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NAMI: Big Pharma’s “Grassroots” Organization. Part II. October 31, 2009

Filed under: Complementary Therapies,Healthy Mind — aprasek @ 3:47 pm

NAMI has finally admitted (kind of) that they are way too involved with Big Pharma.

Click here to read my earlier post on NAMI and why being BFF with Big Pharma is not the best route for advocacy organizations. If you donate money or volunteer with advocacy organizations, this is important info to be aware of. None of us need to be donating to help advertise for Big Pharma. They steal enough money from us as it is.

Check out the latest article about NAMI from the NYT. Apparently, NAMI is committed to having more “balanced” fund-raising and will also post on its Web site the names of companies that donate $5,000 or more.

So, here’s your chance NAMI. You have two options:  1) Keep making out with Big Pharma and continue to regurgitate an outdated and oppressive mental health message… or, 2) Clean up shop (like you say you will) and actually communicate an integrated message that brings awareness, decreases stigma and educates the public on prevention and the many treatment options available.

Pick number 2! Pick number 2!


All Natural Necco for the Trick-or-Treaters October 28, 2009

Filed under: Nutritional Wellness — aprasek @ 10:19 am

Necco Wafers

Nice job Necco! The oldest multi-line candy company in the U.S. is cleaning up their Necco Wafer recipe.

The candies will now be made from natural ingredients. Read more from Slashfood.

If you’re buying candy for the trick-or-treaters this year, consider filling your bowl with all natural candies like Necco or for more candy ideas, check out an earlier post: Healthier Halloween Treats.


“The advantages to screening have been exaggerated.” October 23, 2009

Filed under: Medical Ethics?,Physical Wellness — aprasek @ 7:13 pm

Here’s what Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society, has to say about cancer screenings:

“We don’t want people to panic, but I’m admitting that American medicine has overpromised when it comes to screening. The advantages to screening have been exaggerated.”

This is such an important statement. We’ve been scolded by our health care system and by annoying public service announcements that the only way to survive cancer is to get screened regularly. Unfortunately, it’s just not that simple.

Check out this recent NYTs article: Cancer Society, in Shift, Has Concerns on Screenings.

And here are some past WG posts on the issue:

Kosher Prostate Exam (with links to help in decision making).

Is the PSA Test Worth It?

The bottom line is that individuals must be informed of the pros and cons of screening. Educate yourself and then make a decision when- or if- you want to get screened and how often (if you choose to screen).

Additionally, screening is not cancer “prevention.” Screening is simply a picture of what already exists. Cancer prevention occurs in everyday life; engaging in exercise, healthy eating, stress reduction, reducing environmental toxins, etc. These are the most important prevention techniques that can be put into practice.

And I’m off to engage in a prevention behavior right now… sleep 🙂 (yup, it’s an important one).


The Botany of Desire October 19, 2009

Filed under: Nutritional Wellness — aprasek @ 9:23 pm

Tune in to PBS next Wednesday, October 28th at 8 PM to watch The Botany of Desire. Here’s a sneak peek:

And be sure to check out the show’s page on PBS, there’s some great info and interactive tools to play with.

The show is based on Michael Pollan’s book, The Botany of Desire. This is one of the books that really got me thinking about food in a whole new way. And ultimately, a book that has contributed greatly to my own personal health.

Here are a few other posts about Pollan:

Pollan’s Dietary Dos and Don’ts

Pass the Corn

More from Michael…


True Story: This Burger Walks Into a Doughnut Shop October 15, 2009

Filed under: Nutritional Wellness — aprasek @ 10:52 pm

I thought this short was particularly funny being that burgers like these are actually sold in restaurants, cafeterias, stadiums and other eating establishments. You may want to walk a few laps after you watch this…

What do you think… Could you have one of these in “moderation,” or does it just cross the line?


My IFAP Flu and More E. Coli October 13, 2009

Filed under: Nutritional Wellness — aprasek @ 1:23 pm

It's Toxic Up in Here!

