Posts Tagged ‘United States’

Our Tainted Meat Supply

Environmental Working Group

I want to share with you this important article about our meat supply published by the Environmental Working Group.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Environmental Working Group, or EWG, they are the leading environmental health research and watchdog organization.   Their mission is to “see that Americans get straight facts, unfiltered and unspun, so they can make healthier choices and enjoy a cleaner environment.”  They offer extensive consumer guides to safe cosmetics, healthy cleaning products, pesticides in produce and safe sunscreens, to name a few.

Below is a portion of their report.

Superbugs Invade American Supermarkets

For the PDF version of this report, click here.

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria are now common in the meat aisles of American supermarkets. These so-called superbugs can trigger foodborne illness and infections that are hard to treat.

An analysis by the Environmental Working Group has determined that government tests of raw supermarket meat published last February 5 detected antibiotic-resistant bacteria in:

These little-noticed tests, the most recent in a series conducted by the National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System, a joint project of the federal Food and Drug Administration, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and U.S. Department of Agriculture, found that supermarket meat samples collected in 2011 harbored significant amounts of the superbug versions of salmonella and Campylobacter, which together cause 3.6 million cases of food poisoning a year.

Moreover, the researchers found that some 53 percent of raw chicken samples collected in 2011 were tainted with an antibiotic-resistant form of Escherichia coli, or E. coli, a microbe that normally inhabits feces. Certain strains of E. coli can cause diarrhea, urinary tract infections and pneumonia. The extent of antibiotic-resistant E. coli on chicken is alarming because bacteria readily share antibiotic-resistance genes.

Not surprisingly, superbugs spawned by antibiotic misuse — and now pervasive in the meat Americans buy — have become a direct source of foodborne illness. Even more ominously, antibiotic misuse threatens to make important antibiotics ineffective in treating human disease. In the past, people who became ill because of contact with harmful microbes on raw meat usually recovered quickly when treated with antibiotics. But today, the chances are increasing that a person can suffer serious illness, complications or death because of a bacterial infection that doctors must struggle to control.

The proliferation of antibiotic-resistant bacteria poses special dangers to young children, pregnant women, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems.

This is scary stuff!  I’m not suggesting you have to become vegetarian to avoid these foodborne illnesses – after all vegetables can be contaminated too, especially when coming from long distances. (It is a good idea to go meatless a couple of days a week at least!)  Instead, be a smart meat consumer and opt for organic or grass-fed, grass- finished meats.  They are usually raised without unnecessary antibiotics and in a more humane and sanitary environment.  Ask your butcher or supermarket how the meat was raised and buy local meat when you can.  And always make sure you meat is cooked thoroughly.

Information compiled from ewg.org.

 

 

 

 

 

Safe Cosmetics

One of my readers asked about safe cosmetics.  I did a post on this subject a while ago, but I am reblogging it because it’s such an important topic.  According to the Environmental Working Group,  on average American women use 12 products a day and men average 6 products daily, which means an adult is likely to be exposed daily to 126 unique chemical ingredients in personal care products alone.

Personal care army

Personal care army (Photo credit: A30_Tsitika)

We might not realize that the make up we put on our faces or the hair and body products, sunscreens, and nail polish we use on a daily basis have a host of dangerous chemicals and allergens like mercury, lead, parabans, pthalates, and others. Watch out for products with fragrances. There are no regulations on ingredients and there are usually dozens of synthetic compounds.  I always wonder why American cosmetic companies sell the same products in Europe without the chemical additives! Well, the European Union strictly regulates the extremely hazardous chemicals found in everyday products in the United States and has banned about 1,100 chemicals, while the FDA has banned only ten!  Of the more than 10,000 chemical ingredients in personal care products, 89 percent have not undergone safety testing, according to the Environmental Working Group.  If you read about what these additives do to our bodies, especially young, developing bodies, you would only use organic personal care products!  It’s scary….

