Packaged Foods You Should Buy In Organic Versions

Malathion is an ingredient in shampoos designed to kill head lice in humans and fleas in pets. Where else it shows up: in your toast. The chemical is an insecticide that kills bugs that typically feed on grains such as wheat, rye, and barley. In one study, the FDA detected malathion on bread and flour-based foods including biscuits, tortillas, muffins, crackers, pasta, and cereal. Research shows malathion may be associated with cancer and changes to the immune system, and can be transferred from a pregnant mother to the developing fetus.

Salad dressing
Flip over a bottle of salad dressing and one of the first ingredients you’ll see on the label is canola oil. Unless it’s organic, chances are the canola oil is a genetically modified variety since 90% of canola in the U.S. is genetically engineered, according to the Institute for Responsible Technology. 

Pesticides are also an issue with this crop. Canola is genetically modified to be tolerant to one of two different types of herbicide, glyphosate and gluphosinate. This means they can be sprayed with higher doses of the chemicals to kill nearby weeds without affecting the plants. Scientists have also found varieties of canola growing in the wild that are tolerant to both types of weeds, meaning the GMO crops have bred and spread on their own.

Americans consume 75% of their tomatoes in processed forms such as ketchup, tomato sauce, and tomato paste. Each year, tomatoes appear on the Environmental Working Group’s list of the Dirty Dozen fruits and vegetables most likely to be contaminated with pesticides. In studies, a single sample of cherry tomatoes tested positive for 13 different pesticides. When you buy organic, you’re not only avoiding all of those chemicals, you’re getting more nutritional bang for your buck. A study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that organic ketchup contains higher levels of antioxidants than its conventional counterpart.

Veggie burgers
Meatless burgers often pack in a slew of different soy-based products including soybeans, soy flour, soy protein, soy sauce, and soy lecithin, a soybean oil extract. Today, 93% of soybeans in the U.S. are genetically modified, compared with a mere 17% in 1997. Soy is genetically engineered to be resistant to weed killers like Roundup, which is a health concern as well as an ecological one. We’re seeing more herbicide-resistant weeds, so farmers have to use larger quantities and more toxic chemicals to fight the weeds around the plants that we eat.

Non-organic dairy cows are often treated with the genetically engineered hormones called recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH) or recombinant bovine somatotropin (rBST). They’re injected into the cows to increase milk production. According to the American Cancer Society, milk from cows treated with rBGH has higher levels of IGF-1, a hormone that stimulates cell growth. Some studies suggest it could contribute to prostate, breast, colorectal, and other cancers in humans.

Apples regularly appear on the Dirty Dozen list, and this year they earned the top spot. Unless you buy organic applesauce, it’s likely to be filled with several different pesticides. According to a report by the FDA, nearly every one of the 19 pesticide residues they tested for appeared in jarred applesauce. Keep in mind that many fruit-based squeeze pouches start with an applesauce base, so look for organic varieties of those, too.

Kalamazoo County Michigan Is Stealing This Woman’s House

The government of Kalamazoo County, Michigan is literally stealing a mother’s house that she owns free and clear.

Deborah Calley paid $164,000 in cash for her dream home in 2010. She didn’t take out a mortgage or borrow money. She paid for it upfront, which means she owns it. There is no dispute over it.

But now the county has foreclosed on her home and is selling it at auction. Why? Because she missed a single tax payment of less than $2000 in 2011 because the notices were addressed and mailed to banks Calley is unaffiliated with.

Calley’s attorney, Ven Johnson, says the process to foreclosure was not properly handled. He said part of the statute is to send certified mail, adding that only one of ten notifications went to Calley’s address. That notice was returned to sender.

“The county admitted in this case, under oath I might add, that the certified mail that was sent to Deb’s house came back,” Johnson said. “In other words, she never accepted it.  So, that means that the county knows it wasn’t successful. I know for a fact that it went back to this company called Title Check because I have a receipt from the person at Title Check who signed it at their address in Kalamazoo.”

