Food For Thought
Food For Thought
Micro green is far more nutritional than grown version of themselves. Is baby carrots the same, what do you think share your thoughts with us.
Carrots, and especially baby carrots, are a popular snack in the U.S., for adults and children alike. Parents use the bite-sized, sweet treats in children’s lunches to boost the nutrient value of their mid-day meal. They are easy to dip, snack on and require little to no preparation.
Baby carrots today are a breed apart from the original product, which were peeled and reshaped from broken or misshapen larger carrots. California carrot farmer Mike Yurosek was the entrepreneur in the 1980s who reshaped the way you think about carrots.
As Yurosek’s method of peeling and reshaping has evolved over the years, the popularity of the product has grown. Today, farmers produce hybrid carrots designed to meet the needs of the consumer who wants a fresh out-of-the-bag snack without the hassle of peeling and cleaning. But, does all that convenience come at a price?
Do Small Size Carrots Have Full-Size Nutrients?
Baby carrots appeal to many, as they both taste good and deliver an additional nutritional punch to a diet potentially high in processed foods. Carrots are a root vegetable that are commonly orange in color. Purple, black, red, white and yellow varieties have also been developed, although not as baby carrots.
The current 2-inch carrots are cut from a special variety of plant that grows slim and remains tender.2 The ends of the carrots, or broken pieces, are now used for juicing or are processed into cattle feed.
The carrots used for baby carrots are grown in close proximity, to encourage the root to grow deep and slender, as well as being harvested approximately 40 to 60 days earlier than full grown variety.
Baby carrots are also not peeled as they once were. Instead, the carrots are shaped from small, slender carrots that don’t have the characteristic lighter colored core, and then are buffed and polished in a tumble drum.
According to a comparison between baby carrots5 and full-sized carrots6 in the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release, baby carrots have slightly more water and slightly fewer calories.
They each have approximately the same amount of sugar, but baby carrots have less iron, phosphorus and magnesium. Comparing 100 grams of each type of carrot, baby carrots also carry less vitamin A and vitamin C, but significantly more folate than the larger variety.
Although the nutrient value between the two types of carrots is not equal, this may be offset if you are more tempted to eat a greater number of baby carrots than you are the larger, thicker variety.
Benefits of Carrots and Beta-Carotene
In this short video, I briefly go over the role and importance of antioxidants to your health. Carrots are a potent source of antioxidants in your diet, including lycopene, beta-carotene and vitamin A.
Half a cup of chopped carrots, whether the larger or smaller baby carrot, contains over 200 percent of the average daily recommended amount of vitamin A.
The high vitamin A content comes from beta-carotene, which is converted into vitamin A in your liver. Beta-carotene is also a strong antioxidant, effective against free radicals and reducing oxidative stress.
By developing a habit of including carrots in your daily diet, you will enjoy some important health benefits.
Antioxidants in carrots may play a role in cancer prevention. Research has demonstrated smokers who eat carrots more than once a week have a lower risk of lung cancer, while a beta-carotene-rich diet may also protect against prostate cancer.
Further research demonstrates the association between beta-carotene and a lower risk of colon cancer, a positive effect against leukemia and reduced risk of gastric cancer.
A natural toxin carrots use against fungal disease, falcarinol, may stimulate cancer-fighting mechanisms in your body, and has demonstrated the ability to reduce the risk of tumors in rats.
Vitamin A deficiency may cause your eye’s photoreceptors to deteriorate, leading to vision problems. Eating foods rich in beta-carotene may restore vision lending truth to the old adage that carrots are good for your eyes.
Carrots may reduce your risk of age-related macular degeneration15 and the incidence of cataracts. Additionally, research shows women may reduce their risk of glaucoma by 64 percent by consuming more than two servings of carrots per week.
Fruits and vegetables that are deep orange in color are associated with a lower risk of coronary heart disease (CHD). Carrots are associated with a 32 percent lower risk of CHD18 and have been associated with a lower risk of heart attacks in women.
Beta-carotene and lycopene, two carotenoids found in carrots, have been associated with a lower incidence of metabolic syndrome in middle aged men.20 Metabolic syndrome is associated with heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.
Orange-red vegetables, rich in beta-carotene, may help prevent cell damage and premature skin aging.
People who suffer from leukoplakia, white lesions found in the mouth and tongue of people exposed to years of smoking or alcohol consumption, and who took a beta-carotene supplement experienced fewer symptoms.
Researchers have also found people who suffer from scleroderma, a connective tissue disorder causing hardening of the skin, had low levels of beta-carotene.
Carrots may help reduce the number of cavities you get and help keep your teeth clean. Saliva is an alkaline substance, helping to reduce bacteria and plaque production on your teeth. Eating carrots helps to increase your production of saliva and stimulates your gums.
Carrot extract has demonstrated a positive effect on the management of cognitive dysfunction. Eating a high number of root vegetables, such as carrots, reduce cognitive decline in middle-aged men and women.
Carrot extract may also help protect your liver from environmental toxins. The hepatoprotective benefits of carrots are experienced with both the vegetable and the extract.
Antioxidants help to ward off the damage caused by free radicals, and are a strong anti-aging force. Carrots are a valuable source of these antioxidants.
The anti-inflammatory properties in carrots are significant even when compared to anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen.
Cutting Carrots May Enhance the Nutrient Value
Since baby carrots are buffed, removing the outer protective layer, they require refrigeration to extend their shelf life. Even in the refrigerator, they may start to spoil within 30 days of picking and processing. Many of the health benefits of carrots come from their strong antioxidant activity, which may be enhanced through cooking or cutting the vegetable.
Plants have a rudimentary form of communication and a means of protection. In one study, researchers discovered when a tobacco plant was attacked by a specific insect, the plant released a compound that attracted the insect’s predator, thus protecting itself. This same process of chemical change may increase the antioxidant concentration in a carrot after it has been cut.
