Whether you ascribe to conspiracy theories or plain cause and effect, there is no doubt the chemical cocktail we breathe, ingest, and absorb each day is dumbing down America.
CNN reports Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-New Jersey, told a hearing of the Senate Subcommittee on Superfund, Toxics and Environmental Health that of the 84,000 chemicals on the market today, only about one percent has been studied for safety and that our children are “guinea pigs in an uncontrolled experiment.” He has introduced legislation to require chemical manufacturers to prove product safety before products are marketed to the public.
The Environmental Working Group has conducted studies—body burden testing—since the early 2000s. They measure toxic chemicals in the blood of adults, children, and newborns. Testing for 550 chemicals, they have found 486 in their test subjects. Notable chemicals of concern include:
Lead, mercury, methymercury
PFCs – “teflon” chemical
PCBs – banned in the US in 76, still found in cord blood
Musks from fragrances
Perchlorate (rocket fuel)
Cord blood studies show an average of 232 chemicals in the blood of newborn babies, chemicals found in plastics, cosmetics, shampoos, conditioners, mattresses and electronics. The Environmental Working Group is following these children from birth through early childhood and discovering a definite correlation between the number of chemicals found in their blood at birth and later development.
In addition to the chemicals we are exposed to through contamination of our food, water, and environment, our government purposefully forces us to ingest toxins through mandatory vaccinations and fluoridization of our water. Fluoride is more toxic than lead and accumulates in our bodies, yet we drink it every day.
Dr. Russell Blaylock, a retired neurosurgeon, released a you-tubevideo titled Chemical Dumbing Down of Society. It is his belief that the government allows or encourages the use of mercury in vaccinations and fluoride in water to purposefully dumb down our citizens to maintain a malleable society. Whether our government promotes a toxic environment as a means to control society, chooses to ignore toxicity due to pressure from big business, or is simply not doing its job protecting its citizens, it is time we recognize the fact that our government does not protect us. Our government knowingly allows toxins that can affect our health and development to be included in medications, vaccines, food, water, soaps, shampoos, conditioners, beauty products and household items. It is imperative that we raise awareness on these issues and demand new protections.
For fifty years, fluoride has been added to municipal water across America. We’ve been told it makes our teeth stronger and prevents decay. In recent years we have learned that fluoride is actually industrial waste, that tests were never done by the FDA to assess its safety, and that its use in drinking water was first suggested by the Nazis as one of many means to dumb down society through ingestion of toxins. None of these revelations has resulted in its removal from our water supply, not when the mainstream belief that fluoride inhibits tooth decay remains firm.
A recent Fox News interview with dentist Gerald Curatola reveals a new threat from fluoride—fluoridosis. He states, “Forty one percent of adolescents age twelve to fifteen have some form of fluoridosis defects on their teeth. And this ironically makes the enamel of the teeth weaker, not stronger.”
Fluroidosis is caused by “over-exposure” to fluoride. Mild symptoms of fluoridosis are white spots on the teeth. Severe fluoridosis erodes the teeth. They become so soft, they crumble.
“…if this is what we can see the effects of fluoride are on the outside,” said Dr. Curatola, “you know, we start to question what the effects of fluoride are inside the body.”
Since some non-fluoridated communities report less tooth decay than fluoridated communities, perhaps new interest by legislators calling for a review of the fluoridation issue will result in safer water.
Organic vs. Local
When it comes to produce, should we choose organic or local? The obvious answer is “both.” But when local, organic produce is not available, which is the greener and healthier choice?
People who vote for organic will argue that organic is always healthier because it is not genetically modified and is not sprayed with pesticides and herbicides. On the other hand, many of the eco-conscious cite the enormous carbon footprint involved in the transportation of produce. It is a bit ridiculous to buy organic California grown oranges in Florida and vice-versa. Buying locally not only saves on fossil fuels, it also keeps money in the local economy.
