SMOKINCHOICES (and other musings)

January 29, 2010

Amazing Beetle to the Rescue

The COLUMBUS DISPATCH,    January 24, 2010


Lake Erie wetlands clear of invasive plant with beetles’ help

One of the biggest problems for the folks who work to keep our wilds in good health is controlling invasive plants.Invasive plants are nonnative exotics from other parts of the world.    That might sound like an inconsequential problem to some, but those plants can devastate our natural treasures. If not kept under control, they crowd out native plants and, in some cases, can hurt wildlife.

Among a long list of invasive plants are bush honeysuckle, multiflora rose, garlic mustard and purple loosestrife.  For this column, I want to single out purple loosestrife because attempts to control it have been among the biggest victories naturalist have ever had over an invasive plant.

I can remember in the 1990s and early 2000s how purple loosestrife, which has an attractive purple flower, dominated the marshes and other wetlands along Lake Erie. The plant was sometimes sold as an ornamental and escaped into the wild. It is native to Europe and Asia.    If you go to the marshes now, they are back to looking the way they did before the invasion.

Nonnative loosestrife crowds out native plants such as cattails. It also can change the chemical composition of the water, making it harmful to aquatic wildlife, and it can affect the natural food chain.

What wildlife officials did to control loosestrife is astounding. I found out about it while attending a program the other day by Jennifer Windus, a wildlife program administrator for the Ohio Division of Wildlife.   Windus said Europe has more than 200 insects that feed on loosestrife, so Ohio officials imported a beetle from Europe and raised more than a million of the bugs. Then they released them into the vast stands of purple loosestrife along the lake. The beetles ate the leaves of the loosestrife, destroying it.

Windus said there are a couple of other good things about the beetles.   First, there is a native loosestrife in Ohio, and the beetle will not eat it. Secondly, when the loosestrife dies back, the beetles greatly decrease in number; but if the loosestrife attempts a comeback, the beetles suddenly multiply and knock it back down.   It’s almost like magic.

The usual methods used to control invasive plants are digging, mowing, cutting and applying herbicide.   “One of the important messages we want to get out of this success story is that it limits the amount of herbicide we would have to use and the hours of intensive manpower naturalists would have to spend,” Windus said.

Dave Sherman, a wildlife biologist at the Crane Creek Wildlife Research Station on Lake Erie, heads the purple loosestrife program.   The beetles eat only a little of the loosestrife leaves.   But they lay their eggs on the plant, and after the larvae hatch, they do 75 percent of the damage to the plant, he said.   Sherman said of the use of the beetles: “I didn’t think it would work as well as it did when we first started. But it has definitely added another important tool to fight invasive plants.”
Retired weather columnist John Switzer writes a Sunday Metro column. (Bravo! John,. . . . and thanks)


FDA denies our rights

CSPI Asks FDA to Abolish Food and Supplement Health Claims

January 12, 2010

Only a drug company selling an FDA approved drug may make such a claim. SupplementsAny violation of this rule can result in massive fines and a long jail sentence.

The producer of a Vitamin D supplement cannot legally cite the science showing that Vitamin D prevents and treats the flu. Flu is considered a disease so this is forbidden. The science doesn’t matter to the FDA. Nor does freedom of speech.

The supplement producer can make a Structure/Function Claim. For example, the bottle might say to take Vitamin D for immune system function.

Alternatively, the Vitamin D producer might ask the FDA for permission to make a Qualified Health Claim. For example, it might ask to be able to say that Vitamin D may prevent or treat the flu (note the qualifying term “may”).

But the FDA does not like Qualified Health Claims and will almost always deny them. It will typically say the science is not strong enough. To reach this conclusion, it will throw out most scientific studies because they have not been set up in the form of standard FDA drug trials.

The FDA seems to want, and the Center for Science in the Public Interest says it wants, the abolition of both Structure/Function Claims and Qualified Health Claims. They seem to want food, supplements, and drugs to be treated exactly alike. No health claims of any sort would be allowed unless the product was brought through the full FDA approval process.

At first glance, this might seem both fair and logical. Why not treat everything alike? Why not subject food, supplements, and drugs to the same standard?

But this is not at all fair or logical. It is actually both unfair and completely illogical. It omits an all important fact: the staggering cost of FDA approval: up to $1 billion for a single product.

Drug companies can afford to pay these horrendous sums. For one thing, they can charge as much as $100 a pill. And how can they get away with charging so much? Because drugs are usually patented.

The patent together with FDA approval creates a monopoly. This is a government sanctioned and enforced monopoly, and it makes drug companies the most profitable businesses in America.

Another important fact: natural substances cannot usually be patented (they were after all, designed and created by nature). At least the rules say that they cannot be. Does this mean that drug companies avoid natural substances? Of course not.

When drug companies find a natural substance that promises to prevent or treat disease, they seek to “twist” the molecules enough to claim that the resulting product is “new” and therefore patentable. Then they take the modified and no longer “natural” product to the FDA for approval.

The result? We now pay as much as  for that it as a drug than we would have paid for the natural product. Worse, the “new” drug may be much more dangerous than the natural product from which it was derived. (as it’s DNA has been altered)

January 27, 2010

Stare Decisis thrown out!

Does everyone remember the hearings for the Supreme Court Justice  Roberts and the endless questions he was asked about Stare Decisis and his oft repeated responses that of course he would honor Stare Decisis, that he had every intention of doing so.   Of course the concern at that moment in time was  the Roe vs Wade decision.    Women were not about to seat a man to head the Supreme Court no matter how intelligent ,  even- tempered and ‘sane’ he appeared to be without strong assurance that he would in fact, honor Stare Decisis.  It was settled – he would honor Stare Decisis.  I was conflicted.  Now I see why.

STARE DECISIS – Lat. “to stand by that which is decided.” The principal that the precedent decisions are to be followed by the courts.