Both humans and plants use antioxidants to limit the damaging effects of oxidative reactions and stress in cells. Oxidative stress may predispose you to diseases, such as heart disease and cancer. Plant-based phenolic antioxidants may reduce the risk of developing these conditions. Some of the phenolic antioxidants produced by plants appear in blood plasma and tissue, which may improve the function of these antioxidants in your body.
Studies suggest that wounding a carrot by cutting or shredding will increase the production of antioxidants in the plant. Author of one study, Luis Cisneros-Zevallos, Ph.D., director of the Plant Bioactives & Bioprocessing Research Lab at Texas A&M University, commented:
“Wounding fresh produce sends a signal to the cells, which perceive that as if they were under attack or facing adverse conditions. As a result, oxidative stress increases in the cell and they start synthesizing antioxidant molecules to protect the cell from that stress.”
Researchers found the more the plant was wounded or stressed, the greater the antioxidant production at the cellular level. The higher the intensity of the damage, the longer the plant produced antioxidants, measured over four days during the study, making carrots rich sources of phenolic antioxidant compounds.
Cooking Your Carrots May Release More Carotenoids
Cooking carrots may also increase the level of beta-carotene and phenolic acids produced by the carrot. Since raw carrots have a tough cell wall, less than 25 percent of the beta-carotene in carrots is able to be converted into vitamin A. During cooking the cellulose walls are dissolved, freeing up nutrients. An increase in total carotenoids available after steam blanching have been demonstrated. When dehydrated, the carotenoids are protected but do not increase.
Another study evaluating the effects of boiling, steaming and frying on carotenoids in vegetables, found steamed vegetables kept the best texture quality, but all three means of cooking demonstrated an overall increase in values. Just resist the urge to cut your carrots before cooking to make more antioxidants available for absorption.
Baby Carrots Take a Chlorine Bath
Part of the process baby carrots undergo before reaching the grocery store is a chlorine bath. The largest carrot farm, Grimmway Farms, reports that chlorine is used on all their baby carrots to prevent food poisoning. After their chlorine wash they are rinsed, packaged and shipped.
Chlorine is also used to extend the shelf life of the baby carrots. As baby carrots begin to age they develop a white appearance on the outer layer. This doesn’t affect the nutrient value of the carrots, but does impact how appetizing they appear. Buffing and processing baby carrots increase the rate at which the carrots begin deteriorating and develop a white blush on the exterior caused from drying out.38
The rate at which this white coating appears will depend upon the condition of the carrots before processing, the amount of abrasiveness of the processing and the humidity levels during storage. Chlorine, used to clean and preserve the carrots, is a common chemical found in your water supply, pesticides, paper and plastics. In the last 30 years, a growing body of evidence has suggested that chlorine and by-products trigger significant negative health conditions.
Although the amount of chlorine in baby carrots is minute, it is added to your overall toxic burden from other sources. It isn’t the chlorine that causes the problems, but rather the disinfection byproducts (DBPs) produced when chlorine interacts with organic matter. These byproducts are far more toxic than the chlorine, including trihalomethanes and haloacetic acids. In this instance, the term organic is used to mean a compound that is carbon-based.
This means these byproducts are produced in all carrots, whether toxic pesticides were used in the growing process or not. Long-term risks of exposure to DBPs include excessive free radical formation, which accelerates aging and vulnerability to gene mutation and cancer. More than 600 DBPs have been discovered, some of which are linked to liver malfunction, arteriosclerotic damage and neurodegenerative changes.
Scientists are only beginning to understand the long- and short-term impact of chlorine-based chemicals. The healthiest option is to buy whole, unprocessed carrots — ideally organic — then wash, peel and cut them yourself.
Create a Super Trio Here are three excerpts from studies showing how ginger, turmeric and carrots — three superfoods — were effective in both treatment and prevention of several cancers: • Ginger: "Although the medicinal properties of ginger have been known for thousands of years, a significant number of in vitro, in vivo, and epidemiological studies further provide substantial evidence that ginger and its active compounds are effective against wide variety of human diseases including GI [gastrointestinal] cancer. Ginger has been found to be effective against various GI cancers such as gastric cancer, pancreatic cancer, liver cancer, colorectal cancer and cholangiocarcinoma." • Turmeric: "Curcumin is among the more successful chemopreventive compounds investigated in recent years, and is currently in human trials to prevent cancer. The mechanism of action of curcumin is complex and likely multifactorial. We have made the unexpected observation that curcumin strikingly modulates proteins of iron metabolism in cells and in tissues, suggesting that curcumin has properties of an iron chelator." • Carrots: This study has shown that extracts from carrots can induce apoptosis and cause cell cycle arrest in leukemia cell lines. Get all three of these powerful antioxidants in one delicious dish: Steam a few cups of carrots in a few tablespoons of water, just until tender-crisp. Add a few teaspoons of butter, sea salt to taste and a half-teaspoon each of grated turmeric and ginger (or half that amount of the ground variety). To serve, mash lightly or serve whole for a wildly healthy, delicious side dish.~By Dr. Mercola
Industrial Farming Threatens Food Security in the US
By Dr. Mercola
It is indisputable that we are negatively affecting our air, soil and water in a way that is drastically impacting the earth itself.
If you look down while on an airplane, you can’t help but notice the vast exposure of soils into perfectly-carved squares below. These exposed soils are a tragic sign of an unsustainable practice that leads to erosion, runoff pollution while also decreasing soil organic matter and impacting our air quality.
Please use my search engine to find previous interviews with experts like Gabe Brown, Joel Salatin, Will Harris or other articles related to regenerative agriculture.
Agriculture has undergone massive changes over the past several decades. Many of them were heralded as progress that would save us from hunger and despair. Yet today, we’re faced with a new set of problems, birthed from the very innovations and interventions that were meant to provide us with safety and prosperity.
For decades, food production has been all about efficiency and lowering cost. We now see what this approach has brought us — skyrocketing disease statistics and a faltering ecosystem.
Fortunately, we already know what needs to be done. It’s just a matter of implementing the answers on a wider scale. We need farmers to shift over to regenerative practices that stops depleting our soil and fresh water supplies.
Frustratingly, farmers are often held back from making much needed changes by government subsidy programs that favor monocropping and crop insurance rules that dissuade regenerative farming practices.
Will American Farming Create Another Dust Bowl?
The Great Depression of the 1930s was tough for most Americans, but farmers were particularly hard hit. Plowing up the Southern Plains to grow crops turned out to be a massive miscalculation that led to enormous suffering.
Three consecutive droughts (1930 to ’31, ’33 to ’34 and 1936) turned the area into an uninhabitable and unworkable “dust bowl.” As the natural winds that cross the Plains picked up the dry soil, dense clouds of dust called “black blizzards” covered the region in an unprecedented years-long “storm.”
As noted by bioethicist George Dvorsky in a recent Gizmodo article,1 research2 suggests modern agricultural methods cannot protect us from a repeat of those devastating conditions.
Researchers Michael Glotter[, Ph.D.,] and Joshua Elliot[, Ph.D.,] from the University of Chicago ran computer simulations to predict the effects of a Dust Bowl-like drought on today’s maize, soy and wheat crops.
‘We expected to find the system much more resilient because 30 percent of production is now irrigated in the United States, and because we’ve abandoned corn production in more severely drought-stricken places such as Oklahoma and west Texas,’ noted Elliott in a press release.
‘But we found the opposite: The system was just as sensitive to drought and heat as it was in the 1930s,’” Dvorsky writes.
Massive Changes Could Decimate Agriculture
Is the U.S. about to face another dust bowl episode? According to simulations, if the U.S. were to experience the same kind of drought as in 1936, we’d lose nearly 40 percent of the commodity crops grown today.
The best-case scenario? If rainfall remained normal, a 4-degree increase would result in the same kind of losses experienced in the 1930s, meaning we’d lose 30 to 40 percent of our crops.
“Given recent predictions3 that parts of the U.S. could soon experience ‘megadroughts’ lasting for as long as 35 years (yes, you read that correctly), these results should serve as a serious wakeup call,” Dvorsky writes.
Industrialization Versus Regenerative Agriculture
Regenerative agriculture that makes use of cover crops, no-till and herbivore grazing can help solve many of our most pressing problems, including reducing atmospheric Co2 levels and normalizing weather patterns.
For example, an interesting study that highlights the importance of grazing animals found that reindeer grazing on shrubs on the Arctic tundra actually help combat global warming by increasing surface albedo (the amount of solar energy being reflected back into space). As noted by the Climate News Network:
“The effect reindeer grazing can have on albedo and energy balances is potentially large enough to be regionally important. It also points towards herbivore management being a possible tool to combat future warming.
“Most of the Arctic tundra is grazed by either domesticated or wild reindeer, so this is an important finding.”
Even if regenerative agriculture cannot completely solve all of our issues, it’s still the only way forward, as factory farming makes everything worse. It’s important to realize that agriculture has a significant impact on life on Earth.
Not only does it provide us with food, it’s also an integral part of the ecosystem as a whole. Done correctly, it supports and nourishes ALL life, not just human life.
Drawbacks of Industrialized Agriculture
The drawbacks of industrialized farming are many, including the following:
Degrades and contaminates soil
Grains account for about 70 percent of our daily calories, and grains are grown on about 70 percent of acreage worldwide. The continuous replanting of grain crops each year leads to soil degradation, as land is tilled and sprayed each year, disrupting the balance of microbes in the soil.
Top soil is also lost each year, which means that, eventually, our current modes of operation simply will no longer work. Soil erosion and degradation rates suggest we have less than 60 remaining years of topsoil.
Forty percent of the world’s agricultural soil is now classified as either degraded or seriously degraded; the latter means that 70 percent of the topsoil is gone.
Soil degradation is projected to cause 30 percent loss in food production over the next 20 to 50 years. Meanwhile, our global food demands are expected to increase by 50 percent over this span of time.
As explained in Peter Byck’s short film, “One Hundred Thousand Beating Hearts,” farm animals form symbiotic relationships where one species helps keep parasites from overwhelming another.
It is the separation of crops and animals into two distinctly different farming processes that has led to animal waste becoming a massive source of pollution rather than a valuable part of the ecological cycle.
Contaminates water and drains aquifers
Agriculture accounts for 70 percent of our fresh water use. When the soil is unfit, water is wasted. It simply washes right through the soil and past the plant’s root system.
We already have a global water shortage that’s projected to worsen over the coming two or three decades, so this is the last thing we need to compound it. On top of that, concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) are a major water polluter, destroying what precious little water we do have.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has noted that U.S. states with high congregations of CAFOs report 20 to 30 serious water quality problems each year.6 According to a report7 by Environment America, corporate agribusiness is “one of the biggest threats to America’s waterways.”
Tyson Foods Inc. is among the worst, releasing 104.4 million pounds of toxic pollutants into waterways between 2010 and 2014; second only to a steel manufacturing company.
Contributes to greenhouse gas emissions
While fertilizer production produces its share of greenhouse gases, most of the emissions occur upon application.
According to the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), 1 out of every 100 kilos of nitrogen fertilizer applied to farm land ends up in the atmosphere as nitrous oxide (N2O), a potent greenhouse gas (300 times more potent than CO2) known to deplete the ozone.8
In 2014, the amount of N2O created by nitrogen fertilizer spread on American farmland was equal to one-third of the N2O released by all cars and trucks in the U.S. More recent research suggests the real number is three to five times higher than that.
The efficiency model of large-scale industrialized agriculture demanded a reduction in diversity. Hence we got monoculture: farmers growing all corn, or all soy, for example. Monoculture has significantly contributed to dietary changes that promote ill health.
The primary crops grown on industrial farms today — corn, soy, wheat, canola and sugar beets — are the core ingredients in processed foods known to promote obesity, nutritional deficiencies and disease.
According to a report by the Royal Botanic Gardens in the U.K., one-fifth of all plants worldwide are now threatened with extinction, primarily through the expansion of agriculture.