The average woman “eats” more than 6 pounds of lipstick over a lifetime, just one of many cosmetics used.  Fortunately finding safer products is getting easier. Whole Foods Markets and independent natural food stores have several lines of organic skin care products that are safe to use, like Dr. Hauschka, Mychelle, Badger, Burt’s Bees.  Some products are “cleaner” than others, so make sure to always read the label and be wary of names too long to pronounce.  A knowledgeable sales person will be able to help you find the safest products.

Organic cosmetics and personal care products are not only better for your health, but better for the earth too!  When discarding them, fewer chemicals will go down the drain or in the trash, seeping into our water supply and landfills.  Many watch dog groups like the Environmental Working Group and the Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow are forcing pharmaceutical and cosmetic companies to eliminate these harmful chemicals.  To rate the toxicity of your personal care products, visit www.safecosmetics.or, which does an online safety assessment of 75,223 products.

Information from ewg.org and ecosalon.com.  

Let me know if you have certain topics you want me to write about.  I’m happy to do so! 

 

The Dump

English: Recyclables at transfer station near ...

English: Recyclables at transfer station near Gainesville, FL. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The dump, recycling center, transfer station, whatever it is called in your area, is a must visit!  In our town of 30,000, we don’t have trash or recycling pick up, so most people go to the dump. There they recycle newspapers, magazines, junk mail, cardboard, plastic containers, cans, glass bottles and jars, computer monitors, television sets and for a small fee, old appliances, yard debris, bulky metal, etc.  It’s almost a local gathering spot – politicians politic there and neighbors and friends greet each other.  It’s old fashioned and fun.

While this seems a little outdated, it occurs to me every time I go to the dump that everyone needs to experience sorting and throwing recyclables in the appropriate container.  The amount of recyclables in our town alone is shocking!  Multiply that by the number of towns and cities in the US and the world.  Think of all the areas of the country that don’t recycle. According to the Clean Air Council, “Every year, Americans throw away enough paper and plastic cups, forks, and spoons to circle the equator 300 times.”  “The average American office worker uses about 500 disposable cups every year.” “Every year, Americans use approximately 1 billion shopping bags, creating 300,000 tons of landfill waste.”   With the garbage produced in America alone, you could form a line of filled-up garbage trucks and reach the moon or cover the state of Texas two and a half times.  And shockingly, America is not the number one producer of garbage in the world!

Recycling is only part of the answer. What we need is a paradigm shift to focus on reducing consumption at home and in the workplace.  There is a lot we can do: buy fewer disposable products, avoid purchasing products with too much packaging, service appliances to keep them working efficiently, fix things instead of throwing them away, buy local, don’t give into impulse buying, go with quality not quantity, purchase biodegradable products, check out thrift and vintage shops and always use less energy and water.  Reducing consumption is crucial to a sustainable future.

Take your kids, your friends, your students, your coworkers on a field trip to a transfer station and get a tangible look at the amount of trash we dispose of.  It’s eye-opening!

Information compiled from http://www.wisegeek.com, cleanaircouncil.org

 

The Grand Canyon

My husband and I are at the Grand Canyon! No doubt you have seen countless pictures in books and periodicals, and perhaps you have seen Ken Burn’s fascinating documentary on the national parks, but when you first glimpse the Grand Canyon in person, it steals your breath.  It is so vast, so complex, so majestic, so geologic (if that ‘s a word), and well, so grand in the true sense of the word.  It doesn’t even look real.  Viewing 2 billion year old plus geologic layers of rock is a sight to behold.

English: An aerial view over the north part of...

Image via Wikipedia

Expecting the Grand Canyon park to be completely touristy,  I was pleasantly surprised to find that it really wasn’t.  The park places a lot of emphasis on environmental sustainability and crowd control.  Recycling bins are everywhere.  They encourage reusable water bottles and offer water bottle filling stations with fresh canyon spring water.  The shuttle buses run on clean compressed natural gas.  Scenic roads are actually closed most of the year to individual cars to limit pollution that could affect the views.  They have installed solar and wind energy sources. The restaurants and lodges use biocompostable beverage containers among many other green practices.  The National Park Service is clearly trying to preserve the Grand Canyon for future generations to enjoy.

Make it a point to visit here at some point in your lifetime!  It never hurts to be reminded why we need to take care of our incredible world!