To abide or adhere to decided cases. It is a general maxim that when a point has been settled by decision, it forms a precedent which is not afterwards to be departed from. The doctrine of stare decisis is not always to be relied upon, for the courts find it necessary to overrule cases which have been hastily decided, or contrary to principle. Many hundreds of such overruled cases may be found in the American and English books of reports.

An appeal court’s panel is “bound by decisions of prior panels unless an en banc decision, Supreme Court decision, or subsequent legislation undermines those decisions.” United States v. Washington, 872 F.2d 874, 880 (9th Cir. 1989).

Although the doctrine of stare decisis does not prevent reexamining and, if need be, overruling prior decisions, “It is . . . a fundamental jurisprudential policy that prior applicable precedent usually must be followed even though the case, if considered anew, might be decided differently by the current justices. This policy . . . ‘is based on the assumption that certainty, predictability and stability in the law are the major objectives of the legal system; i.e., that parties should be able to regulate their conduct and enter into relationships with reasonable assurance of the governing rules of law.'” (Moradi-Shalal v. Fireman’s Fund Ins. Companies (1988) 46 Cal.3d 287, 296.) Accordingly, a party urging overruling a precedent faces a rightly onerous task, the difficulty of which is roughly proportional to a number of factors, including the age of the precedent, the nature and extent of public and private reliance on it, and its consistency or inconsistency with other related rules of law.

This is on my mind fellow Americans.  It isn’t going away!  Our way of life and very security stands in the balance and some thing must be done about it.  Thinking people on both sides of the political aisle are stunned and stressed over this.  It can not stand.  Action will be taken.    Meanwhile,   intelligent people whom I respect keep writing about the Supreme Court Decision of last week over Corporate financial contributions which have now been changed to be without limit which will put ordinary citizens in jeopardy to EVER win any conflict with corporate interests.  It defeats what we stand for here.  There will be no justice for anyone       Jan

Corporate cash will impair democracy

 E.J. DIONNE            the Washington Post
The Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision last week giving American corporations the right to unlimited political spending was an astonishing display of judicial arrogance, overreach and unjustified activism.

Turning its back on a century of practice and decades of precedent, a narrow right-wing majority on the court decided to change the U.S. political system by tilting it decisively in favor of corporate interests.

Think of a chat between a corporate lobbyist and a senator: “Are you going to block that bailout we want? Well, I’m sorry, but we’re going to run $2 million worth of vicious ads against you.” The same exchange might take place on tax breaks, consumer protections, environmental rules and worker safeguards.

Defenders of this vast expansion of corporate influence piously claim it’s about “free speech.” But since when is a corporation, a creation of laws passed by governments, entitled to the same rights as an individual citizen? This ruling will give large business entities far more power than any individual.

The only proper response to this distortion of our political system by ideologically driven justices is a popular revolt. It would be a revolt of a sort deeply rooted in the American political tradition. The most vibrant reform alliances in our history have involved coalitions between populists (who stand up for the interests and values of average citizens) and progressives (who fight against corruption in government and for institutional changes to improve the workings of our democracy). It’s time for a new populist-progressive alliance.

.This court ruling also should challenge the fake populism we have seen on display of late. It disguises a defense of the interests of the powerful behind crowd-pleasing rhetoric against “Washington,” “taxes” and, yes, “Obama.”   President Barack Obama has helped feed this faux populist revolt by failing to understand until recently how deeply frustrated politically moderate, middle-class Americans are over policies that bailed out the banks while leaving behind millions of unemployed and millions more alarmed about their economic futures.

If average voters came to see government primarily as an instrument of the banks, why should they believe that the same government could help them on matters of health care and employment?    Obama began taking a turn toward populism before the results of the Massachusetts Senate race rolled in.   Republican Scott Brown’s victory made the turn imperative.
The president has now offered a modest tax on the big financial institutions to cover the costs of bailouts, and a tougher approach to banks that will limit their size and their capacity to make economy-wrecking financial bets. It’s a decent start, and it’s about time.

.Next will come legislation to turn back the Supreme Court’s effort to undermine democracy. Sen. Charles E. Schumer and Rep. Chris Van Hollen are working with the White House on a measure to rein in the Supreme Court ruling.   Their ideas include prohibiting political spending by corporations that receive government money, hire lobbyists or make most of their income abroad.   And shouldn’t shareholders have the right to vote before a corporation spends money on politics? Do we want foreign-owned corporations, especially those owned by foreign governments, to exercise an undue influence in our politics? Imagine what an enterprise owned or influenced by the Chinese or Russian governments might try to do to a politician who campaigns too ardently for human rights.

.My favorite idea: Requiring CEOs to appear in ads their corporations sponsor, exactly as politicians have to do. (“I’m Joe Smith, the CEO of Acme Consolidated Megacorporation, and I approve this message.”)
Obama was right to invoke Teddy Roosevelt in his radio address on Saturday. American democracy and the square deal in government for which TR battled are in jeopardy.

E.J. Dionne writes for the Washington Post Writers Group.

January 26, 2010

Medical-radiation accidents

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH   January 24, 2010

Medical-radiation accidents go unreported

Trusting doctors often unaware of machine errors

By Walt Bogdanich

As Scott Jerome-Parks lay dying, he clung to this wish: that his fatal radiation overdose — which left him deaf, struggling to see, unable to swallow, burned, with his teeth falling out, with ulcers in his mouth and throat, nauseated, in severe pain and finally unable to breathe — be studied and talked about so that others might not have to live his nightmare.   Sensing death was near, Jerome-Parks summoned his family for a final Christmas. He died several weeks later in 2007. He was 43.

A New York City hospital treating him for tongue cancer had failed to detect a computer error that directed a linear accelerator to blast his brain stem and neck with errant beams of radiation. Not once, but three times.
Soon after the accident at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Manhattan, state health officials cautioned hospitals to be extra careful with linear accelerators, which generate beams of high-energy radiation.