So, if you’re buying for health, you should always buy organic, and if you’re buying for environmental reasons, you should always buy local, right? Not necessarily.
Which is Healthier?
Locally grown fruits and vegetables may actually be healthier than organic fruits and vegetables shipped in from afar. While GMOs should be avoided at all costs, if health is your primary concern, try to find out if the farmer practices crop rotation. This is necessary to determine the nutritional value of the produce. Consider the distance organic produce travels with the substantial loss of enzymes and nutrients compared to fresh produce. And remember that organic farmers are allowed to use some harmful pesticides under many circumstances. Then consider the significant increase in vitamin and mineral content in produce grown on local farms that practice crop rotation.
The vitamins and mineral content of produce is not always higher when produce is organic, not when the nutrition is determined by the health of the soil and the freshness of the produce. While organic practices typically do promote healthier soil and more nutritious produce, with big business fully on the organic bandwagon soil quality is not always taken into consideration. Consequently, crop rotation, one of the best ways to help restore the soil, can be ignored.
The average person, that is, a person whose health is not degraded to the point where chemical sensitivities are an issue, would do better to ingest a little more pesticides with a lot more vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and enzymes. It behooves the consumer who shops in this manner to choose wisely. If buying conventional for health’s sake, conventional produce that typically contain the highest concentrations of pesticides, like berries and apples, should be avoided. It is likely that the increased benefits of local fresh strawberries are nullified by the enormous amounts of pesticides conventional farmers use to grow them.
Which is Greener?
When purchasing produce, we should consider long term ramifications of decisions. Voting with the pocketbook is the most powerful vote anyone can make considering its frequency and potential to evoke real change. Money talks. Every time a purchase of conventional produce is made a vote is cast for non-organic, environmentally harmful practices. Buying non-organic produce encourages everything the environmentally conscious stand against. Purchasing local conventional produce for the purpose of saving carbon emissions is penny wise and pound foolish.
To further complicate matters, the way food miles are calculated often misses a big piece of the puzzle. When purchasing an apple grown locally, for example, one should take into account the fact that the apple grown on a small scale farm may have arrived to the market via a small farmer’s pickup truck that traveled 65 miles to the market with around 100 apples or so. Compare this to a semi truck carrying two or three thousand apples. We can do the math to calculate the fuel consumed per apple, but in most cases, the math gets way too complicated. Farmers often bring their produce to large farmer’s markets in their area via their pickups and flatbeds, where the produce is shipped all over the country via tractor trailers.
A Better Idea
Ask the local grocery store manager if s/he carries local, organic produce. When shopping at farmer’s markets ask the vendors if they have organic produce and if they practice crop rotation. When the answer is no, move on. This is how change happens.
Grow as much of your own food as you can.
Organicwashing – Companies Greenwashing Our Health Food
Who can you trust? Many products that are designed to appeal to the health consious should be avoided.
There are some great companies out there that are trying to make a positive impact on this world by producing healthy, beneficial, environmentally friendly products. There are companies that obviously put profits above our health and our environment. And then there are companies that pretend to care about consumer health and the environment only because they are able to profit by doing so. This is a form of greenwashing called organicwashing.
Organicwashing: a form of greenwashing where companies market a product in a manner that is meant to convince consumers that the product is produced with people’s health and animal welfare in mind, while secretly not giving a damn about anything but profit. Yeah, we made that up. If you are new to organic foods, trying to eat healthier and trying to reduce your environmental impact, it can be overwhelming to find out that the eggs you have been eating and the milk you drink are no better than conventional products you were purchasing before. It’s often enough to make well intentioned consumers throw their arms up and walk away from the more expensive organic products for good. Not only are we going to list for you companies to avoid when purchasing healthier foods, but we will also give you a list companies that are doing a good job of staying green. Surprisingly, some of them are owned by the least environmentally friendly companies. You can be the judge as to whether or not to purchase their products. We will also list a few of the better options to choose from, like companies that are not owned by big bad businesses, green companies that do everything they can to adhere to their original standards. In our comment section below, feel free to add to the list and help this page be a resource to identify the good companies and the organic washers. Not all of these companies are labeled organic, but they are all appealing to the health minded consumer.
