Posts Tagged ‘Health’

The Organic Advantage

February 21, 2008

A recent UK government report found that chickens raised in the widespread, non-organic fashion, have a 23.4% chance of being contaminated with salmonella, a bacteria responsible for food poisoning. The chance of an organic flock having salmonella? Only 4.4%.

What’s the difference between how the chickens are raised?

Organic chickens must have “access to outdoor ranges and pasture, with an emphasis on enabling the animals to express their natural behaviour.” Sounds pretty reasonable.

The non-organic chickens are mostly housed in cages which allow each individual bird the space of a standard sheet of paper. Yes, the 8 1/2 X 11 kind. These birds are also given antibiotics, which not only help to create superbugs and weaken the birds’ immune systems, but they potentially have the same effect on you when you eat the chicken or its eggs.

So, non-organic animals are likely to be raised under harsh conditions and administered antibiotics and hormones (the run-off of which create mutated fish), but what about non-organic fruits and vegetables?

Non-organic fruits and vegetables are grown with synthetic pesticides and fertilizer. So what? Well, studies are showing that more than 90% of children in the US “have detectable residues of at least one neurotoxic pesticide in their urine.” Something is called neurotoxic when it is poisonous to your brain and nervous system.

According to Dr. Mercola, pesticides also contribute to “disruption of the endocrine system, carcinogenicity and immune system suppression. Pesticide exposure may also affect male reproductive function and has been linked to miscarriages in women.”

How can we avoid them? According to a study outlined in a 2003 Environmental Health Perspectives article, children “eating organic fruits and vegetables had six times lower levels of pesticide byproducts in their blood versus children eating conventional produce.

Anytime that pesticide is found on organic produce, it is either because pesticides have drifted from a nearby non-organic farm or the produce has been contaminated by “long-ago banned pesticides that linger in the environment.” So the effects of pesticide use are extremely long term!

Besides helping you to avoid dangerous pesticides, antibiotics, and hormones, choosing organics also supplies you with more nutrients. Those organically raised chickens we just discussed lay eggs which, according to a Mother Earth News, contain:

1⁄3 less cholesterol
1⁄4 less saturated fat
2⁄3 more vitamin A
2 times more omega-3 fatty acids
3 times more vitamin E
7 times more beta carotene

That’s a huge difference! And the non-organic produce has roughly 17% less nutrients than as its organic counterpart.

If organics are not in your area, you can use this list, compiled by the Environmental Working Group, which shows how much pesticide is likely to be on a given fruit or vegetable, so you can choose those with the least contamination.

While it is better to eat fruits and vegetables with pesticides instead of processed foods, those who eat organically will have a healthy advantage.


Report Cards: McDonald’s New Marketing Platform

December 30, 2007

McDonald’s paid the $1,700 tab for Seminole County, Florida’s report card jackets “in exchange for a coupon, featuring Ronald McDonald, on the card’s cover.” With good grades and attendance, the coupon can be redeemed for a free Happy Meal.

This appears to violate the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative, which McDonald’s joined last year. Created by the Better Business Bureau, the initiative “provide(s) companies that advertise foods and beverages to children with a transparent and accountable advertising self-regulation mechanism.” Members are not allowed to advertise at schools and cannot place materials in editorial or entertainment content.

Did McDonald’s find a loophole? The report cards are sent straight to the home and may not be easily classifiable as editorial or entertainment. The first compliance review will be in three years. We might have to wait until then for the verdict.

The coupons put parents in a tough spot; a mother in the Seminole school district resented “‘being the bad guy’ that had to deny her daughter the meal.” The mother made the right decision; pairing rewards from doing well at school with unhealthy food is a dangerous combination. The child may only want to do well at school if this same reward is granted, a reward that probably jeopardizes her wellbeing in the long run. It is a safe assumption to believe that the unhealthier a child is, the worse he or she will do in school.

The type of food eaten makes a difference in school performance. A study shows that eating a breakfast with whole grains, like oatmeal, beats eating cold cereal or no breakfast at all. This is probably due to its high protein and fiber, and its gradual raise of glucose levels.

