While the holiday toast traditionally has been regarded as a symbolic gesture, evidence now indicates that it is much more than that.  In fact, it provides some protection from bacterial infections, such as salmonella and Listeria.  Generally, no winter holiday celebration from Thanksgiving to Christmas is complete without a celebratory toast with guests raising their toasting glasses filled with favorite spirits in salute to the health, wealth and happiness of family and friends.  Little did we know that by doing this, we were adding a degree of protection to our bodies from pathogens ingested at holiday meals that include many spices and a significant amount of poultry, particularly turkey, which is the centerpiece of Thanksgiving dinners.

Poultry Problems
We all are aware of the need to handle poultry very carefully in all phases of preparation, from the processes of thawing to cooking and storing.  However, the problems with turkeys are much deeper than that and actually begin with the manner in which they are farmed.  Industrial turkey farms keep the birds in close quarters, with their upper beaks snipped off, preventing them from eating what they want (natural omnivores).  Additionally, they are fed a steady diet of corn-based grain with antibiotics to accomplish the weight gain needed for sale to the public. Also, turkeys are subjected to large amounts of pesticides to control and inhibit the spread of disease.  By the time the turkey arrives at our dinner tables, they are battle-scarred, weary and subject to disease.  We do our best to control this situation in the preparation of these birds, but sometimes food poisoning does occur and is often mistakened for stomach flu, which typically occurs during the winter seasons.

English: Oven roasted turkey, common fare for ...

English: Oven roasted turkey. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)








Contaminated Spices Taint The Holiday Season

Another problem noted particular during the winter holiday season is contaminated spices.  This is the time of year when rely heavily on spices for special entrees and desserts.  A study recently released by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reveals that 12% of imported spices are contaminated with salmonella, “insect parts, whole insects, rodent hairs and other things.”  The report concludes that the spices generally are imported from countries “like Mexico and India” and that the contamination occurs during the shipping storage phases, rather than during the harvesting phase.

Indian spices

Indian spices (Photo credit: Wikipedia)














Benefits of Alcohol

The benefits of alcohol in moderation are well noted and include reduced risk of heart attacks and strokes, diabetes, arthritis, enlarged prostate, dementia and several major cancers.  The use of alcohol can be traced back to the Stone Age.  It has played an important role in religion and worship, as well as in medicine, largely due to its antiseptic and analgesic purposes.  Alcohol serves well as a social lubricant, and it has been known to increase the pleasure of eating.

While the abuse of alcohol is widely known, so are the benefits.  With the current issues facing the food supply, ranging from food integrity and degradation during transportation and storage, problems arising from factory farming, use of GMOs, contamination and lack of oversight of imported foods, we  must be very careful about what we eat.  The holidays afford us all an opportunity to celebrate life, health and happiness.  A toast with our favorite spirits gives us the opportunity to relax and celebrate, while at the same time possibly reducing our risks of illness from food poisoning.











We here at LGBG wish all of our readers a Happy Thanksgiving and hope that tomorrow you raise your glass in a toast to life, the earth, the environment, family and friends.  To do is to live green, be green!

A Toast To Thanksgiving
May our gratitude lead to action:  May we express our gratitude.  May we smile when we encounter each other on the path, may we seek opportunities to share our talents with others, may we express our love to one another, may we give no expectation of receiving.  May we seek to repair what is broken.  May we end each day counting the day’s blessings, those we have received and those we have bestowed.  May we be a blessing.”  — Rabbi Maralee Gordon

Resources for this article:

[1]  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kristin-wartman/turkey-thanksgiving_b_1088059.html
[2]  http://www2.potsdam.edu/hansondj/AlcoholAndHealth.html#.UpY1ZSiTiPF
[3]  http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/31/health/12-percent-of-us-spice-imports-contaminated-fda-finds.html

A class photo of the 110th United States Senate.

A class photo of the 110th United States Senate. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The recent Senate rejection of an amendment to the Farm Bill, which would permit states to require labeling of GMOs in food and beverages clearly represents a suppression of consumers’ right to vote.  A vote is defined as a “formal expression of a wish or will”.  Therefore, when we purchase food and beverages, our selection is in essence a vote.  The selection of food and beverages should be a willful choice; however, the withholding of information on food and beverage ingredients suppresses the consumers’ right to make informed choices.

During a debate on this amendment, which includes “generous support for crops like corn and soybeans that are often genetically modified“, senators from farm states overwhelmingly opposed the food labeling amendment.  They feel that the issue of labeling should be left to the federal government.  Also, they voiced concern that food labeling would result in increased costs of food.  The supporters of the food labeling amendment state that a major problem with GMOs is that “the modified seeds “are floating from field to field, contaminating pure crops”. [1]

Upon analysis of the motives of the proponents and opponents of this amendment, is understandable that each side is backed by private interest groups, with the giant seed companies pushing against the amendment and the organic food companies lobbying to pass the food labeling amendment.  It is disturbing, however, that the FDA and USDA have adopted the position that “the engineered foods they have approved are safe– so safe, they do not even need to be labeled as such– and cannot be significantly distinguished from conventional
varieties.[1]  This position is a direct attack on consumers’ right to know and its right to “vote” in the marketplace by making informed choices on food and beverage selections.  Clearly, the Senate is overstepping its boundaries.