Dr. Kenneth Petersen, an assistant administrator with the department’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, said that the department could mandate testing, but that it needed to consider the impact on companies as well as consumers. “I have to look at the entire industry, not just what is best for public health,” Dr. Petersen said.

So, I was sick all weekend. And as I lay defeated on the couch, hour after hour, I kept wondering how I got this little bug. OK, so I go to the U of MN which is a huge school… that’s probably where I got this nasty thing.

People kept asking me, “Do you have H1N1?”

Well, I’m not sure, my insurance deductible is so high it would cost me my rent and my car payment to find out (not to mention any treatment or Pharms). So, I began to imagine. What if I had H1N1…

I first thought, this is BS. I don’t have H1N1, I have swine flu. Seriously, the name was just changed to protect the pork industry. But, I can honor that. Not all pork farmers should get thrown under the stampede. Consider Polyface Farms— remember Polyface farmer Joel from Food Inc.? I love him! So, it’s not the ethical, humane pig farmers that are the problem, it’s actually the “Industrial Farm Animal Production” (IFAP) systems that are the problem.

So, I’ve decided that I had the IFAP flu.

IFAP is the system that produces the majority of meat eaten in the U.S. today. Picture a gaunt, muddy landscape with one big fence and a few barns. Contained in those fences and barns are an obscene number of animals with little room to turn around, let alone practice any sort of natural pig, cow or chicken behavior. That’s how the IFAPs work. More animals + less space = more money.

A recent project of the Pew Charitable Trusts and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health assessed the impact that IFAPs have on our world. The report produced from this work is shocking. It clearly states the problems with pathogen transfer and infectious disease from IFAP:

The potential for pathogen transfer from animals to humans increased in IFAP because so many animals are raised together in confined areas.

Among the many ways that infectious agents can evolve to become more virulent or to infect people are numerous transmission events and co-infection with several strains of pathogens. For this reason, IFAP facilities that house large numbers of animals in very close quarters can be a source of new or more infectious agents. Healthy or asymptomatic animals may carry microbial agents that can infect and sicken humans, who may then spread the infection to the community before it is discovered in the animal population.

But, infectious diseases aren’t the only problems traveling out of IFAPs. The report also highlights the following concerns: Generation of novel viruses; Feed and Pathogen risk (addition of antimicrobrials and industrial and animal wastes into feed resulting in concerns like bovine spongiform encephalopathy); Nontherapeutic antimicrobial use and resistance (antibiotic resistance); Occupational health impacts; Community health effects (research has identified significant health concerns for those living near IFAP facilities: air pollution, asthma, depression, fatigue, negative mood states, memory problems).

Check out the report for yourself. If you eat meat, this is extremely important information to be aware of so that you can shop smart and eat safely.

The Pew and Johns Hopkins project also identified concerns with food-borne infections. E. Coli is one of the most famous of all the food-borne pathogens. A recent NYT article, “E. Coli Path Shows Flaws in Beef Inspection” is a must-read on these concerns.

Yet stories like Stephanie Smith’s (the young woman in the NYTs article who was paralyzed after eating a hamburger), don’t seem to phase these companies or even the USDA. The quote at the top of this post from Mr. Petersen is proof of this (“I have to look at the entire industry, not just what is best for public health”.)

Here are a few more posts on the concerns of IFAPs and how you can shop smarter:

The Weekend Special: E. Coli with Cheese

Tainted Food, American Style

The U.S. “Regulated” Meat Industry

What’s on Your Food?

Chief of Steak

Food Inc. is Coming!

The Meat Mafia


The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind October 8, 2009

Filed under: Environmental Wellness — aprasek @ 10:12 pm

This is an amazing story. Be sure to watch the video in full– the last part is classic. You can also check out William Kamkwamba’s website (and order a book). What an inspiration; I’m going out right now to build my windmill (metaphorically speaking)…

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
William Kamkwamba
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political Humor Ron Paul Interview