Saturday, July 28, 2012

Fruit & Vegetable Aphrodisiacs

Pomegranate: It’s contents are antioxidants such as anthocyanins, ellagic acid, and tannins. Antioxidants does wonder in preventing the aging process in our body. Furthermore it can help us to fight many medical conditions. Heart disease, arthritis, hemorrhages, high blood pressure, bad cholesterol, bronchitis are among the medical conditions that risk can be significantly reduced by antioxidants.  Aside from helping health in general, it’s beneficial that pomegranate juice can enhance sexual stamina

Goji Berries: Goji berries possess the capability of enhancing the human libido. In Asian countries, these berries have traditionally been used as a sexual tonic, which helps to improve the sex drive in both women and men. As people age, the levels of testosterone- the male sex hormone,drop down reducing the sex drive. Intake of Goji berries increases the levels of testosterone secreted especially in males, thereby improving their sex drive.

Acai Berry: Pronounced ah-sah-yee, acai is drunk more commonly than milk in Brazil; a magic fruit potion that fuels the hedonistic energy.  Modern science has studied the nutritional composition of this fruit and has determined that the natural compounds that increase overall energy and well-being also improve sexual function. Acai is rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber and carbohydrates. The acai berry is the perfect fuel for any physical activity, including sex.Natives also swear that the acai berry improves one’s mental state, contributing to a feeling of well being that contributes to a healthy sex drive. When it comes to acai berry & sex, the collaboration is obvious. This tropical fruit enhances health and dramatically increases energy, thus preparing the body for better and more frequent sexual activity. 

Noni Fruit: Noni juice is a naturally occurring antioxidant. The active ingredients in Noni juice are similar in structure to the neurotransmitter serotonin. Low serotonin levels are linked to depression. Therefore, by drinking healthy noni juice you can increase your levels of xeronine and therefor feel better mentally. Sex drives are related directly to how a person feels about themselves. Healthy Noni juice can boost not only the immune system but enhance an individual mind and soul. People should consider Noni juice as a natural and healthy alternative to harsh chemical medicines which supposedly increased sex drives and sexual performance. - 

Figs: Figs are also very effective at increasing libido in both males and females and its mainly due to the high levels of amino acids found in figs. Amino acids play a vital role in normal sexual function and will help increase levels of nitric oxide in the body. The fig is said to increase sexual stamina as well as having quite a sexual appearance , flavour and smell to highten all our senses to improve our mood and let our libido's rise from there slumber. 

Avocado: Avocado's are also great for our sex drive and not being your typical fruit is tends to get ignored a fair bit. The Avocado contains high levels of folic acid to help metabolize proteins giving you an energy boost. Avocado contains good levels of vitamin B6 which help you to fight stress and give you the energy to keep going and also help with the production of testosterone. They are also known to benefit a women's libido due to the high potassium content. Avocado's also contain healthy fat's we could all do with in our diets. -

Tomatoes: "Studies show that the tomato component lycopene, a member of the vitamin A family, helps maintain prostate health," says Shari Lieberman, Ph.D., a nutrition scientist and exercise physiologist. Lycopene is best absorbed when tomatoes are cooked with a little oil, as in pasta sauce. - Mens Fitness

Spinach: Spinach is a potent source of magnesium, which helps dilate blood vessels, according to Japanese researchers. Better blood flow to the genitals, as you've learned, creates greater arousal for men and women. Spinach and other green vegetables like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, cabbage, Swiss chard, and bok choy are also good sources of our favorite sex nutrient, folate. Extra insurance for good reproductive health, folate may lower blood levels of a harmful substance called homocysteine. This abrasive amino acid irritates the lining of arteries and encourages plaque to adhere to it. A high level of homocysteine is a significant risk factor for peripheral arterial disease (PAD). But it appears that dietary folate is protective. In a study of 46,000 men. Harvard University researchers found that those who consumed the most folate daily were 30 percent less likely to develop PAD (Peripheral Arterial Disease) than men who ate the fewest folate-rich foods. - Mens Health

Almonds: Almonds have long been purported to increase passion, act as a sexual stimulant, and aid with fertility. Like asparagus (another one of my favorite sexy foods), almonds are nutrient-dense and rich in several trace minerals that are important for sexual health and reproduction, such as zinc, selenium, and vitamin E.  “Zinc helps enhance libido and sexual desire,” says Dr. Berman. “We don’t really understand the mechanisms behind it, but we know it works.” -

Bananas: Bananas are a great portable source of quick energy and are rich in potassium, which is needed to regulate nerves, heartbeat and, especially blood pressure needed for arousal. Diets rich in potassium and magnesium (which is also found in bananas) can reduce the risk of stroke. As a super source of vitamin B-6, bananas can also aid your immune system, help form red blood cells, ensure a well-functioning nervous system, and assist protein metabolism. So enjoy a banana each day, at breakfast on your whole grain-cereal or before your workout at the gym. Bananas contain high amounts of potassium which can help strengthen the muscles. Improving your muscle strength can result in stronger muscle contractions, which in turn, can result in more intense and longer-lasting orgasms.

