Category Archives: environment

Earth Day Every Day – 10 Ways To Celebrate

Happy Earth Day!

The start of Earth Day

This annual event, celebrated on April 22 around the world, is a holiday that focuses on the environment. It’s meant to raise awareness of and appreciation for this beautiful planet that we live on.

First started in 1970 by Senator Gaylord Nelson (WI-D), the event was created after a 1969 oil spill near Santa Barbara, CA. That first Earth Day celebration was a tipping point, bringing together people of all backgrounds, political affiliations, and across all socio-economic strata who were concerned about the environment and wanted to effect change. That first Earth Day, April 22, 1970, saw demonstrations all across the country with 20 million people gathered to protest the harmful things being done to the environment.

CBS News had a special presentation with Walter Cronkite, Gaylord Nelson, and more.

Earth Day 1970 CBS Special

1970 also saw the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency as well as the Clean AirClean Water, and Endangered Species Acts. 

The growth of Earth Day

The Earth Day movement continued to spread. In 1990 it leaped onto the global stage. That year there were 200 million people in 141 countries protesting on behalf of the environment. Around this time there was also a big push towards global recycling efforts. And in 1992 there was the first United Nations Conference on the Environment and Diversity in Rio De Janeiro. 

From there the movement grew and is now considered to be one of the largest secular observances around the world. Billions of people participate in a variety of ways from environmental cleanup efforts, to planting trees, to promoting activism on behalf of the environment.

Celebrating Earth Day

There are many different ways to celebrate Earth Day. Focusing on environmental issues, recycling efforts, it’s also a good time to develop a personal awareness of Earth-related issues. Here, in no particular order, are ten of our favorite resources that are earth friendly today and every day:

  • Join to stay on top of this celebration and to be in the loop for activities and events around the world.
  • Buy a water bottle that is reusable and shatterproof at Glasstic – get 10% off the last water bottle you will ever own.
  • Protect yourself and the environment with 3rd Rock Sunblock – no parabens, no hormone-disrupting chemical, GMO-free, and not harmful to coral or other underwater marine life.
  • Switch your laundry detergent for a great environmentally friendly product, My Green Fills.  Bonus, you’ll save money by getting “the last laundry detergent bottle you’ll ever buy.”
  • Ditch the plastic, get your own beautiful glass straws. This helps to reduce the harmful impact of plastic straws on marine life as well as reducing the use of this non-biodegradable product.
  • Ditch even more plastic by bringing your own utensils when you eat out using this beautiful Bamboo Utensil Travel Set.
  • Buy organic as much as possible, especially for the Dirty Dozen (those 12 fruits and vegetables most likely to be contaminated by pesticides, for animal products (so the animals can be raised without the use of added hormones, heavy antibiotics, and high levels of pesticides in their feed, and for the most common genetically modified crops – corn, canola, and soy.
  • Take a little time to connect with the earth through the healing practice of grounding.
  • Donate to an environmental cause of your choice. One organization, Defenders of Wildlife, is currently running a matching grant program that will triple your gift to help protect species around the world. Other environmental organizations include The Nature Conservancy, the World Wildlife Fund, The Sierra Club
  • Plant a tree, preferably from a local nursery so you’re sure that it will do well in your area.

Bonus – because taking time for low-tech quiet activities is never a bad idea. And if it happens to focus on the earth, so much the better.

For more seasonal and superfood info check out these posts:

glyphosate, is it safe?

The Dangers Of Glyphosate

What is Glyphosate?

Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Roundup, popular weedkiller, currently used in yards, parks, and farms all over the world. Controversy has long reigned over the use of this highly effective herbicide, due to its potentially dangerous effects on health and on the natural environment. Many highly respected researchers, including Dr. Stephanie Seneff at the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, have been looking into the effects of glyphosate for many years. As a result of all of this research, there is now a considerable body of evidence against its use in gardening and agriculture.

In agriculture, we have seen a sharp rise in the amount of genetically modified crops, created to be resistant to Roundup, i.e., glyphosate. By modifying the crops, so the thinking went, farmers could spray Roundup on the crops with abandon. Although we have seen an increasing amount of genetically modified crops, we also now have a number of glyphosate-resistant weeds. This, quite obviously, defeats the purpose of spraying crops with herbicide.

