Most Vitamins Are From China. This is Why You Should Care

10 February, 2014 at 15:29 | Posted in Body & Mind, China, Food, health | Leave a comment

By Michelle Yu
Epoch Times

If you are taking vitamins, there is a good chance that they were imported from China.

An aging population and growing focus on health in the United States has fueled the growth of a $28 billion vitamin and nutritional supplement market, and it is expected to continue to grow at about 3 percent a year.

Over half of American adults are popping vitamins and supplements. They may not be aware they are eating products made in China, or made using raw materials from China.

China has captured over 90 percent of the Vitamin C market in the United States, according to the Seattle Times. Think about how many labels advertise added Vitamin C. Vitamin C goes into many food and drink products—almost all processed food for humans as well as pets contains Vitamin C.

The consumer has no way of knowing the added vitamin C comes from China, because there is no rule requiring labeling the country of origin for ingredients.

This may raise quite a few eyebrows as Chinese food safety scandals make headlines every day.

Here are five facts any consumer of vitamins should know.

1. Only 2 percent of all imported vitamins and other supplements are inspected. Why? Vitamins and supplements are classified as “food” by law and therefore not subject to the tough regulatory scrutiny of prescription drugs.

2. China’s top vitamin and supplement production areas are among the most polluted in the country (and thus in the world).

Vitamins and nutritional supplements usually use agricultural products as key raw materials. The top vitamin exporting province, Zhejiang, has an alarming level of soil pollution from heavy metal. As matter of fact, one-sixth of China’s farmlands are heavily polluted.

For example, rice planted in several key agricultural provinces was reported to contain excessive Cadmium, a metal commonly found in batteries, coloring, and the industrial waste from making plastic. It may cause serious kidney disease.

Irrigation water is a nightmare: Half of the country’s major water bodies are polluted, as are 86 percent of city water bodies. Pollution is largely caused by the country’s numerous factories, which rarely have equipment for treating pollution. Seventy to 80 percent of the country’s industrial waste is directly emitted into rivers.

3. Even those labeled as “organic” are not safe, since USDA organic standards place no limit on levels of heavy metal contamination for certified organic foods.

4. Approximately 6,300 Americans nationwide complained about adverse reactions to dietary supplements between 2008 and 2012, according to FDA statistics. But the actual number may be more than eight times higher, some experts say, because most people don’t believe health products can make them sick. While not all such problems would be caused by pollution in China, that pollution may have played a role.

5. Worst of all, China-made vitamins are everywhere, and even those who do not consume vitamins and supplements can hardly escape. Many vitamins end up as ingredients in items like soft drinks, food, animal feed, and even cosmetics.

via Most Vitamins Are From China. This is Why You Should Care

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My Potato Project; The Importance of “Organic”

14 January, 2014 at 10:23 | Posted in Body & Mind, Environmental issues, Food, health, sustainable development | Leave a comment

20 Foods That Detoxify

29 October, 2013 at 16:35 | Posted in Body & Mind, Food, health | Leave a comment

By China Gaze

In China, food was traditionally considered to have medicinal qualities. Here are 20 foods that help the body detoxify. When preparation calls for juice, you can use a juicer if you have one or blend the ingredients with a little water in a good blender.

Sweet Potatoes
With their digestible fiber, sweet potatoes can facilitate bowel movement. The best way to eat them is baked and unpeeled.

Green Beans
Green beans can eliminate toxins, induce diuresis, and quench thirst. Green-bean soup can also help reduce swelling. Do not cook beans too long; otherwise, nutrients will be destroyed and the effects will be diminished.

Oats
Oats can relax the bowels, stimulate bowel movement, and detoxify the body. It is good to steam oats and then blend to make a thin drink. You can also add other ingredients to the mixture, such as an apple or raisins, which are also nutritious and promote elimination.

Barley
Barley is great for detoxification and as beauty aid. It can improve blood circulation, induce diuresis, and reduce swelling caused by edema. You can boil barley and eat it cooked. For a natural way to whiten your skin, boil barley, add a bit of sugar, and apply it externally.

Lotus Root
A well-known ingredient in Chinese cooking, lotus root can purify the blood and act as a diuretic. Lotus root can be served hot or cold. You can juice it and add a bit of honey or you can heat it on low heat and then add a bit of sweetener and drink it while it is still warm.

Millet
Since it doesn’t contain gluten, millet doesn’t irritate the intestinal tract. It is mild and easy to digest, which makes it suitable to eat with other detoxifying foods. Millet gruel is very good for detoxification and inducing diuresis.

Brown Rice

Whole, unmilled rice is rich in fiber. It can absorb water and fat and give you a feeling of fullness. It can also stabilize the digestive system. A good way to keep yourself detoxified is to have a bowl of brown-rice porridge every morning.

Red Beans
These beans can stimulate bowel movement, help with constipation, and induce diuresis. You can put red beans to stew in an electric cooker or crockpot before going to bed and then drink the liquid the next morning to promote detoxification.

Carrots
Carrots help treat constipation and are also rich in beta carotene, which can neutralize toxins. Fresh carrots are better at clearing away toxins, soothing the intestines, and relaxing the bowels. You can juice them and add honey and lemon juice, which is thirst-quenching and good for detoxification.

Chinese Yams
These yams can rectify the digestive system, reduce subcutaneous fat, and help your immune system. They work best when served raw. You can cut a peeled Chinese yam into small pieces and combine with pineapple and water in a blender or juice them. This is good for promoting digestion and regulating the intestines.

Burdock
Native to Europe and Northern Asia, the burdock plant has small purple flowers and large, fuzzy leaves that are whitish underneath. Burdock can improve blood circulation and metabolism and regulate bowel function.

The fiber can soften excrement, which is good for detoxification and treating constipation. You can make burdock tea and drink it any time. Burdock is safe to use over a long period of time.

Asparagus
Asparagus contains various nutrients, including asparagine and potassium, which can induce diuresis to discharge excess water in the body. The tips of asparagus are rich in vitamin A. It’s good to leave the tips a bit on top of the water when cooking to maximally preserve nutrients.

Onions
Onions can stimulate bowel movement and promote digestion. They are rich in sulfur which, when combined with protein, is especially good for the liver, resulting in good detoxification.

Make a pot of onion-based vegetable soup and add some high-fiber vegetables like broccoli, carrots, and celery. The soup can break down accumulated toxins and help with elimination.

Radishes
Radishes are very good for inducing diuresis. The fiber they contain can also relax the bowels and help with weight loss. They are good for detoxification when served raw. You can also juice or pickle them.

Chrysanthemum
Chrysanthemum is rich in vitamin A, which protects the liver and helps to discharge toxins from the body. You can make a tea by boiling chrysanthemum flowers and adding a little sweetener. It is also good in a juice made with tomato, carrot, grapefruit, apple, and mixed nuts.

Sweet Potato Leaves
Sweet potato leaves give a feeling of fullness. They can also stimulate bowel movement and prevent constipation. Wash fresh sweet potato leaves and cook them in boiling water. When fully cooked, stir with chopped garlic and add a bit of salt and oil.

Radish Leaves
These leaves contain vitamins and fiber that can stimulate the appetite and help with constipation. Clean and drip-dry the radish leaves. Then juice them and add a bit of honey. Regular intake is good for detoxification and health maintenance.

Sichuan Aescin
Sichuan aescin is an extract from horse chestnuts that can reduce blood sugar and treat habitual constipation. You can mix Sichuan aescin with tomato, alfalfa sprouts, yellow pepper, kiwi, mixed nuts, and a bit of passion fruit juice or apple cider vinegar. Blend and enjoy as a drink.

