Tyson Foods Inc, the nation’s largest poultry producer, says it’s going to stop giving its chickens human-use antibiotics.
Tyson has set a September 2017 deadline for pulling the antibiotics, making it “one of the most aggressive timetables yet set by an American poultry company,” reports Reuters.
The move comes in part due to Tyson’s relationship with McDonald’s Corp, the nation’s leading fast-food chain, which also announced plans to stop selling chicken products that contain antibiotics. In recent years, there has been growing consumer concern over the use of antibiotics in livestock feed and the connection to antibiotic resistant “superbugs,” which pose serious human health issues.
“Tyson controls its chicken supply chain from beginning to end, from owning the birds to supplying the medicated feed to the contract farmers that raise the broilers for them,” Reuters explains, and Tyson says the move away from antibiotics will not impact prices. Tyson’s main rival, Perdue, says it also does not use human-use antibiotics on 95 percent of its chickens, and approximately half of its flocks receive no antibiotics of any kind.
Tyson also announced that it’s looking into ways to reduce antibiotic and other livestock drugs in its pork and beef operations. A company spokesperson told Reuters the company did not know how many antibiotics are being used on its other livestock farms because they are not managed by Tyson directly. "We don't know because we don't own those animals," the representative said.
To achieve its goal, Tyson will be working with groups of farmers, suppliers, veterinarians and industry experts to develop methods for treating animals without antibiotics, particularly those also used on humans.
When human-use antibiotics are used in the food supply, it makes treating infections with those antibiotics more difficult. The World Health Organization has said that the "post-antibiotic era" is imminent unless we can protect these vital medicines.
In factory farm settings, antibiotics are given to animals to treat and prevent illnesses, but they’re also used to enhance growth. Animals fed antibiotics tend to reach market weight much faster, making a quicker profit for producers.
Thinking of giving the Paleo diet a try? You may want to reconsider that thought. That’s because several new bodies of research suggest our gut microbes, or the microbiome, may not be up for the diet. In fact, our guts may not be handling any food very well these days.
According to NPR, the studies revealed that “Western diets and modern-day hygiene have wiped a few dozen species right out of our digestive tracts. One missing microbe helps metabolize carbohydrates. Other bygone bacteria act as prebiotics. And another communicates with our immune system.”
Why is this an issue? Because, the researchers concluded, we’ve lost a huge number of bacteria that have historically helped us with digestion, “Americans' digestive tracts look like barren deserts compared with the lush, tropical rain forest found inside indigenous people,” NPR explains.
"The concern is that we're losing keystone species," microbiologist M. Gloria Dominguez-Bello, at the New York University School of Medicine told NPR. "That's a hypothesis, but we haven't proved it."
Dominguez-Bello and her team flew down to visit with a remote tribe in Venezuela, the Yanomami tribe, which traces back more than 11,000 years in that region on the border of Brazil. The researchers took samples of the tribe’s fecal matter to look specifically at digestive bacteria. Using DNA analysis, the researchers were able to uncover a rich world of microflora—about 50 percent more strains of bacteria and biodiversity than what’s found in most Americans.
While you might expect that from people who live in a forest environment without access to bleach, there’s more to it than just set and setting. According to Dominguez-Bello, our modern loss of bacteria in the digestive tract may correlate with increases in illnesses ranging from allergies and autoimmune disorders to multiple sclerosis.
"So the big question is: Are these two facts related?" Dominguez-Bello asked. "It's not clear if more diversity in the microbiome is healthier. But maybe we have lost species with important functions," she told NPR.
And it’s not just diet choices that dictate microbiome health. The Yanomami tribe certainly isn’t ordering Pizza Hut or eating Pop Tarts for breakfast. But they’re not being exposed to antibiotics either (some members of the tribe have been treated since the 2009 visit).
"Antibiotics kill bacteria in the gut, and sometimes species don't come back," Dominguez-Bello told NPR, "This is especially true with children, whose microbiomes are in the process of getting assembled. Impacts on the microbiome at a young age can have long-lasting consequences."
The other study, led by Jens Walter, a microbiologist at the University of Alberta, points to another culprit though: clean drinking water. An achievement of tremendous value, our sanitized water may actually be preventing the transfer of healthy bacteria between individuals, one common way it spreads.
In Walter’s research on Papua New Guineans, the tribe had 47 more species of bacteria “that are essentially absent in the Americans they studied,” NPR explains. “The Americans, on the other hand, had only four species in their microbiome that were missing in the Papua New Guineans.”
Image via: ibm4381
With warmer weather comes longer days, busier schedules, and most likely, a good bit of stress management. Even though your goal may be to spend more time outdoors, relaxing and enjoying the spring and summer months, that desire can put pressure on other areas of your life—making it to the beach or the trail takes planning, coordinating, and of course, freeing up your schedule, which can mean more work ahead of time. No. Fun.
But don’t let all the work deter you from enjoying the warmth and outdoor activities. Take stress management into your own hands—and mouth—with these foods that naturally reduce stress. And bonus stress reducer: you don’t have to do elaborate meal planning or prep. Just throw them into a blender and watch your stress puree away!