Not Just For Weeds

In addition to its uses as a weed killer, glyphosate is also being sprayed on a variety of crops to dry them out before harvesting.  Currently, it’s being used on a wide variety of crops including:

  • buckwheat
  • corn
  • flax
  • lentils
  • millet
  • non-GMO soybeans
  • oats
  • potatoes
  • rye
  • sugar beets
  • wheat

This widespread usage is causing more glyphosate to appear in the food supply. Even at levels above EPA guidelines, which have been already been found by experts to be too high. This excessive exposure only adds to the overall body burden and increases the damage to the environment and to our health.

Health Risks

For many people, the biggest concern around glyphosate is its potential effects on human health. The health risks could be wide-ranging. Scientists have suggested links between the use of glyphosate and conditions including auto-immune diseases, autism, and problems with the body’s natural microbiome. Some studies even suggest that it could contribute to a range of common cancers, including breast cancer and certain types of leukemia.

The Microbiome

In 2013, a study by Dr. Stephanie Seneff and Dr. Anthony Samsel showed that glyphosate inhibits the activity of cytochrome P450, which is an important human enzyme. By interfering with this enzyme, it increases the damaging effects of other dangerous chemicals, reduces the body’s resilience to toxins, and contributes to inflammation. The results of these effects include gastrointestinal disorders which are associated with disturbances in the gut microbiome.


In another study, Dr. Stephanie Seneff and her colleagues argue that glyphosate-induced changes to the microbiome contribute to the epidemic of gout that is present in the developed world today. Like many gastrointestinal diseases, gout is a condition that is characterized by inflammation. Seneff’s findings suggest that traces of glyphosate in the diet could be the primary factor in the recent dramatic rise in gout cases in the United Kingdom.


In another study, Dr. Anthony Samsel and Dr. Stephanie Seneff found correlations between the use of glyphosate on crops and a rise in the number of cases of a range of common cancers, including breast cancer, kidney cancer, pancreatic cancer, thyroid cancer, bladder cancer, liver cancer, and myeloid leukemia. These findings reflect the World Health Organization’s labeling of glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic.” Some proponents of glyphosate argue that the amounts that are used on food crops are not large enough to cause cancer in humans, but it is difficult to precisely control the size of the dose of glyphosate that any particular individual receives from their diet.

Effects on the Natural Environment

In addition to its potentially harmful effects on human health, glyphosate also poses dangers for the environment. Monsanto, the manufacturer of Roundup, recommends that people do not use the product close to fresh water because of its harmful effects on amphibians and other wildlife. However, it is not clear whether farmers and gardeners follow this recommendation. Even if they do make an effort to keep glyphosate away from sources of fresh water, rainwater, runoff can carry the product into streams and rivers, where it can wreak havoc on the health of fish and amphibians such as frogs. Furthremore, even if glyphosate does not directly kill fish and other wildlife, it can kill plants that these animals depend on for survival, causing ecological devastation that extends all the way up the food chain.

Depleting Nutrients From Soil

According to the National Pesticide Information Center, glyphosate binds tightly to particles of soil and can persist in the ground for up to six months after it is applied. Bacteria will gradually break it down, but many experts argue that the effect on the soil is long lasting. Healthy soil contains a range of minerals that plants need to grow, including magnesium, nitrogen, and phosphorous. Glyphosate can affect the concentrations of these nutrients in the soil, which could affect the ability of plants, including food crops, to grow and produce healthy fruits, vegetables, and seeds.

Friend or Foe?

Many gardeners and farmers rely on glyphosate because it is very good at killing unwanted plants and weeds. However, the dangers of glyphosate mean that its ability to get rid of weeds might not be worth the potential damage to our health and the environment. In particular, concerns over the damaging health effects of dietary glyphosate, as highlighted in the research of Dr. Stephanie Seneff, should give us pause before using glyphosate or purchasing foods that have been grown using this dangerous herbicide. The effects of glyphosate on the natural environment also should also not be ignored, as it could have potentially devastating effects on natural freshwater ecosystems.

Further reading

For more information about gluten and glyphosate:


If you enjoyed this article, please join my community to receive more information and special offers with my free newsletter, Food News You Can Use (I do the research so you don’t have to). This concise, informative newsletter gives you updates you need to know about the ingredients for living a healthy life.



oral allergy syndrome

Do You Have Oral Allergy Syndrome?

You wake up in the morning and you brush your teeth then wash your face with your all natural face wash.  You’re in a hurry to get out the door for work but know you need to at least try to eat something, so you grab a ripe peach, or my favorite a crisp apple, to eat on the way to work.  You take a few bites and then it starts, your mouth gets itchy and your tongue starts to burn.  You start to think, “Was there something in my toothpaste?  Maybe I got some of the facewash in my mouth?  I think I would have known that.” While there are real concerns with the products we use for our oral hygiene, there is another concern that may not have crossed your mind, pollen food syndrome, also known as PFS. 

What is PFS?

PFS is an allergic response marked by severe itching of the skin of the lips and mouth that can come with swelling or tenderness in and around the mouth or lips.  PFS, also known as oral allergy syndrome, OAS, is distinct from another condition affecting the lips and mouth, burning mouth syndrome, or BMS.  The difference between the two conditions is the cause of the itching and burning.  In BMS, the symptoms can be caused by a variety of things such as a systemic issue like diabetic nerve damage, nutritional deficiencies, hormonal changes, psychological disorders or from other causes like chemotherapy, neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s, simple mouth infections like cold sores, or a candida infection. When the condition is BMS the issue can sometimes be resolved by removal of the causative factor, such as changing to a different brand of toothpaste if the is caused by a specific chemical in it, such as sodium lauryl sulfate. In the case of systemic causes, dietary changes and treating any nutritional deficiencies can help to solve the overarching issue.  In PFS the cause is from an antibody cross-reaction with proteins in the problem food. 

For our immune system to work properly a protein on a bacteria needs to be recognized by our immune system.  Once recognized, our immune system can then identify and go to work attacking the problem organism.  The issue in PFS, like all allergies, comes when your body starts to recognize proteins as problematic when it shouldn’t.  Fortunately, unlike other food allergies, PFS is rarely life-threatening, though this fact won’t comfort someone who suffers from PFS.  A diagnosis of PFS is typically done on a case by case basis and those with PFS often have a history of hay fever with skin tests to the pollens or foods in question.  Due to the need to rule out other causative factors, people typically don’t get diagnosed until they have a medical history documenting issue. This explains why children are often undiagnosed. Some doctors will look at total or specific IgE antibodies to try and confirm an immune response and to rule out other factors.

How is PFS different?

While the itching, pain, and discomfort from PFS may seem like BMS, there are important differences.  One of these differences is that those who suffer from PFS often have an allergy to something else such as a classic food allergy, or an allergy to pollen.  Another factor is that in people with PFS, the trigger foods typically come when raw food is consumed, and sufferers don’t have the same reaction when the food is cooked.  If you reacted to a raw apple or peach, you typically don’t get the same reaction to a cooked fruit dessert such as an apple or peach pie. This is because the proteins that cause the reaction in the food are not heat tolerant.  When these foods are cooked, the proteins will start to break down and thus won’t result in an immune response because our body is no longer able to recognize these proteins it thinks are harmful. 

PFS is often seen in people who have cross-reactions to birch, grass, or ragweed pollens.  People who are sensitized to birch pollen often cross-react with apple, pears, carrots, or celery and those sensitized with grass pollen will often cross-react with celery and carrots. There is concern that pesticides applied to plants may increase the expression of cross-reactive proteins in plants.  This means that eating clean foods and minimizing the chemicals in our environment can go a long way in terms of prevention PFS prevention.   


