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Archive: Food - MOMS.

Another Hall of Shame

10:43 pm in Activism, Air, Body Burden, Children's Health, Food, Water by cmargulis

Crossposted from our toxic-fighting parent organization, the Center for Environmental Health

Yesterday, for the first time since 1996, no players were chosen for induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Many first-time nominees, including Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and several others were considered reputation-damaged, steroid-tainted players. In the run-up to the vote, the New York Times noted that this years’ scurrilous Hall of Shame nominees would hardly be exceptional additions in Cooperstown, which is already stocked with racists, gamblers, and drug users, among other miscreants.

But another Hall of Shame deserves some new (and some returning) inductees this year. Below, our choices (some current and some lifetime achievement nominees) for the corporate Hall of Shame.

Flame retardant chemical companies: The flame retardant industry deserves a lifetime achievement spot, based on their decades-long campaign (in concert with the tobacco industry, as the Chicago Tribune exposed in 2012) to mislead the public about their harmful products. The industry’s now defunct front group Citizens for Fire Safety and their lead “expert” witness Dr. David Heimbach deserve special mention for their dirty tricks campaigns and lying to public officials.

Alpha Natural Resources: The largest mountaintop removal mining company, Alpha took over the notorious Massey Energy company, after that corporate criminal’s deadly Upper Big Branch Mine Disaster nearly sunk the company. According to the Appalachian Community Health Emergency, mountaintop removal mining sites are responsible for “shockingly disproportionate levels of cancer, heart disease, pulmonary disease, birth defects and other physical and mental illnesses. More than four thousand people die in West Virginia communities every year because they live near such sites.” Local residents and environmental groups have sued Alpha repeatedly for its polluting operations, but the company remains unabashed. After another mining company recently acknowledged the damage from mountaintop removal and reached a legal agreement to phase-out such operations, Alpha told reporters, “(T)his does not affect our mining plans.”

Monsanto: A shoe-in for lifetime achievement in creating polluting products (among other crimes and lies), Monsanto makes it this year for serving as the chief funder of the lie-filled campaign against California’s GMO labeling ballot initiative. With upcoming GMO labeling votes in New Mexico, Washington and other states, expect Monsanto to be a perennial Hall of Shame inductee.

Apple: Apple appeared to dodge the shameful bullet early last year, when reports on the company’s labor practices focused on the embellishments in a one-man show about the company and not on the documented abuses. In the fall, further reports of misdeeds by the company’s Foxxconn i-Phone contractor showed it was business as usual at Apple. Also in 2012, Apple quietly withdrew from the environmental standards group EPEAT, then returned to the group and won questionable approval for their environmentally-questionable MacBook Pro.

Bayer: Bayer makes the list this year for their neonicotinoid pesticides, chemicals that scientists have linked to bee colony collapse. The EPA gets an assist for this nomination: in 2003 the agency granted a “conditional” approval for clothianidin, the company’s widely sold neonicotinoid. Despite failing to meet the registration’s conditions, and despite the latest science about potentially devastating loss of bee populations, EPA ten years later still allows the company to sell the nasty pesticide. The problem is so bad that even the financial journal Forbes posted a plea last year for signatures on a petition to Bayer to stop production of the product.

Dennis Paustenbach: A Hall of Shame award for worst individual in service to dirty industries goes to Paustenbach, who has a long track record of shameful behavior. CEH first exposed Paustenbach in 2003, when he served on a state science panel convened to investigate massive water pollution by PG&E (including the revelations uncovered by Erin Brockovich in Hinckley, CA). Turns out Paustenbach had received large payments during his career for work with PG&E, but he claimed he had not worked for the company in years. In fact, at the time the panel was convened Paustembach’s company had a contract to work for PG&E on hexchrome. Given this history, we were not surprised when the Chicago Tribune outed Paustenbach for his contributions to the flame retardant industry’s dirty public relations campaign (see above).

Shell Oil: According to a UN report, the gas company (known formally as Royal Dutch Shell) holds primary responsibility for 50 years of oil pollution that devastated the Ogoniland region of Nigeria, part of the Niger Delta, home to 31 million people and one of the world’s most important wetland and coastal marine ecosystems. Yet the company has evaded responsibility for the damage caused by its hugely profitable oil operations. Last year, four Nigerian villagers again took Shell to court, this time to Dutch civil court in The Hague, the first such suit in the company’s home country. Shell denied responsibility, blaming Nigerian saboteurs for decades of the company’s pollution.

