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Weeds: Real Nutrition, For Free

Weeds: Real Nutrition, For Free

If you’re walking over chickweed and dandelion in your lawn or ignoring a nettle patch by the garden wall as you hop in the car and drive to the grocery store and pharmacy, you’re passing up opportunities for a quality of nutrition that no supermarket or pharmacy can ever provide.

When our grandparents were told, “eat your veggies,” that was good advice. But nowadays there are veggies, and then there are other veggies. In terms of nutrition, they’re not all created equal.
Imagine a graph that measures nutrition. At the bottom there is very little nutrition, and at the top there’s lots.

Image by author, Kate Martignier

On this graph, I’d place supermarket vegetables at the bottom, heirloom varieties of vegetables and herbs from home gardens, community gardens, and small, diverse farms in the middle, and wild/undomesticated plants (many of them known as “weeds) at the top.

Supermarket Veggies – Seriously Lacking In Variety And Nutrition

The food plants we see in the supermarket represent a tiny sliver of all the food plants available to us.

There are over 20,000 species of edible plants in the world yet fewer than 20 species now provide 90% of our food.

Plants for a Future

Besides being a very narrow representation of the plant foods available to us, supermarket vegetables are the least nutritious veggies you could be eating. They almost (through no fault of their own) shouldn’t be called by the same name.

Most likely you already know all the reasons why, but just in case, two of the main reasons supermarket vegetables are unable to do a good job of nourishing us are:

  • they’re bred for appearance and keeping ability over nutrition, vigor, or anything else remotely useful, and

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Top Scientist Says He Quit USDA Because Trump Admin Tried to Bury His Study on Climate and Nutrition

Top Scientist Says He Quit USDA Because Trump Admin Tried to Bury His Study on Climate and Nutrition

Rep. Chellie Pingree tweeted, “Once again, the Trump admin is silencing our scientists.”

Lewis Ziska

Plant physiologist Lewis Ziska quit the U.S. Department of Agriculture Friday. (Photo: Peggy Greb/USDA Agricultural Research Service via sciencenewsforstudents.org)

The exodus of federal scientists in the era of President Donald Trump continued Friday as 62-year-old plant physiologist Lewis Ziska left the U.S. Department of Agriculture “over the Trump administration’s efforts to bury his groundbreaking study about how rice loses nutrients due to rising carbon dioxide in the atmosphere,” Politico reportedMonday.

“There was a sense that if the science agreed with the politics, then the policymakers would consider it to be ‘good science,’ and if it didn’t agree with the politics, then it was something that was flawed and needed to be done again.”
—Lewis Ziska, ex-USDA scientist

Ziska—who worked at USDA under five presidents, both Republicans and Democrats—charged in an interview with Politico that he left the department’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) because the USDA tried to block the public dissemination of his research on how the human-caused climate crisis’s impact on rice could threaten the nutrition of 600 million people. The studyPolitico reported, was internally cleared at the department and peer reviewed prior to its publication in the journal Science Advances last year.

USDA, in a statement to the outlet, said that “this was a joint decision by ARS national program leaders—all career scientists—not to send out a press release on this paper” based on scientific disagreement, and the decisions involving the study weren’t politically motivated.

Ziska, however, said that “this isn’t about the science. It’s about something else, but it’s not about the science.”

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Eating at Home vs. Eating Out

Eating at Home vs. Eating Out

eating at home vs eating out

Table of Contents

While many restaurants and fast food outlets offer us convincing marketing statements that they offer healthy and nutritional food, studies frequently find that this isn’t the case. The sugar and sodium content of most processed foods cause them to be serious threats to our health. These are also the same qualities which allow these foods to become addictive.

It’s not just fast food, either. The restaurant industry encourages overconsumption and indulgence in foods that we know to be unhealthy for our bodies. Nor is restaurant food as healthy for us as what we would make at home. At the same time, the cost of eating out puts a large strain on many of our food budgets.

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What to Eat When You’re Broke

What to Eat When You’re Broke

The lower your income is, the more difficult it is to be particular about what you feed your family.

This probably isn’t an earth-shattering revelation to anyone, but if you feel like experimenting, try to buy a week’s worth of healthy food for a family on a budget of, say, $50-75.  Food manufacturers that target lower-income shoppers with more affordable products tend to include more GMOs and toxic ingredients in their offerings.

