January 10, 2012
By Allison Aubrey
“Food is medicine. Eating good food is a lot more about being healthy than it is about looking good.” –KTRN
You may remember the controversial studies linking food coloring and additives to hyperactivity in kids. Or you may know parents who have pinned their hopes on an elimination diet to improve their kids’ rowdy behavior.
“When [elimination] diets fail, parents can feel they’ve failed,” says Linda Brauer, coordinator of the Grand Rapids chapter of the advocacy group Children and Adults with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. She remembers feeling guilty when her son’s symptoms did not improve. But now she says the science is on her side.
A review paper published today in the journal Pediatrics evaluated the evidence from many studies on this topic. And it concludes that changing a child’s diet is usually not enough to effectively treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
“Elimination diets may help in a very small percentage of patients,” whereas stimulant medications are generally very effective, writes J. Gordon Millichap, a neurologist at Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago who authored the paper.
Now, before all of the we-are-what-we-eat believers among us dismiss this, you should know that experts don’t deny the importance of diet. Far from it.
October 19, 2011
Off The Grid
Attention Deficit Disorder and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADD/ADHD) are behavioral conditions characterized by a short attention span, which may be accompanied by hyperactivity. Approximately 5 percent of Americans have ADD/ADHD and half to two thirds of children diagnosed with it will carry it into adulthood. Children diagnosed with ADD/ADHD may also have various learning disabilities and may be disruptive in school and other public places.
More boys than girls are afflicted with this disorder. Many are rightly diagnosed with these maladies, but there are those who have been so “branded” just because they are very active, rambunctious children—again boys more often than girls. Just because a school psychologist or other doctor has told you your child’s overactive behavior is ADD/ADHD, it may not be true. Some teachers and school administrators don’t want to have to deal with disciplining active children, so they have them diagnosed and medicated. For peace of mind, get more than one opinion. You may want to have two other doctors, who aren’t connected to the school district, check out your child(ren).
More than 2 million children with ADD/ADHD are being treated with drugs that are equivalent to “legal speed”— stimulant drugs by prescription. There are concerns with this type of treatment. The first is that stimulants can suppress their growth. Next, the side effects they carry and their addictive nature are troublesome. There is also the possibility that those that have these prescriptions may not be taking them, but passing them on to their friends for the “high” that most people get from stimulants.
Once you have determined if you or your child has ADD/ADHD, you will want to choose how to treat it without drug therapy. The first thing to try is changes in diet. Some people are sensitive to refined white flours and sugars. Others are sensitive to chemical additives in food. Before making any dietary changes, talk with your healthcare provider. Among the usual dietary suspects are:
Any artificial flavorings
Any artificial colorings (yellow, green, and red are the worst offenders)
Chemical additives and preservatives (like BHA and BHT)
Bleached/Refined Sugar and Flour
Foods containing salicylates (chili powder, apples and cider, cloves, grapes, oranges, peaches, peppers, tomatoes, plums, prunes, and all berries)
An elimination diet is the best option to start with. In brief, eliminate the above usual suspects from your diet. Continue this way for several weeks before adding them back in. If there are no behavioral changes, good or bad, you will want to try something else. If behavior improves, then you can begin adding allergens to the diet one at a time. Eat that one allergen, in small quantities, once a day for two or three days. If behavior doesn’t change, you may add another possible allergen and continue in this manner until you have found if any trigger the ADD/ADHD symptoms and behaviors.
Feingold Diet – A type of elimination diet that is well known for its use among ADD/ADHD patients. It eliminates all chemical additives and all foods containing salicylates. It requires vigilant control over the sufferer’s eating habits. It also prohibits aspirin, as it contains salicylates. There has been some successes reported by patients who have tried it, but it would be hard to compel one to stick to it. In any case, it is wise to avoid foods with artificial flavors, colors, and chemical additives in order to ensure a healthy, natural diet.
