Healing herbs

Healing herbs
Echinacea and Calendula

Friday, 27 December 2013

Traditional Danish Pastries Threatened By EU Cinnamon Ban

Proposals for an EU ban on cinnamon rolls have put a dampener on Denmark's Christmas festivities.

The season's festivities in Denmark have been overshadowed by the prospect that it could be the last Danish Christmas before a European Union ban on their beloved kanelsnegler or cinnamon rolls.

The proposed ban followed plans by Denmark's food safety agency to implement EU regulations aimed at limiting the amount of coumarin, a naturally occurring toxic chemical found in the most commonly used type of cinnamon, cassia.

Under Danish interpretation of the EU legislation the amount of cinnamon in "everyday fine baked goods" will be limited to 15mg per kilo meaning a ban on Kanelsnegler pastries, a winter favourite in all Nordic countries, which take their name from their coiled snail shape.

The move has provoked a furious reaction from Danish bakers because neighbouring Sweden has decided to save their spicy pastries, known as kanenbullar in Swedish, by classing them as a traditional and seasonal dish with a permitted cinnamon level over three times higher, at 50mg per kilo.

"It's the end of the cinnamon roll as we know it," said Hardy Christensen, the head of the Danish Baker's Association.

Read more here

Cinnamon Health Benefits
5 Health Benefits of Cinnamon—Ceylon and Cassia
Coumarin In Cinnamon Causes Liver Damage In Some People

Turmeric: A Powerful Medicine

Turmeric has a peppery, warm and bitter flavor and a mild fragrance slightly reminiscent of orange and ginger, and while it is best known as one of the ingredients used to make curry, it also gives ballpark mustard its bright yellow color.

Turmeric comes from the root of the Curcuma longa plant and has a tough brown skin and a deep orange flesh. Turmeric has long been used as a powerful anti-inflammatory in both the Chinese and Indian systems of medicine. Turmeric was traditionally called "Indian saffron" because of its deep yellow-orange color and has been used throughout history as a condiment, healing remedy and textile dye.

Health Benefits: Turmeric (Curcuma longa), the bright yellow of the spice rainbow, is a powerful medicine that has long been used in the Chinese and Indian systems of medicine as an anti-inflammatory agent to treat a wide variety of conditions, including flatulence, jaundice, menstrual difficulties, bloody urine, hemorrhage, toothache, bruises, chest pain, and colic.

A Potent, Yet Safe Anti-Inflammatory: The volatile oil fraction of turmeric has demonstrated significant anti-inflammatory activity in a variety of experimental models. Even more potent than its volatile oil is the yellow or orange pigment of turmeric, which is called Curcumin. Curcumin is thought to be the primary pharmacological agent in turmeric. In numerous studies, Curcumin's anti-inflammatory effects have been shown to be comparable to the potent drugs Hydrocortisone and Phenylbutazone as well as over-the-counter anti-inflammatory agents such as Motrin. Unlike the drugs, which are associated with significant toxic effects (ulcer formation, decreased white blood cell count, intestinal bleeding), Curcumin produces no toxicity.

Read more here

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Cloves: A Wonder Spice With The Highest Antioxidant Value

Cloves are one of the highly prized spices, widely recognized all over the world for their medicinal and culinary qualities. They are the "flower buds" from evergreen rain-forest tree native to Indonesia.

Botanically, the spice belongs to the family of Myrtaceae of the genus; Sygyzium, and scientifically named as Sygizium aromaticum.

The flower buds are initially pale in color, gradually turn to green, and, finally develop into bright-red clove buds by the time of harvesting. Buds are generally picked up when they reach 1.5-2 cm in length.

Structurally, each bud consists of long calyx; terminating in four spreading sepals, and four unopened petals, which form a small ball (dome) at the center. The sweet aroma of cloves is due to eugenol, an essential oil in them.

Read more here

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Honey: A Must Read For Those Who Eat It Regularly

by The Health Coach, Contributing Writer  

Truly, honey is a superfood, a nectarian delight and an effective healing agent all in one. It is packed with vitamins and minerals, enzymes and antioxidants, lots of carbohydrates in the form of sugars and even some amino acids. So sweet is it that, taken together, its unique combination of fructose and glucose makes it sweeter than table sugar.  

When you have a moment, hold up a clear jar of honey up in the sunlight and see the golden nectar for what it is. Its amber color reflects much of the sun’s energy which was utilized in its process of creation.  In Ayurveda honey is considered one of the most effective natural delivery systems for the therapeutic administration of herbal preparations and other remedies.  

As in all healing systems throughout the world, there is much subtlety and nuance associated with every healing agent “under the sun”. By that we mean that a single food or herb or spice has different healing qualities associated with it depending on it’s source, its specific type, ripeness, exact time of being picked or harvested, what kind of ground it is grown in, among several other determinants.

In the case of honey there are additional differences which are even more subtle, but no less important in distinguishing one healing application from another. By way of illustration, here is a list of the eight different types of honey identified within Ayurveda which can be found at the website linked below:

Read more here

Friday, 13 December 2013

50 Foods You Really Should Be Eating

Think popping a multivitamin once per day is good enough to cover all of the bases your diet is missing? Think again. Your body doesn't absorb nearly as many minerals and vitamins from that pill as you might believe. Instead, give your body a powerful boost by adding some natural superfoods to your diet.  

1. Kale: If Popeye knew about kale, he'd never have bothered with spinach. This robust, dark leafy green is chock-full of nutrients like iron, vitamins A, C and K, fiber, antioxidants and is a great detoxifier (particularly for your liver).  

2. Chia Seeds: Prized by the Mayans and Aztecs, this superfood is once again becoming a star in the modern-day diet. Add these to your diet to get a boost of fiber, omega fatty acids, calcium — and it's also a complete protein that's easy to add to salads and smoothies.  

3. Spinach: Your mother always told you to eat this vibrant, leafy green if you want to grow up big and strong. What she didn't mention is that it's also great for preventing prostate cancer, is an excellent source of vitamins A, C and K, is loaded with antioxidants and is a good source of protein.  

