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Dec 17, 2007
Focus: Civil Rights
Action Request: Read
Location: United States

Fox News, USA Today, and a number of other major media outlets reported this week on news from Maryland where dozens of parents were notified by a district court that either they vaccinate their children or go to jail. The media reports have caused a lot of confusion around the U.S. among parents who have chosen not to vaccinate their children for certain illnesses based on concerns about possible negative impacts from the vaccines themselves. While the mainstream medical community claims vaccines are safe and effective, some people blame immunizations for a rise in autism and other medical problems. In actuality, there are no federal laws requiring vaccinations. Providing schools with vaccine exemption forms for your child is all that is required by federal law. If you have thoroughly researched the vaccine issue and have decided one or more vaccines may not be right for your children, follow this link to a website where you can download exemption forms for your state or country.
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Posted: Dec 17, 2007 8:04pm
Oct 3, 2007

Extreme… or Just Sane?

Last week I attended a panel discussion at NYU with the intriguing, if somewhat embarrassing, title of “Extreme Green.” After working with dozens of NYU administrators whose ideas of sustainability end at the recycling bin, I was somewhat skeptical of how “extreme” the event would be. I was forced to admit, though, that the event’s organizers had assembled quite the verdy cast of characters: primitivist Gallatin alum Rob Archangel, forest green superstar Colin Beavan (No Impact Man), NYU sustainability director and Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage cofounder Cecil Schieb, and freegan spokeswoman Madeline Nelson.

And the panel didn’t disappoint. Between Rob’s glorification of hunter-gatherer societies, Colin’s entreaties on the personal benefits of living a low-impact life, and Cecil’s tales of strawbale and naked ice skating, it was clear that there was to be nothing even remotely lime about the proceedings.

Just as importantly, though, there was plenty of disagreement to go round. The speakers were unanimously opposed to consumerism, for example, but their ideas of what to do about it could hardly have been more different. Madeline, a former communications director at Barnes and Noble, spoke of toppling the global corporate system by boycotting the capitalist economy as much as possible. Cecil, as the radical in a suit and tie, responded with his counter-vision of the edifice of capitalism slowly engulfed in a mass of engineered vines. Rob, meanwhile, predicted a peak-oil induced collapse that might be avoided by those who revert to more indigenous ways of living.

The incredible thing was, I found myself agreeing with all of them. There were no obviously specious arguments, no viewpoints that took the easy way out. Instead, there was impassioned debate about the very real issues confronting our society - exactly what we need to be seeing more of from influential institutions like NYU. And while each of the panelists were full of great stories and quotable phrases, the most insightful comment of the evening might have come from the moderator, my good friend Jeremy Freidman: when you really think about it, it’s not anyone on the panel that’s living an “extreme” lifestyle. It’s the rest of us.

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Posted: Oct 3, 2007 9:12pm
Jul 4, 2007
Focus: Corporate Responsibility
Action Request: Read
Location: United States

Repel or Prevent Pest Infestations Without Killing

It concerns me to see posts about killing insects and animals when it is just as effective and less poisonous to repel or prevent infestation.

Roaches love the glues in the box tops and bottoms. Keep boxed open items like pasta, bisquick, etc. in jars. They also love the glues in shelf paper. Use something else on shelves. Catch them and take them to a warm compost pile outside. You can re-train the whole colony to move outside where they can live completely invisibly to you.

Flies won't keep buzzing into a house that has tansy planted by doors and windows. Bunches of dried tansy work almost as well, but not quite. Keep screens in good working order. Use a butterfly net to catch them and take them outside when they do get in. Keep your trash cans clean so maggots don't appear and turn into more flies.

Bedbugs hate thyme. Sprinkle the bed with it, spread it around the edges of the bedroom; open the windows, close the door and wait until morning. Vacuum and they are gone.

Fleas can be kept away with pennyroyal oil. It's a strong mint and dangerous to pregnant women. A drop behind the pet's neck and under the neck as well as at the base of the tail will keep fleas away. Also add nutritional yeast to their food, a spoon a day, sprinkled on, and a pill of garlc (cut a small pill shape from a slice of garlic clove) will keep ticks and fleas from staying and biting.

Editor's Note: Garlic should only be given to dogs, it can be harmful to cats.

Mosquitos won't bite someone who takes a B-complex vitamin daily. If you are camping, you may need to take extra. It turns pee yellow, so don't panic! Garlic works too but not garlic pills. They are useless.

Keep weevils out of food by storing flours and such in jars.

Ants can be kept out easily by seeing where they are getting in and using petroleum jelly as a barrier they won't cross. Also, washing their paths with soapy water keeps them from instintcively using it again. You can also try cayenne pepper as a boundary but you might have to refresh it until they are re-trained.

Pennyroyal also keeps termites from eating your house, by treating the possibly infected area with the oil. Use cedar bark for mulch around the house if you don't want to attract more termites. They won't eat the cedar, but will infest other bark mulches.

Keep clutter down and store things in plastic bags, like linens and luggage (if it doesn't seal well).

There are lots of chemical free alternatives to pesticides and traps. We often think "Thou shalt not kill" is a good value, but we rarely remember that doesn't end with "except for bugs and enemies..."

By Allison

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Posted: Jul 4, 2007 8:00am
Mar 22, 2006
Name: gary l. francione
Type: Tribute (for the living)
To Honor: Individual(s)
Location: , United States

Gary Francione: Questions and Answers on Introduction to Animal Rights: Your Child or the Dog? (an interview done in 2000)

There is a great deal of confusion surrounding the public debate on the matter of animal rights. This confusion is attributable in large part to the fact that there has been to date no theory of animal rights that is easily accessible and does not require that the reader have a background in philosophical theory or law. In an attempt to provide a theory of animal rights that explains the rights position in a simple and straightforward way, I have written a book entitled, Introduction to Animal Rights: Your Child or the Dog?, published by Temple University in July 2000. The following questions and answers cover some of the topics that I address in the book.

Is there a difference between the animal rights position and the animal welfare position?

Yes. The animal rights position holds that that we ought to abolish the institutionalized exploitation of nonhumans. The animal welfare position holds that it is acceptable for us to use animals for at least some purposes, but that we must regulate animal use so that we treat animals ‘humanely’ and do not impose ‘unnecessary’suffering on them. Animal welfare advocates maintain that we must ‘balance’ human and animal interests to determine whether animal use is appropriate in particular circumstances. The animal welfare position is reflected in laws, such as state anticruelty laws, or federal regulatory laws, such as the Animal Welfare Act, which concerns the use of animals in experiments, or the Humane Slaughter Act.

Does the animal welfare position succeed in providing any significant protection to animals?

No. There can be no meaningful balance of human and animal interests because animals are our property. They are commodities that we own and that have no value other than that which we as property owners choose to give them. It is simply nonsense to talk about balancing the interests of property against the interest of property owners. If someone suggested that you balance your interests against those of your automobile or your wristwatch, you would quite correctly regard the suggestion as absurd. Your automobile and your watch are your property.

They have no morally significant interests; they are merely things that have no value except that which you, the owner, accord to them. Because animals are merely property, we are generally permitted to ignore animal interests and to inflict the most horrendous pain and suffering or death on animals when it is economically beneficial. The failure of animal welfare cannot be doubted: there have been animal welfare laws of various types in existence for almost 200 years and we are using more animals today, and in more horrific ways, than we were in 1850.

If animals have rights, does that mean that they have all the same rights as do humans?

No, of course not. It would make no sense to say that animals have a right to vote or drive, or a right to an education, or a right to be free from discrimination in the workplace. The animal rights position maintains that animals have one right: the right not to be treated as the resources or property of humans. Treating animals are property is inconsistent with according animals any moral significance at all; as long as animals are property, then they will necessarily be excluded from the moral community.

Our various uses of animals for food, clothing, entertainment, and science all assume that animals are our resources, and none of these forms of institutionalized exploitation would be permissible were we to recognize that animals have this one right not to be property.

What is a ‘right’?

