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Monthly Archives: May 2016

Judging Foods: Just the Bad and the Ugly?

In judging the nutritional quality of foods, there is a strong case to make for not just the truth- but the whole truth.  A product may be fat-reduced, but not better for us- because fat was taken out, but sugar and salt were added.  Or salt reduced- but not better for us, because fiber was taken out.  Or sugar reduced, but not better for us…

There is also a strong case to make for disclosing the good, the bad, and the ugly.  However, a committee of the Institute of Medicine (IOM), convened to review the whole issue of ‘front of pack’ nutrition guidance, settled on the latter two only: just the bad and the ugly.

Specifically, the IOM committee recommends that front-of-pack guidance be about calories, saturated fat, trans fat, and sodium.  Period.

Let’s start with what might be good about only considering the bad and the ugly.  At present, food companies- which own the front-of-pack real estate, emphasize the positive there.  And, they do so in a way that can be very misleading.  A breakfast cereal may well be a source of ‘vitamins and minerals,’ because those are added to the mix- but be made primarily from sugar.  A fat-reduced peanut butter will tell you on the front of its jar that it is fat-reduced, but fail to mention the copious additions of sugar and salt.

Perhaps the IOM committee members particularly wanted to help put a stop to this.  If so, they were on to something.  Consumers cannot choose better nutrition when industry practices directly undermine their ability to identify it.

But, frankly, it seems to me there is a whole lot more that is bad and ugly about just considering the bad and ugly, and doing it the way this IOM committee suggests.  Among the more obvious problems with their proposal is that sugar is ignored.  So, with this approach, products that take out saturated fat but add sugar- a fairly common practice in the reformulation of processed foods- would get to talk about the saturated fat reduction only.  An excess of added sugar is widely recognized as one of the great liabilities of the modern American diet.  The fact that not all saturated fat is created equal and not all is harmful- a matter directly addressed by the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee- calls the IOM committee’s conclusion further into question.  Though limited to the bad and the ugly, the proposed approach does not appear to address these comprehensively.

But then, more fundamentally, there is the enormous distortion of igoring the good.  As far as I can tell, with the IOM”s proposed approach, jelly beans would be better than almonds, walnuts, avocado, or salmon (the latter all contain some saturated fat).  Fat-free, artificially-flavored ice cream, loaded with sugar, would look better than dark chocolate (which contains saturated fat), or lightly salted edamame, or tuna, or whole grain breakfast cereal.  Chicken could not be distinguished from salmon, because omega-3 fat is not considered.  Whole grain would not be distinguishable from refined grain, because fiber is not considered.  A potato would not be distinguishable from spinach or kale, because phytonutrients are not considered.  And on it goes.

I think nutrition guidance should be based on the very best knowledge we have of the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. This can be done, by a system that is independent, objective, comprehensive, and expert- and considers the good, the bad, and the ugly. 

A system that penalizes the bad and ugly, but rewards the genuinely good.  A system that can distinguish between nutrients added, willy-nilly, through fortification, and nutrients of actual value, intrinsic to a food.  Such an approach exists, and has been shown to correlate strongly with the actual health outcomes we truly care about in a test involving over 100,000 people.  We of course have no such evidence for the approach the IOM committee proposes.

The truth, nothing but the truth, and the WHOLE truth is a powerful and compelling concept, and the cornerstone of not just our approach to justice- but our ideals about approaching justice.  It is relevant to making an informed judgment about anything. 

Putting the IOM proposal about food in the context of the legal system may be a good way to close out the argument that considering just the bad and the ugly- and doing even that selectively- is oddly, distortingly, and even dangerously inadequate:

Under a system that tells only the bad and the ugly… Nelson Mandela is an ex-con; period.

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Baby’s development during pregnancy week 14

At pregnancy week 14 your baby is growing very quickly. During this first week of the second trimester your baby’s head is almost as big as the rest of its body. In fact, it is half the total length of the fetus.

The facial features of your baby are becoming more defined this week. The baby’s eyes and ears move toward their final position, and its eyebrows are growing. The neck is elongating and the chin begins to rise off the chest. The yolk sac, which provided the source of food in the first trimester, has disappeared, and your baby now gets food and vitamins from the placenta.

Now you’re in your second trimester, you may realize that some of the irritating symptoms of pregnancy that you experienced during the first 13 weeks are gone, like your morning sickness and fatigue. Since you feel better in the second quarter, you may want to travel or take a vacation while you can. Fatigue will return again in the last stage of your pregnancy.

