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Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

[Guest post from James O’Shea, representive of maacenter, Mesothelioma & Asbestos Awareness Center.]

In recent years there has been a great deal of national attention focused on the improvement of industrial environmental standards. Even as we attempt to rebuild our economy, we seem to be focused on not only restoring industry, but also using this as an opportunity to do it in a way that is not environmentally destructive. This provides us the opportunity to improve all aspects of these industries, including the workplace hazards among workers and the health hazards affecting members of the surrounding communities that were all too common.

What many people may fail to realize is that not only does the health of our planet depend on improved environmental standards, but our health may as well. Health complications of industry can essentially be divided into two categories, both direct and indirect.

Direct health conditions which have arisen as a result of the burning of fossil fuels, for instant, are increased asthmas rates in areas with high smog indices. Even mild cases of asthma can deteriorate overall respiratory capacity over time and leave breathing seriously diminished if the quality of the air people breathe is unimproved. Release of chlorofluorocarbons into the atmosphere has shown to lower  our filtered sunlight, increasing ultraviolet light exposure. Ultraviolet light has been conclusively link to skin cancer. Perhaps it is no surprise then that skin cancer incidence in countries like South Africa and Australia, where the atmosphere is most diminished, is much higher than other areas of the earth.

Indirect health consequences include those which can be attributed to antiquated industrial infrastructure, including toxin exposure among workers. Oil refinery workers, for instance, are shown to have a much higher chance of developing mesothelioma, a rare cancer caused by exposure to asbestos, than those in cleaner industries. While asbestos was banned for most uses in the late 1970s several of these refineries and factories are still using pre-ban equipment which is exposing workers to harmful asbestos fibers.

We see then, that there is a clear advantage to implementation of cleaner, more sustainable energy policies and environmental attitudes, not only for the health or our planet and our posterity, but that of world’s population even today. 

June 3, 2009

Written by James O’Shea, representative of maacenter, the web’s leading organization for relevant and authoritative information regarding asbestos and health complications associated with asbestos exposure. Our organization is staffed entirely by writers and other developers who recognize the importance of building awareness in the fight against cancer.

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[Reporting from Enoch Pratt Library in Baltimore, MD, Saturday, May 16th. Baltimore’s School Food Service Director, Tony Geraci interviews Author Michael Pollen….]

“We need your help on this type of ‘Food’ Michelle Obama is growing….” Discovery Channel’s attempt to get Michael Pollen’s help on figuring out what all this hype is with Michelle Obama planting just plain old fruits and vegetables. Come on people! It is just recognizing the fact that our nation needs more fruits and veggies!! Remember, “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly Plants”. Michael Pollen’s motto. He was asked by interviewer Tony Geraci how he came about this, Pollen’s response was, he wanted it to be broken down in simple terms to get our attention. Eat food, but not too much of it, but wait, processed foods shouldn’t be included, sooo, mostly plants! It makes perfect sense, well he said he got some heat on both ends of the spectrum: from the vegetarians and the meat eaters.

“Grass Finish“. Pollen is a meat eater but he says he only consumes “grass finish” meat. I thought this was very interesting. He explained that a lot of times in Whole Foods and other natural stores, “grass fed” may not mean just that. Like for instance, he visited a chicken farm in California where they named the meat “free range” but in reality, 30,000 chickens are stuffed inside a closed pen with only 2 doors on either side of the space. Of course they aren’t going to go outside, all of their food and water is INside, they have never seen OUTside before, so they don’t venture out there. But because they have “access” to outside, they allow to say “free range” chicken. And same goes to beef, it may be called “grass fed” when only a couple months out of their lives they have grass, then they finish with grain and corn to beef them up before they are slaughtered. This is all very interesting because the FDA has loose restrictions on what is allowed under the terms of “Free Range” and “All natural”. So the next time you are in the super market, try to look for “pastured raised” chickens, this means they live outside. And talk to your butcher about where your meat comes from. Most likely at the farmers market, meat sellers will be willing to talk to you about their process. 

Educate our Kids. Tony Geraci is Baltimore Schools Food Service Director. He started this year the Great Kids Farm. With greenhouses and chickens, Tony teaches the kids how food is grown by showing them. His mission is to bring kids back to understanding where our food comes from. It is a chance for kids to take part in growing their own fruits and vegetables. Plant it, watch it grow, then eat it. How fun is that! By this, more fresh fruits and vegetables will be available in the lunch room, while less “chicken” nuggets and processed foods will be served. He was explaining how lots of the products out in schools have “fruit flavors” disguised in a can or bottle. He shouted “No wonder our kids are confused! Aluminum cans and bottles are calling themselves “apples” and nutritional. What happened to a plan old apple?!” Tony believes if we teach our kids how to eat in school then it can set up for future consumers of the next generation. Education is key on the future of our agricultural system. 

