Making wieners is also contributing to making H1N1 swine flu

Interesting tweet from someone following Downtoearthfood on Twitter: "making wieners is also contributing to making H1N1 swine flu". As I reported in my blog post "Swine flu linked to modern factory farming of pigs" of June 22, evidence suggests that swine flu has come from pig factory farms. The horrendous conditions that animals live under in factory farms makes them incubators for disease.

Love Life! Love animals, don't eat them!

Mark Fergusson

High levels of EMF or electro-magnet fields in hybrids and full electric vehicles

An interesting comment was posted on my blog post "Electric cars, are they the best way to reduce greenhouse gases?" The reader commented: "Independent studies have shown high levels of EMF or electro-magnet fields in hybrids and full electric vehicles. Conventional gas vehicles are actually better for our health then we think. EMF is known to have side effects from long term exposures."

Risk factors for preventable death

According to a Harvard University study of 2005 data, tobacco smoking ranked as the highest risk factor with 436,000 to 500,000 attributed preventable deaths, followed by high blood pressure (372,000 to 414,000), obesity (188,000 to 237,000), physical inactivity (164,000 to 222,000), high blood glucose (163,000 to 217,000), high LDL cholesterol (94,000 to 124,000) and high salt intake (97,000 to 107,000).

The other risk factors were alcohol use; low polyunsaturated fatty acids; low fruits and vegetables intake and alcohol use.

Purity of federal 'organic' label at risk

The purity of federal 'Organic' label is questioned in a Washington Post article by Kimberly Kindy and Lyndsey Layton. Three years ago, U.S. Department of Agriculture employees determined that synthetic additives in organic baby formula violated federal standards and should be banned from a product carrying the federal organic label. Today the same additives, purported to boost brainpower and vision, can be found in 90 percent of organic baby formula.

Kailua 4th of July Parade - "You eat what?"

Today Down to Earth participated in the Kailua 4th of July parade. This year, along with our cow, we had a great banner with a cow asking "You eat what?" This was a big hit and we will have this new design on t-shirts soon. Our "30% Off Guiltless Grilling Sale" was also a big hit with lots of customers stocking up on meatless sausages for their July 4 BBQs.

Thanks for shopping at Down to Earth.

Mark Fergusson

GMO trees pose new threat to the environment!

The biotechnology firm ArborGen has asked the USDA for permission to conduct 29 field trials of genetically engineered "cold tolerant" eucalyptus trees in the U.S. For the first time in history, this massive experiment, which is on the verge of being green-lighted, will literally be using nature as the laboratory to test more than 260,000 genetically engineered trees. Scientists across the U.S. are voicing concerns over this proposal.

Learn more about GMO trees

Monsanto subject to a ban on planting GMO Roundup Ready alfalfa

In a victory for all those concerned about the dangers that GMOs pose the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on Wednesday upheld a ban on all planting of genetically engineered Roundup Ready alfalfa.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service failed to conduct an environmental-impact study before Monsanto, the makers of Roundup Ready Alfalfa, released its product to the marketplace. The ban is now firmly in place until the APHIS finishes a full EIS, which could take months.

More about the Wienermobile

If you have been following my blogposts about the Wienermobile and want to see what it is all about watch this video (video removed). This is one of the most successful efforts I have seen or could imagine that converts the brutal reality of a product, i.e., slaughtered pig and cow body parts, organs, blood, fat, and other miscellaneous scraps - neatly packaged in intestines - into innocent fun for kids and adults who like cool cars!

The marketing, like the wienermobile, creates a kind of mirage or illusion

On the wienermobile blog site they invite you to "Submit an essay in 100 words or less that details your favorite hot dog memory and your or another family member’s favorite toppings". If you submit the best entry you get to win a "Labor Day Grill-Out" (this is not quite the same thing as getting to buy great vegetarian products at Down to Earth's 30% Guiltless Grilling Sale that we had last week).

A 100 word essay from a cow that is going to be turned into a wiener might go something like this:

July Fourth Hot Dog Eating Contest

While we are talking about the Wienermobile, another event that glorifies hot dogs is the July Fourth Hot Dog Eating Contest, which is considered a "colorful tradition of Independence Day". Now this is a good one, let's hold a contest to see who can eat the most hot dogs in 10 minutes! Great idea! This year's winner ate 68 hot dogs in 10 minutes. Wow!!! What a tremendous accomplishment!!! Way to go Joey Chestnut (the photo is of Joey, the champion eater of brains, blood, fat, scraps and intestines).