The Cross Reactors
Environmental AllergenFruitsVegetables>NutsSpicesOther Foods
Tree Pollen (typically birch and alder) Apple, apricot, cherry, fig, kiwi, lychee, nectarine, pear, plum, peach, prune, persimmon, strawberry Beans, carrot, celery, green pepper, potato, parsnip, peas Almond, hazelnut, walnut Anise, basil, dill, caraway, chicory, coriander, cumin, fennel, marjoram, oregano, parsley, paprika, pepper, tarragon, thyme Lentils, peanut, soybean, sunflower seeds
Grass Date, fig, kiwi, melons, orange, tomato, watermelon Peas, potato     Peanut
(More common in Europe and Asia)
Apple, melons, orange, peach, tomato, watermelon Carrot, celery, green pepper, onion, parsnip     Chamomile, sunflower seeds
(pollinates in autumn)
Banana, melons (e.g. cantaloupe, honeydew), watermelons Cucumbers, zuchhini      

What to do if you have PFS?

If you suspect you have, or have been diagnosed with, PFS one of the first things you may be told is that there is no treatment available and to simply avoid the food that is causing the reaction.  As mentioned above, cooked foods don’t result in the same reaction most of the time. When the food is from a fruit like an apple, you can also remove the skin as a way to weaken or remove the reaction.  The reason removing the skin works for some foods is because the skin often contains more protein than the rest of the food.  When you remove the skin, you also take the problem causing proteins with it.  This should be done with caution though because fruits and vegetables can contain different amounts of the problematic protein depending on the conditions the food was grown in or how ripe it is.  This means that removing the skin of one type of apple might not work while it may for another.  It’s been estimated that 47-70% of people who suffer from allergic rhinitis also have PFS.  So if you have seasonal allergies it may be worth finding out if you have minor PFS symptoms that have gone unnoticed.


Allergic Living. (2010). Oral Allergy: Plants, Foods That Cross-React.  Retrieved from:

Coculescu, E. C., Ţovaru, Ş., & Coculescu, B. I. (2014). Epidemiological and etiological aspects of burning mouth syndrome. Journal of Medicine & Life, 7(3), 305-309Hofmann, A., & Burks, A. W. (2008). Pollen food syndrome: update on the allergens. Current Allergy and Asthma Reports, 8(5), 413-417.

Ludman, S., et al. (2016). Pollen food syndrome amongst children with seasonal allergic rhinitis attending allergy clinic. Pediatric Allergy & Immunology, 27(2), 134-140. doi:10.1111/pai.12504

Ivković-Jureković, I. (2015). Oral allergy syndrome in children. International Dental Journal, 65(3), 164-168. doi:10.1111/idj.12164

Portnoy, J. (2015). IgE in clinical allergy and allergy diagnosis. World Allergy Organization. Retrieved from:

Rivinius, C. (2009). Burning mouth syndrome: Identification, diagnosis, and treatment. Journal of The American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, 21(8), 423-429. doi:10.1111/j.1745-7599.2009.00424.x

Seto, C. (2010) OAS- When raw food is forbidden.  Allergic Living. Retrieved from:


Antibiotic Weedkiller


Understanding glyphosate

There’s an increasing amount of attention to how harmful glyphosate (the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Round Up) is.  Roundup is not only used as a weed killer, it’s now also being used as a desiccant, to dry crops before harvesting. Currently sprayed on wheat, oats, and beans, Monsanto additionally recommends it for desiccant use on flax, non-GMO canola, Non-GMO soy, peas, lentils, and sugar cane.  This increases our exposure to glyphosate dramatically.  

Not only are crops grown with genetic modification to allow for large scale use of Roundup as a weed killer, these crops are being dosed with extra applications before harvesting.  Non-GMO crops can be exposed to Roundup through wind-borne and insect-borne exposures.  Unfortunately, with the use of Roundup as a harvesting agent, now even non-GMO crops may be purposefully sprayed.  For some crops this could mean as many as three deliberate exposures to glyphosate.

Impact of glyphosate

Leaving aside the fact that Roundup is not an effective weed killer1 there are a wide range of issues regarding it’s use

  • large scale harm to the environment2
  • it adversely affects mineral content of the crops3
  • increasing evidence that it causes gut health issues and can damage DNA4
  • the World Health Organization has deemed it a probable carcinogen5

there’s one fact that most people don’t realize.  First developed as an antibiotic, glyphosate was not as effective as it’s developers intended. However they realized that it had potential as an herbicide and a new product was born.  Decades later we are dealing with an increasing fallout in terms of exposure, the impact on the environment, and the increase in illnesses linked to glyphosate exposure.  Increasing numbers of the population are experiencing issues with gut health, autoimmune system challenges, food allergies and more.  Issues that at their root have to do with the very nature of an antibiotic, to kill cells.  Yet we continue to bathe our crops, and our planet, in this persistent, endocrine disrupting, harmful product.