ReEstablish our system. Our tax dollars goes towards subsidizing only 5 products: Corn, Rice, Soy, Cotton and Wheat. Notice I didn’t mention a fruit or a nutritional vegetable. So our money is going towards millions of tons of corn which is then turned into cheap food for us and our cattle. This only creates health problems as cattle are not suppose to eat corn, so then our tax dollars are spent on medicating the cows to make them not sick. The average American eats 9 ounces of meat a day…We eat what the cow eats. So beef packed with anti-biotics, corn and God knows what else then makes US sick. In 2006, 3 out of every 5 American’s are over weight. According to the UN, in 2000, the number of people suffering for OVER nutrition – 1 billion, surpassed the number suffering to malnutrition – 800 million. That is a lot of healthcare we need to cover and could be less if we concentrate on bringing back less processed foods into our Western diet. That means tell our government that we want more money towards farmers who are growing fruits and vegetables. Start LOCAL, check out what your city or state legislators are doing to support local farms. Together, lets REestablish our food system….

Check out Washington Posts article on Tony Geraci and his plan to grow kid’s school lunches. 

and of course Michael Pollen’s website for his books and next stop on his tour.

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I planted my garden! Well, it is for my Mom, but me too! It took a long 5 hours to over turn the grass near our little shed in the backyard. But once the soil was mixed planting all my plants took no time! 

So here is what I got: 

3 “Anana Orange” heirloom tomatoes, 1 “Sweet 100” tomato, 1 “Sun Gold” tomato”, 1 “La Roma”, 1 “Early Girl” tomato, 1 “Garden Peach” heirloom tomato, 1 “Celebrity” tomato, 1 zucchini, 2 “Yellow Crookneck” squash, 1 “Burpee” eggplant, 1 “Chiban” eggplant, 2 “Burpee Hybrid” cucumber and 1 watermelon!! phewww that is a lot! 

Check it out!

Before

Before

 

After

After

So I will be swimming with produce in just under 2 months! Can’t wait!

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Ahhh the sun is out and it is warming up! That means lots of fresh food!! All you have to do is attend one of the many farmer’s markets in the area to get the freshest of fresh MD produce! Here are the ones in my area of Rockville, MD:

Gaithersburg: on the corner of Fulks Corner Ave. and Rt. 355. I can ride by bike up to this small vendor area right past Old Town Gaithersburg, where about 3-7 farmers have their tents set up every Thursday starting June 5th, 2 pm to 6 pm

Kentlands: 301 Main St. At the main pavilion, farmers come every Saturday starting May 2nd, 10 am to 2 pm

Olney: Rt 108 and Spartan Rd. in front of the old movie theater. Lots of craft vendors, live music and unique ethic foods. Every Sunday 9 am to 1 pm Starting May 10th

Rockville: Rt 28 and Monroe St. in the parking lot. Every Saturday, starting May 16th, 9 am to 1 pm and Wednesday, starting June 3rd, in front of the Regal movie theater, 11 am to 2 pm

Bethesda: Norfolk Ave and Woodmont Ave. Every Tuesday 10 am to 2:30 pm and Saturday 10 am to 2:30 pm Starting May 5th 

For more information check out MD Farmer’s Market Directory

For a great DC market, check out Eastern Market up on Capital Hill. You can’t beat this loaded craft fair/produce market with music, art, crafts, food….it is unbeatable! It is one of the oldest markets still opened, started in 1873. For produce, the indoor market is opened in the temporary East Hall Tuesday-Sunday. Outdoor farmers are lined up both on Saturday and Sunday but the great flea market filled with unique vendors is 10 am to 5 pm every Sunday. It makes a great Sunday for leisure shopping or to pick up essentials.  For more: Eastern Market 

ALSO:

Sundays at Dupont Circle every Sunday 9am to 1pm. 

Wednesdays at Foggy Bottom at I st. between New Hampshire and 24th st. 2:30 to 7pm

Thursdays at Penn Quarter at the North end of 8th st. NW, between D and E st. 3pm to 7pm

Did I not list any markets in your area? Check out Local Harvest to search your zip code for local farmer’s markets, CSAs, Co-ops and restaurants! 

And remember! It is best to start up a conversation with your local farmer, get to know him or her. Start and build a relationship to infuse quality produce coming to you. What goes into these tomatoes or peppers? Do they use any chemicals? How far do they have to travel to get to you? These are essential questions and concerns that ultimately make or break how green and how healthy the produce is you are going to consume. Be Well!

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That’s right, he is coming! If you were lucky enough to get a ticket to either the Round House Theatre this Friday, May 15th in Bethesda, MD or Saturday at the Enoch Pratt Library in Baltimore, Pollen will be there! He will be giving a lecture on his most recent book, In Defense of Food; An Eater’s Manifesto: how to get back to the roots of consuming food. He states in his book that now a days, Americans are “consuming edible food-like substances” and how the more “we worry about nutrition, the less healthy we seem to become”. That is our whole idea of what healthy is, is determined by what food corporations state on their packaging labels – “Low-Fat”, “All Natural”, “Low-Carb”: when in reality it is packed with processed substances and chemicals we can’t even pronounce. Simple stated, Pollen’s manifesto is: “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.” I am extremely excited to see Pollen in action, after I read both his books. They are very inspiring for anyone: the person who wants to loose weight, be healthy or just be green with what they consume. Check his books out and his website: Michael Pollen and the links to the events: 

Politics & Prose

Baltimore Green Works 

Will update about the lecture soon! 