Sometimes, it just isn’t possible to stick to my usual food restrictions.  Generally speaking, I avoid:

  • Non-organic dairy because of the hormones and antibiotics as well as the GMO feed given to the animals
  • Non-organic meat because of the hormones and antibiotics as well as the GMO feed given to the animals
  • Anything containing corn, soy, or canola in any form because it is almost certain to be GMO
  • Anything with chemical additives like artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives
  • Anything that is likely to have been doused in pesticides
  • Anything containing neurotoxins like MSG, fluoride, or aspartame (along with other artificial sweeteners)

It is a matter, then, of weighing the pros and cons, and figuring out what things, for you, are the most important, while also deciding which standards can be sacrificed.  These decisions will be different for everyone, based on their personal health concerns, their genetic propensity for certain diseases, and the members of the family for whom they are buying the food.

Sometimes, when you’re looking at someone else’s situation while you are comfortably backed by a loaded pantry, it’s easy to be judgemental and tell them what they “should” do. The thing that we  must all remember is that when times are tough, a person may be down to these two options with a two-week grocery budget:

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EWG’s 2018 Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 Lists (and Why “Experts” Are Telling Us to Ignore Them)

EWG’s 2018 Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 Lists (and Why “Experts” Are Telling Us to Ignore Them)

It’s that time of the year again! EWG has announced it’s annual “Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen” list of the foods that are the most contaminated with pesticides. Meanwhile, nutrition “experts” are telling consumers that the list isn’t important and that we should completely ignore the shopper’s guide.

Why is this list so important?

“It is vitally important that everyone eats plenty of produce, but it is also wise to avoid dietary exposure to toxic pesticides, from conception through childhood,” said Sonya Lunder, senior analyst with EWG. “With EWG’s guide, consumers can fill their fridges and fruit bowls with plenty of healthy conventional and organic produce that isn’t contaminated with multiple pesticide residues.” (source)

Studies suggest that consuming pesticide-laden food can result in many different health issues.

After countless studies, pesticides have been linked to cancerAlzheimer’s DiseaseADHD, and even birth defects. Pesticides also have the potential to harm the nervous system, the reproductive system, and the endocrine system. Pesticides can even be very harmful to fetuses because the chemicals can pass from the mother during pregnancy or if a woman nurses her child. Although one piece of fruit with pesticides won’t kill you, if they build up in your body, they can be potentially detrimental to your health and should be avoided as much as possible. (source)

Since most of us can’t afford a diet of organic, locally-grown pesticide-free food, the Environmental Working Group came up with an annual list that can help you decide what to buy conventional and what to buy organic. Here were some of their most important findings this year:

  • More than one-third of strawberry samples analyzed in 2016 contained 10 or more pesticide residues and breakdown products.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Peasant Communities Survived On This Simple and Nutritious Food For Centuries 

Peasant Communities Survived On This Simple and Nutritious Food For Centuries 

Peasant food, while simple and frugal, has been around for centuries – in every culture around the world. Using fresh roots, herbs, and foods available to them, households would whip up a soup the family could feast on for days. Soups such as pot-au-feu, minestrone, cawl, and Acquacotta would give the family sustenance during hard times. But why is this simple meal so nutritious?

The Health Benefits of Soup

During the winter months, one of the things we neglect is taking in an adequate amount of fluids.  This is understandable, as cold doesn’t make you feel thirsty the way hot weather does.  Nevertheless, the fluid dynamics and balance requirements are the same, and sometimes more: we expend more energy in the winter trying to stay warm.  Guess what?  We still need about a gallon of water per person, per day.

That being said, let’s discuss some facts of digestion.  Shunting is the term where, when you’re digesting, all of the blood in your periphery (arms, legs, and such) shunts inward to your thoracic cavity…where you’re actively digesting your food.  The term “food coma,” is a humorous description of lack of mental alertness while your body digests the meal.

Then again, we make it hard on ourselves.  The best time to eat a large, sit-down meal is for dinner when you’re able to be home and to digest your food and then turn in for the night.  During the day?  You’re running around and active…then you turn into a “stone” after that huge meal of chimichangas or gigantic beef brisket sandwich and fries.  Then you don’t understand why you feel as if you’ve been hit head-on by a train.

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The Government Has Been Meddling in Food and Nutrition for a Long Time

The Government Has Been Meddling in Food and Nutrition for a Long Time

For over a century, the federal government has had its hand in shaping what we eat in a multitude of ways, usually to bad effect.