A new herbicide

So why do I mention Roundup?  Because it’s happening again.  Scientists in Australia have discovered that the antibiotic Ciprofloxacin (commonly known as Cipro) appears to be an effective herbicide.  According to Dr. Josh MyIne from the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Western Australia, “It kills plants in a very similar fashion to the way it kills microbes, by binding and interfering with an enzyme called gyrase.”  This may wind up being a case of history repeating itself.  Once again we potentially have an antibiotic being used as an herbicide.  Doubtless it will come with claims that it will be harmless to humans once it’s used for an agricultural purpose.  As we are learning from glyphosate.  This is not true.

Dangers of Cipro

What makes the use of cipro especially concerning is that it belongs to a particular class of antibiotics known as fluoroquinolones.  While a potent and effective antibiotic, this class of medication has a high potential for toxic side effects including pain, depression, CFS, thyroid issues, and more.  I learned a startling amount of information about how harmful these medications can be from The Anxiety Summit Season 4 where my friend and colleague, Trudy Scott, the Food Mood Expert, spoke at length with fluoroquinolone toxicity patient advocate, Lisa Blomquist.  

As yet we have no idea what the potential for harm is from converting antibiotic cipro to an herbicide.  But if we take a lesson from the previous example it does not look promising.  Unfortunately the potential exists for cipro to be brought to agricultural use without examining any of those issues.  




 * * * * *

Glyphosate-resistant Weeds: current status and future outlook
The Environmental Impacts of Glyphosate
3 Damaging Effects of Roundup (and its active ingredient glyphosate)
4 Gut-Wrenching: New Studies Reveal the Insidious Effects of Glyphosate
5 IARC Monographs Volume 112: evaluation of five organophosphate insecticides and herbicides

Water Water Where

As we move into the warmer months many people find their water consumption going up.  Drinking more water is the smallest part of our overall use.  However landscaping, washing cars, water activities such as pools, all contribute to higher water usage.  Many of us tend to ignore how much water we use or to be less mindful of ways to conserve this precious resource.  The following infographic highlights the growing stress on our water system.  We all need to learn to think about what and how we are using water.


Many Uses For Coconut

After being vilified for many years coconut oil is making a comeback.  The oils has a wide variety of uses beyond cooking and can be used as a moisturizer, as a makeup remover, even to help prevent hairballs in cats (seriously).  There are also emerging studies that appear to indicate that the oil can be highly beneficial for brain health, helping with neurophysiological disorders such as Parkinson’s Disease.   It turns out the oil may be beneficial for a wide range of health issues.  Dr. Bruce Fife, author of The Coconut Oil Miracle, has a number of articles about this at the Foundation for Alternative and Integrative Medicine.  

From a consumable point of view there’s more than just the oil.  Let’s not forget the tasty and delicious coconut water which provides balanced electrolytes and is a far better beverage than the sports drinks which are touted for that purpose.  After that there’s the meat which is tasty and finding great popularity for baking and for those who choose to follow a paleo lifestyle.  Coconut sugar is even gaining in popularity as a healthier choice for a sweetener.  The list goes on.

However it’s more than just an edible plant.  It turns out that virtually all parts of the coconut are beneficial or purposeful. The infographic below shows a number of ways in which it can be useful.


On My Mind Monday 03.11.13

on my mind -- what's in the news
It’s never the same two weeks in a row. A collection of what I find interesting in the world of food, nutrition, and holistic health. Here’s what’s on my mind.

Aspartame in Milk – Those of you who follow along on my Facebook page have already heard about this issues and how upset I am. Bad enough that they want to use aspartame in milk. The horror of this newest petition to the FDA is that the organizations involved want the FDA to remove the requirement to label the presence of aspartame in the dairy products. It does currently appear in a number of dairy items but it’s presence must be disclosed. If the request is successful it potentially could mean that you might be consuming dairy with this health-harming product in it. Not a good thing. If you’re as upset as I am, the FDA is seeking public comment and you can tell them how you feel.

Did Your Grandmother’s Smoking Habit Give You Asthma? – This is epigenetics at work. Genetic switches turned on and off by exposures. Although far from definitive it appears that there is a strong possibility that a grandmother who smoked cigarettes can have a genetic impact on her grandchildren even if her own children did not smoke. Hopefully this news will help more people decide to quit smoking.

Pink Slime Mfr Seeking $1.2 BILLION – Apparently if consumers find out what’s really in their food and decide not to eat it rather than accepting that the new paradigm is for the manufacturers to sue those who reported on the issue. Not the person or organization who came up with the term “pink slime” (that would be a scientist at the USDA btw) but the news media because they have deeper pockets. How about instead of trying to feed people food that was made from left-over bits and ammonia they just used real food? Hmmmm…now there’s a thought for you.

What’s Mira reading: I just finished the final revisions on The Pantry Principle and am eagerly awaiting the print proof copy. I think I’ll take a break from reading for a week or so as I’ve read/proofed/edited my own book to the exclusion of almost anything else for weeks.

Video of the Week: Not sure what to think about this, apparently a new(ish) food fraud scandal in China is selling concrete filled walnut shells. The story was originally reported a year ago but has just now surfaced in food news.

photo: Alvimann

On My Mind Monday 12.17.12

It’s never the same two weeks in a row.  A collection of what I find interesting in the world of food, nutrition, and holistic health.  Here’s what’s on my mind.

Minimum age for energy drinks – While teens may be upset about it I think this is a good idea.  A better idea would be to get rid of these kinds of drinks altogether.  Banned overseas and with some reports linking these drinks to consumer deaths it is not something to take lightly.

Eat for happiness – often we think we’re eating for happiness when we’re actually eating for pleasure.  Sadly we’re also unaware of the effect that this can have on us.  My friend Trudy Scott, Food Mood Expert and author of The Antianxiety Food Solution points out that many people with depression, anxiety, and other neurobiological disorders frequently do better when they change their diet.  Perhaps it’s time we all learned to eat for happiness.

Fruit and Veggie Prescription – As the saying goes, ‘Let food be thy medicine.” And in D.C. providers at one health care clinic are encouraging just that, food as preventive medicine.  I love the thought that people are getting prescriptions which they can use at farmer’s markets.  This will hopefully encourage them to return  on a regular basis and to being to use whole foods, fresh foods, as part of their diet.  Hopefully this program will spread across the country.  It is already possible to use Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or what used to be called food stamps, at farmer’s markets.  I believe encouraging people to connect with their local farmers, rather than a fast food joint, the better off everyone will be.

Plastic Pollution – I’ve written before, here and here about plastic, its impact on our environment and on our health.  We’ve cut back tremendously on how much we use but it still surrounds us, from our toothbrushes, deodorant containers, freezer bags, and remote controls to the sewing machine, packaging on items we buy, dvd covers, and food containers.  It’s very very difficult to get rid of plastic in our life.  This article showing the overwhelming amount of plastic that finds its way into the ocean it mind-boggling.  Time to get Beth Terry’s book Plastic Free: How I Kicked The Plastic Habit and How You Can Too to find more ways to bump it up a notch.

Expanding the season: I was happy to see this blurb about more farmer’s markets being open for a winter season.  While most people tend to think of farmer’s markets as providing fresh spring and summer foods (think lettuces, tomatoes, peas, peppers, strawberries, and such) there is a whole season that has been bypassed.  Farms can, and do, also produce a bounty of fall and winter crops that are so delicious and bursting with nutrients.  Winter squashes, root crops, and citrus fruits are just a few.  If more farmer’s markets are able to expand their season it means more sales for the farmer, more fresh, local food for you. It’s a win for everyone.

Here’s a video of an American farmer talking about his concerns about the state of farming in this country and global climate change.