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So I was with my Aunt this weekend up in Fredrick, MD. She came back from Wal-mart in the morning with tons of plastic bags (you know this doesn’t fly with me if you read my 5 challenges post previously…) and I asked her where were her cloth reusable bags?? Her response was “I reuse them! I use them to pick up Shadow’s poop…” I said Okay, understandable, but you still throw away all of these plastic bags, thats not good. Now its hard when family becomes involved in these sorts of situations. I hate to be the one that says, “Well actually Aunt Shell, you aren’t really doing any better if you were to just to use the bags once and throw them away.” So I am careful to choose my words wisely and try to shift her (or anyone else for that matter) thinking; how to be even MORE green. I told her later that I had to come up with a solution so she wouldn’t have to be dependent on reusing plastic bags. 

So this is what I have come up with, ways to help minimize your dependence on plastic bags. 

1. Pooper-scooper – so you have to carry this thing around with you when walk the dog, but scooping that poop up and putting it in the trash will save hundreds of plastic bags a year. The only thing is, you should put it in a biodegradable bag, which brings me to..

2. 100% Biodegradable plastic bags  – BIOBAG which is made up of 100% decomposable matter, so no chemicals or toxins going into the land. You could use these while you follow your dog or even use them to as your main trash bag when scooping the poop up. 

3. Compost your pet’s waste – If you want to get really green with your dog’s number 2, check out this article by Marion Owen about how to compost your dog’s waste! Dog Waste Composter 

And don’t forget all of the other opportunities to green your pet:

-Make new toys out of old articles of clothing or balls

-Buy natural, organic food

-Use biodegradable kitty litter like FelinePine.

-Bake your own dog’s treats, check out these recipes from The Poop Pantry.

A healthy pet is a happy one! 

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After I came back from Buenos Aires, I was inspired to do more with less. That is, less energy, spend less money, but with a little more patience. And after all, summer is approaching, that means more SUN ENERGY!

After washing and drying your clothes by hand for more than 5 weeks, I became more appreciative of our efficient machine washer and dryer here at home. But there is something about the sun drying my clothes which I like a little bit better. So,

1: Dry clothes by hand, OUTSIDE! 

I took on this task the day I came back from Argentina, washed all my clothes on one setting less (warm instead of hot, or cold instead of warm) and took each load outside to my deck, hung them up on the dryer rack (or use a clothes line) in the sun (but be careful of the sun fading the color, they can dry just as good in the shade when it is warm out) and waited. I swear, 10 minutes later in 70 degree weather, they were all dry! Ready to be folded and put away. There is something real soothing about hanging up your clothes in the hot sun. I LOVE IT! Less money on your electricity bill, a little more patience and you can become a little more greener! 

hanging my clothes

2. Compost! See my post earlier about how easy it is to compost! Without spending more than 10 bucks! Anyone can do it, even in an apartment! 

3. Use less! Of course of course, everyone says use less, but one trick my family and I figured out was to use more microwave save containers: this means less plastic-wrap (which some contain toxins like DEHA that is a known human carcinogen, EEK!) used to heat up your dishes as well as to preserve food in the refrigerator. Check out these inexpensive ceramic containers: Chefini. Another trick I found was using less plastic bags and more reusable containers, like plastic containers or these cool snack pouches! (Seen on Oprah) Reusablebags.com 

www.reusablebags.com

4. Steel Bottle What? Steel?…Yup! Plastic is OUT and Steel is IN. Most plastic bottles (reusable or not) contain a chemical called BPA or Bisphenol A that can affect your brain and physical well being. That doesn’t sound too good…so check out Klean Kanteen and purchase one bottle for $20 that is socially, economically and environmentally responsible. With YOUR purchase of one bottle can save hundreds of plastic bottles you would be purchasing over a year that will be kept out of the landfill! Pretty easy right?

 

 

 

5. Reusable Bags I know, you have heard this plenty of times, but it works! And it is EASY. SO SO easy. Many of the bags I have received were free from expos but the few that I have bought were around $1 – $5. Cheap right? With a few dollars, you can save hundreds of plastic bags a year bringing them with you wherever you may go. I take them to Target, the grocery store, CVS, everywhere. Ok so in the beginning I get lots of looks, especially if it isn’t at a farmers market or Whole Foods. Or comments like “Trying to save the world huh…?” that is usually not too friendly…But, my response is, well actually yes, I am. Believe me, it is started to catch on. It is so simple and so easy people will get the hang of it. Right as your checking out, just say to the cashier, “I have my own bag” and where I live, they usually bag (other places you have to do it yourself which makes it easier) so just hand it over. Remember, a plastic bag is a 500 – 1,000 year life span: read about it more here  wholefoods

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