Essential Fatty Acids – Omega-3 fatty acids found in fatty fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel) and certain vegetable oils (flax seed, hemp seed) are essential to proper brain function. These may also be beneficial to those with ADD/ADHD. But it is not clear if docosahexaenoic (DHA) and eicosapentaneoic (EPA) are advantageous.
Zinc – This mineral is essential for proper metabolism of certain neurotransmitters that have a role in ADD/ADHD. Deficiencies have been found in some with this disorder. However, long-term use of zinc can cause anemia and other side effects in those without deficiencies. Zinc also has no effect on ADD/ADHD in those patients. But testing for trace minerals, like zinc, is not typical when assessing those who are suspected of having this disorder.
Biofeedback and auditory feedback have shown some success in increasing the attention of children with low academic performance levels.
Neurofeedback – An approach that uses electronic devices to help patients (usually children) control their own brainwave activity. Electrodes are pasted to the head and pick up signals from the brain. Patients watch images, like moving graphs, on a computer monitor reflecting patient’s brain wave activity. Patients are taught certain high-level mental activities when screen images show that they are fully concentrating. Treatment typically recurs in fifty-minute sessions twice a week. Some studies report significant improvement in attentiveness, response time and less impulsiveness.
Interactive Metronome/Musical Therapy – This therapy uses feedback from sound to improve the patients’ attention, motor control, and some academic skills. Patients wear headphones as well as sensors on the hand and feet. They perform various exercises to a rhythmic computer beat. Sessions continue for three to five weeks. Some studies report improvements. Also, parents of some with ADD/ADHD report those who learned to play musical instruments significantly helped.
Some with mild ADD/ADHD symptoms have tried daily massage therapy. This can improve mood and attentiveness and reduce hyperactivity. Some may find relief with relaxation training, prayer and meditation, and music therapy.
Herbs and Supplements – Some find relief with one or a combination of these herbal remedies instead of prescribed drug treatments. Check with your healthcare provider as some do not recommend these for children.
St. John’s Wort
Pine Bark Extract
Listol, a combination of:
Huperzine A Extract
As with all alternative health treatments, you should always check with your doctor or healthcare practitioner before starting treatment for any condition.
August 16th, 2011
Do you buy orange juice at the store? If you do, I’m sure you’re careful to buy the kind that’s 100% juice and not made from concentrate. After all, that’s the healthier kind, right? The more natural kind? The kind without any additives? The kind that’s sold in the refrigerator section so it must be almost as good as fresh-squeezed orange juice?
If I’m describing you, then you’re either going to hate me or love me by the time you’re done reading this post. The truth is, that orange juice you feel so good about buying is probably none of those things. You’ve been making assumptions based on logic. The food industry follows its own logic because of the economies of scale. What works for you in your kitchen when making a glass or two of juice simply won’t work when trying to process thousands upon thousands of gallons of the stuff.
Haven’t you ever wondered why every glass of Tropicana Pure Premium orange juice tastes the same, no matter where in the world you buy it or what time of year you’re drinking it in? Or maybe your brand of choice is Minute Maid or Simply Orange or Florida’s Natural. Either way, I can ask the same question. Why is the taste and flavor so consistent? Why is it that the Minute Maid never tastes like the Tropicana, but always tastes like its own unique beverage?
Generally speaking, beverages that taste consistently the same follow recipes. They’re things like Coca Cola or Pepsi or a Starbucks Frappuccino. When you make orange juice at home, each batch tastes a little different depending on the oranges you made it from. I hope you’re hearing warning bells in your head right about now.
The reason your store bought orange juice is so consistently flavorful has more to do with chemistry than nature.
Making OJ should be pretty simple. Pick oranges. Squeeze them. Put the juice in a carton and voilà!
But actually, there is an important stage in between that is an open secret in the OJ industry. After the oranges are squeezed, the juice is stored in giant holding tanks and, critically, the oxygen is removed from them. That essentially allows the liquid to keep (for up to a year) without spoiling– but that liquid that we think of as orange juice tastes nothing like the Tropicana OJ that comes out of the carton. (source)
In fact, it’s quite flavorless. So, the industry uses “flavor packs” to re-flavor the de-oxygenated orange juice:
When the juice is stripped of oxygen it is also stripped of flavor providing chemicals. Juice companies therefore hire flavor and fragrance companies, the same ones that formulate perfumes for Dior and Calvin Klein, to engineer flavor packs to add back to the juice to make it taste fresh. Flavor packs aren’t listed as an ingredient on the label because technically they are derived from orange essence and oil. Yet those in the industry will tell you that the flavor packs, whether made for reconstituted or pasteurized orange juice, resemble nothing found in nature. The packs added to juice earmarked for the North American market tend to contain high amounts of ethyl butyrate, a chemical in the fragrance of fresh squeezed orange juice that, juice companies have discovered, Americans favor. Mexicans and Brazilians have a different palate. Flavor packs fabricated for juice geared to these markets therefore highlight different chemicals, the decanals say, or terpene compounds such as valencine.
The formulas vary to give a brand’s trademark taste. If you’re discerning you may have noticed Minute Maid has a candy like orange flavor. That’s largely due to the flavor pack Coca-Cola has chosen for it. Some companies have even been known to request a flavor pack that mimics the taste of a popular competitor, creating a “hall of mirrors” of flavor packs. Despite the multiple interpretations of a freshly squeezed orange on the market, most flavor packs have a shared source of inspiration: a Florida Valencia orange in spring.
Why aren’t these flavor packs listed as ingredients?
Good question! As with all industrial foods, it’s because of our convoluted labeling laws. You see, these “flavor packs are made from orange by-products — even though these ‘by-products’ are so chemically manipulated that they hardly qualify as ‘by-products’ any more.” (source) Since they’re made from by-products that originated in oranges, they can be added to the orange juice without being considered an “ingredient,” despite the fact that they are chemically altered.
So, what should you do about it?
First off, I must ask: Why are you drinking juice?? Juice removed from the fruit is just concentrated fructose without any of the naturally-occurring fiber, pectin, and other goodies that make eating a whole fruit good for you. Did you know, for example, that it takes 6-8 medium sized apples to make just 1 cup of apple juice? You probably wouldn’t be able to eat 6-8 medium apples in a single sitting. (I know I can barely eat one!) But you can casually throw back a cup of apple juice, and you would probably be willing to return for seconds. That’s why fruit juice is dangerous. It’s far too easy to consume far too much sugar.
So, my first piece of advice is to get out of the juice habit altogether. It’s expensive, and it’s not worth it.
My second piece of advice is to only drink juices that you make yourself, and preferably ones that you’ve turned into a healthy, probiotic beverage (like this naturally-fermented lemonade my own family enjoys). Sally Fallon Morrell’s Nourishing Traditions cookbook (pictured at right) has several lacto-fermented juice coolers that are pleasant, albeit expensive. (I especially like the Grape Cooler, Raspberry Drink, and Ginger Beer.) Want to make juicing easier? See here for where to buy juicers and Vitamix blenders.
And finally, opt out of the industrial food system as much as you can. If you learn anything at all from this post, it should be that you never know what’s in your food unless you grow it, harvest it, or make it yourself. Second best (and more practical for many, including myself) is to pay somebody I trust to do it — like the farmers at my Farmer’s Market, the cattle rancher I buy my annual grass-fed beef order from, or the chef at my local restaurant who’s willing to transparently answer questions about how he sources ingredients and what goes into the dish I’m ordering.
August 2nd, 2011
By: Ethan A Huff
Influenza vaccination rates are on the decline as Americans increasingly learn not only that flu shots contain harmful additives like Thimerosal (mercury), but also that they do not even work as claimed (one of the “side effects” of getting a flu shot, after all, is the flu itself).
