Tag Archives | organic

Consumer Reports Campaigns to Ban Use Of ‘Natural’ On Food Labels

"Botfly Larvae: An All-Natural Source For Your Recommended Daily Allowance of Nightmare Fuel" Pic - Geoff Gallice (CC)

“Botfly Larvae: An All-Natural Source For Your Recommended Daily Allowance of Nightmare Fuel” Pic – Geoff Gallice (CC)

Consumer Reports states that most people believe that products labeled “natural” are better for them. The watchdog organization would like to see the use of it banned.

The claim “natural,” which is stamped on countless food labels, is widely misunderstood by consumers, according to a new a survey of 1,000 people from the Consumer Reports National Research Center. Nearly 60 percent of people look for the term when they shop for food, probably because they think the products labeled natural are better for them than products without that claim.

About two-thirds believe it means a processed food has no artificial ingredients, pesticides, or genetically modified organisms, and more than 80 percent believe that it should mean those things.

The reality is that the Food and Drug Administration hasn’t developed a formal definition for the term.

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You Probably Think You Know What Organic Means

Because I'm the editor, that's why.

Because I’m the editor, that’s why.

Annalee Newitz has a run-down of ten scientific concepts that you’re probably misusing, including “organic”. I mean, rabies and rattlesnakes are organic…

10. Organic

Entomologist Gwen Pearson says that there’s a constellation of terms that “travel together” with the word “organic,” such as “chemical-free,” and “natural.” And she’s tired of seeing how profoundly people misunderstand them:

I’m less upset about the way that they are technically incorrect [though of course all] food is all organic, because it contains carbon,etc. [My concern is] the way they are used to dismiss and minimize real differences in food and product production.

Things can be natural and “organic”, but still quite dangerous.

Things can be “synthetic” and manufactured, but safe. And sometimes better choices. If you are taking insulin, odds are it’s from GMO bacteria. And it’s saving lives.

via 10 Scientific Ideas That Scientists Wish You Would Stop Misusing.… Read the rest

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Send in the Cows (or, How to Reverse Desertification, Build Soils, and Sequester Carbon)

In light of last week’s post highlighting our death march towards Peak Soil, it seems appropriate to look at how we can go about building (i.e. adding organic matter to) the damn thing.  Various permacultural methods exist that help build soil and heal the land, but the organic apple of this article’s eye is a technique known as “managed grazing.”  In the words of Joel Salatin, “Nothing builds soil like intensively managed grazing on grasslands.”

As noted, left to its own devices, it takes nature roughly 500 years to build just 2 centimeters (cm) of living soil.  When done properly, grazing – or, more specifically, management-intensive grazing – can more than double that rate in 50 years time.  Meanwhile, Salatin’s farm has been building one inch of topsoil annually (along with increasing their organic matter from 1.5 percent to 8 percent of soil content over the past 50 years).

“The critical thing to understand is that grazing can be done in a way that builds soil and heals the land, or it can be done in a way that destroys the land.

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‘Honey Laundering: An International Scandal”

Picture: Jacopo Werther (CC)

Via Mother Nature Network

Food experts have found that much of the honey sold in the U.S. is a concoction of corn or rice syrup, malt sweeteners and a small amount of genuine honey.

There might be something funny in your honey.

Food-safety experts have found that much of the honey sold in the United States isn’t actually honey, but a concoction of corn or rice syrup, malt sweeteners or “jiggery” (cheap, unrefined sugar), plus a small amount of genuine honey, according to Wired UK.

Worse, some honey — much of which is imported from Asia — has been found to contain toxins like lead and other heavy metals, as well as drugs like chloramphenicol, an antibiotic, according to a Department of Justice news release.

And because cheap honey from China was being dumped on the U.S. market at artificially low prices, Chinese honey is now subject to additional import duties.

