Wednesday, April 29, 2009

What's the Word On Agriculture and Health, Mr. President?

With so many food issues at stake affecting our health, you would think it would be somewhere near the top of the list for our President to take more seriously the dire health care conditions in which we are situated, that are all-encompassing and have ripple effects on everything and everyone.

What's happened in the first 100 days? Sure, Michelle Obama took the initiative to install an organic garden on the White House Lawn. Then there's the well-intentioned economic stimulus package, promising the following for the environmental sector -$62.2 billion in direct spending on green initiatives and $20 billion in green tax incentives, including money for renewable energy, efficiency, improved energy transmission, smart-grid technology, low-income housing retrofits, rail transit, and green jobs training.

The administration also laid out its first budget to include an additional $15 billion in investments in energy and efficiency projects, with a clause to increase funding for rail – on top of the $8 billion for Amtrak in the stimulus. The plan was to create a “world-class passenger rail system” across the nation.

One of the most notable allocations on the budget was a cap-and-trade plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 83 percent below 2005 levels by 2050. Unfortunately, this initiative was rejected by the Senate. But those of us on the green side still hoped against hope that this action would prove just how intent the Obama administration was about making climate change issues a priority.

That's a great start, but isn't there more that can, and should be done? The answer is a resounding YES!

Food activists are accustomed to having to take a number when it comes to important issues being accounted for by the general public and government - even in the face of obesity and diabetes epidemics being at an all-time high, food safety issue after issue, questionable quality of school lunches served to children, the deficit in farming and rural populations, national and world hunger issues, and our unshakeable dependence upon petroleum and its affect on our food supply - while many viable alternatives and resources exist which continue to be untapped, unrecognized, and under-utilized.

In the last few years, we've noticed how food safety problems continue to mount as recall after recall occurs to make us even more suspicious of our food sources. In February of 2008, we watched as the media blazed with news headlines detailing the horrific ordeal of the largest meat recall in history of 143 millions pounds of meat, followed by the tomato and peanut butter recalls, and rice and wheat shortages. Then America was faced with the threat of deadly pathogens originating from the food supply, in the form of MRSA (from hogs in the Midwest), and once again, the Swine Flu which has been connected to Smithfield Farms in Vera Cruz, Mexico. This may be only the beginning if our policy makers and decision makers don't step up to the plate and put the hammer down. As these crises continue to crop up, we wonder if there is an end to in sight this insatiable, sickening lust for industrial food and the devastating, long-standing effects that result.

It is more than disappointing see repeated instances of both President Obama and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack failing to recognize agriculture issues as being intimatedly connected with the massive health care issues faced in our nation, as well as energy and environmental policies. In March after more recalls of 1500 peanut-butter containing products, the President announced the formation of a Food Safety Working Group (FSWG). "In the end, food safety is something I take seriously, not just as your president, but as a parent,” Mr. Obama said in his weekly radio and Internet address. Obama promised that with the inception of this new watch dog, his administration would finally begin to deal with the many problems due to lack of accountability and responsibility in food safety. Yet, ever since then, nary has a word been spoke.

Just as our article featured on the main Agriculture Society page discusses, the President has not acknowledged that to fix food safety issues which will stick, it is imperative that the current administration address underlying food system issues that are embedded in our manufacturing, production, political, and most importantly, agricultural systems, before anything else - without neglecting our heavy reliance on petroleum and petroleum by-products (which includes thousands and thousands of toxic food items on the market that people consume).

So what's next? We need to raise our voices and let our administration and President know that we won't be silent about these issues! Please become active and help make a difference. Visit Agriculture Society to read an open letter to the President and Congress about how preventative health care is absolutely essential and must include action in the agricultural, educational, and insurance sectors.

You can also sign an important petition on the Prescription for Change web site to show your support and intent. When you go to this site, there is a form letter which you can edit; make certain to mention something in this letter about preventative health care, addressing agricultural and food safety concerns, and emphasize how just how much these factors impact the effectiveness of our total health care in the United States. This correspondence will go directly to your local representatives according to the zip code you enter.

Alternatively, you can go straight to The White House and write a letter to The President.

This post is linked in Food Renegade's Fight Back Fridays Carnival. Please check out all the other informative posts on this site.

Fight Back Pain Naturally

Do you suffer from back pain? Four out of five adults suffer chronic back pain, and the causes are numerous. Remember that your back is one of the major components of your body, and as such, can not only affect other parts of your body, but can in turn be affected by other parts of your body as well.

Consider psychological therapy

According to Dennis Turk, Ph.D., a professor of anesthesiology and pain research at the University of Washington in Seattle, patients with chronic pain sometimes fail to recognize the value of psychological treatments because they’ve been set up to expect a cure.

“Even the latest and greatest treatments don’t cure people with chronic pain,” he said. “Psychological interventions are not cures, but they do reduce pain and improve function and they are important components in the treatment of people with chronic pain.”

Turk added that psychological interventions are also cost-effective when compared to other treatments for chronic low back pain — a key finding, considering that estimates for treatment-related costs range from $20 billion to $80 billion a year in the United States.
“Surgery, opioids, nerve blocks, spinal cord stimulators, implantable drug delivery systems — every one of those particular alternatives is much more expensive and has poorer or at best equal outcomes compared to rehabilitation programs that include psychological components,” said Turk. “The paradox is that, despite data on the effectiveness of psychological interventions, insurers are less willing to pay for them.”

The bottom line is, back pain is a symptom of something going awry in the body, and the cause and cure could be as many as a dozen different things. Before considering expensive surgery and drugs that will likely mask the problem and just cover it up, think about the following alternatives:
  • Much back pain is caused by repetitive motions or being sedentary in one place for an extended period of time - such as sitting at a desk all day long. Make sure you get up and walk around once an hour for a few minutes. Take a break or part of your lunch break each day and go for a brisk walk outside. Atrophy of muscles, tendons, and joints occurs with there are long periods of sedation. Proper blood flow to affected areas is also impeded due to inactivity. This causes stiffness, weakness, loss of circulation, and eventually inflammation.
  • Perform stretching and back exercises daily.
  • Eat a healthy diet. Eliminate refined sugars and processed foods (including breads, boxed cereals, pastas, crackers, bagels, pretzels, etc., all of which are enriched and extruded).
  • Drink plenty of filtered water. Eat organic vegetables, fruits, raw nuts, raw cheeses, grass-fed meats, and safe source fish.
  • Get plenty of rest.
  • If you have too many things to do each day, reprioritize your schedule and let things go that are pushing you over your limit of time, energy, and available sanity with which to deal.
  • Obtain moderate exercise several times per week, such as brisk walking, hiking, bicycling, or some organized activity such as yoga, pilates, or martial arts.
  • If back pain persists, consider a natural approach such as acupuncture, body work, massage, or chiropractic care. These treatments work with your body and help to move it in the direction of healing rather than concealing the problem at hand, and actually boost your body's ability to deal with the handicap and heal itself more effectively.
  • Don't jump into the drugs and surgery option until you have tried all of these remedies together for an extended period of time. Many doctors are quick to recommend surgery or drugs which may not solve the problem.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Dehyration Nation

Do you drink enough water every day? Are you substituting water for other drinks like coffee, tea, soda pop, "power" drinks, juices, or other processed beverages? Or, is your schedule so busy that you find you are going too long without drinking water? This perpetual cycle of drinking beverages which dehydrate you more and then not getting enough pure water daily can actually be the culprit of numerous health problems such as circulation, digestion, blood pressure, and kidney dysfunction.

