Archive for the ‘Unhealthy &/or Pollution Source Food’ Category

NO MEAT-NO CANCER

December 27, 2011

Since early 2009 when the National Cancer Institute published their dietary study     of 500,000 older Americans (our reference #16) we have had many research studies showing the strong connection between red meat consumption and early death caused by cancer and heart disease, including the American Cancer Research Institute’s study of the Worlds Cancer research and long term epidemiological studies published by Harvard University. Last night on 60 minutes we were introduced to direct physical evidence of this strong connection. The 2000 plus monks who have lived isolated in the monasteries on Mount Athos in Southern Grease for nearly 2000 years have never had cancer nor heart disease. They grow their own food, tend their own vineyards, consume plenty of their own wine, and eat a lot of fish from the Aegean Sea. They have two 10-minute meals per day and do a lot of physical work. They eat no red or white meat.

But corn fed meat consumers in addition to exposing themselves to cancer and heart disease also bear the major responsibility for loss of our topsoil, water quality and species loss in all the rivers and estuaries East of the Rockies, caused mostly by short cuts in soil management, overuse of fertilizer to grow corn feed and the glut of manure from CAFO’s. Maybe realization of the real cost of meat will cause consumers to think twice before ordering their next fast food bacon burger, hot dog, sausage, or Philly cheese steak. We can only hope the consumer will wake up to this reality because government agencies responsible for protecting our natural resources and our health have abdicated their responsibility under pressure from the American Farm Bureau Federation, the Fertilizer Institute, The Corn Growers Association and some Academic Institutions who still support our failed Industrial Agricultural Production System.

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HARVARD FOOD DEBATE

November 9, 2011

The Harvard School of Public Health Debate held Oct. 20, 2011 on the health impact of the US food system plus environmental Impact notes in bold added by the writer.

SUMMARY BY PARTICIPANTS:

Walter Willett the Chair of the Nutrition Department at The Harvard School of Public Health. –  Judging by its impact on human health the American grain based food supply is a disaster with 75% of supermarket food unhealthy. We have too much refined grain, too much sugar and too much red meat in the American diet.

Barry Popkins Professor at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health. – We did it to ourselves. In the 50’s we ate healthy food and the American people were healthy. We believed that animal protein was healthy. The science changed but the grain based food system and the lobbies that support it remained. Today 75% of the food supply has too much sugar, too much fat, too much salt and is unhealthy. Also in the 50’s, the Chesapeake Bay, the Gulf of Mexico. Pamlico Sound, and all Eastern Estuaries began to suffer from hypoxia and sedimentation due to excess fertilizer applications particularly to nitrogen uptake inefficient corn and mismanagement of tilled farming systems. By the 70’s the underwater grass (SAV’s), which provided habitat and food for Bay species, disappeared. Today all species have declined substantially and the system is facing ecological collapse. Record Oxygen dead zones and record sediment intrusion occurred in both the Gulf and Chesapeake Bay in 2011. These Eastern Estuaries are thermometers for the ecological health of nearly 50% of the US. Land area. 

David Ludwig Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School. – The mother of an 8 year old girl patient who weighs 200 pounds caused by diet not genetics tells me the child is influenced by icons on the food at the supermarket due to clever marketing by children’s TV programs. We evolved from a diverse system of many foods to a food system using four grain based raw materials: corn, soy beans, wheat, rice and the animals which eat these raw materials. We eat a lot of high calorie food, which has little nutrient value. Example: nuts are high in calories but are of value because they are also high in protein and other nutrients.

