How Sweet It Isn’t

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Sugar Research Foundation paid scientists to lie about the dangers of sugar consumption.

It’s no surprise that corporations often use junk science to “prove” their products are safe and the food industry is no different. Over the years numerous frauds have been exposed, from inaccurate labeling to claiming that products were organic when they were not.

A report recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine (JAMA) tells the story of how the sugar industry paid Harvard scientists to discredit evidence that linked sugar consumption to heart disease; a result of refined carbohydrates that is in part responsible for diseases such as diabetes, and instead link heart disease to saturated fats, thus making the meat and dairy industries become the bad guys. Food guidelines subsequently called for reduced intake of “fatty” foods but mentioned nothing about limiting sugar consumption.

According to the JAMA repost, internal documents from the Sugar Research Foundation show it initiated coronary heart disease research in 1965 to “protect market share and that its first project, a literature review, was published in NEJM in 1967 without disclosure of the sugar industry’s funding or role.”

All this goes to show that the mainline food industry cannot be trusted when it comes to your health. It also raises questions about whether we can trust studies released by such giants as Harvard. Only time will tell how many other trumped up studies have been used to tout healthy foods or to refute claims of harmful ones.

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Heavy on Your Mind

As we age part of the brain that helps transmit information, sometimes called “white matter” shrinks. It’s normal and a fact of life, but a study from Cambridge University found that in overweight people that loss is ten times as great than those of normal weight.

White MatterWhile researchers have long known what obesity can do to the body, less is known about what it does to the brain. Indeed, Dr. Lisa Ronan who led the study wasn’t sure if obesity was responsible for the loss of white matter, or if the loss of white matter somehow contributed to obesity.

It is not known what impact the loss of white matter has on cognitive functioning, but the lack of white matter did not seem to affect a person’s ability to perform certain knowledge and understanding tests.

Still, if you are overweight, you shouldn’t ignore that there is a correlation, even if presently not understood, and that it might pay to shed a few extra pounds, if not for your brain, then your body in general.

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What’s Wrong with Eating Meat – Let Me Count the Ways

Studies have time and again shown that not eating meat, or at least reducing your consumption of meat, have added benefits for your health that include a lower risk of cancer and a longer life span.

Screen Shot 2016-07-31 at 3.09.52 PMAn article in Collective Evolution written by Arjun Walia suggests nine things that happen when you stop eating meat. These include:

1. You’ll Help Protect The Environment
2. You’ll Greatly Reduce Your Chances Of Getting Type 2 Diabetes
3. You Will Get The Right Type, And The Right Amount Of Protein
4. You’ll Be Living A More Compassionate Lifestyle
5. You’ll Reduce Inflammation In Your Body
6. You Will Lower Your Blood Cholesterol
7. You’ll Give Your Gut A Makeover
8. You’ll Live Longer
9. You’ll Change How Your Genes Work

Walia’s article explains how avoiding meat consumption influences each of the above nine items and is worth a read whether you eat meat or not. If you want to help protect our environment, live a healthier lifestyle, ensure that we will still have fish in the ocean thirty years from now, or all of the above, consider a meat free or reduced meat diet.

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Through A Glass Darkly

“I want to be crystal clear that neither myself nor the Alliance (the Animal Agricultural Alliance) condones any willful mistreatment of animals.”

130423m-farm-mutilationThat is how an article in the “Ag Gag” section of Meating Place (an industry magazine) begins. Industrial agriculture, or factory farming, is one of the cruelest money making machines on the planet, and the exploitation is not only the animals, it’s the laborers, the environment and public health.

How can anyone assert that raising animals in closely confined quarters, dosing them with antibiotics to prevent infection, cutting off beaks and tails, burning off horns, breaking off teeth and castrating animals without anesthetic and finally packing terrified animals into trucks to take them to slaughter isn’t willful and isn’t mistreatment? It defies common decency, something most, if not all, factory farm operators sorely lack.

But while they don’t “condone” mistreatment, instead of telling industrial animal manufacturers how to properly care for their animals, they tell them how to avoid getting caught abusing animals with such chestnuts as “Make sure all employees know how to handle unexpected visitors. Always verify their identity and do not be afraid to ask for ID or credentials.”