Although you will feel much better in the second quarter, you can start to feel the new symptoms of pregnancy. The most common complaints that pregnant women have in the second quarter include water retention, gas, heartburn, back pain and so on.

As you progress in your pregnancy, you should expect back pain. More than 65 percent of all women have to deal with back pain at the time of pregnancy. They are due to the added pressure the increasing uterus places on the back muscles. A woman may experience pain in lower back standing, sitting, or even when she is in bed.

Another very common problem of women who are expecting is gas. They are often more “gas” than non-pregnant. Gas during pregnancy is caused by high levels of the hormone progesterone in your body. Progesterone relaxes your real GI tract and slows your digestive processes. So be ready to experience more gas, bloating and flatulence during the second trimester.

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Measles Case Confirmed In Metro

The Independence and Kansas City health departments said there is a confirmed case of the measles in the metro.

No other details were given, but health officials said those with known exposure for the disease are being contacted.

Learn More About Measles

Measles is a respiratory disease caused by a virus and it is spread through the air by breathing, coughing or sneezing.

Health experts said that typical case of measles begins with a mild to moderate fever, cough, runny nose, red eyes and sore throat. After two or three days, tiny white spots may appear in the mouth. Three to five days after the start of symptoms, a red or reddish-brown rash appears.

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The disease is considered rare in the United States. Anyone who has not had a confirmed case of measles and who has not been given a live measles vaccine can get measles.

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Learning Happiness

 
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18 Oct 2010 08:03 AM

I am in the middle of a big move and sometimes I think the stress of it all it trying to kill me. I think my body is literally breaking down from the worry, so wouldn’t it be great if we could just learn to make ourselves happy? Matthieu Ricard may have the key to that secret.

A Buddhist monk, Ricard is known as the “happiest man in the world.” It’s not because he always has a smile for the postman or waves at everyone he sees, Ricard has had MRIs done to shows he physically has a large level of positive emotions. Since becoming a monk in 1972, Ricard has written several books including “Happiness: A Guide to Developing Life’s Most Important Skill.”

Ricard was asked by AOL’s Justine van der Leun what happiness was. He replied, “Happiness is a way of being rather than an endless search for experiences.” He pointed out that listening to even the most beautiful music can get annoying after 24 straight hours of it. Happiness, as he put it, is inner peace, inner freedom, and inner strength.

How does Ricard maintain his seemingly constant state of happiness? He uses meditation to train his mind. Meditation helps your emotional balance “so you are not a slave to impulses like anger and craving.”

Ricard wrote the book “Why Meditation?” in which he discusses how just 30 minutes of silence a day can make you a happier person. Studies have shown that after 3 months of meditation, stress levels are reduced as is depression levels. Ricard says, “Sitting for that precious 30 minutes modifies the quality of the other 23 hours and 30 minutes.”

Ricard admits that negative emotions, such as anger, may have a purpose, but the idea is to let it all out and let it die down. And, sadness helps us feel compassion. He points out that even those that are sad “can continue to do wonderful things.”

He mentions out something I’ve touched on in the Green Living blog – many people seek happiness in material things, but that becomes a cycle for them. The emptier they feel, the more they buy, but it doesn’t really fill the void, so they get addicted to buying and selfishness.

He says that if you are feeling unfulfilled, help others to find meaning in life. Those that help others usually flourish with happiness.

That makes sense to me. So I am going to remember when I am miserable due to all the changes in my life, I should first turn off the television, the computer, the iPod, and sit for 30 minutes. Maybe I’ll concentrate on how great things are rather than focus on the negative. And continue to do volunteer work to help others.

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Sustainable Photo Contest

Do you take great photos, featuring sustainability? And, of course, are you interested in winning a six-day eco-inspired trip to Guatamala? Then keep reading.

The Rainforest Alliance has launched their third annual Picture Sustainability Photo Contest. For those who can snap some great photos featuring the environment, submitting your best is a must!

Sponsored by FujiFilm, the grand prize winner snags an awesome trip to Guatamala, and the runner ups will all get great FujiFilm swag.

From the Rainforest Alliance:

The Rainforest Alliance is pleased to announce the launch of the 2011 “Picture Sustainability” photo contest. Whether your vision of sustainability features scenic landscapes, flora and fauna or local culture and communities, the Rainforest Alliance invites you to submit photos that promote our mission of conserving the environment and ensuring sustainable livelihoods.

