Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Why Prop 37 Matters

Each and every day the average American is consuming a considerable number of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Estimates show that 70 to 75% of all processed foods in your local supermarket contain genetically modified ingredients. From soda and chips, to infant formula and baby food, these GMOs are entering our bodies with little understanding of the impact they are having on our health and wellness, in the short- or long-term.  "Currently commercialized GM crops in the U.S. include soy (94%), cotton (90%), canola (90%), sugar beets (95%), corn (88%), Hawaiian papaya (more than 50%), zucchini and yellow squash (over 24,000 acres)," according to the Institute for Responsible Technology.  These genetically modified foods have been linked to toxic and allergic reactions, organ and tissue damage in animals, cancer, and infertility.  More than 40 countries around the world ban or at least label products that contain genetically modified organisms.

However, GMO products are widely available in the United States.  The presence of GMO ingredients is largely hidden from the American public.  Are we simply denying the possible threat or is there a larger force behind this lack of transparency?  Jeffrey Smith, Executive Director of the Institute for Responsible Technology and creator of the new documentary Genetic Roulette, states that "the overwhelming consensus among the FDA’s own scientists were that genetically modified foods were inherently dangerous and could create allergies, toxins, new diseases, and nutritional problems and of course they should be labeled because they are a food additive."  But corporate influence is at play here.  Biotech companies stand to lose millions of dollars if GMO ingredients are required to be labeled or if the public refuses to purchase GMO food products.  

Proposition 37 in California is the Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act, a November ballot initiative that would require the labeling of GMO products.  If Prop 37 passes, California would be the first state in the country to require GMO labeling and industry giants fear that the rest of the country will follow.  Who is this corporate opposition?  As Katherine Spiers reports, those opposing Proposition 37 are "Conglomerations of the nation's biggest GMO producers, namely Monsanto, Dow, and DuPont. The Grocery Manufacturers Association is also a leading opponent of the cause, in terms of money given and stated purpose: the president of GMA called defeating Prop 37 "the single highest priority for GMA this year."  In addition, Spiers points out that "some of America's favorite snacks are throwing money into the anti-37 pot. The companies include both Pepsi and Coca-Cola (professional rivals coming together for one cause, like The Avengers of Frankenfood), Nestle, Kellogg, Hormel, Bimbo, General Mills, and ConAgra, the company behind Gulden's, Jiffy Pop, Swiss Miss, and dozens more."  Many of these food giants also own natural product subsidiaries, such as Cascadian Farms, Horizon, and Larabar, and yet their parent companies are spending thousands to prevent Prop 37 from passing.

Why it matters to you.  
You may not live in the State of California, but Prop 37 is a symbolic David vs. Goliath piece of legislation.  If parents and consumers can wield the power to educate themselves about GMOs, protest their inclusion in our food supply, and force food industry giants to label items containing GMOs, a foundation will be laid for many other states to follow.  That is not to say it won't be a fight elsewhere.  Nor is it a guarantee that the food industry will decide to change their ways.  And labeling may take years, including more than a few additional legal battles.  What's at the core of Prop 37 is that it's a "right to know" law.  It demands corporate transparency and empowers people to become informed about their food supply.  It is essential to our wellness and our future.  Not just for the great State of California, but for all of us.

Friday, September 14, 2012

All About Coconut Oil!

We had a fabulous #HolisticMoms Twitter Party this week all about coconut oil with @DeliciousObsess and @HybridRastaMama. There were links flying everywhere, so we are reposting all of this great information so that you can enjoy it more easily!

Join us every Tuesday, 10 pm EST at #HolisticMoms for fun, fabulous, and informative chats!

Why Coconut Oil? -
333 Uses for Coconut Oil -
165 + Uses for the Coconut Palm Tree - There's More To It Than Oil -
Coconut Oil and Acne -
Coconut Oil and Blood Type O -
Coconut Oil and Cholesterol -
Coconut Oil and Dementia (Including Alzheimer’s) -
Coconut Oil and Digestive Disorders/Colon Health -
Coconut Oil and Head Lice -
Coconut Oil and Sun Protection -
Coconut Oil and Oil Pulling -
Coconut and Pregnancy
Coconut Oil as an Herbicide (AKA Weed Killer) -
Coconut Oil For Hashimoto’s and Thyroid Issues -
Coconut Oil Unleashed – Reader Questions Answered -
Eating Traditional Foods and The Blood Type Diet
How to Consume Coconut Oil Plus Coconut Candy Recipes -
Let’s Talk About Fats Baby
Nipples, Lady Bits, and Coconut Oil – Oh My! -
Treating Bug Bites and Bee Stings with Coconut Oil -
How To: Coconut Oil Toothpaste:

General Coconut Oil Post:
52 Uses for Coconut Oil:
122 Uses Post:
Coconut Oil Hair Treatment:
Coconut Oil for Dogs/Pets:
Coconut Oil and Alzheimer's:
Goitrogens and Thyroid:
The Saturated Fat Myth:
Blood Sugar and Fertility:
Hashimoto's Disease:
Finding Balance with Diet, Nutrition, and Happiness:

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Is Organic Better? Fact Checking: Beyond Politics

As the country gears up for an intense political campaign season, we see more and more calls for "fact checking" on the claims made by our presidential candidates and their running mates. The candidates are out to sell themselves for your vote and the information that they are trying to convey to you, the voter, is couched in whatever light they feel will best make them glow. Skeptical voters are wary, though, and take their claims with a grain of salt.

It should be no different when you see the screaming headlines about natural health. When claims of "organic food is no better" or "breastfeeding increases allergies" jump out at you, step back and start to fact check. The sound bites, the headlines, and TV teasers are there to get your attention, not to provide you with in-depth, thoughtful consideration of the real issues and facts.

The hot topic this week has certainly been the much-talked-about study from Stanford University claiming that organic food is no more nutritious than its conventional counterpart. The media pounced on the opportunity to warn people against spending their precious paychecks on organic brands and acted as though the wool had been pulled over consumers' eyes by organic food advocates. But step back and do some fact checking before you run with the claims. For starters, the study did not conduct any new laboratory tests on current produce. In fact, it was a meta-anaylsis, meaning that the research conducted was a compilation of already-existing data from prior studies, with study conclusions drawn from this overview. In other words, there was no scientific comparison of the nutrient density of an organic apple versus a conventional apple. That being said, the meta-analysis did find that organic produce contained more phosphorus and phenols than conventionally farmed fruits and vegetables. Researchers discounted this discovery saying that the findings were either statistically insignificant or that Americans already had adequate levels of these compounds in their diets and that such increased levels would not confer any additional health benefits. But let's look a bit closer.

According to the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University, "Phosphorus is an essential mineral that is required by every cell in the body for normal function". Adequate levels of phosphorus are essential for bone healthy and density, and the absorption and balance of phosphorus and calcium are necessary for well-being. Poor gut health, celiac disease, common conditions such as yeast infections, as well as the use of steroids and some pharmaceuticals may also inhibit phosphorus absorption in the body. Unfortunately, Americans may take in excessive amounts of phosphorus, in the form of phosphoric acid, which can negatively affect bone density and contribute to conditions such as osteoporosis. According to Dr. Lawrence Wilson, "phosphoric acid is another harmful type of phosphorus compound that is very acidic and can erode the teeth, damage the stomach and intestines, helps destroy the bones, and should always be avoided," quite unlike the necessary mineral phosphorus. Media reports on the Stanford study are unclear about the level of detail at which this difference of phosphorus levels in organic foods were addressed, but it is certainly worth noting.

The New York Times also reported that the study found that "organic produce . . . contained more compounds known as phenols, believed to help prevent cancer, than conventional produce" and found the difference to be "statistically significant". Natural phenol antioxidants, such as those found in cranberries and red wine, have shown to have considerable positive impacts on health, although our understanding of how they work is limited. The study researchers insisted the result should be "interpreted with caution", but the finding is no less relevant.

Even more interesting, the actual study did point out that organic produce was much less likely to contain pesticide residues (by more than 30%) and that organic meats and poultry were "less likely to be contaminated by antibiotic-resistant bacteria," according to the New York Times. As many critics of the study have pointed out, consumers often choose organic not simply because of perceived nutrient density, but because of what organic foods do NOT contain: genetically modified organisms (GMOs), pesticides, antibiotics, hormones, artificial flavorings, and high fructose corn syrup, among others. Organic food sales are also driven by a commitment to environmental sustainability.

As parents we need to embrace the skepticism that we approach politics and government and apply it to the many sources of information that abound. Media snippets never tell the whole story. They, like political ads, are designed to catch you attention and create an emotional response. Pull the curtain back and investigate before you make informed decisions, whether in politics or with regard to health and wellness.