There is a great deal of confusion that surrounds the concept of rights. For our purposes, we need to focus on only one aspect of the concept of a right that is common to virtually all theories about rights: a right is a particular way of protecting interests. To say that an interest is protected by a right is to say that the interest is protected against being ignored or violated simply because it will benefit someone else to do so. We can think of a right of any sort as a fence or a wall that surrounds an interest and upon which hangs a no trespass sign that forbids entry even if it would be beneficial to the person seeking that entry. For example, my right of free speech protects my interest in self-expression even if other people do not value that expression and would stifle my speech merely because it would benefit them or because they disagree with me.

My right to liberty protects my interest in my freedom regardless of the value that others attach to that interest. If other people think I should be imprisoned for no other reason than that my imprisonment will benefit them, my right to liberty will prevent such treatment. To say that an animal has a right not to be treated as our property means that the animal’s interest in not being treated as an economic commodity should be protected and should not be violated simply because it will benefit humans to do so.

What is the basis of an animal’s right not to be treated as our property?

The basis is the principle of equal consideration, which holds that as a fundamental moral matter, we ought to treat like cases alike. Human and nonhuman animals are alike in at least one respect and unlike everything else in the universe - they are sentient, or capable of experiencing pain. Nonhuman animals have an interest in not suffering just as humans have an interest in not suffering.

We recognize that among humans there is a wide range of interests in that almost no two humans prefer or want or desire the same things. Some humans prefer La Boheme; others prefer Pink Floyd. Some humans have interests in obtaining a university education; others prefer to learn a trade; still others may be retarded and have absolutely no interest in either higher education or trade training. But all humans who are not brain dead or otherwise nonsentient have an interest in avoiding pain and suffering. Although we do not protect humans from all suffering, and although we may not even agree about which human interests should be protected by rights, we generally agree that all humans should be protected from suffering that results from their use as the property or commodity of another human. We do not regard it legitimate to treat any humans, irrespective of their particular characteristics, as the property of other humans. Indeed, in a world deeply divided on many moral issues, one of the few norms endorsed by the international community is the prohibition of human slavery. And it is not a matter of whether the particular form of slavery is ‘humane’ or not; we condemn all human slavery. It would, of course, be incorrect to say that human slavery has been eliminated entirely from the planet, but the institution is universally regarded as morally odious and is legally prohibited.

We protect the interest of a human in not being the property of others with a right, which is to say that we do not allow this interest to be ignored or abrogated simply because it will benefit someone else to do so. And the right not to be treated as the property of others is basic in that it is different from any other rights that we might have because it is the grounding for those other rights; it is a precondition for the possession of morally significant interests. If we do not recognize that a human has the right not to be treated exclusively as a means to the end of another, then any other right that we may grant her, such as a right of free speech, or of liberty, or to vote or own property, is completely meaningless.

To put the matter more simply, if I can enslave you and kill you at will, then any other right you may have will not be of much use to you. We may not agree about what other rights humans have, but in order for humans to have any rights at all, they must have the basic right not to be treated as a thing.

The principle of equal consideration requires that we treat similar interests in a similar way unless there is a morally sound reason for not doing so. Is there a morally sound reason that justifies our giving all humans a basic right not to be the property of others while denying this same right to all animals and treating them merely as our resources?

The usual response is to claim that some factual difference between humans and animals justifies this dissimilar treatment. For example, we maintain that animals cannot think rationally or abstractly, so it is acceptable for us to treat them as our property. In the first place, it is as difficult to deny that many animals are capable of rational or abstract thought as it is to deny that dogs have tails. But even if it is true that animals are not rational or cannot think in abstract ways, what possible difference could that make as a moral matter? Many humans, such as young children or severely retarded humans, cannot think rationally or in abstract terms, and we would never think of using such humans as subjects in painful biomedical experiments, or as sources of food or clothing. Despite what we say, we treat similar animal interests in a dissimilar way, and thus deprive animal interests of moral significance.