So in order to convince the public into believing that flu vaccines are useful and necessary, experts from the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) are now touting the advent of a “universal” flu vaccine currently in the works that will supposedly protect against all types of flu.
According to USA Today, scientists are currently working on a universal flu vaccine that targets certain unchanging characteristics of flu viruses that are common among many strains. Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the NIH, says that the viral coatings of every flu strain contain some of the same, universal characteristics. So it is theoretically possible, he says, to design a vaccine that targets these universal characteristics, and thus target virtually all flu strains.
“There are parts of the viral coat that don’t change,” said Collins concerning the vaccine concept. “If you designed a vaccine to go after the constant part of the virus, you’d be protected against all strains.”
But is creating such a vaccine actually possible, or is the NIH announcement just a pipe dream based on wishful thinking? Or perhaps the idea of a universal flu vaccine is just a ploy to convince people that vaccine science is legitimate, and that vaccines actually work?
These are some of the glaring questions that stand out in this matter since, as many of us now know, the vaccine industry has no intention of actually “curing” the flu, and thus killing its flu vaccine cash cow.
Universal flu vaccine an attempt to convince public that vaccines are legitimate
Let’s face it. More and more Americans are growing reluctant to take vaccines just because their doctors and various public health agencies are telling them they should. Last fall, a Consumer Reports study revealed that flu vaccination rates are on the decline, with only about 37 percent of respondents to a survey indicating that they planned to get vaccinated that year.
Nearly half indicated that negative side effects were the primary reason why they planned to skip the shot, while roughly the same percentage expressed concern about the safety of flu shots in general. Many also claimed that flu shorts are probably not even necessary in the first place.
And every year, an increasing number of people are expressing such sentiments, as the number of willing volunteers for the flu shot continues to decline.
Questioning the legitimacy of the flu shot is important. After all, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which many look to as the “be all, end all” source of health information, has basically admitted that flu vaccines are useless.
This is why the agency says individuals need to be re-vaccinated every year. But even a cursory knowledge of how antibodies work in the human body proves that vaccines do not work to boost immunity in the way the CDC alleges, otherwise there would be no need to re-vaccinate.
Then, there is the inconvenient truth that flu vaccines are ineffective more than 99 percent of the time anyway. In other words, for every 100 people that get a flu shot, only one of them will derive any perceived benefit from it — and that one percent is a generous estimate!
The natural result of all these facts, of course, is an overall decline in the number of people willing to get jabbed every single year. And authorities are taking notice of this, which appears to be why they are now attempting to quell the growing wave of dissent towards vaccinations with promises of a scientific breakthrough.
The flu shot is not the answer, nutrition and lifestyle is
The truth, though, is that no vaccine is truly effective at preventing the flu, including any supposed “universal” flu vaccine. Real immunity against influenza is not built by the injection of viral fragments and toxins like formaldehyde and mercury — it is built by being naturally exposed to viruses while maintaining optimal immunity through good health and lifestyle.
Maintaining high levels of vitamin D through natural sunlight exposure and consumption of vitamin D3 is one very effective way in which you can strengthen your immune system and be ready to fight off influenza naturally.
Getting good rest, drinking clean water and consuming immune-boosting superfoods will do wonders for your health, not only in preventing the flu, but also in preventing a myriad of other health conditions.
January 11th, 2011
By: Julie Deardorff
Food coloring is the reason glace cherries are red rather than beige and that children’s tongues sometimes appear freakishly blue. But man-made dyes may do more than make processed food look vibrant and whimsical. Some blame the additives for triggering behavioral problems in youngsters.
Acting on research published in the Lancet, the European Parliament last year began requiring products containing synthetic food colors to carry warning labels saying that “consumption may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children.”
Now, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has scheduled a March hearing on whether food dyes adversely impact children’s health. The Center for Science in the Public Interest, or CSPI, is asking the agency for a synthetic food-dye ban and to place warnings on products until the colors are removed.
