Food & Nutrition

USDA Report: Bee Populations FINALLY Rising After Years of Decline

by Mike Barrett – Honeybee populations may be starting to rebound. The decline in bee populations and the many threats bees face have been well-publicized. Scientists have been frantically hunting for solutions to the problem. Without bees, we lose much of our food. Without food, well …we don’t want that. Thankfully, there is a bit of good news on the conservation front: honeybee populations are finally on the rise.  A report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released August 1, 2017 shows that as of April, 2017, an estimated 2.89 million bee colonies existed across the U.S. – an increase of 3% from 2016. Beekeepers started to notice several years ago that fewer and fewer honeybee colonies were surviving the winter. On average, 28.7% of hives survived the winter months. But during the 2014-2015 winter, that number dropped 23.1% and hovered there. Source: Vox 2015 Beekeeper Survey: “We’ve Lost Almost Half Our Bee Colonies...

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Scary Dairy: You Scream, I Scream… Monsanto Roundup Ice Cream

by Jessica Corbett – Traces of “probable human carcinogen” found in samples from ten Ben & Jerry’s flavors. Ten out of 11 samples of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream tested positive for glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, the nonprofit Organic Consumers Association revealed on Tuesday. Although the amount of glyphosate detected was below the safety limit set by the Environmental Protection Agency, as well as stricter European regulators, the discovery stands out from a slew of other food producers with Roundup-ridden products—from honey and baby food to Cheerios and Ritz Crackers—in part because of the ice cream maker’s branding. Ben & Jerry’s stated mission is to produce “the finest quality all natural ice cream…with a continued commitment to incorporating wholesome, natural ingredients, and promoting business practices that respect the Earth and the environment.” OCA’s international director Ronnie Cummins accused the company of “rampant greenwashing,” writing Tuesday: The proliferation of $90 billion worth of fraudulently labeled or advertised...

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Prince Charles is Opening a ‘Holistic’ Clinic Where Patients Can Receive Care for Free

by Amanda Froelich – The Health & Wellbeing Centre will offer complementary medicine to patients for free. Prince Charles is giving back in a big way. According to the Daily Mail, Charles is creating a state-of-the-art clinic which will offer free ‘holistic’ care to patients who are referred by NHS doctors. Individuals battling everything from diabetes to cancer to obesity will be welcomed at the clinic, which is backed by the NHS and local authorities from the Health and Wellbeing Centre. The holistic health care center will be built on the grounds of Dumfries House, described as a “stately” home in Ayrshire. Through the Prince’s Charities Foundation, Dumfries House was “rescued” by Charles in 2007 when it was put on the market for £45 million by the 7th Marquess of Bute. His intention was to save it for the nation. In addition to offering complementary therapies, the center will offer fitness and education programs. At present, it is unknown...

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Reverse Robin Hood; Republicans Want To Cancel Food Stamps, Let Poor Starve, Literally

by ursulafaw – “The Bible says that ‘God helps them who help themselves,'” Mike Pence said to a Huffington Post reporter in September. When the reporter replied that the expression was not in the Bible, Pence quipped, “It’s in the Republican Bible.” This exchange was satire but Pence’s recent comment on “personal responsibility” with regard to health issues was real and the furor over government subsidized grocery assistance for the poor is a recurring controversy. This week SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) is once again the go-to doormat of the budgetary process, as it always is renewal-year in, renewal-year out. Food stamps is an emotional issue, like abortion and gun control and so just like those other two topics, vast amounts of mis-information and even dis-information exists and the program is always on the chopping block, despite the fact that in reality it is a tiny portion of the agriculture budget...

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Involuntary Manslaughter Charges for Top State Health Official for Role in Flint Water Crisis

by Andrea Germanos – Advocacy group says new charges boost call for governor to resign. Michigan’s attorney general announced Wednesday that the head of the state’s health department and four others have been charged with involuntary manslaughter for their role in the years-long Flint water crisis. Nick Lyon, director of Michigan Health and Human Services, “failed in his responsibilities to protect the health and safety of the citizens of Flint,” state AG Bill Schuette said at a press conference Wednesday. A press statement from Schuette’s office alleges that Lyon waited a year before alerting the public about the outbreak of Legionnaires’ Disease as a result of the crisis, an act that led to the death of 85-year-old Robert Skidmore. He also thwarted an independent researcher from investigating the cause of the outbreak, the statement says. Lyon was also charged with misconduct in office. The others now slapped with involuntary manslaughter charges are former Flint Emergency Manager Darnell...