McDonald’s still bleaches all of its grains used, eliminating any nutrition present in its breads. Bleaching most bread creates a poison called alloxon, which has produced diabetes in lab animals, a pretty good sign it is not safe for humans.

McDonald’s has added “healthy” choices to its menu, but these choices are only deceptively healthy, and contain colors and preservatives that have been determined to be detrimental to a human’s health.

McDonald’s defended it’s happy meals, citing that a child could choose a low calorie Happy Meal of Chicken McNuggets, apple dippers, and low fat milk. The combination may be low calorie, but it contains MSG, food coloring, and sodium benzoate. Check McDonald’s ingredients. Most children would probably want the even unhealthier choices, anyway.

McDonald’s is not the only party to blame in this recent event. According to the, school board officials call the report card promotions a “business partnership” rather than advertisements.

For schools to find these kinds of “partnerships” beneficial, there must be a lack of funds. If schools were properly paid for and funded, they would not be turning to corporations to print report card jackets.

For more information on the effect of marketing & advertising to children:
Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood
Common Sense Media: Effects of Fast Food Branding on Young Children’s Preferences Media & Obesity

Farm Workers Sterilized by Banana Pesticide

November 7, 2007

Farm workers in Nicaragua were poisoned and sterilized by dibromo chloropropane, a pesticide made by Dow Chemical for use on Dole banana plantations. On November 5th, a jury awarded them $3.3 million dollars.

This particular pesticide has been banned in both the U.S. and Nicaragua, but has had long term effects on those who were in daily contact with the poison. Dole was using the pesticide on its plantations in Nicaragua until 1993, so many people still have this pesticide in their bodies and may be experiencing health problems due to its consumption.

Other pesticides are in wide use in non-organic food, and bans on their use seem to only occur once the damage is widespread. Legal pesticides have been linked with Parkinson’s and premature birth.

The Environmental Working Group conducted a study to find out just how many pesticides were used on individual types of produce and ranked them according to their average number of pesticides. They found up to 11 pesticides on an individual piece of produce. Peaches and apples were found out to be the worst. View the report here.

It is not always possible to purchase organic fruit and vegetables, but this list makes it easier to choose produce based on which types are most likely to be the least harmful.

Childhood Asthma Linked to Antibiotics

June 25, 2007

A study published in CHEST, the peer-reviewed journal of the American College of Chest Physicians (ACCP), “reports that children receiving antibiotics in the first year of life were at greater risk for developing asthma by age 7 than those not receiving antibiotics.” The investigators followed over 13,000 kids from birth to age 7, monitoring their health.

These folks were very smart too; they distinguished between children receiving antibiotics for respiratory and NON-RESPIRATORY ailments, and took note of other factors “including gender, urban or rural location, neighborhood income, number of siblings at age 7, maternal history of asthma, and pets reported living in the home.” So the results are extremely valid.

Science Daily has a great in-depth explanation of the results. Some highlights:

…absence of a dog during the birth-year doubled asthma risk among children taking multiple courses of antibiotics.

…children receiving more than four courses of antibiotics [had] 1.5 times the risk of asthma compared with children not receiving antibiotics.

…asthma at age 7 was almost twice as likely in children receiving an antibiotic for nonrespiratory tract infections compared with children who did not receive antibiotics.

Some antibiotic alternatives:

Colloidal Silver

Grapefruit Seed Extract (GSE)



Senators Vote to Maintain U.S. Pharmaceutical Monopoly

May 16, 2007

49 U.S. Senators voted against S.1082, an amendment which would have allowed consumers to purchase their medicines from other countries with approved safety records such as Japan, Canada, and the U.K., saving Americans “tens of millions of dollars,” according to Mike Adams at NewsTarget.

Americans currently pay the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs. Canadians, Europeans, and even citizens of Mexico pay only about one-half to as little as one-tenth the price paid by Americans for the very same chemicals.

Why would the Senators be opposed to saving Americans millions?

NewsTarget reveals that most of the Senators who voted against the amendment have accepted money from U.S. drug companies including:

Richard Burr, R-N.C.

John Kerry, D-Mass.

Joe Lieberman, I-Conn.

Arlen Specter, R-Pa.

Orrin Hatch, R-Utah

Max Baucus, D-Mont.

Tom Carper, D-Del.

