Friday, September 28, 2012

Los Angeles Times: "Poll Finds Prop. 37 Is Likely to Pass"

Courtesy of the Los Angeles Times, here's an update on the status of California's Proposition 37, a ballot initiative that would require the labeling of most foods containing genetically engineered ingredients. Many believe that if Prop 37 passes, the food system in this country would drastically change for the better.
Here's the start of the article; click here to read it in its entirety.

"By more than a 2-to-1 margin, California voters favor an initiative to require food manufacturers and retailers to label fresh produce and processed foods that contain genetically engineered ingredients.

"With less than six weeks until election day, Proposition 37 is supported by 61% of registered voters and opposed by 25%, according to a new USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll. An additional 14% were undecided or refused to answer.

"The poll showed broad support among voter groups, but the interviews took place before Tuesday's start of a major television advertising blitz by opponents aimed at changing voters' minds on the issue.

"So far, the opposition campaign has raised more than $32.5 million, collected mostly from businesses affected by the measure.
[See below.]

"If approved by voters Nov. 6, the labeling initiative would make California the first state in the nation to require labels on genetically engineered crops or processed foods, such as corn, soybeans, sugar beets and Hawaiian papayas. It would require labels on supermarket shelves or on food packages

"The California ballot issue is being watched closely by experts who say it could set the stage for battles in other states and perhaps thrust the issue of labeling genetically modified organisms to the forefront in Washington.

"The telephone poll of 1,504 registered voters statewide was conducted Sept. 17 to 23. It showed majority support among most age groups, geographic areas, ethnic groups and educational levels."
As of September 23, the leading contributors to the attempt to defeat Prop 37 are the chemical giants (pesticides and genetically engineered seed) Monsanto ($7.1 million) and DuPont ($4.9 million). Processed foodstuff companies Pepsico ($1.7 million), Nestle ($1.2 million), Coca-Cola ($1.2 million) and Conagra ($1.1 million) are also paying (and praying) for Prop 37's demise.

The Delicious Truth/Cook with Class has contributed $150 in support of Prop 37 and is seriously considering adding to that total.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

More Anecdotal Evidence Concerning How We Eat

Last winter I gave a husband and wife a handful of cooking lessons. The wife's goal was to learn some new recipes and techniques, while the husband—a self-described "non-adventurous" eater—wanted to lose weight while trying to expand his palate.

I told them that we would be supremely concerned with the quality and genesis of the food we were cooking; there would be no concern about fat, calories and cholesterol. While the avoidance of this holy triptych is the mantra of most American nutritionists, this ill-advised theory has, I believe, wreaked havoc on our health over the past four decades. 

The couple was on board and we cooked several dozen different dishes, ranging from beef-barley-mushroom soup to chicken parmigiana to sausage and peppers to quinoa salad. We used only grass-fed and/or organic meats and dairy products, and all the fruits and vegetables were organic. We replaced the husband's go-to snack—white bread—with organic whole grain bread.

The food we made was basic but full of flavor. Quite often, after the completion and tasting of a dish, one (or both) would say, "That's all you do?"

Last week, six months after our last lesson, I received an email from the husband. It provides more anecdotal evidence that we are spending way too much time counting fat and calorie totals and not enough time worrying about the quantity of antibiotics added to the genetically-engineered and pesticide-laden corn and soy that is the staple of our livestock's (cattle, chicken, pigs) diet. But heaven forbid if there's any skin on that toxic chicken breast or any fat in that toxic hamburger! And don't even think about using nutrient-dense coconut oil to cook that chicken breast or hamburger; use toxic canola oil instead!

Here's what the husband wrote:

"We are using your recipes and eating well. I have lost 24 pounds . . . and am eating all the bread and meat that I want, as you predicted. While I refuse to give up my Hershey bar, I am only eating organic pasta which I have concluded tastes better."

As for the Hershey bar, I tried to get him to eat nutrient-dense dark chocolate, but it didn't fly. Had he gone for it, he may have been down 34 pounds, not 24.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Mark Bittman: "Is Alzheimer's Type 3 Diabetes?"