The dyes are often used to enhance the appearance of sugary cereals, candies, sodas, fruit-flavored snacks, fast food and other products that are aimed at children and have little nutritional value, the CSPI said in a citizen’s petition signed by 18 physicians and researchers. Since naturally derived alternatives exist, the continued use is hardly worth any potential risk, it said.
“What’s the benefit? To make junk food even more appealing to children than it already is?” asked CSPI Executive Director Michael Jacobson.
Other experts say food dyes, which require pre-market approval, are among the most tightly regulated additives on the market and there’s little evidence for the long-suspected link between food colors and hyperactivity.
“The (synthetic food dyes) used in the U.S. are absolutely safe,” said Joseph Borzelleca, a professor emeritus of pharmacology and toxicology at Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine. “Food colors are among the most thoroughly studied of the food ingredients.”
That hasn’t always been the case. Originally, naturally derived ingredients were used to make food look more appealing — saffron, for example, gave rice a yellow tint. In the 1850s, manufacturers began using long-lasting coal-tar dyes to brighten both fabric and food, a practice that sickened countless unsuspecting consumers.
Nearly 200 substances were in use when safety testing was finally required in 1960; only a handful survived the testing process.
Today, the nine synthetic hues approved for use in food — meaning they’ve been certified by the FDA — are used primarily to help restore the color washed away by industrial processing, even out natural variations and make foods look more appealing or “fun.”
November 17th, 2010
By: Tom Philpott
Last week, I praised fast food, which has probably been around as long as people have lived in cities.
But there’s a particular type of fast food that goes back just a half-century, dating to the post-war rise of car-centered cities and suburbs. It relies on regimentation, weird additives, flavor “engineering,” super-cheap (but highly subsidized) ingredients, and super-expensive marketing. I won’t bore you with why I think this type of fast food sucks; wouldn’t want to be labeled a food snob!
But let’s talk about that marketing. Yale’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity has just put out an extraordinary report on fast-food industry marketing.
Here’s the report’s headline number: $4.2 billion, which is how much the industry spent marketing its wares in 2010.
To put that amount in perspective, consider the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, the USDA’s sub-agency that “works to improve the health and well-being of Americans by developing and promoting dietary guidance that links scientific research to the nutrition needs of consumers.” Its annual budget? $6.5 million, according to The New York Times reporter Michael Moss.
So $4.2 billion vs. $6.5 million. That means that for every $1 the industry spends haranguing Americans to eat stuff like Burger King’s 2,500-calorie Pizza Burger, about a tenth of a penny gets spent urging folks to eat their spinach.
And of course, as Moss’ superb recent piece shows, the USDA also openly collaborates with the industry to cajole people to eat more corporate fast food.
A $4.2 billion marketing budget in 2009, a year characterized by a brutal economic slump, is the sign of an extremely profitable industry. Corporate fast food is what is known as a “countercyclical” industry — it tends to thrive when the economy goes to hell. When money is tight, McDonald’s dollar menu looks like a bargain — and stuff like Domino’s now-infamous eight-cheese Wisconsin Pizza seems like a reasonable indulgence.
How well are these companies doing? The stock market gives us a clue. Over the past two years, shares of Yum! Brands (owner of owner of KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, and Long John Silver’s) and McDonald’s have both more than doubled. Meanwhile, the overall stock market, as measured by the S&P 500 index of the nation’s largest publicly traded companies, has flat-lined. In other words, investors are quite bullish on junk food corporations.
When times are flush, the industry is using its $4.2 billion marketing stash largely to cultivate new generations of customers: i.e., kids. The Rudd report doesn’t estimate how much of the fast-food industry’s marketing budget is directed at children (a 2006 study estimated a tidy $1.6 billion), but it offers a dizzying array of data to demonstrate the industry’s devotion to this dubious cause. Get this:
The average preschooler (2-5 years) saw 2.8 TV ads for fast food every day in 2009; children (6-11 years) saw 3.5; and teens (12-17 years) saw 4.7.
