August 12th, 2009 - Barbara Feiner
New Jersey seems to be the new hotbed for food-related litigation.
Yesterday, I wrote about the Denny’s excess-sodium lawsuit. Now, three Garden State residents are suing Nathan’s Famous, Kraft Foods/Oscar Mayer, Sara Lee, ConAgra Foods and Marathon Enterprises for failure to place warning labels on the hot dogs they produce.
As I reported in May 2008, American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) scientists found that consumption of processed meat (ham, sausage, bacon, cold cuts) raises one’s risk for colorectal cancer.
The class-action suit seeks to compel all five companies to place cancer-risk warning labels on hot dog packages sold in New Jersey. The labels would read: “Warning: Consuming hot dogs and other processed meats increases the risk of cancer.”
“Just as tobacco causes lung cancer, processed meats are linked to colon cancer,” says Neal Barnard, MD, president of the Cancer Project, which filed the suit on behalf of the plaintiffs. “Companies that sell hot dogs are well aware of the danger, and their customers deserve the same information.”
But the AICR and Cancer Project, an affiliate of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, have a tense history—what the former has called a “furious PR battle between two conflicting interest groups.” As we reported last August, AICR believes PCRM is spinning the data to promote an anti-meat agenda.
According to the data, every 50-gram serving of processed meat (roughly one hot dog) eaten per day increases colorectal cancer risk by 21%. This means that people who eat a hot dog every day have a 21% higher risk of colorectal cancer than if they never eat hot dogs.
According to the AICR’s official statement, the research “does not suggest…that an occasional hot dog at a ballgame, or a slice of ham at Easter, will cause colon cancer. What the evidence does show is that making processed meats an everyday part of the diet, as many Americans do, poses clear and serious risks. That is why AICR now recommends avoiding hot dogs, sausages, bacon, ham, cold cuts and other processed meats.”
The AICR is not taking a position on the New Jersey lawsuit.
My take: Hot dogs are by no means a healthful food, but they can be done right. Just ask San Francisco and L.A. residents who flock to Let’s Be Frank, which serves hot dogs that are free of hormones, antibiotics, nitrates and nitrites. Uncured franks are made from 100% grass-fed beef and organic spices. Italian sausages and bratwurst are made from family-farmed, humanely raise pork. Enjoy in moderation, dawg.
Read More:Should Hot Dogs Carry Warning Labels?
July 30th, 2009 - Barbara Feiner
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) estimates that the average American family washes close to 400 loads of laundry each year.
But unlike clothes washers, dryers do not carry ENERGY STAR ratings. Each model uses a similar amount of energy, “which means there is little difference in energy use between models,” the DOE notes.
You can, however, do your part to conserve energy when drying clothes:
- Dry only full loads.
- Dry towels and heavier cottons in a separate load from lighter-weight clothes.
- Don’t over-dry your clothes. If your machine has a moisture sensor, use it.
- Clean the dryer’s lint filter after every load to improve air circulation.
- Use the cool-down cycle to allow clothes to finish drying with the machine’s residual heat.
- Periodically inspect your dryer vent to ensure it’s not blocked. Not only will this save energy, but it may prevent a fire. Manufacturers recommend using rigid venting material—not plastic vents that may collapse and cause blockages.
- Consider air-drying clothes on clothes lines or drying racks. Clothes will last longer.
- When shopping for a new clothes dryer, look for one with a moisture sensor that automatically shuts off the machine when your clothes are dry. This saves energy and helps minimize wear and tear on your clothes caused by over-drying.
- Dryer sheets contain artificial fragrances and carcinogenic chemicals ranging from ethanol to formaldehyde, so avoid using them. In addition to posing health hazards, they can leave a film on your dryer’s filter that reduces air flow. Over time, this can impair the motor’s performance.
- Some dryers have eco-conscious settings, such as the Whirlpool Duet WGD9450WL (pictured above). They offer faster drying times.
For Your Organic Bookshelf: Naturally Clean: The Seventh Generation Guide to Safe & Healthy, Non-Toxic Cleaning
Photo courtesy of Whirlpool
Read More:A Partner in Grime
July 7th, 2009 - Barbara Feiner
We’ve published our share of organic eggplant recipes over the years, including these five favorites:
- Eggplant Hummus
- Baba Ghanouj
- Eggplant Parmesan Soup
- Kootu Curry
- Turkish Stuffed Eggplant
Other posts have focused on eggplant cookbooks, posters and merchandise, as well as storage, basic nutrition info and what to look for when shopping for an organic eggplant.