Here are some guidelines and things to remember in order to keep yourself hydrated:
  • A good rule of thumb is to check the color of your urine. If your urine is any color other than light yellow, you are dehydrated and need more water. There is an old saying about drinking 8 glasses of water daily, and this works for some people. However, not everyone needs the same amount of water daily, so always use the urine test to determine if you are receiving enough fluids. If you are taking a multi-vitamin, especially one with B2 (Riboflavin), your urine will be colored bright yellow.
  • Avoid drinking all your water at once. It is better to have a container of water on hand at all times and sip than to try and catch up after hours and hours with no liquid and drink it all down at once.
  • Use a glass or metal container for your water. Plastic can leech into your water, and especially if it has been sitting for a long period of time or in a place that could potentially become hot, such as outside or in a car. Save glass bottles from products you purchase or find some good stainless steel containers from the store for storing water. As a suggestions, if you purchase water from a local source and use your own bottles, store it in glass bottles and dispense from a ceramic water container with a spout.
  • Don't buy bottled water. Most bottled waters are in plastic containers, and there is usually no way to verify the actual source of the water (there are exceptions, of course). Many bottled waters are simply tap water. Tap water contains many impurities, chemicals, and toxins from various substances that get into the water as well as others that are leeched in from the water treatment process such as iron, chlorine, fluoride, arsenic, mercury, ingredients from medications people take, and many others. Bottled water is also costly and when bottles are discarded, a very small percentage of those are actually recycled and end up in landfills - which damage the environment.
  • Avoid using distilled water for drinking. Distilled water has poor ionization, pH, polarization and oxidation potentials. Drinking distilled water can also rapidly deplete minerals from the body.
  • Even if you are drinking enough water, you could still be dehydrated. This is because most water does not contain minerals, and mineral loss is one of the major causes of dehyrdation. One way to assure you are getting minerals daily is to visit a knowledgeable health care practitioner who can determine your mineral balance. He or she can recommend a mineral supplement to take which can bring your mineral levels to optimal, which greatly improves health. Most mineral supplements do not have to be taken indefinitely; once your body rebuilds it's mineral supply up, you can discontinue the supplement.
  • Another way to keep mineral levels up is to buy a good quality product such as Electrolyte Stamina. This great tasting, "fizzing" drink (powder that you add to water) contains Stevia and comes in several flavors with over 1220 mg of Vitamin C, 72 trace elements and minerals, is high in Potassium, is a great antioxidant, and contains all major electrolytes.
  • Use a water filter that you can put on your tap. One of the best systems you can purchase is Kangen, a perfect alkaline, anti-oxidant containing water which properly filters out all impurities. Another good water filtration system is PUR Ultimate Faucet Mount and GE Smart Water (as recommended by Dr. Mercola).

Monday, April 27, 2009

Outbreak of Swine Flu Linked to Smithfield Factory Farms

Are you worried about contracting the Swine Flu? It is definitely a cause for concern, but it is one that should be thoroughly understood in regard to its origins. Unfortunately, one of the culprits of this disease is once again being connected to a factory farm source. This virus is being described as a combination between avian (bird), swine, and human strain of flu. So far, 1000 people in the U.S. and Mexico have been infected, with 68 left dead. This outbreak is being heralded by health officials as easily capable of reaching global pandemic proportions.

It is well-known from media reports that the facilities where the pigs from these operations are housed have open lagoons of swine waste which are creating massive pollution from the stench to enormous clouds of flies overhead to water contamination - all of which are responsible for causing positive development of implacable pathogens.

"According to physicians from the state of Vera Cruz and the Mexican health agency IMSS, the epidemic's vector could be the clouds of flies created by hog CAFOs and the manure lagoons where the U.S.-Mexican company (Smithfield's Granjas Carroll subsidiary) through tons of manure."

The outbreak originated in Vera Cruz, Mexico where an enormous hog-producing operation resides. Smithfield Foods owns this subsidiary and reports on their web site to produce 950,000 hogs annually.

Although controversy exists about exactly how the virus is spread, some sources say it cannot be contracted from consuming the meat and that it must be spread through human-to-human contamination. Some say otherwise. However, as with MRSA, this virus has been found to reside in the body environments of both humans and pigs:

"One of the first clues that pigs could infect people with MRSA came in the Netherlands in 2004, when a young woman tested positive for a new strain of MRSA, called ST398. The family lived on a farm, so public health authorities swept in — and found that three family members, three co-workers and 8 of 10 pigs tested all carried MRSA."

Now this same strain of MRSA has also been found in the United States. A new study by Tara Smith, a University of Iowa epidemiologist, found that 45 percent of pig farmers she sampled carried MRSA, as did 49 percent of the hogs tested."

With the MRSA virus, experts repeatedly directed consumers to wash hands after preparing and cooking raw pork. They also assured us that eating this possibly infected pork meat would be perfectly safe to do as long as it was properly cooked. What kind of nonsense is this logic, and realistically, why should the Swine Flu virus be any different? Do you really want to prepare or consume pork from an unknown source that could possibly contain the Swine Flu virus or MRSA bacteria?

Even if, without a doubt, this virus is NOT spread from actually consuming the meat from pigs, there is irrefutable evidence at hand which proves that this virus originated within a factory farm environment in the first place. Doesn't this say something about our insatiable appetite for meat and having it at any cost? Doesn't it say something about the almighty dollar being placed above the well-being and health of human beings, animals, and the environment?

The best prevention for any virus or flu - this pandemic threat being no different - is by healthy lifestyle choices which include taking extreme care to have proper nutrition and good, clean, sustainable sources of food. It is nearly impossible for anyone to contract such viruses or bacteria from animals raised in healthy, sustainable environments.

Not until human beings understand the horrific and far-reaching repercussions of raising animals in factory farm environments for food will the passage of such lethal viruses and bacteria come to a halt.

For an informative article about the dangers of industrially-produced animal products on human health and the environment, visit The Sustainable Table.