Horizon Foods: Milk, Cheese, and Eggs
Horizon is the largest producer of organic milk and organic eggs in the world. They are owned by Dean Foods, the largest conventional dairy company in the world. Dean Foods does not care about organic standards. Actually, that’s not entirely true. Dean food cares a great deal about reducing organic standards. Horizon is often in trouble for bending and violating organic rules and regulations. Dean Foods lobbies to reduce organic standards. And their eggs and milk actually tastes no better than conventional eggs and milk, because they are not much better. For milk, try not drinking it! Consider this: milk is produced by impregnating a cow (or a sheep, or a goat) and then taking away the infant, putting it on formula, and milking the mother. We are ripping apart a mother-infant bond. If you think for a second that the cows don’t know any better, you need to go to a farm and watch it happen. It’s heart-wrenching. There are many other options available. Soy milk is not one we recommend, but there is almond milk, rice milk, hemp milk, coconut milk, and more! The taste is acquired, but believe it or not, cow’s milk is an acquired taste, too.
Silk Soy Milk
Owned by Dean Foods again. The soy beans are genetically modified. And soy milk IS NOT GOOD FOR YOU ANYWAY!
Owned by General Mills, Cascadian Farms, whose principle investors include: Alcoa, Chevron, Disney, Dupont, ExxonMobil, General Electric, McDonalds, Monsanto, Nike, Pepsico, Pfizer, Philip Morris, Starbucks, Target, and Texas Instruments. Every one of those companies has atrocious human rights and environmental issues. 100% of the brand’s cereal and granola products are certified organic, and yet the corporate owners include the nation’s largest agribusinesses involved in GMO/ chemical agriculture. So while Cascadian Farms has done a good job of staying organic, even after they were bought out by this evil company, supporting Cascadian Farms is supporting the worst of the worst companies and everything Cascadian Farms used to stand against. Plus, most grains and the sugar they sell their grains with, really aren’t good for you anyway.
Again, most grains are not good for you. And Kashi is grains and sugar too. They are also owned by Kellogg (who also owns Bear Naked). Kashi makes promises of “all natural” and/or “nothing artificial” on the front labels of most of its products. This lead to the August 2011 class action lawsuit filed against the company by Michael Bates. Processed and synthetic ingredients are in most of their products. The lawsuit indicates that a number of these artificial ingredients are listed as “prescription drugs, irradiated substances, pesticides that are a by-product of uranium mining and federally declared hazardous substances.” Kashi also stated that some of its foods “may contain GMOs.” And they followed with, “Many factors outside our control, such as pollen drift from nearby crops and current practices in agricultural storage, handling, and shipping, have led to an environment in North America where GMOs are not sufficiently controlled.”
Hain Celestial Group
Heinz Co. owns nearly 20% of Hain. And Hain owns Garden of Eatin’, Health Valley, WestSoy, Earth’s Best, Hain Pure Foods, Spectrum Naturals, Walnut Acres Organic, Imagine Foods, Rice Dream, Soy Dream, Ethnic Gourmet, Yves Veggie Cuisine, JASON, Avalon Organics, and Alba Walnut Acres, Westbrae, Imagine, Arrowhead Mills, Breadshop’s, Casbah, The Good Dog,The Good Slice, DeBoles, Lima, Biomarche, Grains Noirs, Earth’s Best, and Nile Spice. The Company is a leader in 13 of the top 15 natural food categories. The Cornucopia Institute put together an Organic Soy Scorecard that reveals which soy product companies are truly trustworthy versus those that are not. Cornucopia took into account thesourcing of soybeans, use of toxic chemicals for soy protein extraction, and the use or avoidance of genetically modified soybeans. Westsoy and SoyDream (both owned by Hain Celestial Group) – Refused to share their sourcing information. Hain Celestial Group routinely uses yeast extract in its foods (a form of hidden MSG). Their personal care products (Avalon Organics, and Alba) contain a wide variety of toxic ingredients as well.