4. Swiss Chard: Swiss chard grades highly among the ranks of nutrient-packed leafy greens, but the best part might be the taste. Kale can be tough, collards are heavy and some people hate spinach, Swiss chard tastes similar to the very neutral romaine lettuce. Best of all, it has all of the same nutrients as its brethren.  

5. Collard Greens: Collard greens don't get the type of love that kale does, but they still bring the same nutrients to the table, like vitamins C and K. Collards also give you vitamin E, folate and manganese, and similarly, are known as a cancer-fighter.

Read more here

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Constantly Tired? Here Are 10 Herbs To Increase Energy, Vitality, And Adaptability

How difficult is it for us to achieve a work-life balance? How much more difficult is it to achieve a life-energy balance? And does it not seem that there are never enough hours in the day to achieve any balance at all? 

You’re not alone. Your days may seem that way, but in truth the balance is always there, always available and always achievable. That doesn’t mean it isn’t difficult, but a few ancient herbal formulas will certainly help you achieve the balance you never thought possible. 

Skip your daily sugar boost, coffee or red bull because in the long-term they will always let you down. Adaptogenic herbs will give you sustained energy and vitality while allowing your mind to think freely, calmly and without excessive stimulation.

Adaptogenic herbs demonstrate a nonspecific enhancement of the body’s ability to resist a stressor. Modern herbalists say adaptogenic herbs are plants with properties that exert a normalizing influence on the body, neither habit-forming, over-stimulating nor inhibiting normal body function, but rather exerting a generalized tonifying effect. They increase your resistance overall against physical, chemical and biological stressors.

Herbal formulas found in Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurvedic medicine restore a healthy stress response typically using traditionally prepared as formulas. However, each herb can be taken on its own in the appropriate dosage depending on your specific requirements. For the exact dosages, please consult with a master herbalist or natural health practitioner well-versed in herbal formulas to increase energy and vitality. Here are the ten best adaptogenic herbs:

Read more here

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Make Your Own “Soothing Roots Balm” for Headache Relief


Soothing Roots Balm- diy remedy for headache relief.When a headache hits, the only thing that sounds remotely pleasant is lying down, closing you’re eyes, and falling asleep. Unfortunately, more often than not, we’re stuck in traffic, helping the kids with homework, dealing with a crabby boss, trying to cook dinner, running to catch the bus, etc. etc. when the pounding sets in, and lying down just isn’t an option. Instead of instantly medicating yourself, carry around a little tin of this soothing headache balm and rub some on your temples, the back of your neck, or anywhere you feel tense or sore to help relieve the pain.

Ingredients: Peppermint Oil, Eucalyptus Oil, Lavender Oil, Beeswax, Shea Nut Oil, Grapeseed Oil.

Why peppermint oil: Peppermint contains menthol, and menthol produces a cooling sensation on the skin which, couples with the refreshing scent, helps relieve tension and resulting tension headaches. 

Why eucalyptus oil: Fresh and invigorating, eucalyptus soothes without making you sleepy. Studies have shown the scent increases brainwave activity, reducing fatigue. Rubbed on muscles, it helps relieve tension and soreness. 

Why lavender oil: Lavender is also a wonderfully soothing scent, being used in a number of studies testing the benefits of aromatherapy. Changes in brain wave patterns for people exposed to the scent suggested increased relaxation and a resulting loss of tension in muscles.

Why beeswax/Shea nut oil/grapeseed oil: All of these ingredients are what give the balm its body, and dilute the essential oils. Good and nourishing for the skin, they are easier to obtain than their names suggest! (Grapeseed oil can be found at your local grocery store.)

Read more here

Saturday, 7 December 2013

A Recipe for Turmeric Juice: A Powerful Healing Beverage

When I lived in Bali, I fell in love with the Balinese-style turmeric juice, Jamu Kunyit. Turmeric is known to be one of the most powerful healing herbs. It is great for bones and joints as it has anti-inflammatory properties. It prevents metastases from occurring in many different forms of cancer. 

Turmeric is also a natural liver detoxifier and a kidney cleanser, and it speeds metabolism and aids in weight management. Plus it heals and alleviates conditions of depression, psoriasis, damaged skin, arthritis and more. For these reasons, turmeric is ubiquitous both in Ayurveda and Chinese Medicine.

Read more here

Monday, 2 December 2013

5 Survival Uses of Pine Resin

Pine resin has multiple uses for survival. This sap is produced by the pine tree to seal up cuts or damages to the tree. 

If you ever find yourself lost in a wilderness environment, having a pine tree in the area is one of the best case scenarios you can hope for. There are many different species of pine trees but they generally prefer open and sunny areas. 

They are found abundantly throughout North America, they are also found throughout Central America, Europe, North Africa, in the Caribbean region, and in some places in Asia. 

Native Americans used pine sap for medicinal purposes. The resin is either chewed on or made into a beverage by mixing with water. It is known to be very effective in treating stomach ulcers and rheumatoid arthritis. Modern medical experts have not verified the medicinal benefits of pine resin though.

Look for the damaged part of the pine tree because that will be where the resin secretions are. The resin will be dry and hardened but can be softened with heat. Look for damaged or fallen limbs first before you purposely cut into the pine tree’s bark for the sap. If you have to damage the tree, do it in a small area on one side only. Also, take only as much resin as you will need and leave some on the tree to protect the cut from boring insects.

Read more here

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Magic Mushrooms? Fungi Can Change The Weather

Magic Mushrooms? The fungi can whip up winds that blow away their spores and help them disperse.

Mushrooms have an extraordinary ability to control the weather, scientists have learned.

By altering the moisture of the air around them, they whip up winds that blow away their spores and help them disperse.

Plants use a variety of methods to spread seeds, including gravity, forceful ejection, wind, water and animals. Mushrooms have long been thought of as passive seed spreaders, releasing their spores and then relying on air currents to carry them.

But new research has shown that mushrooms are able to disperse their spores over a wide area even when there is not a breath of wind - by creating their own weather.

