Archive for February, 2014

Natural is not the same as organic

Tuesday, February 18th, 2014

Source: OnlyOrganic.org

It’s what the labels don’t tell you. Many foods labeled as “natural” include substances that are anything but, including toxic pesticides, antibiotics, growth hormones, and genetically engineered ingredients.

Toxic Chemical Pesticides

Many of the foods marketed as “natural” have been grown with help from toxic pesticides. Though designed to combat pests on plants, pesticide residues remain on or in the food we eat. Some of your family’s favorite foods, such as apples, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, and grapes, are covered with toxic pesticide residues.

Health problems, including cancer, infertility, asthma, and birth defects, have been linked to pesticide exposure. Pregnant women, children and the elderly are especially susceptible to the impacts of toxic pesticides.

What’s more, toxic pesticides frequently miss their intended targets. Nearby streams are often contaminated by pesticide runoff — polluting drinking water supplies —  and harming wildlife, such as honeybees.

Antibiotics

Many “natural” meats have been produced with help from antibiotics we depend on to keep our families healthy. In recent years, 80 percent of antibiotics sold in the United States have gone to chickens, pigs, cows, and other animals — regardless of whether the animals are sick. Using antibiotics to promote the growth of animals reduces the effectiveness of these life-saving drugs by making them more resistant to bacteria.

In some cases, farmers use antibiotics to treat sick animals. In most cases, antibiotics are used by feedlot operators trying to prevent infections caused by cramped and unsanitary living conditions. This practice has led to the development of superbugs, antibiotic-resistant bacteria that are hard to treat.

Artificial Hormones

Some farmers use artificial hormones to make their animals grow bigger, faster, and to increase productivity. Despite being banned in other countries, some American meat producers and dairy farmers continue to rely on hormones, which pose numerous health risks. For example, rGBH, a growth hormone engineered to make cows produce more milk, has been linked to colon and breast cancer among adults and early puberty in children. Up to twenty additional artificial hormones are currently used in livestock production.

Genetically Engineered Ingredients 

Many foods labeled as “natural” include ingredients from crops that have been genetically engineered. Genetic engineering is a process that alters a plant’s DNA to make a new organism not found in nature. Crops like corn and soybeans — the building blocks of processed foods — have been genetically engineered to withstand large doses of chemical herbicides and toxic pesticides which pollute our air and water.

Green up your Valentine’s Day

Friday, February 14th, 2014

Follow these green Valentine’s Day tips from Earthshare.org and you’ll benefit more than just your special someone: you’ll be supporting healthy communities and a healthy planet. Now that’s heartwarming.

Give Eco-Friendly Chocolate. Not only does the Rainforest Alliance certify chocolate that’s better for the environment, “shopping the frog” ensures that cocoa farmers have good living and working conditions. Find Rainforest Alliance Certified chocolate (and other products) here. The Arbor Day Foundation also sells a line of shade grown organic chocolates in their online shop.

Send an eCard. Love wildlife? Check out these free Valentine e-cards from Ocean Conservancy, World Wildlife Fund, and Conservation International.

Buy Local Flowers. If flowers are your style, swing by your local farmers’ market for a fresh bouquet of your favorites. It beats buying imported flowers that have often been doused in pesticides. Check out Local Harvest to find a sustainable florist near you.

Find a Date. Single and looking? We have it on good authority that a number of people have found their true love on Sierra Club Outings and public transportation. Visit Grist for some more ideas on where to find your green soul mate.

Ditch Dirty Gold. Did you know that the manufacture of an average gold ring creates more than 20 tons of mining waste? Yikes! Be sure to buy your jewelry from one of the 90 retailers who have committed to ending destructive gold mining through Earthworks. Then sign the pledge yourself.

Love Your Honey (Bees). Bees are in trouble. In the U.S., they’ve been dying off at alarming rates which spells trouble not just for honey, but for our whole food supply. Download this toolkit from Beyond Pesticides and Pesticide Action Network to help protect bees from harmful pesticides.

Let Nature Inspire Your Valentines. Remember how much fun Valentine’s Day was as a kid? For some special V-day kid’s craft projects, check out these nature-inspired ideas from National Wildlife Federation.

Love Your Local Bank. Every Valentine’s Day, Green America encourages people to break up with their mega-bank and shift their money to the community by opening accounts with small banks and credit unions. Click here for tips.

Rethink Generosity. The Acumen Fund is rebranding Valentine’s Day as “Generosity Day”. On February 14, people are encouraged to practice simple acts of kindness. Click here for “Random Acts of Kindness” ideas.

Share the Love. With EarthShare’s One Gift option you can make a donation to our environmental charities on behalf of your special someone. We’ll send them a note letting them know about your gift, complete with your personal message.

Source: Earthshare.org