But on the day of the warning, at University Hospital in Brooklyn, a 32-year-old breast-cancer patient, Alexandra Jn-Charles, absorbed the first of 27 days of radiation overdoses, each three times the prescribed amount. A linear accelerator with a missing filter would burn a hole in her chest, leaving a gaping wound so painful that the mother of two young children considered suicide.   Jn-Charles and Jerome-Parks died a month apart. Both experienced the wonders and the brutality of radiation. It helped diagnose and treat their disease. It also inflicted unspeakable pain.

Americans receive far more medical radiation than ever. The average lifetime dose of diagnostic radiation has increased sevenfold since 1980, and more than half of all cancer patients get radiation therapy.
Serious accidents are rare. But patients often know little about the harm that can result when safety rules are violated and the technologically complex machines go awry.

To better understand those risks, The New York Times examined thousands of pages of public and private records and interviewed physicians, medical physicists, researchers and government regulators.   The Times found that although this new technology allows doctors to more accurately attack tumors and reduce certain mistakes, its complexity has created new avenues for error — through software flaws, faulty programming, poor safety procedures or inadequate staffing and training.

“Linear accelerators and treatment planning are enormously more complex than 20 years ago,” said Dr. Howard I. Amols, chief of clinical physics at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York. But hospitals, he said, are often too trusting of the new computer systems and software, relying on them as if they had been tested over time, when they have not.

No one agency oversees medical radiation, and there is no central clearinghouse of cases. Accidents are chronically underreported, records show, and some states require no reporting.

In June, it was reported that a Philadelphia hospital gave the wrong radiation dose to more than 90 patients with prostate cancer and then kept quiet about it.

In 2005, a Florida hospital disclosed that 77 brain-cancer patients had received 50 percent more radiation than prescribed because one of the most powerful — and supposedly precise — linear accelerators had been programmed incorrectly for nearly a year.

Dr. John J. Feldmeier, a radiation oncologist at the University of Toledo, estimates that 1 in 20 patients will suffer injuries.    Most are normal complications, not mistakes, Feldmeier said.

“My suspicion is that maybe half of the accidents we don’t know about,” said Dr. Fred A. Mettler Jr., who has investigated radiation accidents and written books on medical radiation.

In 2009, the nation’s largest wound-care company treated 3,000 radiation injuries, most of them serious enough to require treatment in hyperbaric oxygen chambers, which use pure, pressurized oxygen to promote healing, said Jeff Nelson, president and chief executive of Diversified Clinical Services.

Although the worst accidents can be devastating, most radiation therapy “is very good,” Mettler said. “And while there are accidents, you wouldn’t want to scare people to death where they don’t get needed radiation therapy.”

January 25, 2010

Old Salts

Filed under: New England Fishing — Jan Turner @ 6:15 am
Tags: ,

This is another case of the strength of mega-sized corporations with the financial and political power, to dominate and thereby control a given industry.  PBS has done some excellent if not heartbreaking documentary reporting on this field.  It is sad to witness traditional ways of life being dissolved right before our eyes.  Certain areas of our north-eastern coastline are struck helpless and stranded from their customary method of earning their keep and doing what they love to do. It was a way of life one was born to and many others yearned for.  Now, the costs, rules and regulations are bringing it to a close. This too, is part of our life, our world. . . . . . meant to share and inform, not to bring you down,…. . . . tho, it kinda does.  Jan


Sea captain Joe Sava, 75, is a familiar figure on the pier in Gloucester, Mass. Fishing limits and costly permits are driving away successors.


New England’s fishermen are aging, with too few young people interested in taking their place

By Jay Lindsay

BOSTON — Joe Sava’s legs have absorbed the ocean’s pitch and roll from the deck of a fishing boat for four decades. At age 75, the Gloucester fisherman says just trying to stay upright at sea can wear him down. “It takes a toll,” Sava said. “The younger guys can do it.” The trouble is, he and other fishing-boat captains say, not many younger guys are working New England waters these days. Fishermen say that because of years of onerous regulations and the rising, six-figure cost of permits, fewer young people are becoming boat captains. That’s left a lot of old salts such as Sava doing the grueling job out of both love and necessity. In addition, they worry about their own safety and the future of an industry that has been vital to New England’s economy and its very character since Colonial days. “The door is slamming shut,” Sava said.

The National Marine Fisheries Service does not keep statistics on fishermen’s ages, but state figures back up the sea captains’ observations. Since 2000, the median age of Massachusetts holders of commercial fishing permits — that is, boat owners and owner-captains — has risen from 46 to nearly 51, the state Division of Marine Fisheries said.    Pat Kurkul, Northeast regional administrator for the fisheries service, said she believes that the industry is still a draw to young people and that a current rebuilding plan will ensure that it is attractive to newcomers for years to come.    “We anticipate that rebuilt fish stocks will be able to generate three times the current catch, providing plenty of economic incentive for new fishermen,” Kurkul said.

Over the past decade, regulators trying to stop overfishing have imposed ever-tighter rules that have left as few as 24 fishing days this year for those who catch cod, haddock, flounder and other so-called groundfish. The fishing fleet in the Northeast has shrunk as a result, falling from about 1,100 in 2001 to just under 600 working groundfish boats in 2007.    Meanwhile, Northeast groundfish revenue fell from about $71 million in 2004 to about $62 million in 2008, and the total catch dropped from about 77 million pounds to 66 million.

As the opportunity to fish has become more scarce, it also has become exponentially more expensive. Government-issued fishing permits that were bought and sold among fishermen for a few thousand dollars in the mid-1990s go for at least $200,000 nowadays.

Lee Schatvet, a 21-yearold fisherman from Rye Harbor, N.H., would like to run his own boat but figures he would need $400,000 to $500,000 for a decent vessel, gear and a permit. And a young man with a limited credit history has little chance of securing that kind of money.    “It’s basically impossible to get into the industry nowadays,” Schatvet said.

Jonathan Bunce, 32, said it is a bad time to invest, even if he had the money, because of strict new catch limits that go into effect in the spring.    “You know, ‘Am I going to be able to make this back? Am I going to lose the boat?’” he said, citing fears.
New Hampshire fisherman Jay Driscoll, 39, has been one of the youngest boat owners around since he bought his permit for $3,000 in 1996. He said he worries that only large corporate trawlers will remain once the older generation retires. That could further hurt New England’s struggling fishing communities, whose economies have long relied on a healthy small-boat fleet.