Yogurt
Yogurt has lactic acid, which may help with constipation and stabilize the stomach. It can also help discharge toxins accumulated in the intestinal tract. Yogurt can also give you a feeling of fullness. It is good to eat yogurt before breakfast when the stomach is empty.

Vinegar
Vinegar is good for metabolism and discharges acidic materials from the body. It can also induce diuresis and relax the bowels. Drink some diluted vinegar after breakfast and dinner every day.

China Gaze is the English edition of the popular Chinese website and newspaper Kanzhongguo, which offers a window into the philosophy, culture, and beauty of China’s 5,000-year-old civilization. www.chinagaze.com

via 20 Foods That Detoxify » The Epoch Times

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TomTato Unveiled: A Combined Potato and Tomato Plant

27 October, 2013 at 07:17 | Posted in Food, Funny things :-) | Leave a comment

By Zachary Stieber
Epoch Times

The TomTato from Thompson & Morgan combines a potato and tomato plant into one plant.

The specially grafted plant is “a horticultural breakthrough,” according to the company.

“The tomatoes are sugary yet tangy with a brix of 10.2, and below ground this plant produces delicious, versatile potatoes – ideal for boiling, mashing, roasting, baking or for making chips,” it says in a description on its YouTube video about the product.

Above the ground, up to 500 cherry tomatoes can be grown with the plant. In addition, white potatoes are grown underneath the plant.

“From one single plant you can now harvest tomatoes and potatoes,” says the company.

via TomTato Unveiled: A Combined Potato and Tomato Plant

GMOs, A Global Debate: South Africa, Top GMO-Producer in Africa

22 October, 2013 at 12:46 | Posted in Body & Mind, Food, health, Science, Society | Leave a comment

Pest adaptation to GMOs a global problem

By Zachary Stieber
Epoch Times

South Africa’s government is increasingly opening the door to genetically modified organisms GMOs—along with the issues that arise as GMOs sweepingly change the country’s agriculture industry.

Many African nations are wary of welcoming GMOs. South Africa, however, is now the world’s eighth-largest GMO producer, with 2.9 million hectares (4.9 million acres) of GM maize, soybeans, and cotton grown in 2012.

One of the major problems South Africa has encountered is the increasing resistance of pests to the GM crops. A misuse of the technology is to blame, say some researchers.

Pest Resistance and Biotech Misuse

Pests have been a big problem in South Africa for decades, and GM crops, when first introduced, were seen by many as a new and much-needed solution to the problem.

Despite the higher cost of GM seeds, adoption by many farmers was quick, steady, and widespread.

RELATED: GMOs in South Africa: Facts at a Glance

The first GM crops, yellow maize hybrids from Monsanto, were introduced in 1997. By 2009, 98 percent of cotton, 85 percent of soybean, and 73 percent of maize grown in the country was GM.

During the mass transition, however, some regulations and controls were overlooked, and the result has been a resistance developed by pests to the toxins produced by GM plants. The plants are genetically engineered to kill pests.

Refuge areas are supposed to be created, in which a certain number of pests are allowed to live so that they don’t develop a resistance. Johnnie Van den Berg of the School of Environmental Sciences and Development at North-West University worked with researchers to survey 105 commercial farmers. Most farmers did not follow refuge requirements.

Because of this critical mistake, the pest targeted by GM maize—stem borers—developed widespread resistance to the crops.

“This study shows irresponsible management of GM crop technology by farmers, chemical, and seed companies,” the researchers said in the 2010 report.

Farmers had mixed views of the growing stem borer resistance. In Christiana, one of the six areas surveyed, farmers were highly aware of the resistance, and only 34 percent said they would plant Bt maize in the future.

In the other five areas, the high majority (70 to 100 percent) said they would plant Bt maize in the future, though at least 45 percent in each area said the growing resistance to stem borer may prevent them from doing so sometime in the future.

At the same time, the majority of farmers expressed an overall positive attitude toward Bt maize, associating it with increased productivity and convenient management.

Is GM Food Necessary in South Africa?

Professor Van den Berg wrote in an email to Epoch Times that there are many benefits to GM crops, including farmers saving money by spending less on fertilizer and other inputs, as well as getting higher yields. However, the resistance pests have developed against both Bt cotton and maize in some areas of South Africa means “the value of GM technology” has been lost in these areas, he said.

“The main message that we send out to industry and the farming community is that stewardship of GM technology is very important and that GM technology should not be used as a silver bullet approach but as part of integrated pest and weed management strategies,” he said. Private companies, such as Monsanto, that develop GM technologies will determine the future of GM crops in South Africa, he said.

The growing pest resistance is part of a worldwide phenomenon.

In an analysis of 77 studies conducted in eight countries, a team of U.S. and French scientists found that nearly half of major pest species had become resistant to Bt cotton or corn plants, including the one in South Africa.

“Either take more stringent measures to delay resistance, such as requiring larger refuges, or this pest will probably evolve resistance quickly,” said Bruce Tabashnik, a professor at the University of Arizona and lead author of the study published in the journal Nature Biotechnology.

On the other hand, the development of resistance in pests is inevitable even with conventional pesticides, said Karl Kunert, a professor at the Plant Science Department of the Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute at the University of Pretoria.

While “resistance will ultimately occur” with all pesticides, including those produced by GMOs, proper application of GM technology “has delayed such development of resistance, which certainly speaks for the technology,” he wrote in an email.

He said South Africa does not yet have the expertise needed to deal with GM crops, but the crops could have benefits beyond producing more food, such as providing economic opportunities and health benefits in less developed areas.

“A simple example is engineered cotton with a better fiber quality,” he said. It “addresses the need for better nutrition, which cannot be easily addressed by simply supplementing food in Africa.”

Thus, the question of whether it’s necessary for GM crops to be grown there “is rather a question of benefit and demand by both farmers and consumers.”

GMO watchdog Biowatch South Africa has a different perspective.

Rose Williams, Biowatch’s director, wrote in an email to the Epoch Times that GM crops are not necessary. They undermine food sovereignty for the country, she said.

Williams cited four reasons GM crops aren’t necessary.

First, the seeds are patented, meaning the farmers have to buy seeds every year instead of re-using them. Second, the relative danger of GM crops contaminating non-GM crops is high. Third, the lack of bio-diversity in the mono-crop industrial model that GMOs are a part of. And lastly, the chemicals used in GMO production, which “poison the land” and “are not part of healthy and culturally appropriate food.”

A Negative Cycle

Mariam Mayet, an environmental lawyer who represents Biowatch South Africa, spoke to the increased pesticide and herbicide use.

The growing pest resistance has forced Monsanto, one of the largest GM crop and pesticide producers, to sell farmers more chemicals to control the epidemic, she said. Monsanto has completely abandoned the maize variety it was using and has introduced another variety.

“This, too, will result in insect evolution, necessitating more pesticide use, and so the treadmill will continue,” she said via email.

Mayet also takes issue with the common statements that GM crops decrease pesticide use, lead to greater yields, and are less susceptible to pests and drought.

In the United States, for instance, the introduction of GM crops resulted in a net increase of pesticide use, Mayet said, citing research by the Organic Center. From 1996 to 2009, pesticide application increased by 144,000 tons. In Brazil, pesticide sales increased by 72 percent from 2006 to 2012.

“We appear to be aping these trends here in South Africa,” she said. “Over half of our GM maize is now herbicide-tolerant and domestic glyphosate [a type of herbicide] use has rocketed accordingly, from 12 million liters [3 million gallons] in 2006, to 20 million liters [5 gallons] at present. In addition, between 2007 and 2011 glyphosate imports increased by 177 percent.

“This is particularly disturbing in the case of South Africa, as it is clear that our food safety authorities do not have the capacity to adequately monitor pesticide residue levels in our food.”