Scientists in the US used high-speed filming techniques and mathematical modelling to show how oyster and Shitake mushrooms release water vapour that cools the air around them, creating convection currents. This in turn generates miniature winds that lift their spores into the air.

Read more here

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Homemade Coconut Oil Toothpaste

by Jessica Espinoza

Commercial toothpastes are full of chemicals and toxic ingredients. When you look at the ingredients of a tube of toothpaste, you will notice that most brands contain fluoride, sodium laurel sulfate, artificial sweeteners, colors, and flavors, all of which are unnecessary for dental health and do more harm than good to our teeth and our bodies.

Making your own toothpaste at home is very easy, allows you avoid toxic ingredients, and can help improve your overall dental health. The ingredients in this toothpaste recipe are all very healing for the mouth and can help with remineralization of the teeth. This toothpaste is safe for the whole family, even children.

Most of the ingredients in this recipe are common to almost all homemade toothpaste recipes. Use coconut oil for its natural antimicrobial properties, baking soda for whitening and gentle cleaning, sea salt for gum health and mild antibacterial properties, and castile soap for foaming properties. The castile soap is optional and replaces the toxic sodium laurel sulfate (a foaming agent) found in commercial toothpastes. Some people leave it out, but others find that they prefer toothpaste that foams. Even with the addition of the castile soap, this toothpaste will not foam as much as commercial toothpastes.

A couple of the ingredients, bentonite clay and myrrh gum powder, are not as commonly used, but are all are great for dental health.

Read more here

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

20 Ways to Control Slugs in the Permaculture Garden or on the Allotment

Permaculture designer, Ludwig Appeltans, gives 20 practical tips for controlling slugs so that you do get to eat your harvest.

There are many tips about how to fight these invertebrates circulating around allotments and gardens – some are fables, some are more effective than others. The reality is that no single thing does the trick. In short, the solution is to create an ecosystem in your garden that will help to create a balance. A plague is caused by an imbalance, a lack of predators that keep the population of slugs under control. Sounds easier than it is, but if you love your garden it greatly increases the joy and once established it looks after it self!

A number of years ago I started a forest garden in the middle of a very wet woodland, in the midst of a slug stronghold. I could easily collect a large jarful of slugs at dusk. After an intensive research and learning process with many failures, I only had to go out with a torch in the dark once every week or so and even then I only found a few. I was able to grow anything I liked without losing many plants to slugs. I have had to learn to live with some losses but still feel I can shout "Victory!"

Read more here

How Monsanto Can Be Defeated

The anti-GMO movement in the U.S. has achieved some preliminary victories in GMO food labeling but that's not all that needs to be done.

After enjoying a year of maximum profits, record stock prices, the defeat of a major GMO labeling campaign in California, pro-industry court decisions, and a formidable display of political power in Washington, D.C. – including slipping the controversial Monsanto Protection Act into the Federal Appropriations bill in March -- the Biotech Bully from St. Louis now finds itself on the defensive.

It is no exaggeration to say that Monsanto has now become the most hated corporation in the world. 

Plagued by a growing army of Roundup-resistant superweeds and Bt-resistant superpests spreading across the country, a full 49 percent of American farmers are now frantically trying to kill these superweeds and pests with ever-larger quantities of toxic pesticides, herbicides and fungicides including glyphosate (Roundup), glufosinate, 2,4D (“Agent Orange’), dicamba, and neonicotinoids (insecticides linked to massive deaths of honey bees).

Reacting to this dangerous escalation of chemical farming, toxic residues on foods and environmental pollution, over a million consumers and organic farmers have pressed the Obama administration to reject a new generation of GE “Agent Orange” and dicamba-resistant crops, forcing the USDA to postpone commercialization of these crops, at least temporarily. 

Read more here

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Scientists Discover What’s Killing the Bees and It’s Worse Than You Thought

As we’ve written before, the mysterious mass die-off of honey bees that pollinate $30 billion worth of crops in the US has so decimated America’s apis mellifera population that one bad winter could leave fields fallow. Now, a new study has pinpointed some of the probable causes of bee deaths and the rather scary results show that averting beemageddon will be much more difficult than previously thought.

Scientists had struggled to find the trigger for so-called Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) that has wiped out an estimated 10 million beehives, worth $2 billion, over the past six years. Suspects have included pesticides, disease-bearing parasites and poor nutrition. But in a first-of-its-kind study published today in the journal PLOS ONE, scientists at the University of Maryland and the US Department of Agriculture have identified a witch’s brew of pesticides and fungicides contaminating pollen that bees collect to feed their hives. The findings break new ground on why large numbers of bees are dying though they do not identify the specific cause of CCD, where an entire beehive dies at once.

When researchers collected pollen from hives on the east coast pollinating cranberry, watermelon and other crops and fed it to healthy bees, those bees showed a significant decline in their ability to resist infection by a parasite called Nosema ceranae. The parasite has been implicated in Colony Collapse Disorder though scientists took pains to point out that their findings do not directly link the pesticides to CCD. The pollen was contaminated on average with nine different pesticides and fungicides though scientists discovered 21 agricultural chemicals in one sample. Scientists identified eight ag chemicals associated with increased risk of infection by the parasite. 

Read more here

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Scared of the Sun – the Global Pandemic of Vitamin D Deficiency

Under the grey skies of the UK, a childhood disease thought to have been almost eliminated half a century ago is rising up like a specter from the past, spooking parents and doctors alike. Rickets, a condition which evokes images of a bygone era of childhood malnutrition, is on the rise in a big way, and its principal cause is a lack of vitamin D.

This phenomenon isn’t limited to the British Isles however. Vitamin D deficiency has already become a global pandemic, yet remains frequently overlooked by both media and health professionals. Recent research suggests that more than 80% of the European population and half of the world are vitamin D deficient. It is possible to obtain vitamin D principally from food and food supplements, but the main and best source of vitamin D is sun exposure. 

