable resource whose extraction, refining and transportation can cause major environmental degradation. Manufacture of synthetics is also often an energy intensive process that may introduce a variety of toxic chemicals into air and water. Many do not readily biodegrade and thus bioaccumulate in the environment. But that is just the environmental impact. What about the human impact?

I first learned about Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) or Sodium Laureth Sulfate back when I worked for a CPG company that makes personal care products. The chemical is found in toothpaste, bodywash, shampoos and soaps. In the cleaning industry SLS is used in garage floor cleaners, engine degreasers, car-wash soaps, etc. It is very corrosive and readily attacks greasy surfaces. It affects the body the same way by "degreasing" and stripping the skin of any natural oils that may be present. The chemical is also absorbed into the skin and liver and can react with ingredients in other skin care products forming nitrates which are potential cancer-causing carcinogens. Scary enough for you? Now check all your shampoos, soaps and toothpastes and look for SLS. It won't take you long to find it.

There are alternative products that do not contain this chemical but it may take you some time to get used to them. Once hooked on Pantene, one can never really appreciate a chemical free shampoo. You may feel like its not "lathering up" as much or its not getting your hair "squeaky clean". We are so programmed to equate these "cleansing cues" to health and cleanliness but in actuality we are contaminating ourselves. I have mentioned before that I use Shi Kai products. They have a line of soaps, shampoos, conditioners and creams without this harmful chemical and they WORK. We need to re-train ourselves to feel clean without absorbing SLS.

I won't go into detail about the plethora of other chemicals found in everyday products but here is a list of the more common ones. Print it out and find them in your products today. Get comfortable with what they do and how they can be harmful. Try to buy products not containing them at all. In fact, try to buy products with the least amount of ingredients as possible. I know this may be hard and even expensive, but if we weren't so obsessed with beauty in the first place, there wouldn't be a market for these kind of products. No one is monitoring how these chemicals interact with each other and that is the scariest reason of all not to use any product containing synthetic chemicals. I realize that its truly impossible to rid yourself completely of them, but by taking steps you can definitely reduce your intake. Baby steps.....

Here is a link to the LIST:


Monday, August 10, 2009

Bioplastics: Is it Really the Right Way to Go?

Today I went to my local coffee shop, Library Coffee to get an iced Chai Tea Latte. It was 94 degrees out and the air was thick so I needed some relief. This deliciously cold and semi sweet concoction quenches the thirst like no other drink can (for me at least). It helped me pass the time at the park with the boys as well as hold back some of the sweat that was beginning to collect at the bottom of my neck and dampen my hair which would then turn it curly. But I digress... I learned today that the plastic cup holding my precious chai tea is made from corn and if held under hot water for a couple of minutes will disintegrate into a natural byproduct that will eventually degrade back into carbon. I thought it sounded pretty cool since most plastics found in packaging and server ware are made from fossil fuels (petroleum) that can not be replaced. These plastics also do not return to a degraded state, ever. In fact, far out in the Pacific Ocean there is a huge area that is growing at an alarming rate containing a gigantic tangle of our plastic garbage. This plastic jungle out in the middle of the ocean is killing aquatic life and poisoning the water. Bet you didn't know the extent to which our planet is being destroyed. But if we don't have landfills to dump our plastics in then where do you think they will wind up? I guess its too expensive to shoot it all into space. Just a thought.

This plastic cup that I drank my cold tea from is made of corn. The same raw material that finds its way into our food chain in such a plethera of ways. Its becoming more common and there are now a handful of packaging companies using corn as their main input. So now with plastics made from corn, we may be able to finally reduce some of that garbage that's made from finite resources and once discarded, never really goes away. Sounds great but I have 2 concerns: First being that the demand for these types of plastics is still small. Big CPG companies really need pressure from their consumers to become more environmentally conscious. Boycotting products made from non biodegradable packaging is a start and in numbers will make an impact. Government legislation can help with this as well. However, I think the market will be directing the switch to bio degradable plastics because the cost of petroleum is only going to increase as the fossil fuel becomes more scarce. The corn inputs for plastic are actually competitively priced and as more players get into the business the prices will fall even further. But my second concern has more to do with the corn than anything else. Once we move to using corn as the primary raw material for making plastic will the devastating effects on our environment continue but now only indirectly?

