Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Antibiotic Resistant Superbug - Truth or Fallacy?

I was watching HD Net last night with Dan Rather. I don't know how many of you have watched his mini documentaries but he has made his way back into journalism and I must say that I'm interested in almost everything he reports on. He travels the world to give us an international perspective on some issues that plague us here in the US. Last night it was about antibiotics and their prolific use here in the US.

I remember back in the day when I worked for a large CPG manufacturer that made hand sanitizer containing antibacterial chemicals and people became fearful that products as such could create a "superbug". And ofcourse, the powers that be, shrugged off such none sense and tried to debunk all the theories. Americans went on to happily purchase antibacterial soaps, band-aids, kitchen cleaners and even mattresses that contained chemicals like Triclosan touted to rid them of any and all microbes. God forbid we get infected by these germs!! But in reality, we have been creating antibiotic resistant super bugs all along. Its not very frightening until you find yourself inside a hospital sick from MRSA and there is nothing anyone can do about it!

Who is at fault here? Well, we can't completely blame the doctors because they are at least aware of what is going on. We must take responsibility for ourselves because a lot of the doctors are just trying to make us happy. You bring a kid in with fever, sore throat and a runny nose and you pray that you leave with a prescription because you don't want to have to deal with a sick little child. But what you don't know is that you may be contributing to a larger ecological problem for society.

Traditional antibiotics like penicillin rarely work anymore. There are a few in this family that can work but are very targeted such as amoxicillan and if its necessary, they are the best 1st line of attack for such illnesses like strep throat. However, if given enough time infections like strep can and will clear up on their own. Your child will not die from strep. Especially if they are monitored consistently by their pediatrician.

We as a society have taken more to the broad spectrum antibiotics like Z-pack and Cipro. What was once a drug used only for Anthrax infections is now given out like candy. These broad spectrum antibiotics are what create the resistant bacteria and put our entire society at risk. Z-paks aren't even considered effective anymore due to their widespread overuse. Just ask your doctor and see what answer you get!

More people are dying of MRSA in the US than AIDS/HIV. See Web MD article citing the CDC This is a very scary fact and one we need to take action on. In Norway, 95% of doctors refer to a "redbook" which directs their use of antibiotics in almost every case of illness they see. Antibiotics are highly regulated even at the pharmacy level. Abuse is considered to be an international problem. Because of this militant, protectionist view on antibiotics they have seen only 2 cases of MRSA and both were in people who had traveled abroad. Interesting right? The pediatricians also give "wait and see" prescriptions that don't activate for 3 days. In many cases the infections begin to clear on their own and most of these prescriptions go unfilled. Maybe if we gave some of our illnesses a chance, the same thing would happen to us!

Antibiotics aren't just found at our doctor's office or in products we use, they are also in our food supply. Antibiotics are given REGULARLY to cattle, swine and poultry. They are needed to fight infections that can arise due to the unsanitary living conditions these animals must endure. Antibiotics are also given to farmed fish as well. Its almost impossible to avoid antibiotics unless you make a vigilant effort to find food that does not use them.

The first place to start would be your local sustainable farm. Other sources would be food delivery services like Blue Ribbon Foods Go to Website  . They sell meat with no hormones, no antibiotics, free range and no artificial chemicals. Its a start.

We really do not want to find ourselves in a place where we can't fight deadly infections. Germs in small doses are good for us and help build up our immunity. Get rid of all your antibacterial products. You don't need them. They are just adding to the bigger problem. The WHO (World Health Organization) has prioritized the top 3 health concerns for our globe. They are as follows: AIDS, Tuberculosis and Antibiotic resistant bacteria. Think about this the next time you beg your doctor for a broad spectrum/big guns antibiotic and he gives in.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Farm to Table

Its been a while and I'm sorry for that but the holidays were extra busy and extra frantic this year. There was travel, parties, cooking, hosting and attending all within a mere 31 days. That did not leave me much time for blogging. However, throughout all the madness I was fervently thinking of my next topic. 

Since its the new year, I bet many of you have renewed interest in your health and well being. Maybe some resolutions to remove processed food from your diet? What about fake sugars? Or refined sugars? Its easier said than done especially when these types of foods are an integral part of your diet. But now is the time to make the changes. If not now, when?

When making food choices at home, its easier to control what goes on your table. You know where you get your meat from (at least I do), your eggs and produce. But what about when you eat out? Are you making conscious choices in your restaurants? Do you ask the chef where they procured their meat? I would bet no. And that is because I never did either. I always put eating out in a separate category from my "green" lifestyle. I felt that it was a treat and who really cares where the food comes from or how its cooked. As long as it tastes good, right? Well, not really.....

All the E.coli and salmonella outbreaks of 2010 have me pretty weary of any large scale operation, even restaurants. I have never been one for fast food so we are not even talking Micky D's or Taco Bell. I'm speaking more about sit down restaurants from the cheap eats to the upscale reservations only type. Many of these establishments use less than acceptable quality meat, poultry and produce. Its pretty rare that you would even think to ask where this food came from. I once asked the waiter at Chops if they served grass fed beef and he looked at me like I just landed here from Pluto. Why bother, I thought and just ordered the lobster.

Well there are solutions to this diet dilemma and if you really care about what you eat and want to keep your cheating to a minimum then start looking into farm to table restaurants. They are gaining in popularity as the desire for locally grown has increased. What's even better is that these restaurants are keeping the small local farmer in business. I know this first hand as I wait in line at my farmers market to buy my milk and eggs. Chad sells dozens and dozens of eggs to these small entrepreneurs who value his commitment to organic sustainable farming. Its great to see and makes me want to eat at these restaurants.

For those who are interested in such places, I have put together a small list of some farm to table restaurants here in the Atlanta area (ITP). I will add more as I find them. Its worth checking one out the next time you decide to make reservations. You will be doing your body good as well as the environment and we all know how fabulous that is!

Dynamic Dish - Edgewood
Radial Cafe - Candler Park
The Shed at Glenwood
Miller Union
Farmburger - Decatur (grass fed burgers)
Cakes and Ale - Decatur
Parish - Inman Park

The Farm on Adderley - Flatbush Brooklyn
Blue Hill - Greenwich Village
The Green Table - Meatpacking/Chelsea
Back Forty - East Village
ABC Kitchen - Flatiron
MAS Farmhouse - West Village

Happy Eating for the New Year!