There is no characteristic that serves to distinguish humans from all other animals. Whatever attribute that we may think makes all humans ‘special’ and thereby different from other animals, is shared by some group of nonhumans. Whatever ‘defect’ we may think makes animals inferior to us is shared by some group of us. In the end, the only difference between them and us is species, and species alone is not a morally relevant criterion for excluding animals from the moral community any more than is race a justification for human slavery or sex a justification for making women the property of their husbands. The use of species to justify the property status of animals is speciesism just as the use of race or sex to justify the property status of humans is respectively racism or sexism. If we want animal interests to have moral significance, then we have to treat like cases alike, and we cannot treat animals in ways in which we would not be willing to treat any human.

If we apply the principle of equal consideration to animals, then we must extend to animals the one basic right that we extend to all human beings: the right not to be treated as a thing. But just as our recognition that no humans should be the property of others required that we abolish slavery, and not merely regulate it to be more ‘humane,’ our recognition that animals have this one basic right would mean that we could no longer justify our institutional exploitation of animals for food, clothing, amusement, or experiments. If we mean what we say and we regard animals as having morally significant interests, then we really have no choice: we are similarly committed to the abolition of animal exploitation, and not merely to its regulation.

Is anything more than sentience required for an animal to have a basic right not to be treated as our property?

No. There are some who argue that chimpanzees or other great apes should have rights because of the genetic and mental similarities between great apes and human beings. But this position merely reasserts the arbitrary moral hierarchy of human characteristics: the great apes have moral status because they are like us and it is our characteristics that define moral significance. Dogs are not similar to humans in the same ways that the great apes are, but dogs are still beings who are conscious of pain. If we predicate moral status on the possession of human characteristics, we exclude from the moral community more than 99.5% of the animals that we exploit.

Will animals ever have a legal right not to be treated as things before there is a change in our general social attitudes about animals?

No. There will be no significant change in the status of animals as property as the result of court cases or legislation until there is a significant social change in our attitude about animals. That is, it is not the law that will alter our moral thinking about animals; it must be the other way around. It was not the law that abolished slavery; indeed, the law protected slave ownership and the institution of slavery was not abolished by the law but through the Civil War. Women did not get the right to vote until the United States Constitution was amended. Animal exploitation is not going to be ended by a pronouncement of the Supreme Court or an act of Congress—at least not until a majority of us accept the moral position that the institution of animal property is morally unacceptable. The present-day world economy is far more dependent economically on animal exploitation than were the Southern United States on human slavery. Legal protection for animal interests in not being property will only come after we as a society become repulsed by our domination of animals as we were repulsed by human slavery.

Often people say domestic animals, such as cows and pigs, and laboratory rats, would not exist were it not for our bringing them into existence in the first place for our purposes. So is it not the case that we are free to treat them as our resources?

No. The fact that we are in some sense responsible for the existence of a being does not give us the right to treat that being as our resource. Were that so, then we could treat our children as resources. After all, they would not exist were it not for our actions—from decisions to conceive to decisions not to abort. And although we are granted a certain amount of discretion as to how we treat our children, there are limits: we cannot treat them as we do animals. We cannot enslave them, sell them into prostitution, or sell their organs. We cannot kill them.

Indeed, it is a cultural norm that bringing a child into existence creates moral obligations on the part of the parents to care for the child and not to exploit the child. It should be noted that one of the purported justifications for human slavery in the United States was that many of those who were enslaved would not have existed in the first place were it not for the institution of slavery. The original slaves who were brought to the United States were forced to breed and their children were considered as property. Although such an argument appears ludicrous to us now, it demonstrates that we cannot assume the legitimacy of the institution of property—of humans or animals—and then ask about whether it is acceptable to treat property as property. The answer will be predetermined. Rather, we must first ask whether the institution of animal (or human) property can be morally justified. We cannot justify the institution of animal (or human) property simply because we are responsible for bringing certain beings into existence because to do so would beg the central moral question from the outset. Indeed, it is the property status of animals that creates the conflicts between humans and animals that we seek to resolve through our moral analysis of the human/animal relationship.

Isn’t human use of animals a ‘tradition’ or ‘natural’ and, therefore, morally justified?

Every form of discrimination in the history of humankind has been defended on the grounds that it represents a ‘tradition.’ For example, sexism is routinely justified on the ground that it is traditional for women to be subservient to men: ‘A woman’s place is in the home.’ Human slavery has been a tradition in most cultures at some times. The fact that some behavior can be described as traditional has nothing to do with whether the behavior is or is not morally acceptable.