Sponsored by Fujifilm, the Rainforest Alliance photo contest seeks to raise awareness about conservation issues while expanding the organization’s collection of photos for use in its publication and on its website, .

“Powerful photography is not only visually impressive, but it can evoke emotional responses and stimulate a call-to-action,” said Tensie Whelan, president of the Rainforest Alliance. “Winning photos will captivate a wide audience, connecting people to the concept of sustainability and illustrating the importance of the Rainforest Alliance’s efforts to conserve the world’s most fragile ecosystems.”

One grand prize winner will receive a six-day, five-night eco-tour for two to Guatemala including airfare, courtesy of Fujifilm and organized by Colorado-based travel company Aventouras. The trip includes stops in the city of Antigua, a UNESCO World Heritage site, combined with a tour of a nearby volcano and Lake Atitlán, for an opportunity to experience Guatemala’s cultural and natural gems. The grand prize winner also will receive a Fujifilm FinePix digital camera.

Five categories winners one from each of the contest’s photo categories will receive a Fujifilm FinePix digital camera. All winners will also receive an honorary one-year membership at the $100-level to the Rainforest Alliance.

“Fujifilm has a strong corporate commitment to sustainability, preserving green space and educating employees and the public on the importance of conservation and preservation,” said Ray Hosoda, president of FUJIFILM Holdings America Corporation. Sponsoring this photo contest only enhances this commitment, and at the same time reinforces our contributions to preserving the culture of photography. We support the Rainforest Alliance and its efforts and encourage other businesses to do the same.”

Winners will be chosen from the following categories:

  • Forests (boreal, tropical or temperate)
  • Water (rivers, streams and waterfalls, beaches, wetlands, coral reefs)
  • Wildlife (insects, birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians, fish)
  • People & Planet (images that celebrate communities and culture, or that depict children and/or adults conserving natural resources, including water, flora and fauna, or engaging on environmental education)
  • Macro Imagery (close-up or macro images that reveal the splendour of the natural world)

The photographs will be judged on three criteria: visual appeal and composition, portrayal of the Rainforest Alliance’s mission, and originality and creativity. Rainforest Alliance staff members will select up to five finalists in each category, post them on its website () and invite the public to vote on category winners. Separately, world-renowned wildlife and nature photographer Art Wolfe will select the grand prize-winning photo from the group of finalists.

All photos must be submitted to by October 14, 2011. Winners will be contacted via their FlickrMail accounts by December 7, 2011. All photos entered in the contest are considered donations to the Rainforest Alliance to be used in the organization’s publications and on website.

For more information on the Rainforest Alliance’s 2011 “Picture Sustainability” photo contest, please visit

The Rainforest Alliance thanks Fujifilm and Art Wolfe for their generous support of this contest.

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The Rainforest Alliance works with people whose livelihoods depend on the land, helping them transform the way they grow food, harvest wood and host travellers. From large multinational corporations to small, community-based cooperatives, businesses and consumers worldwide are involved in the Rainforest Alliance’s efforts to bring responsibly produced goods and services to a global marketplace where the demand for sustainability is growing steadily. For more information, visit .

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East Coast Should Prepare for Hurricane Earl: FEMA

Residents of the U.S. East Coast need to take steps to prepare for Hurricane Earl, say Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) officials.

Puerto Rico and northeast Caribbean islands were lashed with winds, rain and waves Monday and the hurricane, now a powerful Category 4 storm, is on a projected path to the East Coast.

At the moment, there are no hurricane warnings or watches in effect for the U.S. mainland, but current projections from the National Hurricane Center show that Earl could affect states up and down the East Coast. People also need to know that storm tracks can change quickly and unexpectedly, FEMA said.

All residents should take measures to be prepared and ensure their safety, advised FEMA Adminstrator Craig Fugate. Steps include putting together an emergency kit with 72 hours worth of food and water, developing a family communications plan, and listening to the radio or TV for information about risks and evacuations.