Conflicting recommendations about the risks of sun exposure and its relationship to skin cancer has contributed to a lack of exposure to the sun’s UV rays as people cover up and use sunscreen. Nonetheless there are a multitude of factors at work here, and a sharp rise in time spent indoors must be considered as a significant contributing social factor.

Read more here

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Hungry Aboriginal People Used in Bureaucrats' Experiments

Food historian published details of nutritional experiments that began in the 1940s.

The Canadian government says it's appalled to hear hungry aboriginal children and adults may have been used as unwitting subjects in nutritional experiments by federal bureaucrats. Recently published research by food historian Ian Mosby has revealed details about one of the least-known but perhaps most disturbing aspects of government policy toward aboriginal people immediately after the Second World War. "It was experiments being conducted on malnourished aboriginal people," Mosby, a post-doctoral fellow in history at the University of Guelph, told CBC's As It Happens program on Tuesday.


"It started with research trips in northern Manitoba where they found, you know, widespread hunger, if not starvation, among certain members of the community. And one of their immediate responses was to design a controlled experiment on the effectiveness of vitamin supplementation on this population." Mosby also found that plans were developed for research on aboriginal children in residential schools in British Columbia, Ontario, Nova Scotia and Alberta. "If this is story is true, this is abhorrent and completely unacceptable," a spokesperson for Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt stated in an email late Tuesday. "When Prime Minister [Stephen] Harper made a historic apology to former students of Indian Residential Schools in 2008 on behalf of all Canadians, he recognized that this period had caused great harm and had no place in Canada." The spokesperson added that the federal government "remains committed to a fair and lasting resolution to the legacy of the Indian Residential Schools."

Friday, 19 July 2013

Monsanto to Withdraw EU Approval Requests for New GMO Crops

Monsanto Co said on Wednesday it will withdraw all pending approval requests to grow new types of genetically modified crops in the European Union, due to the lack of commercial prospects for cultivation there.

"We will be withdrawing the approvals in the coming months," Monsanto's President and Managing Director for Europe, Jose Manuel Madero, told Reuters by telephone.

Madero said the decision would allow the company to focus on growing its conventional seeds business in Europe, as well as securing EU approvals to import its genetically modified crop varieties widely grown in the United States and South America.

The decision covered five EU approval requests to grow genetically modified maize, plus one soybean and one sugar beet. The company said it would not withdraw its application to renew the approval for its insect-resistant MON810 maize - the only GMO crop currently cultivated commercially in Europe.

A spokesman for the European Commission, which manages the EU's GMO approval system, confirmed that Monsanto had informed it of its intention to withdraw the applications.

Read more here

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Poison on The Platter (a Documentary Film)

Mahesh Bhatt says: Promotion of Genetically Modified Food is an Act of Bio-terrorism!!

Renowned filmmaker and social activist Mahesh Bhatt today launched a scathing attack on biotech multinational companies and their nexus with regulatory bodies for unleashing what he describes as ‘bio-terrorism’ in the country. Speaking at a function organized to launch his new film, ‘Poison on the Platter‘, directed by Ajay Kanchan, Bhatt said, “in their mad rush to capture the multi-billion dollar Indian agricultural and food industry, the biotech MNCs are bulldozing warnings by scientists about the adverse impact of GM foods on health and environment, and hurtling the mankind toward a disaster, which will be far more destructive than anything the world has seen so far, simply because it will affect every single person living on this planet”.

Bhatt’s film makes a mockery of Government of India’s claim of not allowing import of any GM foods in the country as it conclusively demonstrates that supermarkets in India are flooded with harmful food stuff and biotech MNCs are cashing on the ignorance of unsuspecting consumers in India. “Indians are unfortunately kept in dark, and the corporations are hatching strategies to cash in on their ignorance. Poison on the Platter is, therefore, an attempt to generate awareness among consumers and kick start an informed debate on the issue”, said Bhatt.

Trials of GM foods on lab animals across the world have repeatedly shown that they cause bleeding stomachs, and adversely affect brain, lungs, liver, kidney, pancreas and intestine. They have been even linked to higher offspring mortality and causing infertility.

Read more and watch documentary here

Contaminated School Meal Kills 25 Indian Children

At least 25 Indian children died and dozens needed hospital treatment after apparently being poisoned by a school meal, sparking violent protests and angry allegations of blame.

The children aged four to 12 fell ill on Tuesday after consuming a lunch of rice, soybean and lentils in the impoverished eastern state of Bihar.

The school, at Mashrakh village in the district of Chapra, provided free meals under the Mid-Day Meal Scheme, the world's largest school feeding program involving 120 million children.

Medical teams treating the children said they suspected the food had been contaminated with insecticide.

"It appears to be a case of poisoning but we will have to wait for forensic reports ... Had it been a case of (natural) food poisoning, so many children would not have died," Poonam Kumari, local government administrator at the village, told Reuters by phone from Mashrakh.

"The administration has helped cremate 21 children and, unfortunately, four more children have to be cremated," she said, adding that the remainder of a total of 48 children who consumed the contaminated food were being treated in Patna.

Read more here

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

EU to Ban Fipronil to Protect Honeybees

Farmers will not be allowed to spray widely used insecticide blamed for declining bee population.

A widely used insect nerve agent that harms bees will be banned from use on corn and sunflowers in Europe from the end of 2013, after member states overwhelmingly backed the proposal in a vote on Tuesday. However, the UK once again failed to back measures to restrict pesticide use.

Fipronil is used in more than 70 countries and on more than 100 different crops, but in May the European Food Safety Authority labelled it a "high acute risk" to honeybees. A similar assessment by the EFSA on three other neonicotinoid insecticides, based on increasing scientific evidence of harm, also preceded the suspension of their use in the European Union in April.

Tonio Borg, European commissioner for health said: "In the aftermath of the restriction on use of neonicotinoids, I pledged to do my utmost to protect Europe's honey bee population and today's agreement with member states, not only delivers on that pledge but marks another significant step in realising the commission's overall strategy to tackling Europe's bee decline."

