Thursday, August 26, 2010

Four Paths to Organic Health


Four Paths to Organic Health

#239, August 26, 2010

Health, Justice and Sustainability News
from the Organic Consumers Association

Edited by Alexis Baden-Mayer and Ronnie Cummins


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Four Paths to Organic Health

1. Eat Organic to Avoid Cancer
A landmark report released earlier this year from the President's Cancer Panel, "Reducing Environmental Cancer Risk, What We Can Do Now," recommends eating organic food as a strategy to reduce cancer risk.
Though the "O" word itself is scarce, the authors referenced organic food in everything but name.
"Exposure to pesticides can be decreased by choosing, to the extent possible, food grown without pesticides or chemical fertilizers  Similarly, exposure to antibiotics, growth hormones, and toxic runoff from livestock feed lots can be minimized by eating free-range meat raised without these medications," the report states.
Food produced without antibiotics, hormones, or toxic agrichemicals is, by definition, organic. Certified organic farms are inspected at least once a year and subject to surprise visits to make sure the harmful chemicals and drugs referred to in the President's Cancer Panel report are not being used.
2. Subsidize Organic - Not GMOs and Junk Food - to Reduce Obesity
Fast-food restaurants charge low prices for "value meals" of hamburgers and french fries because the government provides billions of dollars in subsidies for the genetically engineered corn and soybeans used for animal feed and vegetable oil, says Barry Popkin, a professor of nutrition at the Gillings School of Public Health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
"We have made it more expensive to eat healthy in a very big way," says Dr. Popkin, who has a doctorate in agricultural economics and is the author of a book called The World Is Fat: The Fads, Trends, Policies and Products That Are Fattening the Human Race.
The inflation-adjusted price of a McDonald's quarter-pounder with cheese, for example, fell 5.44 percent from 1990 to 2007, according to an article on the economics of child obesity published in the journal Health Affairs. But the inflation-adjusted price of fruit and vegetables, which are not subject to federal largess, rose 17 percent just from 1997 to 2003, the study said. Cutting agricultural subsidies would have a big impact on people's eating habits, says Dr. Popkin.
3. Truth in Labeling - "Warning: Eat This, You'll Get Fat & Sick"
Full Disclosure of Hidden Dangers
It takes a food chemist to translate the eight-syllable words commonly found on ingredients lists into plain English, but many of the most dangerous substances found in food today are additives, contaminants, or packaging and processing aids that don't get listed on the label, such as Acrylamide, Bisphenol A, and more.
Health Warnings on Junk Food
Leading public health experts around the world are warning that fatty foods should carry official health warnings, similar to those on cigarettes.
The U.K. is instituting front-label nutrition summaries at the insistence of scientists like Professor David Hunter of Durham University who urged:
"The problem of obesity needs to be tackled by strong action from the government. There are many products which contain such high levels of fat and other ingredients that they are contributing to health problems. Rather than banning foods it would be a system of food labeling and working with the food industry to phase these products out. [Removing unhealthy foods from sale] would be in the interests of industry as well. After all, consumers can't keep buying their products if they are unwell or even dead."
- Professor David Hunter, Durham University, Britain
 4. Junk Food Taxes - Scientists & USDA Say Taxes Can Cut Obesity
To pay for the enormous public health damage caused by junk food, OCA supports a heavy tax on junk foods and beverages, similar to taxes already in place for toxic tobacco products.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service found that a 20 percent increase in the price of high-calorie, sweetened beverages, such as soda and sports drinks, could result in a decrease in the daily calorie intake of beverages by 37 calories for an average adult and 43 calories for children. That translates into an average reduction of 3.8 pounds over a year for an adult and 4.5 pounds for a child.
Similarly, research published in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine estimates that an 18 percent tax on pizza and soda could push down U.S. adults' calorie intake enough to lower their average weight by 5 pounds per year. The researchers concluded that taxes could be used to offset and reduce the health care costs of obesity, estimated $147 billion a year.

Support the OCA!

OCA Needs Your Help to Fight Junk Food and Spread the Organic Revolution

Heartfelt thanks to everyone who has donated to OCA over the past few weeks. We've successfully overcome our summer financial crisis and will be back to full staffing by September. But we still need your donations to fight Monsanto and junk food. We still need your help to relocalize and rebuild local food and farming systems and prevent our climate crisis from metastasizing into full blown climate catastrophe. Please send us a tax-deductible donation today and we'll send you a free "Millions Against Monsanto" bumper sticker so you can help spread the word in your community. Please be sure to put "sticker" in the comments field of your donation.
Any donation $100 and over will get a free t-shirt. Please specify your interest and size in the comments field. Help OCA and spread the word about the Millions Against Monsanto Campaign!
Please consider joining OCA staff on one or both of our 5-6-day delegations to the Global Climate Summit in Cancun, Mexico at the end of November or early December. Details follow below.

Alert Update

Join the OCA at the Historic Global Climate Summit and Protests in Cancun

In 1999 and 2003, the OCA helped organize protests and teach-ins against the World Trade Organization in Seattle and Cancun. These mobilizations were the coming of age of the global grassroots. Now you have the opportunity to join OCA Director Ronnie Cummins and other OCA staff on an escorted delegation to the historic teach-ins and rallies for climate justice and organic agriculture at the Global Climate Summit in Cancun, Mexico November 29-Dec. 10.
Over 100,000 concerned citizens from North and South America, Europe, Africa and Asia are expected to converge on Cancun, including leading farm, food, Fair Trade, climate justice, and anti-GE activists. They'll attend a wide range of workshops, forums, and cultural events. Following up on the theme of the World Social Forum, "Another World is Possible," the emphasis in Cancun will be on presenting organic and green solutions to the climate crisis.
The OCA delegation, limited to 100 people, will include international experts on organic agriculture and climate justice, including OCA Directors Ronnie Cummins and Alexis Baden-Mayer, organic farm leader and author, Will Allen, and author and food activist Jill Richardson.
OCA and our sister network in Mexico, Via Organica, will be hosting two tours:
  • 6-Day Tour:  November 29th- December 5th, 2010
  • 5-Day Tour: December 5th-11th, 2010
  • It is also possible to stay for the entire 11 day event from November 29th through December 11th, 2010.
World famous speakers and activists including Vandana Shiva, James Hansen, Bill McKibben, Pat Mooney, and Maude Barlow are expected to make presentations at the Grassroots Summit, which will take place simultaneously with the global negotiations of leaders from every nation in the world. During the week of teach-ins and protests, November 29th to December 10th, the OCA delegation will be housed in comfortable accommodations in the city of Cancun, near Palapas Park, action center of the grassroots summit.
For more information on pricing and housing options and for updates on scheduled speakers, please visit our webpage.

Video of the Week

Transition Cities on Studio 12 Episode

Public TV Host Tamara Banks takes a look at the Transition Cities movement that is working for a way of life that is environmentally friendly, supports the local economy and conserves natural resources.

Little Bytes

With Salmonella Recall Expanding to Half a Billion Eggs, it's Time to Rethink 'Efficiency'
A Global Shift to Renewable Energy: But Will it be Fast Enough?
The Iraq Legacy: Tell It Like It Is
Climate Change Policy Ignores Women Farmers
Wide Range of Diseases Linked to Pesticides


GA - Get Involved Locally

  • Learn more about OCA related action alerts and other news in GA here.
  • Join GA discussion groups in our forum.
  • Post events in GA on our community calendar.

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