Why is trader Joe’s so popular among the green and health conscious? To their credit, when their consumers have spoken out, Trader Joe’s responded with the proper policy changes: they now carry cage-free eggs and GMO-free foods. And they did recently agree to revamp their seafood policies, after a lengthy campaign by Greenpeace to get red-list fish out of its stores. But why did they have to be pressured to do this? And their produce and other foods tend to come in plastic packaging. You can’t buy a fruit or vegetables without buying them being wrapped in SaranWrap, and typically wrapped on a Styrofoam tray.
Stonyfield is owned by Dannon. YoKids Squeezers conatian carrageenan. Carrageenan is a water-soluble polymer, also known as a gum, which is used as a fat substitute in processed meats and can be found in condensed milk and some soy milk products. Stonyfield assures us that the FDA says it is safe. And we all trust the FDA. No, kidding, the FDA cannot be trusted anymore than Monsanto. And carrageenan may cause stomach lesions or cancer. There have also been issues about Stonyfield refusing to pay fair prices for milk. And at 99 cents a yogurt, it’s no surprise.
Odwalla and Naked Juices
Pepsi owns Naked. Odwalla is owned by the Coca-Cola Bottling Company. We can thank Odwalla for the laws that require juice to be pasteurized. Before they were acquired by Coca-Cola they selling unpasteurized juice. But they were juicing rotten fruits and vegetables with filthy equipment. People got sick. Wikiepedian states, “A period of decline occurred as a result of a fatal outbreak of H7 in 1996 that was caused by using bruised fruit that had been contaminated. Following the E. coli outbreak, Odwalla adopted flash pasteurization and other sanitization procedures.”
Organic Companies You Can Trust
Eden Foods is an amazing company. And while they are pretty substantial in size, the people running this company care a great deal about producing healthy, beneficial products for their consumers. The best egg producer we know of is Vital Farms. They really do care about the welfare of their eggs. “There are many elements we consider vital to our methods: organic green pastures, multiple native grasses, herbs, seeds, and other natural foliage, top quality organic feed, plenty of fresh water, relatively small flock sizes, lots of space to roam and forage, protection for the birds, shelter from inclement weather, and a personal attentiveness to the birds’ welfare!” And their eggs taste incredible! Organic Valley is a pretty good company for eggs and milk. They have been in some trouble, but they do take measures to abide by organic standards, and they aren’t looking to greenwash consumers. But they, along with Whole Foods, and Stonyfield, recently decided it’s time to surrender to Monsanto. Top executives from these companies have publicly admitted that they no longer oppose the mass commercialization of GE crops, such as Monsanto’s controversial Roundup Ready alfalfa, and are prepared to sit down and cut a deal for “coexistence” with Monsanto and USDA biotech cheerleader Tom Vilsack. Read more at The Organic Elite Surrenders to Monsanto: What Now?
According to many farmers, it has become difficult, even prohibitive, for many small farmers to become certified organic.
And there’s more! Watch this video:
The truth is, organic standards mean very little at this point. And a product labeled as organic is likely to not adhere to these almost meaningless standards anyway. But even if the product does meet the qualifications, the standards leave so much room for manipulating the system. And with the big companies wanting to get in on the organic scene, it is only getting worse and worse. The easiest thing you can do to avoid organicwashing is to avoid buying from big companies! If you see a banana labeled organic sold by Chiquita, don’t buy it! Buy from smaller companies that got into the organic business to make a difference.
Benefits of Cloth Diapering
Interested in giving cloth diapering a try? Good for you (and your little one(s)!)
