Don’t toss that Romaine! There’s a healthy alternative!

Image result for romaine lettuce

Earlier today, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned consumers to throw away any and all romaine lettuce. This broad alert was in response to a new outbreak of illnesses caused by a particularly dangerous type of E. coli contamination. 

Issued just two days before one of the biggest food-related holidays in the United States, the CDC’s warning said restaurants should not serve romaine, stores shouldn’t sell it, and people shouldn’t buy it, no matter where or when the lettuce was grown. The federal agency was clear: whether it’s chopped, a whole head or part of a mix, all romaine should be avoided. This alert comes after 32 people in 11 states became sick from eating contaminated romaine. Thirteen of those effected have been hospitalized, with one patient suffering from a form of kidney failure. To date, no deaths have been reported.

As scary as the news is, one action could help consumers stay healthy in the face of this crisis. Unfortunately, too many Americans disregard this simple step, putting many people’s health at risk. Remarkably, the thing that could help us stay healthier is to simply wash our produce with organic veggie wash. This allows us to wash away the contaminants that are so prevalent in our food. Sounds simple, yet it’s one of the most effective ways of avoiding foodborne impurities.

As we wrote back in 2011, a great majority of our produce comes to us with an often imperceptible coating of contaminants. These include pesticides, fertilizers, dirt, road grit, mold, fungi and waxes, which won’t easily wash off in water.  Yet like our parents and grandparents before us, “most people just wet (the fresh produce) and say “I washed it”,” says Larry Plesant, founder, CEO and Chief Formulator of Vermont Soapworks, a company that makes a wide variety of organic soaps and cleaning products for humans and pets.

To reduce and even eliminate the risk of consuming pesticides, bacteria and other harmful elements, you can get the germs off with organic soap and water, says Plesent, not water alone.

Becoming aware over six years ago of the health risks of eating “as is” fresh produce,  this writer tried a number of produce washes available to consumers. Although there are a number of decent ones out there,  I always seem to come back to Vermont Soap’s Produce Magic Fruit & Veggie Wash. Having personally tested this product on a variety of produce, the difference it makes s amazing. Washing and rinsing lettuce or fruit such as apples or strawberries with this veggie wash brings out a flavor and quality of freshness you’d expect only to find with home grown organic produce. 

So back to this current lettuce / e coli crisis.  What can we do about it?

While the CDC insists that we throw out all the romaine we have, doing so would be a horrible and unnecessary waste. Wouldn’t it be wiser instead to purchase a high quality veggie wash product (like Produce Magic) and take the time to wash  (i.e. clean our food) before we eat it? We wouldn’t have to waste perfectly good food. We’d simply be able to CLEAN it. NOT doing so exposes us to health risks. Making the time – two extra minutes perhaps? – ensures that we are taking precautions that will benefit us and our families. Now who wouldn’t want that?

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Solar recycling – a looming problem with a European solution

The price of solar panels continues to drop – down 86 percent since 2009! That means having solar is more affordable than ever and with solar leasing options growing and now California mandating all new construction must include solar, its use is set to explode.

But as I’ve noted before, every solution presents new problems which must be addressed. Solar panels have been rated for a 25-year lifespan. Although they will continue to function after that – many solar panels installed in the 1980’s still function close to their original levels – ultimately they will lose efficiency and at some point need to be replaced. The looming issue here is what to do with those solar panels?

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Citrus Greening Solutions – Research Fuels Creative Options for Detection, Prevention

Editors Note:  We’re back! It’s been a few months since last I posted – and for good reason. I’ve been knee-deep (pen / computer deep doesn’t sound right) in working on my 1st book. More on that at a future date. Although I’m currently in rewrites, you can expect to see a bit more from me here. And hopefully you’ll let me know how you like what you read! So onwards!

Citrus Greening is devastating the citrus industry. Photo courtesy of USDA, Flickr

$3.3 billion. That’s what the National Agricultural Statistics Service rates the value of the citrus industry in the United States. Yet danger and some of the industry’s greatest challenges lurk in citrus groves across the country – devastating pests and diseases.

The Department of Homeland Security estimates invasive species annually cause $136 billion in overall lost agricultural revenue in the U.S.

The Asian Citrus Psyllid, which creates a disease-causing bacteria known as Huanglongbing (HLB) or citrus greening, is one of the citrus industry’s most destructive insects. It has infected commercial and residential citrus trees across the country from Florida to Texas to California. The disease clogs an infected tree’s vascular system, preventing fruit from maturing and eventually killing the tree.

To learn more about what’s being done to combat this devastating disease – including some innovative projects that are showing great promise – check out the full article here.

Johnson & Johnson and partners will work to create an HIV Vaccine

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Today is #WorldAIDSDay, a day when the world’s focus is on  the fight against HIV/AIDS.

There are already a number of medications on the market to help ease symptoms of HIV.According to the World Health Organization, since the HIV/AIDS epidemic began more than 30 years ago, over 70 million people have contracted HIV.  No vaccine exists to help prevent this life-threatening disease. But there’s hope on this front.

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New study shows we’re eating WAY more chemicals than we thought

Pesticide use on commercially grown crops has increased dramatically  even more than consumers have been led to believe. According to figures recently released by the Soil Association – the UK’s leading food and farming charity and organic certification body – show the number of chemicals on supermarket vegetables has increased up to 17 fold in the past 40 years.

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Do your favorite products do animal testing?

Among the hundreds of emails and newsletters that come my way everyday, one quickly caught my attention. In it was an article that talked about companies that do animal testing, a topic I’ve been following for a while.

Let me be blunt. I despise that companies do horrendously painful and inhumane testing on defenseless, innocent animals. And I do my best to not use products that I know do such testing. Continue reading

Volunteers Transform Illegal Encampments into Welcoming Public Places

Many of you know I was a long time resident of Northern California, a place of beauty and many natural wonders that still holds a special place in my heart. The following is an excerpt from an article I wrote that was recently published online about one of these remarkable public places and the trials and transformations it’s gone through.

A cleared section of Lower Diestelhorst Open Space is once again available for visitors to enjoy

With wildfires and smoke threatening the north state and beyond, it’s easy to forget the natural wonders in the middle of Redding (California). Those of us who’ve meandered our river trails recognize these as crown jewels.

Among these is the land on the north and south sides of the Diestelhorst Bridge. Many have enjoyed its paved paths, but few know the hidden trails of what’s called Lower Diestelhorst Open Space – the long-overgrown area between the Union Pacific Railroad trestle and the Anderson Cottonwood Irrigation District (A.C.I.D.) intake. Continue reading