For a recent article about the connection between the factory farm environment and Swine Flu, visit Grist.

For more information on Swine Flu outbreaks, visit Swine Flu Outbreak News.

Friday, April 24, 2009

How to Stop Cavities in Their Tracks!

Reducing and elimination of tooth decay is less about treatments and more about prevention. Plenty of people brush their teeth regularly with fluoride and still get cavities and dental decay. If you want to keep dental caries out of your mouth, here are some suggestions that if adhered to, really work:

  • Eliminate refined sugars from your diet.
  • Eliminate processed foods from your diet.
  • Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables, organic preferably.
  • Eat healthy meats and dairy products such as naturally-raised, organic, grass-fed meats, safe seafood choices such as as salmon, raw dairy products from a healthy source like grass-fed milk, cheeses, creams, and butter
  • Make your own sprouted, soaked, and fermented foods at home such as kefir, yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, Kombucha, soaked grains that you would use for home-made cereals, and nuts.
  • Make sure you are getting enough fiber
  • Be certain to get enough essential fatty acids (such as with healthy meats, eggs, milk, and fish)
  • Take a good probiotic daily - consult with a knowledgeable health care practitioner. Make sure your probiotic contains at least 9 strains and has over 10 billion bacteria.
  • Brush your teeth and floss at least twice daily with a good quality, natural toothpaste that contains all-natural ingredients and no fluoride. Alternatively, you can make your own toothpaste with essential oils, baking soda, or peroxide (make sure you use food grade).
Your diet and lifestyle have everything to do with your overall health picture, including your dental condition. Eating a healthy diet can leave you with healthy teeth and gums, and help to avoid trips to the dentist for fillings, root canals, and other unpleasant, costly procedures.

This post is linked to on Food Renegade's Fight Back Fridays Carnival. Please have a look at the other great food and health posts there.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

What's the Word on Safe Seafood Choices?

Do you pay attention to making safe seafood choices in your diet? If not, you should be aware that a great deal of seafood contains certain toxins and heavy metals which are harmful to your health. The Monterey Bay Aquarium has a list of safe seafood choices which are updated every six months. Because of overfishing and careless fishing practices, our oceans, sealife and environment have been put in danger of being not only contaminated but considerably damaged by the greed and overpopulation of humans.

Seafood provide an important source of Omega 3s, protein, and other nutrients vital to health. But there are definitely healthier and safer choices to make, as opposed to many that are not as healthy. Knowing which of these are superior is important. The Monterey Bay Aquarium provides a list for all regions in the United States, including Hawaii. For more information on these important choices, visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium web site.

For more information about safe seafood choices, visit the Organic Consumers Association.

Good Nutrition and Allergies

Do you suffer from allergies? Many people do, and the normal course of action for allergies is to load up on prescription drugs and over-the-counter medication. But did you know that most allergies are due to a response by our immune systems caused by over-stimulation - that is, too many irritants in the body at once? It's true. By elimination of various allergens affecting the body's environment, you will decrease the immune system response to factors like seasonal allergies. It's that simple. Here's why:

When seasonal allergies flare up in the spring or fall, your body is over-reacting to foreign substances in the air which normally should be benign - pollen, dust, grass seeds, and other naturally-occurring substances. Your body is already "busy" trying to protect itself against other substances, such as foreign bacteria and viruses, and the food you are eating - many common foods are the culprit:
  • Wheat
  • Soy
  • Pasteurized dairy
  • Nuts
  • Corn
  • Other processed foods
Most of these foods are incredibly processed - and in addition, have the added component of being covered in pesticides and other chemicals, are irradiated, and even genetically-modified. All of these factors greatly contribute to the body's allergic and inflammatory response to toxic and unwanted substances.

When the pollen comes, it's just the straw that broke the camel's back - or the final tipping point. You become congested, your nose drips, your eyes water, you may even develop secondary sinus infections or respiratory ailments.

So what's the solution? Try removing all processed foods from your diet and see what happens.
Wait a week or two, and then gradually add back in replacements for these foods that are whole:
  • Sprouted, soaked, whole grains in place of processed ones
  • Raw dairy from a clean, organic source for pasteurized dairy
  • Grass-fed, natural meats and eggs for commercially and industrially-raised ones
  • If you aren't eating it already, start having a serving or two a week of safe-source fish (check the guide for current safe selections in your area).
  • Organic fruits and vegetables for conventionally-produced ones
  • Raw foods like nuts, fermented foods like real, homemade yogurt or kefir instead of store-bought, processed, pasteurized selections
  • Natural fats like olive oil, coconut oil, pumpkin seed oil, flax oil, avocado oil, or walnut oil
Natural foods and good nutrition always support the body's ability to fight off infections and disease, and allergic responses are no different. Make a lasting change today and see if it doesn't make a difference in your allergies and eliminate your need to buy expensive drugs that are harmful to your health, and which only cover up the problem.

For an informative article on the health and financial implications of food allergies and sensitivities, visit the main Agriculture Society resource site.

For more information about specific nutritional components and nutrients which can help allergies, as well as those to avoid, visit Natural Ways.

This post is linked to on Kelly the Kitchen Cop's site, please visit this wonderful resource and view some of the other great blogs that are featured on Real Food Wednesdays.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

April is Autism Awareness Month

Do you have a child who suffers from or do you know a child with autism? Have you ever wondered just how a child becomes autistic? Many people have had this same curiosity, and for years the medical community has chosen to treat autism as a disease with medication. Does medication really solve the problems of autism? Some people say no, and in the case of Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey, parents of son Evan, their journey into finding out what causes autism and the cure they discovered may be quite surprising.

According to McCarthy, when their son was diagnosed with "the disease" some years ago, the community was not very open to looking at alternative measures for their son's illness. It was all about medication and drugs. But when McCarthy and Carrey decided to take another path, they learned some very interesting things - if they removed as many toxins as they possibly could from their son's food, environment, and so on, a magical thing happened - his symptoms began to disappear. Soon, doctors and medical professionals were renegotiating on the original diagnosis and stating that their son never had autism. How could this be?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, autism is a debilitating disorder suffered by 1 in 150 kids, making it more common than childhood cancer, diabetes and AIDS combined. Many people don't realize that in the last 20 years, vaccination rates have more than tripled. In the 80s children were required to 10 vaccines by age 5. Today, they are administered 36 immunizations in most cases by age 2. It is beginning to seem as though the vaccine campaign is turning into one of the biggest money-making schemes in existence - with little to no consideration on actual prevention.

Proponents of this notion don't believe autism is caused by vaccines alone - but rather that vaccinations are, in many cases, a final tipping point that sends young bodies already in turmoil overload from toxins and irritants from their environment and diet into overdrive. To make a real difference and effect a reversal of autism, considerations would be to:

  • alter the schedule of vaccines
  • reduce the number of shots given
  • eliminate certain ingredients that could be toxic to some children (the major ingredient in vaccinations for removal would be thimerosol).