People have been scolding the fast-food industry for marketing its wares to kids for years. The industry’s response? A ramped-up effort to market its wares to kids:
Compared to 2003, preschoolers viewed 21% more fast food ads in 2009, children viewed 34% more, and teens viewed 39% more. … McDonald’s and Burger King have pledged to improve food marketing to children. However, both restaurants increased their volume of TV advertising from 2007 to 2009. Preschoolers saw 21% more ads for McDonald’s and 9% more for Burger King, and children viewed 26% more ads for McDonald’s and 10% more for Burger King.
There’s also an uncomfortable racial aspect to fast-food marketing — these companies evidently see major opportunity in selling product to African-American and Hispanic families:
McDonald’s and KFC specifically targeted African American youth with TV advertising, websites, and banner ads. African American teens viewed 75% more TV ads for McDonald’s and KFC compared to white teens.
How is all of this marketing working? The proof is in the whining. In a survey commissioned by the Rudd Center, 40 percent of parents report that their children ask to go to McDonald’s at least once a week, and 15 percent of parents of 2- to 5-year-olds report that their children harangue them for a Mickey D’s trip every day. As a result:
Eighty-four percent of parents reported taking their child to a fast food restaurant at least once in the past week; 66% reported going to McDonald’s.
What to make of all of this? To me, it underscores the importance of the National School Lunch Program. School lunches are our society’s most concrete, tangible way of transmitting foodways to rising generations. The public-school cafeteria is where we create a public vision of what the food system should be. In short, it’s the public contribution to the formation of kids’ eating habits. And it is in the cafeteria, I think, where the fast-food industry’s marketing efforts could be effectively rebuffed.
Unfortunately, I don’t have much good news here, either. Currently, we spend about $11 billion annually on school lunches — of which two-thirds goes to overhead and labor costs. That leaves about $4 billion to spend on ingredients — roughly equal to the fast food industry’s marketing annual budget. Per child, schools have about 90 cents per day to spend on ingredients.
At those levels of funding, it’s no wonder that public-school administrators are increasingly outsourcing cooking to … the fast-food industry, which knows a thing or two about engineering low-quality ingredients into something people will crave. And guess what? The USDA is cheering them on. Listen several minutes into this boring radio clip, and you’ll hear a Domino’s exec babbling about how USDA officials are helping the company get its pizza into school cafeterias. And if that doesn’t kill you, here’s a report about a Connecticut town that has invited McDonald’s PR flacks into its public schools to provide nutritional counseling.
There are school districts that are trying to teach kids other visions of what food is. Grist contributor and parent-turned-school-lunch-activist Ed Bruske is writing about the one in Boulder, Colo., right now — and how it’s struggling to balance the budget after tossing the junk food out.
Meanwhile, San Francisco is about to become the first major city to ban chains from providing toys in certain fast-food meals. The measure has aroused scorn — what will San Francisco ban next? the Times’ Freaknomics blog asked. But when cash-strapped parents and school districts are up against $4.2 billion in carefully plotted ways to get kids to beg for fast food, any public effort to fight back seems welcome.
November 9th, 2010
By: Dave Thier
If you’ve ever wondered exactly what that “USDA organic” seal actually means, you’re in good company. The U.S. Department of Agriculture itself has been asking the same question ever since it established the National Organic Program in 2002.
“Organic” is intended to mean agricultural products produced without hormones, pesticides, artificial fertilizers or other synthetic additives. But purists have long argued that the USDA standards contain numerous loopholes that have allowed factory-style farms to operate under the letter, if not the spirit, of the organic law. Now, both the industry and the government are grappling with how to bring meaning back to “organic.”
Fred Kirschenmann, a North Dakota farmer and distinguished fellow at the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, served on the National Organic Standards Board when it was establishing the standards for the USDA organic seal.