Russell Sherman, a 61-year-old fisherman out of Gloucester, the fishing port depicted first in the book and then in the movie The Perfect Storm, went to sea after graduating from Harvard in 1971. “Gloucester was booming,” he said. “Now it’s like a poor, crippled, old sister.”   Sherman’s three-man crew ranges in age from 50 to 69 — and the 50-year-old is known as the “young guy.” Joints stay sore longer, cold seems colder now, and the crew takes more safety precautions, staying in port when the seas are too rough, Sherman said.   He said he is struggling to break even but that fishing restrictions are to blame, not his age. Until things change, young people are right to stay away, he said.   “Anybody who isn’t bitten by the bug already shouldn’t even get close to it.”

With six-figure costs for new permits, “The door is slamming shut,” Sava said.
Sea captain Joe Sava, 75, is a familiar figure on the pier in Gloucester, Mass. Fishing limits and costly permits are driving away successors.
The small-boat fleets honored by the Gloucester Fisherman’s Memorial statue may be priced out of the market.

January 24, 2010

Healthcare reform helps all

Filed under: serving the general good — Jan Turner @ 10:46 pm
Tags: ,

It is my opinion that Columbus, Ohio is made up (like most other cosmopolitan cities of our nation),  of a remarkable cross-section of ‘thinking people’ who are well meaning, intelligent and considerate of others.  Especially here, we seem to grow those individuals capable of understanding and ability to respect opposing ideas without radical, reactionary reflexes.  Our Columbus Dispatch maintains a ‘Forum’ whereby readers are able to express what’s on their mind.  I very much enjoyed what subscriber/reader David Latanick of Columbus was saying and the points he was making.  So in his own words:   (Jan)

Reform of health-care system would promote general welfare

In John L. Galbreath’s letter opposing healthcare reform (“Health-care reform isn’t wanted,” Jan. 2), he condemned the legislation using some form of the word socialized three times.    He also challenged its legality by using some form of the word unconstitutional five times.   Exactly what part of the bill violates which article or amendment of the Constitution? I truly wish Galbreath would clear this up.

I have read portions of House Resolution 3962, and I can not link any of its provisions that can be called violations of the Constitution.   Consider, for example, curbing insurance  industry abuses with measures such as those prohibiting coverage cancellation except for fraud, eliminating pre-existing-condition denials, requiring insurance companies to explain publicly the reasons for rate increases, ending denial of coverage for children with deformities and requiring all Americans, with or without government assistance, to obtain health-care insurance. These seem to be well within the power of the federal government under the Constitution.
Compare, for example, the power of the government to tax and regulate businesses and individuals in the Internal Revenue Code — provided by the 16th Amendment — and the power to prohibit discrimination in the workplace in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (provided by the Commerce Clause). States require all drivers to be licensed and to carry insurance and wear seat belts.    These acts are very consistent with the intention of the framers of the Constitution.
Indeed, on the editorial page of The Dispatch on the same day Galbreath offered his opinion, the editors called for increased federal regulation of the bus industry. “The bill also would improve training of bus drivers and the monitoring of the performance of drivers and their employers. . . . Congress should move it quickly to the president’s desk.”   What is this but government regulation of the bus-transportation industry?
Galbreath argues that the country can be made better with “a little common sense and free enterprise.” Evidently not. The call for bus reform results from 300 deaths per year because of accidents.
The call for health-care reform results from millions of people being unable to obtain health-care coverage, as well as the present ability of the insurance industry to ration clinical decisions by denying claims or treatments or denying coverage at all.   Yes, health insurance is currently available to most Americans, yet Galbreath, who we must assume is abundantly insured, calls it socialism to impose regulations that require private insurance companies to offer it to all at fair prices, assuring fair profit to the insurers. How is this so different from regulating the bus industry?
I invite Galbreath and others who are against “socialized medicine” to pick up the bill and read it, rather than relying on blogs, Fox News and Rush Limbaugh for their opinions.    Of course, they’ll demur, citing the 2,014 pages of print.
Well, the truth of the matter is that each line of the bill contains about six words, with 25 lines per page. Much can be skipped, because the legislation affects many existing statutes that must be amended. In all, with a good glass of brandy in hand, it can be reviewed sufficiently in about two to three hours. … . . It seems to be a worthy task one should undertake before promising to undermine legislation whose intent is to make the United States somewhat better than 37th on the World Health Organization’s list of healthy countries.
In the end, all the clamor about socialism and unconstitutionality really boils down to whether you believe government tax money should be used to “promote the general welfare” in this way or some other.

Grass-fed Beef, Paleo

The Paleo Diet
Loren Cordain, Ph.D.

January 23, 2010 – Volume 3 Issue 2
(Originally Published April, 2007)


Hello! Welcome to The Paleo Diet Update. For the next several weeks we will be publishing archival issues of The Paleo Diet Update while we work on our new monthly edition of the newsletter. We appreciate your readership, interest, and enthusiasm for The Paleo Diet and hope that you find items of interest from our archival editions of the newsletter.

The Paleo Diet Blog

The response from the Paleo Diet community to my Paleo Diet Blog continues to be enthusiastic. My team and I will continue to provide useful nutritional information to our readers, as well as an interactive format for readers to view past questions submitted from the Paleo Diet community and the answers provided by our team. We encourage you to check out new articles, browse our Q&A, and submit your own questions or comments. Thank you to our dedicated readers and to the Paleo Diet community for your continued support, and for submitting your questions via email and our blog. We are grateful for the opportunity to expand the community’s awareness about the Paleo Diet.

Loren Cordain, Ph.D., Professor

Loren Cordain, Ph.D.

