Archive for June, 2011

Poor Choices Primary Obesity Cause

June 27, 2011

A study based on 20 years of monitoring eating habits, other lifestyle habits and the health change (all started healthy) of 121,000 professional men and women who  participated thru the Nurses Health Study and the Health Professionals Supplementary Study, was published last week by Harvard University Department of Public Health. The conclusions cite poor food choices, not calories, not aging, not other popular myths as the primary cause of overweight and obesity. For example, the foods associated with the greatest weight gain included potato chips (for each one increased daily serving, (+1.69 lb) more weight gain every 4 years), other potatoes (1.28 lb), sugar-sweetened beverages (1.00 lb), unprocessed meats (0.95 lb), and processed meats (0.93 lb). Of note, several foods associated with less weight gain when their consumption was actually increased, including vegetables (−0.22 lb), whole grains (−0.37 lb), fruits (−0.49 lb), nuts (−0.57 lb) and yogurt (−0.82 lb). Other factors such as sedentary activities including watching TV and two little or too much sleep were also factors. While each factor was a small contributor to weight gain or loss the combinations added up to an average weight gain of one pound per year, which is about the National average. An excellent video presented by the co-author and professor of epidemiology and medicine is currently available. The full report is summarized on the School of Nutrition website.

Once again as with colon cancer and heart disease we see red meat and processed meat consumption, as significant factors. CAFO red meat production including corn feed production is the primary cause of massive soil loss and nutrient pollution in the Mississippi, and Pamlico Sound watersheds and is about half of Chesapeake Bay Watershed nutrient pollution.

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When Food Kills

June 24, 2011

This NY Times article by Nicholas Kristof relates the risk here in the U.S. based on what has been learned about the German outbreak of  E. Coli which killed 31 people. The statement that 45% of workers in the hog industry have MRSA is frightening because this deadly disease known as the “hospital pathogen” is commonly transmitted from patient to medical facility thence to other patients. We eat mostly organic vegetables for many good reasons but many times it is the use of infected manure not properly composted that can spread the virus. The use of distillers grain, a byproduct of ethanol production, in animal feed has increased E. Coli by as much as 30%. Bills banning the regular use of antibiotics are pending in both Houses of Congress. I just signed a petition again asking Congress to pass this legislation

Another Source of Healthy Food

June 19, 2011

The Candle Cafe in New York City announced that Whole Foods would begin marketing some of its frozen entrees in the month of June. These include their famous Seitan Piccata with lemon caper sauce, a ginger- miso stir fry, a spinach ravioli, and a delicious vegan mac and cheese. The Candle Cafe is recognized as one of the finest Vegan restaurants in the Country. Another vegan restaurant recommended by vegan chef Tal Ronan is Horizons in Philadelphia which we  have tried and also recommend.

Mikulski & White respond

June 13, 2011

On April 21st I sent a letter to our Maryland Senators and the Chairmen of the Senate and House Agricultural Committees pointing to studies which show that corn based meat and sugar production and consumption is the primary cause of:

  1. Many cancers
  2. Heart disease
  3. Obesity
  4. Diabetes
  5. Depletion of our Nationwide soil asset
  6. Nutrient contamination of rivers and estuaries including the Chesapeake Bay and the Gulf of Mexico
  7. Cost of health care
  8. Primary cause of our out of control annual national expenses
  9. A major cause of our National Debt

I did hear back from Senator Mikulski who referred my letter to USDA. I received a letter from NRCS (Dave White), which claimed that nutrient pollution had declined but offered no backup to this assertion. He did offer a USDA/NRCS study, which shows that farm field erosion had improved by 43% since 1982. I asked Iowa soil scientist Francis Thicke if he agreed with this assessment. His response was that the consensus of the scientific community was that the Corn Belt has lost or displaced half its topsoil since agriculture began many years ago. He also stated that based on Iowa State University data the recent improvement cited by government officials were overstated. While the NRCS letter acknowledged my assertions on the health issues it did not offer any response to the issue. While Mr. Thicke refers to Mr. White as a “good guy” he is in a situation well beyond his power of influence.

While the NRCS has the bureaucratic responsibility to preserve our Natural Resources only an educated public and perhaps media attention will reduce meat and sugar consumption and reduce the adverse health and environmental affects.

USDA Abdicates Regulatory Responsibility

June 13, 2011

The USDA is failing to meet its regulatory responsibility in 3 areas that must be quite obvious to its scientists and professional staff. Someday this lack of regulatory responsibility will be the subject of a National debate as it is currently in the financial industry.

SOIL EROSION- USDA/SARE recently republished what might be considered a bible of soil management by Magdoff/Van Es. In the chapters on crop rotation and soil erosion the authors state that the lack of live roots in the ground during heavy rain events is the primary cause of massive soil erosion such as occurred in the Midwest in the Spring of 2008. The most dominant crop rotation is a 2-crop corn and soybean rotation which has live roots in the ground only 32% of the time. Increasing to a 3 crop rotation produces live roots 76% of the time. USDA must mandate an immediate increase preferably to a 3 crop rotation plus mandatory winter cover when heavy rains are likely.