Want even more evidence that the American diet is wreaking havoc on our bodies, minds and finances (hundreds of billions of dollars)?  Read Mark Bittman's column in the online edition of today's New York Times; it explores the relationship between junk food and Alzheimer's, which is increasingly being labeled "Type 3 diabetes."

Thanks to our society's blind addiction to the avoidance of fat (fat from pastured animals is not the same as fat from a Twinkie), calories (calories from an organic avocado are not the same as calories from a Twinkie) and cholesterol (don't even get me started on the cholesterol myth; egg white omelets are not healthy, sorry), we haven't paid as much attention as necessary to the role that proper insulin functioning plays in our health.

However, this beginning to change. Many of us don't know that much about insulin, but Bittman offers a useful primer, which I've copied below. Click here to read the entire article (highly recommended).

"We all need insulin: in non-diabetics, it’s released to help cells take in the blood sugar (glucose) they need for energy. But the cells can hold only so much; excess sugar is first stored as glycogen, and — when there’s enough of that — as fat. (Blood sugar doesn’t come only from sugar, but from carbohydrates of all kinds; easily digested carbohydrates flood the bloodstream with sugar.) Insulin not only keeps the blood vessels that supply the brain healthy, it also encourages the brain’s neurons to absorb glucose, and allows those neurons to change and become stronger. Low insulin levels in the brain mean reduced brain function.
"Type 1 diabetes, in which the immune system destroys insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, accounts for about 10 percent of all cases. Type 2 diabetes is chronic or environmental, and it’s especially prevalent in populations that overconsume hyperprocessed foods, like ours. It’s tragically, increasingly common — about a third of Americans have diabetes or pre-diabetes — and treatable but incurable. It causes your cells to fail to retrieve glucose from the blood, either because your pancreas isn’t producing enough insulin or the body’s cells ignore that insulin. (That’s 'insulin resistance'; stand by.)

"Put as simply as possible (in case your eyes glaze over as quickly as mine when it comes to high school biology), insulin 'calls' your cells, asking them to take glucose from the bloodstream: 'Yoo-hoo. Pick this stuff up!'

"When the insulin calls altogether too often — as it does when you drink sugar-sweetened beverages and repeatedly eat junk food — the cells are overwhelmed, and say, 'Leave me alone.' They become resistant. This makes the insulin even more insistent and, to make matters worse, all those elevated insulin levels are bad for your blood vessels.

"Diabetes causes complications too numerous to mention, but they include heart disease, which remains our No. 1 killer. And when the cells in your brain become insulin-resistant, you start to lose memory and become disoriented. You even might lose aspects of your personality.

"In short, it appears, you develop Alzheimer’s."

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

"Organic" Fruit Drinks Not Organic; What Should I Do?

Follows is my moral dilemma for the day. What should I do? Leave your thoughts in the comment section.

My neighborhood is populated with food carts and trucks, many of them selling fake ice cream and fake baked goods. There are also plenty of fruit vendors, but nobody is selling organic fruit. That's why I was surprised to see an "Organic Fruit Shakes & Smoothies" cart, replete with a menu for two dozen different drink concoctions.

One problem: None of the fruit on display and used was labeled organic. The apples and oranges had PLU codes starting with a 4 (signifying non-organic), there was a box, clearly labeled, of non-organic bananas under the cart and the strawberries were in a plastic shell identifying them as non-organic. The other fruit (lemons, pineapples, pears, etc.) did not have any organic markers.

It was obvious from the vendor's behavior—following my question, "Is all of the fruit you use organic?—that he was consciously making the decision to cheat people. After he answered "yes," I picked up an orange, pointed to the PLU sticker and said, "Really?".

"OK, some of it," he said.

I challenged him further, spurred on by the thought that people were paying $7 for a lie. His ever-changing answers yawed from the innocent ("It's only my second day doing this") to the deflective ("It's the company that makes the carts") to the economic ("I am trying to make a living") to the this-doesn't-make-it-right, but . . . ("If I used organic fruit, they would be paying $17, not $7"). His behavior, in my mind, only concretized his guilt.

The thought of people being cheated makes my blood boil. Should I report the vendor to the city agency that oversees mobile food carts? Let me know what you think.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Lamb's Nutritional Profile

I made lamb burgers for dinner last night using ground Icelandic lamb from Whole Foods. The flavor was sublime. (Was it the meat or the chef?) 

We don't eat that much lamb in the United States, which is a shame, since it's delicious and very healthy.

According to the World's Healthiest Foods website,
"Lamb is seldom mentioned as a significant source of omega-3 fats, but can provide a valuable amount in the diet, at approximately 50% the amount provided by cod fish or tuna on an ounce-for-ounce basis. Lamb can also contain valuable amounts of CLA (conjugated linoleic acid), a cardioprotective fatty acid. Lamb is a very good source of immunity-supportive protein and selenium. It is also a good source of heart-healthy vitamin B12 and niacin; blood sugar-balancing zinc; and energy-producing phosphorus."
However, just like with chicken, beef and pork, make sure to buy grass-fed lamb, which is a far superior product than grain-fed.  (The lamb from Iceland and New Zealand available at Whole Foods is 100 percent grass-fed.)

Friday, September 21, 2012

How to Make Lamb Stew, Using Lamb Shanks

Here's are directions to make a very, very flavorful lamb stew using lamb shanks, a third way to cook lamb (following the two suggestions I offered yesterday). In lieu of shanks, you can substitute stew meat. Sorry that there's no photo, but I haven't made this since the end of last winter. Just visualize flavor sitting in a bowl in front of you.

In pan or pot (depending on how many lamb shanks you are making) heat olive oil. Season shanks with salt and pepper and brown as many sides as you want (working in batches, if necessary). Remove shanks to bowl. In same pan or pot, cook chopped onion and carrot in lamb fat, stirring occasionally. Scrape off any lamb bits that have stuck to the bottom of the pan, using a little liquid (water, stock, wine, etc.) to help, if necessary. Once onions have started to soften, add minced garlic and ginger and stir for about 1 minute. Then add spices (see below) and stir for about 30 seconds. Here are the real amounts for the spices, but I usually just eyeball; if you don't have one of the spices, it's not the end of the world.

1½ teaspoon ground coriander
¾ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
¼ teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon ground cardamom
½ teaspoon ground ginger 
½ teaspoon ground turmeric

Add lamb shanks and any juices back to pan/pot, and, figuring 4 lamb shanks, add 1 cup of strained tomatoes and 2½ cups of water or stock. If you want to add some red wine, add about ½ cup. Bring to a boil, return to a simmer and cook, mostly covered, until lamb is tender, about 1½ hours. Make sure to occasionally turn over lamb shanks, so they cook evenly. Sauce should gradually thicken. If shanks are tender but sauce too thin, remove shanks and continue to cook and reduce sauce. Season to taste with salt, pepper and lemon juice (if desired) at end of cooking.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

How to Cook Lamb: Lamb Burgers and Leg of Lamb

After my post last week on Icelandic lamb, a reader asked for ideas on how to cook lamb.  In general, lamb and other less-employed animal proteins can be prepared using the various cooking techniques (sautéing, roasting, stewing, etc.) that are used for more popular meats such as beef, pork and chicken.

Here are two ideas; a third will follow tomorrow.

1. Lamb burgers.  Just like beef hamburgers, but with ground lamb. To season, I use ground cumin in addition to salt and pepper. Add sautéed onions and chopped parsley into the mixture for more flavor, nutrition and color. Use the same ingredients to make mini lamb meatballs; roll the balls, put on a cookie sheet, cook in a 350 degree oven to medium-rare (just like the burgers), stick a toothpick in them and serve, especially at parties. Again, make sure to cook to medium-rare; don't forget about carryover cooking.

2. Butterflied leg of lamb (boneless). Make a mixture of olive oil, chopped fresh rosemary, chopped garlic, salt and pepper. Spread over the lamb, making sure to get the flavoring into the meat's nooks and crannies. Sauté in a pan in olive oil (brown one side, flip, brown the second side). If there are some very thick parts, put the entire slab in a 350 degree oven for a couple minutes. A plus: Just like when cooking skirt steak, you will get some meat that is rare, some that is medium-rare and some that is medium, owing to the varying thickness of this cut. This makes it perfect for group dinners.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Turning Fresh Herbs into Dried Herbs at Home

Dried herbs from a jar can be underwhelming and very expensive. Instead, drying one's own can provide a great-tasting and cheaper alternative.