There would certainly be a chance that some children could still react even if all these steps were taken. But with the overwhelming amount of chemicals and toxins in the environment, food, and drugs and the success achieved by numerous parents who have tried removal of these substances when nothing else worked, it seems a mute point not to make a change.

Jenny McCarthy's web site, lists the four most critical items which need to be addressed to reduce symptoms of autism:

1. Bring down the toxin load
2. Help the gut heal by detoxification, supplementation, and elimination of irritants
3. Increase nutrients in the diet
4. Remove heavy metals and other toxins which can exacerbate and feed symptoms

These suggestions are also offered to parents of autistic children:

  • Remove casein (dairy) and gluten (wheat) from the diet
  • Remove any other food allergens from the diet
  • Eliminate processed foods and refined sugars including but not limited to trans fatty acids, MSG, artificial colors/flavors preservatives, and other excitotoxins, nitrates, aspartame, Nutrasweet, and anything you cannot pronounce or do not know what it is
  • Eliminate the use of fluoride toothpaste
  • Make certain your child's diet includes Omega 3 essential fatty acids in the form of something such as cod liver oil. Good dietary sources include organic, raw dairy, grass-fed meats, safe deep sea fish such as salmon, and ground flaxseeds
  • Make sure your child's diet includes foods (fermented foods such as kefir, natto, kimchi, real yogurt, raw milk, raw cheese, raw butter, raw cream) with friendly bacteria and/or probiotics

For more on the movement that is attempting to "green" vaccines and for additional information about how widespread autism has become and what you can do about it, visit Jenny McCarthy's web site:

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Food Sources -Should You be Concerned?

Are you careful about where you get your food? If you haven't been, you may want to reconsider the sources from where you purchase food. In the recent past, we've seen many examples of food recalls and people becoming ill from eating foods that were unsafe to eat. These examples are only becoming more numerous and widespread.

Many people believe that food poisoning is from eating food with bacteria in it that can make you sick - and that belief is absolutely correct. But what many people don't know is that most anyone can become sick from eating processed or industrialized foods - and these are the foods which are most commonly available and which most people consume on a daily basis.

The other important factor that is seldom considered when talking about food making people sick is that the health of the average person living in a developed country (such as the United States). The average citizen's health is less than optimal and the immune system of that person is severely compromised due to the continual consumption of processed and industrialized foods. Eating these types of foods lowers the ability of your immune system and digestive tract to function properly, thus lowering your entire state of health considerably.

When you see labels on foods or signs in grocery stores or restaurants that talk about consuming improperly cooked foods or raw foods and how those adversely affect health, they are unknowingly referring to those two factors - industrial foods and the poor immune systems of individuals consuming them. Because the landscape of industrial foods is so widespread and consumption of real, organic, healthy foods is too uncommon, people's immune system's in general are lowered and susceptible to letting pass diseases and illnesses into the body. Raw foods are vital to health and should be consumed, but because of our culture and our ignorance about these foods, we are wholly unacquainted with what it means to prepare and consume truly healthy raw foods.

Another factor in bacteria from food making people sick is the way foods are handled. For instance, if you buy a carton of eggs, the label may advise you to beware of salmonella. The American Egg Safety Board elaborates: "The inside of an egg was once considered almost sterile. But, over recent years, the bacterium Salmonella enteritidis (Se) has been found inside a small number of eggs. Scientists estimate that, on average across the U.S., only 1 of every 20,000 eggs might contain the bacteria. So, the likelihood that an egg might contain Se is extremely small – 0.005% (five one-thousandths of one percent). At this rate, if you’re an average consumer, you might encounter a contaminated egg once every 84 years."

A large percentage of the contamination associated with eggs appears on the outside of the egg from debris and fecal matter originating from the environment where chickens live. Most eggs are washed before packing. If you buy local eggs from a known source and you are concerned about eggs being contaminated from the outside, simply wash the egg. If you were to consume a contaminated egg with salmonella on the inside, thorough cooking would kill the bacteria. Most eggs that come from chickens allowed to roam in sustainable-raised environments are healthy eggs which would not contain salmonella on the inside.

In most cases, simply educating ourselves and paying attention to sanitation about clean food sources and proper handling will eliminate harmful bacteria from entering our bodies. However even in the best of cases, repeated consumption of industrial and processed foods will eventually lead to incidence of illness and possibly death, from food-borne bacteria. Your best bet is to pay attention to where your food comes from and keep your food preparation habits and conditions as clean as possible.

For more information about learning how to prepare healthy raw foods, visit the Raw Freedom Community message board.

Macaweb is an excellent source for some of the basics in raw food.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Is Reactive Medicine Cheaper Than Preventative?

Are you in the habit of eating poorly and then taking medications regularly when you become sick? If so, you may want to consider what you spend on medications, insurance premiums, and low-quality food versus preventative care and good quality food. In the long run, preventative care can save you thousands of dollars in prescription drugs and trips to the doctor and hospital. And it can certainly afford you a much better quality of life and avoid suffering, pain, and misery.

As one example, if you went to the doctor and received a prescription for Levaquin, without insurance you would spend approximately $161.00 for ten pills. This medication is used for illnesses such as sinus infections, bronchitis, and pneumonia. If you are insured, you are still required to pay a monthly insurance premium to offset the cost of prescription drugs - which will vary according to your plan. Depending on your insurance plan, you will receive certain "benefits" and reductions of those costs. Insurance premiums are only slated to increase over time. The bottom line is, you are still paying a hefty sum for prescription drugs which may or may not make you well. In general, prescription drugs (at best) will remedy symptoms for a short period of time - but over a longer course of time the problem often remains unchanged and then you have other issues that are caused by the drugs such as side-effects (both short and long term), nutrient depletion, and the fact that what is causing your health issue has not been addressed.

Also, because Levaquin is an antibiotic, all good bacteria is being wiped from your body. This may seem unimportant, but when another virus or bacteria enters your body, it will be much less able to fight off the intruder and build up immunity to it and other invaders which your body will encounter. Once the good bacteria is gone from your body, it will take a great deal of time to regain your immune function and you will never be able to build it back up to what it once was before you took the antibiotic.

