Disturbing News About Tea

Tea is supposed to be a relaxing, refreshing, and healthy, but it could be one of the riskiest things people ingest. At least, that’s according to a new study released by Greenpeace earlier this month that found a number of popular tea brands contain high doses of pesticide residues. Some teas even tested positive for the long-banned DDT.

Greenpeace published two reports looking at tea in China and in India. In both accounts, the levels of pesticide residues found in tea samples were disturbingly above the safe limits set by the World Health Organization.

China and India are the first and second largest producers of tea, respectively, and a good deal of their tea is exported internationally. The United States imports almost all of its tea, and tea companies are required to produce documentation that proves their compliance before being approved by the FDA and customs. However, Greenpeace’s studies focused on China and India, which are the largest producers, as well as the largest consumers, of tea. Their food safety regulations differ wildly from those of the United States.

In 49 Indian tea samples tested, nearly 60 percent contained at least one pesticide above the safety limits set by the European Union. In 18 samples, the quantity of pesticides were “50 percent more than the maximum level.” A whopping 33 samples contained DDT. In the report on China’s teas, nearly 67 percent of samples (18 total) contained pesticides that have been previously banned under the Stockholm Convention. “Richun’s Tieguanyin 803 tea [from China] showed up with 17 different kinds of pesticides!” reported Greenpeace. In total, 14 samples from China contained pesticides that are known to harm unborn children or cause genetic damage.

Brands tested were from 8 of the 11 top tea brands such as Twinings, Tata Tea, Tetley, Brooke Bond, Golden Tips, Goodricke and surprisingly, the No. 1 tea brand: Lipton. In Greenpeace’s studies, three of four Lipton samples, “contained pesticides that are banned for use on tea plants and are highly toxic. Altogether 17 different kinds of pesticides were found on the four samples.”

“As the world’s best-selling tea brand, Lipton is taking advantage of China’s loose pesticide control measures at the expense of its Chinese customers,” Wang Jing, Greenpeace food and agriculture campaigner, told Greenpeace East Asia.

Pesticides found through the test included a number of pesticides that Greenpeace reports are a result of “complicated and confusing” regulations. For instance:

“As of May 2014, a total 248 chemical pesticides have been registered under section 9(3) of the Insecticides Act (1968) for use in India, for all crops. However, the rationale for permitting these remains far from clear. For example, the list contains Endosulfan, which has been subject to a separate comprehensive ban by decision of the High Court as of 2011.”

Pesticides found included methomyl, an insecticide known for harming the nervous system; dicofol, a chemical related to DDT; and endosulfan among many others.

To the news of the findings, Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL), one of the largest companies reported in the study, said it complies with the law. “We have internal HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point) processes for all our factories,” HUL told DNA India. “Samples of raw materials and finished products are regularly sent to third-party testing laboratories. Our data does not show the presence of any unapproved chemicals and we fully comply with the Indian foods regulations as stipulated by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).”

HUL added it was looking to phase out pesticides with its suppliers by 2020.

Reasons Not Buy Bottled Water

It’s Probably Just Tap Water Anyway
According to both government and industry estimates, approximately 40 percent of bottled water comes from city and municipal water reserves. Sometimes it’s additionally treated, but sometimes it’s not. 

There’s No One Assessing it for Quality
60 to 70 percent of percent of bottled water sold in the U.S. is exempt from the FDA’s rigorous water standards because the FDA says its rules do not apply to water packaged and sold in the same state. 

It Could Contain E. Coli
While it’s not in companies’ best interests to sell water full of E. coli to consumers, there’s no law saying they can’t. Federal law states that city tap water can contain no E. coli or fecal coliform bacteria, yet no such law exists for bottled water. 

Cities are Required to Tell You What’s in Your Water
Federal law mandates that cities must release annual “right to know” reports about the contents of drinking water; bottlers are under no such obligation. 

Making Bottles Wastes Water
It takes three times as much water to make one plastic bottle as it does to fill it. 

We’re Filling The Oceans With Plastic
The Ocean Conservatory has found that every square mile of the ocean has 46,000 pieces of floating plastic in it. Plastic bottles and plastic bags are the two most prevalent forms of plastic waste. 

You Probably Can’t Recycle it
Only bottles made of polyethylene terephthalate can be recycled, which means four out of five water bottles are sent to landfills or tossed into the ocean. 

Your Bottle Is Going To Outlive Your Great-Great-Grandchildren
Each convenient little bottle of water takes 1,000 years to biodegrade, and they produce toxic fumes if they’re incinerated. 

It’s A Rip-Off
Bottled water costs roughly 1,000 times the price of a glass of tap water, and that’s counting the cost of a home water filter. 