Cloth diapers dramatically cut down on diapering expense, free up tons of space in our landfills, they’re healthier for your baby, and chances are potty training will go much quicker!
Most people are not fond of daily dealings with diaper full after diaper full~ which explains why disposables have become a multi~million dollar business. However, cloth diapers are making a comeback with some really convenient and effective designs. The fold~and~pin variety of diapering system that many people are used to still exists, but new all~in~one cloth and cover designs are popping up everywhere. Velcro and snaps have replaced sharp pins and the diapers are fitted with elastic around the waist and legs to hold in contents. A few people are turned off by the cost of each diaper- which can run anywhere from $5 to over $20 a dipe. While I understand that the initial cost can be a distraction, doing the math for the entire length that your little one will be in diapers instantly turns that frown upside down;). After trying several when my daughter was first born, I settled on buying only 6 ‘Bum-ware’ all-in-one diapers. These were the most incredible diapers~ I paid a total of $132 (plus I continued using a few of the ‘trial diapers’ mentioned above.) They lasted through 2 children. It costs, on average, about $1,600 to diaper one child for two years in disposable diapers- about $66 a month. Many children are in diapers for longer than two years. That comparison is a no-brainer.
Varieties of rash creams are staple on store shelves and on baby~shower lists. I don’t know of many parents who even have to invest in these products while using cloth diapers. True, rashes may develop from constant wetness against the skin…but, deeper thinking into what disposable diapers are made of leaves any inquisitive person wondering…
Both of my children are past the diapering years, and while I was intuitively drawn to cloth diapering without much further investigation, I never looked much into the chemicals that disposables contain. It didn’t take much searching to track down a few: first on the list: traces of dioxin. Dioxin is an extremely toxic by-product of the paper-bleaching process. It is listed by the EPA as the most toxic of all cancer-linked chemicals. It is banned in most countries…yet, is in full swing here in the U.S.. Disposable diapers contain Tributyl-tin (TBT)- a toxic pollutant known to cause hormonal problems in humans and other animals. And, lastly (for this write~up, anyway…I’m sure that I’m missing a few) disposables contain sodium polyacrylate~ a type of super absorbent polymer- the substance that becomes all gel-like when wet (anyone who as used disposables is familiar with sodium polyacrylate.) A similar substance was used in super-absorbency tampons until the early 1980’s when it was discovered that it increased the risk of toxic shock syndrome by increasing absorbency and creating a nice environment for the growth of toxin-producing bacteria.
We move on to the environmental aspect of diapering. The Real Diaper Association- an advocacy group founded in 2004- estimates that the U.S. uses 27.4 billion disposable diapers each year. The EPA further translates this into more than 3.4 million tons of waste dumped into our landfills. Add to this mix the amount of petroleum, chlorine, wood pulp, water and energy that it takes to produce disposables…
The one plus that disposables have going for them is convenience. Admittedly, while we had visitors staying with us and when we traveled, we traded in the Bum-ware for seventh generation brand disposables. Even with those exceptions, we saved a ton of money and, more importantly to me, a *crap~load* (laughing) of diapers from reaching the garbage.
Using cloth diapers is an amazing thing that you can (now easily) do for your baby’s health, the environment, and your budget. The moment you throw away your last gel-filled disposable and wrap your little one in soft, warm, (safe) cotton, you’ll understand why cloth-diapering mamas are so ‘crazy’ about cloth!
New analysis highlights organic agriculture as an eco-friendly means of improving livelihoods and preserving natural resources.
Washington, D.C. – Despite the crippling effects of the recent economic slowdown on many industries, the organic agriculture sector not only sustained itself during this period but also showed signs of growth. “In 2009, organic farming was practiced on 37.2 million hectares worldwide, a 5.7 percent increase from 2008 and 150 percent increase since 2000,” writes policy analyst E.L. Beck, in the latest Vital Signs Online release from the Worldwatch Institute.