Mike Enzi, R-Wyo.

See the complete list of Senators working for the best interests of U.S. drug companies at NewsTarget.

Food Additives Linked to Behavior Problems in Children

May 11, 2007

A study conducted by the UK’s government Food Standards Agency (FSA) found a definite link between food additives and behavior problems in children, such as temper tantrums and poor concentration. Food colorings and one preservative were tested on 3 year olds and 9 year olds. The culprits are tartrazine (E102), ponceau 4R (E124), sunset yellow (E110), carmoisine (E122), quinoline yellow (E104), allura red AC (E129), and the preservative sodium benzoate (E211).

Several individuals and organizations have been been campaining against artificial additives in children’s foods, including the founder of Organix, Lizzie Vann, quoted in the UK Daily Mail:

“The use of artificial additives in children’s foods means we are conducting a long-term experiment on our children’s health,” she said.

“If the Government is serious about improving children’s nutrition the ban on artificial food additives must be a priority.”

She has aptly suggested that even though our current research is based on short term study, if the additives are not banned, there will be long term evidence from the general population.

An adviser to the FSA, Vyvyan Howard, a professor of bio-imaging at Ulster University and a father, also thinks these additives should be banned:

“It is the right thing to do to remove these additives from children’s foods. They have no nutritional value, so why put them in?

“There are very tight restrictions banning these additives from foods designed for children under the age of one.

“But why stop there? Children’s brains and nervous systems are developing beyond the age of one.”

In fact, contrary to what you may have learned, adults do develop new brain cells in a process called neurogenesis; So developing children over the age of one can safely include adults.

Fortunately, some companies have changed without force, including the makers of Smarties who dropped all food coloring even resulting in the absence of the blue variety in their famous rolls.


Food Flavoring Additive Causes Rare Disease in Plant Workers

May 1, 2007

Exposure to diacteyl, the butter flavoring used in some of the U.S.’s most popular foods, including microwaveable popcorn and some charddonnays, has been linked with a rare disease called bronchiolitis obliterans.

The disease affects the lungs, has no known cure but transplant, and has been found in 8 individuals who worked at food flavoring plants in California between 2004 and 2007. An epidemic intelligence service officer at the CDC’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Dr. Rachael Bailey, is reluctant to only pinpoint the blame solely on diacteyl.

“…there are literally thousands of chemicals that are used in making these flavorings and not all of them have been evaluated, so other chemicals may cause the disease as well.”

There are currently no regulations for the use of these chemicals in plants and factories, and unfortunately, also no regulations for the use of these chemicals IN OUR FOOD. Dr. David Katz, director of the Prevention Research Center at Yale University School of Medicine, is concerned.

“If the chemicals used in the flavoring industry are this potentially dangerous to the workers handling them, how good an idea can it be for the rest of us to be eating them? Personally, I think artificial flavors should neither be inhaled, nor ingested.”

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health does not have authority to issue regulations over these poisons, and can only recommend “that employers minimize occupational exposures to flavorings or flavoring ingredients…”

Regulations over the use of food flavoring chemicals in factories would benefit workers but would still leave consumers in danger. The employers have no motivation to change ingredients if they continue to bring profit.

If we choose not to buy these products, they will be forced to change; and we may be rewarded with a few extra years to thank ourselves.

The Government Wants in on the Drug Business

April 26, 2007

A bill to create a government run pharmaceutial company has passed the Senate subcommittee and is headed for vote.

Instead of merely regulating drug companies, the Revitalization Act (S1082) would allow the government to gain direct profits from selling drugs under the label of a non-profit agency.

The new company, the Reagan-Udall Foundation for the Food and Drug Adminstration, would be operated by FDA officials and put them in direct contact with the private industries that control drugs, foods, and cosmetics.

The bill is being attached to a renewal of the Prescription Drug User Fee Act (PDUFA) which already “allows Big Pharma to pay the FDA fees to speed the approval of its drugs. The new…bill will increase these FDA bribes to 380 million dollars in 2008, well over 50% of the FDA budget for new drug approvals.”

Read the page from News Target which reprints the full article by Byron Richards: Perverse Expansion of FDA Powers Will Target Dietary Supplements.