Industrialized animal agriculture, as if animals are merely something that are gown like an ear of corn, is a cruel and inhumane enterprise that has no concern for what it produces aside from having the animals live long enough to get them to slaughter. Think about where you meat and dairy come from. Is the pain, suffering and cruelty of the animals really worth the cost of eating something that is arguably not healthy for you to begin with.

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Factory Farming is Inhumane to Humans Too

Factory Farming Doesn’t Just Exploit Animals

peepantsThere are often office jokes about replacing desk chairs with toilets to increase productivity. But what if it were really true?

In order to speed up the killing line, in which 140 chickens a minute are killed (and the few that aren’t get scaled alive), production supervisors at factory farm chicken processing plants are denying or limiting bathroom breaks for workers. Imagine a job where you have to beg to go to the bathroom and whether and when you get to go could depend upon whether your boss likes you or not.

According to an Oxfam America study “Workers struggle to cope with this denial of a basic human need. They urinate and defecate while standing on the line; they wear diapers to work; they restrict intake of liquids and fluids to dangerous degrees; they endure pain and discomfort while they worry about their health and job security.”

Employees from Tyson Foods, Pilgrim’s, Perdue, and Sanderson Farms, which collectively account for 60% of chicken production in the U.S., all had similar complaints about being denied bathroom breaks, having to beg to go to the bathroom, or coming to work in diapers in order to do their jobs.

It is morally wrong to by a product from a company that exploits its workers, and equally wrong to buy products from a company that denies its employees basic human dignity.

Next time you reach for a package of chicken think about the person who had to process it. Can you honestly enjoy eating it knowing that someone suffered indignities and exploitation to feed you?

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Tyson CEO Buries Head in Sand

“Antibiotics must be used judiciously in humans and animals because both uses contribute to the emergence, persistence, and spread of resistant bacteria.” So says the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), but Tyson’s CEO Donnie Smith isn’t buying it. “I’m not sure any of the science I’ve reviewed points to a straight connection.”

DonnieSmithAnd of course what the World Health Organization (WHO) know? “The use of immense quantities of antimicrobials in food production and the unintended wide release of antimicrobials into the environment through animal and human sewage and runoff water from agricultural sites has public health consequences, most clearly seen in resistant zoonotic bacteria associated with foodborne disease in humans.” No connection, right Donnie?

Almost laughable if it weren’t so cruel, Smith thinks it would be inhumane not to give his chickens antibiotics to prevent them from getting sick, apparently oblivious to the reason why chickens are getting sick in the first place – they are forced to live in tightly confined environments walking in their own excrement. Think about that next time you reach for a drumstick.

Tysons, like many other industrial animal production corporations, only care about one thing – profit. If chickens suffer, or if you get an infection that can’t be cured because you’ve contracted drug resistant bacteria that antibiotic abuse created, that’s not their problem. And don’t look to our government for help. It would rather use taxpayer money to try and find cures than try and prevent new strains of disease from developing.

Nope. No proof. Drug resistance? Just a coincidence; again, and again, and again.

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Food For Thought

Colorado may have one of the lowest obesity rates in the U.S., ranking at 51st; but considering this means that “only”21.3% of Coloradans are obese is nothing to celebrate with a double helping of Baked Alaska.

ObeseNow there is even more reason to get the lead out. A new study published in the The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology shows a link between one’s weight and their memory.  Study subjects were provided a computerized game in which they hid objects. Several days later they were asked to find those objects. Those who were heftier performed significantly poorer then their less rotund contemporaries.

Scientists have long held that how and what we eat can have an effect on the hippocampus, the portion of the brain that affects the formation of long-term memory and spatial navigation. Interestingly, this is the first area of the brain to “go” with Alzheimer’s, which several studies have linked to diet. Some have even postulated that Alzheimer’s is a form of Diabetes, and have called in Diabetes Type III.

On an increasing basis we are finding out what we eat and how much we eat is having long-term consequences on our overall health.  According to the Centers for Disease Control 48.7% of adults are currently using at least one prescription drug, and often these drugs are used to counteract the effects of poor eating habits: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, osteoarthritis, Type 2 diabetes., sleep apnea, respiratory problems and coronary heart disease.