Clearly a preventative model for maintaining health is preferable. In some cases, antibiotics are needed, but not to the frequency that many practitioners prescribe them. Good, regular health habits can help eliminate the need for dangerous prescription drugs and medications which can further hinder the healing process of the body. Some suggestions include the following:
  • Engage in regular, moderate exercise
  • Eat healthy foods - fermented foods (such as ghee, grains, kombucha, kefir, yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, natto, and other similar foods from raw sources), grass-fed meats, fresh, organic fruits and vegetables, raw dairy, nuts, and seeds.
  • Drink plenty of purified water that is alkaline in content.
  • Avoid refined, processed foods of all types - including store-bought breads, crackers, pasta, cereals, food bars, snacks, deserts, cookies, cakes, pies, pastries, muffins, crossaints, bagels, sauce mixes, salad dressings, dips, drinks, etc.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol excessively.
  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Engage in stress-reducing activities.
  • If you are in a position to do so, obtain regular care from a knowledgeable practitioner who can support a holistic and preventative method of keeping your health at optimal levels.
  • Make certain you are receiving enough probiotics, fiber, minerals, and essential fatty acids in your diet.
  • Don't wait until you have a serious problem, practice health maintenance every day. If you do, your body and your bank account will thank you.
For more information on how prescription drugs can deplete the body, read Supplement Your Prescription: What Your Doctor Doesn't Know About Nutrition by Dr. Hyla Cass, M.D.

For more information about making fermented foods, visit The Healing Crow.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Make a Difference in Your Child's Health

Do you spend time reinforcing good health habits with your child? There are many messages sent to children from many sources about health. Many of these messages contain false information, so it is important to help your child understand the reasons why.

Food manufacturers, for example, label foods they sell as "healthy", "natural", "trans fat free", or "low-fat". Do these claims make foods healthy? Children especially need good fats, proteins, and cholesterol for brain, heart, and other body organ system health and development. Be interested and interactive with your child about healthy choices for life. Here are some suggestions:
  • Help your child to understand the connection between a healthy immune system, which keeps you from becoming ill, and a healthy diet.
  • Avoid, as much as possible, refined sugars and processed foods. Beware of "hidden" processed foods that many people believe are healthy, whole foods such as pasteurized dairy, cereals, crackers, tortillas, store-bought breads (those that are not from sprouted or fermented grains).
  • Spend time in the kitchen with your child, helping them to learn how to make healthy, delicious foods to serve in your home.
  • Include in every meal some type of vegetable. Current health rhetoric states that we should have fruits and vegetables available, but reinforcement on vegetables at meals with no fruit, and then offering fruit for snacks will help children to understand the importance of getting enough vegetables each day (recommended servings for children are 5 - 7).
  • Breakfasts can be challenging to get in vegetables, so be willing to think differently about breakfasts and consider preparing items like eggs from pasture-raised hens with no-nitrate bacon or sausage from naturally raised beef or pork. You can incorporate all types of vegetables into omelettes such as broccoli, spinach, bell peppers, squash, and zucchini.
  • Plant a garden with your child, whether it be a community garden, a school garden, or a garden in your own backyard.
  • Teach your child about the importance of organic foods and why organics are superior to the conventionally-grown variety.
  • Become an activist in your community and encourage your child to follow along. Children learn by example and if your actions show that you care about healthy food, your children will grow to care about it as well.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Conventional Produce - Least and Most Pesticides

Do you eat plenty of fruits and vegetables daily? How about Organic? Or, do most of your produce sources come from conventional farming? The following is a list of produce from conventional sources which contain the most and least pesticides (source, Environmental Working Group).

"Consistent with two previous EWG investigations, fruits topped the list of the consistently most contaminated fruits and vegetables, with seven of the 12 most contaminated foods. The seven were peaches leading the list, then apples, nectarines and strawberries, cherries, and imported grapes, and pears. Among these seven fruits:

  • Nectarines had the highest percentage of samples test positive for pesticides (97.3 percent), followed by peaches (96.7 percent) and apples (94.1 percent).
  • Peaches had the highest likelihood of multiple pesticides on a single sample - 87.0 percent had two or more pesticide residues — followed by nectarines (85.3 percent) and apples (82.3 percent).
  • Peaches and apples had the most pesticides detected on a single sample, with nine pesticides on a single sample, followed by strawberries and imported grapes where eight pesticides were found on a single sample of each fruit.
  • Peaches had the most pesticides overall, with some combination of up to 53 pesticides found on the samples tested, followed by apples with 50 pesticides and strawberries with 38.

Sweet bell peppers, celery, kale, lettuce, and carrots are the vegetables most likely to expose consumers to pesticides. Among these five vegetables:

  • Celery had the highest of percentage of samples test positive for pesticides (94.1 percent), followed by sweet bell peppers (81.5 percent) and carrots (82.3 percent).
  • Celery also had the highest likelihood of multiple pesticides on a single vegetable (79.8 percent of samples), followed by sweet bell peppers (62.2 percent) and kale (53.1 percent).
  • Sweet bell peppers had the most pesticides detected on a single sample (11 found on one sample), followed by kale (10 found on one sample), then lettuce and celery (both with nine).
  • Sweet bell peppers were the vegetable with the most pesticides overall, with 64, followed by lettuce with 57 and carrots with 40".

15 Least Contaminated Fruits and Vegetables:

"The vegetables least likely to have pesticides on them are onions, sweet corn, asparagus, sweet peas, cabbage, eggplant, broccoli, tomatoes, and sweet potatoes.

  • Over half of the tomatoes (53.1 percent), broccoli (65.2 percent), eggplant (75.4 percent), cabbage (82.1 percent), and sweet pea (77.1 percent) samples had no detectable pesticides. Among the other three vegetables on the least-contaminated list (asparagus, sweet corn, and onions), there were no detectable residues on 90 percent or more of the samples.
  • Multiple pesticide residues are extremely rare on any of these least contaminated vegetables. Tomatoes had the highest likelihood, with a 13.5 percent chance of more than one pesticide when ready to eat. Onions and corn both had the lowest chance with zero samples containing more than one pesticide.
  • The greatest number of pesticides detected on a single sample of any of these low-pesticide vegetables was five (as compared to 11 found on sweet bell peppers, the vegetable with the most residues on a single sample).
  • Broccoli had the most pesticides found on a single type of vegetable, with up to 28 pesticides, but far fewer than the most contaminated vegetable, sweet bell peppers, on which 64 were found.

The fruits least likely to have pesticide residues on them are avocados, pineapples, mangoes, kiwi, papayas, watermelon and grapefruit.

  • Fewer than 10 percent of pineapple, mango, and avocado samples had detectable pesticides on them, and fewer than one percent of samples had more than one pesticide residue.
  • Though 54.5 percent of grapefruit had detectable pesticides, multiple residues are less common, with only 17.5 percent of samples containing more than one residue. Watermelon had residues on 28.1 percent of samples, and just 9.6 percent had multiple pesticide residues".