Peacock basher pleads not guilty

Enough of wienermobiles and hot dog eating contests, its back to the peacock basher, the Makaha woman who beat a peacock to death with a baseball bat, as gosh darn it, it was keeping her awake at night! Yesterday she plead not guilty and her attorney argues "These people go through sleep deprivation, and that has an affect on people. They're irritable, and it affects their lives." This is the rationale for the beating (like yeah, I was irritable, the peacock was p*ssing me off, so I beat it to death, what is the problem?

Meat smoothie anyone?

Trevtheveg made a great post to my story about the Wienermobile (the vehicle that when you press the horn plays a song saying “Oh, I'd love to be an Oscar Mayer wiener. That is what I'd truly like to be”). His post is about how hot dogs are really made and includes some great links to You Tube videos showing some pretty gross stuff, like how all the meat cuts (read cow flesh) is ground up and literally turned into something that looks like a meat smoothie (gross).

Trevtheveg says "This three minute video from National Geographic will keep or make you a vegetarian for life!

Round Up ready alfalfa drenched in poison!

Awake-at-the-wheel made a great post on the story about Round Up Ready Alfalfa being blocked in court (at least for now): "The concept of 'improving' crops by making them somehow survive being purposely drenched in poison is not the product of healthy minds." This is a great point. Monsanto (a huge chemical conglomerate) makes Round Up, a poison, to kill weeds. Monsanto's problem is that when farmers spray too much of this poison around it kills the alfalfa crop as well as the weeds. So, what is a big conglomerate to do about this problem?

Meat smoothie anyone? Part 2

HappyinHawaii made a great comment to my post about meat smoothies. HappyinHawaii finds my discussions about the reality of the meat industry, the blood, brains, guts, type stuff a bit off putting (offensive and gross). I wrote a reply to her comment (I am assuming it is a "her" but I could be wrong about that) and thought it would be good to post it as a blog post as well so more people will likely read it. My response to HappyinHawaii goes as follows:

Bulk is green

The following is from Progressive Grocer magazine: A recent study conducted by the Bulk Is Green Council confirms what the Little Rock, Ark.-based advocacy group is seeking to advance with consumers: that retail prices of bulk foods vs. their packaged counterparts are an average of 35 percent lower. Indeed, bulk foods were lower for all of the 16 foods compared, with savings ranging from 3 percent to 96 percent. Additionally, the majority of bulk foods compared in the study were organic while their packaged counterparts were often not.

Burger King misuses Hindu Goddess to sell burgers

Burger King, the international hamburger chain, has offended hundreds of millions of Hindus by misusing an image of a Hindu Goddess to promote the sale of burgers. A principal tenet of Hinduism is vegetarianism, thus the use of a Hindu deity in this way is highly offensive to them. The following is from an article posted on the Hindu American Foundation's website:

Go to hospital; instead of needed painkillers get salt water and Hep C

In a scary case that makes it even more worrying to go to hospital, a medical worker injected the painkillers intended for patients into herself, then filled the used syringes with saline solution and injected the patients with that, exposing them to Hep C.

Bottled water banned in move to protect environment

Bottled water is coming under even more pressure following the action of a small Australian town to ban sales of bottled water. Bottled water sales, once a major growth industry, has slowed considerably as people have considered the adverse environmental impacts of the plastic bottles, production costs, and trucking and transportation involved. It is cheaper and more environmentally sound to properly filter tap water. The following is from the Associated Press story:

Burger King removes ad, apologizes.... Now if only they would stop killing cows....

In a surprise move Burger King quickly responded to the complaint from the Hindu American Foundation concerning the use of a Hindu Goddess to promote their burgers, apologized, and stated it would cease the advertising campaign. Now if we could only get Burger King to apologize to all the cows they have killed and to all the people whose health they have damaged, and cease its mass cow killing, then maybe we could think that the folks over at Burger King are actually kind of good guys after all. Sensitivity to this situation on their part is a good start.

Meat selling retailers win "Most Humane Grocery Store" award

Grocery stores selling "humane meat" won awards for being the most humane grocery stores. Now that is an oxymoron (according to Wikipedia an oxymoron is a figure of speech that combines two normally contradictory terms) if ever I heard one, "humane meat", there is no such thing, give me a break. (Warning graphic language concerning the reality of meat follows) meat is brutally murdered animal flesh, and no matter how you look at it, raising an animal simply to kill and eat it is not "humane".

Maui County Council to Vote on GMO Taro

This Thursday, July 16, the Maui County Council is scheduled to vote on a bill to protect taro from genetic modification. Maui residents should contact their council member to ask them to vote in favor of protecting taro. The following is from KAHEA's, The Hawaiian-Environmental Alliance, email dated July 9, 2009:

Oscar G. Mayer dies at 95

July 8, 2009: Oscar G Mayer, retired chairman of the Wisconsin-based meat processing company that bears his name, has died at the age of 95. He was the third Oscar Mayer in the family that founded Oscar Mayer Foods, which was once the largest private employer in Madison. Mayer retired as chairman of the board in 1977 at age 62 soon after the company recorded its first $1 billion year. The company was later sold to General Foods and is now a business unit of Kraft.