Early on, Kirschenmann argued that an organic farm shouldn’t be able to “degrade the health of the soil.” But when the board gave that to USDA lawyers, they told it to change the language. Any regulation, the lawyers said, needed to be able to be answered with a simple yes or no — something that can be difficult in the complex world of organic agriculture.
What the organic laws boiled down to were a list of inputs that an organic farm could and could not use. That led to many farmers getting their certification by practicing what some call “substitution agriculture” — changing the kinds of chemicals they added to the soil without changing the way that they farmed.
“You have organic farmers that don’t really use what would traditionally be used, what good organic practices would classify as good agro-ecological systems” Kirschenmann told AOL News. “They’re just using natural inputs instead of synthetic inputs.”
The confusion extends to livestock as well. For instance, organic cows and chickens were required to have “access to pasture.” For some that meant having free-range animals that got the bulk of their food from the outdoors. For others, it meant having a tiny door at one end of a gigantic henhouse.
In a report titled “Scrambled Eggs,” small farm advocate The Cornucopia Institute documented several certified organic egg farms keeping up to a million chickens in conditions that seem a long way away from a quaint little farmhouse.
For small farmers trying to raise animals in more humane and ecologically friendly conditions, having the government telling consumers that their products are equivalent to those from giant producers can make for tough business.
“We’re one of the few industries that have actually asked for strict regulation,” Cornucopia Institute co-founder Mark Kastel told AOL News.
Organic agriculture has boomed in the years since the adoption of the organic seal into a more than $25 billion-a-year industry. But Kastel and others argue that some of that expansion sacrificed the practices that were supposed to be essential to organic agriculture — and allowed big firms to squeeze out the small producers that helped to build the organic brand in the first place.
Proponents of tighter organic standards, however, agree that President Barack Obama’s undersecretary of agriculture, Kathleen Merrigan, and the USDA have been working to clarify some of that flexible language. Last year, they changed the “access to pasture” phrase to say that cows must be allowed to graze 120 days a year. And at a series of hearings in Madison, Wis., recently, producers, distributors, processors and consumers told the National Organic Standards Board what they thought was missing from the current certification standards.
For Kastel and others trying to establish a more exclusive organic seal, the hearings were a success: They declared that nanotechnology would not be allowed in organic products and that conventional hops would not be allowed in organic beer. In the contentious egg issue, he said that the board seemed receptive to farmers and consumers asking for stricter requirements for certified organic eggs.
“Now we’ve got an administrative management under the Obama administration that respects the organic community, and it’s quite a turnaround,” Kastel said. “Now we’re seeing institutionalized improprieties being reversed.”
Egg and dairy giant Organic Valley is one of the largest organic farm co-ops in the country. The company employs its own inspection standards above USDA organic. But Organic Valley, like the USDA, has had to deal with the difficulties of balancing organic ideals with an ever-expanding industry.
“I think that they are only now dealing with the nuances of the language,” Organic Valley egg pool director David Bruce told AOL News about the USDA’s organics standards. “And they’re trying to balance the fact that some there is some idealism around organics, and there needs to be a rubber hitting the road, and that idealism needs to meet the reality of production agriculture.”
May 20, 2010
By Mike Adams
(NaturalNews) A new study published in the journal Circulation reveals that eating processed meat products significantly raises the risk of heart disease and diabetes. Previous research has linked processed meats to cancer as well.
The new paper involved a meta-analysis of 20 different studies covering more than one million people from 10 different countries. The study found that eating just 2 ounces of processed meat each day resulted in the following:
• A 42 percent increase in the risk of heart disease.
• A 19 percent increase in the risk of diabetes.
Interestingly, the analysis simultaneously found that eating non-processed meats was not linked to these increases in disease risk. The study authors concluded that it was the processed salt and chemical additives in the processed meat that caused increase risk of disease.