As consumers, we have to protect our rights, particularly those that involve our very personal choices, i.e., food purchases.  It is amazing that Congress is spending such an inordinate amount of time and effort to ensure that the American public has access to every detail of the Benghazi attack, the IRS‘ attack on the Tea Party or detainment of prisoners at Guantanamo, while working to deny us access to information that affects our health, survival and “right to vote”.  I imagine that most readers would agree that the ingredients in the food that we feed our families trumps the details of the Benghazi attack.

Now more than ever we have to be extremely careful of protecting our voting rights, starting with the election of “public servants“.  We need individuals in Congress who represent us and who trust us to be able to make informed choices, not those who would willfully suppress our right to information.  The green movement needs your voice now.  Let’s fight to protect our right to choose our food based on complete and accurate information on ingredients.  To do so is to live green, be green.


Sources for this article:

[1]  http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/may/23/senate-gm-food-labeling-farm-bill.
[2] http://www.politicususa.com/bernie-sanders-calls-corporate-controlled-senate-rejecting-gmo-labels.html

Seal of the United States Department of Agricu...

Seal of the United States Department of Agriculture (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Over the past few weeks, we have witnessed a media frenzy with repeated disclosures on the commingling of horsemeat with beef in frozen food products distributed in Europe and possibly here in the United States; (3) however, the real discussions on the problems of horsemeat production with the details of trickery, cruelty and greed—  have been noticeably absent.  We have been given the names of some of the perpetrators in these violations of public trust, namely Nestle, Sodexho, Ikea, Burger King and Tesco, but there are many more out there yet to be identified.  It is important to note that to date, U.S. officials state that they doubt that horsemeat has been sold in any beef products in the United States. 

Aside from the deception by not revealing the contents of these food products, the more heinous act here is the introduction of a product into the food system that is not intended to be consumed by humans and, in fact, is deemed unsafe for human consumption.  Horses, after all, are “raised to be companions, competitors or work partners.” (1)  They routinely are administered medications that are toxic to people, including wormers, fly treatments and pain-killers.  All of these products contain chemicals that are prohibited for food ingestion by the U.S. Federal Drug Administration (FDA).  Additionally, many of the drugs routinely given to humans have never been tested.  It appears that this problem of commingling horsemeat with beef is not merely a sleight of hand and harmless trickery of consumers.  Rather, it is a criminal violation to knowingly taint the food supply, and it is done simply for the purpose of financial gain, constituting pure greed with no regard for the health and safety of the consumer.  Simply stated, in the United States, commercially marketed meat is monitored and inspected by the federal government (USDA) and horsemeat is not approved for human consumption.

Another issue here is that of horse slaughterEd Sayres, President of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) notes that there is little demand for horse slaughter in the United States, and horses are trucked to Canada and Mexico for such purposes.  He states, “These trips involve slipping, trampling injuries and death for many horses.  Those who survive then must suffer at the hands of the butcher.”  In other words, this is a very cruel industry.  Inasmuch as many of the horses that go to slaughter are not “aging, unwanted or sickly”, this abhorrent industry is simply making money while ignoring the suffering it causes to the horses and now it presents a threat to the health of humans.

It has been disclosed that the USDA intends to move forward to process pending applications on file for horse slaughter operations in the United States.  We here at LGBG say that this is not who we are as Americans.  We totally oppose this effort and support the ASPCA in its fight to spread the word about this effort which is gaining momentum and which must be stopped.  All eyes should be on Roswell, New Mexico, which is expected to be “ground zero” for this industry.  We urge all of our readers and supporters to unite to fight to ban the horse slaughter industry in America.  Also, please be particularly mindful of the meat products you buy and do not give your money to companies which participate in this practice.  Let’s advocate for a ban on horse slaughter.  To do this is to live green, be green.

Sources for this Article:

1.  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ed-sayres/moving-in-wrong-direction_b_2790418.html
2.  http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-03-01/usda-says-horse-slaughter-plants-may-open-after-ban-lifted-1-.html
3. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/28/business/horse-meat-passes-through-texas-advocacy-groups-say.html?_r=0

Bill Daniels getting chicken feed from the fee...

Bill Daniels getting chicken feed from the feed bags which he must store in one of his three rooms. Panther Red Ash… – NARA – 540999 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The New Year ushered in new legislation in many states, including some “green laws” that we find worthy of comment today.