You Probably Can’t Taste the Difference Anyway
Last May, Good Morning America gave their audience a blind taste test using New York City tap water, Poland Spring, O-2 Oxygenated Water, and Evian. The clear winner was New York City tap water with 45 percent of the vote. 

What’s Being Done To Meat and What It Does To Us

The average American eats between two and five times more protein than they actually need. In the last 50 years worldwide meat consumption per capita has doubled, primarily because of corporate advertising. McDonald’s alone spends about $1.4 billion a year trying to convince us to buy from their heavily meat-centered menu. The rest of the meat and dairy industries also spend vast sums of money in television and magazine advertising every year to convince Americans to beef, pork, cheese, milk, eggs, chicken and other assorted animal products.

Amino acids, the building blocks of protein, can be synthesized by the body or ingested from food. There are 20 different amino acids in the food we eat, but our body can only make 11 of them. The nine essential amino acids which can’t be produced by the body must be obtained from the diet. A variety of grains, legumes and vegetables can provide all of the essential amino acids our bodies require. No one needs to eat meat to obtain protein. Furthermore, plant-based proteins also don’t contain saturated fat, and are usually lower in calories.

When people eat too much protein, excess nitrogen is digested and metabolized. This can strain the kidneys, which expel the waste through urine. Over time, individuals who consume large amounts of animal protein, risk at least some loss of kidney function. The problem is, mild loss of kidney function is usually silent, affecting 20 million Americans, and they likely are unaware of the increased risk.

Certain proteins present in meat, fish, and poultry, cooked at high temperatures, especially grilled or fried, produce compounds called heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). These substances have been linked to various cancers including those of the colon and breast.

The average American meat eater puts 100 pounds of animal fats into his or her arteries every year. That can lead to development of atherosclerotic vascular disease, like heart attacks and strokes, and also plays a role in the development of cancer. In order to absorb fat, the liver makes bile, which it stores in the gallbladder. After a meal, the gallbladder sends bile acids into the intestine, where they chemically modify the fats eaten so they can be absorbed. Unfortunately, bacteria in the intestine turn these bile acids into cancer-promoting substances called secondary bile acids.

Red meat is bad for your health in any amount. A long-range study from the Harvard School of Public Health of 110,000 adults over 20 years found that adding just one three-ounce serving of unprocessed red meat to their daily diet increased participants’ risk of dying during the study by 13 percent. Adding a hot dog or two slices of bacon increased their risk by 20 percent. On the other hand, replacing beef or pork with nuts lowers your risk by 19 percent, and replacing them with poultry or grain lowers your risk by 14 percent.

Red meat, is also linked to breast, kidney, pancreatic, prostate and colorectal cancer, and to diabetes. Vegetarians have about half the normal cancer risk.

Meat, especially beef, has much higher levels of pesticides and industrial chemicals than any plant food. Not only are the chemicals given to commercially raised livestock a toxic stew, but the overwhelming majority of the grains fed to livestock are GMOs, meaning they are soaked in pesticides. The National Research Council (NRC) of the National Academy of Sciences considers beef the most dangerous food in herbicide contamination and ranks it third in insecticide contamination. The NRC estimates that beef pesticide contamination represents about 11 percent of the total cancer risk from pesticides of all foods on the market today.

The most common agricultural pesticide in use today is glyphosate (Roundup). Glyphosate residues cannot be removed by washing and they are not broken down by cooking. Glyphosate residues can remain stable in food for a year or more, even if the foods are frozen, dried or processed. The EPA recently raised the allowable limit for glyphosate residue in human food and animal feed to a level 200 times higher, from .1 milligrams per kilogram to 20 milligrams per kilogram, with no scientific justification or data to defend such a change. That’s a level that even Monsanto considered extreme as recently as 1999.

A January 2014 study published by a German research team found glyphosate was significantly higher in the urine of chronically ill people compared to healthy people. German researchers leading the University of Leipzig study concluded, “the presence of glyphosate residues in both humans and animals could haul the entire population towards numerous health hazards.” 

Even “grass-fed” beef are now eating GMO containing foods, meaning more pesticides in the beef itself. Animal feed that contains animal parts or animal waste, as is often the case only compounds the problem.

For reasons similar to those for meat, the fat in dairy products poses a high risk for contamination by pesticides. Growth hormones and antibiotics are also invariably found in commercial milk, cheese and butter.

Dioxins are perhaps the most deadly group of compounds in our environment after radioactive isotopes. Dioxins are found throughout the world and they accumulate in the food chain, mainly in the fatty tissue of animals where their half-life is between seven and 11 years. Ninety-three percent of the average American’s exposure to dioxins comes through animal fat, meat and dairy consumption.

Virtually all feedlot-raised cattle are given growth hormones and antibiotics. In fact, about 80 percent of the antibiotics sold in the United States go to livestock. The antibiotics are used not only for bacterial protection given the putrid conditions livestock are kept in, but also to fatten them up.