In addition to the impending publication of The Pantry Principle there are some exciting developments coming up for my newsletter which will be offering some content not found here on the blog.  If you’re not already signed up, now’s your chance.

photo: mconnors

Christmas Tree Facts

The winter holidays are here.  Decorations are going up.  The wreaths, the lights, the garlands, lots, and lots of tinsel.  And let’s not forget the tree.  The Christmas tree, centerpiece of the holiday celebration.  With ornaments and bows up top, presents and goodies below.  The primary symbol of the holiday gathering for many families all across the country.  And every year there is a dilemma; people struggle with the choice for their tree.  Fresh or artificial?

There are a small percentage who use living trees, brought inside in a tub or burlap. They often plant their tree in the yard after the season.  For them there is not usually a dilemma as they will continue to purchase and plant living trees.  For everyone else there’s a choice to be made year after year.

Live cut or artificial?  With tens of millions of trees sold every year that decision has an amazing impact.

According to the Arbor Day Foundation and the National Christmas Tree Association (NCTA), a live Christmas tree outweighs an artificial one due to its many environmental and economic benefits.  It goes without saying that our personal environmental stance would include a live cut tree which does not expose you to pesticides and chemical fertilizers.

  • Environmentally friendly, fresh cut trees are a sustainable resource.
  • The trees help clean the air, protect the soil, and provide wildlife habitat.
  • Planting of natural Christmas trees increases the greenery on the planet. The Christmas tree growers plant one to three new seedlings for every tree that is harvested during the season. 
  • The trees are biodegradable; that means they can be reused or recycled for mulch and other purposes.  Nothing is wasted even when these trees are discarded or disposed. By contrast, an artificial tree may contain lead and non-bio-degradable plastics.
  • The industry employs more than 100,000 Americans.
Learn how to care for your fresh cut tree at the NCTA so it will last all season long.

Christmas Tree Facts - An Infographic by
Christmas Tree Facts by

photo: Lotus Head

Gmo: What You Need To Know

As election day draws nearer there is an enormous amount of attention being paid to what the voters will do at the polls.  California is in the forefront of the move to label GMOs in food.  Other states have considered it but as of yet none have actually passed such a bill.  The general thinking is that if one state passes this legislation manufacturers will be forced to change all of their labeling nationwide in order to not have to create two forms of packaging.

The battle has been heated and intense with both sides contributing money to try to reach out to California voters and garner their support.  The chain of food ownership has become startlingly clear as the Cornucopia Institute put together this infographic showing who contributed what to the campaign.  Consumers were truly able to see that although companies like Cascadian Farms Organic, Larabar, and Kashi have a reputation as being consumer friendly and producing clean products, they are in fact owned by major corporation such as Kellogg and General Mills.  These giant food producers have a vested interest in maintaining our state of ignorance and have contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to try to convince consumers to vote against GMO labeling.

This is not just an issue that we face here in the US.  All over the world governments and consumers are rethinking the use of GMO.  Just last month Russia suspended the use of GMO corn after a controversial French study showed ill effects in lab animals.  This study has since been brought into question however many of the issues it raised are valid and warrant further study.

This is not, however, the first time that there have been issues with GMO corn.  Back in 2005 there was a German study which showed severe health effects and damage to the liver and kidneys causing the German government to call a halt to the use of the corn.  A 2009 study done in Austria showed that there was a link between GMO crops and a decline in human fertility.

In August of this year two Australia farmers began to travel around New Zealand educating farmers against GMO crops.  As is the case here in the US, those that do not want GMO crops have no recourse if their fields are “accidentally” contaminated.  However there is no way for them to protect against wind, flood, and animals carrying seed.  All of these are potential methods of contaminating crops.  Monsanto has a known reputation for suing farmers for theft if their fields become contaminated, even if this contamination is against the wishes of the farmer.  The only way to protect against GM is to keep it out of the country.

In this video (1.5 hours but worth watching) Jeffrey Smith, the Executive Director of the Institute for Responsible Technology talks about GMO crops and their effects.

You can also watch the movie The World According to Monsanto to learn more.

If you want to read further about GMOs consider the following books:

At this point it may be difficult to stop the spread of GMO crops.  I believe it should be stopped and I believe it should be eradicated to the best of our ability.  But even more importantly I believe that we should have the right to know what’s really in our food.  I will be watching the election to see what happens in California.  I will be hoping that Californians lead the way in supporting our right to know what’s in our food.

photo: faul