In addition to relying on tradition, some characterize our use of animals as ‘natural’ and then declare it to be morally acceptable. Again, to describe something as natural does not in itself say anything about the morality of the practice. In the first place, just about every form of discrimination has also been described as natural as well as traditional. The two notions are often used interchangeably. We have justified human slavery as representing a natural hierarchy of slave owners over slaves. We have justified sexism as representing the natural superiority of men over women. Moreover, it is a bit strange to describe our modern commodification of animals as natural in any sense of the word. We have created completely unnatural environments and agricultural procedures in order to maximize profits. We do bizarre experiments in which we transplant genes and organs from animals into humans and vice versa. We are now cloning animals. None of this can be described as natural. Labels such as ‘natural’ and ‘traditional’ are just that: labels. They are not reasons. If people defend the imposition of pain and suffering on an animal based on what is natural or traditional, it usually means that they cannot otherwise justify their conduct.

A variant of this question focuses on the traditions of particular groups. For example, in May 1999, the Makah tribe from Washington State killed its first gray whale in over 70 years. The killing, which was done with steel harpoons, anti-tank guns, armor-piercing ammunition, motorized chase boats, and a $310,000 grant from the federal government, was defended on the ground that whaling was a Makah tradition although no living member of the tribe had ever participated in a whale hunt. But the same argument could be (and is) made to defend clitoral mutilations in Africa and bride-burning in India. These are cultural traditions that are required for cultural identity. The issue is not whether conduct is part of a culture; all conduct is part of some culture. The issue is whether the conduct can be morally justified.

Finally, some argue that since nonhuman animals eat other nonhumans in the wild, our use of animals is ‘natural.’ There are four responses to this position. First, although some animals eat each other in the wild, many do not. Many animals are vegetarians. Moreover, there is far more cooperation in nature than our imagined ‘cruelty of nature’ would have us believe. Second, whether animals eat other animals is beside the point. How is it relevant whether animals eat other animals? Some animals are carnivorous and cannot exist without eating meat. We do not fall into that category; we can get along fine without eating meat, and more and more people are taking the position that our health and environment would both benefit from a shift away from a diet of animal products. Third, animals do all sorts of things that humans do not regard as morally appropriate. For example, dogs copulate in the street and eliminate wastes in a rather public fashion. Does that mean that we should do so?

Fourth, it is interesting that when it is convenient for us to do so, we attempt to justify our exploitation of animals by resting on our supposed ‘superiority.’ And when our supposed ‘superiority’ gets in the way of what we want to do, we suddenly portray ourselves as nothing more than another species of wild animal, as entitled as foxes to eat chickens.

©2000 Gary L. Francione. Please do not reprint without permission. The author may be contacted at These questions and answers were first published in the New Zealand animal rights
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Posted: Mar 22, 2006 9:08am
Mar 10, 2006
Focus: Health
Action Request: Read
Location: United States

Sugar or Sweetener? Sucrose Has its Problems, But so do Artificial Substitutes

Article By Brian C. Howard - Mar 07 2006


Americans are known around the world for our voracious appetite for sugary treats. Our collective sweet tooth compels us to ingest mountains of candy and cookies, truckloads of ice cream and sodas, and many other confections.

But we also swallow enormous amounts of “hidden” sugars that are added to a bewildering array of processed foods, from cereals to ketchup and from canned fruits to some vitamins.

Consumption of sweeteners in the U.S. has risen from 113 pounds per person per year in 1966 to around 142 pounds per person per year in 2004, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Compare that to an average of 8.3 pounds of broccoli and 25 pounds of dark lettuces for 2003, according to U.S. News and World Report. Americans now consume an average of 61 pounds a year of high fructose corn syrup (especially in sodas), and we scarf down 20 teaspoons of added sugar a day (not including lactose or fructose naturally found in milk and fruit).

