January 28th, 2009 cate
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January 26th, 2009 cate
“We all love to eat, but the ugly reality is that some foods can make you sick. We’re not talking about salmonella here; none of what’s listed below should send you directly to the hospital with a debilitating illness, though Jeremy Piven recently claimed to have mercury sickness from a diet too rich in sushi. While the verdict is still out on Piven’s poisoning, certain foods, when eaten too frequently, can pose a very real health risk over time (especially if you are thinking of having a baby or if you are feeding a small child).
The dangers of these foods range from PCBs in certain fish, to large trace amounts of pesticides on fresh fruit and veggies. This past year, the National Institutes of Health even linked long-term pesticide exposure to diabetes. To avoid these health risks, we came up with a list of ten foods to beware, both for your health and for the health of the environment.
1. Farmed Salmon
Tim Fitzgerald, a scientist with the Oceans Program of the Environmental Defense Fund, says, “Salmon is the third most popular seafood in the US, so people are eating a lot of it and most of what they’re eating is farmed. As a result of the feed salmon are given, they are very high in PCBs and environmental contaminants. For reasons of health, the environment, and popularity with consumers, farmed salmon is at the top of the list of seafood to avoid.” The average dioxin level in farmed-raised salmon is 11 times higher than that in wild salmon .
2. Conventionally Grown Bell Peppers
Even though pesticides are present in most food at very small trace levels, their negative impact on health is well documented, and certain produce carries a greater risk. According to a report done by the Environmental Working Group, sweet bell peppers are the vegetable with the most pesticides detected on a single sample (as many as 11 were found on one sample). In addition, bell peppers are the vegetable with the most pesticides overall with 64 different pesticides found on samples. Better to buy organic and eliminate this risk.
3. Non-Organic Strawberries
In order to increase sweetness, some growers of non-organic strawberries are said to irrigate the plants with water laced with the artificial sweetener NutraSweet. And that luscious red color is caused by the fungicide captan, recognized by the EPA as a probable human carcinogen. Do you really want to eat something bathed in a chemical sweetener and doused with a likely cancer-causer? Probably not.
4. Chilean Sea Bass
Chilean sea bass, otherwise known as Patagonian toothfish, lives for a very long time and grows to a large size; both are automatic warning bells for being high in mercury. Fitzgerald says, “We have some pretty comprehensive data that Chilean sea bass are extraordinarily high in mercury and not something you want to eat very often. When you factor in the very serious environmental issues with illegal fishing and bycatch, it’s definitely a double whammy for us.”
“That said, we don’t want to give the impression that if you eat one piece of fish with mercury, you’re going to get mercury poisoning. But if you continually eat fish with a lot of mercury over an extended period of time, that’s when you’re going to see more serious issues like unexplainable fatigue, memory problems, and tingling or numbness in your extremities,” Fitzgerald says.
5. Non-Organic Peaches
Peaches aren’t just juicy and delicious, they’re magnets for pesticides, often topping the Organic Center’s consumer’s pocket guide for pesticide-riddled produce. The Center’s chief scientist Charles Benbrook says, “Peaches top the list because their skins get soft at the end of their season on the tree and the last pesticide spray can move right through that skin and get into the tissue of the fruit in a matter of hours. That’s why it’s easy to find peaches with ten different pesticide residues in them.”
Benbrook adds, “The last thing that we want to do is scrooge people from eating fresh fruits and vegetables. If anything, we want people to eat two to three more servings of produce a day. But the science is irrefutable. If the average family sought out organic versions of the top four fruits and vegetables they eat the most often, they could eliminate 90% of their overall pesticide exposure.”
6. Genetically Modified Corn
If you read Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma, one of the more shocking truths is the amount of corn found in the American diet. Corn is in everything from frozen yogurt to ketchup, from mayonnaise and mustard to hot dogs and vitamins. Unless specified as organic, the corn you’re ingesting is likely genetically modified. Genetically modified organisms have not been tested thoroughly enough for long-term consequences, but a series of studies has found significant health risks in animals tested, and an increase in certain allergies for humans.
7. Bluefin Tuna
Maybe it’s a good thing that not everyone has the luxury of eating a lot of toro at the sushi bar, because bluefin tuna is in grave danger from a population perspective. It’s also one of the more dangerous fish for mercury consumption, making it both a bad eco choice and a health risk for mercury exposure. Fitzgerald says, “The bluefin tuna is in such horrible shape right now. There are some populations that may go commercially extinct in the near future if we don’t ease up on the fishing.”