Monday, 15 July 2013

Big News For Bees! Oregon to Ban Pesticides After Latest Bee Die Off

According to the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA), the state is temporarily restricting the use of 18 pesticides containing dinotefuran while it investigates the death of thousands of bees near Portland this month. Dinotefuran is a neonicontinoid, a class of pesticides that have been linked to honeybee die-offs.

In a report entitled “In the wake of large bee kills, ODA takes steps in an abundance of caution,” we find that the ODA restricts use of certain dinotefuran pesticides. They are restricting the use of 18 pesticide products containing the active ingredient dinotefuran while it continues the investigation of a large kill of bumblebees in Wilsonville and Hillsboro this month. By adopting a temporary rule, ODA is taking action, in an abundance of caution, to avoid the potential of similar large bee kills this summer due to specific pesticide applications.

“I have directed the agency to take this step in an effort to minimize any potential for additional incidents involving bee deaths connected to pesticide products with this active ingredient until such time as our investigation is completed and we have more information,” says ODA Director Katy Coba. “Conclusions from the investigation will help us and our partners evaluate whether additional steps need to be considered.”

Read more here

Monsanto Exec Gets ‘Nobel Peace Prize’ of Food

In a blatant act of transgression against the population of the world and real science, the agricultural equivalent to the ‘Nobel Peace Prize’ known as the World Food Prize has been given to a Monsanto executive and two associates for their role in the development of genetically modified crops.

Robert Fraley, the chief technology officer at Monsanto, will be given $250,000 cash along with his prestigious award that was presented at the US State Department on Wednesday. It’s ironic, really, because the US State Department just so happens to also be using our tax dollars to market Monsanto internationally with promotional marketing DVDs and pamphlets. To put it simply, they quite literally act as a marketing wing for Monsanto — the corporation that might as well be a government entity.

It is rather fitting, then, that Monsanto’s executive be adorned with the World Food Prize along with a sack of cash at the headquarters of the Monsanto marketing wing that is the US State Department.

Read more here

FDA Says Walnuts Are Illegal Drugs

Seen any walnuts in your medicine cabinet lately? According to the Food and Drug Administration, that is precisely where you should find them. 

Because Diamond Foods made truthful claims about the health benefits of consuming walnuts that the FDA didn’t approve, it sent the company a letter declaring, “Your walnut products are drugs” — and “new drugs” at that — and, therefore, “they may not legally be marketed … in the United States without an approved new drug application.” The agency even threatened Diamond with “seizure” if it failed to comply.  

Diamond’s transgression was to make “financial investments to educate the public and supply them with walnuts,” as William Faloon  of Life Extension magazine  put it. On its website and packaging, the company stated that the omega-3 fatty acids found in walnuts have been shown to have certain health benefits, including reduced risk of heart disease and some types of cancer. 

These claims, Faloon notes, are well supported by scientific research: “Life Extension has published 57 articles that describe the health benefits of walnuts”; and “The US National Library of Medicine database contains no fewer than 35 peer-reviewed published papers supporting a claim that ingesting walnuts improves vascular health and may reduce heart attack risk.”

Read more here

Race Against Time to Stop Britain's Oak Trees Bleeding to Death

Britain’s oak trees have been hit by a mystery disease that is causing them to ‘bleed to death' and ministers have set aside more than £1 million to tackle it.

Thousands of the trees have already been felled and their bark stripped and burnt to prevent the disease spreading and killing more of the ancient oaks.

Oak trees more than 50 years old are believed to be most at threat by the mystery disease, which is identified by ‘dark weeping patches’ on the stems of older trees. Once it takes hold of an oak the disease is believed to kill it within four years, and researchers are said to be in a race against time to try and stop the spread.

The Government is spending £1.1 million on an emergency project to try and save thousands of the oak trees by identifying the cause of the disease.

“It is affecting older trees, some hundreds of years old, and whatever is behind it is causing the decline of something that has been here for so long, is much loved, and is difficult, if not impossible, to replace," said Dr James McDonald, from Bangor University.

“It is a very complicated issue. It could involve new bacteria that have been isolated from the lesions on the stems or the oak jewel beetle. We are looking at their involvement but both could be passive bystanders in the process. We don't know.”

Read more here

The Herbal and Magical Uses of Trees

Grow it Yourself: a Gathering of Global Growers

In three years, an Irish food movement called Grow it Yourself has gained 50,000 fans, says Mark Diacono.

Last year I spent a weekend in Ireland that made me very happy. Yes, there was whiskey and music but, more than that, I was blown away by the annual GIY Gathering. You will almost certainly not be familiar with GIY, so allow me to introduce you.

A few years ago, its founder, Mick Kelly, had a Damascene moment when buying garlic in the supermarket. Every label read “Grown in China”. His incandescence inspired him to grow his own, and encourage others to do the same. GIY (Grow it Yourself) was born.

He wanted to do more than advise people about how to grow carrots. His vision was to form a network of individuals and groups that could (in both senses) grow together. It would provide a shared knowledge base, but more importantly also build food and growing communities that would become a powerful force for change.

Read more here

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Coconut Rose Body Butter

Coconut oil is wonderful for general moisturizing and using for a protective layer to help your skin retain its natural moisture.  Most folks with sensitive skin enjoy the moisturizing benefits of coconut oil.  I used refined coconut oil in this recipe since it does not have the penetrating and deep scent of coconut like the virgin unrefined does.  Feel free to use unrefined if you like as it would pair very well with a citrus essential oil such as tangerine or lime.

Coconut oil is very easy to whip into a delicate airy mousse, however it will melt at 76 degrees and turn back into a liquid.  This recipe is best made in the cooler months of the year if you plan to store it at room temperature.  I make this in the warmer months and store it in my fridge.  It feels really good massaged into the skin after spending time in the hot sun or swimming.

Since I chose to use  rose essential oil (I like the Rosa damascena variety), I thought it would be fun to add just a slight tint of pink color using some Alkanet infused oil I crafted a while back.  (Click here to learn how to make Alkanet infused oil).  I also added in a little bit of corn starch to help negate the slight oily feel when applying it to the skin.  Rounding out the recipe is a small amount of Jojoba oil which is easily absorbed into the skin.

