Food Choices for Healthy People and a Healthy Planet

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Hello, fellow supporters of healthy and earth-friendly food.  I’ve decided to take a sabbatical from activism and will not be blogging for some time. Here are a few brief thoughts about the need to balance action and rest.

It can be a bit discouraging to read about all the ways humans are harming the earth and each other, since each of us can do only so much. Yet it’s important to prevent burnout – both for our own sakes, and for the sake of the positive steps we can take in the future if we remain resilient. So here are some ways to refresh and renew ourselves.

I’m going to do at least three things. You could try them too, if you ever get discouraged.

Remember what you have achieved.

Realize how many people and organizations will keep helping while you rest for a while.

Love yourself.

Well, that’s it for now! Blessings for a holiday season and new year.


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In today’s New England Journal of Medicine, a team of researchers reports that people who consume nuts more often are less likely to die of certain diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, respiratory diseases, and Type II diabetes.

Lest you think that this is another one of those small studies that has been over-interpreted, realize that the researchers studied over 118,000 people. They enrolled them in the study, followed their self-report food intake for years, and searched huge databases to track deaths of study participants.

The authors were careful to say that their study was observational and that they therefore can’t claim they’ve proved that nut consumption caused the reduced risk of death. But their conclusion was stated simply and clearly: “As compared with participants who did not eat nuts, those who consumed nuts seven or more times per week had a 20% lower death rate.”

They point out that some actual clinical trials conducted by other researchers show nut consumption does have beneficial effects on cholesterol levels, hyperglycemia, and insulin resistance, among other factors.

There’s a neat little three-minute animated explanation from the Massachusetts Medical Society that goes along with the study. You can see it by going here and clicking the Video icon named Nuts and Death.

Nuts are awesome! Pine nuts are slightly sweet and add a hint of flavor to rice or quinoa dishes. Walnuts can be ground up and mixed with eggs or tofu, along with spinach and onions, to make a delicious pate that makes a satisfying sandwich. Pecans are perfect for waldorf salad.  And that’s just the beginning! So treat yourself to some health and go for nuts.

Related links:
Best and Worst Nuts for Your Health
Nuts and your heart: Eating nuts for heart health – Mayo Clinic


Did you know that over three thousand (3,000+) non-food substances are legally added to food in the U.S.? Manufacturers can add chemicals that preserve, color, sweeten, and flavor your food, as well as “improve” its texture or other quality deemed desirable by marketing departments. Oh yes, and add artificial vitamins and minerals that processing removed.

We’ve bought this stuff for decades. I shudder to think of the cake mixes I learned to use as a child. And a huge ratio of our food is still processed.

So why are chemicals used in our food banned in other countries? Dyes, brominated vegetable oil (which I wrote about in January), growth hormones given to animals, arsenic, and more, are banned in Europe. See this article from Dr. Mercola.

We’ve reached some kind of dystopia when Russia bans American food, in this case, meat, because of a feed ingredient called ractopamine. Since we export half a billion dollars worth of beef and pork to Russia, this is not a small item. The USDA asked Russia to postpone the requirement, and the New York Times suggested it was retaliation for American actions on Russian human rights violations.

Michale Pollan’s recent book Cooked urges us to prepare our own food. Pollan is a shameless, enthusiastic promoter of meat, speaking and writing cheerily about slaughtering and butchering, but he does have a point: we should be preparing more of our own food. That’s one way to get us out of some dangers posed by industrial food.

PS. Don’t you wonder if the manufacturers eat their own products?

Related links:
Revealed: Shocking list of popular foods and drinks readily available in U.S. grocery stores that are BANNED in other countries because their chemicals are deemed ‘dangerous’
80 percent of US packaged foods may contain dangerous chemicals

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A five-year study of over 73,000 people found that eating meat can shorten your life. To support longevity, the following kinds of diets worked the best, in this order:

  • Pesco-vegetarian (fish is the only animal product eaten)
  • Vegan (no animal products at all)
  • Lacto-ovo-vegetarian (no meat, but includes dairy and eggs)
  • Semi-vegetarian (meat 2 x week or less)
  • Meat regularly included in diet

The study, published last month in the Journal of the American Medical Association (Internal Medicine),  Vegetarian dietary patterns and mortality in Adventist Health Study 2  was conducted on members of Seventh-Day Adventist churches. Considering that the SDA philosophy discourages meat eating, one might assume that even the meat eaters in this study consumed less than average Americans. Yikes! So if researchers had included a group of average American meat eaters, the benefits of omitting meat would probably be even more obvious.

The researchers, led by M.J. Orlich, concluded, “Vegetarian diets are associated with lower all-cause mortality.” So regular meat eaters come in, shall we say, dead last. And from other sources we know that the worst meats are highly processed ones like sausages.

Another study, published earlier this year by S. Tonstad and colleagues in the journal Nutrition, Metabolism, and Cardiovascular Disease,  found that “Vegetarian diets (vegan, lacto-ovo, semi-) were associated with a substantial and independent reduction in diabetes incidence” (Vegetarian diets and incidence of diabetes in the Adventist Health Study-2).

My headline is strongly worded – obviously there are exceptions to this research because so many factors are involved in health and longevity. But if anyone tries to tell you that going vegetarian is riskier than eating meat, you can tell them they just might be dead wrong.

Related links:
Vegetarians live longer, but it’s not because they don’t eat meat
Vegetarians May Live Longer