GMO crops are big big business in Hawaii

In a scary story published by Pacific Business News on Friday, July 10, 2009 the size of Hawaii's GMO industry, and its growing importance to the Hawaii economy was detailed. Hawaii is being turned into a major exporter of GMO seed and has thus been placed in the insidious position of being a major facilitator of the huge GMO/biotechnology experiment. The GMO companies like Hawaii due to its isolation from the mainland which prevents GMO crop pollen from cross contaminating non GMO crops and they can get 4 crops of corn per year due to the favorable climate vs.

Tobacco health care costs equal to the cost of the President's health care proposal

As we are about to be asked to pay $1.5 trillion over the next 10 years in extending medical insurance benefits to almost everyone in the nation, President Obama's "struggle with smoking" becomes more relevant. The annual US health care costs related to tobacco related illness is estimated at an astounding $96 billion, with a further loss of productivity cost of $97 billion. The total health care and lost productivity costs per packet of cigarettes are estimated at $10.28, whereas the average cost of a packet of cigarettes including sales tax is less than half that at approx. $4.80.

Health care debate should be about how to reduce the incidence of disease

Speaking about tobacco health care related costs which are estimated at $96 billion per year, that figure is dwarfed by the health care costs and productivity losses associated with just 5 diet related chronic diseases which are estimated at $864 billion per year.

Malpractice Insurance and defensive medicine costs

Another cost to be considered in the access to health care debate along with the huge costs of lifestyle preventable diseases caused by tobacco and other intoxicants, diet, and lack of exercise that I blogged on yesterday, is the costs to the medical system of medical malpractice insurance. The actual costs are hard to come by but are of two types, direct and indirect (indirect costs are the costs of unnecessary tests and treatments ordered by doctors solely to protect themselves from getting sued).

Non-GMO Project Experiences Rapid Growth

The following is from a Non-GMO Project press release received today:
July 16th, 2009— The trend toward Non-GMO Project Verification is expanding dramatically, with recent signs including a doubling of product enrollment and an announcement by Whole Foods Market that they will be verifying their private label products through the Non-GMO Project (blogger note: even though I hate mentioning those guys it is the news and their joining the Non-GMO Project is a big plus for the common goal of reducing and hopefully eliminating GMOs from our foods).

Legislative sledgehammer vs. fixing the problem

In an effort to address food-contamination issues—such as salmonella in spinach and peanuts—certain Congressmen and -women as well as U.S. Senators are pushing legislation that would bury American farmers, food producers and other food and cosmetic businesses in yet more red tape and regulations.

Wienermobile Crashes Into Wisconsin Home

Some people really love their Oscar Mayer Wieners and according to the Wienermobile horn, which plays the Oscar Mayer jingle, some people (who obviously have no consciousness of what they are saying) actually want to be wieners, but I am not sure that too many people love wieners so much that they want the Wienermobile as part of their home as happened to a Wisconsin homeowner last Saturday, July 18, 2009. (These Wienermobiles are generating a lot of interest lately aren't they!)

Dog butcher sentenced to 3 months in prison

A golf course employee stole a golf player's 8 month old puppy, took it home and butchered it, however, it isn't clear from the news reports whether he ate it or not before the police came. Last week the dog killer/butcher was sentenced to 3 months in prison, fined $500, ordered to complete 400 hours of community service, and given three years of probation. He was convicted of felony animal cruelty.

Dog butcher - should have received more punishment!

I should have added to my blog post about the dog butcher that it is horrific what they did and in one sense the fact that so many other animals are cruelly mistreated does not actually have anything to do with it. Some commentators on the post think the punishment for the butchers should have been more severe, not to worry, under the laws of karma, "as you sow, so shall you reap" every activity has a consequence, if we take a life, so in the future our life shall be taken in the same manner.

Editors choice pick award for our blog

Cool, our blog has been made an "editors choice pick" by the blogsville editors. According to them less less than 1% of blogville blogs are editors choice. What is an "editors choice" blog? According to the site "Every blog submitted is looked at by a site editor in person, manually. If the blog happens to catch their eye or look to be like an above average blog, it may get an editors choice tag."

Down to Earth in Africa?