Among other federal government recommendations if the hurricane is likely to strike your area:

  • Ensure a supply of water for sanitary purposes such as cleaning and flushing toilets. Fill the bathtub and other large containers with water.
  • Close storm shutters and secure outdoor objects or bring them indoors. If you don’t have shutters, board up windows with 5/8-inch marine plywood, cut to fit and ready to install. Putting tape on windows does not prevent them from breaking.
  • To reduce roof damage, install straps or additional clips to securely fasten your roof to the frame structure.
  • Clear clogged rain gutters so they won’t overflow.
  • Turn off propane tanks.
  • If you have a boat, moor it.
  • Turn off utilities if told to do so. Otherwise, set the refrigerator thermostat to its coldest level and keep its door(s) closed.

People should evacuate under the following conditions:

  • If you are told to do so by local authorities. Follow their instructions.
  • If you live in a mobile home or temporary structure.
  • If you live in a high-rise building. Hurricane winds are stronger at higher elevations.
  • If you live on the coast, on a floodplain, near a river, or on an inland waterway.
  • If you feel you are in danger.

If you are unable to evacuate, go to your safe room. If you do not have a safe room, you should:

  • Stay indoors during the hurricane and keep away from windows and glass doors.
  • Secure and brace external doors and close all interior doors.
  • Keep curtains and blinds closed.
  • Take refuge in a small interior room, closet or hallway on the lowest level. Lie on the floor under a table or another sturdy object.
  • Don’t be fooled if there is a lull in the hurricane. It could be the eye of the storm, which will be followed by a resumption of extreme winds.

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Shah, Sadoshima Meet on U.S.-Japanese Development Aims

Pakistan, Afghanistan Assistance and Millennium Development Goals on the Agenda

Washington, DC – Dr. Rajiv Shah, Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, today conferred with Shiro Sadoshima, the Director-General of the International Cooperation Bureau in Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, on matters of mutual interest such as flood relief for Pakistan, assistance for Afghanistan, the Millennium Development Goals and other areas of overlap in development efforts worldwide.

Shah and Sadoshima met for the first time at USAID headquarters in Washington. Japan is a key development partner for the United States, particularly in global health, agriculture, water, infrastructure and public-private partnerships.

Shah had just returned from several days in flood-ravaged Pakistan, and he thanked Sadoshima for Japan’s efforts there. “The international community is working hand in hand with Pakistani partners to meet the needs of millions who have been affected by this disaster, and I was deeply impressed by the significant steps taken in the relief effort,” Shah said. “We now need to expand our capabilities in that area and consider how to move toward recovery and reconstruction once the relief phase is done. We must focus on planning for the multi-year effort that will be needed to ensure that the Pakistani people can rebuild.”

The two officials took note of Japanese-U.S. development efforts in Afghanistan, including ongoing work with the donor community. They exchanged views on how the U.S. and Japan can contribute to achieving health outcomes by supporting the national health programs of partner countries. They also discussed the long tradition of bilateral cooperation on health matters, including the fight against HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, avian influenza, polio, and neglected tropical diseases; and to improve maternal and child health care, water and sanitation , and hygiene; and to strengthen health systems. And they agreed on the importance of the Millennium Development Goals and working together toward meeting the goals by 2015.

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So you Have a Chronic Illness Now What?

When you have been diagnosed with a chronic or terminal disease you will be confused and in shock as to what the doctor just told you and what exactly that means to you. There are so many different things running through your head that it is really hard to make sense of anything. Once you have had time to digest the diagnosis you will need to give consideration as to what you want to with your family and friends. Do you tell your family the honest truth, the worst case scenario?

I have been on both sides of this situation. My Dad did not tell me the reality of how severe his cancer was and this was 20 years ago and I did not have the internet to search for severity of the situation. When my Dad died I knew he was sick, I just did not know how sick he was. When I got the cancer diagnosis I was only focused on the survival rate, I did tell my immediate family the reality of how worried I was, but I did not tell my three little kids anything other than Mommy had Boo Boo Boobies and had to have medicine that would make my hair fall out. I was not ready to tell them everything, if the situation got worst that would be when I had to tell them the truth. They were little and I did not want them to worry that Mommy was going to die.

If your family includes adults you need to be honest with them. You need to tell them the worst case scenario, you need to share your concerns and let them be there for you. Being sick is hard and you need the support of those that love you. Look I get it; you don’t want everyone to always think of you like you are dying. You don’t want pity; you don’t want people treating you differently. If someone did not like you before you got sick you don’t want them to all of a sudden be your BFF.

When you are not honest with those that love you, you deprive your loved ones time to adjust to the seriousness of your illness.

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