Swine Flu: It’s What’s for Dinner!

Swine flu, the new trend in animal to human transmitted viruses, is becoming a world-wide pandemic.Some really scary statistics are out there for current reported cases in the United States, amongst other countries including: Mexico, New Zealand and Israel. So what exactly is swine flu, how can you catch it, and should you spit that half-chewed porkchop out of your mouth before you get sick?

HA!
HA!

Current statistics from the CDC (Center for Disease Control) report cases of Swine flu rising up all around the country. Including 10 cases in California, 2 in Kansas, 45 in NYC, 1 in Ohio, and 6 in Texas.

Due to the current spike in reported cases in the US and around the world, the World Health Organization has elevated the pandemic alert to a level 4, only two levels below a full-scale pandemic. The WHO characterizes this kind of alert level with “person-to-person spread of a new influenza virus able to cause “community-level” outbreaks”.

After testing some of the individuals confirmed to have the virus, it was learned that at least 8 of the cases matched the same strain of the virus that reportedly killed 68 people in Mexico (though thousands in Mexico have become ill). These findings caused the WHO to issue travel warnings for Mexico… which I am sure doesn’t do much to their already failing tourist market…drug trade and now pig flu?! Great.

Some FAQ:

What is Swine Flu?

  • Swine flu is an influenza virus found in pigs. It is characterized by respiratory disease and low death rate (in pigs.)
  • The virus, like human influenza, is notorious for rapid mutation.

How do humans contract the virus?

  • Close contact to Republicans who love farm animals…. (haha just kidding)
  • The virus is transmitted to humans who have direct contact with pigs.
  • The virus is contagious during the first 1-7 days before symptoms appear.

How do I avoid getting it?

  • Wash your hands regularly
  • Sleep enough
  • Eat healthily
  • Manage your stress level

Is Swine Flu going to kill me?

  • Probably not, however; the virus varies in its level of severity from mild to severe. Between 2005-2009, 12 US cases were reported with no casualties… but in 1976 an outbreak of swine flu in Fort Dix, New Jersey killed off over 200 people… Just depends on the strength of the virus at the particular time.
  • In the past, swine flu was tied to severe pneumonia and respiratory problems, sometimes resulting in death.

What are the Symptoms of Swine Flu?

  • Common to human seasonal flu: body aches, fever, nausea, respiratory difficulties, lethargy, lack of appetite
  • In children, be wary of bluish skin color, irritability, and not drinking enough liquids

I have a bacon addiction, does this mean I can’t eat pork anymore?

  • No. Swine Flu cannot be transmitted by eating pork… as long as it is cooked. Like any other bacteria, the heat of cooking kills off the danger of contracting the virus.

So let’s say I have Swine Flu.. Can it be treated or am I going to get sent to a pig colony?

  • Yes, certain vaccinations can treat swine flu, including: Oseltamivir and Zanamivir.
  • Unfortunately, being vaccinated for the human seasonal flu will not protect you from getting swine flu.
  • Because this virus rapidly mutates, it is difficult to say whether or not these vaccinations will always be effective.

The bottom line? After all this talk about swine flu, I felt like there needed to be some real clarification on the issue. Yes it is becoming a pandemic problem, but there are ways to avoid and treat the problem. I was sitting in the library the other day and someone actually said that if you get Swine Flu, you’re also likely to have AIDS…. seriously? Ignorance isn’t always bliss folks

😉

To get an Up-to-date review of the international cases of swine flu…click here

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‘Tis the Season: Fresh Fruit in Spring

Being a Californian, I am totally spoiled by having access to delicious fruits and veggies all year long. But the Spring brings back some of my personal favorites to the farmers market.

Fresh Seasonal Strawberries
Fresh Seasonal Strawberries

To buy in Spring:

  • Avocados
  • Mangos
  • Pineapple
  • Spinach
  • Strawberries
  • Snap Peas
  • Apricots
  • Carrots
  • Mushrooms

God, there’s nothing like buying fresh organic strawberries off the little farmer’s stand on the street corner. As I see them all start to open their doors, I remember it’s almost summer!