Here is what I mean. Corn is grown using fossil fuels. I speak about this in earlier posts but I will mention it again. America's farmers are abandoning what once was a profitable business and turning to monoculture to survive. They devote almost all their land to growing one crop - CORN. These farmers are barely making ends meet because government subsidies are just enough to cover the costs of growing the stuff but they are stuck. The corn being planted is a GMO (genetically modified) and is not edible. It needs to be processed and then goes into animal feed, processing plants to make sweeteners, thickeners and emulsifiers in processed foods, ethanol for cars and now as a raw material for plastic. This corn thing is really versatile. I wonder what else we can use it for - maybe medicine? Who knows? But I digress once again... The farmer, trying to maximize his corn crop and get the highest yield, does not use the sun to grow his corn. He uses fertilizer which is made of fossil fuel and runs off the land into our rivers, lakes and streams polluting our aquatic life. The land that the corn is grown on is being stripped of all its fertility and one day will not be able support life at all. This is the cycle we are creating. It seems to me that we are moving from one evil to another with the same original dependency on our finite resources. Both ways of making plastic are not sustainable to me. So yeah, it sounds so "green" to use plastic that will melt down into corn and go back into the ground and bio degrade. But at what cost? We are doing the same amount of damage to our environment as the non bio degradable plastic has done. Who do you think is behind the movement to use corn as a raw material for plastic - take one guess - CARGILL. Yes that is right, Cargill owns a company called NatureWorks that is leading the way forward in the corn based plastics movement. They are the creators of PLA a corn based polymer. So I do believe that if Cargill can find a way to make medicine out of corn they will do it. I do not trust Cargill and find that everthing they own or touch has a hand in destroying our planet in some way.

I think the moral of this story is to reuse, reuse, reuse. Take your canvas bags to the store. Use glass to drink out of. Ask for recycled paper cups for your coffee, limit your purchases of products that use an excessive amount of plastic packaging and buy wooden toys for your kids. We can not get out of this destructive cycle until we make the active decision to opt out. Try it for a day and see if you can avoid using or buying plastic. I bet it will be hard but maybe reducing your consumption is the first step.

Friday, August 7, 2009

New Food Bill Threatens to Destroy Small Farms

The Food Safety Enhancement Act (H.R. 2749) which was scheduled for Congressional consideration the week of July 30 threatens the existence of small farmers everywhere. I don't think (wait, I KNOW) the government doesn't get it. They are just reacting out of fear to recent events where our food supply has been compromised. From the E. Coli in the California spinach to the Salmonella in the Georgia peanut butter plant, food practices are getting lazy and people are getting sick. So instead of punishing the ones who are guilty, the government is trying to impose new regulations for ALL farms. But in this situation, the smaller, cleaner, more sustainable farms will be put out of business.

According to the bill, the FDA will have the power to regulate all farms and farm produce to purge America of the food borne E. Coli bacteria.

"Under the terms of the bill, crops must be grown in sterile areas, surrounded by 450 foot buffers, so that they are not exposed to other vegetation, runoff water, birds, beasts, or wildlife of any kind. To create such sterile farms, ponds will be poisoned; wetlands drained; and streams re-routed to safeguard the crops from untreated water. Trees will be bulldozed from agricultural corridors to protect the fields from bird droppings. Fields will be lined with poison-filled tubes to kill rodents. All children under five will be prohibited from stepping foot on farmland or tilled soil for fear of leaking diapers. A crow landing in a cornfield will mandate the destruction of the entire corn crop."

"If passed, the Act will grant the FDA the authority to regulate how crops are raised and harvested; to quarantine a geographic area; to make warrant-less searches of business records; and to establish a national food tracing system. It will impose annual registration fees of $500 on all facilities holding, processing, or manufacturing food. Farmers who fail to comply with the new regulations will be subjected to fines and criminal prosecution."

The small farmer will not be able to comply with these protocols. The small farmer does not need militant sterilization but will be subjected to it and in turn will lose half their crop due to natural occurring circumstances. If they don't subscribe to this ridiculous level of sterilization, they will be put out of business. I ask WHY? When the outbreak of all these food borne diseases is the fault of BIG AGRA and their reckless abandonment of safe and humane farming practices!! Doesn't the government see that? Are they Blind? I guess so and its truly sad.

