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Antibiotics In Your Food: What You Need to Know

May 31, 2011 •  no comments.

 •  Blog, News

Written by Laurie David, producer, author, mother

I worry. A lot. My worry gene works overtime. A doctor once told me it’s called an “overactive checker” (or as I like to think of it, my OC). As far as afflictions go, it’s not terrible. OC’s are good to have around. They see danger from miles away. They pay close attention.

Motherhood can be particularly tough on OC’s. We know too well that there’s no such thing as “out of sight out of mind.” But over the years I have come to terms with my checker, and now consider it a trusted friend. It was my checker that helped me raise my kids with a minimum of cuts and scratches, rear three dogs from eight-week-old puppies, and eventually opened my eyes to the looming dangers of global warming. It’s the same trusted checker that is screaming, “Wake up! Wake up!” on the issue of antibiotic resistance.

Here is what I know for sure. We are dishing out 80 percent of our antibiotics on the animals we eat. Much of those antibiotics are used to make the animals grow faster, not to treat them for infections. Many critics of antibiotic-hungry factory farms claim producers are also using them to compensate for the truly disgusting living conditions in which most animals are raised, so bad that the industry is trying to maketaking pictures of it illegal!

The industrial Ag business is free to use our antibiotics to make healthy animals grow faster, for what? To cut costs? Increase production? This is the meat we buy in grocery stores, and order from the drive-through window at fast food joints. Yup, that’s one reason why many of those chicken fingers and burgers our kids love for lunch and dinner are so deceptively cheap these days. But is it worth losing our antibiotics for?

Without having debated it or voted on it, or decided as a nation, we are giving away our chances to save one of most precious medicines man has ever developed for human use. Medicines we know we are going to need for our children, our elderly parents, our loved ones.

While widespread misuse of antibiotics in human medicine plays no small role in the problem, scientists fear that the misuse of antibiotics in poultry and livestock production is a major contributor to our global antibiotic resistance dilemma. Drug resistant bacterial infections among people can lead to higher medical costs, and in the worst cases, death. You would be shocked by the number of annual deaths from diseases that have become highly resistant to antibiotics. In fact, the World Health Organization just announcedthat we’re quickly heading towards a post-antibiotic era, in which “many common infections will no longer have a cure and, once again, kill unabated.”

Let’s see what we’re talking about:

  • Every year in the U.S., there are 90,000 cases of invasive staph that are highly resistant to our best antibiotics, and can be life-threatening.
  • Around the world, about 440,000 new cases of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis emerge annually. As a result, 150,000 people die each year.
  • More than 80% of the E. coli found in meat products is resistant to one or more antibiotics used for treatment.
  • The bacteria that cause certain types of pneumonia and meningitis are rapidly becoming resistant to standard antibiotics.

All of this means that infections are becoming increasingly harder and more expensive to treat, and in some cases, no treatment even exists.

How ironic that our pediatricians and doctors have hammered into our brains that ‘You must finish all ten days of this antibiotic or it won’t be effective the next time!’ Moms diligently follow that rule, without any idea that the effectiveness of these drugs is being undermined every single day.

We have to stop this. Researchers have known for half a century that bacteria develop resistance to antibiotics over time. The more antibiotics are used, the quicker bacteria become resistant. That is why the FDA, the USDA, the American Medical Association, the Infectious Diseases Society of America, the American Public Health Association, the CDC and many others have all publicly criticized the overuse of antibiotics in livestock.

This is seriously scary stuff. These past months have been a terrifying reminder that we have to be prepared for disasters here at home. Safety kits have been checked, extra water and food stored, and iodine pills have flown off the shelves across America. But we know that real preparation comes in the form of foresight, planning, and preserving our assets, including the effectiveness of our doctors and medicines.

Even without a natural disaster descending upon us in America, the ability of our doctors to treat health epidemics is being seriously undermined, setting us up for another kind of disaster — a health catastrophe.

And still, with everything we do know, with all the reports in, research done, warnings cited, very little is being done to stop it. That’s where worrying moms come in.

Moms, do you remember being given a choice, whether or not you prefer saving our best medicines, our antibiotics, in case a loved one comes down with a terrible illness, or pneumonia? Or do you prefer to continue to hand over our precious medicines to factory farms so that we can continue our supersized addiction to meat.

I don’t remember being given a choice. Do you? Talk about it tonight at dinner. See what the family thinks. Then let’s do something about it.

About the author: Laurie David is a mother, producer and author of The Family Dinner: Great Ways to Connect with Your Kids, One Meal at a Time. You can learn more about her work at www.lauriedavid.com

Courage to Continue

May 28, 2011 •  no comments.

 •  Blog, News

A friend recently posted ten Winston Churchill quotes for “lovers and entrepreneurs.” But as I read through them, I thought, “These are for mothers and others….those working to make the world a better place for our children, too. These are for fathers and grandfathers who served our country, protecting our freedom….”

The words are inspiring and reminders that anything worth having is worth fighting for and that freedom sometimes requires sacrifice at the highest levels.

So as we honor those who have fought for freedom this Memorial Day weekend, remembering those that have served our country in countless ways, here is to those that continue to serve on the front lines working to restore the health of our children…at home, at school and in our communities.

1. “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”

2. “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”

3. “If you are going through hell, keep going.”

4. “Play for more than you can afford to lose and you will learn the game.”

5. “Continuous effort – not strength or intelligence – is the key to unlocking our potential.”