Some of my favorite farmer’s markets this time of year include:

The Santa Monica Farmer’s Market

And various farmer’s markets around the OC that can be found here

Seasons Greetings and Happy Eatings! Enjoy!

Organic Cigarettes: Saving your American Spirit, One Puff at a Time!

The Santa Fe Tobacco Co., manufacturer of American Spirit, has come out with a new line of cigarettes featuring organic tobacco, advertising their product as a ‘healthier’ alternative to regular blend cigarettes. What exactly is meant by healthy here?

American Spirit Organic Light Blend
American Spirit Organic Light Blend

Cigarette smokers unite! Now American Spirit cigarettes are not only additive free, but use organic tobacco! Sure, smoking cigarettes isn’t a health choice, but if you are already addicted, why not support environmental sustainability?

I was at the Coachella Music Festival in Indio, CA this weekend, and I saw enough hipsters smoking these things to know they are catching on like wild fire. Apparently, hippies, hipsters, bohemians, junkies, and your average smoker are hopping onto this organic tobacco trend. Just think, at least in these cigarettes there’s no rat poison, cyanide, OR pesticides!

According to the guys over at Sante Fe Tobacco Co. the new American Spirit line has contracted with many small independent organic farms to produce hundreds of thousands of pounds of organic tobacco per year. As larger companies partner up with small organic farms, the opportunities for small farms in other business endeavours are exponentially increased!

Looking over the company’s website, I was particularly impressed with the amount of background info they give on the process and overall purpose of organic farming. Check it out here.

I suppose it seems pretty hypocritical to author a health-focused website and then write a press-release for cigarettes, but you know what? I am not one to judge people for their addictions (we’ve all got somethin’) so if you are having a stressful day at work and are in need of a good lung blackening, at least smoke for a good cause!

Mad Cow’s Disease and the Capitalist Agenda

Canada, as one of our largest import countries for cattle, allows American corporations to pay less for cattle of relatively the same quality as the average American heifer….the difference? Feed regulations for Canadian cattle are much more lenient and have been statistically shown to have high amounts of contaminants that cause Mad Cow’s Disease (bovine spongiform encephalopathy)

Eat With Caution
Eat With Caution

 

Although Cattle are naturally herbivores, capitalist demands create the motivation to get these animals as fat as possible in the shortest amount of time. How is this done? By putting scrap beef and bone particles (also known as prohibited material) into their feed. That’s right, the North American cow is not only being forced into a carnivorous lifestyle, but they are also CANABALIZING THEIR BRETHEREN! And when cows eat other cows, they get mad (well, biologically speaking), and sick, yet for some reason we are still eating this stuff

The implementation of a “Feed Ban” limits corporations’ use of animal proteins in cattle feed, however the level  of regulation for these feed bans is sub par. In 1997, Canada passed a Feed Ban law, limiting the amount of animal proteins in feed, however the Enhanced Feed Ban law (which would prohibit ANY use of animal protein in feed) is having a hard time getting through the legislation process.

According to an article from The Cattle Network:

The current U.S. feed ban – which is weaker than the feed ban initially implemented in Canada and found to be insufficient to halt the spread of Canada’s level of BSE infectivity – is likewise inadequate to prevent the amplification and spread of BSE that USDA has forecast to be continually introduced into the U.S. from Canadian cattle.”

How many people have to get sick before these self-interested corporations shape up their act? Allowing high-risk cattle to be imported from Canada and subsequently distributed to consumers is downright irresponsible. I don’t eat red meat, so I don’t really face this issue, but this is just another example of why you must always be cautious of what you eat.

Just because it has a USDA grade A stamp on it, does not mean it is free of disease-causing pathogens. and on TOP of all this, even though we KNOW that much of our high-risk meat is coming in from Canada, our import of Canadian cattle increased 7.31% since last year! Despite all it knows about the imminent danger of this situation, the FDA is still delaying the pass of an Enhanced Feed Ban in America. Why? Money matters I might infer…..

 

The primary goal should be lowering the risk of Mad Cow’s Disease, because nothing costs more than a law suit. If you’re going to be a big shot businessman, best start thinking like one eh?

 

 

 

Food Inc: Robert Kenner’s Eye-Opening Documentary

Food Inc., directed by filmmaker Robert Kenner, is a truly astonishing documentary about the hidden truths of the food industry, and how these big businesses shield American consumers from the ugly inedible face of the foods we have come to love.

Browsing through the New York Times, I came across an article mentioned that this documentary. Interested to see a new food politics documentary, I went and looked up the trailer on YouTube…which I have conveniently embedded for your viewing pleasure:

The documentary has not been released yet, but for those of you readers in the Orange County/LA area, there will be a screening of Food Inc. at the Newport Beach Film Festival between April 30th and May 7th. To find another screening near you, please visit http://www.takepart.com/foodinc/screenings.php

I strongly recommend checking this one out. I’ll be at the Newport Beach Film Festival eagerly waiting to see it.

Ethanol: The Vodka of Industrialism

Though it is not yet as popular as gasoline, the production and use of Ethanol is growing at exponential rates in the United States. Advertised as the answer to the world’s limited fuel supply, what is the real deal behind this ‘miracle resource’?

ethanol

Ethanol: What is it? How is it used? Is this the answer in the world of alternative energy? These are questions that are floating in the heads of many of us as the ethanol vs natural gas debate continues to burn.

Ethanol is a type of fuel that is most commonly derived from Corn. After the corn is crushed into a powder, mixed with water, and heated, an enzyme is added that causes the corn mixture to ferment and turn into alcohol. Another process then breaks this mixture down further to create a highly alcoholic substance. After a small amount of gas is added to the formula, ethanol becomes a viable replacement to gasoline as an alternative fuel.

An alternative to gasoline? Sounds great, right? Lets break it down into some pros and cons (because I seem to love doing that lately):

Pros:

  • Ethanol is renewable
  • Produced on US soil (getting us out of bed with the Middle East)
  • Burns cleaner than gas.

Promoters of Ethanol push the above three pros to the extreme, claiming that ethanol is the answer to our search for alternative fuel. Why the debate then? What seems to be the problem with making our cars drunk enough to operate? Here come the cons:

Cons:

  • Requires more energy transport than it supposedly saves: Ethanol cannot travel in normal pipelines and must therefore be shipped or trucked to its delivery destination.
  • Requires more energy to produce than it supposedly saves: All of the resources used in growing and breaking down corn into ethanol require more fossil fuels than are saved with ethanol. Thus, completely defeating the purpose.
  • More expensive than Gas: At the time of analysis, ethanol was $3/gallon where gas was $2.28

Like it or not, Ethanol is already becoming incorporated into our gas. Right now, gasoline at the pump is about 10% ethanol, and these numbers will probably grow in the future.

An energy bill passed in 2005 requires ethanol production to increase by 7.5 billion gallons by 2012.

Who benefits most from increasing ethanol production?? Surely not you. Mr. Monsanto is quite pleased though! At least now, the copious amounts of zombie corn have a place to go besides slaughterhouse feedlots! GREAT!!!!!!

Ultimately? By upping ethanol production, our government is pouring even MORE money into subsidizing corn and that does very little to improve our current economic and environmental situation.

Sure on the outside ethanol seems a lot better than drilling deep into the earth, or calling our friends the Bin-Ladens for oil, but this is only a surface level analysis of the situation.

Perhaps it would be more viable in the future when better technologies are developed to make production and transportation methods more efficient. But right now, Ethanol is nothing more than environmental alcoholism.

Where does the money go? Check it out.
😉