That’s not the only discrepancy, according to Johnson. A signed affidavit shows county treasurer Mary Balkema and deputy treasurer Greg Vlietstra visited her home and personally delivered notice of foreclosure. However in a video of a hearing into the case, Vlietstra is asked who he handed that letter to, and he admits he met Calley for the first time in his office after that delivery was supposedly made.

Records show Calley made two payments in 2011, which is the standard method used in Michigan which bills a summer and a winter payment separately, but because she lived in the Village of Richland, she also owed a third payment to them, which is the one she missed.

Still, the county attorney said the process to notify Calley met standards set by state law.  When Thom Canny, corporate counsel for Kalamazoo County was asked if the safe guards to notify people of foreclosure were error-proof he said, “I would say they’re never 100 percent and if somebody raises a question we look at it.” But Canny went on to say it’s too late and that the case is out of his hands.

“In this case we followed the statute and pursuing foreclosure is appropriate,” Canny said.

Calley says that when she paid her taxes in 2012, nobody mentioned anything about the missing tax payment from a year earlier.

“When I paid the taxes in 2012 right there in Richland, no one said, ‘Oh, well you still owe money for 2011, so, I didn’t really have a clue. I thought I was right on time.”

Calley not only had no clue that she had missed a payment because the county screwed up the whole mailing process, she also had a good reason to have forgotten in the first place because she suffered a head injury in a car accident that left bruises on her brain. To recover comfortably and make raising her two kids simpler, Calley bought the house she always wanted. But her brain injury may have caused her to accidentally miss a payment, a payment that the county failed time and time again to notify her about.

When the county swooped in and kicked Calley and her kids out of their own home, she offered to pay the missing payment in full along with penalties and interest. But the greedy county only saw bigger dollar signs and decided to auction off the house instead of making up for their own inability to properly address a piece of mail. Needless to say, Calley is torn up about the whole situation.

To add insult to injury, the county intends to keep all the profit from selling the home. Calley doesn’t get a dime of it even though she’s the one who paid for the house in full and is the rightful owner. Thus far, the highest bid is $80,000, far more money than the county would make if they just let Calley make the missed payment.

If she loses her home, Calley will lose the only thing she owns and the government would be putting her future and the future of her children in jeopardy.

She’ll pay it today if they’ll let her, but the government would rather take her home, the only thing that she has that she owns that’s paid off free and clear. That is her future and her retirement and her kids’ future. She will lose it to the government unless a judge has mercy, but so far that doesn’t seem likely.

Quirky Town Names

These towns may not have the biggest populations, but their clever slogans are second to none.


Where the battle wasn’t.


Don’t pass Gas, stop and enjoy it.


Where the “odds” are with you.


The mile wide city.


Town of oil repute.


It’s not our fault.


A great place to live no matter how you pronounce it.


Best town by a dam site.


Everything but a lake.


The city so nice they named it twice.


Welcome to the only Eaton Rapids on Earth.


The Little Apple.


Friendliest ghost town in Alaska.


We’re down to earth. If gravity goes we all go.


It’s not the end of the Earth, but you can see it from here.

The Most Dangerous Dog Breeds

According to the Center for Disease Control, these are the most dangerous dog breeds in the U.S.


The combination of molosser breeds, including pit bulls, curs, rottweilers, presa canarios, cane corsos, mastiffs, dogo argentinos, fila brasieros, sharpeis, boxers, and their mixes, inflict:
▪ 81% of attacks that induce bodily harm
▪ 76% of attacks to children
▪ 87% of attack to adults
▪ 72% of attacks that result in fatalities
▪ 81% that result in maiming
▪ Embody 9.2%+ of the total dog population

▪ Even if the pit bull category was “split four ways,” attacks by pit bulls and their closest relatives would still outnumber attacks by any other breed.
▪ Pit bulls are noteworthy for attacking adults almost as frequently as children. This is a very rare pattern, only seen elsewhere in the bullmastiff/presa canario line.
▪ If a pit bull or rottweiler has a bad moment, instead of being bitten, often someone is maimed or killed; that has now created off-the-chart actuarial risk that many insurance companies won’t assume.

Canada Is Now Pretty Much Owned By China

The U.S. has engaged in several destructive and ill-conceived trade agreements over the years, including NAFTA, WTO, and others. But Canada may just have struck a trade deal that makes our mistakes look small in comparison.

