Archive for June 8, 2009

food-labelsLiving healthy is a multi-billion dollar spinner, and the food industry takes a rather large share from the cache, a share that often is not fair at all. In a world where fast food giants can claim to sell healthy foods, government food agencies are stacked with industry representatives and politicians have an open door policy for industry lobbyists, it pays both financially and in terms of health benefits to retain a healthy scepticism towards the marketing spin that tries to sell us health. If our health is a concern to us, it’s important to become and stay informed about foods: their nature, the ways they are produced and processed, how our body interacts with them and which diets are appropriate or not. Equally important is to become discretionary, for example by applying this knowledge to reading labels when shopping.

The US magazine WomansDay published a list of advertising gimmicks that all too often make us trust and fall for a brand in the wrong belief we’re paying fairly because the product’s health tag, while something as simple as reading the label could spare us throwing good money after bad food. The list makes interesting reading (it is tailored to the US market, but in our globalised world it is as valid here in Australia as it probably is in other countries).

Good source of whole grains

This means the food contains 8 to 15 grams of whole grains per serving, which isn’t bad. (An “excellent source” has at least 16 grams.) But what else is in there? Foods can be made with whole grains and also be packed with lots of preservatives, sugar, fat and other things you want to avoid. So scan the nutrition facts to see what you’re really getting. Generally, the best sources of whole grains are the simplest and made with very few ingredients, such as brown rice, oatmeal, basic bran cereal, quinoa, whole-wheat pasta and 100%-whole-wheat bread. Also remember that the first three ingredients listed are what the product’s mostly made from.

Organic

Just because it’s labeled organic (meaning it’s grown or processed without pesticides or hormones) doesn’t mean you’re home free. Organic chips, cookies, candies and other treats often still pack the same calories, sugar and salt as their conventional counterparts. Keep snack portions in check and focus on organic items that really are worth the extra dough (like dairy products and certain fruits and vegetables that don’t have thick skins or rinds). To find out when it’s best to go organic with produce, go to Foodnews.org [for US only].

Sugar-free

Sugar-free and no-sugar-added foods swap sugar for artificial sweeteners, preservatives and other man-made ingredients—and often still have plenty of calories. (A “sugar-free/low-cal” brownie can have 250 calories or more.) Not only that, but you may not feel satisfied after you eat a “diet” snack, so you could end up going back for more. Sugar-free foods are also super-sweet, so you may find yourself craving them more often. Stick with small portions of the real stuff.

High fiber

Fiber keeps us full longer and speeds up digestion, but there’s a catch: Most packaged foods with a “high fiber” claim contain powders like maltodextrin, inulin, polydextrose and oat fiber. These fiber powders will help you stay full, but they don’t provide the same health benefits that you’ll get from the kind of fiber found naturally in foods like fruits, vegetables and whole grains. They may also cause digestive distress.

Granola

It’s often loaded with sugar (upward of 4 tsp, or 16 grams, per ½-cup serving) and can be very high in calories (a bowl can easily rack up 600 to 700 calories). Look for a brand with 10 grams of sugar or less per serving (I like BearNaked or FEED ). Also, think of granola as a condiment: Sprinkle a few Tbsp on cereal or yogurt.

Energy, granola and other snack and meal bars

Many of these have the same sugar and calories you’d find in a chocolate bar. Others are packed with artificial sweeteners. Instead, pick ones that have just 3 or 4 ingredients and at least 3 grams of fiber. All-natural fruit and nut bars like Lara, KINDND and Clif Nectar are good; I also like Kashi granola bars because they’re low in sugar and have a good amount of protein.

Yogurt

Sugar strikes again! Sugary-sweet fruit-flavored yogurts can have up to 6 tsp (32 grams) of added sugar per serving. Start with plain yogurt; add some fresh fruit or a tsp of honey or jam for sweetness. If you have a real sweet tooth, a basic vanilla or fruit-flavored yogurt is OK once in a while.

Fruit smoothies

Popular chains tend to whip up jumbo-size blends of sugary juice and frozen yogurt, which can cost you upward of 600 calories if you’re not careful. If you’re going to order a smoothie, make sure you read the nutrition info carefully. Better yet, make your own: Fill an 8- to 16-oz glass with fresh or frozen fruit, lowfat yogurt and skim or soy milk. Add about a tsp of natural peanut butter or flaxseed for an extra boost of energy and nutrients.

Bran muffins

Why yes, they have fiber, but they also have saturated fat and a lot of sugar—and nowadays they tend to be gigantic. Some top out at 500 calories and 14 grams of fat; a donut is often a lighter pick! Try keeping portions, fat and sugar in check by making your own mini–bran muffins sweetened with applesauce, fresh fruit or a little sugar. Grabbing a muffin on the go? Eat just the muffin top or pick one that’s no larger than your fist.

Pretzels

They may be low in fat, but pretzels are simple carbohydrates, so they’re basically empty calories. They won’t do much to fill you up and could spike your blood sugar.Instead, opt for whole-grain or oat bran, and pair them with some protein-rich peanut butter or hummus.

Sweet potato or veggie chips

They’re fried, which means they contain unhealthy fat (and probably a good deal of sodium).You can get your crunch from natural popcorn, which contains cholesterol-lowering fiber. Baked chips are a little better (watch the number of servings in one bag) but they’re still pretty processed, so you’ll end up eating empty calories. Try making your own “chips”: Slice white and sweet potatoes, beets or parsnips super-thin, brush with a little olive oil, add salt and chili powder, and bake at 350°F (175°C) for 7 to 10 minutes until crisp.

Diet soda

Artificial sweeteners can heighten sweet/carbohydrate cravings and may impact weight gain if consumed in large quantities. A healthier option is seltzer with lemon or lime, or an occasional naturally sweetened soda like Gus Grown Up soda or Fizzy Lizzy.

Fortified water drinks

A few vitamins and minerals don’t make up for the excess sugar (and calories) or artificial sweeteners. Get vitamins from real, fresh food. Flavor regular water with simple additions like lemon or fresh herbs.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

swine flu

The WHO plays with Pandemic fire – the continuing saga of the flying pigs pandemic flu

By F. William Engdahl
URL of this re-posted article
Global Research, June 5, 2009

According to information from within the World Health Organization in Geneva, the UN organization supposedly monitoring global health dangers, WHO Director-General Margaret Chan plans to declare a Phase 6 Official Pandemic Alert in the coming days. This bizarre act if declared would come at a time that the country which had to date reported far the latest number of suspected H1N1 cases, the USA, has simply arbitrarily stopped reporting new cases.

If you consider to let your family get scared into taking drugs like Tamiflu that not only do not prevent or even ameliorate symptoms of flu, but in some cases are so toxic they cause severe paralysis, breathing problems and even death, you should at least know the facts before.

The report that WHO may declare an official Pandemic global alert any time is all the more bizarre given the fact that the global wave of cases reported to date to WHO from around the world reportedly have been so mild as to be indistinguishable from the symptoms of ordinary flu.

And the relatively small number of deaths alleged tied to swine flu as it originally was named, appear in no way definitely tied to to H1N1 causes. In a May 28 Center for Disease Control (CDC) press briefing, the CDC reported, ‘When we look at our deaths, we have information on 11 of the 12 deaths that have been reported to us so far. And it appears that 10 of those fatalities occurred in people who had an underlying condition that put them at greater risk for severe complications of influenza.’ That is what epidemiologists call correlation not causality or ‘opportunistic infection’ deaths.

European epidemiologists privately believe that there is no proven link between supposed H1N1 Influenza A illness and the deaths, rather that the deaths are ‘coincidence’ or what health professionals term ‘opportunistic infections.’ The CDC report would seem to strengthen that argument.

(more…)

barack_obama

Jun 07, 2009 By Danny Schlechter
Repost from Danny Schechter’s ZSpace Page / ZSpace

Obama Electrifies The World: Can We Believe The Hype?

You still want to like him, even if it has now been confirmed that the President of the United States travels with an official food taster or so the French news agency reported.

“They have someone who tastes the dishes,” said waiter Gabriel de Carvalho from the “La Fontaine de Mars” restaurant where Obama and his family turned up for dinner on Saturday night. It wasn’t very pleasant for the cooks at first, but the person was very nice and was relaxed, so it all went well,” he said on the Itele news channel.”

Perhaps more brain shattering was the quote attributed to the owner of the Restaurant, who said with all sincerity that he had seen God.

“We all think of him that way,” he added.

Ironically, as the elevated ONE was sightseeing in Paris, Republicans of the Freedom Fries inclination were blasting him for even being there at all, perhaps just jealous because he seemed like he was having fun. More ominously, European voters were moving right in the EU elections. (Turnout was low!)

Reports the New York Times: “Heather Grabbe, director of the Open Society Institute in Brussels, said that two striking features of the elections were the failure of the left to make a breakthrough and the advances threatened by the far-right and other fringe parties.
“At a time of crisis,” she said, “people often lose faith in the established political parties but they will typically move to the left when there is the prospect of higher unemployment, in the hope that the state will look after them.
“The left needs a new narrative,” Ms Grabbe added, “the narrative of the state looking after people has failed to hold even at a time of deep unemployment.”

These paradoxes also speak to the way politics has merged with celebrity reinforced by 24/7 TV news cycles. Some like the President of France marry celebrities. Others like Barack and Michelle become celebrified, sparking adulation and fostering unrealistic expectations. This tendency is fueled by disgust with politicians as usual on the one hand, and the desire to have someone who you can believe will be different on the other. We all want someone to make a difference as the economy and the public’s sense of another possibility crash like that Air France plane.

Obama has that special charisma, and builds a mystique that resonates in a period when so little else does. “It’s the smile” one TV producer told me the other day. Another put it down to his youth. No, said a third, it’s his skill as an orator especially because his predecessor couldn’t put two words together.

Lets not forget, it was like that with JFK and Jackie too. In their time, they represented a new generation, exuded style and the aphrodisiac of power. For some, they walked on water.

And like Obama, JFK was treated more as a personality more than a leader of a party.

You can view Obama as a devious calculating cynic, saying one thing and then doing another. You can see him as a prisoner of larger forces that push all politicians into the embrace of special interests serving the status quo masked as “the politics of the possible.”

Or you can still be bullish because he is going over the heads of the dead weights in office worldwide.

“Obama is going over the heads of elites, attempting to establish moral legitimacy as a leader, turning popularity into policy, ” writes Robert Marquand in the Christian Science Monitor. “What we are seeing is not spin, but a sincere effort to reach out to hearts and minds, appealing to better instincts, to the reasonable nature of others. It is a revolutionary approach.”

Revolution, smevolution. Populism can be progressive or reactionary as it has been throughout our history. The Tea Baggers see themselves as “populists” fighting the supposed “tyranny” of the government. ” So did the “Yes We Can” crowd who put Mr. O in office and are now mostly cheering or half-cheering from the sidelines.

Words are necessary even if they are not sufficient. AP reports, “There are already some indications [Barack’s] words are having the desired effect of undercutting extremists. A militant leader in Egypt called on the Taliban to respond positively to Obama’s gestures, and Hamas militants in Gaza say they are ready ‘to build on this speech’

“Obama may have managed to ‘plant the seed of doubt in some minds’ of extremists, said Robert Malley, senior analyst at the International Crisis Group think tank. ‘There was enough … that represented openings for those who wanted openings.'”

Revolutionaries know how to appropriate rhetoric to advance their agendas and audiences. Before Obama conquered Cairo, Napoleon did the same. Writes Hizb ut-Tahrir, “he told the people, ‘You will be told that I came to destroy your religion; do not believe it … I have more respect than the Mamelukes for your God, His Prophet, and the Koran’ and many more sweet words besides.”

Adds Ahdaf Soueif “This is hard. It’s hard because we so need to believe that Obama is about change, that he’s wise, that he’s good, that he has the interests of the world – rather than just the interests of the United States – at heart.”

That’s the key, the words, “We so need to believe.” Even as unemployment reaches near depression levels, the Unions and many progressives want to believe. The alternative: realizing that we live in a system, that Obama can say and do good and will also say and do evil. That’s his function. Unfortunately, our media doesn’t really explain this but treats politics like sports, generating heat, not light. It is more interested in what he is eating –did you see that NBC White House special featuring his lunch-time hamburger run– than doing.

What is our function as citizens? If you are reading this, presumably, it is to be more critical, more analytical, able to make distinctions, willing to live with and challenge the contradictions, aware that institutions have more impact than individuals.

Love Obama or hate him, he’s here, barring the unthinkable, for the next few years. He’s not God. He is or should be a public servant and the job of the public is not to serve him but to challenge him and hold him accountable too.

You can’t allow your “analysis” to lead to paralysis.

These are dangerous times, when the people who want to wreck the prospects for change are more mobilized than the people who want to secure that change. We live in a noise machine with few mass movements and lots of mass confusion. Instead of telling Twitter what you are doing, tell us all what you are ready to do.

News Dissector Danny Schechter edits Mediachannel.org. He directed the DVD “Barack Obama: People’s President” (ChoicesVideo.Net) about his campaign and insists he is not a cheerleader. Comments to dissector@mediachannel.org

Quite a shocking video. It demonstrates the insanity sometimes embedded in religious books and the deadly effects it can have when believers deal with so-called non-believers. And while at first sight it seems hard to believe that there actually are Jews who would follow such inhumane and barbaric teachings, the small scene of  of orthodox settlers confronting non-believers clearly demonstrates that the Talmud still creates reality.

And let’s not forget: Israel as a state has its origins in the Zionist movement which, like today, was violent, racist and embarked on ethnic cleansing. Like today it stole the land of Palestinians, like today it committed massacres, and like today it justified its actions with the belief in retaking the land that was promised to Jews by their god. The video is on the right track.

I am not a terrorist

Obama, in his recent Cairo speech, called on the Palestinians to renounce armed struggle and instead embrace non-violence. Starhawk, a prominent voice in modern Wiccan spirituality, questions Obama’s credentials to make such call and lays bare the injustices and terror inflicted on the Palestinians by Israel. While I’m not sharing Starhawk’s overall rosy view of Obama, I feel she makes some good observations in this article.

(more…)

penguinsPenguins, albatrosses, killer whales and of course people can all jump for joy at the latest news from the Republic of South Africa! The country is set to establish one of the world’s largest Marine Protected Areas (MPA) around its Prince Edward Islands. This inspiring achievement will help reduce the ecological impacts of fisheries, particularly on endangered seabirds.

The Prince Edward Islands in the Southern Ocean are amongst the world’s most important and diverse regions. But until now, the islands have been threatened by illegal and irresponsible fishing practices.

[Via Care2]

arrufat

Charley abandoned his chocolate factory

By Marie Trigona
Marie Trigona’s ZSpace Page/ZSpace

Sweet tale of a crisis, Arrufat Chocolate without a boss

We all know the childhood tale of Charley and the Chocolate Factory best emulated in the psychedelic inspired 1971 film. Charley a poor, well intentioned boy wins the Willy Wonka chocolate factory in a stroke of good fortune – every child’s fantasy and utopia. But would what happen if Charley grew older and greedy against the advice of Willy Wonka? If he ran the chocolate factory into ruins, throwing out the workers and closing up shop? And what if the oompa loompas would take over the plant to demand their unpaid salaries and severance pay? What if they would decide to start up production without Charley, collectively running the plant and relating to other worker occupied factories? Well, this alternate version of the childhood story is becoming a reality for workers in Argentina.

In Argentina, Charley did abandon his factory. But in this case, Charley is Diana Arrufat, heiress to the Arrufat chocolate factory in Buenos Aires. She closed the factory’s doors on January 5, 2009. The workers, who are not the imagined oompa loompa refugees in the film, but real workers decided to occupy the plant. And now the workers are producing deliciously sweet delicacies without the supervision and exploitive practices of Charley.

Factory closure

On January 5, the workers got the news that they were fired. Diana Arrufat left a poster on the gate of the factory to inform the workers they no longer had jobs. The 50 workers still employed hadn’t been paid their salaries for much of 2008. “They fired us without having to look at our faces. They abandoned us,” says Alberto Cavrico a worker who has worked at the plant for more than 20 years. That they same day they to open the factory gate and remain inside the factory.

Within hours owner went to the police accusing the workers for “usurpation” and trespassing of the plant. Meanwhile, she has been unwilling to meet with the workers and labor ministry to discuss how to normalize the situation.

Arrufat, founded in 1931 had been a national leader in chocolate.  The family run business was finally inherited by the original owner’s granddaughter, Diana Arrufat in the late 90’s. Since she took over the company, the factory took a turn for the worse. Workers describe how the owner would cut corners sacrificing product quality – using hydrogenated oil instead of cocoa butter and imitation cocoa instead of the real beans imported from Ecuador or Brazil. In its heyday, when the company produced high quality chocolate, it employed more than 300 workers. By 2008, the chocolate manufacturer only had 66 employees.

Throughout 2008, the owner was not paying workers their full salary, with the promise that they would be paid at a later date. The workers sent a report to the labor ministry in May 2008 that the owner owed them nearly 6 months in back salaries, was emptying out the plant and hadn’t paid the workers’ retirement funds for 10 years. By the end of 2008, on Christmas Day the owners gave the workers 50 pesos (less than 20 dollars) and then five days before firing them paid them 50 pesos again on New Year’s.

Many of the workers had heard about factory occupations but never thought that they would face a factory closure. “I never thought that I’d have to sleep inside the factory on top of a machine to defend my job post,” says Marta Laurino, a stead fast woman with over 30 years working at the plant. Concluding that the owners weren’t coming back, at least to open up shop again – the workers decided in an assembly to continue to occupy the plant and form a cooperative.

(more…)

arctic

As the Arctic ice is melting the usual candidates are racing to exploit its so far hidden natural resources: the US and Russia. Of particular interest are non-renewable energy resources: it is estimated that more than 30% of undiscovered natural gas and oil reserves are slumbering in the Arctic region. A lot of it would fall to Russia, and it seems the West would not like to see that happen. NATO therefore is working on aggressive military expansion plans for the region, with Canada spearheading the efforts and Norway and Denmark not far behind. But the big shadow looming over the potential for serious future military conflict is the NATO heavyweight: the Empire of the United States of America. The following re-posted article makes interesting and scary reading.

(more…)