Ethanol and corn sweetener subsidies have also led to farmers abandoning conservation measures designed to preserve fragile lands and protect biodiversity in the natural landscape.
Worsens food safety and promotes pandemic disease
Agricultural overuse of drugs, especially antibiotics, has led to the development of drug-resistant disease, which has now become a severe health threat. Pandemic outbreaks are also becoming more prevalent in CAFOs, revealing the inherent flaws of industrialized animal farming.
In 2015, an avian flu outbreak spread across 14 states in five months. The year before that, a pig virus outbreak killed off 10 percent of the American pig population. As noted by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy
“The rapid spread of new disease strains … is one very visible reason why the expansion of factory-style animal production is viewed as unsustainable.”
Threatens food security by decimating important pollinators such as butterfly and bee populations.
Promotes nutritional deficiencies and poor nutrition
Industrial farming is set up and subsidized to grow ingredients used in processed foods. This is the cheapest way to feed the masses. However, what people really need more of in order to thrive is fresh produce.
According to research14 presented at the 2016 American Heart Association’s Epidemiology meeting, reducing the price of fruits and vegetables by 30 percent could save nearly 200,000 lives over 15 years by lowering rates of heart disease and stroke.
If people added just one additional serving of fruits and vegetables a day, up to 3.5 million deaths from heart disease could be prevented in just two years.
Necessitates the use of toxins, poisons and harmful mechanical farming methods
Industrialization led to the separation of crops and livestock farming into two different specialties. That change alone has done tremendous harm, as livestock are actually a core component of regenerative agriculture.
As a result, a whole host of land maintenance services that animals serve for free have had to be replaced with chemical and mechanical means — all of which have detrimental effects on human health and the environment.
Around the world, farmers are waking up to the many adverse effects of industrialized agriculture. While chemicals and machines have allowed farms to expand and increase production, there’s growing awareness about how these strategies harm the soil, ecology and, ultimately, human health.
As a result, a growing number of farmers are transitioning over to more sustainable and regenerative methods that do not rely so heavily on chemical and technological means. While regenerative strategies may appear “novel” to born-and-raised city slickers, it’s really more of a revival of ancestral knowledge. In the video above, Dr. Joel Gruver demonstrates sustainable agriculture techniques taking place at Allison Farm, the largest organic research farm in Illinois.
Regenerative agriculture — which includes strategies such as crop rotation, diversification, cover crops, no-till, agroforestry and integrated herd management — can help rehabilitate land turned to desert, improve water management and protect water quality. It also eliminates the need for toxic fertilizers and other agricultural chemicals, and reduces greenhouse gas emissions like carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide. Importantly, by improving soil quality, regenerative farmers can produce more nutrient-dense foods.
You can also consider attending a Regernation International event of webinar. Regeneration International is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving soil fertility and biodiversity through regenerative agriculture techniques. Click below for a list of upcoming events.
Fear of Losing Crop Insurance Holds Many Farmers Back From Using Cover Crops
Crazy enough, certain valuable regenerative practices such as the use of cover crops are discouraged by the current crop insurance system. One example of how a regenerative farmer was financially punished by doing the right thing is detailed in a recent article by the Food and Environment Reporting Network.
Insurance rules require cover crops to be completely killed off before the market crop is planted. In this case, high winds had prevented Gail Fuller, a farmer in Texas, from successfully killing off the cover crops before planting his corn, soy and barley.
When a serious drought in 2012 destroyed a good portion of his crops, the insurance refused to pay because he’d failed to destroy the cover crop. Indeed, fear of losing their crop insurance is a major reason why many farmers don’t use cover crops, despite the environmental benefits.
Some Crops Are More Sustainable Than Others
Besides cover crops, certain food crops can perform similar functions. Pulses, such as peas, beans, chickpeas and lentils, are among the most sustainable crops on the planet, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.17
They have much deeper root systems, which help keep carbon sequestered in the soil, thereby improving the organic matter content while simultaneously reducing atmospheric Co2. This in turn helps support the entire ecosystem. As noted by the Organic Consumers Association:
“Pioneers in soil regeneration, or carbon farming, bear proud testament to a substantial list of potential benefits of carbon-rich soils. Such lands are more drought-resistant, they mitigate flooding when those around them are under water, support more wildlife and beneficial insects, restore natural stream flows, retain nutrients, reduce the number of pests, weeds and crop diseases and produce more nutritious food, all at lower input costs, which means higher profits.
If we continue with our chemically-dependent farm business as usual, we can expect crop productivity to fall as soils are depleted and as raw resources become more costly, more scarce and more undependable, as overall production costs rise in concert with oil prices … It’s time to start demanding support for carbon farming to rescue our agricultural and privately owned natural resource lands from systemic collapse.”
Creating Carbon Capture Gardens
Science Daily19 recently reported how brownfield sites, “those unloved areas of stony rubbish usually dismissed as wasteland,” could be a valuable tool in the effort to lower atmospheric Co2 levels. As explained in the article, soil is a major reservoir for carbon. In the soil, carbon promotes soil fertility and health; in the air, it is a greenhouse gas thought to contribute to global weather alterations.
Brownfield sites contain a lot of calcium. When combined with atmospheric CO2, it forms calcite (calcium carbonate). What makes brownfield sites so useful for sequestering atmospheric Co2 is that inorganic carbon in calcite forms much more rapidly than in other soils. A single hectare (2.47 acres) can sequester up to 85 tons of atmospheric carbon per year. According to Science Daily:
“The U.K. has 1.7 million [hectares] of urban land. If only 700,000 [hectares] of this was managed proactively it could meet 10 percent of the U.K.’s annual CO2 reduction target.
They also surveyed the sites’ plant and animal life, as well as their potential for recreation, education and food production — and again came up with fascinating findings … ‘We found that carbonation is widespread on brownfield soils, and that these soils can also support a diverse range of plants. We recorded more than 180 plant species on the 21 sites,’ Goddard says.