Gary Williams Agricultural Economist at Texas A&M and a defender of the status quo. – He was dead wrong in his theory that low income causes poor food habits. Many studies including China studies by Barry Popkin and Cornell University’s China Study show that increased consumption of grain based meat and sugar causing poor health increases with affluence. His assertion that unhealthy food tastes better than healthy food is again not true. We eat a lot at a Northern Italian restaurant in Easton MD. owned by a world-class chef formerly of Harry’s Bar in Venice and Paris. This food makes the steak and potatoes based food at Ruth Chris Steak House seem like the junk food served by MacDonald’s. He made two valid points (1) can we produce sufficient healthy plant food in the climate and soil of the US corn belt which requires research into the ultimate capacity of greenhouse production now in its infancy in the US but showing great promise? And (2) will China step in and produce bad food if we do not? Judging by the number of Countries involved in the ongoing world cancer study including China and the recent move by Denmark to tax pizza and other unhealthy Western foods, I believe a world agreement on restricting unhealthy food production is possible.

CONCLUSION;

Rather than taxing unhealthy food an approach being tried in New York and Denmark, which concerns some people. I believe a better approach is public education (see the HSPH My Plate recommendations) combined with nationwide regulation of fertilizer application rates, mandated cover crops, and the many public health and environmental issues associated with CAFO food animal production. These actions will make unhealthy food more expensive. Everyone on the panel agreed that price has an affect on food choices. 

Notes

Opinions of the writer are in bold                                                                                    Clik on Harvard Debate to see the full video debate

The Bazaar Truth

October 29, 2011

Harpers Bazaar Magazine published by Hearst Magazines is a leading women’s fashion magazine. Since being thin is fashionable and compatible with the clothing that they advertise they often feature articles under the heading Bazaar Diet. The article in the November 2011 issue titled “Eat your Way Thin” included many foods to avoid. Foods to eat included: “Organic free range chicken, turkey, and eggs and grass fed beef, bison and lamb. For quality protein avoid mass produced meats. Factory farmed animals are kept in close quarters and fed things they aren’t supposed to eat like corn, soy and hormones. This fattens them up quickly but also makes them sick so they are given antibiotics. When you eat the meat you ingest what they eat” Wendy Schmid the author of the article got most of it right except that the “free range label does not preclude confinement production. A better term is pasture raised for chicken as well as beef and other red meat. She apparently is not aware of recently published long term epidemiology studies by Harvard University and the World Cancer Fund/American Institute for Cancer Research which concludes that many cancers, heart disease, obesity and diabetes are caused by over-consumption of factory farmed beef, pork and processed meat. She is apparently unaware of record oxygen dead zones in the Gulf of Mexico and Chesapeake Bay in 2011 caused by nutrient contamination of all Rivers East of the Rockies mostly from corn production and Factory-Farm manure. It is encouraging to see a major publication begin to understand the truth about our failed Industrial Food Production System.

Scientist Debate Food System

September 23, 2011

PARTICIPANTS:

SCIENTISTS:

Ken Cassman- Department Head Agronomy and Soils University of Nebraska

Don Boesch- President of The University of Maryland’s Horns Point Environmental Lab.

Dean Hively- USDA ARS Research Scientist

Tom Fisher- Horn Point Scientist and 25 year monitor of the Choptank watershed

Francis Thicke- Author, Iowa organic pasture dairy farmer and soils scientist

Russell Brinsfield- President of the University of Maryland’s Wye Agro-Ecology Center

Walter Willett- Nutrition Dept. Head- leader of Harvard’s long-term epidemiology studies