According to Environmental Working Group:

  • People who eat the 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables ingest an average of 10 pesticides a day
  • Those who ate from the 15 least contaminated list, only ingested 2 or less pesticides a day.
Pesticides are known to interfere with many bodily functions, including poisoning, infertility, and birth defects. Children are especially at risk as their body proportions are smaller, they are in the growing and developing stages of life, and their metabolisms are faster which means substances travel faster in the body.

For more information about the dangers of pesticides and how widely they are used, visit Sustainable Table.

For more information on how to protect children from pesticides, visit the State Environmental Resource Center.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Content Being Lifted From This Site Illegally

To all faithful readers of Agriculture Society: another party has been stealing content from this site, which is originally written by me, Raine Saunders, and is copyrighted. Please note that this site, has been the offender and should be noted as a plagiarizer and worker of criminal activity. This party stole not one but approximately 12 Tip of the Day posts. I have contacted this web site to inform them that I have discovered this fact, and will be working on bringing this matter to its just end. Thanks for your continued readership.

Update 4/16/2009: this matter has been resolved, although the party has removed all stolen posts, they did not respond to any messages sent. Please note that plagiarism is a serious offense!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Eating Well for Eye Health

Do you take care of your eyes? Good eating habits are essential for optimal health, and many people do not receive adequate nutrition to support important organ and body systems such as the eyes. The AOA recommends eating a diet with a variety of foods loaded with key nutrients for maintaining and improving eye health, such as lutein and zeaxanthin.

The American Eye-Q survey revealed that 48 percent of Americans believe carrots to be the best food to maintain eye health. While carrots do contain provitamin A beta-carotene which is important for night vision, spinach and other dark, leafy greens remain the best support foods for eyes because they contain large amounts of lutein and zeaxanthin.

The following foods contain critical nutrients for maintaining eye health:

  • Lutein and zeaxanthin Colorful fruits and vegetables such as spinach, kale, broccoli, spinach, corn, peas, green beans, oranges, and tangerines
  • Essential fatty acids fleshy fish from deep sea sources such as salmon, tuna, or herring, organicv whole, sprouted or fermented grains, organic, grass-fed meats and pasture-raised eggs
  • Vitamin C fruits and vegetables like oranges, grapefruit, strawberries, papaya, green peppers and tomatoes.
  • Vitamin E raw almonds or pecans, sweet potatoes, and sunflower seeds.
  • Zinc organic grass-fed meats, pasture-raised poultry, liver, shellfish, raw milk and dairy, and organic whole sprouted grains.
Here are some other notable facts about eye health and nutrition:
  • Eating leafy greens like spinach can lower the risk of developing eye conditions such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Leafy greens contain high amounts of lutein, an important eye nutrient. Add 10 mg of lutein to meals daily or eat one cup of cooked spinach four times weekly.
  • More than 50% of Americans do not take in the recommended dosage of Vitamin C per day. Vitamin C has been linked, in approved amounts, to minimize or reduce the risk of cataracts and AMD. Eat fruits and vegetables that contain Vitamin C such as green peppers, citrus fruits and juices, strawberries, tomatoes, broccoli, turnip greens and other leafy greens, sweet and white potatoes, and cantaloupe. Other good sources include mangoes, papaya, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, watermelon, cabbage, winter squash, raspberries, blueberries, cranberries, pineapples, and red peppers.
If you are not receiving adequate amounts of these nutrients from food, make sure you are taking a good quality, whole-food, organically-produced supplement to fill in the gaps. Consult with a knowledgeable health care practitioner to find out which product is right for you.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Help Reduce Osteoporosis and Improve Bone Mass

Are you concerned about bone loss in your body? As we age, our bones lose mass density. There are ways to reduce this process and keep bones healthy into your later years. Here are some suggestions:
  • Eat the right kinds of foods to ensure calcium intake is adequate. Good foods for calcium are - raw dairy, almonds, leafy green vegetables (kale, bok choy, spinach), black beans, salmon, and oysters.
  • Avoid processed and fortified foods to obtain calcium. Popular rhetoric tells us the following foods are a good source of calcium - soy milk, pasteurized and reduced or non-fat milks and other dairy products, fortified foods such as orange juice with calcium, "food bars", cereal with calcium, and corn tortillas. None of these foods are whole and are poor sources of nutrients. The body cannot absorb nutrients from foods that are processed because the nutrients in them are synthetic.
  • Getting enough calcium in your diet may be difficult, so do take a calcium supplement -- for both men and women. The type of calcium you take is important though, don't skimp on quality to save money. Avoid calcium carbonate; it is made from limestone and is difficult to absorb. Ingestion of calcium carbonate can lead to gas and digestion disorders. Read labels and make sure the type of calcium you take is calcium citrate. If possible, find a calcium supplement that is from a whole-foods, organically-produced source. Check with your health food store or health care practitioner.
  • Your calcium should be taken in conjunction with the correct ratios of zinc, magnesium, and Vitamin D. Check with a knowledgeable health care practitioner to make sure your supplements are working correctly for your individual needs.
  • Drink plenty of filtered water daily as the body needs liquid in order to properly absorb calcium. Avoid tap water and bottled water. Get a good filter system for your faucet or purchase filtered water from a good source.
  • If you are age 19 - 50 you need 1000 mg. daily. If you are over 50, you should be getting 1200 mg. daily. Children ages 4- 8 need 800 mg. and children 8 - 18 should be getting 1300 mg. each day.
  • Exercise is an important tool in reducing bone loss. Walking for 30 minutes 3 - 4 times per week is a good activity, but other physical exercise is also useful such as cycling and running. Weight-lifting is also reported to have a positive effect on bone quality as well.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Financial Stress Taking its Toll on Your Health

Are you feeling emotionally-drained from the current economic downturn? If so, you are not alone. Millions and millions of people are said to have been experiencing the toll of the poor financial state of the nation and the entire world. A recent survey by the American Psychological Association shows that at least 80 percent of its respondents were most affected by money and the economy. Americans are reporting sleeplessness, anger, and fatigue are on the rise and that many deal with it by overeating and consuming junk food. The problem is so acute that economic stressors are surpassing those of daily work tasks and personal relationships.

Stress is a chronic condition, experienced in particularly high levels by people living in developed countries, and is ranked among diseases and disorders such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, and cancer. Feeling out of control and believing there is no way to offset stress are among the most commonly communicated sentiments about emotional frames of mind.

Chronic stress creates its own spiral of events in the body. When we are stressed and do not provide our bodies with proper support, health problems begin to occur. Chronic stress weakens the adrenal glands, immune system, can cause weight gain, and eventually leads to disease and illness. Stress also puts tremendous strain on the heart. A person who is harried and stressed out is less likely to stop and take time to relax, meditate, eat a nutritious meal, or obtain adequate rest. These lapses result in further disturbances in sleep, eating habits, personal relationships, and other major lifestyle factors and habits.