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Top 10 Brain Damage Causing Habits

by Amelia Kinney – Brain damage is often a result of unnecessary stress and exposure to air pollutants. You might reconsider the consequence of these seemingly innocuous habits when you learn how they can inhibit neurological function and cause the brain to age. 1. Understimulation Remember, for the most part, your comfort zone isn’t doing you any favours. Break away from your normal routine and explore, write, create and travel. Try new things that stimulate the senses. Learning new skills keeps your brain young, and should be a priority at every age. 2. Skipping Breakfast Not eating breakfast can lead to lower blood sugar levels, which ultimately deprives your brain of nutrients. If your brain isn’t given sufficient nutrition, it begins to degenerate. Eat a healthy, filling breakfast high in protein. 3. Smoking Smoking cigarettes can cause obstruction of blood flow to the brain, and also can lead to escape of...

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Days After Administration Promised not to Touch Food Stamps, Trump Budget Reportedly Will Cut Them

by Alan Pyke – Expect big cuts to SNAP, WIC, and food bank subsidies systems. “As far as I’m concerned we have no proposed changes” to the food stamps program, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue told congressmen last Wednesday. “You don’t try to fix things that aren’t broken.” Perdue’s comments, delivering during a Wednesday House Agriculture Committee hearing, seemed to signal that President Donald Trump would not seek to shrink America’s efforts to help low-income families feed themselves. Yet just five days later, a leaked budget document seems to show the White House is going back on Perdue’s commitment — contemplating some combination of policy changes and outright budget cuts for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, also known as food stamps) and other key food supports for the poor. The leaked spreadsheet lists proposed budget requests for thousands of different government line items, without any of the accompanying policy information that would...

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Michelle Obama Offers Great Question To Ask Trump: ‘What Is Wrong With You?’ (VIDEO)

by Jon Queally – After seeing one of her signature efforts go backwards under new Republican administration, former First Lady wants to know, ‘Why don’t you want our kids to have good food at school?’ With her focus on nutritious foods and making sure access to them was expanded to all children in the nation during her time in the White House, former first lady Michelle Obama is asking some serious questions now that President Donald Trump has moved to go backwards on efforts designed to promote healthier school lunches and reduce childhood obesity. Just months after former president Barack Obama left office, as Common Dreams reported earlier this month, the Trump administration issued orders that weakened standards set by the “Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act,” which Ms. Obama championed and her husband signed into law in 2010. The Obama-era statute repealed by Trump had set guidelines and added funding that would...

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USDA Rolls Back School Lunch Guidelines Championed by Michelle Obama

by Lauren McCauley – The nutrition rules were long abhorred by industry groups who now have a friend in the White House. In one of his first orders of business, President Donald Trump’s newly confirmed Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue took steps to weaken school lunch standards championed by former First Lady Michelle Obama. In an interim final rule, announced by Perdue while he visited an elementary school in the Washington, D.C. suburb of Leesburg, Virginia on Monday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is rolling back nutrition rules that were part of Obama’s Let’s Move campaign that was abhorred by food industry groups. Specifically, Perdue is postponing a regulation that would have required schools to lower the sodium content in lunches. The order has also eliminated requirements that schools serve 100 percent whole-grain rich products, and another that forbade sugary, flavored, one percent milk. As The Hill explains: “Sodium levels in...

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100 Days of Deconstruction: Part 3

by STEVEN HARPER – Across the federal government, Trump is determining the country’s fate. The first 100 days of deconstruction set the stage for 1,360 that will follow. Trump promised to be a transformational leader. It wasn’t an idle threat. He has assembled an unprecedented governmental wrecking crew. This is the third installment on Trump’s a unique combination of kleptocracy and kakistocracy that is reshaping America in ways that most of voters won’t like. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson Don’t let the symbolic American missile strike on a Syrian airfield, dropping the “Mother of All Bombs” on tunnels in Afghanistan or threats directed at North Korea distract from a central fact: Trump is Putin’s President. Former ExxonMobil Chairman and CEO Rex Tillerson is a player in the resulting saga. After Trump announced his choice for secretary of state, former Russian Energy Minister Vladimir Milov said that Tillerson was a “gift for...