Aqua Bounty: The GMO salmon company is bemoaning the lengthy government review of their Frankenfish, which if approved would be the first lab-created animal food species allowed, unlabeled, into the food supply. This may not sound like something you’d want to rush to the dinner table, but if you complain, company CEO Ron Stotish thinks you’re just being “disingenuous.” This from a company that claims that releases of its GMO fish into the wild would be virtually impossible – unless you count the previous accidental release of their entire 2008 commercial-sized batch. Surely we should trust a company that’s always been open to the public – except when it came to light last year that in 2009 Aqua Bounty’s GMO fish were hit with a new form of a common salmon disease, a problem the company failed to report to the FDA in its lengthy approval documents.

The nuclear power industry: The industry gets a lifetime achievement nod for their hilarious yet tragic “too cheap to meter” promises, given the failure of virtually all nuclear plants to be financially (let alone environmentally) sustainable without massive taxpayer subsidies (as outlined in this brief list of nuclear boondoggles). Fukushima was mostly reported as a “natural disaster,” but was actually the result of decades of mismanagement, lies, and “missed” inspections by Tepco. Similar problems at U.S. nuclear plants at San Onofre, Indian Point, and other plants came to light in 2012. (Looking for a fun party game? Everyone picks the name of a nuclear plant and googles it with the word “mismanagement.” Whoever gets the most results wins!)

The nuclear weapons complex: Another lifetime achievement shoe-in, for 2012 the nukers win a special award for the industry most likely to be toppled by your grandmother. Last year, one of our nation’s most guarded nuclear facilities was breached by an 82-year-old nun, Sister Megan Rice, who with her colleagues passed through four fences and walked around for two hours inside the Oak Ridge, Tennessee nuclear weapons facility. As Sister Megan told the New York Times, the group breached the plant to demonstrate against “(T)he criminality of this 70-year industry. We spend more on nuclear arms than on the departments of education, health, transportation, disaster relief and a number of other government agencies that I can’t remember.” This is hardly the first successful action by an octogenarian against the nuke weapons industry, and not even the first at Oak Ridge: in 2011, Father Bill Bichsel, an 86 year-old priest from Tacoma, Washington and 12 others were arrested for breaching the fences at Oak Ridge

Thanksgiving: Just When You Thought It Was Safe To Eat Pie

6:56 pm in Children's Health, Consumer Products, Food by cmargulis

Working for a public health nonprofit can get you in trouble with your friends. I’ve been accused of trying to spoil everything from burgers to candy, Valentine’s Day to Halloween. So with Thanksgiving just around the corner, it seemed like time to take on yet another beloved American obsession.

No, I’m not talking turkey – meat eaters’ Thanksgiving dinner is safe from CEH (for now). But dessert time is another matter.

Read the rest of this entry →

MOMS Says Yes on Prop 37: Our Right to Know about GMO!

11:03 pm in Activism, Children's Health, Consumer Products, Food by cmargulis

Californians have a chance next Tuesday to support our right to know what’s in our food. Proposition 37, the GMO Right-to-Know Act calls for labels to inform consumers when food is genetically modified (GMO).

If this seems like common sense, it is. Dozens of other countries require labeling on GMO foods, but in the U.S., the biotech, pesticide and food industries teamed up with FDA bureaucrats, who overruled the agency’s scientists (who said that GMOs could trigger new allergies, cause toxic effects in food, and result in other health problems) and decided that GMOs would not be subject to labeling laws (not terribly surprising, given FDA’s track record of dubious drug approvals).

But of course, Monsanto (the leading maker of GMO seeds) and their allies are spending millions of dollars to run anti-choice ads that spread lies about Prop 37 and our right to know about GMO food. Even after being exposed for lying, the pesticide makers’ campaign continues to mislead Californians about this simple labeling measure.

Read the rest of this entry →

BPA in Cans: There’s No Silver Lining

6:03 pm in Body Burden, Consumer Products, Fertility & Reproduction, Food by Julia Hannafin

Last year, in my final month of high school, my parents sat me and my sister down one afternoon and said they had something serious to discuss. Almost instantly, the look of worry etched into my moms’ faces foreshadowed that the discussion wouldn’t be a happy one. My moms (I have two; Dawn is my birth mother and Audrey is my sister’s) sat down across from us, paused, and then shared the news that changed the course of our lives. My mom Dawn had breast cancer.

After three months of chemotherapy, Dawn lost her hair, her appetite, her energy, but never lost her positive spirit, despite feeling weakened by her illness. My mother is beautiful, kind, warm-hearted, and resilient. She has the character traits best equipped to handle an unsuspected onset of cancer; however with that said, months of chemotherapy and radiation therapy can break down even the strongest individual.