The Gulf Hypoxia Report published by leading US scientific organizations in 2000 recommended a 20% reduction in commercial fertilizer application rates. Hypoxia in major Estuaries including Chesapeake Bay continues to increase as reported in the PBS Gulf update and by EPA nutrient load charts (see our blog under pages). USDA must immediately reduce current fertilizer application rates by at least 25%.

Farm animal waste from CAFO chickens, hogs and cattle must be managed as recommended in 2007 by the Pew Commission, an Industry Commission chaired by former Kansas Governnor and dairy farmer George Carlin. USDA has ignored this report and others which point to the massive damage caused by these facilities.

The excuse for lack of regulation of an out of control industry appears to be the higher cost and reduction of corn based products. The following is the opinion of Walter Willett head of the Nations largest academic nutrition department at Harvard University.
“Don – you will find common ground among nutritionists on the harmful effects of very cheap and large amounts of starch from subsidized corn in the US diet, which is the substrate for high fructose corn syrup, and very cheap sugary beverages and feedlot pork and red meat. While not the only contributors these are fueling our epidemics of obesity and diabetes.”

Rather than coming to grips with its failure to regulate the abuses of the Agricultural Industry the USDA continues to ask the taxpayer to fund these abuses by spending our tax money for grain subsidies. The 2012 farm bill is the time for USDA to correct this terrible and destructive injustice.

NRCS fails to protect Nations resources

June 13, 2011

On April 21st I sent a letter to our Maryland Senators and the Chairmen of the Senate and House Agricultural Committees pointing to studies which show that corn based meat and sugar production and consumption is the primary cause of:

  1. Many cancers
  2. Heart disease
  3. Obesity
  4. Diabetes
  5. Depletion of our Nationwide soil asset
  6. Nutrient contamination of rivers and estuaries including the Chesapeake Bay and the Gulf of Mexico
  7. Cost of health care
  8. Primary cause of our out of control annual national expenses
  9. A major cause of our National Debt

I did hear back from Senator Mikulski who referred my letter to USDA. I received a letter from NRCS (Dave White), which claimed that nutrient pollution had declined but offered no backup to this assertion. He did offer a USDA/NRCS study, which shows that farm field erosion had improved by 43% since 1982. I asked Iowa soil scientist Francis Thicke if he agreed with this assessment. His response was that the consensus of the scientific community was that the Corn Belt has lost or displaced half its topsoil since agriculture began many years ago. He also stated that based on Iowa State University data the recent improvement cited by government officials were overstated. While the NRCS letter acknowledged my assertions on the health issues it did not offer any response to the issue. While Mr. Thicke refers to Mr. White as a “good guy” he is in a situation well beyond his power of influence.

While the NRCS has the bureaucratic responsibility to preserve our Natural Resources only an educated public and perhaps media attention will reduce meat and sugar consumption and reduce the adverse health and environmental affects.

The Huge Cost of Meat Consumption

June 10, 2011

Following up on the report published in the Baltimore Sun that the National Academies of Science urges government at all levels to urge people to reduce meat consumption, I sent a letter to Senators Coburn, Cardin and Mikulski pointing out the many National issues that could be solved if people consumed less meat including:

1. Cancer reduction

2, Heart disease reduction

3. Diabetes reduction

4. Restoration of the Gulf of Mexico

5. Restoration of Chesapeake Bay

6. Reduce the loss of the Nations topsoil

6. Reduction of Health Care Cost

7. Ability to balance our annual budget dominated by health care cost

8. Reduction in our National debt

I urged the Senators to start an educational campaign focused on media based education and the committment of the health care community urging Doctors to talk directly to patients. I suggested two immediate actions that would increase the cost of meat  and reduce consumption.

1. The treatment of all factory farm manure

2. A tax on fertilizer to help offset the cost of natural resource restoration

I did give the Senators one authority for each issue who should be called to testify before House and Senate hearings and offered help in naming additional experts.

Media Ignores Medical Developements

June 5, 2011

The mainstream news media is ignoring the most important medical developments ever. Over the last 3 years major medical studies have shown that cancer, heart disease, diabetes and obesity can be avoided and sometimes cured with diet. These studies are specifically directed at reduction of red meat consumption, avoidance of grilled meat, avoidance of processed meat, reduction in sugar and salt dominated processed food and increased exercise. Good public health has huge implications for our National debt crisis since the cost of heath care coupled with government health care entitlement policy have come together to overwhelm the Nations economy. A recent update on May 23 by the World Cancer Research Fund/ American Cancer Research Institute went unreported. The components of meat production, over fertilization of corn, and manure generated by CAFO’s are the two major causes of nutrient pollution Nationwide, Fertilizer and manure are destroying our rivers and estuaries. Loss of topsoil and sediment pollution is a result of short cuts in soil management practiced by grain farmers to promote cheap meat and dairy. These issues were cited in a recent National Academies of Science paper, reported by the Baltimore Sun. Why is the story of meat and its strong connection to pollution, health, and the economy being ignored? Please give me your thoughts.