Preferably using herbs (i.e. oregano, thyme, sage, mint) from your garden or a farmers' market, simply tie the stems of the herbs together and hang upside down. Depending on the dryness and warmth of the room where you hang them (outside in the sun is even better), you should have homemade dried herbs in a couple days to a couple weeks.

Pictured is oregano from my garden that is ready to jar. I used it in a quick tomato sauce last night and it was delicious.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Easy Cooking 101: How to Make Fish Stew (in 30 Minutes)

Making a fish stew sounds daunting, but it's only marginally more difficult than making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. (Actually, if don't have peanut butter, fish stew is easier.) You'll only need a handful of ingredients and, for the most part, any fish or shellfish (a combination is best) works.

First, heat some olive oil or butter in a soup pot. Add some chopped onion and cook the onion. You don't want the onion to brown, so stir occasionally so it becomes translucent (and sweet). When the onion starts to soften, add some minced garlic and continue the now-and-again stirring.

When the onion and garlic are soft, add a can of diced or whole peeled tomatoes and two cups of water. (For fish stew, I use a 28-oz. can of Bionaturae's organic diced tomatoes in BPA-free cans.) Add a little unrefined sea salt and fresh ground pepper; if you have thyme (fresh is great, dried is fine) add that as well. Bring the mixture to a boil (keep stirring occasionally) and then lower to a simmer for about 15 minutes.

One problem home cooks have is overcooking the fish, so make sure to stagger the addition of the different fish, depending on their cooking times. For example, in the fish stew I just made, I used live clams in their shells, cod, weakfish, shrimp and scallops (out of shell). Cooking time of the clams always seems to take longer than the other items (which I cut into smaller pieces), so I added the clams first. When their shells open, they are done. As they opened (not necessarily at the same time), I removed them to a bowl.

After this, I added the other seafood and immediately turned off the heat. The liquid was hot enough—and the fish so delicate—that everything was cooked through in three or four minutes. I added the clams and let the stew sit for about 10 minutes, both to cool and to let the flavors develop. I tasted and added a touch more salt. A little chopped parsley added color, flavor and nutrition.

One more point: Many fish stew recipes call for fish stock. I know this may be sacrilegious, but I think it's unnecessary and a waste of money. Quality seafood will contain all the fish flavor you'll need.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Mark Bittman: "G.M.O.'s: Just Label 'Em"

Yesterday in the online edition of The New York Times, Mark Bittman offered his thoughts ("G.M.O.'s: Let's Label 'Em") on California's Prop 37 and the right to know what's in our food. Here are the first four paragraphs. Click here to read the entire piece.
"It’s not an exaggeration to say that almost everyone wants to see the labeling of genetically engineered materials contained in their food products. And on Nov. 6, in what’s unquestionably among the most important non-national votes this year, Californians will have the opportunity to make that happen — at least in theory — by weighing in on Proposition 37.

"Prop 37’s language is clear on two points: it would require 'labeling on raw or processed food offered for sale to consumers if made from plants or animals with genetic material changed in specified ways.' And it would prohibit marketing 'such food, or other processed food, as ‘natural.’ ' (For now, let’s ignore the vast implications of the phrase 'or other processed food,' lest we become overexcited, except to say that the literal interpretation of that sentence has the processed food manufacturers’ collective hair on fire.)

"Polls show Prop 37 to be overwhelmingly popular: roughly 65 percent for to 20 percent against, with 15 percent undecided. Nationally, on the broader issue of labeling, in answer to the question of whether the Food and Drug Administration should require that 'foods which have been genetically engineered or containing genetically engineered ingredients be labeled to indicate that,' a whopping 91 percent of voters say yes and 5 percent say no. This is as nonpartisan as an issue gets, and the polls haven’t changed much in the last couple of years.