8. Industrially Farmed Chicken
While there has been much debate over chickens and hormones, there exists a great deal of misinformation. Poultry is not allowed to be given hormones in the United States, so while reports have existed for years that schoolchildren are experiencing early puberty due to excess hormones traced to chicken, there have not been enough studies done to prove this conclusively .
What we do know is that tests done by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy found arsenic in conventional chickens. Arsenic has been linked to cancer and contributes to other diseases including heart disease, diabetes and deterioration of mental faculties. In addition, a study conducted in 2002 for the Sierra Club and the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy found multiple antibiotic-resistant bacteria in brand-name poultry products . Scientists believe antibiotic use in animals raised for food contributes to antibiotic-resistant bacteria transferred to humans, mainly through contaminated food, resulting in drug-resistant infections. In order to avoid poultry that’s been dosed with antibiotics or given feed laced with arsenic, better to opt for an organic chicken at the grocery store.
9. Non-Organic Apples
“Apples come with a red flag based on the sheer amount of apples in our diet and the reliance of pesticides in humid parts of the country,” says Benbrook. Apple skins contain higher pesticide residues. Higher risk apples are grown in the humid mid-Atlantic states and Michigan: They use more pesticides than California, Oregon or Washington state. A lot of those pesticides seep into the skin of the apple, so it’s always good to peel it. Unfortunately, approximately 1/3 of the nutrients come off with the peel, according to Benbrook.
10. Cattle Treated With rBGH
The use of genetically engineered drug rBGH (recombinant bovine growth hormone) is widespread among the cattle industry in the United States. Banned by all European nations and Canada, U.S. dairy farmers continue to use the synthetic hormone which escalates production of the cow’s own hormone ICF-1 (insulin-like growth factor 1). This hormone does not break down when humans consume milk from those cows and has been traced to higher risks of certain cancers, including breast cancer, and hormonal disorders. The only guarantee against ingesting these dangerous excess hormones is to buy milk labeled “no rBGH.” [source]
January 24th, 2009 cate
“So you lost your job. Now what? As an employee, you had a daily routine, health insurance coverage, and a regular paycheck. You liked the security—while it lasted. And if you sometimes daydreamed about the freedom of working for yourself, leaving a full-time job never seemed worth the risk.
But now, laid off into a recession and the worst job market in decades—2.6 million Americans lost jobs in 2008, with 524,000 eliminated in December alone—you may be thinking self-employment sounds like the best path out of unemployment. Rather than try to land one of the few open jobs out there, maybe you could work as a freelancer or consultant, at least until the job market recovers. You’re in good company: There were nearly 9 million self-employed workers in December, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But if you’re among the thousands of unemployed now trying to go it alone, where do you start?
First, step back. Decide what your goals are and how freelancing will help you achieve them, says Pamela Slim, author of the Escape From Cubicle Nation blog and a forthcoming book of the same name. “It’s obviously very easy at the point of being laid off to really come from a position of fear and desperation,” she says. Thinking about long-term goals from the start will keep you grounded and help you determine how to proceed. Once you’re clear on your goals, Slim says, you should ask: “What are the specific skills, knowledge, money, resources, information, and contacts [you] need to bring that picture to life?”
There are plenty of nuts-and-bolts concerns that can overwhelm first-time freelancers, especially those who suddenly lost steady jobs. Chief among them is health care. The health insurance system does not accommodate… “ continue reading
January 18th, 2009 cate
“Austin, Texas, Dec. 20, 2000: “Natural gas is hemispheric. I like to call it hemispheric in nature because it is a product that we can find in our neighborhoods.” (Source: Treehugger)
Washington, D.C. March 13, 2001: “There are some monuments where the land is so widespread, they just encompass as much as possible. And the integral part of the–the precious part, so to speak–I guess all land is precious, but the part that the people uniformly would not want to spoil, will not be despoiled. But there are parts of the monument lands where we can explore without affecting the overall environment.” (Source: Slate)
Washington, D.C., January 6, 2009: “The new steps I’ve announced today are the capstone of an eight-year commitment to strong environmental protection and conservation.” Check out this interesting graphic from the Natural Resources Defense Council illustrating the last eight years in environmental policy…
New Delhi, India, Mar. 2, 2006 “Obviously, nu-que-lar power is, uh, a renewable source of energy, and the less demand there is for non-renewable sources of energy, like fossil fuels, the better it off it is for the American people.” Well, he got the second part right, but nuclear energy produced from uranium is, uh, not renewable as far as we know… (Source: Treehugger)
Washington, D.C., June 8, 2005: “We’re spending money on clean coal technology. Do you realize we’ve got 250 million years of coal?” (Source: Slate)
Michigan, September 2000, explaining his energy policies: “I know the human being and fish can coexist peacefully.” (Source: AP)
A Freudian slip made while addressing Australian Prime Minister John Howard at the APEC Summit, Sept. 7, 2007: “Mr. Prime Minister, thank you for your introduction. Thank you for being such a fine host for the OPEC summit.”