Read more here

How to Grow an Avocado Tree from an Avocado Pit

Avocados are one of the wonderful fruits of summer. High in nutrition and flavor, nothing signals the start of summer like a zesty lime guacamole dip with tortilla chips. 

The next time you’re making guacamole or slicing an avocado for a salad, try saving your pits to grow into avocado trees. 

It’s surprisingly easy to grow your own avocado tree from seed, and it makes a great educational project for home and classrooms. 

Check out our handy-dandy guide below, complete with photos, to learn how to grow an avocado tree from seed.

STEP 1 – REMOVE & CLEAN PIT

You’ll need to start by removing the pit from the avocado carefully (without cutting it), and then washing it clean of all the avocado fruit (often it helps to soak the pit in some water for a few minutes and then scrub all the remaining fruit off). Be careful not to remove the brown skin on the pit – that is the seed cover.

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5 ways to help our disappearing bees

Colony collapse disorder is claiming many of North America and Europe's bees. But there are simple things you can do to help keep them buzzing.

You've probably heard about colony collapse disorder (CCD) or vanishing bee syndrome, the mysterious and rather dramatic die-off of domesticated honeybees in Europe and North America. Scientists aren't really sure what's going on yet. All that's known for sure is our bee colonies are suddenly disappearing. Affected bees simply leave the hive and don't come back, making diagnosis of the problem even more difficult.

In some areas, losses of honeybees are reported to be as high as 75 percent. The situation means a lot more than high honey prices: bees are primary pollinators in both the human and animal food chains. The collapse of bee populations is bad news if researchers can't get a handle on the issue, and bee colonies don't recover.

So what could be happening here? There's some research pointing to unusually high concentrations of parasites and fungi — which are normally present in bee colonies — but nobody knows why the levels are so high. Pesticides, genetically modified crops and climate change are all being investigated. A theory that cell phone radiation might be a factor was quickly dismissed after briefly topping media reports.

Few of us are research scientists capable of chipping in some lab time to help out, but there are some things we can all do to assist honeybee and natural bee populations close to home. We've got five specific areas for you to consider. Let's get buzzin'!

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Friday, 5 July 2013

The Dark and Disturbing World of Silk

It’s pretty obvious why some people choose not to eat meat or wear fur, but why someone wouldn’t use silk is just plain baffling to most. So here’s the deal.

When we think of silk we imagine beautiful gowns, delicate underwear and lavish furnishings, what we definitely don’t picture is live silk worms being plunged into vats of boiling water. And why would we? This certainly isn’t going to make us want to reach for our wallets, instead it is likely to make us reel with disgust.

The Plight of the Silk Worm

Just like cows, chickens and pigs, silk worms are domesticated, raised and bred on factory farms and are also killed by the hundreds of millions every year. To make one single pound of silk 2000-3000 worms have to be slaughtered.

Just prior to the metamorphosis stage where Bombyx Mori silk worms transform into moths, they spin fibers to create their cocoons. Naturally, the moth would chew its way out of this cocoon once the transformation is complete, but the problem this poses to the silk manufacturing industry is this natural development would result in chewed silk strands that are much shorter and less valuable than the intact cocoon. Which is why when the silk worms are in their pupa stage after being fed a strict diet of mulberry leaves, they are placed while still alive into boiling hot water, killing them and starting the process of unraveling the cocoon to produce silk.

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Thursday, 4 July 2013

Millions Of Honeybees Found Dead

Millions of honeybees are dead in a new colony collapse disorder crisis being reported from Ontario, Canada. And that’s on a single farm in Elmwood, Canada.

Depending on the reports you read, 30 million, 37 million, or even 40 million honeybees may already be dead — a reflection of the expanding numbers as the crisis continues.

According to MSN Living, Elmwood beekeeper Dave Schuit has lost at least 600 hives representing 37 million honeybees — and he’s pointing the finger squarely at neonicotinoid pesticides. It’s a logical argument. The pesticides are popular for a reason: They’re an efficient way to kill insects. Unfortunately, they can’t discriminate between beneficial insects like bees and harmful pests like aphids.

The debate is already over in the European Union, which recently banned a large number of pesticides including neonicotinoids.  However, they are still used in both the United States and Canada.

Read more here

Another tragic loss — 37 million honeybees found dead in Canada

Below is a list of worldwide mass animal deaths for 2013, with pages also for mass die offs in 2012 and 2011.

Missouri woman faces jail for recycling tires into flower planters

A Missouri woman says that she is prepared to go to jail after authorities in Sugar Creek threatened her over a recycling project that turns tires into flower planters. 

Toni “Bones” Shelton told KFVS that she had been repainting old tires to turn them into planters, but the city is frowning on her project.

“I was just really interested in recycling and I’m really big on self-sufficiency,” she explained. 

Sugar Creek, however, claimed the number of tires she was storing could attract mosquitos and lower property values. 

“We’d asked her to put them somewhere else because there were quite a number of them,” Sugar Creek Chief Herb Soule insisted.”We try to keep people from accumulating tires because they retain water and they attract mosquitos. They detract from property values in the neighborhood too.”

Read more here

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Six chemicals we consume in our food and drink that should be banned

Last week BuzzFeed named eight food additives that should be banned in the US. Here are six equally deadly ones they missed.

Last week BuzzFeed published a list of eight foods that folks in the USA are eating but are banned in other parts of the world. The chemical community turned its venom on BuzzFeed. But I think BuzzFeed did a pretty good job of bringing the debate on chemicals in food to the fore. Don't believe the defence of food additives coming from the likes of Derek Lowe. After all he's part of the mainstream chemical conspiracy so he would defend chemicals wouldn't he?

Before you go breathing a sigh of relief and gloating that those of us outside the US don't get these chemicals in our foods, best think again. You may well live in enlightened areas of the world, with governments that keep you safe from such poisons, but BuzzFeed only scratched the surface. There are plenty of foodstuffs in your larder that are just as bad.