This has potential implications for the worldwide obesity epidemic. No one seems to have studied whether the residual low doses of antibiotics in livestock meat are enough to make you gain weight, but there is evidence that those doses are sufficient to disrupt the normal composition of your gut bacteria, increasing your susceptibility to infections.

Here’s more unappetizing food for thought. Toxins of all sorts are now being fed to livestock. Especially cattle are now being used as toxic waste dumps. An Associated Press article revealed numerous hideous examples:

In Gore, Okla., a uranium-processing plant gets rid of low-level radioactive waste by licensing it as a liquid fertilizer and spraying it over 9,000 acres of grazing land.

At Camas, Wash., lead-laced waste from a pulp mill is hauled to farms and spread over crops destined for livestock feed.

In Moxee City, Wash., dark powder from two Oregon steel mills is poured from rail cars into silos at Bay Zinc Co. under a federal hazardous waste storage permit. Then it is emptied from the silos for use as fertilizer. The newspaper called the powder a toxic byproduct of steel-making but did not identify it.

“When it goes into our silo, it’s a hazardous waste,” said Bay Zinc’s president, Dick Camp. “When it comes out of the silo, it’s no longer regulated. The exact same material.”

Federal and state governments encourage this “recycling,” which saves money for industry and conserves space in hazardous-waste landfills. The substances found in recycled fertilizers include cadmium, lead, arsenic, radioactive materials and dioxins. The wastes come from incineration of medical and municipal wastes, and from heavy industries including mining, smelting, cement kilns and wood products.

Nutrition and Health has reported that some ranchers are feeding their steers cement dust to “get their weight up” for sale. The FDA was asked to halt the practice, but after investigation, responded that since there has been no indication of harm to humans the practice can continue until such time as harm is proven. FDA officials also say that it isn’t uncommon for feedlot operators to mix industrial sewage and oils into the feed to reduce costs and fatten animals more quickly.

Scientists are developing plastic feed, small pellets containing 80 to 90 percent ethylene and 10 to 20 percent propylene, as an artificial form of cheap roughage to feed cattle. Researchers point to the extra savings of using the new plastic feed at slaughter time when upward of 20 pounds of the stuff from each cow’s digestive tracts can be recovered, melted down and recycled into new pellets. The new pellets are much cheaper than hay and can provide roughage requirements at a significant savings.

Once a cow has been killed, the next stage of “doctoring up” the carcass begins. Immediately after the meat becomes exposed to air, oxidation begins, gradually turning the red color of the meat to a more unappetizing brown or gray color within just a few days. But meat in the grocery store never looks like that.

Meat on store shelves can be subject to temperatures too high to prevent bacterial growth from spoiling, so the industry invented “modified atmosphere packaging” or “MAP.” This means that the meat is packaged in carbon monoxide (CO). As much as 70 percent of meat sold in stores is displayed in CO packaging. The oxygen in the package is sucked out and replaced by CO, much like vacuum packaging with an impermeable membrane. The CO reacts with the myoglobin in the blood giving the meat a bright red. CO can keep a piece of meat or fish looking artificially red and fresh for up to a full year, and of course how a piece of meat looks is the primary consideration of a consumer.

CO packaging disguises the physical evidence of spoilage, almost no matter how old it really is. And that’s the danger of using CO packaging. This practice is not allowed in many countries, like European Union member-states, but in another capitulation to the Big Ag Empire, the FDA has approved this practice.

Chickens are routinely fed roxarsone, a form of arsenic, found in their feed. More than half of the store-bought and fast-food chicken contains elevated levels of arsenic. Roughly 2.2 million pounds of it are being used every year to produce 43 billion pounds of poultry.

Chickens are also fed an elixir of drugs that includes caffeine, banned antibiotics, Benadryl, Tylenol and even Prozac. Prozac was added to feed because stressed out chickens produce tough meat and brutal conditions often mean a constantly nervous bird.

There is a solution to combating the destruction, deception and the health consequences of the meat industry. Stop eating it. You don’t need it. Your waistline, your arteries and your kidneys will thank you for it. And we just might preserve enough arable land and a livable climate to allow us to grow some real food.

Arby’s Meat Mountain

In an effort to show customers that they served more than roast beef, Arby’s has been displaying a visual representation of all the meats you can order. It was produced as a marketing tool, not a real sandwich. But because this is America, people completely missed the point and started trying to order “The Meat Mountain.” And since there were so many requests, Arby’s complied by making it a secret menu item, which you can purchase for $10. It’s not the menu, but can ordered if you ask for it.

meat mountain

The ingredients, stacked on a bun, are as follows:

2 chicken tenders

1.5 oz. of roast turkey

1.5 oz. of ham

1 slice of Swiss cheese

1.5 oz. of corned beef

1.5 oz. brisket

1.5 oz. of Angus steak

1 slice of cheddar cheese

1.5 oz. roast beef

3 half-strips of bacon

So buckle your chinstrap and charge up that pacemaker fellow Americans. Arby’s has a hidden menu that needs to be conquered.