The results have important implications for how we develop our gardens — as well as our towns and cities. The SUCCESS project team is now engineering artificial soils to capture as much CO2 as possible, and conducting experiments to find out which plants are best at channeling carbon from the atmosphere into the soil via photosynthesis.
“If successful, they will be able to recommend designer plant communities that maximize carbonation as part of ‘carbon capture gardens’ — urban green spaces that soak up CO2 as well as being places for recreation and wildlife.”
Applying crushed silicate rock to their land is another method farmers could use that would encourage greater carbon sequestration.20 The rock would also release phosphorous, potassium and silica, which are important minerals for healthy plant growth. There are serious drawbacks to such a scheme, though.
For starters, it would require major mining operations and transportation. In addition to the environmental destruction associated with mining, it would also add to carbon emissions. What we really need are environmentally friendly carbon neutral or carbon negative solutions, and regenerative farming fits the bill, solving not just the problem of carbon sequestration but also many others.
What You Can Do to Promote Positive Change
One way to improve your diet and promote a more sustainable food system is to grow some of your own food. During World War II, 40 percent of the produce in the U.S. was grown in people’s back yards in so-called “victory gardens,” and this trend has started taking root once again. If you’re unsure of where to start, I recommend starting out by growing sprouts. Broccoli, watercress and sunflower sprouts are foods that virtually everyone can and would benefit from growing.
It’s inexpensive, easy and can radically improve your overall nutrition. If you’re fortunate enough to have your own home and some land, you can start to rebuild your own topsoil. Simply applying biomass will convert to soil in a few years. Over the past three years, I have added about a million pounds of wood chips on my property from local tree removal services, and plan on doubling that.
The chips need to be finely ground and ideally have some leaves in the mix to balance the carbon to nitrogen ratio. Even then it will take a few years for the chips to convert to soil with high levels of humates. It is also important to never plant directly into the chips, only below them. The chips and mulch help retain the moisture and decrease water requirements. My interview with Paul Gautschi, master arborist and gardener for more than half a century, goes into even more details.
Another way is to join a community supported agriculture (CSA) program. As a CSA member, you basically buy a “share” of the vegetables the farm produces, and each week during growing season (usually May through October) you receive a weekly delivery of fresh food. Joining a CSA is a powerful investment in your local community and economy, as well as your own health.
Thriving CSAs can help revitalize a community and allow residents to form strong bonds with the farmers who grow their food. It’s also really helpful for the farmer, who is able to collect money needed to seed, sow and harvest up-front. Alternatively, buy as much food as you can from your local farmers or farmers market. If you live in the U.S., the following organizations can help you locate farm-fresh foods:
EatWild.com provides lists of farmers known to produce raw dairy products as well as grass-fed beef and other farm-fresh produce (although not all are certified organic). Here you can also find information about local farmers markets, as well as local stores and restaurants that sell grass-fed products.
Weston A. Price Foundation
Weston A. Price has local chapters in most states, and many of them are connected with buying clubs in which you can easily purchase organic foods, including grass-fed raw dairy products like milk and butter.
The Grassfed Exchange has a listing of producers selling organic and grass-fed meats across the U.S.
This website will help you find farmers markets, family farms and other sources of sustainably grown food in your area where you can buy produce, grass-fed meats, and many other goodies.
A national listing of farmers markets.
Eat Well Guide: Wholesome Food from Healthy Animals
The Eat Well Guide is a free online directory of sustainably raised meat, poultry, dairy and eggs from farms, stores, restaurants, inns, hotels and online outlets in the United States and Canada.
Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA)
CISA is dedicated to sustaining agriculture and promoting the products of small farms.
The FoodRoutes “Find Good Food” map can help you connect with local farmers to find the freshest, tastiest food possible. On their interactive map, you can find a listing for local farmers, CSAs and markets near you.
The Cornucopia Institute
The Cornucopia Institute maintains web-based tools rating all certified organic brands of eggs, dairy products, and other commodities, based on their ethical sourcing and authentic farming practices separating CAFO “organic” production from authentic organic practices.
If you’re still unsure of where to find raw milk, check out Raw-Milk-Facts.com and RealMilk.com. They can tell you what the status is for legality in your state, and provide a listing of raw dairy farms in your area.
The Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund21 also provides a state-by-state review of raw milk laws.22 California residents can also find raw milk retailers using the store locator available at www.OrganicPastures.com.
On different TV channels there are plenty of talk show about food. They show what to choose and how to make it. But it still has a long way to go. How to make the best of choices when one can’t afford to eat fresh and balance food every day is still haven’t been discuss as much! I remember years ago fruits and vegetables were the least expensive items in the groceries.
Thanks to the doctors show almost overnight whatever was beneficial people rushed to buy & obviously when the demand for certain things are high the price goes higher too. I feel our educational system should incorporate the knowledge of how to use food for our body not only as a fuel but also as a medicine. What’s your thought?
The kids need to learn the properties of different fruits and vegetables to prevent and to cure any known illnesses by food in the future.
Have you noticed that these days more than ever the interest groups are lobbying to promote consumption of the animal protein like there is no tomorrow?
The most ridiculous one the one that a guy is spinning on his head and burst of milk is coming out of his mouth! Meaning if you drink milk you will be strong! The best one is showing two separate kids sitting at the table & comparing one kid who eats vegetables is weak and seems doesn’t have much energy, the one who eats meat is happy and ready for the day? Really do they think in this day and age they can give wrong messages to people? Should we be comfortable with what media dictates! If so then we need to reexamine how to go about finding the truth about anything that is important enough to us. I am sure a good portion of population is alert and spend lots of time and energy to find what type of food benefits them than others. But those who need more than others to take care of their health and have host of health issues seem to be either unable to obtain a better quality food due to financial difficulties or confused because of mix messages.
Drugged Up Fish Supply
By Dr. Mercola
In the past 30 days, nearly half of Americans have used at least one prescription drug. Nearly 22 percent used three or more during that timeframe and more than 10 percent used five or more.