There are opinions on the other side as well:

"Several scientists suggest that many of the protocols in the new legislation – such as the removing vegetation near field crops –could make food less safe. Vegetation and wetlands are a landscape's lungs and kidneys, filtering out not just fertilizers, sediments and pesticides, but also pathogens. Researchers from the University of California found that vegetation buffers can remove as much as 98 percent of E. coli from surface water. They also warn that rodents often prefer cleared areas for their picnics."

So let me put it this way, our freedoms are being stripped away when it comes to how we eat. Our choices will become more limited if this Act gets passed in the House (which its supposed to). Only the very wealthy will be able to afford fresh organic produce and pastured meats. The rest of us will be forced to eat mass produced, canned or processed foods. If this concerns you, call your local congressman and voice your opinion. Too many of us think that our opinion doesn't matter but the government is SUPPOSED to serve the people. Lets try and make it work that way. Call your state congressman and tell them that this Act will wind up making our food supply more dangerous. Its amazing to me how little we know about the legislation that is being passed right under our noses. Legislation that will have far reaching effects is virtually under the radar and we will wind up paying the price.

Exerpts taken from www.familysercuritymatters.org

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Food Inc.

The movie is out now and is playing at many movie theaters nationally. You can most likely find it at a theater that usually carries independent and foreign films but some mainstream theaters are showing it too. This movie is a must see. If you read my BLOG and are getting something out of the posts I write, then go see this movie. It puts visuals to the things I have been talking about. You will see with your own eyes what a CAFO looks like. How the animals are treated, what they are fed, injected with and how short their pathetic lives are. You will see how strong big Agra's lobby is in Washington and how they are in bed with the FDA (who is supposedly out to protect us - right). Big Agra (Cargill and a couple of others) own the CAFO's, the corn elevators and the corn processing plants. They have even gotten into the fake sugar business (Truvia) as if they didn't have their hands in enough already. Cargill is one of the largest (if not the largest) privately held companies in the world. It wields a lot of power in this country, more than we are privy to. You will be witness to the extinction of the small farm and the proliferation of monoculture and corn/soy crops that wind up as the main ingredients in all processed foods. Food Inc. is an eye opener and will hopefully change the way we think about our diets. If enough people see this movie and actually do something about the way we eat, the horrible farming/herding/CAFO practices may become obsolete. Of course this will take time but we as the main consumers have the power. The power truly rests with us. If we choose not to eat this food, there will be less demand for it and eventually less supply. Be an activist (as a friend put it so nicely) and go see the movie. Then please share your comments about it on my BLOG. I would appreciate it!

Here is the link to the trailer - enjoy!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The New (H1N1) Swine Flu Vaccine

Remember the media frenzy over the H1N1 virus? We were headed for a pandemic and could possibly be at risk of dying if we were to contract it. It was scary for sure but was it as serious as they claimed it to be? Yes, people did die from it but they were not privy to advanced antiviral drugs like Tamiflu or Relenza. Every year about 100 people die from the 'regular' flu and we aren't sent into a panic over it. So why all the craziness over H1N1? I don't seem to get it but I do want my kids to be protected nevertheless.

The big pharma companies (one I used to work for) are scurrying to put together a vaccine for this fall so that millions of kids can receive a dose of H1N1 and hopefully become immune. Is this the right thing to do for our kids? I did some research and the rush to make this vaccine available to millions is causing the pharma companies to add an adjuvant called squalene that could potentially harm your kids. Squalene (like aluminum in other vaccines) stimulates the immune system to overreact to the virus and produce a 'turbo charged' result. The reason the drug companies add the adjuvant is so that they can lessen the dose of the viral antigen needed to cause an immune reaction and be able to produce more vaccines in a shorter period of time. Don't be surprised when your pediatrician strongly suggests you give your kids this vaccine to protect them this fall/winter.

The problem with squalene is how its delivered to the body. If ingested normally it acts as a beneficial antioxidant in the form of an oil molecule. But if injected, it causes your body to recognize it as a foreign body and attack ALL the squalene in your body not just the vaccine adjuvant squalene. Your body will attack naturally occurring squalene that is vital to the health of the nervous system. This can create a devastating autoimmune effect. I just don't trust it.

