10/23/15

Bullying the Anti-Vaxxers

Father and babyImagine reading an article about cutting-edge new treatments for breast cancer, only the story isn’t actually about the treatments. It’s about the selfishness of women who receive these new treatments without ever having donated to breast cancer research charities.   The article then suggests that these “free-loaders” bear some responsibility for the deaths of thousands of breast cancer victims who might have been saved by a new therapy that just needed a bit more funding. Could you imagine finding such an article in a prestigious journal like The Economist?

Continue reading

06/11/15

Why Low Food Prices Hurt the Economy and the Poor

dollar menuFood in America is ridiculously cheap. According to this 2014 article in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, entitled Obesity and Economic Environments, “Americans are spending a smaller share of their income (or corresponding amount of effort) on food than any other society in history or anywhere else in the world, yet get more for it.

American politicians would argue that low food prices help the poor and the economy; the poor now rarely go hungry and the economy is boosted through higher sales and exports. At least that’s the theory, but it is an extremely short-sighted one. Continue reading

02/20/15

Media Bias and Censorship of Vaccine Reporting

censorshipShortly before my 3 year old son was born, I began researching vaccines. I quickly realized I had opened a Pandora’s box. There was a lot of controversy surrounding vaccines. Confused and wanting to get my thoughts organized, I blogged about what I learned in this post, which is now one of the most popular on my blog.

Since then, the debate has only intensified – especially in the wake of the California measles outbreak, which has triggered a slew of stories on the subject. Articles and editorials in outlets like The Washington Post, The New York Times, BBC News, Time MagazineThe Economist and many others vilify the unvaccinated and pro-choicers, portraying them as being ignorant and irresponsible. A few even suggest that the unvaccinated be sued and that doctors who support vaccine choice have their licenses revoked. But why haven’t I seen any stories that mention any of the concerns I raised in my post about the Vaccine Controversy, I wondered?  I decided to look into it and now I’m now horrified by what I have discovered. Continue reading

01/8/14

GMO Labeling – Not So Black and White After All

I want to know what’s in my food. I am skeptical of many of the novel, new foods and production methods food producers are employing to supposedly “enhance” foods, which is usually marketing spin for production changes that serve primarily to increase profits, regardless of the impact on public health.  The last thing that I want is to permit the food industry to take this deception even further by sneaking biologically altered ingredients into our foods without us even knowing it.

So I should be in favor of GMO labeling, right?

Egg CartonAbout 4 months ago, I began this blog post with the aim of arguing in favor of GMO labeling and exposing the holes in my opponents’ arguments. In order to do this effectively, I had to really understand the other side. So I devoted countless hours to listening to various authorities who argued against labeling for various reasons. And that’s when things got complicated.  One by one, each of my arguments fell apart. Confusion led to frustration which lead to fear. Fear that I’ve been so ignorant and probably still am. Fear that I might tip over to the “dark side” and join the likes of Monsanto, the most vilified entity in the natural foods community. Fear that I would lose my readers.

After more than 40 revisions to this article, I’ve decided to go ahead and publish it now, despite being more undecided than ever on this very polarizing topic.  As with my journey to learn more about the complex issues surrounding vaccines, I invite you to join me on my at this critical juncture in my journey toward greater understanding through openness, objectivity and humility. Continue reading

09/8/13

The Problem With Our Food System: According to Wendell Berry

I could hardly contain my excitement when I came upon this powerful, astute and somehow poetic portrayal of the problems with our food system – a topic I love to write and debate about, although never so eloquently or succinctly. Therefore, I want to share with you this short excerpt from the book Sex, Economy, Freedom & Community. It is a series of essays written by the award-winning author and agricultural activist Wendell Berry. Continue reading

05/30/13

Uh-oh! Is our Wheat Supply Contaminated with Unapproved GMOs?

stockvault-wheat-field131117This morning NPR reported that a farmer in Oregon found some Roundup-resistant wheat growing on his land. He sent it to a lab for testing. That lab, and then subsequently the USDA, both confirmed that the plants were genetically modified.  About a decade ago, Monsanto did create Roundup-resistent varieties of wheat, which they tested in wheat fields in 16 different states, but those field trials ended in 2005 since the wheat industry didn’t want it. It has never been approved by the U.S. government for commercial use.

Continue reading

05/13/13

Why Europe Cares More About GMO’s Than The U.S.

In 2009, the American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) stated that, “Several animal studies indicate serious health risks associated with genetically modified (GM) food.”   These include infertility, immune problems, accelerated aging, faulty insulin regulation, and changes in major organs and the gastrointestinal system. The AAEM has asked physicians to advise all patients to avoid GM foods. But how can people avoid GM foods when they are not labeled as such?

The United States has tried numerous times to pass GM labeling legislation, with the most prominent recent example being proposition 37 in California, which failed just like all prior attempts. Contrast this with the European Union, which passed GM labeling laws back in 1997 when the first Genetically Engineered (GE) corn (maize) crops were being planted.  Far fewer safety studies had been done back then, but the Europeans had strong feelings on the topic nonetheless.

Why do the U.S. and Europe have such diverging attitudes on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)? Here’s my list of the top 7 reasons followed by what those of us who want labeling legislation in America can do about it:

Continue reading

01/13/13

Why Consider Giving Birth Outside a Hospital?

Birthing Center

Photo courtesy of http://www.birthcenter.com.

It’s risky. It’s painful. It’s messy.  It may even cost you more out-of-pocket. Why, then, are some people choosing to forego the safety and convenience of a hospital birth and opting instead to labor without pain meds in a birthing center or at home?  And why did I eventually choose this option for myself?

Continue reading

10/4/12

My Interview with Mark McAfee, Founder and CEO of America’s Most Controversial Dairy

Real, unadulterated, whole, raw milk. People have consumed this versatile, satisfying and nutritious food for thousands of years. That is, up until about 100 years ago, when it fell out of favor and was replaced by the highly processed and allergenic alternative that is found in today’s supermarkets. Although it’s growing again in popularity, raw milk and its producers are mistrusted by government officials, the mainstream media and the vast majority Americans.  Several raw milk dairies in America have recently closed their doors due to the intense scrutiny and harassment they’ve endured from state health departments. But Mark McAfee, head of America’s largest retail raw milk producer, is far from letting anyone get in the way of pursuing his dream of improving the health of this country by providing informed consumers with access to “mother nature’s perfect food.”

In this interview, Mark gives me the inside scoop on the very public pathogen outbreaks that have been associated with his dairy. He answers the hotly debated question of whether humans should be consuming the milk of another species. He talks about government corruption. And he tells me about a new enterprise he has launched, which aims to bring greater transparency and standardization to raw milk production. Continue reading

04/25/12

What does “Organic” Really Mean? (Part 3 – Packaged & Processed Foods)

Packaged and Processed Foods

In my last two posts, I talked about what “organic” means for meats, dairy, wines, seafood, and produce – basically everything that you find along the perimeter of your supermarket. This third and final post on this topic is about what organic means for packaged and processed foods, which are found in the center aisles of the supermarket and include the product that started this post: organic stevia powder. Continue reading