In This Issue
Grass-Fed Beef
Supporting Science
Recipe of the Month:
Baked Tilapia with Mango Salsa
Question of the Month
Grass-Fed Beef
Changes in Cattle Husbandry and Feeding Practices since the Industrial Revolution

Since their initial domestication, almost 800 breeds of cattle have been developed1 as specific traits (milk production, meat, heat tolerance, behavior etc.) were selected by humans overseeing breeding and reproduction. Throughout most of recorded history, cattle were typically fed by providing them free access to pastures, grasslands and range land2. Only in the past 150-200 years have these animal husbandry practices substantially changed…

Technological developments of the early and mid 19th century such as the steam engine, mechanical reaper, and railroads allowed for increased grain harvests and efficient transport of both grain and cattle, which in turn spawned the practice of feeding grain (corn primarily) to cattle sequestered in feedlots3. In the U.S., prior to 1850 virtually all cattle were free range or pasture fed and typically slaughtered at 4-5 years of age3. By about 1885, the science of rapidly fattening cattle in feedlots had advanced to the point where it was possible to produce a 545 kg steer ready for slaughter in 24 months and which exhibited “marbled meat”3. Wild animals and free ranging or pasture fed cattle rarely display this trait4. Marbled meat results from excessive triacylglycerol accumulation in muscle interfascicular adipocytes. Such meat typically has greatly increased total and saturated fatty acid contents, reduced protein (by energy), a lower proportion of omega-3 fatty acids, higher omega-6 fatty acids and a higher omega-6/omega-63 fatty acid ratio4, 5.

Grass-Fed Beef

Grain-Fed Beef

Modern feedlot operations involving as many as 100,000 cattle emerged in the 1950s and have developed to the point where a characteristically obese (30 % body fat)6 545 kg pound steer can be brought to slaughter in 14 months7. Although 99% of all the beef consumed in the U.S. is now produced from grain-fed, feedlot cattle8, virtually no beef was produced in this manner as recently as 200 years ago3. Accordingly, cattle meat (muscle tissue) with high total fat, low protein (by energy), high absolute saturated fatty acid content, low omega-3 fatty acid content, high omega-6 fatty acid content and an elevated omega-6/omega-3 fatty acid ratio represents a recent component of human diets that may adversely influence health and well being4, 5, 9.

Grain Fed, Feed Lot Cattle: Nutritional Consequences for Humans

The practice of feeding grain and concentrated feed to cattle sequestered for long periods in feedlots is not necessarily benign, but rather yields meat with a number of potentially deleterious nutritional characteristics, particularly when compared to either wild animals or grass fed cattle4, 5. Table 1 summarizes a number of potential nutritional differences that have been identified between the meat of feed lot and grass fed beef cattle.

Table 1. Potential nutritional differences between feed lot and grass fed beef.
Nutrient Grass Feed Lot References
Omega-3 fatty acids Higher Lower 11, 15-30, 40, 47, 48
Omega-6 fatty acids Lower Higher 15, 16, 18, 21, 27, 48
Omega-6/ omega-3 ratio Lower Higher 11,15-21,27-30, 40, 47, 48
Long chain fatty acids (both omega-3 and omega-6) Higher Lower 11,15, 16, 17, 21, 28, 29, 47
Fat content Lower Higher 11, 15, 16, 18-21, 27, 40
Saturated fatty acids Lower Higher 11, 15-18, 27
P/S Ratio Higher Lower 11,15-18, 21, 27
Conjugated linoleic acid Higher Lower 11,15,17, 30-36
Vitamin E Higher Lower 25, 37-40
Vitamin C Higher Lower 40
Beta carotene Higher Lower 37, 40-42
Protein content Higher Lower 43

Grass vs. Grain Fed Beef: Omega 3 and Omega 6 Fatty Acids

There is little argument that grass fed cattle accumulates more omega-3 fatty acids in their tissues than grain fed cattle 5, 10-28. This nutrient amplification in tissues occurs because the concentration of 18:3n3 (alpha linolenic acid [ALA]) in pasture grass is 10 to 15 times higher than in grain or typical feedlot concentrates25. In mammals the liver represents the primary tissue which chain elongates and desaturates 18:3n3 into long chain omega-3 fatty acids (20:5n3, 22:5n3 and 22:6n3) which then can be deposited in muscles and other tissues41.

Not only do feed lot cattle maintain lower omega-3 fatty acids in their tissues than grass fed cattle, but a characteristic increase in the total omega-6 fatty acids occurs10, 11, 13, 16, 22, 28 as a result of grain feeding11. Because typical cereals fed to cattle such as maize (omega-3/ omega-6 = 70.7) and sorghum (omega-6/ omega-3 = 16.2) contain very little 18:3n3 and much higher 18:2n642, the cattle’s tissues reflect the fatty acid balance of the grains they consume.

The case for increasing omega-3 fatty acids in the U.S. diet has broad and wide sweeping potential to improve human health. Specifically, omega-3 fatty acids and their balance with omega-6 fatty acids play an important role in the prevention and treatment of coronary heart disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, arthritis and other inflammatory diseases, autoimmune diseases, and cancer43, 44.

Dietary Saturated Fat

From per capita data it can be inferred that the average U.S. citizen consumes 82 g of beef per day45, with ground beef (42%), steaks (20%), and processed beef (13%) comprising the bulk of the beef consumed46. Ground beef, choice and prime USDA quality steaks and processed beef (frankfurters, lunch meats etc.) represent some of the highest total fat and saturated fat sources found in any cuts of beef. An 82g serving of fatty (22% fat) ground beef can contain 8.8g or more of saturated fat, whereas a comparable serving of lean (2.5% fat) grass fed beef may contain as little as 1.2g of saturated fat. Hence a daily reduction of up to 7.6g of saturated fat could be achieved in this scenario involving only displacement of high fat beef with lean grass fed beef.

Saturated fat intakes of < 10 % total energy are recommended to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease47. Accordingly in a 2,200 kcal diet, saturated fat (9 kcal/g) should be limited to 24.4g. Thus, the savings accrued (7.6g of saturated fat) in this scenario by replacing fatty ground beef with lean grass fed beef represents a substantial 31% reduction in total saturated fat.