The USDA recommends adults consume no more than eight or nine teaspoons of sugar for a typical 2,000-calorie diet. Staying within this limit can be much easier said than done, however, considering that some candy bars, 12-ounce sodas and one-cup servings of ice cream contain around nine teaspoons of sugar.

What’s wrong with sugar? In addition to its tooth-rotting properties, Marion Nestle, professor of nutrition and public health at New York University, explains, “Sugar’s empty calories (meaning lack of nutrients) contribute to the big problem with the American diet: too many calories.” Sugar has also been widely linked to increasing risk for type II diabetes. Plus, the sweet stuff has a considerable environmental footprint (see EarthTalk, this issue).

Sticky Business

Closely related to sugar is the now ubiquitous high fructose corn syrup, which is prepared by treating cornstarch with acids or enzymes. The sticky, tooth-attacking syrup is often made with genetically engineered corn, and, like sugar, it contains no nutritional value beyond its caloric content. During the past few decades, corn syrup (which tastes sweeter than sugar) has become the sweetener of choice for many food processors, who load it into everything from baked goods to sauces, jellies, drinks and even frozen fruit. In fact, corn syrup recently overtook sugar itself as America’s most popular sweetener.

Corn syrup is a blend of fructose and glucose, while refined sugar is made of the larger molecule sucrose. Recent research suggests that fructose may be handled differently in the body than other sugars. “It appears to behave more like fat with respect to the hormones involved in body weight regulation,” Peter Havel, associate professor of nutrition at the University of California, Davis, told the Washington Post. “Fructose doesn’t stimulate insulin secretion. It doesn’t increase leptin production (a hormone that helps regulate appetite and fat storage) or suppress production of ghrelin (which helps regulate food intake). That suggests that consuming a lot of fructose, like consuming too much fat, could contribute to weight gain.”

Partly because they are also sweeter than sugar pound for pound, a number of artificial sweeteners have been on the U.S. market for years, and are ubiquitous in such foods as diet soda and “sugar-free” candy. Perhaps echoing the sentiment of many environmentalists, Nestle cautions, “I don’t like artificial sweeteners because I do not like artificial anything when it comes to food.” Observers have also questioned whether the widespread adoption of artificial sweeteners has made much of a dent in the ever-growing American waistline.

Less popular than it once was, saccharin (often known as Sweet ‘N Low) has long raised red flags among food safety scientists after it was definitively linked to bladder cancer in male rats. The industry denies those studies have any application to human beings, but the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) points out, “In some studies, saccharin has caused bladder cancer in mice and in female rats and other cancers in both rats and mice.”

The group also suggests staying clear of the German-made sweetener acesulfame-k, which it says has been linked to cancer and other ailments in lab animals. Safety tests of the chemical, conducted in the 1970s, were of “mediocre quality,” reports CSPI.

The sugar substitute aspartame, known as NutraSweet, Equal and Spoonful, accounts for 75 percent of adverse reactions to food additives reported to the FDA. In recent years, aspartame has been at the center of an Internet firestorm, in which various advocacy websites have linked it to cancer, ADD, autism, Parkinson’s disease and other problems. CSPI cautions, “Most such claims are not supported by studies.” However, the group does point out that a 2005 study found that “even low doses of aspartame increased the incidence of lymphomas and leukemia in female rats and also might have caused occasional brain tumors.”

Other Options

A relatively new sweetener on the block is British-made Splenda, which was first approved in the U.S. in 1998. Splenda is the trade name of the patented sweetener sucralose, which is marketed solely by Johnson and Johnson subsidiary McNeil Nutritionals.

When it was first introduced, sucralose sparked considerable consumer excitement, because it is extremely low in calories. Sucralose is now appearing in everything from baked goods to sweetener packets, and makes up about 50 percent of the U.S. sugar substitute market, according to the Associated Press.

However, Splenda’s success hasn’t been entirely sweet. Lawsuits have been filed in several states against McNeil Nutritionals on behalf of the sugar industry, which claims the company misrepresents Splenda with its slogan “made from sugar, so it tastes like sugar.” In fact, Splenda is made in a patented, highly industrial process that adds chlorine atoms to sucrose. McNeil countersued, claiming the sugar industry is waging a “malicious smear campaign”—including promotion of the slick Truth About Splenda website—by trying to convince consumers that Splenda is “unhealthy or unsafe” and that they “would be better off consuming refined sugar.”