INITIATOR

DONALD KERSTETTER- Trappe Landing Farm & Native Sanctuary

CONCLUSIONS: Submitted by DRK for comments

It is important that we reach a consensus on the actions required to stop the nutrient contamination of rivers and estuaries and the excess production of food responsible for causing our epidemics of cancer, heart disease, obesity and diabetes. This year 2011 we experienced near record oxygen dead zones in the Gulf of Mexico and the Chesapeake Bay caused mostly by application of fertilizer particularly to corn and a glut of CAFO manure. We also experienced record sediment intrusion from unprotected farm fields into Chesapeake Bay. Also much has been written about the poor health of Americans and out of control health care cost. It is important that the scientific community including nutritionists and environmental scientists work together to find a strategy that works for all including the farmer who starts the food growing process in May of each year. The solution would be much simpler if we left out nutrition and the health of the American people. As Ken Cassman of the University of Nebraska points out improvement in nitrogen uptake efficiency of 20% has been achieved and with more research there is promise of further improvement. Cover crops will help uptake of excess nitrogen and will also help mitigate erosion and sediment intrusion. But as Walter Willett points out these environmental improvements will not solve the health issues which require a substantial reduction in corn based products including sugar and red meat and increases in fruits and vegetable consumption. A healthy American diet is outlined by Harvard’s “Healthy Plate” shown on their website http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/. This provides further definition of the USDA’s “My Plate” initiative. I hope we can all agree that healthy food produced in a way that protects the environment is the goal. Ken Cassman expressed concern that developing Countries will fill the void if the U.S. reduces its corn output and they will have less concern for world ecology, I believe many of these countries are equally concerned and will follow our lead. I base this opinion on the active involvement of China India and other developing Countries who our part of the World cancer study. This dialog points to the need for environmental and health scientists to work together to reach conclusions and recommendations. In my view the following mandatory actions implemented worldwide are required based on these discussions. May I have your comments please!

  1. Reduce nitrogen application rates to corn and beans by 50%.
  2. Require winter cover crops on all tilled farm fields
  3. Require the pyrolysis of all CAFO manure
  4. Ban the use of antibiotics and growth hormones in CAFO production
  5. *Require a representative of the Humane Society to monitor all CAFO and slaughterhouse operations to verify humane treatment of food animals.

*While we have not discussed #5, I believe that you would agree if you view a video of the horrible conditions in America’s CAFO’s and slaughterhouses. If you wish I will forward the video to you.

The primary objection to these Government actions will be corn yield loss. This will force farmers to seek revenues from higher value crops including a variety of vegetables, fruits and nuts. This will make these healthier products more available and help the USDA’s effort to increase consumption of these healthier foods as proposed by their “my plate “ initiative. Americans are suffering from an addiction to the very foods that are destroying their health. Demand for these unhealthy products will increase until the cost goes up which will happen as supply goes down and price goes up. The USDA must also implement an educational campaign to sell consumption of healthy food in addition to the 5 recommended actions. It has taken us decades to create this environmental and health disaster. It will likely take decades to correct.

 

I thank all who participated in this discussion.

DON KERSTETTER

The Entitlement Dilema

August 27, 2011

We now see more and more evidence of the failure of Central Planning as proposed by Karl Marx. The failure of the Soviet Union is the outstanding National example. But the failure is now also apparent in many of the social entitlement programs started in the 1930’s. One outstanding regulatory failure is U.S. agriculture and food production.  The inherent diversity provided by small farms who produced food was destroyed by the USDA under Earl Butz in the 1960’s. Mr. Butz decided to subsidize grain farming which produces raw material for sugar, refined grains, and meat. Now 50 years later we have a food production system dominated by unhealthy food widely recognized as responsible for our epidemics of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and pathogen exposure plus a production system based on overuse of chemicals and short cuts in soil management and animal manure management responsible for the destruction of our soil, our rivers, and our estuaries including the Chesapeake Bay. Every regulation initiated by Government creates an entitlement constituency that invariably becomes all-powerful. The ultimate result of failed social entitlements is now evidenced by street violence in England, Grease, and Wisconsin. In the case of agriculture the American Farm Bureau, the Fertilizer Institute and the Corn Growers Association supported by captive educational institutions, have successfully resisted all efforts for change suggested by the Gulf Hypoxia Task Force, environmental organizations, schools of public health, and now the USDA’s “My Plate” healthy food initiative. We must learn from these entitlement disasters and establish an automatic sunset on every regulation. We must also elect leaders who are strong enough to overcome the pressure of special interest entitlement support groups in the public interest.

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.

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.