Here's my list of foods, drinks and other kitchen terrors that BuzzFeed might just as easily have mentioned.

Read more here

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

10 Pretty Edibles to Adorn Your Landscape

Looking for ways to plant more edibles without giving up your flowers? 

I love both, so I'm always looking for edibles that double as ornamentals or ornamentals with edible parts. 

By sticking a few here and there for texture, height or color, I can get twice the bang for my buck. 

While I love the new brightly colored hybrids found in the seed catalogs, I also love these old favorites that have served me well over the years. 

If you are like me and have no time to pamper your plants, these also have the advantage of being easy to grow.

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Doin’ the Pollinate Shake!

No, it’s not the latest dance craze. It’s what certain plants in your vegetable garden need to set fruit: a good shaking. Yes, it has to do with sex, er, pollination and plants can sometimes need a little help. But what it really has to do with is better yields come harvest time. So let’s get ready to pollinate! 

Not a year goes by when we don’t hear someone complain that their tomatoes, cucumbers, or squash didn’t set fruit. Oh, the plants grew like crazy and blossomed to beat the band but when it came time to produce? Little or no fruiting occurred. We’ve even had this happen ourselves, usually after relocating to a different part of the country. When we’re asked what went wrong, we realize (doh!) that we didn’t do what needed to be done, that’s when we remember hand pollination. Now that July has arrived and gardens around the country are beginning to flower, it’s time to pollinate. (For those of you in cooler climates or whose gardens might be a bit behind schedule this year, here’s hoping that your blossoms are soon to show.)

What’s hand pollination? It’s the process of helping Mother Nature along in her attempts to bring fruits, even if those fruits are vegetables. Tomatoes, peppers, egg plants, cucumbers, melons, and the like often need some help from you. Let’s start with tomatoes.

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Saturday, 29 June 2013

The Coolest Earth Houses around the World

An earth house (also known as an earth berm or an earth sheltered home) is an architectural style characterized by the use of natural terrain to help form the walls of a house. An earth house is usually set partially into the ground and covered with thin growth. Modern earth houses are built with concrete walls and insulation. Earth houses are some of the most energy efficient. 

Earth House Estate L├Ąttenstrasse is a project designed by Peter Vetsch, located in Dietikon, Switzerland. This settlement finds itself in contrast to the surrounding of traditional single houses. To the south of the lot, there is free agricultural land. The earth- covered houses are grouped centered around a small artificial lake with the entrance well hidden and integrated at the side of the settlement. That not just serves the completion of the form, but also guarantees the secondary access of the particular houses through the subterranean parking lot.

The residential settlement consists of nine houses, three 3 bedroom, a 4 bedroom, a 5 bedroom, three 6 bedroom and a 7 bedroom house. The daytime areas are situated towards the south, the nighttime area towards the north. In the middle, you find the bathrooms and the connecting stairs to the basement. All the bathrooms get natural light through rooftop windows. Situated on both lateral sides of the houses are outdoor living spaces divided through the remains of the rising of the building. The basement, as well as the parking lot is built with conventional techniques, not so the ground floor, which is constructed with the typical earthhome construction principle of sprayed concrete. The isolation consists of recycled glass, an absolute environment friendly product. The water protection is added directly on the sprayed concrete. On top of the isolation is a protective layer with natural earth, which can be used to grow grass or plants on the rooftop.

Read more here

50,000 dead Oregon bees to be honored in memorial service

A Portland resident is creating quite the buzz by hosting a memorial ceremony dedicated to the 50,000 bumblebees that died in an Oregon parking lot last week.

Just days before National Pollinator Week, tens of thousands of bees fell from the trees and were found dead at a Target parking lot in Wilsonville, Ore. A state investigation found that an insecticide coined “Safari” was to blame, and Oregon now has a 180-day ban of 18 pesticides containing the chemical dinotefuran.

More than 50 poisoned European linden trees have been covered with netting to prevent further bee deaths, and the Oregon State Agricultural Department is still investigating whether or not there was a violation of state or federal pesticide laws. 

Meanwhile, Portland resident Rozzell Medina is hosting a memorial to commemorate the bumblebees. The July 30 event will take place in the Target parking lot to “memorialize these fallen lifeforms and talk about the plight of the bees and their importance to life on Earth,” Medina wrote on the event’s Facebook page. There will be food available for attendees. 

“I thought it would be a good opportunity for people to see that this is not just a news item,” Medina told The Oregonian. “With a lot of these ecological catastrophes, they become so abstract that people become scared to feel them.”

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6 Foods That Clear Brain Fog

While on my own personal journey to learn more about the pros and cons of consuming gluten, I ran across a common theme: clouding of the mind, also known conventionally as mental fog or “brain fog,” due to the consumption of foods containing gluten.

Conversely, I found that many who were omitting gluten from their diets, either voluntarily or on a physician’s recommendation, noted improvements in memory and mental clarity. If you’ve ever put your car keys in the freezer by mistake, looked for your car in the wrong section of the parking lot, or simply couldn’t think clearly for seemingly no reason at all, you may be able to relate.  

Often chalked up to a “normal part of getting older,” symptoms of brain fog include mild confusion, forgetfulness and/or the inability to think clearly. But this doesn’t have to be your fate!!!

Certain foods such as artificial sweeteners and dairy have been linked to mental fog, but more and more physicians are discovering that mental fog is quite strongly linked to gluten intolerance. Within weeks of eliminating gluten from my own diet, I noticed an ability to think more clearly.

Luckily, there are several foods that have been associated with improved cognitive performance that are naturally gluten free. Tired of losing your keys? Here are six foods you can reach for to clear up mental fog and boost your brain health:

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The Top 10 Healthiest Seeds on Earth

They come in all different sizes, shapes and colours. The seed is an embryonic plant itself and the origin of nutrition. A plant goes to great lengths to produce each seed and fill it with high concentrations of vitamins, minerals, proteins, essential oils and dormant enzymes. If you're looking for a high quality, nutritious and filling snack, seeds are tough to beat. Let's look at the ten healthiest seeds on Earth and how to consume them.