Dietary Protein

Because of it’s inherently low fat content (2.6% by weight), grass fed beef is also a high protein food averaging 76.5% protein by total energy. Contrast these values to USDA Choice (+) beef with only 48.7% protein by energy, or USDA Prime (o) beef with 40.8% protein by energy, or worse still, fatty ground beef with 20.3% protein by energy. A litany of recent human studies demonstrates that isocaloric replacement of dietary fat by lean protein has numerous health promoting effects.

Potential Health Improvements by Increasing Grass Fed Beef Consumption

A number of scenarios involving improvements in human health can be envisioned by including more and more lean grass fed beef into the diets of U.S. citizens. These scenarios are dependent upon the specific foods and food groups that would be potentially displaced by grass fed beef and by the amount of grass fed beef that would included in the diet. The health impact of such scenarios could range from minimal to highly significant.


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Supporting Science
Omega 3s and Bone Health

The results of a 10-year Swedish study on bone health were published this month in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Seventy-three healthy, 16-year-old males participated in the Northern Osteoporosis and Obesity Study (NO2 Study) aimed at determining the role fatty acids play in bone accumulation and peak bone mass. Bone mineral density (BMD) of the hip, spine, and total body was measured in each individual at the beginning of the study, and again six and eight years later. Researchers found a positive association between blood concentrations of omega 3 fatty acids and bone mineral accumulation and peak density in the young men. The correlation between decosahexaenoic (DHA) and total body and spine BMD was especially strong.

This research suggests that DHA, and other long chain omega 3 fatty acids, play a crucial role in bone development and mineralization. Osteoporosis and bone fractures afflict and disable many elderly people in the Western world. Accumulation of bone mass during adolescence and young adulthood is vital to preventing the disease; therefore identifying factors that enhance peak BMD is an important step in prevention. Incorporating grass-fed meats into your diet, which are naturally richer in omega 3 fatty acids, is a great way to support the health of growing bones.

Högström, M., Nordström, P., Nordström, A. n–3 Fatty acids are positively associated with peak bone mineral density and bone accrual in healthy men: the NO2 Study. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2007 Mar; 3:803-807.

The ALA Anti-inflammatory

Also published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition this month, a study showing protective antiinflammatory effects of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), the long chain omega 3 precursor. Twenty-three men and women with elevated cholesterol were randomly assigned to one of three diet groups: the “average American”, the high linoleic acid (omega 6 vegetable oils), or the high alpha-linolenic (omega 3) diet.

As previously discussed in this issue, the ALA concentration in grass-fed beef is 39mg/100g muscle tissue, on average, compared to only 12mg ALA in the same serving size of grain-fed beef.

Zhao, G., Etherton, T.D., Martin, K.R., Gillies, P.J., West, S.G., Kris-Etherton, P.M. Dietary alphalinolenic acid inhibits proinflammatory cytokine production by peripheral blood mononuclear cells in hypercholesterolemic subjects. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2007 Feb; 85:385-391.

The Paleo Diet for Pigs?

A recent study published in Nutrition and Metabolism has shown that pigs fed a Paleolithic diet are healthier than those raised on traditional cereal-based swine diets. Immediately after weaning, researchers randomly divided 24 piglets into either a Paleolithic group (meat, fruit, and vegetable-based diet) or a cereal group. After 15 months on the diets, glucose tolerance, insulin response, plasma-C reactive protein, and blood pressure were measured. Not surprisingly, the pigs on the Paleolithic diet had lower blood pressure, significantly higher insulin sensitivity, and an 82% lower concentration of Creactive protein (a marker of inflammation associated with insulin resistance and CVD) on average. Apart from these clinical measurements, pigs on the Paleolithic diet weighed 22% less and had 43% lower subcutaneous fat thicknesses after 15 months.

The importance of these data is two-fold: first, scientists agree that pigs are one of the best non-primate animal models from which to compare responses in humans. This study supports the notion that pigs, like humans, did not adapt through evolution to thrive on a cereal-based diet. Secondly, in the U.S. pigs are raised on cereal-based diets and in a similar manner to feedlot-produced beef. We can conclude the majority of our pork, like our beef, comes from obese, insulin-resistant animals with nutritional qualities inferior to their pasture raised, free-foraging counterparts.

Jönsson, T., Ahrén, B., Pacini, G., Sundler, F., Wierup, N., Steen, S., Sjöberg, T., Ugander, M., Frostegård, J., Göransson, L., Lindeberg, S. A Paleolithic diet confers higher insulin sensitivity, lower C-reactive protein and lower blood pressure than a cereal-based diet in domestic pigs. Nutrition and Metabolism 2006 Nov; 3:39.

Recipe of the Month: Baked Tilapia with Mango Salsa

2 large, ripe mangos
1/4 jalapeno pepper
1/4 c red onion
1/4 bunch cilantro
2 lime wedges
2 Tilapia fillets

Place two Tilapia fillets in baking dish with light olive oil and diced garlic. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes, depending on thickness of fish.

Flesh and dice mangos. Chop cilantro, jalapeno, and red onion. Mix together and add lime juice. Makes about 3 cups. This salsa is great on its own or as a compliment to any white fish.

Success Story of the Month: No Visible Sign of Acne
Dear Dr. Cordain,

How does the pre-columbian Mayan Diet of game, beans, corn, and squash fit into your paleo thesis? Amino acids in corn and beans provide the body with a complete protein.

Dear Rudy,

I guess it depends upon how much of each food is consumed. I suspect that in the fully developed Mayan culture beans, corn and squash were the staples with a very small amount of calories contributed by game. This consumption pattern is quite different from hunter gatherers who ate the majority of their energy from animal foods. Diets high in corn (grain) and beans would be expected to produce a number of health problems, despite having complementary amino acid patterns. Unless maize is treated with lime, high consumption of this staple food causes pellagra, whether or not beans are consumed. High consumption of both maize and beans with little meat causes an iron deficiency anemia that results in a condition in the skeletons of American Indians known as cribra orbitalia (a de-ossification of the bones surrounding the orbit). In addition to iron deficiencies a high maize and bean diet will also cause zinc, calcium and magnesium deficiencies because a substance within these foods called phytate prevents the absorption of virtually all divalent ions.

