Tuesday, June 2, 2009
Thursday, March 19, 2009
Alice Waters has been lobbying the White House for a garden since 1992. "It just tells you that this country cares about people's good health and about the care of the land," she said. "To have this sort of 'victory' garden, this message goes out that everyone can grow a garden and have free food."
I hope all American's will take this lead, plant and garden and find out what a real tomato taste like.
Friday, February 6, 2009
Story of Stuff with Annie Leonord
Monday, February 2, 2009
Thursday, January 29, 2009
Guest Blogger: Leslie Hatfield of the Green Fork blog on the FDA and Mercury in High Fructose Corn Syrup
"Our Melamine: There’s Mercury in High Fructose Corn Syrup, and the FDA Has Known for Years"
Maybe Jeremy Piven didn’t get mercury poisoning from fish at all — according to the results of this new study released by the Institute for Agriculture and Trace Policy (IATP), the actor may well have been sickened by soda or candy or anything that contains high fructose corn syrup, which, if you eat processed food in this country means, well, just about anything.
Foodies and nutritionists alike have been griping about high fructose corn syrup for years, and the industry has responded with an “astroturf” campaign and a level of secrecy generally reserved for the military officials or secret societies (see Corn Refiners’ Association president Audrae Erickson’s stonewalling performance in King Corn).
Of course, I wouldn’t want to show my hand either, if the making of my product could be described as undertaking a small “Manhattan Project” (see eye-glazing production info here). But as it turns out, the HFCS industry has been hiding some major skeletons in its closet — according to the IATP study (pdf), over 30% of products containing the substance tested positive for mercury.
What makes this news truly shocking is not just that the manufacturers of high fructose corn syrup would put consumers’ health at risk, but that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) knew about the mercury in the syrup and has been sitting on this information since 2005.
Here’s the connection, according to the IATP press release (pdf) announcing the study: The IATP study comes on the heels of another study, conducted in 2005 but only recently published by the scientific journal, Environmental Health, which revealed that nearly 50 percent of commercial HFCS samples tested positive for the heavy metal. Renee Dufault, who was working for the FDA at the time, was among the 2005 study’s authors.
Here’s how the mercury gets in there, according to Janet at the Ethicurean:
How did the heavy metal get in there? In making HFCS — that “natural” sweetener, as the Corn Refiners Associaton likes to call it — caustic soda is one ingredient used to separate corn starch from the corn kernel. Apparently most caustic soda for years has been produced in industrial chlorine (chlor-alkali) plants, where it can be contaminated with mercury that it passes on to the HFCS, and then to consumers.And here’s more from the press release:
“While the FDA had evidence that commercial HFCS was contaminated with mercury four years ago, the agency did not inform consumers, help change industry practice or conduct additional testing.”And on why it matters:
“Mercury is toxic in all its forms,” said IATP’s David Wallinga, M.D., and a co-author in both studies. “Given how much high fructose corn syrup is consumed by children, it could be a significant additional source of mercury never before considered. We are calling for immediate changes by industry and the FDA to help stop this avoidable mercury contamination of the food supply.”In China, heads might roll over a scandal like this one, at least if the country received global attention for its allowing corrupt health officials’ greasy palms come before, um, public health.
Of course, in this country, the FDA’s neck is safe. But what about the health of American consumers? Let’s see the Corn Refiner’s Association try to spin this one.
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Readers of the Green Luvin' blog probably don't need another inducement to "eat local." Like Chelsea Green's audience, you're probably hip to the whole concept: support local farmers, enrich your community, connect directly with your food, avoid GMO as much as possible (Although they are difficult, if not impossible, to avoid entirely—soy products, anyone?), cut carbon emissions and reduce demand for our dwindling supplies of dirty fossil fuels, etc., etc. But just in case you're having trouble making the case with some of your less sustainability-minded friends, here's a good one: don't get really sick and possibly die.
You hear news reports all the time about Salmonella outbreaks in spinach or some other product that probably originated halfway around the country or halfway around the world, but what exactly is it?
While not always fatal, it's also not pleasant.
Salmonellosis is an infection with bacteria called Salmonella. Most persons infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps 12 to 72 hours after infection. The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days, and most persons recover without treatment. However, in some persons, the diarrhea may be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized. In these patients, the Salmonella infection may spread from the intestines to the blood stream, and then to other body sites and can cause death unless the person is treated promptly with antibiotics. The elderly, infants, and those with impaired immune systems are more likely to have a severe illness.
Last Friday, the New York Times reported on the latest headline-grabbing outbreak, this time from peanut butter that originated from a plant in Georgia.
From the New York Times:
For the nation’s grocery shoppers, the list of foods that might contain salmonella-tainted peanut butter has grown so quickly that keeping up seems daunting.
There are boxes of Valentine’s candy, frozen cookie dough and dog biscuits, chicken satay, peanut butter cups and stuffed celery.
Many of the products are sold as supermarket brands or under lesser-known national labels, but the list also has some of the more popular snacks on the shelf, like Little Debbie sandwich crackers, Famous Amos cookies and energy snacks from Clif Bar and NutriSystems.
The Food and Drug Administration has listed almost 130 products that have been recalled, but federal officials say the list is likely to grow as the investigation continues. The large and varied list of products points up the many layers involved in producing packaged foods.
“I don’t think we can determine how many more” products will be recalled, Stephen F. Sundlof, director of the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition at the food and drug agency, told reporters on Wednesday.
Out of 486 cases of salmonella illness reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 6 people have died and 107 have been hospitalized. The most recent person sickened fell ill on Jan 8. Since it takes up to three weeks for cases to be reported to the disease agency, more are expected.
Consumers who have packages of food made with peanut products should check with the manufacturer by Web site or telephone and consult the F.D.A. recall list at fda.gov. Anyone who is not sure about a product should not eat it, federal officials said.
The plant also produced peanut paste, a more concentrated product used in candy, crackers and many other kinds of foods. Tracking how the paste travels through the food supply can be challenging, because several companies can be involved in making the final food. For example, one manufacturer might coat the paste in chocolate and make a peanut butter cup, which is then sold to another company that mixes it into ice cream that may or may not also contain peanut butter. A grocery chain might buy that ice cream and sell it under a private label.
Volume, wide distribution and a complicated supply chain are not the only issues. Salmonella can survive for a long time in a closed container of peanut butter.
“The piece that hasn’t come out yet is that peanut butter isn’t like spinach or ground beef because it has a really long shelf life,” said Caroline Smith DeWaal, food safety director for the Center for Science in the Public Interest.
So remember: eat local. Contribute to the local economy, make an impact on CO2 emissions, avoid GM foods, and greatly reduce the risk of suffering a pretty lousy fate at the hands of an industrial food supply contaminant.
Friday, January 16, 2009
What can you do to make this world a better place? Let me know and I will Twitter about each response as they come it. Or you can just send me a message on Twitter. You can follow me on Twitter at @Green_Luvin.