Many people turn to taking prescription drugs, which is also on the rise. Drugs are expensive and generally only cover the problem up rather than getting at the actual cause. Here are some ideas for dealing with stress naturally and remedying the causes at the root. During times of acute stress, it is important to remember not to allow your most important asset go by the wayside - your health. If you don't have your health, everything else will suffer. Here are some ideas for dealing with stress naturally and remedying the causes at the root:
  • Don't load yourself up with more work/tasks/obligations than you can manage. If you are doing this, eventually something will have to give and it will be personal relationships and your health.
  • Make sure to eat a healthy diet - no matter what. Don't eat pre-packaged, processed, unnatural foods. Instead, allow extra time to make food from scratch. Buy local and organic whenever possible. Make larger amounts so you will have additional meals from your effort. Freeze your food and reheat later - in the oven or stove, not in the microwave. Microwaving has many harmful affects - one of the worst being that the super-heating of microwaving kills nutrients in foods.
  • Go to bed at a reasonable hour each night - around 10 p.m. Engage in relaxing activities before bed so you will be naturally tired enough to fall asleep within a few minutes. Avoid drinking alcohol and eating refined sugar or carbohydrates before retiring. These substances are unhealthy and upset the natural winding-down rhythm of your body.
  • Get regular, moderate exercise at least 3 -4 times per week for 30 minutes or more.
  • Find a good relaxation technique or activity you enjoy - massage, acupuncture, meditation, yoga, pilates, or martial arts are good choices.
  • Be certain to budget money for important preventative health care items - whatever those may be for you, whether it is good, healthy, organic foods, supplements, or preventative health maintenance or care from a knowledgeable health care practitioner. Skimping on your health now will lead to problems later - often those that are more difficult to manage and are more expensive.
  • Remove toxins from your environment as much as possible - look through your house and locate items that could be causing problems and increasing your toxic load, anything from plastic to chemical cleaners to devices that may emit radiation. Plastic can often be replaced with metal, wood, or glass (in many instances). Consider replacing old bedding, towels, or clothing that may be chemically-treated (most conventional fabrics, mattress coverings, and upholstery is). But only do so if you are financially capable of taking on the cost, if any.
  • Maintain perspective. Whatever your situation, things could be worse and focus on being thankful for the things you do have. A positive outlook will help combat problems and issues going on in your life, and help to minimize the effects of stress.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Polyunsaturated Fats and Health

Has your doctor recommended that you choose polyunsaturated fats for health? Do you read in magazines and online about how great polyunsaturated fats are, while saturated fats are the enemy? Common health rhetoric stipulates that to maintain health we avoid saturated fats in anything containing these fats - butter, red meat, eggs, and certainly no dark or organ meats. But did you know that this advice, commonly given out by medical professionals, is one of the very things that has been adding to our health epidemic of heart disease and obesity - just to name a few?

This comes in the midst of a medical community that is now heralding the prescription of anti-cholesterol drugs to patients who are younger and younger. We've observed over the last two decades as advertisements for drugs claiming to solve every health issue from arthritis to sexual dysfunction appear more and more often on television and publications - and the drug created to lower cholesterol, Statin, is no exception. Is it really that everyone has a chronic health issue or is it the greediness of the pharmaceutical industry that is causing this stir? Or, could it be a yet a third offender responsible for this problem - industrially-produced meats and dairy products, as well as other fats?

The answer is that all three play an integral role. Here's how:
  • The health problem that has arisen from eating meat (as we discussed in yesterday's post More Evidence Vegetarian Philosophies Fall Short on Environmental and Health Concerns) is due to mass production and over-consumption of industrial meats (as well as other industrial foods). Factory-farmed meats scarcely resemble real food for many reasons - animals slaughtered for meat are raised in feedlots, standing in manure, living sedentary lives, eating genetically-modified grains, soy, and corn, and are administered all types of chemicals (steroids, antibiotics, hormones) to "perfectly" engineer their existence from birth to death to maximize profits. When your meat is that much departed from the grass-fed variety that comes from animals allowed to live healthy lives as intended by nature, there's no question that eating it will cause your body to become sick.
  • Everyone who eats this type of meat and dairy products - which represents a majority of people since most of what is available to the public is of the industrial variety - will eventually develop these health issues. For more information about just how harmful factory meat is to human health, visit Sustainable Table and Mother Earth News.
  • Big pharma has profited greatly from selling these drugs. Consistent reports and findings tell us so again and again. If you don't pay for it - let's say you are on welfare or don't make enough money to afford the drugs, the government will pay for it - which ultimately means all of us, the taxpayers that is, will pay for it. If the federal prescription plan forks out the money, annually we will see tens of millions of dollars added to our national debt. To compensate, the government must make more money to put into circulation, and the value of the dollar continues to sink lower and lower.
Who needs saturated fats?

Everyone does. Many parts of your body need saturated fats and cholesterol to be healthy. Your brain, for instance, is an intensively cholesterol-rich environment. Fat and cholesterol are essential for brain development in infants and children, and it is paramount for helping to support memory and learning in people of all ages. Saturated fats also aid the immune system, protect the liver from toxins, and improve cell membrane integrity.

The heart is another organ which requires the proper amount of saturated fat and cholesterol to maintain its integrity, performance, and structure. The Framingham Study, one of the most well-known medical investigations of this phenomena which is still being conducted reveals that up until the early 1920's, heart disease was not common in this country. Industrialization of meat raising and producing processes began in the late 1800s, and as a result took its toll on the health of the citizens consuming those foods. Heart disease has been steadily on the rise since then, and coincidentally so has the consumption of more and more processed foods.

For decades, medical communities have succeeded in making criminals out of these critical nutrients, and the number of people who continue to become obese and develop heart disease steadily climbs like a circus monkey. At the same time, our health experts extol the virtues of polyunsaturated fats - substances which coincidentally are found in an array of foods we are told are healthy for us - vegetable oils (such as cottonseed, soybean, corn oil) - when in fact these foods are the very things that cause degenerative disease and inflammation. Just have a peek at what the Mayo Clinic recommends to maintain a healthy heart. Pretty interesting. So why would a major medical hospital (and many others) put their names and reputation behind such untruths? Well, it is true that medical entities are closely tied to the pharmaceutical companies....are you starting to see a connection?

Although The Mayo Clinic doctors do admit that Omega 3 source of fish oils are beneficial, it is shocking to read that in their list of harmful fats it is recommended to avoid eggs, meat, poultry, lard, and butter - and the fact that these healthful foods are lumped in with trans fats - fats which everyone agrees have a profoundly negative effect on health. It seems unfathomable to have such a blatant contradiction on a medical web site. But believe's there. Even though most medical doctors lack a good understanding of nutrition, this in no way excuses the irresponsibility of these statements in view of available research and evidence on the subject.