Loren Cordain

January 22, 2010

Activist Jurists skewing our freedom

Filed under: activists jurists — Jan Turner @ 4:11 pm
Tags: ,

Where is Noah when you really want him?  We need his darned ARK and we need it now!  Since I’m not a violent person and I can’t think of anything else to do with Justices  Roberts, Thomas,   Scalia,  Kennedy and Alito,  it seemed this could be a temporary option.  But who am I kidding?  Has it really come this far?  Tell me this is only  a nightmare.  I would seriously like some input here because I’m having a really bad time.    Jan



Supreme Court’s ruling paves way for donations from union funds, too

By David G. Savage

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court overturned a century-old restriction on corporations’ use of their money to sway federal elections yesterday, ruling that companies have a free-speech right to spend as much as they wish to persuade voters to elect or defeat candidates.

In a 5-4 decision, the court’s conservative bloc said corporations have the same First Amendment rights as individuals and, for that reason, the government may not stop corporations from spending freely to help their favored candidates win elections.

The decision, which overruled two previous decisions, probably is the most sweeping and consequential handed down under Chief Justice John Roberts. Before yesterday, he had espoused narrow rulings whenever possible and had pledged to stick with the court’s precedents.

The outcome likely will have an immediate impact on this year’s midterm elections to Congress. Corporations, corporate-funded groups and presumably labor unions now may pour money into ad campaigns aimed at key races for the House or Senate.

While Republicans praised the decision as a victory for wide-open political speech, Democrats slammed it as a win for big money at the expense of ordinary voters. They were led by President Barack Obama. He called the ruling “a major victory for big oil, Wall Street banks, healthinsurance companies and other powerful interests that marshal their power every day in Washington to drown out the voices of everyday Americans.” He promised to seek “a forceful response to this decision” from Congress.

While Congress cannot reverse a First Amendment ruling by the Supreme Court, some Democrats talked about seeking legislation that would require corporations to get approval from their shareholders before spending money on politics.

Until yesterday, corporations and unions were barred from spending their own treasury funds on broadcast ads, campaign workers or billboards that urge the election or defeat of a federal candidate. The restriction dates back to 1907, when President Theodore Roosevelt persuaded Congress to forbid corporations, railroads and national banks from putting money into federal races. After World War II, Congress extended the ban to labor unions. More recently, the McCain-Feingold Act in 2002 added an extra limit on corporate- and union-funded broadcast ads in the month before an election. They were prohibited if they simply mentioned a candidate running for office.

Yesterday’s decision struck down all these restrictions.

“The government may not suppress political speech on the basis of the speaker’s corporate identity,” Justice Anthony M. Kennedy said for the court. While the case of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission dealt only with corporations, the ruling likely will free unions as well.

Two significant prohibitions were left standing. Corporations and unions cannot give money directly to the campaigns of federal candidates. And the court affirmed current federal rules that require the sponsors of political ads to disclose who paid for them. Only Justice Clarence Thomas dissented on these points. Many political analysts and election-law experts predict that the court’s decision freeing corporations will send millions of extra dollars flooding into this fall’s contests for Congress. And they predict Republicans will be the main beneficiaries.

Yesterday’s decision was supported by five justices appointed by Republicans: Kennedy, Roberts and Thomas along with Justices Antonin Scalia and Samuel Alito.

The dissenters included the three Democratic appointees: Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor. They joined a 90-page dissenting opinion written by Justice John Paul Stevens, a Republican appointee. He read a part of his dissent in the courtroom yesterday.

He called the decision “a radical change in the law … that dramatically enhances the role of corporations and unions — and the narrow interests they represent — in determining who will hold public office. … Corporations are not human beings. Corporations can’t vote. They can’t run for office,” he said. He predicted that the ruling “will cripple the ability of ordinary citizens, Congress and the states to adopt even limited measures to protect against corporate domination of the electoral process.”

Responding to charges of judicial activism by the dissenters, Roberts said, “We cannot embrace a narrow ground of decision because it is narrow; it must also be right.”

For critics of the campaign-funding laws, the Citizens United case was an acorn that grew into an oak. It began when Hillary Clinton, then a New York senator, said she was running for president. David Bossie, a longtime Clinton critic, set up Citizens United as a nonprofit corporation, and he produced a DVD called Hillary: the Movie.

It was a slashing attack on her as vicious and untrustworthy. Fearing the election-year film could violate the federal election laws, he sued, citing the First Amendment.

When his case first reached the Supreme Court, the conservative justices voiced alarm that the government could restrict a movie, or perhaps a book, that criticized a candidate simply because it was paid for with corporate money. In September, they heard the case for a second time to broadly consider the issue of corporate-funded election ads.

Roberts said he was convinced a broad free-speech ruling was required. Otherwise, it “would allow censorship not only of television and radio broadcasts, but of pamphlets, posters, the Internet and virtually any other medium that corporations and unions might find useful in expressing their views on matters of public concern.”

Critics of the campaign-financing decision meet with media members yesterday outside the Supreme Court. From left are Bob Edgar, president of Common Cause; Gerald Hebert, executive director of the Campaign Legal Center; and Nick Nyhard, Common Cause’s public campaign president.

January 20, 2010

Job choices – look into Farming

The Science of Farming

Students interested in food-production technology are filling agricultural schools

By Josh Jarman

Some Ohio State University students have long believed that the campus west of the Olentangy River is not for them. There’s a perception that the area “is all cowboy hats and big belt buckles,” environmental-science major Kurtis Meyer said. “But that’s changing.”    The 23-year-old senior from Worthington is among a growing number of students rethinking their view of agricultural schools as they learn about the emphasis on science and the promise of good jobs after graduation.

