Occupy Food

Courtesy of Food Democracy Now

On December 4, 2011, farmers and activists from across the country joined the Occupy Wall Street Farmers March for “a celebration of community power to regain control over the most basic element to human well-being: food.”

The Farmers March began at La Plaza Cultural Community Gardens where urban and rural farmers addressed an excited crowd about the growing problems in our industrial food system and the promise offered by solutions based in organic, sustainable and community based food and agricultural production. This was followed by a 3-mile march from the East Village to Zuccotti Park, the birthplace of the Occupy Wall Street movement.

This is what happens when farmers join with their urban allies – Together we are Unstoppable! Please join the movement and spread the word!

Courtesy of Willie Nelson: Occupy the Food System

Despite all they’re up against, family farmers persevere. Each and every day they work to sustain a better alternative — an agricultural system that guarantees farmers a fair living, strengthens our communities, protects our natural resources and delivers good food for all. Nothing is more important than the food we eat and the family farmers who grow it. Corporate control of our food system has led to the loss of millions of family farmers, destruction of our soil, pollution of our water and health epidemics of obesity and diabetes.

We simply can’t afford it. Our food system belongs in the hands of many family farmers, not under the control of a handful of corporations.

Please. Please. Please.

Know Your Farmer. Know Your Food.

Support policies that will make whole foods available and affordable.

dr. lisa

genetically modified organism = gmo

As I’m sure you all know, I am an organic freak when it comes to food. Yes it’s more expensive, but the quality is better. Nutrition from organic foods is denser and the farming of organic foods yields a sustainable and healthy environment for all. Organic foods are free from the array of pesticides used in conventional growing and to be considered USDA Organic they have to be GMO free. A lot of the time, when I speak to people about organic foods and GMO’s they look at me like I’m nuts. Even as the awareness of genetically modified foods is steadily increasing, most folks still don’t have a clue what GMO is and they definitely don’t realize they are eating it every day. GMOs were introduced into our food supply in the mid-90’s without any required labeling or proper independent safety testing. They are in almost 90% of the foods at the supermarket without the informed consent of you, the consumer.

A quick run down of FAQ’s from the Non-GMO Project:

What are GMOs?
GMOs, or “genetically modified organisms,” are plants or animals created through the gene splicing techniques of biotechnology (also called genetic engineering, or GE). This experimental technology merges DNA from different species, creating unstable combinations of plant, animal, bacterial and viral genes that cannot occur in nature or in traditional crossbreeding. Monsanto is the world’s largest biotech company and producer of GM crops.

Virtually all commercial GMOs are engineered to withstand direct application of herbicide and/or to produce an insecticide. Despite biotech industry promises, none of the GMO traits currently on the market offer increased yield, drought tolerance, enhanced nutrition, or any other consumer benefit.

Meanwhile, a growing body of evidence connects GMOs with health problems, environmental damage and violation of farmers’ and consumers’ rights.

Are GMOs safe?
Most developed nations do not consider GMOs to be safe. In nearly 50 countries around the world, including Australia, Japan, and all of the countries in the European Union, there are significant restrictions or outright bans on the production and sale of GMOs. In the U.S., the government has approved GMOs based on studies conducted by the same corporations that created them and profit from their sale. Increasingly, Americans are taking matters into their own hands and choosing to opt out of the GMO experiment.

Are GMOs labeled?
Unfortunately, even though polls consistently show that a significant majority of Americans want to know if the food they’re purchasing contains GMOs, the powerful biotech lobby has succeeded in keeping this information from the public. In the absence of mandatory labeling, the Non-GMO Project was created to give consumers the informed choice they deserve.

Do Americans want non-GMO foods and supplements?
Polls consistently show that a significant majority of North Americans would like to be able to tell if the food they’re purchasing contains GMOs (a 2008 CBS News Poll found that 87% of consumers wanted GMOs labeled). And, according to a recent CBS/New York Times poll, 53% of consumers said they would not buy food that has been genetically modified. The Non-GMO Project’s seal for verified products will, for the first time, give the public an opportunity to make an informed choice when it comes to GMOs.

How common are GMOs?
In the U.S., GMOs are in as much as 80% of conventional processed food.

High-Risk Crops (in commercial production; ingredients derived from these must be tested every time prior to use in Non-GMO Project Verified products (as of December 2011):

  • Alfalfa (first planting 2011)
  • Canola (approx. 90% of U.S. crop)
  • Corn (approx. 88% of U.S. crop in 2011)
  • Cotton (approx. 90% of U.S. crop in 2011)
  • Papaya (most of Hawaiian crop; approximately 988 acres)
  • Soy (approx. 94% of U.S. crop in 2011)
  • Sugar Beets (approx. 95% of U.S. crop in 2010)
  • Zucchini and Yellow Summer Squash (approx. 25,000 acres)

ALSO high-risk: animal products (milk, meat, eggs, honey, etc.) because of contamination in feed.

Common Ingredients Derived from GMO Risk Crops
Amino Acids, Aspartame, Ascorbic Acid, Sodium Ascorbate, Vitamin C, Citric Acid, Sodium Citrate, Ethanol, Flavorings (“natural” and “artificial”), High-Fructose Corn Syrup, Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein, Lactic Acid, Maltodextrins, Molasses, Monosodium Glutamate, Sucrose, Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP), Xanthan Gum, Vitamins, Yeast Products.

What are the impacts of GMOs on the environment?
Over 80% of all GMOs grown worldwide are engineered for herbicide tolerance. As a result, use of toxic herbicides like Roundup has increased 15 times since GMOs were introduced. GMO crops are also responsible for the emergence of “super weeds” and “super bugs:’ which can only be killed with ever more toxic poisons like 2,4-D (a major ingredient in Agent Orange). GMOs are a direct extension of chemical agriculture, and are developed and sold by the world’s biggest chemical companies. The long-term impacts of GMOs are unknown, and once released into the environment these novel organisms cannot be recalled.