For more information about how important saturated fats and cholesterol are for health, visit Whole Health Source and The Health Report featuring Dr. Mary Enig, PhD., and Sally Fallon - world renowned experts on the subject.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

More Evidence Vegetarian Philosophies Fall Short on Environmental and Health Concerns

Many people say vegetable-based diets are more friendly to the environment, and that it requires more land and resources to grow feed for animals slaughtered for meat. But those viewpoints don't take into consideration the problem at the heart of the matter - which is that factory-farm operations use astronomical amounts of grain, soy, and corn to feed their animals (many of these crops are also genetically-altered and allow use of pesticides and other harmful chemicals).

These animals are not designed to digest these substances in the first place, as they are ruminants. As a result of eating these grains, the cattle develop diseases and conditions which then require farmers to administer antibiotics and medications. Animals who live on these farms also stand in waste lagoons - which accounts for the horrendous odor when you drive by such an operation. Of course, this entire cycle of raising animals is unhealthy and is devastating to the environment.

Sustainable farms should be the exception, not the rule. Sustainable-raised meat and dairy products are healthy to consume and maintain the land in a eco-friendly manner. It is important to realize the cascading effect factory farming has had on so many aspects of everyday life - socioeconomic, political, environmental, health, animal welfare, food irradiation - and that this is the enemy we need to stamp out, not smaller, sustainable, family-owned and operated farms living in harmony with nature. But these farms need your support, otherwise they will continue to be stamped out by factory-farm outfits.

Here's a disturbing thought, if you are a vegetarian or vegan, the foods you purchase will actually help to sustain the factory-farm way of existence because vegetarians and vegans, in their effort to avoid meat, consume mass amounts of grain, corn, and soy - the very crops which are also used to feed conventionally-raised animals. And that's about as unhealthy and un-eco-friendly as it gets!

Can you trust every farm label that says "sustainable-raised" or "grass-fed"? No. Currently no regulations exist for these labels, so buying local and getting to know the practices of the farms you purchase meat from is of paramount importance. In general, people who eat truly grass-fed meat should be able to decrease the portions they consume because the meat is higher in protein and lower in calories and carbohydrates. This is the key because factory meat is considered obese and is the opposite in composition from grass-fed. It is high in carbohydrates because the animal has been fed a high-carbohydrate diet with little nutrients in it. The meat is also much more fatty and lower in protein . In contrast to sustainable-raised animals, factory farm animals lead a sedentary life and are effectively "fattened up" on soy, corn, and grains that makes them sick. Because such massive amounts of this food must be grown on millions of acres of farmland, even more land is destroyed to enable factory farms to continue operation. Lands used for sustainable farms are just that - grasslands which are properly cultivated, maintained, and fertilized naturally.

It takes more land and resources to feed farm animals the very foods that make them sick in the first place, so doesn't it make sense to change the model of farms to a sustainable-method? The time has come to start educating about the real issues at hand - not that meat is unhealthy to consume, but that factory and commercial-farmed meat and dairy is massively harmful to both human health and the environment. Stand up and take action! The more we know about these important steps to take, the more we can improve our health and stop putting toxic waste into our precious earth.

For more information about putting an end to factory and commercial farm damage, visit Farms Without Harm.

Also, visit 10 ways you can help fight factory farms on the ASPCA site.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Processed "Milks" Harmful to Health

Do you drink soy, rice, or nut milks as an alternative to dairy? You may be surprised to learn that these beverages are not healthy to consume. These drinks are processed and full of highly toxic material to the human body. One of the most dangerous aspects of soy, almond, rice, and other processed milks is that they contain oxidized cholesterol. They also must be fortified with nutrients in order to be able to place information on the label indicating the food is a "wholesome" product. Fortified nutrients do not absorb into the body. Finally, these drinks contain high amounts of carbohydrates and little protein, making them particularly harmful to the digestive tract and pancreas. All soy milks (even the "plain" or "original" varieties) contain brown rice syrup or evaporated cane juice - or worse, some artificial sweetener which can be even more harmful - all to cover up the unpleasant taste of plain soy milk.

Oxidized cholesterol, interestingly enough, finds its way into many "foods" on the grocery store shelf. Among other things, it is also an ingredient in baby formula - and from the most unlikely source you might imagine - the nonfat milk. Do you really want your precious infant consuming this substance?

The soy industry has exploded with processed, harmful products such as these, which don't even remotely resemble traditional, nutritious, real foods. But the soy industry (as well as rice and nut) have cleverly convinced people through untruths and slick marketing that these products will deliver you to the optimal health state which up until now, you have only dreamed of.

If you are going to avoid dairy products - of which most are unsafe to consume because of pasteurization, processing, the types of feed consumed by dairy cows, hormones, steroids, and antibiotics - don't make the mistake of switching to these products which are no better, and could easily be even more harmful - and risk your health. If you are going to consume dairy, now is the time to consider healthy, raw dairy products from a grass-fed, organic source. These products are optimal for health and the environment. Do some research in your local area to find a safe, organic, grass-fed source for dairy. More and more farmers are realizing the health benefits of raw and grass-fed.

For more information on the dangers of processed "milks" visit the Weston A. Price Foundation.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

More Laundry Tips

Are you looking for ways to make your laundry washing more eco-friendly and healthy? Here are some ideas:
  • Always be mindful of water waste. The laundry room is one of the most likely places in your home where waste can occur. One way to reduce water use is to make certain you have an energy-star rated machine. If you are using an older machine, you know it is less efficient simply because of its age and the fact that newer technology has improved. Consider replacing your older model with a more energy efficient one. Older machines use approximately 40 gallons per load versus the newer energy star models which use about 20 gallons. Energy star machines also use less electricity, which reduces overall operating expenses.
  • Switch from detergent to powder in your wash. Liquid detergent is about 80 percent water, and the powdered variety contains no liquid. Of course, you'll want to use the most eco-friendly detergent you can for the environment and your health. Good brands include Nature Clean, Bio Kleen, and Country Save.
  • Instead of placing all your wet laundry in the dryer, use a clothes line in your backyard. When weather does not permit, hang your clothes to dry someplace in your house that is well-ventilated and preferably where it can be near a window and sunlight. Alternatively, you can use the air dry setting on your clothing dryer if you need something to be dried faster, which uses less energy.
  • If you do use a dryer for your clothes, choose one that is also energy star efficient.
  • Avoid using dryer sheets or fabric softeners, as they are expensive, bad for the environment, and bad for your health. For clean, fresh-smelling, softer clothes add a half cup of white vinegar to each wash load during the rinse cycle. Vinegar has many household uses and is a great natural fabric softener. It is also safe for people suffering with allergies or sensitive skin.