Our family rotated around her cancer like planets around the sun. Following radiation treatment in December, she beat the cancer in her breast, but discovered a new threat: cancer in her brain. While currently undergoing her seventh or eighth round of radiation treatment, Dawn and her doctors are hopeful this will be the final treatment step towards full recovery.

Over the past year, our family was so consumed with fighting the cancer, we didn’t stop to wonder what had caused it in the first place. I recently discovered that cause of her cancer (and the cancer of many others across the nation) could be from a seemingly harmless action: EATING CANNED FOODS.
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“Stealth Chemicals”: Are they Lurking Inside You?

8:58 pm in Body Burden, Fertility & Reproduction, Food by natalie-dayton

That time of the week has arrived again – grocery shopping. Aside from struggling to find the perfect combination of healthy, pesticide-free, cost effective, and taste-bud satisfactory food, it seems obvious grocery shopping for the environmentally and health conscience mother is no easy task. Even after having done your research, as you haul that gallon of milk into your cart, are there still life-altering chemicals waiting to be ingested come dinnertime?

Dr. Shanna H. Swan, a reproductive medicine specialist and professor at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine, recently conducted an interview with EurActiv about the potential effects of endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) or “stealth chemicals” as Dr. Swan nicknames them.

Read the rest of this entry →

Avatar of GraceP

by GraceP

Best Foods to Eat for Healthy Breast Milk

7:15 pm in Breast milk, Food by GraceP

Baby is here, and you have made the important decision to breastfeed; how wonderful for both baby and you! It is just as important now as when you were pregnant to carefully consider your diet, focusing on gaining maximum nutrition. Your body needs excellent, nutrient-dense foods to recover from birth and to produce highly nutritious food that your baby will be relying on exclusively for her first few months of life.

Your diet should be well rounded, with plenty of fresh, wholesome foods. This is certainly not the time to diet to lose those extra pounds you put on while pregnant. Mothers who breastfeed actually get back to their pre-pregnancy weight faster than those who don’t, so there is no need to even think about cutting calories. You actually need extra calories to produce healthy breast milk, so go ahead and eat. Just be sure you are eating the most nutritious food possible, while making sure to avoid toxins that could be transferred to breast milk.

Calcium Rich Foods
Calcium is all important for providing the raw materials for baby’s rapidly growing bones. Although milk is a great source of calcium, you don’t have to drink milk if you don’t like it. There are plenty of other calcium rich foods. Hard cheeses like Swiss and cheddar are excellent, so are yogurt and kefir. Since many environmental toxins found in breast milk are lipophilic (or fat-loving), opt for organic, low-fat varieties of dairy.  If you don’t like dairy, try eating sardines or salmon with the bones in. Wild-caught salmon is available canned and is an excellent source of not only calcium but omega-3 fatty acids. The bones are soft and you can just crush them with a fork before   preparing the canned salmon. Broccoli and kale are excellent vegetable sources of calcium.

Fresh Fruits and Vegetable
Start every grocery shopping trip in the produce department, picking as many varied fruits and vegetables as you can. These foods are simply packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber. A trip to your local farmers market in season is also an excellent place to find wholesome, locally grown produce. Make the most of your purchases by splurging for organic varieties of the fruits and vegetables found to have the most pesticide residues.

Complex Carbohydrates
In addition to fruits and vegetables, whole grains are a great source of complex carbohydrates for vitamins and fiber and are also an excellent source of energy. Avoid refined grains, sticking to whole grain products. Be sure to read the ingredients, as many grain products say they are wholegrain but in reality have refined grains as the primary ingredient.

Look for lean meats, dairy and eggs, and fish for your daily protein. Of course meats and fish are great sources of all the essential amino acids the body needs, but vegetarians get adequate protein without eating meat. So, nursing mothers who are also vegetarians just need to be careful about getting all the essential amino acids on a daily basis. Recent studies show that it is not necessary to get them all in one dish as long as you get them throughout the day. Because fish can be a major dietary source of toxic exposure, it’s important to understand which types of fish have the lowest contaminant level and are therefore safest to eat. Not all fish are created equal. For instance, Atlantic farmed salmon has high levels of mercury and PCBs (a class of banned flame retardant chemicals), while wild-caught Alaskan salmon has low levels of mercury. And according to the USDA, Breastfeeding women should opt for canned light tuna over Albacore (white) tuna, which contains more mercury.