So now that you’ve got your stress-relieving foods—let them do the work of stress management in a smoothie!
In a blender, add one banana (preferably frozen), a handful of spinach or other leafy greens, plus a teaspoon or two of dried greens like our mustHave greens, along with 2 teaspoons chia seeds and 2 teaspoons chocolate powder. Fill in with a nondairy milk like almond or coconut. Add a sweetener if you like ( a drip of honey is good) and any other fruits like berries or pineapple. If not using a frozen banana, add a handful of ice. Blend and serve!
Image: Robert Gourley
New research reveals more about the health of honeybees and their relationship with a class of pesticides known as neonicotinoids.
Over the last decade, honeybee populations have been declining as a result of colony collapse disorder, a mysterious condition that causes bees to become disoriented and abandon their hives.
Neonicotinoids, or neonics as they’re referred to, have been banned in the EU for their alleged connection to the condition, and now, researchers may have pinpointed another issue related to the pesticides. The bees may actually prefer plants that have been treated with neonics, which are derived from nicotine, the same addictive substance in cigarettes.
A number of conventionally grown seeds including corn, soy and canola, are pre-treated with neonics, which are coated onto the seeds before they’re planted. It’s estimated that 95 percent of corn grown in the U.S. has been treated with neonics.
In the new research, it turns out that the bees are drawn to the neonic-treated plants. When given a choice between a plain sugary solution and one that contained neonics, the bees chose the poison, which is toxic to the pollinators’ nervous systems. “It's possible that they're getting a little buzz from the neonics, similar to the way a human may get a buzz from nicotine,” reports NPR.
What’s perhaps most disturbing about the research is that the bees couldn’t taste the pesticide in the study, but preferred it anyway because of its effect, even though it meant an eventual death.
And according to NPR, another study published in the journal Nature, found that bumblebees that fed on canola plants treated with neonics were more likely to experience negative health issues including slowed growth and reproductive issues.
Scientists for Bayer CropScience, a leading producer of neonics, wrote in an email to NPR that the research "demonstrates yet again there is no effect of neonicotinoids on honeybee colonies in realistic field conditions, consistent with previous published field studies."
But it hasn’t quelled the growing concern over neonics. Lowe’s, the popular home improvement retailer, recently announced plans to stop selling neonic products.
Image: Eran Finkle
It’s Earth Day and you’ve probably already read quite a few stories about why this day matters. Maybe you’re even doing something to make the world a little greener today, like planting a tree or cleaning up a strip of beach or highway. But if you’re feeling called to make Earth Day an every day kind of commitment, here are just a few ways you can make a difference year-round.
1. Stop eating animals: Going meat free is one of the best and easiest ways to help the planet. You reduce the impact on the environment by limiting the contribution to greenhouse gases, reducing use of water, land and nutrients that livestock animals use up. Plants are a healthier, lower impact food source that’s better for you, the earth and the animals.
2. VB6: If going completely animal-product-free isn’t an option, try the Vegan Before 6 (pm) idea—eat vegan all day and then, if you want, have animal products with dinner.
3. Conserve your water usage: This can be as easy as getting better at washing dishes, transitioning to a grass-free lawn, or capturing and using your grey water. It may not seem like much, but every bit helps.
4. Switch to green cleaners and laundry detergents: Not only do green products get the job done, they’re free from chemicals known to have human and environmental health risks. Switch to natural products or make your own!
5. Eat organic: Yes, it can sometimes cost more, but when you start to think about the big picture—about how the lack of pesticides is better for the land and for the farmers as well as your health, eating organic soon becomes a no-brainer. Just do it.
6. Reduce, reuse and recycle: You’ll probably hear this 100 times today and for good reason! These three steps are, quite simply, really important. When we think about everything we’re using and whether or not it can fall into one of these three categories, we become more aware and more invested in protecting our planet. Not just on Earth Day, but every day.
Another Earth Day has arrived! This year marks the 45th, and in honor of tomorrow’s special day, we’ve pulled together some of our favorite quotes reminding us why we need to respect and honor our earth mother.
1. “The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.” - John Muir
2. “Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.” - Henry David Thoreau
3. “It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. I didn't feel like a giant. I felt very, very small.” - Neil Armstrong
4. “Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.” - Rachel Carson
5. “Waste is Criminal.” - Kristin Cashore
6. “I would request that my body in death be buried not cremated, so that the energy content contained within it gets returned to the earth, so that flora and fauna can dine upon it, just as I have dined upon flora and fauna during my lifetime” - Neil deGrasse Tyson
7. “How can we be so arrogant? The planet is, was, and always will be stronger than us. We can't destroy it; if we overstep the mark, the planet will simply erase us from its surface and carry on existing. Why don't they start talking about not letting the planet destroy us?” - Paulo Coelho
8. “...the care of the earth is our most ancient and most worthy and, after all, our most pleasing responsibility. To cherish what remains of it, and to foster its renewal, is our only legitimate hope.” - Wendell Berry
9. “We are either going to have a future where women lead the way to make peace with the Earth or we are not going to have a human future at all.” - Vandana Shiva
10. “Our love was born
outside the walls,
in the wind,
in the night,
in the earth,
and that's why the clay and the flower,
the mud and the roots
know your name.” - Pablo Neruda
Image via starmama
Now that spring is in full bloom, it’s not uncommon to want to lose a bit of weight. But working out isn’t the only way to get this done; boosting metabolism is a key factor in aiding in meeting healthy weight goals.