And a bonus: “[It's] time for the human race to enter the solar system.”
While we’re talking about W, let’s give him a little help to pack up his junk at the Whitehouse. He needs to clear out for Obama. Click here: Help Bush Pack
January 15th, 2009 cate
I’ve written several posts about this but I can’t stress enough that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and as the most important meal of the day, it should be healthy. So, why do so many people eat commercial cereals? WHY? WHY people!?? Those of you who eat those mass made cereals, do me a favor, ok? Open the cereal box and stick your nose inside at the top. Now. Take a big SNIFF. Really think about what you’re smelling. To me, it doesn’t really even smell like food. At BEST, it smells like dried dog food. Guess what? There are many common ingredients in cereal and dog food. All that aside, just think about how you’re eating something that isn’t very healthy for you. No matter how many are vitamin fortified, forget about it. They HAVE been fortified but the processing kills most of the nutrients leaving you with nearly nothing. Why do you want to eat THAT for your most important meal? Anyway, here are my suggestions.
Don’t be a lazy bastard.
Gah, you might be thinking, you don’t have to be such a biatch. Sorry. I can’t help it when it comes to important things. So many people I know ALWAYS use the excuse, “I don’t have enough time in the morning to prepare anything, so we (or my kids) eat cereals or protein bars. It’s easy, fast and…” – let me finish that line for you, “CRAPPY FOR THEM.” You can’t argue with me; it’s true. Now, get a conscience and get caring about you and your kids’ health! I just can’t believe I have to tell you this.
Make a yummy nutritious meal for breakfast.
Ok if you HAVE to use that stupid, lame excuse of not having enough time in the morning, then prepare some things the night before so you have little to prepare the next day. Here’s one example (but DO search online for a variety of ideas) Make some whole wheat or multi-grain scones the night before, then in the morning eat them with organic almond butter and some organic jam. Or simply with fruit. Make a quick side of scrambled eggs and voila. Yummy and healthy meal.
Be more organized – Plan for the whole week and vary meals.
This also relates to the previous idea, “don’t be a lazy bastard.” If you plan for the week, your breakfast life will be smooth as peanut butter. During the weekends, plan your meals for every week day. It doesn’t necessarily have to be something different every single day, depending on the tastes of you and your family members, but it should vary to an extent. This is important so your bodies receive a variety of nutrients instead of the very same ones day after day. For example, if you have kids love their home-made organic muesli, allow it Tuesday and Thursday one week, then for the next week allow it Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Vary the kinds of fruit and nuts you add to the muesli. Maybe once in a while add yogurt instead of whole, raw organic milk.
Make Pancakes better.
If you and your family likes pancakes once in a while, instead of using just white flour, add more hearty and healthy flours into the mix like whole wheat flour and buckwheat flour. Also, make sure if you do use white flour, that it is non-bleached and organic. Use organic ingredients as much as possible including eggs, sugar and milk.
Offer all kinds of different spreads for toast.If there’s a die-hard, “gotta have” toast in the a.m., offer different things to spread on it: Peanut butter, coconut butter, almond butter or other kinds of nut butters, tahini, organic butters and cream cheese, organic fruit and jams. Or something completely different: pickled herring, organic cheeses, a poached egg, veggies. How ’bout some organic maple syrup?
The organic tortilla is your friend for breakfast.
I’ve been recently been liking brown rice tortillas but there are many kinds that are good for your health. Tortillas are champions in convenience and you can put all kinds of things into them. Breakfast burritos, veggies and scrambled eggs, bean and cheese, fruity wraps…you will only be limited by your imagination. And if you run out of ideas, look online for more ideas! You don’t have to be alone in this breakfast dilemma.
Let smoothies rule.
There’s nothing more healthy than throwing some fruit, plain yogurt or juice into a blender and make a refreshing, scrumptious and satisfying smoothie. Add some flax seed meal into it and you may become addicted to this excellent meal in a glass. Make sure to vary fruit and ingredients for your smoothies!
Related: Why you shouldn’t eat popular breakfast cereals, More reasons to give up Cereal, especially Corn Flakes! Healthy Organic Breakfasts