There are individual health repercussions of taking so many drugs, especially when unnecessary or inappropriately prescribed, but another often-overlooked consequence is turning up in the world’s waterways in the form of pharmaceutical pollution.
When you take a medication, only a fraction of it is metabolized by your body. The rest gets excreted in your urine or feces where it enters wastewater (and most water treatment plants are not equipped to remove drugs from the water supply).
Medications applied topically (in the form of a cream or lotion) are also problematic when the unabsorbed portion gets washed down the drain. There’s also the issue of unused medications, which may be flushed down the toilet or drain (by individuals and also by health care facilities, like nursing homes).
Even the manufacture of pharmaceuticals may lead to higher drug contamination levels downstream from the factories (up to 1,000 times higher at some factories, according to the Harvard Health Letter).
Once in waterways, these unnatural chemicals pose not only a risk to humans’ drinking water supplies but also cause harm to marine life, in surprising and disturbing ways.
Anti-Anxiety Meds Cause Young Salmon to Lose Their Inhibition
You may be surprised to learn that salmon get stressed, but if you think about it, it makes perfect sense. A juvenile salmon must leave its freshwater nest and venture out into the sea: a necessary migration, but one that can be deadly if taken too soon or without proper caution.
Stress in salmon is likely an adaptive response that helps them to minimize unnecessary risk-taking and maintain alertness, according to Gustav Hellström, a salmon biologist at Umeå University in Sweden.
When exposed to anti-anxiety medications, however, it changes their behavior, causing them to migrate nearly twice as fast as non-exposed salmon, according to research by Hellström and colleagues.
The salmon were given a low dose of the anti-anxiety drug oxazepam (the most prescribed anti-anxiety drug in Sweden5), similar to concentrations that have been found in effluent water. According to the study.
“Exposure to oxazepam is known to reduce anxiety in fish … resulting in increased risk taking … Hence, the intensified migration seen in our study could be explained by a reduction in anxiety that otherwise would constrain the intensity of risky activities such as migration.
“Downstream migration behavior is crucial in the life cycle of salmon, and the timing and intensity of the migration is adaptive as it impacts survival and fitness of the fish … Any disruption in salmon migration behavior can have unforeseen and severe ecological consequences.”
Meanwhile, the use of anti-anxiety medications is on the rise globally, with some estimates suggesting the level of oxazepam in water near urban areas could more than double in the coming decades.
Research has also shown that oxazepam persists in its therapeutic form for several decades after it’s deposited into freshwater lakes, and levels build up in lakes due to past inputs and growing usage, the consequences of which are completely unknown.8
Psychiatric Drugs Alter Behavior of Wild European Perch
Research from around the world is showing the repercussions of pharmaceutical pollution, even in diluted concentrations. In one study on European perch, diluted concentrations of oxazepam in the water were found to alter fish behavior, leading to increased activity, reduced sociality and higher feeding rates.
The fish stopped shoaling, which is a type of fish behavior used to keep schools of fish together and avoid predators. The fish also took more risks, venturing out to explore more often on their own.
Concerning concentrations of oxazepam have previously been detected in the River Fyris, which flows through Uppsala, Sweden. “In perch taken from the River Fyris, the team found concentrations of oxazepam up to six times higher in their muscle tissue than in the water,” Science magazine reported.
Further, the researchers noted that because oxazepam binds to GABA receptors, a cellular signaling mechanism found in many species, similar effects would likely be seen in other fish exposed to the drug.
Antidepressants and Diabetes Drugs Detected in Puget Sound Fish
Puget Sound, which is located along the northwestern coast of Washington, is yet another body of water being inundated with contaminants from wastewater plant effluent.
A study by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries’ Northwest Fisheries Science Center detected 81 chemical compounds in the water, including the antidepressant Prozac and the diabetes medication metformin.12,13
The researchers then examined fish native to the Sound (juvenile Chinook salmon and Pacific staghorn sculpin) and detected 42 of the chemical compounds in their tissue, some at levels high enough to affect growth, reproduction and/or behavior.
It’s unknown whether consuming fish contaminated with these drugs poses risks to humans and, as lead study author James Meador, Ph.D., a NOAA Fisheries research scientist, noted, there may be additional risks because fish are exposed to complex chemical cocktails:
“There’s also the problem of not knowing how these chemicals act in fish when they are found together as a mixture … Mixtures such as these may result in responses that occur at lower concentrations than single compounds alone.”
Separate research has also linked exposure to the drug metformin to the occurrence of intersex fish, where male fish show evidence of feminization.
While hormone-mimicking drugs such as birth control pills were previously blamed for intersex fish detected in Pennsylvania’s Susquehanna, Delaware and Ohio river basins,16 metformin is not a hormone-mimicking drug.
Researchers believe it may, however, be a “non-traditional endocrine-disrupting chemical,” and it’s believed to be one of the most common pharmaceuticals in wastewater (not only because it’s so commonly used but also because it is not metabolized by the human body, and gets extracted unchanged).
Prozac Leads to Mellower Fighting Fish
Antidepressants are another group of drugs all-too-commonly found in water supplies. Researchers from the University of New England in Maine tested one antidepressant, Prozac, on fighting fish using two concentrations (one similar to what’s been found in waterways and one higher).
After being exposed to the drug, the fish became less bold. They were less likely to explore their environment, stayed in one place more and were more hesitant to approach other fish. They also displayed more erratic behaviors, and the behavioral affects only increased with the dose of the drug.
Prozac exposure caused behavioral changes after a day and a week of exposure. Even after the fish were allowed to swim in clean water for one week, those exposed to Prozac still had lingering behavioral effects. Such changes, should they occur in the wild, could affect the fishes’ odds of survival significantly.
How Many Drugs Are in Your Fish Dinner?
A report by U.K.-based environmental charity CHEM Trust further highlighted the issues of pharmaceutical pollution contaminating marine life.
They noted that 613 pharmaceuticals have been found in the environment globally, but this is likely a vast underestimate, since analytical detection methods aren’t available for most medications in use.