The Government Stance, Regulations

The country’s Department of Environmental Affairs website outlines the potential benefits of GM crops, including higher yields, and lower herbicide use. However, the department also outlines the main concerns, including potential risks to human and animal health.

GM crops are vetted by several agencies before being approved for commercial production. Notably, a type of locally developed GM potato was rejected in 2009, though 49 varieties of canola, cotton, maize, rice, and soybeans have been approved in the country.

Also, grain imports from the United States are not allowed in South Africa unless an accompanying permit certifies the grain is milled and can’t be planted in the country. Corn from the United States is not allowed in at all.

Officials say they want to make sure GMOs don’t completely take over local strains.

Illustrative of the mindsets of many elected officials who spoke at a 2006 parliamentary debate on a GMO bill amendment, then-Member of Parliament Dr. Ruth Rabinowitz said: “even though South Africa could not afford not to develop biotechnology, it could also not afford not to develop organic farming or indigenous plant [cultivation].”

“Both these two fields were being sacrificed to develop biotechnology,” she said.

A bill currently on the table could close a loophole in the the current GMO labeling law, mandating all food with more than 0.9 percent genetically modified ingredients be labeled.

The Department of Science and Technology’s manifesto on biotechnology states that GM crops are safe because any approved in South Africa have been “subject to extensive testing and regulations.” At the same time, it says, “There are groups who believe the effects of GMOs will only be determined after many, many years of consumption, and until this time, we should proceed with caution.”

It does not appear that any studies on the health effects of GM food have been conducted in the country, though researchers have looked at multiple other aspects.

South African scientists are developing unique GM varieties not found anywhere else. This could cause trouble, however, in exporting to countries that forbid non-approved GM strains, according to a 2010 Council of Scientific and Industrial Research study titled “GMOs in Africa: Opportunities and Challenges in South Africa.”

Several problems persist in the country, including limited funding for agricultural biotechnology research and a shortage of trained biodiversity experts, which means only one GM crop (MON810) out of the 129 in the country is being monitored.

Though the production of GM crops is kept separate from non-GM crops, a 2011 South African National Biodiversity Institute study showed a flow of genes from the GM Bt maize to non-GM maize. As most farmers now grow GM maize, and cross pollination does occur despite efforts to separate the crops, it is difficult to find non-GM maize in the country.

Knowledge of GMOs and Labeling

A study of 7,000 adults aged 16 and older across the country found that eight out of ten South Africans have no knowledge about biotechnology. The 2005 study by the Public Understanding of Biotechnology found that 63 percent of respondents didn’t know whether they had ever eaten food containing genetically modified ingredients.

Also in 2005, researchers from the GMO Testing Facility at the University of the Free State reported on the lack of a system to verify claims made on labels. They found 71 percent of products in South African stores labeled “non-GM,” “GMO free,” “organic,” contained genetically modified ingredients.

The Epoch Times is exploring the issue of genetic modification, especially as it pertains to food products, with a series titled “GMOs, A Global Debate.” Each article in this series focuses on the role and reception of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in a different country. See all articles tagged GMOs and Biotech here

via GMOs, A Global Debate: South Africa, Top GMO-Producer in Africa

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Preparing Ourselves for Autumn

26 September, 2013 at 16:24 | Posted in Body & Mind, Chinese culture, Food | Leave a comment
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By Tysan Lerner

In China, it was traditionally believed that our bodies are small worlds containing all the elements and energies found in the world around us and fully interconnected with our environment.

According to traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), the different parts of our bodies, just like the earth around us, are made up of the energies of the five elements—metal, wood, water, fire, and earth.

Each organ system is connected with specific elements as well as certain emotions, a color, flavors, and other energetic characteristics. The four seasons and the hours of the day also correspond to different elements.

Because of this, our bodies’ needs change as our environments changes. To maintain harmony in our lives, we need different things when the sun rises and when it sets, and different things during winter, spring, summer, and fall.

Most of us have experienced taking a walk outside during the transition from one season to the next. We smell the difference; we feel the difference.

In autumn, as the days get shorter and the weather cooler, we are reminded that winter is around the corner, and we must prepare for it. Traditionally, we would be stocking up on fuel and food, unpacking our warm-weather clothing, and preparing for the period of winter stillness.

You may have noticed feeling a little sad these days, mourning the end of summer fun. You may notice your hair and skin feeling a little dry, just like the leaves and plants which are also less lustrous as they transition into autumn dryness. You may feel more vulnerable to getting chilled as you feel the rising autumn winds swirling about and cooling the summer air.

If you walk outside in shorts and a T-shirt at the beginning of autumn, break a sweat that opens your pores, and don’t get covered soon, the “autumn wind” can easily enter your system, making you more vulnerable to colds and chills.

To protect yourself from illness during this season, it is time to start preparing your body for the cooler months ahead.

Autumn Eating

The easiest and most practical way to prevent colds, depression, and colon issues such as constipation during the transition into autumn is to eat the foods that are local and in season.

The earth, in its mysterious wisdom, produces foods that warm us during the cold months, just as it produces foods that cool us during the warm months.

Aligning ourselves with the five elements means connecting our choices to the ruling element of the season. Autumn is governed by the metal element, which, when in balance, allows us to be more organized, focused, and productive.

Therefore, how we cook and what we eat should give us the energy to thrive in the cooler season.

Autumn is a time when we want to gradually move away from raw, cooling foods such as smoothies, salads, popsicles, and watermelon and into warming soups. Since it is not winter yet, you can still balance your meals with foods that are light and mucous-reducing, such as shitake mushrooms, white button mushrooms, daikon or red radish, bok choy, and cabbage.

Slow-cooked dishes such as congee (Asian-style rice soup) with some pickled vegetables, miso soup, and bean soups such as chickpea or aduki bean soup with squash are all great autumn meal choices. The preferred meat choice is pork, which, as a white meat, relates to the metal element.

It will also help to include foods that are sour in flavor because these energetically help us pull our thoughts together and ground us. Some suggestions are sauerkraut, pickles, olives, lemons and limes, vinegar, plums, grapefruit, and even tart yogurt and sour dough bread (if you can handle gluten and dairy).

Emotional Cleansing

Autumn relates to grief. If we grieve too much, we can strain our lungs and colon. We must allow ourselves to process grief and let it go. We can release our emotions as we do our breath when we exhale fully.

Pick up your mood by exercising more, breathing deeply every day and at different times throughout the day, and spending quality time with friends or on activities that take you out of sadder emotions and into joy.

Dryness

Just as the leaves on the trees start to dry up and shed, so does our skin and body. If you notice feeling thirstier lately or have dry skin and hair, it may be a reaction to the seasonal change; however, if thirst and dryness are severe or persist, there may be something out of balance in your diet, fitness, or internal health.

Foods that create more moisture in the body are tofu, tempeh, spinach, barley, millet, oysters, crabs, mussels, herring, pork, pesto made with pine nuts, eggs, almond butter, and seaweed. Avoid foods that are too bitter or aromatic.

Activity

For a healthy colon and strong lungs, it is important that you stay active and eat enough fiber. Avoid overeating, eating processed foods, and smoking.

Be sure to stay warm if you exercise outside. You don’t want to “catch wind” as the ancients used to say, referring to the fact that when you sweat, your pores open up and become gateways for pathogens to enter the body, especially during the cooler, windier autumn months. To avoid the flu and yearly colds, dress appropriately.

Tysan Lerner is a certified health coach and personal trainer. She helps women attain their body and beauty goals without starving themselves or spending hours at the gym. Her website is www.lavendermamas.com.

via Preparing Ourselves for Autumn » The Epoch Times

China’s Biggest Juice Companies Are Found Using Rotten Fruit

26 September, 2013 at 09:45 | Posted in Body & Mind, China, Environmental issues, Food, Society | 1 Comment
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By Lu Chen
Epoch Times

The three largest fruit juice makers in China have been found to purchase vast quantities of rotting and putrid fruits for use in their beverages, according to investigations published in the Chinese press recently.

A fruit seller speaking from his tricycle in Xuzhou of Jiangsu Province was frank with a reporter who stopped by to ask him what he had planned to do with the rotten fruits he had.

“Those fruit can’t be sold to people for eating,” the fruit seller, giving his surname as Wang. “They are for the juice companies.” He pointed to Andre Juice, a large company, across the street. “I can probably get enough fruit by tomorrow and take them to the company,” he remarked to the reporter from the 21st Century Business Herald, a large newspaper in China.

“The closer to the fruit seller’s tricycle, the worse the fruit smelled,” the reporter wrote, describing the scene. “Liquid drips down from the tricycle. Flies are everywhere.”

Along with Andre Juice in Jiangsu, other companies to be found using corrupted fruit sources included China Huiyuan Juice and China Haisheng Juice, in Anhui Province and elsewhere. The companies are typically located near China’s large fruit production areas.

Local farmers have developed a hierarchy for the fruit they sell: the good fruit goes to the public, lower quality fruit goes to canned fruit manufacturers, and the worst of it, including rotting fruit, goes to juice companies.

Mr. Chen, the owner of a fruit market in Dangshan County, in the central Anhui Province, told the reporter that he delivers an average of 20 to 30 tons of “blind fruit” to juice company plants nearby every day. Sometimes he moves more than 60 tons. “Blind fruit” refers to rotten or damaged fruit.

Chen says he spends 400 yuan ($65.35) to purchase a ton of “blind fruit” from fruit farmers, and offloads it to juice companies for 450 yuan ($73.52).

The juice companies Huiyuan and Andre told the Chinese media that their fruit had no problems, but after the reports emerged the Anhui Provincial Food and Drug Administration suspended production, pending rectification of the problems, according to the state mouthpiece Xinhua.

The companies’ stocks, listed in Hong Kong, tumbled up to 5 percent on Sept. 23, the day after the reports emerged.

Huiyuan Juice had a domestic market share of nearly 50 percent in 2012. According to Haisheng Juice’s website, 95 percent of its products are for export, including to North America. Its concentrated apple juice exports are 20 percent of the global amount traded.

via China’s Biggest Juice Companies Are Found Using Rotten Fruit » The Epoch Times

Antibiotics are Proven Ineffective for Coughs; Try Chinese Medicine and Herbs Instead

21 September, 2013 at 17:35 | Posted in Body & Mind, Chinese culture, Food | Leave a comment
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By D.J. Heyes
http://www.Naturalnews.com

As more research is done regarding so-called “non-traditional” healthcare, doctors and scientists are rediscovering “old” treatments that are increasingly supplanting today’s standard treatments for a number of conditions.

That includes coughs that often accompany the flu or mild chest infections, according to a recently published study in the journal Lancet.

About 2,000 patients from across 12 European countries were tasked with keeping an “illness journal,” the BBC reports. Researchers from the University of Southampton, led by Prof. Paul Little, found that the severity and duration of symptoms in those who were treated with antibiotics were no different than those who took a placebo (experts did say; however, that if pneumonia was suspected, patients should still be treated with antibiotics because of the severity of the condition).

Antibiotic effectiveness has been reduced because of over-prescribing

“Using the antibiotic amoxicillin to treat respiratory infections in patients not suspected of having pneumonia is not likely to help and could be harmful,” Little said.

“Overuse of antibiotics, dominated by primary care prescribing, particularly when they are ineffective, can lead to the development of resistance and have side effects like diarrhea, rash and vomiting,” Little continued. “Our results show that people get better on their own. But given that a small number of patients will benefit from antibiotics the challenge remains to identify these individuals.”

Earlier research into whether antibiotics were actually beneficial in the treatment of chest infections that included symptoms of weakness, high fever, shortness of breath, fatigue and coughing, produced conflicting conclusions, especially in older adults where chest infections have the potential of causing additional complications.

Researchers randomly assigned and divided patients into two groups – one that received an antibiotic for their cough and one that received a placebo – three times daily for seven days.

The study found little measurable difference in the severity and duration of symptoms that were reported from each patient group. Similar findings occurred in older patients as well – those who were aged 60 or older, a demographic that accounted for one-third of the entire study population.

Additionally, those who took antibiotics reported having more side effects, including nausea, rash and diarrhea, compared to those taking the placebo.

The study is particularly important, given the growing human resistance to antibiotics being seen all around the globe.

Fortunately, there are alternatives to treating mild forms of chest infections and cough, and it’s a treatment that has been around for centuries.

“Traditional Chinese medicine is especially effective in the treatment of coughs because of its careful differentiation of the various types,” write Bill Schoenbart and Ellen Shefi for Discovery Health.

For instance, they note, coughs due to heat produce a sticky phlegm that’s difficult to expectorate, so it is treated with cooling, moistening herbs and acupuncture directed at specific points on the body which clear heat from the lungs.

By comparison, “cough due to cold is accompanied by chills and copious mucus; it is treated with warming, drying herbs and the application of moxibustion,” a traditional Chinese medicine therapy using moxa, or mugwort herb, they wrote.

Here are two more treatment options for cough:

– Treating a dryness cough caused by wind: Usually contracted due to overexposure to a dry environment, symptoms are a dry, non-productive cough accompanied by a sore throat with a ticklish sensation. The focus is to repel the dryness; a typical formula includes Sang Xing Tang (pronounced sahng shing tahng), which helps moisten the lungs and repel the “dryness pernicious influence,” Schoenbart and Shefi said. The treatment should be accompanied by a diet of soups and plenty of liquids, and follow-up treatment should include American ginseng daily for two weeks.

– General acupuncture therapy: Acupuncture therapy in general is an ideal way to treat coughs from a number of causes. “Needling a point on the Conception Vessel meridian (an extra meridian) just above the sternum can quickly calm a cough and assist breathing. Moxa therapy is used typically in the cold, damp type of cough, since there is a need for warmth in that pattern,” Schoenbart and Shefi wrote.

Most Americans tend to use over-the-counter elixirs to treat coughs, but many of them prove ineffective. Chinese therapies can help.

Originally published by http://www.naturalnews.com and republished with permission.  

Learn more: http://www.naturalnews.com/038582_antibiotics_Chinese_medicine_coughs.html#ixzz2egLf7cRL

via Antibiotics are Proven Ineffective for Coughs; Try Chinese Medicine and Herbs Instead » The Epoch Times

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5 Worst American Food Additives

20 September, 2013 at 16:27 | Posted in Body & Mind, Environmental issues, Food, sustainable development | Leave a comment
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By Paul Darin
Epoch Times

Scientific debates continue to rage over these food additives. Many claim they pose no threat while others cite evidence to the contrary. Here’s a list of America’s five most controversial food additives.

1. Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)

MSG is a flavor enhancing food additive found in snack foods, Chinese takeout, ramen noodles, and a variety of other foods. It’s been controversial since the 1960s when people complained about headaches, chest pain, sweating, and a variety of other symptoms from eating it. According to Yale Scientific Magazine, no negative effects have been found. But, it does appear that a minority of the population does experience some of these symptoms from ingesting MSG. Ancient Romans, Greeks, Byzantines, and Chinese used MSG.

2. High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)

Made from genetically modified corn, this sugar substitute is found in nearly every soft drink and many candies in America. The artificially produced sugar does not exist in nature and is 20 to 70 percent cheaper than sugar. Like sugar, it doubles as a food preservative. However HFCS, according to the Global Healing Center, has a high risk of leading to hypertension, Type 2 diabetes, liver damage, and mercury exposure. The center also cited a Princeton University study that found that mice that ate HFCS gained fat 300 percent faster than those who ate fruit sugar.

3. Trans Fats

A polyunsaturated fat that does occur in nature is artificially produced on the commercial scale for snack foods like baked goods and chips. Controversy abounded during the fat-free craze during the 1980s and 1990s when this fat was used in reduced-fat foods.

In the body, trans fat acts much the same way as saturated fat does and can be even worse than saturated fats including lowering good cholesterol and raising bad cholesterol. More controversy arose when the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allowed the labeling of zero trans fats on food packaging when the product contained less than half a gram per serving, according to NBC.

To avoid trans fats, avoid products that list partially hydrogenated vegetable oil in the ingredients.

4. Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)

According to Fox News, GMO crops have been on the market since 1995 and include corn, soy, cotton, and canola, which are called the “big four.”

Additionally, Fox cited research about GMO consumption done on different animals, which found intestine, lung, kidney, and liver problems, and inflammation of the colon. Anti-GMO lobbyists have consistently fought a losing battle in the United States to get GMOs labeled on food packaging. The EU requires labeling for GMOs.

5. Aspartame

Found in most diet sodas and chewing gum, this sugar substitute and artificial sweetener inspired backlash as a toxic chemical hastily approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Aspartame was an accidental discovery when in 1966 a scientist licked his fingers after touching the chemical by accident after it spilled out of a flask, according to the FDA.

The controversy is about its approval by the FDA despite its toxic effects. According to a letter written to the FDA by the Aspartame Toxicity Information Center, the chemical has several negative side effects:

In the 1970s tests on infant primates consuming aspartame in milk resulted in five out of seven experiencing grand mal seizures.

Another test concluded that the chemical caused brain damage in lab mice. In the FDA’s defense, the letter said some of these effects were purposefully kept from the FDA until after its approval.

via 5 Worst American Food Additives » The Epoch Times

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Not Even Good Enough for Dog Food: Imported Food From China Loaded With Chemicals, Dyes, Pesticides and Fake Ingredients

17 September, 2013 at 07:28 | Posted in Body & Mind, China, Environmental issues, Food, Society, sustainable development | Leave a comment
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….

By Mike Adams
Naturalnews.com

NaturalNews – Do you really know what’s in all the food you’re eating that’s imported from China? If you don’t, you’re actually in good company: The FDA only inspects 1% – 2% of all the food imported from China, so they don’t know either. Even when they inspect a shipment, they rarely test it for heavy metals, pesticides, PCBs or other toxic contaminants.

Mark A. Kastel, Senior Farm Policy Analyst at The Cornucopia Institute, added emphasis to this point as he testified this week in The House Committee on Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia and Emerging Threats, saying, “We don’t trust, for good reason, the Chinese to supply ingredients for our dog and cat food. Why should we trust Chinese exporters for the food that we are feeding our children and families?”

It’s a good question. Especially when, as Kastel adds, Chinese food is being routinely found to contain “unapproved chemicals, dyes, pesticides and outright fraud (fake food).”

Heavily contaminated food from China

As Natural News has already reported, food from China is frequently found to contain alarming levels of heavy metals (arsenic, cadmium, lead, mercury) and other contaminants. Politically, China is a communist dictatorship where freedom of speech is completely outlawed. Environmental regulations are virtually never enforced. The culture is one of total deception where lying, cheating, stealing or committing fraud to get ahead is considered completely acceptable — because that’s how government is operated there. The moral decay of China is directly reflected in the alarming dishonesty of the food supply. (Yes, a country’s food exports will reflect its cultural and political philosophies. Freedom produces healthy food. Oppression and communism produces deceptive, deadly food.)

And yet, even with all this being widely known, Chinese farms are rarely inspected by organic certifiers. “U.S. certifiers are unable to independently inspect farms and assure compliance to the USDA organic food and agriculture standards that are required for export to the U.S.” explained Kastel in testimony. “These imports should not be allowed to reach our shore until and unless we have a system in place to assure consumers they are getting what they pay for. Just like U.S. grown organic commodities, the safety of these products must be rigorously overseen by independent inspectors.”

Read Kastel’s full testimony here.

Counterfeit ingredients are the new norm in China

Also testifying at the hearing was Patty Lovera, the Assistant Director of Washington, D.C.-based Food & Water Watch. The news on food fraud out of China “is a steady stream of controversies ranging from adulteration with counterfeit ingredients like melamine in dairy products, to widespread outbreaks of animal diseases like avian flu, and high levels of pesticide residues,” Lovera testified. “Just last week, news reports described a Chinese government campaign to break up a fake meat operation, leading to arrests of more than 900 people accused of passing off more than $1 million of rat meat as mutton.”

See Natural News coverage of the fake rat meat scandal here.

You are eating far more food from China than you think

Why does any of this matter? Because you’re eating far more food from China than you probably think.

Not only do retailers like Whole Foods sell “certified organic” food grown in China, the vast majority of superfood powders sold in North America use raw materials purchased in bulk from China. Nutritional supplements, herbs and vitamins are often made using materials from China.

Not everything from China is bad, but in our own lab tests here at Natural News, we’ve been shocked to discover just how frequently products from China are contaminated with metals, chemical solvents and pesticide residues. We have rejected dozens of suppliers in our own search for clean ingredients to use in our product formulations, and we’ve even had to send back product that showed up at our warehouse and simply didn’t meet our stringent quality control requirements. (True fact: We recently had to return several thousand pounds of goji berries to one supplier after discovering the product failed our quality control review.)

But here’s the even scarier part in all this:

I am repeatedly told I’m the ONLY person asking these questions

When I talk to suppliers of raw materials, I am repeatedly told that I am the only person asking them for heavy metals tests, pesticide tests and product samples to send to our own lab.

This happens over and over again. From this, I have learned there is virtually NO due diligence being conducted by natural products retailers. Most retailers simply buy and sell, shipping boxes and moving product while turning a blind eye to the truth about what they are buying and selling. They literally do not care whether their products are contaminated with heavy metals. They just want to sell, sell, sell!

Even more shockingly — and I seem to be the only journalist reporting this jaw-dropping fact — there are currently NO LIMITS set by the USDA for contamination of certified organic foods. A product may be USDA organic and still contain deadly levels of mercury, arsenic or lead. The USDA does not test or even regulate heavy metals in foods via its organic certified program!

So you can be shopping at a famous natural products retailer and you might pick up a product carrying the USDA Certified Organic logo, thinking, “This is certified healthy and safe by the U.S. government.” You are being lied to. That product could be grown in China in a field of mercury runoff from an industrial factory. It could contain ridiculously high levels of mercury, arsenic, PCBs and even chemical solvents. You could be eating pure death while paying a premium for it!

This is not an attack on the USDA, by the way. Their organic certification program is surprisingly good for the scope of what it attempts to accomplish. But understand that USDA organic certifies a process, not a result. At the farm level, it means foods are not intentionally grown with pesticides and herbicides, but it does not say anything whatsoever about heavy metals contamination of food production fields in China.

Massive organic food FRAUD

In truth, what’s really happening right now on a global scale is a massive organic food fraud. Food is grown in China and certified organic even though no U.S. inspectors even visit the farms. That food is then imported into the U.S. and almost never inspected. It’s packaged and sold at top dollar in natural foods retail stores, emblazoned with the USDA Organic label.

But nowhere along the way — except in extremely rare cases — is that food ever tested for heavy metals or other contaminants. This is why Mark Kastel correctly states this food can’t even be trusted “for dog food,” much less to feed yourself and your family.

Make no mistake about it: China is a nation full of immoral, unethical liars and deceivers. (Taiwan, on the other hand, is very different and has a much stronger moral code as well as basic human decency.) Remember: I speak Mandarin Chinese. I’ve lived in the Chinese culture. I’ve traveled throughout Asia and even given numerous public speeches to Chinese audiences. At the same time, I’ve investigated and written about food and food safety for more than a decade. Very few people are as qualified to tell you the truth about what’s really in your food coming out of China, and I can tell you that I don’t trust it.

In fact, the only way I will eat anything from China is if I subject it to extensive testing and verify that contamination levels are acceptably low. There are some great products out of China that are completely safe and healthy. Certain medicinal mushrooms, for example, are produced in China and are very clean. Some producers of goji berries are very honest and clean. There are no doubt organic growers who are producing very clean products in China, but these would be the exception, not the rule. By default, we must all now assume that anything from China is heavily contaminated.

Almost universally, food grown in North America is cleaner and less contaminated. This isn’t true 100% of the time, but usually so.

Toxic Chinese agriculture puts honest U.S. farmers out of business

The sad part about all this is that food from China is economically displacing U.S. and Canadian farmers who are generally far more honest and ethical in their farming practices. So while U.S. farmers are being put out of business for following the rules set by the EPA, FDA and USDA, the Chinese farmers are selling us contaminated, toxic “organic” food frauds produced by breaking all the rules!

That’s why I say grow local, buy local and eat local as much as possible. And until China cleans up its act on food contamination, do your best to avoid food from China. I don’t trust it unless EVERY BATCH is comprehensively lab tested and those lab tests are made public.

Props to Cornucopia’s Mark Kastel for having the courage to lay a lot of this out in congressional testimony. Rest assured Congress will never ask me to testify on food contamination because I would describe a truth so horrifying that people would stop eating for days…

P.S. The reason all your dogs and cats are dying from diabetes and cancer these days is because you’re giving them highly toxic pet treats imported from China. They are loaded with toxic solvents and industrial chemicals that cause permanent liver and kidney damage, among other devastating side effects. You can find these toxic, colorful pet treats sold at all the major pet store retailers. They are selling you PET DEATH and making a tidy profit doing so.

Originally published by http://www.naturalnews.com

Learn more: http://www.naturalnews.com/040266_food_fraud_china_heavy_metals_contamination.html#ixzz2egbiWg

via Not Even Good Enough for Dog Food: Imported Food From China Loaded With Chemicals, Dyes, Pesticides and Fake Ingredients » The Epoch Times

Natural vanilla flavors? Well, That’s Often a Beaver’s Gland…

15 September, 2013 at 15:09 | Posted in Food, thoughts of the day | Leave a comment
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I didn’t know this. And many more with me don’t, I guess. In fact I find it disgusting to eat this. I thought I ate natural vanilla and raspberry flavors.

I wonder how the food industry get hold of the glands, are they keeping the beavers in captivity? Are they killed for just the sake of the glands?

Here you can read more about it… Castoreum: Love raspberry or vanilla flavoring? Chances you may have eaten castoreum, which is a gland that beavers use, along with urine, to mark their territory. This gland is very popular as it is used in perfumes as well as in some food flavorings. It qualifies as a “natural” ingredient in all-natural foods.

New World Chocolate, With a Conscience

14 September, 2013 at 07:35 | Posted in Body & Mind, Environmental issues, Food, Nature, Society, sustainable development | Leave a comment
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By Channaly Philipp
Epoch Times

Biodynamic chocolate business lets nature rule, and the results are world-class

The cacao farmer felt he had no choice. He called Santiago Peralta, the man who normally bought his cacao, and offered to sell him his land so he could move to the city.

Peralta asked, “What are you going to do in the city? Beg for money?”

He went to meet the farmer, who said his back caused him pain and he couldn’t carry the bags of cacao anymore.

The solution? Peralta gave the farmer $120 so he could buy a donkey.

That was four years ago. The farmer has carried on with farming cacao, and he never went into the city to beg for money.

Instead a donkey trend caught on. “Everyone started getting donkeys, just like that,” Peralta said.

Peralta, 41, makes some of the best chocolate on Earth, working with 3,000 farming families in his native Ecuador. Pacari Chocolate, which he and his wife Carla Barbota launched in 2008, swept last year’s International Chocolate Awards, taking home 23. These awards are where the world’s finest chocolates are put to the test through blind tastings.

If there was ever the notion that exceptional chocolate could only come out of Europe’s strongholds of culinary achievement, that victory proved the idea wrong. An increasing appreciation for regional authenticity has meant regions that used to be completely off the radar are coming into their own in the most surprising ways.

Just like a bottle of wine, a chocolate bar can reveal its provenance, its terroir, and even when it came about, as long as its flavor remains true to the cacao beans that were used.

Generally, in a mass production process, those flavors are flattened and standardized through over-processing and over-roasting and result in chocolate bars each as predictable as the next. Take a Hershey’s bar, for example.

The business of staying true to the bean is completely different. Pacari’s “tree-to-bar” production, for example, oversees every stage, from the cacao trees to the finished product, in the process creating income for all along the chain, from farmer to packager.

Origins

Ecuador has been producing cacao for hundreds of years, becoming the world’s largest cacao exporter in the late 19th century. Its production made fortunes, and played a crucial role in securing its independence from Spain, with farmers seeing the allure of being able to sell not only to Spain, but to other nations as well.

Its geography is particular: a small country, where jungles, deserts, mountains, and volcanoes all juggle for space, with climates ranging from desertic to monsoonic.

Peralta points out different characteristics of single-origin Pacari chocolate bars, tying region and flavor: floral and fruity from the Manabi region, which is dry, and caramel notes from the Esmeraldas region, which is rainy and green.

Then there is the spectacular limited edition Nube bar, which won the gold at the chocolate awards. Peralta won’t reveal the location of the cacao trees whose beans yield a chocolate that’s unbelievably floral—the aroma smacks of roses. It’s all in the terroir and the specific year. These results can’t be engineered; they are happy surprises from nature.

Nature’s Hand

You could call it an accident, but Peralta is willing to partner with Nature and let her have her way, resulting in incredible flavors.

“It’s like love,” he muses. “You don’t control things in life. I have a friend, he’s a great chocolate producer in a company in the U.K. called Booja-Booja, who says, ‘Relax: Nothing is under control.’ Relax! You have nothing to do with it. You’re trying to go one way but the flow is the other way. You don’t control anything.”

Peralta is pushing the envelope as far away from mass production methods as possible. All his chocolate is already organic, and he pays double the market price, a premium far above the going Fair Trade rate, which he said pays 6 percent above the market price (he has little to say that is complimentary about the labeling scheme).

And he’s also making biodynamic chocolate, using an agriculture approach that takes into account the rhythms of nature, pioneered by Rudolf Steiner. The Demeter biodynamic seal took four years to obtain.

Biodynamic means power, you accept the forces, you act with the forces, you go with the flow, you don’t produce 24/7 – Santiago Peralta, co-founder, Pacari

“Biodynamic means power, you accept the forces, you act with the forces, you go with the flow, you don’t produce 24/7.” He became familiar with biodynamic concepts while living in Germany for a year. And he’ll admit, there are some strange practices, but he says they work.

For example, one practice calls for a cow horn filled with a mix of cow waste and silica, buried in the ground. As the concept goes, the silica powder acts as conductor for light and energy, sending concentrated energy underground, benefiting the cacao trees.

Only about 20 grams per hectare of the mixture is used for the cacao trees. There are no fertilizers, no pesticides.

Or when there’s a drought, a refreshing biodynamic mixture is applied over the trees.

“Just a tiny amount. Can you imagine?” asks Peralta. “Normally you need to pump oil from the Amazon, passing the mountains, to Esmaraldas port, passing Panama, going to Germany to make [oil] into a chemical, coming back, taking a truck” to then apply half a ton of chemicals per hectare, which would take someone a week to do. With the biodynamic method, one person covers eight hectares a day with a pump, just walking around.

“This is sustainable. And the cacao is stronger, you can tell it’s stronger.” The crushers that crack the cacao beans had never stopped in years of production. But the first year cracking the biodynamic cacao beans, it happened.

“But just taste it, it’s better,” he adds.

The biodynamic methods were used to make Pacari’s Raw chocolate bar, which has won multiple awards. The chocolate is minimally processed, at low temperatures, and is the only biodynamic chocolate in the world.

“It’s a special chocolate where you see a lot of flavors, every time you try it, you get something different. It’s not a chocolate, which is a nice chocolate, which is gone. It’s still in your mouth. It’s there—boom, aggressive. It has personality, tannic, like wine.”

The flavors evolve as the chocolate melts on your tongue, in turns dry, woodsy, fruity.

The nutritional profile is particular, too: Antioxidant counts are through the roof.

Direct Trade Cacao

Maricel Presilla, a chocolate judge, culinary historian, and chef in Hoboken, N.J., as well as a winner of a James Beard Award, has seen the benefits that a direct-trade approach has had on farmers. She herself comes from a family of farmers in Cuba, where her grandparents were cacao farmers.

She has seen stark differences between farms that were using biodynamic methods and ones that weren’t. During a dry spell, the biodynamic farm’s trees were full with cacao for harvesting. “Next door,” which wasn’t biodynamic, “they had nothing.”

“People begin to care a lot more about the land,” she said. “They see the land as alive, in tune with the seasons.”

Not only that, but cacao, she said, is a “generous plant that likes to live with other plants” so it’s not rare for farmers to also grow coconuts, bananas, and coffee, for their own use. “A typical sight on a cacao farm is to see a farmer carrying plantain, yucca, something like that.”

When Peralta started working with farmers, he began working with farming families. “We believe in family relations in southern countries. It’s very important.”

Peralta wanted high quality, organic cacao, which wasn’t a hard sell for the farmers. “A lot of people don’t believe in chemicals—a lot of people don’t have the money to pay for chemicals.”

He started offering prizes for the best cacao among the farmers he was working with, and also came up with practical, simple, and more importantly, cheap solutions to improve the quality of the cacao.

Some had social consequences, for example, cacao used to be packaged in 100-pound bags, which only strong men could carry. Now, the bags were smaller, able to hold 50 pounds at the most, which opened the door for women to work.

“The women are more clever with money,” Peralta said, so the way the money is spent has shifted too. When men used to get paid, their friends would wait around on payday, hoping for a round of drinks. “Just one stupid thing. We saw it, we changed it, and now life has changed for these people.”

There are small adjustments like these and larger community initiatives, but all of these come about because of direct relationships with farmers.

Peralta spends about a third of his time in the field. The farmers are his friends, his associates, he says.

Presilla says something as simple as paying a premium for cacao has a huge effect on the life of farmers.

Both Peralta and Presilla are members of a relatively new organization, Direct Cacao, formed last year in Honduras. “We have the best chocolate makers from Europe and America involved,” she said. It will open to new members this month.

The goal is to establish a direct network between farmers and chocolate makers, as exemplified in Peralta’s work. There will also be educational programs, and a first international conference in the Dominican Republic.

Ever since the practices in the Ivory Coast were exposed, large companies have been careful. “Even companies that seem to be gigantic do something that is good. Mars, for example, pours millions of dollars in research.” Still, she said, “You cannot have great chocolate inexpensively.”

In the normal chocolate production chain, the divide is wide and long between raw material and finished product. The history of chocolate production is rife with exploitation and in the Ivory Coast, infamously spawned child slavery and human trafficking years ago.

In Ecuador, there are cacao farmers who had produced cacao generation after generation, but had never tasted chocolate.

“We gave them chocolate for the first time in their lives,” Peralta said. “They said ‘It’s sweet! It’s really nice.’ Can you imagine? Your grand-grand-grand grandfather was growing cacao [and you’re growing cacao] and you never have tried it. They are very proud. We have the best chocolate, we have the best cacao on Earth.”

via New World Chocolate, With a Conscience

Propylene Glycol and Tea? 8 Ingredients You Didn’t Know You Were Eating

13 September, 2013 at 07:11 | Posted in Body & Mind, Environmental issues, Food, Science, sustainable development | Leave a comment
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By Marc Sahr
Epoch Times

Many health-conscious people read labels, checking for the customary, relatively easy-to-understand elements: the amount of sodium, sugar, vitamins, calories, carbohydrates, and so on. A skim through the ingredients list can also be informative, but for the majority of consumers the ingredient names don’t really provide a clear picture of what they’re eating.

How many people know what dipotassium phosphate is? How about propylene glycol? Monosodium glutamate? This latter one is more commonly known as MSG, but would not likely be labeled as such.

Here’s a look at some of the ingredients you may not know your eating.

Propylene Glycol

Considered “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS) by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, propylene glycol is used in antifreeze.

While the version used in cars is ethylene glycol, propylene glycol nonetheless is an anti-freeze. What’s so surprising about that? Well it is also found in cake mixes, salad dressings, deodorants, and dog food.

This ingredient is used to preserve food.

So what effect will it have on your body? If you are allergic, you will develop a rash if you ingest it—or in the case of a deodorant, if you put it on your skin.

Hand sanitizer often contains propylene glycol.

Dipotassium Phosphate

Like pesticides or fertilizers? Well this ingredient, found in Coca Cola and non-dairy creamers is also found in many pesticides and fertilizers. Yummy! Originally used to slow the growth of bacteria, it also acts as a coagulant for foods such as pudding. It is used in pastas and cereals to reduce the cooking time.

It is also used in waterproofing, disinfecting and sanitizing products.

Untreated phosphate at the Marca factory in the Moroccan-controlled Western Sahara.

Castoreum

Love raspberry or vanilla flavoring? Chances you may have eaten castoreum, which is a gland that beavers use, along with urine, to mark their territory. This gland is very popular as it is used in perfumes as well as in some food flavorings. It qualifies as a “natural” ingredient in all-natural foods.

Two North American beavers at the Smithsonian National Zoo on Aug. 29, 2012.

Monosodium Glutamate

We have mostly heard about MSG because many American-Chinese restaurants used this

extensively, and unless you see a sign that says “no MSG,” generally it is assumed MSG is used. While not recognized as unsafe by the FDA, people have been known to have adverse reactions from high blood pressure to heart rate problems. Most people do not experience any symptoms.

Fast food restaurant KFC lists the ingredients in all of its dishes online; monosodium glutamate appears 61 times in total.

Mercury

While it’s not really an ingredient, mercury is nonetheless present in some fish people consume, especially swordfish, shark, tilefish and king mackerel. In these fish, the mercury level is generally higher than 1.1 parts per million (PPM), and they should be avoided by pregnant, or nursing women and young children.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the mercury in these fish could affect the nervous system of both mother and unborn child.

Swordfish

Some Ingredients You May Recognize, But Should Watch Out For: High Fructose Corn Syrup

Almost everything we eat and drink these days has this ingredient. Especially if you order out often from fast food restaurants.

Sugary sodas, such as Fanta, contain as much as 52 grams of sugar. Many people now go out of their way to actually buy the Mexican version of sodas that contain real sugar to avoid high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).

The prevalence of this ingredient in American food has been identified as a cause of obesity and type II diabetes.

Sodium

While not a deadly item if used in moderation, sodium has become a staple additive that Americans have used extensively. Sodium holds excess water in the body. The body requires a certain amount of sodium for the muscles and nerves to function properly, and to control blood pressure and blood volume, according National Institute of Health.

Too much sodium, however, causes high blood pressure, heart diseases, and kidney disease.

Foods containing excessive levels of sodium include cereals, salad dressings, crackers, and bread.

Trans Fats

Don’t be misled by some labels on products that state “0 trans fat.” According to an article on Health.com, a labeling loophole allows foods with up to 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving to be labeled “0 trans fat.”

Generally when the ingredients list partially hydrogenated oil, the food contains trans fats. In New York City, trans fat has been outlawed in restaurants—but the NYC Department of Health also allows for 0.5 grams per serving.

The ban in New York City restaurants does not apply to sealed packages, such as crackers, made with shortening or partially hydrogenated oil.

Why are trans fats bad? According to the Mayo Clinic, “Trans fat raises your ‘bad’ (LDL) cholesterol and lowers your ‘good’ (HDL) cholesterol.”

via Propylene Glycol and Tea? 8 Ingredients You Didn’t Know You Were Eating » The Epoch Times

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Over-Drugging Chinese Livestock Causes Dangerous Antibiotic Resistance

12 September, 2013 at 15:39 | Posted in Body & Mind, China, Environmental issues, Food, Society, sustainable development | Leave a comment
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By Sally Appert
Epoch Times

As the use of factory meat farms increases in China, scientists are concerned that the problem of antibiotic-resistant bacteria could pose a worldwide health risk.

Over half the antibiotics in China are given to livestock, a recent study has shown.

The demand for pork has been rising in China, and half the world’s pigs are in China. Pig farmers routinely add antibiotics to their animals’ feed to promote growth and reduce disease risk, but they are not required to report the amount of antibiotics used, according to online media The World.

The World interviewed staff at a large commercial hog farm in the city of Jiaxing in Zhejiang Province, where the pigs were fed in a big enclosed building. The manager declined to be interviewed.

However, one employee agreed to talk even though she didn’t have permission. “It takes a few months here for the pigs to grow big enough for sale. The pigs are fed really good materials,” she said, according to The World.

The antibiotics may make the pigs grow faster, but overusing antibiotics can lead to the development of drug-resistant bacteria.

Scientists from China and the United States conducted a study last year on hog manure from commercial farms in China. As expected, they found large numbers of drug-resistant bacteria.

More surprisingly, they found that different drug-resistant genes could hop around in clusters from one type of bacteria to another, producing bacteria that were resistant to multiple drugs.

These hard-to-kill pathogens could spread to humans.

“The big problem is the resistance can be transferred to human beings and also could be transferred globally by food export or import,” Dr. Xiao Yonghong of the Antibacterial Resistance Investigation Unit of China’s Health Ministry said, according to The World.

China isn’t the only country with this problem. The online media Mother Jones reports that China is merely following in America’s footsteps, since half of China’s antibiotics use is for livestock, while the United States uses 77 percent for livestock.

It’s hard to compare it that way, though, because people in China use 10 times as many antibiotics per capita as people in the United States, Time reported according to Mother Jones.

“Chinese pork farming is changing rapidly,” Mother Jones states, citing a study by the Dutch bank Rabobank, showing that between 2001 and 2010, the number of hogs from factory farms increased while the number of hogs from small family farms dropped by half.

via Over-Drugging Chinese Livestock Causes Dangerous Antibiotic Resistance » The Epoch Times

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Fit Tips for What You Sip

9 June, 2013 at 07:09 | Posted in Body & Mind, Food | Leave a comment
Tags: , ,

As the barometer rises, good hydration is key

By Mareya Ibrahim

Fit Tips for What You Sip » The Epoch TimesGrowing up in a warm country, a prerequisite for a blistering hot day—which was about 10 months out of the year—was to pay a visit to the juice bar around the corner from our apartment. The proprietor would stack the counters up with colorful pyramids of oranges, beets, mangoes, guavas and pomegranates, depending on what was in season.

Vases filled with rods of sugar cane and long carrots anchored the artful arrangements to create an edible landscape. Once the juicers started to whir, the sweet scent of freshness would dance through the steamy streets, luring customers in like a pied piper. The proprietor would create his own signature fruit and veggie “cocktails,” mixing beets with oranges, carrots and mangoes, a soulful blend of sweet and savory.

Little did we know that fresh pressed juice provided us with pure goodness in a glass. Packed with live enzymes, vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants, fresh juice also helps boost metabolism, fight infection, build tissue and strong bones … and help everything move along the way it’s supposed to, if you know what I mean.

Before you reach for that diet soda or mega-can energy drink, you might want to think before you drink. Caffeine and artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives can zap you of vital nutrients that keep your system running smoothly.

Now that the barometer is rising, it’s more important than ever to stay hydrated. But before you reach for that diet soda or mega-can energy drink, you might want to think before you drink. Caffeine and artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives can zap you of vital nutrients that keep your system running smoothly.

How does proper hydration keep you fit and healthy? One of the most important features is to keep the body cool. When you’re active—hiking, biking, riding, swimming—it’s even more essential to keep replacing fluids lost through sweat. You may not feel thirsty but your body needs it. Try these simple tips to sip and quench your thirst for better hydration for the whole family.

Hydration Tips:

Drinking half your weight in ounces of clear liquids each day is key to keeping everything running smoothly. In fact, every cell function requires hydration, but most people wait until they’re thirsty before they drink.

- Carry a lightweight, reusable water bottle everywhere. Pick a BPA, PVC, and phthalate-free model and make it part of your repertoire. My favorite is called the Bobble, and it has a filter inside, so you can fill it from any tap and enjoy clean, fresh water while doing your part for the environment. You can get the equivalent of 300 water bottles from one Bobble filter!

- Ditch the energy drinks. Most of the options out there are filled with stimulants and artificial colors and flavors that actually zap your body’s ability to recharge itself. Options like coconut water contain more give you a real pick-me-up while helping to regulate blood pressure and heart function. O.N.E. Coconut Water comes in a variety of flavors and kids’ varieties, mixed with juice in aseptic containers with straws for on-the-go convenience.

- Try rainforest superfruits instead of coffee. Açaí blends offer a natural kick along with an army of antioxidants to help raise immunity and fight disease. Smoothie packs make a refreshingly cool pick-me-up. Sambazon makes their blends ready to drink along with frozen smoothie packs so you can create your own delicious drinks.

- Make time for tea. Getting green tea and flavored water into your daily routine is a good way to keep it fresh. I love the Takeya Flash Chill Tea Maker and Fruit Infuser for an elegant, easy way to enjoy great iced tea and fruit-infused water with the beautiful pitcher system.

- Get your nourishment from Mother Nature. If the heat zaps your appetite, fill up on fruit and veggies along with a good quality protein powder—like Vega One All-in-One Nutritional Shake—into a glass. Fruit and veggies have a high water content and help keep you hydrated. Add watermelon, spinach, cucumber, and celery to your blender and get your daily supply of produce in a snap! Cucumber is also high in potassium, so it’s a good electrolyte replacement.

Mareya Ibrahim is The Fit Foody, an award-winning chef on ABC’s Emmy-nominated show “Recipe Rehab,” and author and founder of EatCleaner.com. Her book “The Clean Eating Handbook,” a guide on how to eat cleaner and get leaner, was released in May 2013.

via Fit Tips for What You Sip » The Epoch Times

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