Monthly Archives: July 2011

“Irradiation could do for food what pasteurization has done for milk”

From Mark Bittman in the New York Times:

“After the E. coli outbreak in Europe last month — which sickened more than 3000 people and killed at least 50 — it was impossible not to think about irradiation. “What if,” I asked myself, “those little fenugreek seeds had been irradiated?” Might there have been fewer deaths, fewer cases of hemolytic-uremic syndrome (essentially, kidney failure; there were 900), fewer tragic stories?

The answer is “yes.” But it’s not the only question.

When it comes to irradiation, you might need a primer. (I did.) Simply put, irradiation — first approved by the FDA in 1963 to control insects in wheat and flour — kills pathogens in food by passing radiation through it. It doesn’t make the food radioactive any more than passing X-rays through your body makes you radioactive; it just causes changes in the food. Proponents say those changes are beneficial: like killing E. coli or salmonella bacteria. Opponents say they’re harmful: like destroying nutrients or creating damaging free radicals. Continue reading


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How will we feed ourselves when the global food system begins to falter?

From Randy Shore, in the Vancouver Sun:

Peter Ladner, in his yard that he converted into a food garden, has written a book that details the changes people and policymakers in Canada are making to regain control of our food. Photograph by: Jenelle Schneider, PNG, Vancouver Sun

“What would a city approaching food self-sufficiency look like?

Peter Ladner’s soon-to-be released book The Urban Food Revolution offers tantalizing glimpses of urban environments that successfully integrate commercial enterprise, low-impact living spaces and agricultural productivity. Balcony gardens, urban market gardens, rooftop beehives, vertical greenhouses and aquaponics, and acres of lawn converted to high-value herb and vegetable production are all being employed with success somewhere. Why not everywhere? Continue reading

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How to protect yourself from radiation

From the Hella Delicious blog:

Fukushima Japan -- site of recent and probably continuing radiation release

I’m really worried about the levels of radiation and the situation in Japan. The sad thing is there are already high levels of radiation in our world–higher than they were ten years ago at any rate. They come from increased use of cellphones, wireless networks, electrical equipment, medical equipment and other things. Continue reading


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Michael Schmidt raw milk farm visit

Pictures courtesy of Karen Selick:

Lawyer Karen Selick visits Michael Schmidt on his "Glencolton Farms".

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Vaccination should not be manditory

From Quinn O’Neill on 3 Quarks

“In a recent article for Big Think, David Ropeik argues that the risk posed by unvaccinated people is sufficient to justify coercing them into vaccinating. Measles is a potentially deadly disease and outbreaks are occurring due to declining vaccination rates, he reasons. “What does society do when one person’s behavior puts the greater community at risk? […] We make them stop.” I suppose it depends on the behavior and the degree of risk, but where vaccination is concerned, I disagree that coercive measures are warranted. While measles is not a fun disease and it can kill people, the sacrifice of individual autonomy isn’t justified in this case. Continue reading


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Medical research is not trustworthy?

From Amy Love via Raine Irving Saunders:

“It is simply no longer possible to believe much of the clinical research that is published, or to rely on the judgment of trusted physicians or authoritative medical guidelines. I take no pleasure in this conclusion, which I reached slowly and reluctantly over my two decades as an editor of The New England Journal of Medicine.” — Marcia Angell, MD

Raine’s website is “Agriculture”


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California Milk Producers Board targets women with PMS in its latest campaign

From Amanda Rose at The Ethicurean:

“The California Milk Processor’s Board, which brought us the Got Milk? campaign, urges men this week to tell their cranky, about-to-menstruate women: “You really need to drink more milk.”

Men can get their PMS education on a new website “Everything I Do Is Wrong.” Women may find the site confusing at first glance: “Who’s supposed to buy the milk for whom?” “Can milk really help my clueless, bumbling husband?”…”

Read it all on The Ethicurean.

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Raw milk farmer Michael Hartmann goes to jury trial over E.coli O157:H7

From David E. Gumpert, on the Complete Patient blog:

“The court suit by a  family alleging that a young boy became ill from Minnesota farmer Michael Hartmann’s milk in May 2010 seems headed for a jury trial.

The judge in the case rejected the family’s request for summary judgment–acceptance of its case–and instead encouraged the parties to seek a mediated settlement. Such a decision is apparently not unusual if there is any disagreement of the facts, as there is in this case.

Assuming mediation doesn’t work, the case is scheduled to go to trial in October. As a number of people said in comments following my previous post, Hartmann would seem to face daunting odds, since the evidence linking his farm to the child’s E.coli O157:H7 is so strong, and could wind up a big loser. Our legal system holds food producers responsible if their food is shown to cause illness.   Continue reading

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Status symbol front lawns questioned

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Florida governor vetoes bill to help farm workers who are sick from pesticides

From Barry Estabrook on his “Politics of the Plate” blog:

“No wonder Tea Party activists love Florida Governor Rick Scott. To save a pittance on the state’s budget, the new governor, who has a personal net worth of more than $200 million, thanks in part to being president of a healthcare company that perpetrated the biggest medical fraud in United States’ history, vetoed a bill earlier this month that finally would have brought relief to 2,500 poverty-plagued African American farm laborers who, over the course of five decades, were poisoned on a daily basis by a witch’s brew of pesticides.

I met Linda Lee, one of the afflicted workers, last summer when she took me on a “pesticide tour” of the land near Lake Apopka, a few miles northeast of Orlando. Leaning on her cane in the scorching midday June sun, Lee, who is 57, matter-of-factly listed her medical conditions: diabetes, lupus, high blood pressure, emphysema, and arthritis. Her hip had to be replaced and her gall bladder removed. Her kidneys failed, so she had a transplant. She also had two corneal implants. Asked what caused her woes, she didn’t hesitate: As a farm laborer on the shores of Lake Apopka in the 1970s and 1980s, she was routinely exposed to agricultural chemicals as she worked in the fields. “Plenty of my old friends and neighbors got what I got, and a lot of them got stuff I don’t want to get,” she told me. Continue reading

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