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Key Report: Hundreds of Native Bee Species Buzzing Toward Extinction

by JULIE FIDLER – One species is already presumed to be extinct. The Center for Biological Diversity has published a first-of-its-kind comprehensive review of more than 4,000 native bee species in North America. The report indicates that more than half the species with sufficient data are declining. Nearly 1 in 4 is racing towards extinction due to increased pesticide and other factors. Of the 1,437 species with sufficient data, the nonprofit found that 749 were declining. An additional 347 (24%) of the species are imperiled and at risk of extinction. The center presumes that the species lacking sufficient data are presumed to be at risk of extinction as well. The author of the report, Kelsey Kopec, said in a statement: “It’s a quiet but staggering crisis unfolding right under our noses that illuminates the unacceptably high cost of our careless addiction to pesticides and monoculture farming.” All of the bee...

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An Orgy of Unnecessary Cruelty

by Robert Reich – The theme that unites all of Trump’s initiatives so far is their unnecessary cruelty. 1. His new budget comes down especially hard on the poor – imposing unprecedented cuts in low-income housing, job training, food assistance, legal services, help to distressed rural communities, nutrition for new mothers and their infants, funds to keep poor families warm, even “meals on wheels.” These cuts come at a time when more American families are in poverty than ever before, including 1 in 5 children. Why is Trump doing this? To pay for the biggest hike in military spending since the 1980s. Yet the U.S. already spends more on its military than the next 7 biggest military budgets put together. 2. His plan to repeal and “replace” the Affordable Care Act will cause 14 million Americans to lose their health insurance next year, and 24 million by 2026. Why is Trump doing...

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East Chicago’s Pleas for Clean Drinking Water Go Unanswered as Trump Moves to Weaken EPA

by Mike Ludwig, Truthout | Report – Environmental justice is on the chopping block at the Environmental Protection Agency, and that doesn’t bode well for communities like East Chicago, Indiana, where the agency recently discovered that drinking water is contaminated with lead. Nearly three weeks ago, a number of East Chicago churches and community groups petitioned the EPA to take emergency action and protect the majority-Black community from lead poisoning, which can cause a long list of health problems, especially in children. As of Tuesday, the local leaders and their environmentalist allies had yet to hear back from the agency. The EPA’s inaction in East Chicago comes as Trump’s administration considers massive budget cuts that could crush the agency’s environmental justice program, which is supposed to ensure the fair treatment of low-income communities, Native communities and people of color under environmental law. The agency’s environmental justice office is slated...

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Trump, Ryan Budgets will Kill More Americans Per Year than all Muslim Extremist Attacks Combined

by Hunter – Meals on Wheels. How far do you have to get down the scale of ideological depravity before your pen lands on Meals on Wheels as the thing you need to get rid of to buy those last two more Tomahawk cruise missiles that will finally make America a super-duper-dominant world power again. That’s only one part of the Trump budget that directly targets the poorest Americans, of course. It also cuts home heating assistance, so those same seniors will have a chance to freeze to death before starving. It takes an axe to EPA efforts to clean up pollution, which will have a disproportionate effect on the air and water of those neighborhoods surrounding those worst polluters. While that will likely result in an uptick in everything from childhood asthma to cancer, the Trump budget also slashes medical research funding in an apparent effort to ensure nobody does...

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“Morally Obscene” Trump Budget Proposal Stands to Make America Cruel Again

by Deirdre Fulton – Environment, public education, worker protections, and cultural institutions all stand to lose under Trump’s “cruel” budget blueprint.   Meals on Wheels. Amtrak. Teacher training, after-school, and summer educational programs. The National Endowment for the Arts. The Appalachian Regional Commission. The National Institutes of Health (NIH). The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). All these initiatives and agencies—plus many more—face cuts or wholesale elimination under President Donald Trump’s proposed “skinny budget,” officially unveiled Thursday. Meanwhile, the blueprint calls for increases in military spending, border and immigration enforcement, and money for charter and private schools. The Washington Post has a comprehensive breakdown, with graphics, here. The document was variously denounced as “an all-out assault on our planet;” “dirty and dangerous;” “cruel;” and “unacceptable.” “President Trump’s budget is morally obscene and bad economic policy,” declared Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). “It will cause devastating pain to the very people Trump promised to help...