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An Intro to Farm Shares and Community Sponsored Agriculture

Comics artist Colleen Doran writes a quick and breezy intro to the world of farm shares and farm credit programs. Establishing trustworthy ways to get fresh, healthy, non-GMO food is going to become increasingly important. Doran gives an overview of what’s available and links to get started.

via A Distant Soil:

In almost every major metropolitan area, and most rural areas, you will find farm shares or CSA’s, “Community Sponsored Agriculture”.

A CSA is, basically, a food subscription service.

Depending on the program (and they vary widely between suppliers,) the CSA will supply weekly, biweekly, or monthly food subscriptions for a flat annual fee which will cover the farming season, usually around half the year. If you live in California where the season is long, you can get a year-round subscription.

The farm will provide you with a prescribed amount of food per drop based on whatever is in season.

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Chemical Widely Used In Antibacterial Hand Soap Damages Heart, Skeleton, Muscle Function

 Consider avoiding the plethora of mainstream cleaning and personal hygiene products containing triclosan if you value your body’s ability to function properly, says University of California-Davis, whose dire findings add to evidence from John Hopkins researchers and others:

Triclosan, an antibacterial chemical widely used in hand soaps and other personal-care products, hinders muscle contractions at a cellular level, slows swimming in fish and reduces muscular strength in mice, according to researchers at the University of California, Davis, and the University of Colorado. The findings appear online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.

“Triclosan is found in virtually everyone’s home and is pervasive in the environment,” said Isaac Pessah, professor and chair of the Department of Molecular Biosciences in the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine and principal investigator of the study. “These findings provide strong evidence that the chemical is of concern to both human and environmental health.”

Triclosan is commonly found in antibacterial personal-care products such as hand soaps as well as deodorants, mouthwashes, toothpaste, bedding, clothes, carpets, toys and trash bags.

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Big Food Companies Corrupting Organic Standards

Texarkana Roadtrip (CC)

The organic food movement in the United States has become a victim of its own success, with corporate food giants buying up most of the successful organic brands and dominating the standards board, writes Stephanie Strom in the New York Times:

Michael J. Potter is one of the last little big men left in organic food.

More than 40 years ago, Mr. Potter bought into a hippie cafe and “whole earth” grocery here that has since morphed into a major organic foods producer and wholesaler, Eden Foods.

But one morning last May, he hopped on his motorcycle and took off across the Plains to challenge what organic food — or as he might have it, so-called organic food — has become since his tie-dye days in the Haight district of San Francisco.

The fact is, organic food has become a wildly lucrative business for Big Food and a premium-price-means-premium-profit section of the grocery store.

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California Meteor Found Packed With Alien Organics

Murchison MeteoriteVia the Daily Galaxy:

A sonic boom heard in California last week had an out-of-this world origin as ”a large meteoric event” according to NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office. Scientists now estimate the blast measured in near 5 kilotons or roughly 1/3 the power of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan during World War II. Bill Cooke of the Meteoroid Environment Office at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, estimates the object was about the size of a minivan, weighed in at around 154,300 pounds.

“Most meteors you see in the night’s sky are the size of tiny stones or even grains of sand and their trail lasts all of a second or two,” said Don Yeomans of NASA’s Near-Earth Object Program Office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. “Fireballs you can see relatively easily in the daytime and are many times that size — anywhere from a baseball-sized object to something as big as a minivan.”

The meteor appears to be much more valuable than scientists first thought.

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Futureconomics of Food

Vandana Shiva writes on the intersections of capitalism, the state, agribusiness, and a burgeoning organic movement in South Asia. Via Al Jazeera:

The economic crisis, the ecological crisis and the food crisis are a reflection of an outmoded and fossilised economic paradigm — a paradigm that grew out of mobilising resources for the war by creating the category of economic “growth” and is rooted in the age of oil and fossil fuels. It is fossilised both because it is obsolete, and because it is a product of the age of fossil fuels. We need to move beyond this fossilised paradigm if we are to address the economic and ecological crisis.

Economy and ecology have the same roots “oikos” — meaning home — both our planetary home, the Earth, and our home where we live our everyday lives in family and community.

But economy strayed from ecology, forgot the home and focused on the market.

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