"Unsurprisingly, Big Food in general — and particularly companies like Monsanto that produce genetically engineered seeds and the ultraprofitable herbicides, pesticides and other materials that in theory make those seeds especially productive — have already thrown tens of millions of dollars into defeating Prop 37. On the other side is a relatively underfunded coalition led by California Right to Know, which collected the necessary million-plus (yes!) signatures to get the proposition on the ballot. Although television advertising has just begun and its advocates would never say so, at the moment the bill seems assured of passage. Excellent."

Friday, September 14, 2012

Jack LaLanne: Fuel, a Car and Our Bodies

We haven't heard from our idol Jack LaLanne in a couple months, so here we are:

(If you are receiving The Delicious Truth via email, click here to watch a man who was very much ahead of his time.)

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Let's Make a Deal: Is Our Food Supply Worth Only $300?

I know this isn't earth-shattering, but I am absolutely convinced that money is the cause of our food supply's ills. But $300 to bribe a U.S. Department of Agriculture inspector? Considering that 500 million eggs were about to be recalled, don't you think the proposed pay-off should have included a couple more zeroes?

Here's the whole story from today's Food Safety News, which should make us all wonder what else is going on with our food. For me, it confirms that the eggs I buy at the farmers' market for $6 per dozen are a great bargain.

Employee of Egg Farm Linked to 2010 Salmonella
Outbreak Tried to Bribe USDA Inspector

Former manager to plead guilty in Northern Iowa District Court

by Gretchen Goetz | Sep 12, 2012

"A former manager at the Iowa farm responsible for the largest egg recall in history and the 2010 Salmonella outbreak that sickened nearly 2,000 people will plead guilty to conspiring to bribe a federal inspector to overlook health violations at the facility.

"Tony Wasmund, former employee of Wright County Egg -- one of the two operations owned by Austin 'Jack' DeCoster that were jointly linked to the 2010 outbreak -- was accused of authorizing another worker to give $300 to an inspector from the U.S. Department of Agriculture in a complaint filed Tuesday in the U.S. District Court of Northern Iowa.

"The funds were intended to convince the USDA official to allow the sale of eggs that had been held after failing to meet agency standards, according to the complaint.

"Wasmund allegedly authorized the release of these funds August 12, 2010, the day before the first of three egg recalls for potential Salmonella contamination was announced by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Five days later, on August 18, the Wright County recall was expanded to include a total of 380,000 shelled eggs. On August 20, DeCoster's Hillandale Farms recalled around 170,000 of its eggs, bringing the total number of recalled eggs to 550 million.

"In addition to trying to distribute sub-standard eggs for sale to consumers, Wasmund was accused of attempting to label the facility's eggs with a higher grade level than the one awarded to them by USDA. Wasmund allegedly pushed for 'the inclusion of labeling falsely indicating the eggs met a quality grade standard under rules promulgated by the USDA,' and 'the omission of labeling to indicate the eggs...could not be lawfully sold.'

"Wasmund agreed to plead guilty at a hearing Wednesday morning.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Icelandic Lamb Available at Whole Foods for Limited Time

Fruits and vegetables aren't the only foods that have seasons. Different fish are available at different times of the year depending on water temperature and even non-factory farm hens have a rhythm to their egg laying.

Another food that falls into this category is Icelandic lamb, which is available now for the next two months or so at Whole Foods markets. Whole Foods has an exclusive agreement with Iceland and is the only purveyor of Icelandic-raised lamb.

The quality is superb, but some of the cuts can be a little pricey. However, if you only splurge on food once in blue moon, this is a good occasion to do so. My local Whole Foods just received two whole animals on Monday and is doing all of the butchering and fabricating on site.

Here's a Whole Foods-sponsored video telling the story of Icelandic lamb. (If you are receiving The Delicious Truth via email, click here to watch the video.)

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Tomato, Mozzarella, Basil Salad over Sautéed Bread

A quick and delicious meal for a late summer lunch or dinner:

Mix together some chopped fresh tomatoes (only a couple weeks left in their season), with some fresh basil and/or arugula, cubed mozzarella cheese, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, unrefined sea salt and fresh ground pepper. Serve over sautéed bread.