Still, rivers throughout the world have been found to be contaminated with pharmaceutical pollution. In addition, the report found:
23 pharmaceuticals, including antidepressants, sedatives, antibiotics, painkillers and anti-cancer drugs, were detected in perch fish in Sweden
Ethinylestradiol from birth control pills has been detected in Baltic Sea salmon
Several medications have been shown to harm animals at levels found in the environment, but there is little monitoring of wildlife for such effects
Report author Gwynne Lyons, director of policy at CHEM Trust, said:
“Most people would probably be surprised that in general they excrete between 30 [percent to] 90 [percent] of any medicine they take. With so many medicines now being found in our rivers, action on all fronts is needed to protect wildlife and drinking water.
The long-term implications of many highly active medicines in our environment may come back to haunt us. The current situation is mind-boggling with fish contaminated with the birth control pill, antidepressants (such as Prozac), sedatives, antibiotics, painkillers, anti-cancer drugs and goodness knows what else.”
Reducing Your Pharmaceutical Footprint
One of the most foundational ways to reduce pharmaceutical pollution on an individual level is to use medications only when absolutely necessary. Taking control of your health can go a long way in this regard. When you do take medications, do not flush unused drugs down your toilet or pour them down the drain.
Instead, many areas offer drug take-back programs that allow you to dispose of medications at designated spots in your community (sometimes a local law enforcement agency or pharmacy). If such a program is not available in your area, you can dispose of medication in your trash.
It’s recommended that you remove pills from packaging, crush them and seal them in a plastic bag with some water and sawdust, cat litter or coffee grounds (this is to discourage any animals or a child from consuming the contents).
On a larger scale, environmental groups have called upon drug companies to manufacture “eco-friendly” drugs that are easily broken down in the environment once excreted. Stopping the unnecessary use of pharmaceuticals in food animals is also an urgent issue.
Which Fish Are Safe to Eat?
It’s unknown how consuming seafood contaminated with pharmaceuticals affects human health, but it’s always wise to seek out food sources that are pure and not contaminated. Unfortunately, most seafood no longer falls into this category.
Among the safest in terms of contamination, and the highest in healthy omega-3 fat, is wild-caught Alaskan and sockeye salmon. Neither is allowed to be farmed so they are therefore always wild-caught. The risk of sockeye accumulating high amounts of toxins is reduced because of its short life cycle, which is only about three years.
Additionally, bioaccumulation of toxins is also reduced by the fact that it doesn’t feed on other, already contaminated, fish. The two designations you want to look for on the label are: “Alaskan salmon” (or wild Alaskan salmon) and “Sockeye salmon.”
Canned salmon labeled “Alaskan salmon” is also a good choice and offers a less expensive alternative to salmon fillets. A general guideline is that the closer to the bottom of the food chain the fish is, the less contamination it will have accumulated, so other safer choices include smaller fish like sardines, anchovies and herring.
Finally, no matter what type of fish you’re considering, look for varieties that have received the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification. This certification assures that every component of the manufacturing process — from how the raw materials are harvested to how the product is manufactured — has been scrutinized by MSC and has been independently audited to ensure it meets sustainable standards.
Flawed and Poor-Quality Surgical Instruments Place Patients at Risk
By Dr. Mercola
The BBC documentary, “Surgery’s Dirty Secrets,” which originally aired in 2011, investigates the sources of surgical tools, and highlights flaws in British safety regulations.
If you’re like most, you probably assume that surgical instruments are made to the very highest, exacting standards. The reality of where and how these tools are made is downright shocking.
According to BBC reporter Samantha Poling, who spent a year investigating this topic, there are significant problems in the industry — problems that can, and have, caused severe illness and death.
An estimated 30 million operations are carried out in British hospitals each year. In order to perform, surgeons need the right tools for the job, and these tools must be made to exact specifications and be of the highest quality.
Poorly made or non-functioning surgical tools can mean the difference between a successful surgery and the loss of a limb or organ, or death of the patient.
For example, for each fraction of a second a surgical assistant is struggling with a poorly functioning arterial clamp, the patient is losing blood, compromising the success of the surgery.
Lethal Infections Spread by Surgical Tools
In 2009, Dorothy Brown underwent heart surgery at Nottingham City Hospital. While the operation was a success, she contracted an antibiotic-resistant infection that nearly claimed her life. Ten other patients operated on by Brown’s surgeon around the same time contracted the same lethal infection.
Five of them subsequently died. In the U.S., the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reports at least 1,000 incidences where poor-quality surgical instruments have caused harm each year.
A confidential report obtained by Poling reveals the two most likely causes of the mass infection at Nottingham City Hospital were either airborne bacteria or micropunctures in the surgeon’s gloves. As a result of the internal investigation, surgeons must now wear thicker gloves or double-up on regular gloves.
But what would repeatedly cause micropunctures in the surgeon’s gloves in the first place? According to experts, the most likely cause is poor-quality surgical instruments.
While few medical professionals were willing to go on record with the BBC, Tom Brophy, a lead technologist with Barts Health NHS (National Health Service) Trust, did. Deeply concerned about what he’s been seeing, he has started collecting evidence showing just how defective some surgical tools are.
Most of these defects cannot be seen with the naked eye, but under magnification, jagged edges and poor-quality construction becomes readily evident. Common problems reported by Brophy include:
Fractured and re-welded instruments, which can harbor and spread bacteria
Sharp, protruding guide pins on forceps that can lacerate gloves
Sharp burs and metal fragments that can break off, lacerating gloves and/or pose an infection risk if deposited inside the patient Corrosion and pitted metals that can pose an infection risk Faulty screw heads.
1 in 5 Surgical Instruments Is Flawed
According to Brophy, 1 in 5 instruments, or about 20 percent of all instruments he receives, are rejected due to flaws that place patients’ health at risk. He even reports receiving used equipment where blood and dried tissue could pose an infection risk.