Jim Murphy, a Sugar Association lawyer, told the Associated Press, “I think one of the concerns is that there really have been no long-term studies that resolve whether or not consumption of Splenda is healthy.” Echoing this concern, natural products retailer Whole Foods moved to ban sucralose from its stores on the basis that there aren’t enough studies to prove that it is safe and the fact that it requires heavy industrial processing.

The good news is a number of more natural alternatives are becoming widely available to help people enjoy their food without risking their health (see “How Sweet It Isn’t,” Eating Right, November/December 2003). Better choices include maple syrup, honey and date sugar, which at least provide some nutrients in the form of vitamins, amino acids, enzymes and minerals, even though their sugar content is very similar to regular sucrose.

Agave nectar absorbs more slowly into the bloodstream than traditional sugar, making it less likely to result in an energy “crash” after consumption. Natural birch sugar, called xylitol, packs fewer calories than cane or beet-based sugar. Some nutrients are also found in Sucanat, a brand name for organically grown, dehydrated cane juice.

BRIAN C. HOWARD is managing editor of E.


Center for Science in the Public Interest
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Phone: (202) 332-9110

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Posted: Mar 10, 2006 10:43am
Dec 25, 2005
Fluoride, Whether Rat Poison Or Tooth Builder, Was Never FDA Approved
By Sally Stride
Aug. 18, 2005

For years, killing rodents was sodium fluoride's most popular use until dentists latched onto the idea that feeding just little bits of fluoride to little children might prevent cavities.

You probably assume that the FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) or some other governing body tests, studies and assures the safety of all drugs, including the doctor-prescribed fluoride tablets caring parents feed their children. After all they wouldn't sell it if it wasn't safe?

But neither the FDA nor any other regulatory body ever tested the safety or effectiveness of fluoride tablets.

It was 1938 when the FDA required drug safety testing, Any "drug" on the market pre-1938 was exempt from regulation. Since sodium fluoride was already being sold - as a rat poison - it was not investigated for preventing cavities.

So where did dentists get this crazy idea to feed rat poison to little children?

Water fluoridation. Dentists claimed that if children drink about one quart of water containing 1 milligram fluoride every day, they would have less tooth decay. So children not drinking fluoridated water, therefore, should receive a 1 mg fluoride dose in pill or drop form once a day. No science showed getting all the fluoride at one time was safer or as "beneficial" as drinking 1 milligram spread over the entire day.

Fluoridation science is very shaky; it's promotion shady. The first fluoride human experiment started in 1945 in Grand Rapids, Michigan, whose residents were dosed with fluoride via their water supply. Muskegon was planned to be the non-fluoridated control city.

After 15 years, Grand Rapids had about 50% less tooth decay than Muskegon. No other fluoride sources were sold at that time. However, Muskegon fluoridated it's water supply six years into the experiment. So the dentists were actually comparing two fluoridated cities which proves that something other than fluoridation is responsible for Grand Rapids lower cavity rates.

That hasn't stopped the dentists from crowing about fluoridation and bragging about Grand Rapids. Heck, they even built a monument to fluoridation in Grand Rapids. This year they celebrated 60 years of this dubious practice, spending over $80,000, and four days in fluoridated Chicago, where children spend days or weeks in dental pain because no dentist will treat them.

So it's really no surprise that tooth decay rates are going up, instead of down, in most of our largest fluoridated U.S. cities. And it's no surprise that tooth loss rates have gone up since 2002 despite growing numbers of Americans drinking, eating and applying more fluoride than ever.

What is a surprise is that fluoridation is still practiced in the U.S.