March 15, 2010
By David Gutierrez
Many children’s snacks marketed as healthy alternatives are actually full of unhealthy ingredients like sugar, salt and fat, according to an analysis conducted by the consumer watchdog organization Which?.
“Parents should be able to pick out healthy products for their kids’ lunchboxes, but what you see isn’t always what you get,” said the group’s Martyn Hocking.
“Many [products] declare that they don’t contain additives, but don’t mention they’re also full of salt or sugar – giving the impression they’re healthier than they are,” the report reads.
For example, while Dairylea Lunchables Ham ‘n’ Cheese Crackers are advertised as providing half of the recommended daily calcium for a child, nowhere on the label or in promotional materials does the company acknowledge that the product is high in fat, saturated fat and salt — containing 1.8 grams of the maximum daily recommended 3 grams of the latter.
The report also singles out Kellogg’s Frosties Cereal and Milk bars, which the company promotes by saying, “”Fortified with vitamins, iron and calcium, now you can give your kids a great tasting snack that you can be sure won’t come back from school in the lunchbox!” Yet the company does not explain that the bars contain seven different sugar ingredients and thus are nearly one-third sugar by weight.
Other supposedly healthy products that are actually high in sugar include Robinson’s Fruit Shoot orange juice drinks, with nearly five teaspoons (23 grams) or sugar in a single 200 milliliter bottle; Fruit Factory fruit strings, with 13.7 grams of sugar in a 24 gram product; and Munch Bunch Double Up fromage frais, which contain only 2.25 grams of fruit puree but more than two teaspoons (12.4 grams) of sugar.
“The best way to beat the lunchbox baddies is by checking the nutrition and ingredient information,” Hocking said. “We’d also like to see the rules on health and nutrition claims made tougher, so there’s less confusion on the supermarket shelves.”
December 29, 2009
By E. Huff
A study published by Bionsen, a company in the United Kingdom that sells aluminum-free body products, found that the average woman applies 515 chemicals to her face a day. Makeup, perfumes, lotions, mascara, and other beauty products all contribute to the toxic brew that is causing health problems for many women.
The study revealed that the typical woman uses about 13 different beauty products a day. Most of these products contain at least 20 ingredients and additives, many of which can have a detrimental effect on the body and skin. Perfumes alone were found to contain up to 400 different ingredients.
Other products that were tested include lipstick, body lotions and mascara which contained an average of 30 ingredients each. Aside from aluminum, many of these products contain other harmful ingredients like synthetic dyes, fragrances, and parabens. When applied continually, the many beauty products that women use are exposing them to wide range of carcinogens.
The perpetual advent of new and innovative beauty products has led to a massive increase in product usage over the years. What was once a basic cleansing protocol has turned into a lifestyle of trying the latest and greatest products in an effort to maintain youthful beauty. As a result, women are exposed to more toxic carcinogens from beauty products than ever.
An Environmental Working Group (EWG) study from 2006 found that less than one percent of all cosmetic products are made from ingredients that have all undergone safety assessments. The great majority of products contain known carcinogens, reproductive toxins and various other harmful chemicals that cause serious diseases like cancer.
The EWG study found that the average person uses up to 25 personal care products per day. Among these, about 200 different chemicals will have been added to scent, preserve, synthesize and stabilize them for consumption. Many of these ingredients will end up causing hormonal disruption and immune dysfunction. In younger people, developmental problems are likely to result from excessive product use.
Makeup usage among younger girls has also increased. About 90 percent of 14-year-old girls now use makeup, according to a research study conducted by Mintel Internation Group in 2004. Sixty-three percent of girls as young as seven are now using lipstick, eyeliner, eye shadow and mascara.
As consumers are becoming more aware of many beauty product ingredients and the harm they are causing, product manufacturers are beginning to remove many of them from their formulations. Those concerned would do best to purchase only products that have minimal or no toxic ingredients. Greatly reducing one’s cosmetic arsenal is the next best option.