How do GMOs affect farmers?
Because GMOs are novel life forms, biotechnology companies have been able to obtain patents with which to restrict their use. As a result, the companies that make GMOs now have the power to sue farmers whose fields are contaminated with GMOs, even when it is the result of inevitable drift from neighboring fields. GMOs therefore pose a serious threat to farmer sovereignty and to the national food security of any country where they are grown, including the United States.

So there you have it folks! Scary! If you would like to get involved in pushing to get GMOs labeled in the United States, there is a movement going on called the Right2Know. The march, which took place on October 16, called upon regulators in Washington DC to insist that genetically modified foods be labeled. You can go to the website and sign the petition.

We all have the right to know what is in our food. Since GMOs are not labeled in the US, the Center for Food Safety offers a downloadable True Food Shoppers Guide (pdf) that lists by category, brands that don’t use GMOs and those that do contain them. There is also a great iPhone App called Fooducate that allows you to scan a product barcode, see what’s inside, and select healthier alternatives.

Making the effort to choose non-GMO is not always the most convenient choice, but none-the-less it should be a CHOICE. And when it comes to deciding what I feed my family, I want to be the one making it.

educate yourself. be informed. opt out of gmo.

dr. lisa

little people, big pHarma

Childhood a crisis? Get outta here. Are you serious? In the United States today, childhood could certainly be considered a crisis. The US spends significantly more on healthcare than any other nation, yet the rates of chronic and autoimmune diseases plaguing our kids has more than doubled in the past two decades. With an array of diseases affecting our kids comes an array of prescription medications developed specifically for ‘managing’ their conditions.

In fact, everyday children across America are adding a dose of medicine to their daily routine. Treatment today means taking prescription drugs, lots of them. According to the Medco 2010 Drug Trend Report, the growth in prescription drug use in children was nearly four times higher than the rise seen in the overall population. This trend, unfortunately shows no sign of stopping. Parents currently dealing with children whose conditions include diabetes, autism, allergies, asthma, obesity, and ADHD, can rest assured that Big PHarma is developing more pediatric drugs that your children supposedly need.

In 2009, the FDA expanded to pediatric patients the indications for cholesterol drugs, Welchol(R) (colesevalm HCl) and Crestor(R) (rosuvastatin); Atacand(R) (candesartan cilexetil) for hypertension; Axert(R) for migraines; heartburn treatment Protonix(R) (pantoprazole); and atypical antipsychotic medications Abilify(R) (aripriprazole), Seroquel(R) (quetieapine fumarate) and Zyprexa(R) (olanzapine).

Instead of dealing with the over-prescription of ‘drug cocktails’ our government so graciously approves of as safe, our government and the AAP actually make us believe that our children need these drugs, all of them. Just remember, the Food and Drug Administration requires the manufacturer to prove the safety of each individual drug. There are hardly any studies done showing the safety and efficacy of giving one child a combination of drugs. In fact, a surprising amount of these drugs prescribed to children haven’t even been tested for use in certain age groups. “Off-label prescribing” is a common practice used by physicians to prescribe medicine to children that has only been tested and labeled for adult use.

The most recent research lists the following top ten drugs being prescribed to children without proper labeling:

Albuterol, Phenergan, Ampicillin, Auralgan, Lotison, Prozac, Intal, Zoloft, Ritalin and alupent syrup.

Childhood a crisis? In one word, yes.


I am Spinach

You know those days when you eat like a complete slob? Chocolate chip pancakes with maple syrup and a coffee for breakfast. Slice of pizza on the run for lunch with a tall sugary beverage to wash it down. Fast forward to a big juicy cheeseburger with fries for dinner. And of course, a 100 calorie snack pack for the wind down during Grey’s Anatomy (don’t want to fill up too much before bed). If the old adage, “You are what you eat” is true then on those days you are a sugar filled, g.m.o. flowin’, gluten-overloaded mess, with a side of caffeine. Maybe you should make it up to yourself by going vegetarian for a week.

Tonight, I am proud to say I am spinach. I made a gigantic spinach salad for dinner and it was delicioso. In essence, I am “organic” spinach.

If I were conventional spinach, I would be Permethrin, Imidacloprid, DDE, Spinosad A, Spinosad D, Cypermethrin, Flonicamid, Boscalid, Methoxyfenozide, Pyraclostrobin, DDT and much more. In fact, a total of 48 pesticide residues were found on spinach as reported in the 2009 USDA Pesticide Data Program.

Human health effects known from these pesticides include: 8 known or probable carcinogens, 25 suspected hormone disrupters, 8 neurotoxins, and 6 developmental or reproductive toxins. Environmental effects include 23 honeybee toxins. Pretty crazy stuff, right? Believe me, it gets crazier.

new study out of Harvard shows that even small amounts of a common pesticide class can have dramatic effects on brain chemistry. Organophosphate insecticides (OP’s) are among the most widely used pesticides in the U.S. & have long been known to be particularly toxic for children. This is the first study to examine their effects across a representative population with average levels of exposure. Finding :: Kids with above-average pesticide exposures are 2x as likely to have ADHD.

So think of this post the next time you are at the grocery store buying your fruits and veggies. Below is the 2011 Shopper’s Guide from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) to help you on your journey to becoming an organic freak like me. You can also find out what’s on your food? at Pesticide Action Network .  What’s On My Food? is a searchable database designed to make the public problem of pesticide exposure visible and more understandable.
Hope you all have a happy & healthy day.
  dr. lisa.