E-mail correspondence between the author and the FDA indicating that fluoride was never safety tested


About the author: Sally Stride Is The Fluoridation Editor At Suite 101:

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Posted: Dec 25, 2005 7:50am
Dec 3, 2005
Healthy eating, sea to sky
NUTRISPEAK by Vesanto Melina MS, RD

For many of us, winter heralds the pleasure of travel. For some, it is the best season to visit exotic locations and escape from the cold and rain. For others, it’s an opportunity to reconnect with distant family members. Work-related projects recently took me to California and Barcelona, Spain, and this month’s column was inspired by KLM’s strict vegetarian meal, served on my return flight via Amsterdam.
My dinner consisted of roasted eggplant in a delicious sauce, couscous with currants and coriander, a diced beet salad with endive, and fresh fruit slices (pineapple, grapefruit, and kiwi) with a fruit sauce for dessert. Not bad for an airline.
Whether you are a vegetarian, vegan, or raw food enthusiast, or you have food sensitivities, or you simply want to enjoy healthy meals during your travels, a little pre-planning will help you meet your food requirements, wherever you go. Here are some pointers:
1. Specify food preferences in advance
Pack your own healthy lunch for short flights; on longer flights, most airlines offer a meal service that caters to special needs. You can request several types of vegetarian diets and order an appropriate meal for your food sensitivities. Whether you are travelling by train, plane, or cruise ship, discuss food restrictions when you book your journey. You will often be pleasantly surprised at how well these companies take care of you.
2. Research the internet
Conduct some internet research to find food establishments along your travel route and at your destination. Vegetarian restaurants typically serve meals that are free of fish, dairy, eggs, animal products, and gluten-free grains. These establishments can accommodate a wide variety of health conditions, including diabetes, heart conditions, and other chronic diseases. Visit,, and, and also check out some sites related to food allergies.
Before you arrive you may wish to contact restaurants , via phone or email, to explain your limitations and to ask whether they are equipped to accommodate your needs.
3. Check out the food guides
The Vegetarian Journal’s Guide to Natural Food Restaurants in the U.S. and Canada is handy during road trips ( For information about vegetarian restaurants in Europe, visit Our books, Becoming Vegetarian, Becoming Vegan, and Raising Vegetarian Children all include travel sections, as does the Food Allergy Survival Guide. (Available at Banyen, Chapters, and
4. Pack some containers
It can be immensely helpful to purchase a few spill-proof containers in suitable sizes for a serving of vegetable or bean salad, hummus, salad dressing, nut butters, or a non-dairy beverage to round out the foods available enroute. You may want to bring a plastic fork and spoon. (To my amusement, in the wake of increased airline security since 9/11, I once had my small, plastic fork confiscated before boarding a Hawaiian airliner, after which the airline supplied me with an identical plastic fork for its in-flight snack.)
Certain foods pack well for travel. Combine your favourite nuts and dried fruits to create a nourishing, and even exotic, trail mix. Bring small packages of non-dairy milk, although cereals, granola, and muesli also taste good with fruit juice. You’ll find delicious, fresh juices in airports throughout Europe and even in the departures area of our own Vancouver airport. For a protein boost, reconstitute individual portions of instant soup mix (black bean, lentil, or curry) with hot water. Mix ready-to-eat tofu with a little seasoning and chopped, raw veggies to make a dip or sandwich filling. When food foraging is challenging, add a multivitamin mineral supplement.
5. Plan your exercise program
Fitness profoundly affects how we feel, so it’s wise to include it in your plans. When I travel as a speaker or am visiting, I advise my hosts that I prefer to include an hour of exercise every day; I inquire about the proximity of beautiful parks, swimming pools, and recreational facilities. Fitness becomes a rich and integral part of our itinerary. In Barcelona, in addition to visiting a Gaudi park, we toured an interactive playground with an immense xylophone that allowed children and adults to leap from note to note, teeter-totters that triggered fountain sprays, and unique merry-go-rounds.
Travel in good health and bon voyage.
Vesanto Melina is a BC-based registered dietitian and author of a number of best-selling books about food and nutrition. For personal consultations, call 604-888-8325 (Fort Integrated Health Clinic) or 604-882-6782 (home office, near Fort Langley).
For issues related to factory farming, see the University of Toronto’s Coalition of Animal Rights and the Environment (CARE) website:
For facts about free-range poultry, see
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Posted: Dec 3, 2005 11:46am


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