Under the terms of the Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement, approved by PM Harper on Friday, China can sue Canada in secret tribunals to repeal national and provincial laws that interfere with Chinese investments, including laws limiting construction of the Northern Gateway tar sands pipeline.

The treaty allows the government to engage in secret negotiations to vary its rules and laws to avoid harm to Chinese assets, or to pay public money to Chinese companies, and only publish notice once the matter is final and settled. The way the deal is structured, it can’t be undone, even if the Canadian courts find it to be unconstitutional, without consent from China. More significantly, it overrides existing treaty obligations to Canada’s First Nations, allowing Chinese investors to force the Canadian government to grant access to aboriginal lands that are technically not Canadian territory.

First Nations argued that the deal was not valid, as it would violate section 35 of the Constitution requiring consultation over projects that could affect traditional territory. The Hupacasath First Nation in B.C. took the federal government to court last year over the FIPA deal, while citizen advocacy groups Leadnow and SumOfUs delivered 60,000 signatures from across Canada in opposition to the agreement. The court decision on the Hupacasath First Nation’s legal appeal is still pending, despite the ratification.

“This is a truly sad day for Canada,” said Brenda Sayers, representative of the Hupacasath First Nation. “The people of Canada should be alarmed that our constitutional rights have been stolen from our hands.”

“A massive citizen response and the Hupacasath First Nation’s legal challenge has delayed ratification of this secretive and extreme investor deal for two years longer than anyone thought possible,” said Leadnow executive director Jamie Biggar.

“Today, Prime Minister Harper is showing his disrespect for the legal process by ratifying this agreement before the courts have finished reviewing the case.”

Higher Wages Put More People to Work

In January, the town of Seatac, Washington, put in to effect a new $15 per hour Minimum Wage. No ramp ups, no tiered implementation. One day it was the state standard, the next, the highest minimum wage in the nation. The Koch Brothers sank a fortune to fight this measure, which fell on deaf ears as the town rejected their trickle-down theories and instead voted for the measure. The result is that for one town, they became a test bed, to put the theories behind trickle-down economics to the test.

Now, nine months on, we are witnessing one of the most dramatic recoveries in the Pacific Northwest.

Last July, business owner Scott Ostrander claimed that the increased wage would force him to lay off staff, if not shut down his businesses.

“I am shaking here tonight because I am going to be forced to lay people off. I’m going to take away their livelihood. That hurts. It really, really hurts. . . . And what I am going to have to do on Jan. 1 is to eliminate jobs, reduce hours — and as soon as hours are reduced, benefits are reduced.”

Instead, his business, the Cedarbrook Lodge hotel, is expanding, adding 63 more beds to meet demand. Instead of layoffs, he needs to hire more people. And his story is not the only one.

Tom Douglas, who runs fifteen restaurants in Seatac, warned that a higher minimum wage would force the shutdown of a quarter of his restaurants. Instead, he is opening five new restaurants to meet demand. And this story is being repeated, over and over again, throughout Seatac.

Well paid employees pump money in to the local economies. This is basic economics, dating back to Adam Smith. Instead of slashing employees, which would impact any businesses ability to support their customers, they have turned to more direct approaches. A good example of this is MasterPark, an off-airport parking lot, which has added a $0.99 daily “Living Wage Surcharge“. Less than a dollar guarantees that MasterPark can give all of its employees a living wage, a small price to pay.

The biggest sign that the higher wage did not impact Seatac however comes with the news that the Seatac airport will be undergoing a half-billion dollar renovation and expansion. The growth of the airport, which as an extra-territorial administrative district does not require the higher minimum wage of the adjoining town, demonstrates that the fears pushed by the Koch Brothers and their multi-million dollar ad campaign are just nonsense.

They forgot the words of wisdom from President Franklin D. Roosevelt, in an address given in Cleveland, Ohio on October 16, 1936.

It is to the real advantage of every producer, every manufacturer and every merchant to cooperate in the improvement of working conditions, because the best customer of American industry is the well-paid worker.