I am going to protect myself and my kids naturally by making sure they get enough vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiency is the likely cause of seasonal flu viruses. Getting an optimal level of vitamin D will help you fight infections of all kinds. Make sure you and your kids get plenty of sleep and exercise and stay away from processed foods which are high in sugar and lack nutrients vital for immune health.

Just this morning on the news I heard that up to 9% of American kids are deficient in vitamin D. This can be easily remedied by giving your kids cod liver oil. I give my boys a teaspoon everyday. Its flavored like berries and they don't mind it at all. It has plenty of vitamin D and A as well as omega 3,6, and 9 fatty acids. We happen to live in a sunny climate where vitamin D is naturally abundant by stepping outside but for people who don't have that luxury, cod liver oil or fish such as salmon and sardines are high in it. Try to consume it naturally before going to enriched or fortified foods with synthetic forms of vitamin D. Your body absorbs it more efficiently if vitamin D is in its natural food state.

So just think about the flu this fall and if its truly necessary to give your kids this new and fast tracked vaccine. I don't personally ever get the regular flu vaccine nor do my kids and I will not be giving them the H1N1 either. But do the research for yourself. If there was a true and serious threat to our health and safety maybe I would think more deeply about it but the facts aren't presenting themselves that way.

Check out http://www.mercola.com/ for more information on the new H1N1 flue vaccine. You will probably have to register for free but his website is a wonderful treasure trove of health facts. Here is the direct link to the article: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2009/08/04/Squalene-The-Swine-Flu-Vaccines-Dirty-Little-Secret-Exposed.aspx

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Beating Environmental Allergies Naturally

Allergens are everywhere and are specific to each region of the country. When I lived in NY I never had any allergies but living in GA for the past 4 years has provided me with more than enough exposure to many highly allergenic types of pollen. Down here we see something every year called the "yellow death". Its when the pine pollen blooms and covers everything in sight. Seriously, this yellow pollen coats my front porch, my driveway, my back deck and any cars that may be parked on the street. The yellow death lasts for about a week and is unavoidable. However, that pollen is not as highly allergenic as some of the others that bloom simultaneously (birch, oak, sweet gum and sycamore). Atlanta is one of the cities where allergies run rampant due to the thick flora in the city. Atlanta has more trees than almost any other major American city and its even sometimes called the city of trees.

I can tell when my allergies are starting up because I feel like I am getting sick only I never do. My eyes get itchy and my nose becomes stuffed up and itchy, sometimes a cough presents too. Its extremely uncomfortable and I can understand why people run to the pharmacy to get relief. But there really is no need to. A teaspoon full of honey a day can help ease your allergies and keep you away from pharmaceuticals.

My friend who owns the host house for our farm coop is also a bee keeper. She harvests local raw honey every year. I never knew about the powerful effects that honey can have on allergies until I did some research. We know that bees (and the wind) are essential for keeping our flowers, plants and trees naturally repopulating. Without honey bees many species of plants would simply become extinct. In fact we are seeing a mysterious decrease in the world's honey bee population that can not be explained (this is another story entirely - and a scary one at that!). These little bees take with them microscopic pieces of the pollen they are transporting from one tree to another and it becomes a part of the honey they produce. Honey has strong immune boosting properties due to all the natural allergens it contains. It may seem odd that straight exposure to pollen often triggers allergies but that exposure to pollen in the honey usually has the opposite effect. But this is typically what we see. In honey the allergens are delivered in small, manageable doses and the effect over time is very much like that from undergoing a whole series of allergy immunology injections. The major difference though is that the honey is a lot easier to take and it is certainly a lot less expensive.

The best way to see results is to go out and buy local raw honey. It must be raw and it must be local. The reason being is that local honey will contain the specific pollens that are in your area and will boost your immune system to protect itself from those very allergens! You may be asking, how local is local? Well, as close as you can get. I am lucky to have a bee keeper friend less than 2 miles from my house. But if you can get honey from less than 50 miles away, you should be OK. Raw, local honey will most likely be sold at your farmers market.

I am taking a teaspoonful a day now in preparation for fall allergies. The key is to preempt the allergy season to build up your immune system. Try it out and see what happens, I bet you will wind up throwing out your Claritin, Zyrtec and Allegra and saving money while you do it!!