A seed is life. It is a living food. It is impossible to eat a raw seed and not derive nutrition.

Many seeds are edible and the majority of human calories come from seeds, especially from legumes and nuts. Seeds also provide most cooking oils, many beverages and spices and some important food additives.

In different seeds the seed embryo or the endosperm dominates and provides most of the nutrients. The storage proteins of the embryo and endosperm differ in their amino acid content and physical properties.

How to Eat Seeds:

There is only one way to derive nutrition from seeds and that is to eat them raw. Once they are exposed to heat, they produce toxic substances and the vitamin, mineral and essential oil profiles are denatured. By roasting a seed, its classification moves from a living food to a dead food. There is no seed on earth that can withstand roasting or heating without breaking down its nutritional components. Always remember, eat seeds naturally...eat them raw. This also means they can be soaked, ground or mashed (i.e. Tahini), especially if a seed's shell or coat is too difficult to pierce with the teeth.

- Choose raw and unsalted seeds
- Avoid coated or roasted seeds
- Avoid sugar coated seeds

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Wednesday, 26 June 2013

8 Foods People Think Are Healthy (But Aren't)

Agave Syrup - This is one I myself fell for. So many vegans and raw foodists rave about agave that I didn’t really stop and think it could be too good to be true. Agave is a super sweet liquid that is often touted as the “healthy” or “low GI” alternative to sugar. According to Dr Joseph Mercola, it’s hardly any better than high fructose corn syrup. It’s highly processed, and super high in fructose.

What should we eat instead? Anything from this  list of natural sweeteners.

Soy - Soy milk and tofu are often considered healthy alternatives to meat and dairy. I’m not advocating meat or dairy, but in my opinion, soy is just as bad, if not worse. Organic fermented soy products are okay in small amounts, but the majority of the western world is under the idea that processed products like soy milk and tofu (which are also generally genetically modified) are good for us. Hundreds of epidemiological, clinical and laboratory studies link soy to: malnutrition, digestive distress, thyroid dysfunction, cognitive decline, reproductive disorders, infertility, birth defects, immune system breakdown, heart disease and cancer. Don’t believe me? Read The Whole Soy Story by Kaayla T. Daniel, PhD.

What should we eat instead? If you’re after vegan protein, I recommend lentils, beans, chickpeas, quinoa, spirulina, and leafy greens.

Fish - Fish falls into two main categories: farmed and wild. Farmed fish are raised in much the same environment as factory farmed animals. They are crammed into confined spaces and forced to survive in atrocious conditions. The enormous amount of feces in their enclosures leads to rampant outbreaks of parasites and disease. In order to keep the fish alive in such unhealthy conditions, large quantities of antibiotics and other chemicals are poured into the water. Farmed fish are fed a tasty diet of junk grains, soy meal, corn gluten meal, chemicals and neurotoxins. Everything the fish endures, is consumed by you when you eat it!

Wild caught fish is a little better, but still not great. Most of it is full of mercury (with the exception of the odd sardine), which is the second most toxic element on Earth next to radiation. 

What should we eat instead? If you don’t want to give up fish, here is an Australian list of the most and least contaminated fish, and here is one for the US.

Read more here

FBI Calls Destruction of GMO Sugar Beets in Oregon 'Economic Sabotage'

In a breaking development, the FBI confirms that 1,500 GM Sugar Beet plants were destroyed this month in Oregon, in what they are calling an act of "Economic Sabotage."

When GM pollen blows into a non-GM farmer's fields and irreversibly contaminates his crop with 'biopollution,' who does the law side with? Historically, Monsanto. Also, it's not called 'economic sabotage' but rather 'copyright infringement,' and the victim not the aggressor is threatened with economic ruin.

When Monsanto's unapproved and therefore illegal GM wheat is found years after open field trials growing freely in an Oregon wheat field, the entire state crop's export fate is held in limbo, jeopardizing the present and future living of thousands of farmers and their dependents, with Monsanto receiving little more than a reprimand, followed by rapid USDA assurance that despite a lack of approval their GM wheat is "safe."

Given the unfair rules of the game, no wonder some folks in Oregon, having been treated much like feudal peasants lately, are taking things quite literally into their own hands.

Read more here

Saturday, 22 June 2013

GM food off the menu in Parliament's restaurants despite ministers telling the public to drop their opposition

GM foods are banned from restaurants in the Houses of Parliament despite government claims it is ‘probably safer’ than other meals.  Government ministers are demanding that ordinary families should abandon their reluctance to eat genetically modified food, however they are banned from MPs’ plates.  This week the food and farming secretary, Owen Paterson, launched an extraordinary propaganda campaign to encourage the nation to accept GM crops and farming

He bolstered his campaign with claims that some seven million children in the Far East could have been saved from blindness or  death in the last 15 years if only people had opened the door to a new form of GM ‘Golden Rice’.  However, his efforts were unraveling today amid evidence that GM food is banned from the dinner tables of MPs, while his claims for the GM rice proved to be bogus.  The House of Commons Catering service today confirmed that the ban on GM ingredients which dates back to 1998 remains in place as a matter of ‘customer choice’.  It said: ‘In line with its procurement policy, the House of Commons Catering Service avoids, wherever identifiable, the procurement of foods that contain genetically modified organisms.

‘To this end, as part of the tendering process, food suppliers are required to work to a strict GM organisms policy and give assurances that goods supplied be free from genetically modified materials.’  It added: ‘The decision to avoid GMs is seen as largely a matter of customer choice.’  Mr Paterson has set himself up as the chief cheerleader for so-called Frankenstein Foods, however it appears that he has been unable to convince fellow MPs to accept them in their restaurants.  As a result, the minister and fellow MPs leave themselves open to accusations of hypocrisy and complaints that they are telling people to ‘do as I say, not as I do’.  Speaking earlier this week, Mr Paterson said: ‘The use of more precise technology and greater regulatory scrutiny probably makes GM organisms even safer than conventional plants and food.

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