Want a double fudge sundae? Think about it while you still can.

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Beyond Meat

Beyond Meat LogoBeyond Meat offers an animal free meat substitute for ground “beef”, burgers, meatballs and “chicken” strips. Made from pea and soy protein the results are non GMO products that contain no pesticides, antibiotics or animal excrement (a Consumer Reports investigation found that of the 458 pounds of beef purchased in supermarkets all contained some level of bacteria that signified fecal contamination).

The products also bypass the bad cholesterol found in animal based meats, as well other things most of us don’t want to consume such as hormones and added chemicals like nitrates and nitrites, which have been linked to certain forms of cancer.

If you are looking to reduce your consumption of beef and chicken but can’t bear the thought of giving up the texture and flavor, Beyond Meat products are certainly worth a try. And, according to many carnivores, is indistinguishable from the real thing. Besides, who eats beef or chicken au natural?  The vast majority of us add ketchup, spices, or some other sort of relish to liven up our dishes.

So put your “Meatless Monday” plan into action. To see how Beyond Beef products are made you can visit the Beyond Meat website, surf their menu, find a store close to you (most major supermarkets carry their products), and if you sign up for their newsletter you can even get a $1 off coupon to try one of their products.

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Go Fish

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NOAA, recently gave the green light to factory farm fishing in an effort to reduce “our” reliance on foreign seafood. However, a fish by any other name would smell, well, just as fishy.

Factory farming is factory farming, whether it’s on shore or off, and even in the ocean there will still be the same types of problems encountered with land-based farms. Like most other animals on factory farms, the fish will be confined in large nets, much like chickens are confined in extremely tight quarters. While one might argue that a fish is less sentient than a chicken, it’s still a living creature, one not meant to be corralled from its natural habitat.

FF-FishAnd if you think fish aren’t prone to the same problems as land-based animals – think again. Factory farm fish are given feed intended to increase their weight and size, fed dyes so their “flesh” will be a pleasing color (think salmon), they are often sprayed with pesticides because confined conditions may cause the spread of parasites, and they attract natural predators, which have to be killed to protect the “crop.”

Where as a free swimming school of fish will deposit its waste here and there as the school travels for miles, on factory fish farms all that waste is all confined to a small area, polluting the sea bottom beneath it. This could result in toxic algae blooms. And even though these farms are located far from shore, under the right set of circumstances (or should that be the wrong set) storms or changing currents could wash that waste up on our beaches.

Conveniently not considered is what happens if a net breaks or choppy wave action frees some of the farmed fish. How will it affect “natural” aquatic life when frankenfish breed with other fish in the wild? Our government continues to put the health of the American people at risk by continually focusing on raising more animals for food rather than looking for more sustainable (as well as humane and healthy) alternatives among plant based foods.

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Factory Farming – Bad for Investors Too?

Screen Shot 2015-12-20 at 1.47.58 PMFactory farming has many drawbacks. In addition to animal cruelty, which tops the list, there is environmental damage from animal waste, pesticides and hormone residues, the exploitation of workers, increased crime in areas where farms operate and a decrease in property values resulting from contaminated ground water, insect swarms and foul odors.

Now it seems financial investment firms are taking notice of these problems as well. Recently the Farm Animal Investment Risk and Return network (FAIRR), released its report noting factory farming operations carry at least 28 separate environmental, social and governance (or ESG) risks, many of which were poorly understood or concealed from investors.

These risks included food safety scandals as well as fines for environmental damage, which could have a negative impact the on the financial performance of companies across the entire food chain, including large agri-business, food retailers and restaurants.

At its very core factory farming is all about making huge profits, but to do this means cutting as many corners as possible and, where the risk of detection is minimal or the fines pale in comparison to the damage caused, breaking laws enacted to protect animals, workers and the environment.

Factory farm corporations are so good at hiding the truth, or spinning it to the point that no one understands what is happening, that both consumers and investors are unaware that they are supporting one of the most destructive forces on the planet. Hopefully investors will wake up and start suing factory farm corporations for investor fraud and misrepresentation

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