Now, let’s add some science to our repertoire.
“Although you won’t find much vitamin C, A or folate in eggplant, it provides a good source of fiber, as well as disease-fighting phytochemicals,” says registered dietitian Karen Collins, nutrition adviser for the American Institute for Cancer Research. “In fact, an eggplant’s purple hue is the result of antioxidant anthocyanins—compounds that some researchers believe may play a role in preventing cancer.
“Additional antioxidant activity is evident once you slice an eggplant,” she continues. “The browning of the vegetable’s inner pulp shortly after you cut into it results from the reaction of eggplant’s phenolic compounds with oxygen. These powerful antioxidants act as scavengers and rid our bodies of the highly reactive free radicals that can damage our cells and promote cancer development and heart disease.
“Unfortunately, higher levels of these protective phytochemicals can make foods taste bitter,” she notes, “so researchers are developing new eggplant varieties which offer the best balance of protective phenols and good taste.”
Collins recommends low-fat preparations of this popular vegetable, which Thomas Jefferson first introduced to America.
“Grill, roast or broil it, rather than eating it breaded, fried or smothered in high-fat cheese,” she advises.
Read More:Eggplants & Cancer Prevention
March 25th, 2009 - Gerald "Gerry" Pugliese
After World War II, Dichloro-Diphenyl-Trichloroethane, or DDT, a pesticide used to control lice and mosquito populations, was sold as an agricultural insecticide, but DDT was eventually banned by the Endangered Species Act, due to the risks it poses to wildlife, specifically birds, and human health, such as cancer.
Despite not being used for decades, DDT byproducts still exist in the environment, especially in marine animals like fish, and now a new study in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine links DDE, a breakdown of DDT, with obesity in young women.
The research, involving the offspring of 259 pregnant women living along and eating fish from Lake Michigan, discovered the group with intermediate levels of DDE gained an average of 13 pounds of excess weight and the group with the highest exposure of DDE gained more than 20 extra pounds.
Study participants were taken from a larger research sample first recruited in the 1970s with scientists approaching the daughters of these women in 2000. Experts also examined the correlation between PCBs, a chemical used in flame retardants and hydraulic fluids, and obesity, but no link was found.
Read More:DDT Exposure May Influence Obesity in Young Women
March 19th, 2009 - Gerald "Gerry" Pugliese
I don’t eat meat. So I can swear up and down about the power of veggies. Plant nutrients protect against cancer and heart disease, fiber promotes weight-loss and other things scientists have yet to figure out.
And now, new research suggests organic foods may reverse our country’s health misfortunes, like slowing the aging process and limiting pesticide exposure.
Here are some bullet points from the Organic Center’s report, Organic Food and a Healthier Future:
- Organic foods promote healthy patterns of cell division and differentiation, and lay the groundwork for normal endocrine system regulation of blood sugars, lipids, energy intake, and immune system functions.
- Establish and help sustain taste-based preferences in the child for familiar nutrient-dense, flavorful foods.
- Largely eliminate dietary exposures to approximately 180 pesticides known to disrupt the development or functioning of the endocrine system.
- Possibly helping to trigger or reinforce a sense of satiety, or fullness, thereby reducing excessive caloric intake.
- Lessening or limiting the cellular and genetic damage done by reactive oxygen species (so-called free radicals), and in this way reducing the risk of diabetes and other diseases rooted in inflammation (arthritis, cardiovascular disease) and rapid cell growth (cancer).
- Slowing, and perhaps even reversing certain neurological aspects of the aging process, leading to better memory and retention of cognitive skills.
Read More:Could Organic Foods Save Our Health?
January 12th, 2009 - Gerald "Gerry" Pugliese
Last month, a 40-acre pond of coal ash from a local coal plant, containing dangerous heavy metals, like arsenic, lead, mercury and selenium, flooded a valley in eastern Tennessee. A retention wall broke.
And now, environmental experts worry drinking water around the area is unsafe. Test samples have revealed higher than acceptable levels of toxins, specifically arsenic.
But here’s the kicker. A new report claims hundreds of coal ash dumps in the United States, which can reach up 1,500 acres in size, lack federal regulation and proper monitoring.
Officials claim this could have prevented the spill in Tennessee.