Sautéed bread? Yes, pan fry slices of bread in olive oil or butter, making sure to brown both sides. It's sort of like French toast, but without the coating. The bread will absorb the juices from the salad and you will be in heaven.

Monday, September 10, 2012

EWG's New Guide to Healthy Household Cleaning Products

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has done it again. Adding to their successful online databases for personal health care products, sunscreens, pesticides in produce and drinking water, the consumer advocacy group has just introduced a new guide to household cleaning products.
It's straightforward to use and should help in the search for safer supplies. (White vinegar mixed with water is a great alternative, but that's a whole different story.)

Click here to visit EWG's 2012 Guide to Healthy Cleaning.

And here's part of the email I received from the group announcing the new database:

"We all know cleaning is a chore that just has to get done - but why does picking a safer cleaning product also have to be a burden?

"The scary fact is, ingredient labels aren't mandatory for cleaning products. Some companies don't list anything, while others list just one or two ingredients or use vague nonsense terms.

"No one is making sure these products are safe for you and your family, so Environmental Working Group went to work. EWG's 2012 Guide to Healthy Cleaning rates more than 2,000 household cleaning products for toxicity and disclosure.

"It might not come as a surprise that there are dangerous ingredients in cleaning products - some known to harm the lungs, trigger asthma or are linked to cancer. What may surprise you is how few good options you have. Click here to see if your cleaners - from all-purpose cleaners to laundry detergent - make the grade.

"The good news is, EWG wants to give you information you won't necessarily find on labels. We've worked hard to find products that meet our standards.

"For more than a year, our staff scientists have scoured the labels and websites of thousands of products to compile a wide-ranging list of chemicals in household cleaners. We've conducted extensive scientific reviews of these substances.

"When we built our grading system, we looked not only at the toxicity of a product's contents but also the transparency of its labeling. We created this important tool so you can get the information you need to live healthier - and do it in a matter of minutes."

Friday, September 7, 2012

Today Only: Grass-Fed Ground Beef on Sale at Whole Foods

If you live near a Whole Foods, remember to take advantage of the store's great one-day national sale today on grass-fed ground beef. I bought 10 pounds this morning for $4.99 per pound, a heavy discount from the regular price of $8.99 per pound.

I had it prepared in 10 one-pound packages; nine pounds went into my freezer and $40 stayed in my pocket.

Click here to read about the health benefits of grass-fed meat and dairy products. You may never eat food from a commercial factory feedlot again.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Genetically Engineered Soybeans: Let Your Voice Be Heard

I received the following action alert yesterday from the Center for Food Safety concerning genetically engineered soybeans and immediately signed the petition. Even if you don't sign (no guilt), read the below so you know what's going on below the radar.
"The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is currently considering approval of Monsanto’s new genetically engineered (GE), dicamba tolerant soybeans. If approved, millions more pounds of this hazardous chemical will be sprayed, polluting our food, water, and air. This is just the latest effort in the corporate chemical arms race, and it will cause serious harm to human health and the environment.

"Sign the petition to the USDA to reject this risky new GE crop!

"Since the introduction of GE crops, herbicide use has increased by nearly 400 million pounds in the U.S. Why? Eighty-four percent of the GE crops planted today are designed to withstand massive applications of herbicides without dying. As more of these “herbicide resistant” (HR) crops have been planted, the massive increase in herbicide use has triggered an epidemic of resistant “superweeds.” Now, in a misguided effort to fix the weed resistance problem created by first generation HR crops, biotechnology companies are racing to genetically engineer new crops resistant to ever more toxic herbicides.

"Dicamba is an older, more toxic herbicide, which is similar in structure and mode to 2,4-D, a major component of Agent Orange. It is highly soluble in water and very mobile so carries a large groundwater contamination risk. Dicamba is also very volatile and can drift for miles. Volatilization happens when a pesticide is applied to a field and then hours or even days later, the pesticide vaporizes from the surface of plants or out of the soil, and that invisible vapor cloud moves offsite. Dicamba volatilization and drift has caused millions of dollars in damages to growers who have suffered crop losses due to herbicide drift onto their farms.