Unmasking False Right-Wing Accusations Against the President

another-right-wing-meme-bites-the-dust

President George W. Bush took 879 days of vacation time during the eight years he was in office — an astounding 30% of his presidency. According to the Washington Post, as of August 15th Barack Obama had taken 138 days of vacation in the five years and seven months he has been president, or roughly 7% of his presidency.

Using second grade addition and subtraction skills, anyone can determine for themselves that Obama is at least 719 days behind George W. Bush in his bid to become the most vacationing president ever. And he’d better hurry up if that’s really his goal, because he only has 880 days left in office.

It never fails to amaze me that the Republicans find no irony in accusing this administration of the same corruption, abuses of power, and slothfulness that helped define the administrations of presidents representing their party.

No the President has done nothing as bad as Watergate, or the Iran-Contra fiasco.

No this President has not written more executive orders than any other President in the last fifty years. In fact, he ranks 19th among the 44 presidents, and the only twentieth or twenty first century president with fewer is George H.W. Bush who only served one term.

And no this President has not gone on more vacations more than his predecessors. Not even close.

Dangerous Parasite

There is a parasite out there that can infect virtually any warm-blooded creature on Earth. It’s found just about everywhere, and approximately 33% of humans are infected. It’s mysteriously linked to people committing suicide and brain cancer, and it’s most commonly found in cats.



Known as Toxoplasma gondii, the parasite can cause a disease aptly called toxoplasmosis in virtually any warm-blooded creature it infects. Luckily for us, toxoplasmosis is rarely, if ever, fatal in any species.


That said, it is still a very major concern to the scientific and medical community. As noted in a work sheet released by Stanford University, toxoplasmosis has a very high mortality rate when people with a weaker immune system, such as patients suffering from HIV/AIDS, are infected with it. The disease is also noted as being very dangerous to infants and other, otherwise immunocompromised patients.



So how do you catch it? Well, there are several well documented and universally agreed upon ways in which an ordinary person can come into contact with the parasite, and hence the disease.
• Raw, undercooked meat.
• Unpasteurized milk.
• Raw/unwashed vegetables.
• Cats.

The link between eating uncooked meat and the parasite was conclusively proven when scientists in Paris fed orphans nearly raw beef, horse and lamb meat to test the hypothesis that the parasite could be transmitted in this way. If you’re hoping that this happened hundreds of years ago, it took place in 1965.

In regards to cats, they are noted as being the “definitive host” of the Toxoplasma gondii parasite. In fact, it can only sexually reproduce when it is inside of a cat. However, it can asexually reproduce and live “indefinitely” inside the body of virtually any warm-blooded host, like a human. Since Toxoplasma gondii parasites can’t complete their life-cycle inside of us though, we are defined as being “intermediate hosts”.

About 40% of people in the U.S. have been exposed to the parasite at some point, often in unwashed vegetables or undercooked meat, and about 15% of people in the U.S. have the telltale cysts in their heart, nervous system tissues, and skeletal muscle, with each cyst containing many thousands of the parasite.

The symptoms of toxoplasmosis in ordinary, healthy people are usually mild.  If any symptoms do show up, it generally only happens when you first acquire the parasite, and these are simply mild flu-like symptoms that last a couple weeks.



Despite the fact that a third of the world is infected with this parasite, unless you have a crippling disease that’s ravaging your immune system, are getting an organ transplant, or are a tiny baby, it will probably never bother or affect you in definitive way.

Again, we say “probably” because there is a growing, but as yet unproven concern that the parasite can cause a number of mental health problems. For example, research conducted by the Maryland School of Medicine found that women infected with the parasite were “1.5 times more likely to attempt suicide”.  Other studies have linked the parasite to even more alarming health issues such as schizophrenia and even brain cancer.



By far the most fascinating thing about the parasite, however, is its apparent ability to control the mind, or at least the behavior of certain of its hosts. Specifically, rats infected with the parasite will become unusually attracted to the scent of cat urine, a scent they’d usually avoid like the plague. Terrifyingly, the parasite seems to accomplish this by completely and permanently overriding the rat’s natural fear of cats and their distinctive odor.  Instead, the rat becomes intensely sexually attracted to it instead. Needless to say, this makes it much more likely that the rat will be eaten by a cat, which allows the Toxoplasma gondii to get inside its preferred host.



In the end, our own immune system keeps the majority of symptoms at bay. When it doesn’t, for example in immune deficient people, the subsequent disease often results in death, with initial complications including encephalitis and pneumonia.