Government intrusion is often obvious. We know when government taxes our income, stops us from using our drug of choice, or when they kick down our door and throw us in a cage. But sometimes, government actions are more subtle and confusing. It is often tempting to blame industry alone for the failures in the market and to ignore the substantial – but often less visible – role that government plays in regulating different markets. From the housing crisis and its relationship to banking to healthcare and sky-high costs, this tends to ring true. When it comes to food, nutrition, and its impact on health, blame is often allocated to the market by the uninformed individual.

The average person tends to vaguely understand the issue. They probably know a bit about farm subsidies, taxes, and the Food Pyramid. However, they most likely don’t understand the level at which government regulates our food. There is a long and storied history of government agriculture policy, import tariffs, food quotas, shoddy science guidelines, and regulation, all of which gets passed over for more obvious scapegoats such as the market and corporations.

Regulatory Agencies

The USDA was started under Lincoln in 1862.

There are two main agencies that regulate food in the U.S; the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA.) Both are charged with overall food safety nationwide. But the distinction in jurisdictions is often incredibly confused, with both agencies regulating different aspects of the same foods. For example, the FDA manages the feed chickens eat, but the actual chicken facility falls under USDA jurisdiction.

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Food as Medicine

Food as Medicine

Hippocrates said “Let food be they medicine, and medicine be thy food.”  At the doctor’s office for my annual checkup I was asked to list any herbs I take and I thought “this should be interesting.”  Sure, I take herbal supplements but what about all the fresh or dried herbs I cook with or drink as tea?  What about Mediterranean herbs in spaghetti, garlic in hummus, basil in pesto, chamomile or mint tea?  What about carrots, sweet potatoes and squash in navy bean soup to boost our immune system and fight off colds?  I asked the doctor if I should list basil in pesto and was told “No, that’s food!” (along with a look that said I must be an idiot).  Well isn’t that the point, that our food is our medicine!

I was watching T.V. and listening to the warnings of side effects from the medicine being advertised, and wondered why people consider the risk worth taking the medicine!  Many food and drugs sold seem to cause health problems.  There’s a phenomenon called ‘prescription cascade’ where one prescription causes side effects that require another prescription, which causes side effects that require another prescription, which causes side effects…. and well, you get the idea.  Nice profit for drug companies and doctors who control the prescriptions.

Our industrial agriculture and food manufacturing practices are making food  with lower nutritional value.  Fresh minimally processed ‘whole’ food contains nutrients important for our health such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, beta-carotene, vitamin B-complex, vitamin-C, vitamin-A, and vitamin K, antioxidants, soluble and insoluble fiber.  Processed food has nutritional supplements added back in along with preservatives and artificial color and flavors, and many other food additives.   We no longer think of food as medicine, or expect it to be medicine.  We are more often concerned about the negative aspects, avoiding the unhealthy foods we shouldn’t eat.  Plants have provided our medicine for most of human history.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Great Change: The Medical Mafia

The Great Change: The Medical Mafia.

Whenever we’re exposed to broadcast television in the United States we are always amazed at how much of it has been paid for – how much of its time has been purchased – by medical-related corporations. If you turn on the evening news, for instance (and back when we were children that was actually how people became informed of world events, astonishingly enough), the advertising is overwhelming dominated by three sectors: cars, phones, and drugs. By and large, advertising is the principal means by which United States culture instills values in its children.

Other than billion-dollar bribes paid to the best elected officials money can buy, is there some compelling reason why drug advertising is not illegal? Are erections lasting longer than 4 hours really so common that we have to be warned about them 80 times every day? Are there really that many men who worry they won’t be ready when the moment is right? Pfizer apparently thinks it is worth spending $1.2 billion per year advertising Celebrex to protect its consumers from such horrific conditions.  In contrast, NASA’s total cost for the Apollo program that put a man on the Moon was $22.9 billion between 1962 to 1972.

Apart from the Pentagon or NSA budgets, what else do you know that costs as much as pharmaceutical advertising? Big Pharma spent 15 billion on direct mail promotions in 2012, all that junk mail that went directly to your trash without even being opened.  For contrast, the amount the US will spend on school nutrition programs in FY 2014 is 14.8 billion.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
In progress...

Olduvai II: Exodus
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