"Penn State ecologist David Mortensen predicts that herbicide use on soy could increase 70% if the new 2,4-D and dicamba tolerant soybeans are adopted. Inevitably new 'superweeds' will develop in response to the new biotech crops, and the chemical arms race with weeds will continue. This means more pesticidal pollution, environmental damage, higher production costs, and of course, increasing profits for firms like Monsanto that sell both GE seed and pesticides.

"At a time when farmers, citizens, and government have worked hard to limit our use of, and exposure to, hazardous pesticides like dicamba, approving this crop would take us backwards, seriously endangering human health and the environment.

"Tell the USDA to Reject Monsanto's Dicamba Tolerant Soybeans!

"Comments are due September 11th, so please take action today."

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Ewwww! I Just Changed My Grodie Water Filter

I have a countertop water filtration unit that I use tirelessly, for both drinking and cooking water. With normal use, one filter should last about a year, but I just changed mine after eight months since the water flow had slowed to a trickle.

The reason? Take a look at the photo; that's the new, pristine filter on the left next to the used filter with its collected detritus.

Below, copied from the filter's replacement manual, are some of the contaminants the filter reduces (I wonder what isn't caught!). And, by the way, I live in a municipality with a water supply that is generally considered to be excellent. Ever wonder where all that pesticide run-off goes?

Also, it is sobering to think about people who walk hours to fill a jug or two of potable water.

Contaminants possibly contained in the darkened filter:
Aesthetic Chlorine
Aesthetic Chloramine
Nominal Particulate Reduction (Class 1)
PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls)
Taste & Odors
VOCs (volatile organic compounds)

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

New York Times: "Farm Use of Antibiotics Defies Scrutiny"

Today's New York Times features an article, "Farm Use of Antibiotics Defies Scrutiny," that does a good job of summing up where we currently stand on the issue of antibiotics in our food supply. By some estimates, over 70 percent of the antibiotics used in this country are administered to healthy livestock in order to help them grow bigger faster.

Unfortunately, there is a disconnect when it comes to the details of this antibiotic use, so, as usual, the consumer loses.

Here are the first few paragraphs of the article. Click here to read the entire story.
"The numbers released quietly by the federal government this year were alarming. A ferocious germ resistant to many types of antibiotics had increased tenfold on chicken breasts, the most commonly eaten meat on the nation’s dinner tables.

"But instead of a learning from a broad national inquiry into a troubling trend, scientists said they were stymied by a lack of the most basic element of research: solid data.

"Eighty percent of the antibiotics sold in the United States goes to chicken, pigs, cows and other animals that people eat, yet producers of meat and poultry are not required to report how they use the drugs — which ones, on what types of animal, and in what quantities. This dearth of information makes it difficult to document the precise relationship between routine antibiotic use in animals and antibiotic-resistant infections in people, scientists say.

"Advocates contend that there is already overwhelming epidemiological evidence linking the two, something that even the Food and Drug Administration has acknowledged, and that further study, while useful for science, is not essential for decision making. 'At some point the available science can be used in making policy decisions,' said Gail Hansen, an epidemiologist who works for Pew Charitable Trusts, which advocates against overuse of antibiotics.

"But scientists say the blank spots in data collection are a serious handicap in taking on powerful producers of poultry and meat who claim the link does not exist.

“'It’s like facing off against a major public health crisis with one hand tied behind our backs,' said Keeve Nachman, an environmental health scientist at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, which does research on food systems.

"Antibiotics are considered the crown jewels of modern medicine. They have transformed health by stopping infections since they went into broad use after World War II. But many scientists say that their effectiveness is being eroded by indiscriminate use, both to treat infections in people and to encourage growth in chickens, turkeys, cows and pigs.

"Whatever the cause, resistant bacteria pose significant public health risks. Routine infections once treated with penicillin pills now require hospitalizations and intravenous drip antibiotics, said Cecilia Di Pentima, director of clinical services at the Infectious Diseases Division at Vanderbilt University’s Department of Pediatrics. Infections from such strains of bacteria are believed to cause thousands of deaths a year."

Monday, September 3, 2012

Labor Day Holiday

The Delicious Truth will return tomorrow.