Sarah, Our Kahului store manager sent me an email the other day saying "a while back we donated a gift card to a woman named Jacqueline who runs a group called Carina Water Wells. They put up drinking water well in Tanzania. She wanted to use her gift card to get DTE shirts for the crew that builds the water wells. They all sent her the sizes they wanted and were really excited about getting them. She just sent photos. Pretty wild seeing people in Tanzania all wearing DTE shirts. "

17,500 unfavorable, 39 favorable comments on GMO trees

From the True Food Network: July 16, 2009 Nearly 17,500 public comments were sent to the US Department of Agriculture opposing their recommendation for approval of an ArborGen proposal to plant over a quarter of a million genetically engineered (GE) eucalyptus trees. Only 39 favorable comments were received by the USDA. If allowed, the plantings would take place on 330 acres of land across seven states in the Southern U.S., to supposedly feed future cellulosic ethanol production.

GMO revolving door continues

In other recent news the GMO FDA Monsanto revolving door continues as a former vice president of public policy at Monsanto (that job title is Orwellian corporate speak for making sure the government puts up no barriers for GMOs) to a high level position at the FDA. The guys who make the GMOs are the guys supposedly regulating them. That sure makes me feel warm and fuzzy. Not! The following is from a Natural Foods Merchandiser article:

Wienermobile in the news again

In the big news of the day the Wienermobile is in violation of state law and could be fined if it comes to Hawaii again, the fine for a first violation is between $200 - $1,000 and $5,000 for subsequent offenses. Hawaii apparently has a law that makes it illegal to promote the sale of wieners due to the innate cruelty involved in their production (slaughtered animals, intestines, all that stuff) and as they are so gross, disgusting and unhealthy, containing cancer causing nitrates and have a very high fat content...

One Denny's double cheese burger has double the total recommended daily salt intake

Denny's has been hit with a lawsuit seeking to have the chain disclose in its restaurants the sodium content of its food. A New Jersey man backed by the Center for Science in the Public Interest filed suit against Denny's Corp. on Thursday. The suit, filed in Superior Court of New Jersey, claims that some meals at Denny's contain more than three days' worth of the recommended amount of sodium.

Health care debate misses the real solution

I continue to be amazed that the debate over changes to the nation’s health care system is not focused, or at least that a significant part of the debate isn’t about how to reduce the need for so much expensive medical intervention/treatment in the first place. The current debate assumes that the current level of medical care is a given, that it is going to increase as the population ages, and that more and more of the population will likely become obese, get diabetes, have heart disease, get cancer, etc.

Our President likes to discuss these matters over; burgers, beer and cigarettes

Andy Hawaii Blogger made a great comment on yesterday's blog post, he said, "Our President likes to discuss these matters over; burgers, beer and cigarettes". This is very insightful. A big part of the problem is that we have leaders who are not able to make real change because they are part of the problem, how can we expect people who are attached to eating burgers and smoking cigarettes to make meaningful changes to the most significant causes of the nation's health crisis - poor lifestyle and diet choices.

Only 1 in 7 change their lifestyle when told if they don't they will die

A quote from a motivational book states, "A recent study showed that when doctors tell heart patients they will die if they don't change their habits, only one in seven will be able to follow through successfully. Desire and motivation aren't enough: even when it's literally a matter of life or death, the ability to change remains maddeningly elusive."

Only 1 in 7 change their lifestyle when told if they don't they will die - part 2

Aloha, yesterday's blog post generated a lot of comments, so many that I want to address a few with a second one. And of course, I forgot the most obvious action points for changing your lifestyle to save your life, which are very simple, people need to:

"Objecting to fun was silly"

Back to my favorite story, the Wienermobile. There was a letter to the editor in the Honolulu Advertiser today. Unfortunately, it wasn't from me or any of my friends, so instead of saying how great it was to have a law that banned the Wienermobile, it said the Outdoor Circle came off looking silly to object to the Wienermobile. Here are some highlights:

FDA To Be Sued for Health Claim Rights, Bills Seek to End Censorship of Health Claims

A story in Whole Foods Magazine details recent court cases filed against the FDA for limiting the making of reasonable science based claims for supplements, and, in addition, several bills have been introduced into Congress to enable reasonable health claims to be more easily made for supplements based on scientific evidence. The FDA, with its bias towards the drug manufacturers and medical intervention rather than holistic health preventative and alternative approaches, continues to make it hard for supplement manufacturers to make reasonable claims for their products.

The cause is the factory farms, the government solution, kill deer, squirrels, and other wildlife!

Congress passed the Food Safety Enhancement Act today. This bill creates big administrative and cost burdens and new problems for small farmers and in particular organic farmers. Everyone is in favor of food safety, who isn't. But the real culprit is the big agribusiness factory farms (which create the environment for E coli to flourish), not the small organic producers, yet this bill imposes onerous requirements on small family organic farmers which won't lead to any increase in food safety, just more costs, and more bureaucracy.