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‘Dangerous’ and ‘Dumb’: Trump Signs Executive Order Torching Regulations

by Andrea Germanos – “It will fundamentally change our government’s role from one of protecting the public to protecting corporate profits” President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Monday that aims to slash regulations—an action, advocacy groups say, that puts lives at risk. The order—the latest of a flurry since he took office—states that “for every one new regulation issued, at least two prior regulations be identified for elimination,” fulfilling a campaign promise he made. “For fiscal year 2017, which is in progress, the heads of all agencies are directed that the total incremental cost of all new regulations, including repealed regulations, to be finalized this year shall be no greater than zero,” it adds. Trump said before signing the order: “We’ll be reducing big league,” adding “This will be the biggest such act our country has ever seen.” Advocacy groups were quick to decry the executive order as...

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Media Blackout at Multiple Federal Agencies

by Lauren McCauley – Moves come amid growing concern that Trump and his appointees will suppress scientific innovation and research to advance their own ideological agenda. Though the majority of President Donald Trump’s controversial cabinet nominations have not yet been confirmed, his so-called “beachhead” teams have arrived at their respective agencies, carrying out orders that make clear that the “War on Science” has begun. On Tuesday, BuzzFeed broke the news that scientists at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) are no longer allowed to share information about taxpayer-funded research with the public. In an email sent Monday and obtained by the news outlet, Sharon Drumm, chief of staff for the USDA’s primary in-house research arm, the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), told the department: “Starting immediately and until further notice, ARS will not release any public-facing documents…This includes, but is not limited to, news releases, photos, fact sheets, news feeds, and social...

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Oxfam: Ten Multinational Corporations Control Most Food Brands

by Dave Johnson – Take a look at Oxfam’s report, “Behind the Brands: Food justice and the ‘Big 10’ food and beverage companies.” A Food System In Crisis The Behind the Brands report explains, “For more than 100 years, the world’s most powerful food and beverage companies have relied on cheap land and labor to produce inexpensive products and huge profits. But these profits have often come at the cost of the environment and local communities around the world, and have contributed to a food system in crisis.” Explaining the campaign, the report says, “Oxfam’s campaign focuses on 10 of the world’s most powerful food and beverage companies – Associated British Foods (ABF), Coca-Cola, Danone, General Mills, Kellogg, Mars, Mondelez International (previously Kraft Foods), Nestlé, PepsiCo and Unilever – and aims to increase the transparency and accountability of the ‘Big 10’ throughout the food supply chain.” “Big Ten” Infographic The report...

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House Republicans Seek Destruction Of School Lunch Program

by Stephen D Foster Jr – The National School Lunch program that provides healthy free or reduced meals for children in need has joined Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare as yet another program Republicans want to gut in 2017. Not only do Republicans want to take Social Security away from the American people and take away healthcare for adults and children alike, they apparently also want to let children starve at school, too. For years, both parties supported the school lunch program, but Republicans have becomes so greedy and heartless that they are breaking that spirit of cooperation in order to ruthlessly take food out of the mouths of the children who need it most. The program currently costs $12.7 billion, which is a drop in the bucket considering Donald Trump just called for expanding America’s nuclear weapons stockpile, which will cost way more than a school lunch. Clearly, Trump nor...

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What’s on Your table? How America’s Diet has Changed Over the Decades

by DREW DESILVER – Americans eat more chicken and less beef than they used to. They drink less milk – especially whole milk – and eat less ice cream, but they consume way more cheese. Their diets include less sugar than in prior decades but a lot more corn-derived sweeteners. And while the average American eats the equivalent of 1.2 gallons of yogurt a year, he or she also consumes 36 pounds of cooking oils – more than three times as much as in the early 1970s. Americans’ eating habits, in short, are all over the place, at least according to our analysis of U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) data. Which is about what you’d expect, judging from the results of Pew Research Center’s recent survey on food and nutrition attitudes. In that survey, 54% of Americans said people in the U.S. pay more attention to eating healthy foods today compared with 20...

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