Buyers beware. Do your favorite products test on animals?

Chimpanzee in laboratory cage. Photo courtesy of PETA

As consumers, we gravitate to products that are convenient, that are good quality, that have what we consider to be good reputations. But there’s another factor we need to consider and add to our list of “should we or shouldn’t we” when it comes to purchasing. And that is do they test their products on animals or not?

Here are two graphics, courtesy of the Beagle Freedom Project, that show the major brands that DO do animal testing and those that don’t. Bear in mind that as more consumers protest this horrendous practice and put pressure on corporations, more of them are ceasing it. One of the major obstacles has been and continues to be that some countries such as China require this barbaric practice, even though such tests yield NO beneficial results as to the impact on human health.

It’s heartening to know that we consumers can make a difference by speaking up and signing petitions against animal testing. Our voices do count.

So the next time you go to the supermarket, the pharmacy or any other shopping, you may want to check out these graphics beforehand, just to be sure that your purchases won’t add to the cruelty going on.

Julián Castro introduces extensive animal welfare platform

Editors Note: This is NOT a paid political advertisement or endorsed by anyone other than the writer / author of this blog.

On Monday, August 19th, Democratic Presidential candidate Julián Castro unveiled a platform focused on advancing the welfare of animals around the globe, both domestic and wildlife. It would raise standards for factory farms and encourage conservation efforts, including expanding U.S. protected lands to 30 percent by 2030 with the goal of 50 percent by 2050.

The “PAW (Protecting Animals and Wildlife) Plan” is comprehensive. It proposes:

  • making animal abuse a federal crime
  • ending the killing of domestic dogs and cats for population control
  • strengthening the Endangered Species Act, creating a $2 billion National Wildlife Recovery Fund to protect wildlife populations
  • banning the use of federal lands for fossil fuel exploration and extraction and
  • eliminating the import of big-game trophies.

Castro, the former Obama Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Mayor of San Antonio, Texas is the first presidential candidate to address these important animal welfare issues.

Julie Castle, CEO of Best Friends Animal Society in Utah, says “the fact that a presidential candidate – as a matter of personal compassion or as a political calculation — has identified animal welfare as a campaign issue is huge. “

“The President does not care about animals,” Castro said, “and his cruel actions prove it. He has put corporate profits over living creatures and individual fortunes over our future.”

Chickens caged on chicken farm; photo by Artem Beliaikin

The issues of animal welfare and lack thereof have become more visible to the American public over the past few years. Social media, whistleblower videos and celebrities such as Jon Stewart have brought our attention to the cruelty and abuse that factory farmed animals suffer. And although the number of companion animals euthanized each year has steadily decreased – from 7.29 million in 2011 to 733,000 last year, according to Best Friends Animal Sanctuary’s latest statistics, those numbers are still too high.

Approximately 68 percent of American households have one or more pets. Most view them as family members. Castro’s plan addresses issues such as animal cruelty, policies for homeless pets, abuses related to factory farming, private ownership of big cats and animal testing.    

Photo courtesy of Buffalo Zoo

With the President’s gutting of the Endangered Species Act and the steady race towards extinction of too many animal species around the world – a race caused by factors such as poaching, trophy hunting, overfishing, climate change and the loss of critical habitat – you begin to see how the PAW platform and Castro could be a vital force for positive change.

Best Friends’ Castle says “Every candidate has an opportunity to get on the right side of history with this issue and demonstrate to our country of animal lovers that this bipartisan cause is important.” Castro’s bold animal welfare plan could be a key that pushes him to the top of the pack.

The PAW Plan can be viewed here.

Wild salmon documented inside fish farm

How wild salmon are supposed to look. But you won’t see this at British Columbian fish farms. Photo by Barbara Jackson, Pixabay.

They said it couldn’t happen. They said wild salmon would never breach penned-up fish farms. They were wrong. And that’s a big problem.

 

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We don’t need a Border Wall. There’s a good solution in plain sight

Trump’s border wall would disrupt and potentially destroy the already fractured habitat of endangered species such as this jaguar. Photo courtesy of Bureau of Land Management

President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency has escalated tensions all across the southern border. The large majority of residents who live near  the Mexican border don’t want the Wall built. Their reasons include fear of the government’s use of eminent domain, the high probability of flooding from a built wall, concern of escalating tensions with Mexico resulting in loss of trade and tourism, serious repercussions for wildlife across California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.

The President is adamant that the wall be built. He’s clear he MUST keep his campaign promise, no matter the cost. But scientists agree that the consequences of a Border Wall would wreak havoc on the surrounding areas.

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UK research firm applies for permit to grow GM broccoli and wheat

Just when you thought your food choices were clear and safe. UK firm The John Innes Centre has applied for permission to plant experimental genetically modified wheat and broccoli in open fields at their farm outside Norwich, in the United Kingdom. The research company hopes to begin two small-scale field trials in April.

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Reducing Food Waste: Compost Production Recovers Nutrients for Soil Benefits

When you consider our nation’s health, the quality of our food, its decreasing nutritional value and the increased degradation of our farmland, it’s not a pretty picture — and the challenges related to these issues keep growing.

By 2050 the world’s population will likely reach close to 9 billion people. To feed everyone, we’ll need to globally produce more food. Yet, almost 40 percent of food currently produced ends up in landfills.

According to ReFED, a collaboration of over 50 business, nonprofit, foundation and government leaders committed to reducing food waste in the United States, American consumers, businesses and farms spend $218 billion per year growing, processing, transporting and disposing of food waste.

Food waste is a global problem.  To learn more about the interconnectedness of soil health and reducing food waste, click here.

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?

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

Image result for HIV logo

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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