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Friday, June 26, 2009

Just What Does Organic Mean??

I brought in a basket of lemons from my backyard this week and told everyone they were organic. I haven’t used any fertilizers or pesticides in my backyard for many years. All I do is water the tree. So I figured it was a safe call.

But it got me to thinking about just what does ‘organic’ mean and what can be used to grow ‘organic’ fruits and vegetables or go into products labeled as ‘organic.’

So I did some research and it turns out, there is quite a bit of 'stuff' I’d never consider organic that can go into organic products.

For instance, it turns out that the 2006 agricultural appropriations bill was passed with a rider allowing 38 synthetic ingredients that could be used in organic foods. Among the ingredients are calcium hydroxide, ammonium bicarbonate, magnesium chloride and potassium acid tartrate, just to name a few. I don't know about you, but none of those sound very 'organic' to me.

On top of that it also turns out that to be “Certified Organic” only 95 percent of the ingredients in a given product need to actually be organic. It seems very odd that all those chemicals can be used and then on top of that only 95 percent of the ingredients need to be organic.

This is sort of like the fact that under the law the USDA says that chickens frozen to 26 degrees Fahrenheit can be thawed out and labeled and sold as "fresh." Figure that one out. (For any of you that flunked science freezing occurs at 32 degrees Fahrenheit).

I guess if you want real organic foods with your fresh chicken, you’ll need to grow them yourself. At least I’ve got all the organic lemons I need. Now I just need to figure out a place to put the chickens in the backyard.


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

What's new in the ever-changing world of fast food?
Burger King is promoting a seven-inch burger in Singapore with suggestive ads that urge you to "Fill your desire with something long, juicy and flame-grilled..."
And you thought BK was a family restaurant.
-- Paula

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Resources for finding and evaluating blogs

There are so many blogs out there that sometimes it can be challenging to find out what you should be reading. Below are some specific sites we use to find blogs on particular topics and evaluate their impact. What do you use?
Enter one or more Web sites to get Web site traffic statistics, contact information, keywords, clickstream, demographics and related sites

Site owner tools including edit your site data, site widgets, custom toolbars and Alexa data
Discover and search for blog feeds using Google Reader. Learn how many subscribers a blog has and average number of posts per week. (Log onto your Google account > Google Reader > Browse for Stuff)
Technorati Blog directory using categories or keywords

Top 100 Blogs


Monday, June 15, 2009

Calorie Counts Going Nationwide

With the passage of SB 1420 last fall, California opened the door for national menu labeling. Restaurants, health advocates and lawmakers have finally come through, recently announcing they’ve reached an agreement that will put calorie counts on fast food menus in every single U.S. state. Give yourself a pat on the back California and thank the California Center for Public Health Advocacy for leading the local charge.

Sens. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) penned draft language that will require chain restaurants with 20 or more locations to post calorie counts of all regular menu items and provide stats on fat, saturated fat, carbohydrates, sodium, sugars, dietary fiber and protein in writing. The provision will be part of the health reform bill currently being hammered out on Capitol Hill.

Image from: Community Health Priorities

~ Nicole

Thursday, June 11, 2009

American Academy of Pediatrics Writes a Prescription That Can't be Filled

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) broke new ground in this month’s issue of Pediatrics when it issued its first policy recommendation calling for changes in how cities and communities are designed to address the exploding epidemic of unfit and overweight children. Unfortunately, a collection of health and community professionals point out that existing myths and misperceptions could block communities from filling that prescription.

“While much of the obesity discussion has centered on food, the Academy found that children cannot access safe places where they can be active,” explains Dr. Richard Jackson, a consultant on the AAP policy statement and chair of the UCLA Department of Environment Health Sciences.

“The Academy’s landmark recommendation addresses this reality head-on and encourages physicians and parents to advocate for better access to playgrounds, parks and green spaces.”

With nearly a third of California children overweight and physically inactive, Jackson says it is vital that we aggressively address every factor that contributes to this crisis.

“Opening up public facilities like school grounds so that children have safe places to play after school and on weekends is one smart way to meet the Academy’s recommendations,” says Manal Aboelata of the Oakland-based Prevention Institute.

“Sadly, in too many communities children lack access to parks and playgrounds, and this will only get worse amidst the budget crisis, unless school districts, cities and counties commit to pooling resources for the sake of our kids’ health and well-being. There are some good examples throughout the state, so we know that these partnerships can result in a win-win for communities and families.”
Joint use agreements lay the foundation for partnerships between public agencies, non-profits and community groups to increase physical-activity opportunities in community spaces like school gymnasiums, ball fields and playgrounds.

For leading health organizations meeting at the Childhood Obesity Conference in Los Angeles today, joint use is being heralded as a logical and immediate step to help kids get the physical activity they need. And while the concept is simple – share resources to keep costs down and communities healthy – the practice is limited, especially in low-income communities where the need is highest.

To assist city and school officials in better understanding joint use opportunities, a new Web site has been launched. explores the possibilities, debunks the myths, and offers concrete examples of how communities have successfully opened up public facilities to respond to the needs outlined by the AAP.

For more information visit: