Recommended Documentary: King Corn

“King Corn is a feature documentary about two friends, one acre of corn, and the subsidized crop that drives our fast-food nation. In King Corn, Ian Cheney and Curt Ellis, best friends from college on the east coast, move to the heartland to learn where their food comes from. With the help of friendly neighbors, genetically modified seeds, and powerful herbicides, they plant and grow a bumper crop of America’s most-productive, most-subsidized grain on one acre of Iowa soil. But when they try to follow their pile of corn into the food system, what they find raises troubling questions about how we eat—and how we farm.”

I highly recommend that you watch this, it is very interesting to see where America was in the 1960’s and what it has become today in terms of farming. While I think it was interesting to see how the corn was made – the whole process – I do think that they just touched the surface here. Ole and I were chatting after the movie about how we think they went into making the movie only curious about how it was grow – strictly because they knew it a a large product in the US. However there is a scene you will see where they are talking to ‘cornfed’ and it seems to be their wake up call – they did not realize what (or really what is not?) made out of corn in the US. Since we have seen FOOD inc, we know the dangers of having corn in everything. One thing that was said toward the end really has stuck in my head. The pretext is that feeding corn to cows who cannot properly process corn nor do they get the proper ingredients from it – makes sick cows. So here is the wow moment I had -They said that 70% of the antibiotics used in the USA are used on cattle! WOW! That means that the ton of antibiotics that people are taking is only 30% of what is produced. The sad thing is if we just feed the cows grass, we would not have this problem and would be able to stop producing probably 65% of that 70% for animals!


“The body evolved to handle stuff that gets into our system — the liver is designed to detoxify. There are a range of molecules that are natural, and some are incredible toxins. But when we start to make molecules that are not known to nature, we need to think a little more carefully about how they are going to interact with biological systems.” – Thomas Zoeller, a biology professor at the University of Massachusetts

How true! This can be stated for many things, not just plastics. When you are creating synthetic food, drugs, and fibers. This quote is from an article in the NY Times “Study: Human Exposure to BPA ‘Grossly Underestimated’ “, there is more of the article below along with a link to the full article. In my attempt to be healthier and have limited waste – plastics are a big issue to me. Never did I realize when I started reading about these issues that they would change how I see everything so much.

I was reading through the backlog of the No Impact Man blog recently, and one post stuck out to me the most: My most amazing No Impact experience yet. After the No Impact Year, Colin and Michelle are going to make a new purchase – as stainless steel trashcan….

Meanwhile, we’ve been renegotiating the way we live, and she’s (Michelle) not a great lover of the compost bin. But she said that if we bought a proper, stainless steal trash can to replace the plastic bucket we keep the food scraps in, we could retain the practice (food in the landfill, by the way, is the United States’ second largest source of anthropogenic methane, a strong greenhouse gas, so composting is important).

So we go to Bed, Bath and Beyond, find a fancy bin, pay a ridiculous amount of money for it, get outside on the sidewalk, and suddenly, Michelle says, “I feel sick.” “Why?” I ask. “All that money. All that metal. It’s such a waste. It’s just buying for buying’s sake. I can’t stand it.” “Really?” “Really,” she says. “I want you to take it back. We can just wash out the plastic bucket and use it until we find a better trash can on the street or at the flea market.”

I felt that I related to that so well – in a different way of sorts. Now everytime we are going to the store and I am searching for non-plastic items, I feel the same. It is really hard to find no plastic items (though I am finding local farms and such that I will soon be visiting). So now, we leave the store and I just look in the bag and think how sad this is… it makes me in essence sick – or so sad that I know I am not doing good. In my goals, I plan to make my own yogurt, bean sprouts, alfalfa sprouts, deodorant, shampoo, vinegar, lotions, hairspray, luffa ect. All of these are going to take time to put in place, I need to ease into them for many reasons – mostly so I don’t burn myself out or the family, easing in is smarter. But the bulk of these goals are to do with eliminating plastic as much as possible from my life and knowing what is in the products I am using on my body.

This is why BPA is such a problem – since I am not going to be able to eliminate 100% of the plastic in my life – I need to know which ones to avoid! So knowing the dangers of BPA is smart and a great motivator. Plastics stamped with 3 or 7 have BPA. So now to that NY Times Article…

Americans are likely to be exposed at higher levels than previously thought to bisphenol A, a compound that mimics hormones important to human development and is found in more than 90 percent of people in the United States, according to new research.

U.S. EPA says it is OK for humans to take in up to 50 micrograms of BPA per kilogram of body weight each day. The new study, published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, suggests that we are exposed to at least eight times that amount every day.

“Our data raise grave concern that regulatory agencies have grossly underestimated current human exposure levels,” states the study.

The study also gives the first experimental support that some BPA is likely cleared at similar rates in mice, monkeys and humans, making it possible to extrapolate health studies in mice to humans.

Despite decades of research, questions about BPA have lingered and recently become politicized. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) hopes to add an amendment to the “FDA Food Safety Modernization Act,” currently under consideration in the Senate, banning the chemical from children’s food and drink packaging. Republicans and industry representatives have been averse, saying that research has not shown conclusively that the chemical is harmful.

Hormones are essential during development and can determine, among other things, a child’s gender. BPA, since it mimics estrogen, is an “endocrine disrupter,” according to Thomas Zoeller, a biology professor at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. And amazingly, BPA has the ability to bind to not one, but three receptors — the estrogen, the male hormone and the thyroid hormone receptors, Zoeller said. READ MORE ON THE NY TIMES HERE

Recommended Documentary: Tapped

Is access to clean drinking water a basic human right, or a commodity that should be bought and sold like any other article of commerce?

Stephanie Soechtig investigates the unregulated and unseen industry that is bottled water. Industries are moving into neighborhoods, taking water, not paying taxes to said neighborhood, and selling there water across America and the world. The 2 big kickers – the water is only filtered tap water being sold for 1900 times the price of its bottled worth and America alone is making 30 billion one use plastic bottles a year. 80% of the PET manufactured in America is in Pepsi, Coke and Nestle’s water bottles – wow.

From the plastic production to the ocean in which so many of these bottles end up, this inspiring documentary trails the path of the bottled water industry and the communities which were the unwitting chips on the table. A powerful portrait of the lives affected by the bottled water industry, this revelatory film features those caught at the intersection of big business and the public’s right to water.

Alternative to Teflon – Ceramics

Teflon and non-stick pans release toxic perfluorochemicals when heated. So basically, the plastic layers that are coating the pan are slowly breaking away from the pan and coming up in the steam – where you are breathing them in, ekk! I always remember Mema telling me growing up that they were bad, and at the time I did not care to much – however, now it just freaks me out! So in my attempt to be better to the environment and my health – I am on the hunt for an alternative. I have two non-stick pans that I am needing to pitch, and need to replace – I only need to replace one though.

Xtrema's Line of Products

Still not convinced that non-stick should be avoided? EcoBold says it best, “Why is Teflon bad for you? Teflon non-stick pans are made with a chemical called polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), in between others, which is known to increase infertility and some scientists say it may be more harmful to the environment and human health than DDT, a pretty impressive record to break. It is said that when a Teflon pan reaches around 446F it starts to offgas toxic particules, at 680F it releases six different toxic gases, two of them are carcinogenic, another two are global pollutants and one is MFA which is a chemical that’s lethal to humans at low doses.”

So an alternative: Xtrema which is handmade using natural gas, clay and water. Xtrema is a ceramic non-stick and comes in many options; such as, pots, pans, caserols, and skillets. It can withstand 2700 F, Steel can melt at 2200 F – so it is tough – it is also Non-Scratch and has a Non-Toxic Ceramic Glaze Surface. It can go in the dishwasher, oven, microwave, BBQ grill, freezer and be on the stovetop! Since it is ceramic it holds heat longer, which should help with cooking time and the electric bill. Best of all, there are NO LEACHING CHEMICALS OR TRACE MATERIALS – that means no harmful gases coming from it or contaminating your food! So I am ordering a new skillet!

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