Some believe the absence of regulation is due to the Environmental Protection Agency’s inaction on the issue, almost doing something in 2000, but buckling after the coal industry complained tighter controls would cost $5 billion a year.
Right now, each state handles the overseeing of coal waste, but environmental experts urge this is not enough. The EPA reported 63 sites in 26 states have water contaminated by coal dumps.
The ecological and health impacts of coal ash toxins are severe. In wildlife, it can cause tadpoles to be born without teeth and fish with spinal deformities and heightens the risk of cancer, birth defects and other health problems in humans.
Via The New York Times.
Read More:U.S. Coal Ash Dumps, Unregulated and Unmonitored
January 26th, 2006 - Barbara Feiner
It’s surprising when something that was once considered questionable for your health turns out to have health benefits, usually with the proviso to consume it “in moderation.” This happened with chocolate and alcohol, and now it’s coffee’s turn, according to the February edition of the Harvard Health Letter. Here’s some of the mostly good news about coffee:
Results from long-term studies show that coffee may not increase the risk for high blood pressure over time, as previously thought. Study findings for other cardiovascular effects are a mixed bag.
Coffee may have anti-cancer properties. Last year, researchers found that coffee drinkers were 50% less likely to get liver cancer than nondrinkers. A few studies have found ties to lower rates of colon, breast and rectal cancers.
Two substances in coffee—kahweol and cafestol—raise cholesterol levels. Paper filters capture these substances, but this doesn’t help the many people who now drink unfiltered coffee drinks, such as lattes. Researchers have also found a link between cholesterol increases and decaffeinated coffee, possibly because of the type of bean used to make certain blends.
Heavy coffee drinkers may be half as likely to get diabetes as light drinkers or nondrinkers. Coffee may contain chemicals that lower blood sugar. A coffee habit may also increase your resting metabolism rate, which could help keep diabetes at bay.
Coffee seems to protect men, but not women, against Parkinson’s disease. One possible explanation for the gender difference may be that estrogen and caffeine need the same enzymes to be metabolized, and estrogen captures those enzymes.
Organic Authority Article Link
Mug Shots: Buying Organic Coffee and Tea
Read More:Coffee May Protect Against Disease
January 2nd, 2006 - Barbara Feiner
Jill Hennessy (NBC photo: Paul Drinkwater)
In a recent interview, actress Jill Hennessy, star of the NBC hit drama “Crossing Jordan,” was asked about the one food she can’t live without. Her answer? Cocoa powder, which she adds to her morning bowl of Cream of Wheat.
“Seriously, it’s even better than a chocolate soufflé,” Hennessy swears—and her predilection may even help her fight cancer and heart disease.
According to researchers at Cornell University, cocoa is a major source of cancer-fighting antioxidants. It contains twice the amount found in red wine and up to three times the level found in green tea, according to Dr. Chang Y. Lee, chairman of the Department of Food Science and Technology. He and his fellow researchers found that cocoa contains a high level of phenolic phytochemicals (flavonoids), which indicate the presence of known antioxidants that can help prevent cancer, heart disease and other conditions.
Cocoa offers 611 mg gallic acid equivalents (GAE), a phenolic compound, and 564 mg flavonoid epicatechin equivalents (ECE) per single serving. In comparison, a glass of red wine provides 340 mg GAE and 163 mg ECE, while one cup of green tea offers 165 mg GAE and 47 mg ECE.
“If I had made a prediction before conducting the tests, I would have picked green tea as having the most antioxidant activity,” Dr. Lee says. “When we compared one serving of each beverage, the cocoa turned out to be the highest in antioxidant activity, and that was surprising to me.”
Phenolic compounds protect plants against insects and pathogens. A decade ago, “food scientists did not know that phenolics had an important role in human health,” Dr. Lee explains.
But don’t rush to substitute an organic chocolate bar for a cup of organic hot cocoa.
“Although a bar of chocolate exhibits strong antioxidant activity, the health benefits are still controversial because of the saturated fats present,” Dr. Lee and his research team concluded in their study. Cocoa has about .33 g fat per one-cup serving, while a standard 40-g chocolate bar contains 8 g fat.
To ensure you get your daily antioxidant boost, Dr. Lee encourages “diversification.”
“Personally, I would drink hot cocoa in the morning, green tea in the afternoon and a glass of red wine in the evening,” he says. “That’s a good combination.”
Sources for Organic Cocoa Powder
Green & Black’s
Read More:Cancer-Fighting Organic Cocoa