The state of Maryland enacted a new law that prohibits the use of chicken feed that contains arsenic, a known carcinogen.  This is the first law of its kind in this nation, which bans the use of arsenic-containing additives, specifically roxarsone, in chicken feed.  The bill to prohibit arsenic-containing chemicals in chicken feed was sponsored by Del. Tom Hucker (D-Dist 20) of Silver Spring.   Del. Hucker notes that this new law is “a win for all Marylanders.”  Historically, arsenic-containing additives were added to chicken feed to protect the birds from parasites.  However, this chemical can build up in the birds’ bodies and manure and then can be washed into the Chesapeake Bay.  it is important to note that arsenic has been linked with diabetes, heart disease and cancer.  This win comes with a caveat as the poultry industry expresses concern that roxarsone (previously manufactured by Pfizer and voluntarily suspended in 2011) could be marketed again as a similar product by a different company.  It is important that we watch for any new developments that may occur in response to this new legislation.

A second piece of legislation worthy of mention is New York’s new law that exempts the sale and installation of commercial  solar energy system equipment from state sales use tax.  This law was enacted in response to the state’s commitment to “achieve the goal of 45 percent of New York State’s electricity needs through clean renewable energy and improved energy efficiency by 2015.”  Sen. George Maziarz (R-C, Newfane) Chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Telecommunications, notes that eliminating all state sales tax on solar systems equipment and installations and providing local municipalities the option to do the same should serve to stimulate the economy with increased commercial solar installations and the creation of more jobs to complete the work.  This law definitely should serve as a model for other states to increase the use of clean renewable energy while simultaneously stimulating the job market.


energy (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

Our third selection of legislation to discuss can be found in the state of Iowa, which enacted a new law that allows the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to permit anglers to fish with three poles and a total of six hooks for an additional $12 licensing fee.  This law is aimed to spur ice fishing which is trying to rebound after a poor showing last winter.  Additionally, the Iowa DNR passed a new law that makes licensing more convenient by permitting hunting and fishing on a combined license.  The goal of these laws are to promote more outside activity, which definitely is green.

There are so many things we can do to protect the environment and promote healthy living.  Today we at LGBG salute the states of Maryland, New York and Iowa for the steps they have taken to protect the environment and to help us all live green, be green.

English: Iowa Department of Natural Resources logo

English: Iowa Department of Natural Resources logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sources for this article:




Food and Drug Administration logo

Food and Drug Administration logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As evidenced by the frequent news reports on outbreaks of food-borne illnesses and now hospitalizations and deaths from contaminated medical products, it is apparent that there are major problems within the ranks of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Some policy analysts attribute the FDA’s deficiencies to “the haphazard manner in which it has grown”.  The agency began operations in 1852 with a single chemist working within the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and operated without regulatory duties until 1906 when news stories about horrible conditions at food-processing plants became the rage.  The public uproar from these graphic stories culminated in the passage of the Federal Food and Drug Act.  Future instances of health disasters in 1937 and again in the 1950s and 1960s heightened awareness of the need for the FDA to have greater oversight of the food supply and led to the passage of laws regarding pesticides and food and color additives.  It is important to note that the FDA still shares the responsibility for the nation’s food supply with the USDA, with the latter agency overseeing the safety of meat and poultry, and the former assuming control of the rest of the food supply.

Repeatedly in reports by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the FDA has been noted to have “systemic problems . . . that threaten the health of anyone who consumes food in the U.S.”  These problems include, but are not limited to:

  • An ineffective and confusing inspection process.
  • Poor performance in addressing overuse of antibiotics in livestock feed.
  • Lack of scientific capacity for the agency to do its job.
  • Failure to take enforcement action in more than half of its uncovered violations.

A review of articles and news stories regarding the activities of the FDA reveals that the agency’s inspection and investigation work is severely flawed.  Routine inspections are limited and audits sometimes are performed by third-party auditors who advertise work at an”unbelievable price” and give out “superior ratings”.

One major area of concern with the FDA is oversight of seafood sold in the United States.  More than 84% of our seafood is imported, with 50% of it coming from Asia.  These fish farmers produce large volumes of seafood, including shrimp, catfish and tilapia in polluted and overcrowded ponds and then use antibiotics and fungicides to sterilize the seafood to pass inspection in this country.  Amazingly, the FDA is charged with keeping these very same ‘drug-tainted fish” out of the food supply, but as the GAO reports, the agency is failing to do this and really is not even trying.   In 2009, the FDA tested only one out of every 1000 imported seafood products for 16 different chemicals.  Reports indicate that Canada tested 50 of every 1000 products for more than 40 different chemicals, and Japan tested 110 of every 1000 products for more than 57 chemicals.  In addition to posing a health threat to people who eat seafood, the actions of the FDA threaten the very existence of domestic seafood farmers, who must compete with foreign counterparts, who employ cheap labor and who get away with using chemicals that are banned for use by seafood farmers here.

The failure of the FDA to do its job puts the life of every American at stake.  For those of us trying to live a green life and eat healthy, this news is particularly unsettling.  Every citizen has the right to a safe and healthy food supply.  The federal government is obligated to perform dutifully regarding this.  We must stand together and demand effective oversight of the nation’s food supply so that we can live green, be green.