CANCER-RED MEAT Connection Stronger

May 29, 2011

The World Cancer Research Fund/American Institute for Cancer Research (WCRF/AICR) issued a press release on May 23, 2011 reporting on their Continuous Update Project (CUP). Since their 2007 report was published 263 papers on bowel cancer were added to the 749 considered in the 2007 report. For red and processed meat 10 studies were added to the 14 considered in the original report. Based on these new studies the evaluation panel concluded that the evidence had increased that red meat and processed meat are a convincing cause of bowel cancer. Convincing is the highest risk assessment. They also concluded that high fiber plant food is more of a deterrent to colon cancer than their original assessment and the positive risk level was increased from probable to convincing. The recommendation to eat more fruits and vegetables and less beef, lamb and pork is the same as their previous recommendation as is their recommendation to eat no processed meat.

If people followed these recommendations contamination of Chesapeake Bay and the Gulf of Mexico would decline significantly since food animal production including corn feed fertilizer excess and untreated manure are the major sources of water nutrient contamination.

GROUNDHOG DAY-Will Americans ever wake up?

May 12, 2011

Could it possibly be true that every American’s dream of excellence, a nice house surrounded by a perfect weed free lawn, bacon and eggs for breakfast, processed meat on refined bread sandwich for lunch and steak every night is also America’s worst nightmare? Since the Gulf Hypoxia report was published in 2000 and the continual frustration in efforts to restore Chesapeake Bay the connection between fertilizer used on America’s lawns and more importantly that used to produce corn fed meat and the manure generated as a result have been recognized as the primary environmental problem.

But what is new is the recognition by medical science that obesity, diabetes, cancer, heart disease and America’s health care cost disaster are also an unintended result of our corn based meat and high sugar, high fat processed food diet. Until Americans realize that the cause of our environmental disaster and health disaster are identical we are destined to live and relive the health and environmental disaster, which starts anew in the first week of May each year. Unless we as individuals recognize this and change our lifestyles we are destined to live the life portrayed by Bill Murray in the film Groundhog Day. But this is not a dream. It is the reality of our disastrous food production system. Bill Murray finally woke up. Will the majority of Americans?

MEAT-The problem finally acknowledged

May 10, 2011

This Baltimore Sun reported on a study released last week by the National Research Council, a nine member panel from the National Academies of Science. The study was commissioned 2 years ago by the Bay Program initiated by the Governors of Bay States who wanted to know the reason for the failure of the Bay Program to meet its goals. The reports understandingly questioned whether farming Best Management Practices (BMPs) were effective. This now becomes of renewed importance because Maryland’s response to the new EPA mandated TMDL rather than directly reducing fertilizer, manure, and sediment is again depending on the effectiveness of buffers, cover crops and a dozen other untested BMPs.

This report reinforced previously expressed skepticism about the effectiveness of BMPs by USGS and others and therefore the viability of Maryland’s response and EPA’s acceptance of the Maryland Plan. This report is also important because for the first time a major scientific study hinted at the primary cause of Chesapeake Bay pollution and suggested a remedy. It calls for states and the federal government to promote greater individual responsibility for reducing bay pollution, including encouraging people to reduce their consumption of meat.

Why? Between 1997 and 2007 we increased the number of red meat and dairy producing animals by 6300 per day and increased the number of CAFO sites by a factor of 3. Each one of the animals requires corn feed and each bushel of corn is over fertilized. Two pounds of unused fertilizer is applied for each pound used by the crop, more in drought years. Each animal increases the amount of untreated manure which along with the fertilizer is the primary contaminate of aquifers and surface water. Epidemiology studies have increasingly pointed to red meat and dairy as the primary factors in increased risk of heart disease and cancer, which is now at epidemic stage. Corn based sugar and fat used in processed food is the major cause of our obesity and diabetes epidemics. Until Americans break their addiction to high fat and sugar based food these epidemics will continue along with the loss of the Nations most important natural resources. Finally the National Academies of Science are publically acknowledging the true problem.