You must get adequate liquids to produce milk, and pure water is the absolute best way to get your liquids. If you’re not sure what’s in your tap water, consider having it tested for heavy metals and if necessary, using a water filter to screen out contaminants.  Weak green tea, 100 percent fruit juice, milk and even soup provide liquids. Aim for ten, eight-ounce servings per day.

What Not to Eat
As with any diet that focuses on maximizing nutrition, avoiding empty-calorie foods including junk foods, desserts and soft drinks is important at this time. Be careful to minimize processed foods, filled with additives and preservatives. So for your own health and that of your baby, avoid eating processed foods. The best foods are those that you cook at home from fresh ingredients. Think of this as the perfect time to change your family’s eating habits to those that promote maximum health, making this a life-long habit. The health benefits are simply astounding!

Helpful Resources:

About the Author
Grace Pamer is known as the love letters lady and is the author of www.RomanticFrugalMom.com. She runs a popular section related to love letters on her blog, a guide to help couples compose love letters for their nearest and dearest.

When it Comes to Rice, Bland Doesn’t Mean Benign

6:30 pm in Children's Health, Food by Mary Brune

Image: vitasamb2001 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I was never much of a rice-eater as a kid. Unless, of course, that rice had gobs of butter melted on it. And it wasn’t until moving to California in the mid-1990s that I developed an appetite for cuisines in which rice is a featured ingredient. Our two kids even like it when it’s wrapped up in a tortilla, or adorned with a heaping pile of black beans. In fact, that’s what we had for dinner just last night.

Fast forward to this morning and imagine my freak-out when I read the latest research out of Dartmouth College that found bland, unassuming rice is a major exposure source for toxic arsenic. According to one statistic, over 3 billion people eat rice every day. That’s a lot of people potentially being exposed to a lot of arsenic.

According to the National Institute for Environmental Health Science (NIEHS), chronic exposure to  low doses of arsenic can cause a range of serious health problems, including skin lesions, fatal skin cancer, gangrene, and a range of fatal organ cancers including those initiated in liver, kidney and lungs. Read the rest of this entry →

Doing Fright Night the Right Way

9:07 pm in Children's Health, Consumer Products, Food by Mary Brune

Halloween can be a fun and creative time for kids and parents. Making costumes and dressing up in this festive, frightful time of the year can lead to many delightful memories. If you’re shopping around for a costume for your children there are some frightful facts you need to know.

New data released on HealthyStuff.org, an online database published by The Ecology Center, reveals that over half of the face paint  tested contained cadmium, a naturally occurring metal linked to bone, lung, and kidney damage.

But it’s not just toxic face paint that could put a crimp in your Halloween style.  The Center of Environmental Health (CEH) alerted members last week to the discovery of lead and cadmium in Halloween costume jewelry sold by Rubies Forum. You can read that action alert and sign the petition here.

We’ve include below our top tips for avoiding these and other scary threats not only for this Halloween, but all year long. Read the rest of this entry →

Let’s get this brain toxin off the menu

7:21 pm in Children's Health, Food by Mary Brune

[Editor's Note: From time to time, we will feature content authored by MOMS Partners and guest bloggers. This post, authored by Kristen Shafer of Pesticide Action Network North America, also appears on the PAN website. ]

By Kristen Shafer
Pesticide Action Network North America

As parents, we have plenty on our minds as we settle into a new school year — new teachers, carpools, sibling rivalry — the list goes on. We really shouldn’t have to add this: apples and peaches we’re packing in our kids’ lunchbags may expose them to chlorpyrifos, a pesticide known to lower IQs and increase risk of ADHD. I’m sorry, what??

If you ask me, the following scenario makes much more sense: Fruits and veggies help make kids healthy and smart. Farming with chemicals like chlorpyrifos that harm children is unthinkable. And what we pack for lunch doesn’t risk damage to our child’s nervous system.

Scientists have known for more than a decade that chlorpyrifos is especially harmful to young minds and bodies. This is why it was banned from bug-killing home products way back in 2001. Read the rest of this entry →

Making Water Palette-Able

6:22 pm in Food, Water by Mary Brune

Last night I saw something on television that made my jaw just about drop into my lap. And no, it wasn’t the season premiere of Dancing with the Stars. Although, to confess, I did catch a glimpse of 49-year-old Ralph Macchio in action while flipping channels—he’s the original Karate Kid—and can report he looks pretty damn good for this age. But I digress. The jaw-jerk reaction was instigated by this commercial, which advertises a new product so ridiculous and unnecessary, that it’s bound to be a best seller: water enhancer. Read the rest of this entry →