Enrollment in agricultural schools across the country increased almost 22 percent from 2005 to 2008, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. At Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, enrollment has risen more than 18 percent in the past five years.   Enrollment has increased even as the number of farms in the country has steadily declined. The United States has lost about 200,000 farms since 1978, the USDA said.

Tessa Bowman didn’t consider a career in an agriculture-related field in high school. She played volleyball and softball rather than joining 4-H or FFA, yet the New Albany native is a year away from earning a master’s degree in food science and technology at Ohio State.   Bowman, 23, went to college with dreams of becoming a physical therapist, but they died with her inability to dissect cadavers. A friend on her club volleyball team told her about food science.    In slightly more than a year, she went from knowing very little about the discipline to interning at Cargill Flavor Systems in Cincinnati.

“I’m excited by how tangible the subject is,” Bowman said. “In organic chemistry, and even molecular biology, you primarily deal with theory. Food science is something you can see, feel and touch. It’s much more interesting.” Students such as Bowman and Meyer are becoming more common, Associate Dean Linda Martin said. “Twenty-five years ago, a lot more students planned to return to the family farm. Now, about two-thirds of our students come from nonfarm backgrounds.” Martin said that shift mirrors changes in the degrees and programs the college provides.


Ohio State still offers stalwarts such as crop and soil sciences and animal science, and those programs continue to attract a lot of students. But new programs that focus on food safety, bio-energy and the environment have brought into agriculture students who couldn’t imagine working on a farm.    Meyer said his environmental-policy program has allowed him to write his own ticket toward a career advising both large and small companies on how to find tax breaks for renewable energy. He already has consulted for private companies while in school.

The economy is another reason students are turning to agriculture. More than 90 percent who graduated from the college in 2008 had a job within six months. Jeff Culbertson, a foodscience professor, said there are plenty of opportunities for students. In specialized fields such as food science, he said, there are more job openings than qualified workers.

Demand is so great that companies such as H.J. Heinz, Frito-Lay, Starbucks and even Jack Daniel’s are hiring people with related degrees such as chemistry and then sending them through a one-year, online course that Culbertson runs at Ohio State. He said foodscience graduates start out making about $50,000 a year for an undergrad degree and about $65,000 for a graduate degree.

“It used to be when people heard the word agriculture, they thought of farming or working with animals,” Culbertson said. “Today, there is so much science involved in anything to do with the production of food.”

Bowman is conducting a research project involving pumpkin seeds in the university’s food science laboratory.
Tessa Bowman, a graduate student at Ohio State University, is among a growing number of students from nonfarming backgrounds who are pursuing agricultural degrees because of the relatively strong job market and the emphasis on science.
Tessa Bowman, 23, of New Albany, said she found food science more interesting than some sciences that deal mainly in theory because it’s “something you can see, feel and touch.”

NURSES – always in demand

Filed under: job security,NURSING — Jan Turner @ 6:15 am

Nursing attracts workers seeking new career


Former production manager Travis Minzler hopes becoming a nurse will provide some job security.

Travis Minzler had long thought about becoming a nurse, but the economy finally pushed him to do it.  He had been laid off twice and took a buyout once during his more than 15 years as a production manager at manufacturing companies.  “I came to the point where I wasn’t happy doing what I was doing,” said Minzler, 41.

The Gahanna resident quit his job with an autosupply company in late 2008 and enrolled last January in Mount Carmel College of Nursing’s second-degree program.  The program allows people who already have degrees — Minzler has a bachelor’s in business management —to get a bachelor of nursing degree in 13 months.

The demand to get into it and other nursing programs across the state is high because many industries have cut jobs, but health care is growing.  From 2001 to 2009, healthcare jobs increased 19 percent in Ohio and 25 percent in Franklin County, according to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. By contrast, Ohio lost 23 percent of manufacturing jobs during that period.

“Health-care services looks like it’s continuing to grow,” said George Zeller, a Cleveland-based economic research analyst. “If I was just getting out of high school or in college or something, it’s a really good bet on an industry to go into.”  But it’s neither cheap nor easy. Tuition for Mount Carmel’s accelerated program is $29,448, and faculty members recommend that students not work while in school.   “We say, ‘For 13 months, you’re pretty much going to give us your life,’” said Ann E. Schiele, president of the college.

Minzler, who’s married and has two young sons, tightened his family budget and borrowed money to pay for his schooling.In Minzler’s class, 185 people applied, 127 were qualified, 64 were accepted and 62 will graduate Jan. 29.

The Health Policy Institute of Ohio projects that Ohio will be one of three states, along with Texas and California, with the greatest need for nurses in a decade because of aging baby boomers. Researchers expect Ohio to be short 32,000 nurses by 2020.

With the projected shortage and two local hospital systems in the midst of large expansions, Minzler is betting he’ll have job security in nursing. He wants to work in oncology and has several family members who have cancer. His father recently died of the disease.   “I just saw what our family went through, and I think I can bring that experience with me,” Minzler said.

Life experiences such as his, along with having been in the work force for years, are advantages second career students have over those just out of high school.   And their maturity might make them better advocates for their patients, said Jan Lanier, deputy executive officer of the Ohio Nurses Association. “It’s very easy in nursing to get swallowed up by the hierarchy. People who have been out in the world are less apt to fall into the trap than maybe a highschool grad.”

The U.S. has about 160 second-degree programs with varying time lengths, Schiele said.     Prospective students at Mount Carmel are interviewed by faculty as part of the application process.    “I always tell entering students, ‘You have to be an excellent student, but don’t choose nursing unless you have a passion and concern for others,’” Schiele said. ‘“If not, then nursing is not the career for you.’”

Tracy King, 39, is one of 72 students who started the Mount Carmel program this month. The Berwick resident was a middle-school teacher for 10 years. When King was younger, she wanted to be a teacher or a nurse and chose teaching because the schedule worked better with her three young children. Now that they’re older, she’s starting a second career.

“Nursing is like teaching; you’re communicating and teaching patients how to care for themselves,” King said. “I thought teaching would be best for the family at the time, and I love children; but nursing kept calling.”

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