The International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) defines organic agriculture as: “a production system that sustains the health of soils, ecosystems and people. It relies on ecological processes, biodiversity and cycles adapted to local conditions, rather than the use of inputs with adverse effects. Organic agriculture combines tradition, innovation and science to benefit the shared environment.”
Although organic agriculture is practiced around the world, certified organic agriculture tends to be concentrated in wealthier countries. The Group of 20 (G20), comprising both developing and industrialized countries, is home to 89 percent of the global certified organic agricultural area. But nongovernmental organizations, including Slow Food International and ACDI/VOCA, are working with farmers to promote organic agriculture in developing countries as a means of bettering livelihoods and rejuvenating the land.
In western Tanzania, organic agroforestry practices have helped rehabilitate some 350,000 hectares of desert land over the span of two decades. And in Ethiopia, coffee farmers are learning how to protect wild coffee plants, fertilize them using organic compost, and process them in a manner that retains the quality of the crop, without damaging the environment.
Although the global organic market has shown growth in the past few years, the rate has slowed since 2000, and there are several challenges that impede large-scale expansion of organic practices. The price premium on organic foods, for example, may dissuade many consumers from buying organic products, despite the potential environmental, ethical, and health benefits these products provide.
Two other challenges are the lack of organic standards and the scarcity of equivalency agreements. An equivalency agreement between two countries acknowledges each other’s organic standards and allows for a smooth flow of certified organic goods between the two countries. The Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation finances the Global Organic Market Access (GOMA) project, which facilitates the trade of organic products by establishing organic standards and negotiating equivalency agreements, but more progress is needed in this area.
Rising farmland prices are putting a further strain on organic agriculture. Research by the International Food Policy Research Institute shows that foreign investors have spent up to $20-30 billion on land purchases since 2006. These price hikes are threatening global food security and are especially detrimental to small-scale farmers’ ability to enter the organic agriculture field.
Despite all these challenges, organic agriculture holds untapped potential for helping farmers and consumers alike build resilience to food price shocks, climate change, and water scarcity. By turning to organic agroforestry and switching from synthetic to organic fertilizers, farmers are not only raising their incomes by reducing input costs, but also adapting to the effects of climate change and helping to protect the environment.
“In order to keep feeding humanity for generations to come, and to feed people better, farming must reinforce conservation goals by adding diversity to the food chain and by healing ecosystems,” said Danielle Nierenberg, Worldwatch senior researcher and co-director of the Institute’s Nourishing the Planet project.
How to be a Green School
In five steps
Place recycling bins next to every trash can with each possible type of bin that makes sense for the area. The cafeteria is the best place to start. Make sure each bin is clearly labeled. In fact, a nice trick to ensure understanding and compliance is to show examples above the recycling bins. (See the picture from Whole Foods.)
Buy Local Food Whenever Possible
Sounds like a pretty cool field trip, too. This is a great opportunity to teach students where their food comes from.
Start a Garden
Grow your own organic food, and get the students involved. The best way to get students to start eating healthier is to get them involved in the process of producing healthy food. And gardening is therapeutic. Before you start thinking that you just don’t have enough room to start, research gardening in small places, and ask the students for their thoughts. Don’t forget to compost to further reduce landfill waste and as a means to enrich your garden soil.
Reduce Paper Consumption
Recycling is great, but reducing is better. Put used paper in the fax machine to print on the back side, or try web based fax services like eFax. Post important updates on websites and get parents to sign up for email lists. When you do buy paper, choose environmentally friendly, recycled paper.
Educate and Involve
Get the students and parents involved. Get them excited. Teach students and teachers the benefits of turning off lights when not in use. Make sure everyone knows how and where and what to recycle. Get feedback and ideas whenever possible. Create exciting projects. Why not encourage the shop class and the science class to team up to build a solar panel or a wind turbine for the school?