These tools are somehow recycled and passed off as brand new — something that simply should not occur. Yet it’s happening. Poorly constructed instruments also should not enter the surgical suite, yet they do with frightening frequency. How is all of this possible?
In the U.K., manufacturers and suppliers of surgical instruments must be registered with the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), and there are over 900 manufacturers registered.
In December 2010, following mounting complaints about shoddy quality, the agency issued a warning to all manufacturers saying steps must be implemented to ensure that all instruments are “fit for purpose.”
However, the responsibility for ensuring that quality standards are actually met still rests with the manufacturers, not the MHRA or any separate quality control agency. The suppliers are not even required to inspect the products received from the manufacturer before reselling them to a hospital.
In all, there are 180 health trusts and boards in the U.K., but Barts is the only health trust that actually employs a technologist to inspect all the instruments before they’re used in surgery.
Disturbingly, when Brophy sent back rejected instruments to an Asian supplier, he was told that the instruments were sent out to another U.K. hospital that accepted them without issue. “Well, of course they’re going to accept them,” Brophy says, “because they haven’t checked them.”
Where Are Surgical Tools Made?
Thoughts of Swiss-made precision come to mind when considering how surgical tools are made, but two-thirds of the world’s surgical instruments are actually manufactured in Sialkot, located in the northern Punjab area of Pakistan.
Seventy percent of the 900 surgical tool manufacturers registered with the MHRA are based there.
Some of these manufacturers appear to be doing a decent job, including Hilbro, which is one of the largest manufacturers. Each instrument is at least visually inspected with a magnifying glass before being sent out. Others operate under far more questionable circumstances.
Regal Medical Instruments, a small manufacturer in Sialkot that sends their wares to two small-scale suppliers in the U.K., offers a wholly different view of the industry. The facility is so dark you can barely see, and metal dust fills the air. Surgical instruments lie scattered in piles on the floor.
In their quality assurance department, employees visually inspect each instrument before stamping it with the requisite “CE” quality stamp required by the MHRA, but no magnifying glass is used. This means most defects caught by Brophy — who uses a microscope — will never ever be caught.
Then there’s “the ramshackle side to the industry,” to use Poling’s words. In this part of town, workers toil away at their grindstones in tiny dust-filled shacks with open sewers flowing past their doorways. According to Poling, larger, respectable companies frequently outsource work to these workers in order to meet demand.
In all, there are more than 3,000 of these “outsourcing units” in Sialkot, and these workers make less than $2.50 per day. According to some of the workers, both Hilbro and Regal Medical regularly buy surgical instruments from them.
‘Made in Germany’ — Not Quite!
Remarkably, the maker’s mark on these Pakistani-made tools will often say “Made in Germany.” As explained by Poling:
“Under EU law, the instruments made in these backstreets can be stamped with another country’s name so long as that country helps substantially transform the product. So, as the forged steel they’re working with here comes from Germany, the whole thing can be stamped ‘Made in Germany,’ and German instruments sell for much more than those stamped ‘Made in Pakistan.’”
Making matters worse, British suppliers rarely conduct quality inspections of their Pakistani manufacturers’ facilities. Part of the problem is the constant risk of terror attacks in Pakistan. It’s a dangerous area, and carrying out inspections in person is risky. Poling also found evidence suggesting the Pakistani surgical tool industry may be using child labor.
The MHRA declined meeting with Poling, but provided her with a statement saying they have “no evidence that non-compliant instruments are being supplied to the NHS.” Meanwhile, Brophy inspected the 19 instrument samples collected by Poling during her Pakistani trip, where she visited over 100 different instrument manufacturing facilities. Twelve of the 19 samples failed his inspection.
Poling even unearthed illegal activities during her investigation. While legal loopholes allow for a Pakistani manufacturer to label his goods as “Made in Germany” if the steel used is from Germany, it is illegal to use Pakistani or French steel, for example, and mark it as being German-made.
Undercover footage, in which she poses as a supplier of surgical instruments, shows two U.K. representatives of Regal Medical Instruments offering to sell her tools made with Pakistani steel stamped “Made in Germany,” so that she would then be able to resell them at an inflated price. According to the Pakistani representatives, they are already selling mid-priced French steel instruments to suppliers that bear the German mark, per the suppliers’ requests.
Non-Disposable Equipment Also Carries Contamination Risks
As discussed in my interview with Dr. David Lewis, Ph.D., a retired microbiologist with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last year, non-disposable tools such as flexible sigmoidoscopes and colonoscopies are also risky for the patient. Since they must be reused, these tools require cleaning and sterilization before each use, both inside and out. However, testing reveals that this is virtually impossible, and the disinfection process used by most clinics and hospitals fails to properly clean and sterilize these tools.
As a result, patients take great chances when these tools are used on them, as they can spread all manner of infections from one patient to another. There is a solution: create flexible scopes that can be autoclaved (heat sterilized). But manufacturers have not been pressured to come up with such a design. As noted by Lewis, it really boils down to federal agencies failing to take the contamination issue seriously enough.
If you’re having a colonoscopy done, or any other procedure where a flexible endoscope will be used, be sure to ask how it is cleaned, and which cleaning agent is being used.
If the hospital or clinic uses peracetic acid, your likelihood of contracting an infection from a previous patient is very slim. If the answer is glutaraldehyde, or the brand name Cidex (which is what 80 percent of clinics use), cancel your appointment and go elsewhere. Asking what they use to clean the scope is a key question that could save your life. It’s important that we all start to do this because the FDA simply does not have the incentive to take action on it.
However, once enough people refuse to have these procedures done with glutaraldehyde-sterilized instruments, then clinics and hospitals will change, even if the FDA does nothing. It’s also crucial that health care professionals who are reading this start addressing the issue from the inside. You really need to be aware of this issue, and how it’s placing patients at risk.
As for flawed surgical tools, there’s very little you as a patient can do about it. Ideally, hospitals everywhere would hire someone to carefully inspect all surgical tools prior to use. In all, Poling’s report reveals there is much room for improvement in this industry, if we are to place patient welfare first.
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