6. “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”

7. “Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.”

8. “Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.”

9. “Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.”

10. “Never, never, never give up.”

“The Stuff that Makes Lettuce Taste Better”

May 25, 2011 •  2 comments.

 •  Blog, Getting Started, News, Recipes

One of the kids came home from school yesterday with a handout from the “Garden to Table” program, a project designed to encourage children to learn how to grow their own food.

As my son handed the sheet over, he said, “Mom, this is the stuff that makes lettuce taste better.”

And as I looked down, there on the page was a recipe for salad dressing.

So as a tribute to all of the moms out there who have kids that are loathe to try anything new, especially veggies, I thought I’d highlight the recipe that my son brought home.

Disclosure: he is Chief Picky Officer (CPO), and this recipe has been CPO-approved.

Recipe for Strawberry Salad Dressing

Prep:

Enlist the help of your kids
Turn on your favorite music
Grab the following:

  • 1 Lemon – juiced
  • 1 Orange – juiced
  • 1 Tablespoon of honey
  • 5 Strawberries chopped or pureed
  • 1 Tablespoon Red Wine Vinegar
  • 10 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • Chopped garlic and shallots are optional

Using a blender or a bowl and a whisk, combine all of the ingredients.

Enjoy over your favorite salad…with your kids and their friends, as the recipe serves twelve!

Written by Robyn O’Brien

Protect Your Dream

May 22, 2011 •  no comments.

 •  Blog, News

Written by Robyn O’Brien

In the movie The Pursuit of Happy-ness, there was a line that Will Smith delivered that struck me when I first heard it.

“Don’t ever let somebody tell you… ‘You can’t do something’. Not even me. You got a dream… You gotta protect it. People can’t do something themselves, they want to tell you you can’t do it. If you want something, go get it. Period.”

So when a friend highlighted that particular line on Facebook, it reminded me of just how important it is to have friends in your corner, cheering you on, in the face of the inevitable challenges that we confront in managing the health of our families.

Remember that each and every single one of us has the ability to affect remarkable change. And when you leverage your unique talents with something that you are passionate about, together, our collective attributes and skill sets can make the impossible possible as we work together to restore the health of our children.

Food Toxin Found in the Blood of Pregnant Moms

May 20, 2011 •  4 comments.

 •  Blog, News

Written by Robyn O’Brien

New research from Canada has found a food toxin that is produced in insect resistant crops developed in the United States in the blood of pregnant women, their unborn babies and the general population.

It is the first study to show that these toxins, which are produced in genetically modified crops widely used in the United States and patented by the agrichemical industry, have not only survived the digestive tract but also passed the placental barrier and entered the bloodstream of unborn babies.

Pesticides used on crops that have been genetically engineered to withstand increasing doses of herbicides and weed killers were also found in the bloodstreams of these women.

The food toxin found is used in a strain of corn that is widely used in the United States as livestock feed and has been genetically modified to produce an insecticidal protein. This corn has received cultivation approval by the European Union but has not been widely adopted outside of the United States and is currently banned in France, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Luxemburg and Greece. Because of the toxin that this corn contains, the corn is now regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency as an insecticide.

This is the first study to dispute the claim by industry that no genetically engineered protein survives intact in the intestinal tract or can enter the blood stream might given that this study detected this food toxin, known as Cry1Ab toxin in the bloodstream of not only pregnant women but also their unborn babies.

The research was conducted by a team of scientists at Sherbrooke University Hospital in Quebec and has been accepted for publication in the peer reviewed journal Reproductive Toxicology. The team took blood samples from 30 pregnant women prior to delivery, 30 samples from umbilical cords immediately after birth and samples from 39 non-pregnant women who were undergoing treatment. All the women were of a similar age and body mass index, and none worked with pesticides or lived with anyone who did.

Traces of the toxin were found in 93 per cent of the pregnant mothers and in 80 per cent of the umbilical cords. The research suggested the chemicals were entering the body through eating meat, milk and eggs from farm livestock which have been fed this genetically modified corn.

The findings appear to contradict the GM industry’s long-standing claim that any potentially harmful chemicals added to crops would pass safely through the body, according to an article in the UK Telegraph.

“To date, most of the global research which has been used to demonstrate the safety of genetically modified crops has been funded by the industry itself” states the article.

The findings add to concerns about the toxicity and potential allergenicty of these genetically engineered proteins expressed by many scientists and reinforce the importance of exercising precaution when it comes to protecting the health of the pregnant mothers and their babies.

To avoid these genetically modified proteins and toxins in your family’s diet, you can look for food labeled “USDA Organic” as by law, these foods are not allowed to contain these insecticidal proteins or genetically engineered organisms. You can also look for products labeled “Non-GMO”. To learn more, please visit GMO Awareness or The Non_GMO Project.

Sources and Notes

Aziz A. and Leblanc S., 2010, Reproductive Toxicology, accepted 13 February 2011.

Seralini G-E., Mesnage R. Clair E., Greese S., Spiroux de Vendômois J.ann Cellier D., 2010. Environmental Sciences Europe 2011, 23:10, see www.enveurope.com/content/23/1/10.

Benachour N and Séralini G-E, 2009. Glyphosate Formulations Induce Apoptosis and Necrosis in Human Umbilical, Embryonic, and Placental Cells, Chemical Research in Toxicology Vol22 No1 pp 97-105 available from http://pubs.acs.org/doi/pdf/10.1021/tx800218n.