But how exactly is boosting metabolism done? There are quite a few ways. Here are some favorites:
Organic fish and shellfish are closer to becoming reality in the U.S., but probably not in time for dinner tonight.
The USDA has announced that it will propose standards for organic farmed fish and shellfish products, but the process could take years before regulations and certifications are in place.
“Organic seafood would be welcome news for the increasing number of organic shoppers — and for retailers that have profited from their higher prices,” reports ABCNews. “It could also help the U.S. farmed fish industry find a premium as it struggles to compete against cheaper imports.”
A number of fish and shellfish varieties likely to fall under the organic fish labeling include salmon, tilapia, catfish, shrimp, mussels, oysters and clams.
The European Union and Canada already have organic aquaculture programs in place; and are even exporting organic fish and shellfish products to the U.S. But retailers, including Whole Foods Market, say they’ll wait for the organic certification before labeling any seafood as organic.
“It's still unclear if U.S. standards can be successful,” reports ABC. “Many in the farmed fish industry say they expect that the requirements for fish feed may be so strict as to be financially prohibitive.”
Questions surround the diets fed to farmed fish labeled as organic and whether or not ocean cages known as net pens would be permissible. Since many fish eat other fish, creating an organic supply chain could prove to be challenging, if not impossible, for an organic fish industry.
Further conflating the issue, some environmental groups criticize the recommendations “for suggesting that at first a quarter of the fish feed could be from sustainably wild-caught — but not organic — fish,” reports ABC. “A fish can't be organic, they argue, if it doesn't eat 100 percent organic feed,” a similarly contentious issue with organic animal products.
For ocean-raised fish, the issue of contamination is a big concern. "What we're saying is this isn't organic," Lisa Bunin of the Center for Food Safety told the AP.
With the proper safeguards in place though, organic aquaculture could help consumers make safe seafood choices at a time when concern and confusion about seafood options is widespread.
Interest in organic foods continues to rise across the U.S. as the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the growth of certified organic operations in the U.S. and around the world.
According to the USDA, the U.S. now boasts 19,474 certified organic operations and a total of 27,814 worldwide. That’s more than a five percent increase over the last year. “Since the count began in 2002, the number of domestic organic operations has increased by over 250 percent,” the USDA notes on its website.
"As demand for organic products continues to soar, more and more producers are entering the organic market," Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement. "USDA tools and resources have created opportunities for organic farmers and more options for organic consumers. Growing demand for organic goods can be especially helpful to smaller family operations. The more diverse type of operations and the more growing market sectors we have in American agriculture, the better off our country's rural economy will be."
The USDA says its committed the organic community of growers and distributors with the proper resources to aid in further category growth. “Along with programs to support conservation, provide access to loans and grants, fund organic research and education, and integrated pest management, USDA administers organic certification cost share programs to offset the costs of organic certification for U.S. producers and handlers nationwide,” the agency explained on its website. “Now, USDA is using funding from the 2014 Farm Bill to develop the Organic Integrity Database, a modernized certified organic operations database that will provide accurate information about all certified operations that is updated on a regular basis.”
According to the USDA, the upgraded system will make it easy for anyone to confirm the organic certification status of a product by using the online tools.
The Organic Integrity Database will launch in September.
If you haven’t fallen in love with kale chips yet, prepare to have this kale chips recipe change all that for good. Loaded with good-for-you ingredients (they’re kale chips after all!), this recipe gets a superfood burst with powdered organic greens.
This recipe uses our very own mustHave greens (which has dried kale in it!)but you can use any dried greens in this recipe, or leave them out entirely if you want a more traditional tasting cheesy kale chips recipe. But if you do want to make this snack as healthy as possible, we do recommend using the greens.
Makes about 6 servings
1 large bunch curly green kale
1 cup cashews soaked in water for at least 5 hours (save soak water)
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
½ cup red bell pepper, chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 heaping teaspoon mustHave greens or other organic greens powder
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
*optional 1 teaspoon cayenne powder if you like spicy
If baking in oven, preheat to 275° F.
Wash and dry kale well. Chop into large 2 –inch pieces and set aside.
In a blender, combine all other ingredients except for the cashew soak water. Add water a little at a time until the mixture resembles a cheese sauce like consistency.
If baking, spread kale pieces onto lightly oiled baking sheet and spoon cheese sauce onto each “chip.” You can be generous here; a thick coating will hold up and bring a lot of flavor to your chips. Bake for about 35-40 minutes, flipping the chips about halfway through.
If using a dehydrator, assemble the kale onto the dehydrator trays and spoon the cheese sauce mixture over the kale as stated above. Dehydrate at 130° F for about 10-12 hours or until crispy.
Kale chips image via julesstonesoup