Broccoli: While virtually all vegetables deserve a place on the super foods list, cruciferous vegetables like broccoli are helpful in the prevention of heart disease and cancer. It's loaded with vitamin C, beta-carotene, potassium, and a phytochemical called sulphoraphane, which may have anticancer (prostate and colon) properties. A recent Harvard study found that participants who had five servings a week of cruciferious vegetables were half as likely as others to develop bladder cancer, a cancer that affects two to three times as many men as women. This super-nutritious green vegetable may also help lower levels of homocycteine, an amino acid associated with increased risk of heart disease and stroke. Good for erection health. 

Brazil Nuts: These large nuts from Brazil are packed with magnesium and selenium, powerful antioxidants that may help prevent heart disease and cancer and protect prostate health. (Bauer, however, notes that the studies showing reduction in cancer have been primarily in people whose diets were deficient in selenium, not in those who were already getting enough.) Selenium also helps lower LDL or "bad" cholesterol and reduces the incidence of blood clots and heart disease. Grotto recommends adults get 55 micrograms of selenium daily from Brazil nuts, dry-roasted nuts, turkey, tuna, or shellfish. Indeed, you can get your daily dose of selenium in just one Brazil nut. In fact, Bauer cautions limiting yourself to no more than two Brazil nuts per day because "they are so loaded and concentrated with selenium that you don’t want to overdose." -

Chili Peppers: Some of the best foods that you can eat to improve your sexual health are chillies. Not only are chillies ideal for adding plenty of spice to your dishes, but they can also add spice to your sex life. Chillies contain capsaicin, a chemical that is known for improving your blood circulation. Capsaicin also helps in stimulating your nerve endings. Needless to say, good blood circulation and sensitive nerve endings are all necessary for good sexual health. So if you feel like it’s becoming difficult for you to become aroused, then you might want to load up on these spices. - 

Cantaloupe: Juicy foods are naturally arousing, yet even more so when they are pumped with vitamins, minerals, and other phytonutrients that get your blood flowing. Along with being sweet on the tongue, cantaloupe contains vitamin A, which is a key nutrient in reproductive health and can help increase testosterone levels in men. The potassium in cantaloupe can also bolster thyroid function in women, which is related to the female sex drive. -

Granola: Granola is rich in L-Arginine, an amino acid that improves circulation and erectile response. Studies show that L-Arginine helps improve sexual function in men. No studies on women have been done yet, but it’s likely they would enjoy the same effects. 

Celery: Ava Cadell, Ph.D., author of Passion Power, says that “raw celery contains the male hormone androsterone, which can act as a pheromone to trigger female attraction.” Once a guy takes a few bites, the pheromone begins to release from his sweat glands. If women need a mood booster, they can eat celery too. The Journal of Fertility and Sterility says androsterone has mood-elevating effects in women. 

Flaxseeds: Helen Fisher, Ph.D., author of Why We Love, says consuming one tablespoon of flaxseeds every day helps to increase testosterone in the body. Flaxseeds are also packed with essential fatty acids (omega-3, omega-6, etc.) which Women’s Health says are “the major building blocks of all sex hormones.” Hilda Hutcherson, M.D., author of Pleasure, says that failing to get enough fatty acids forces your body’s hormone levels to drop along with your desire. Try walnuts if you don’t like flaxseeds.

Ginger: Fresh ginger root stimulates your circulatory system which in turn increases the blood flow to the genital areas.

Asparagus: Dietitian Tanya Zuckerbrot says “asparagus contains folate which is necessary for histamine production and histamine is necessary for both males and females to reach orgasm.” Asparagus is also a finger food which provides visual stimulus for your partner. -

Garlic: Garlic contains allicin, an ingredient that increases blood flow to the sexual organs. As such, it's a highly effective herb to help increase libido. If the odor just won't work for you or you can't stand garlic you and your lady can always take garlic capsules instead. -

Maca: this is a less common food, but is no less potent. Having only recently been introduced to the Western world you will be forgiven for not finding it in your local Tesco. I had not heard of this until very recently when it was hailed as nature's Viagra . Like anyone else, this claim made me curious. According to some it is believed to improve sexual performance, the frequency with which people desire sex and can be effective in increasing sperm count! Not only that, but guys should expect an increase in testosterone, a helping hand in any fight against erective dysfunctions and impotency and it also makes you feel younger. Quality! Fear not ladies, for women, maca is reknowned for increasing sex-drive and fertility! 

Pumpkin Seeds: Pumpkin seeds contain zinc, which is important in testosterone production for men and also helps to sustain sexual desire in women. Pumpkin seeds are also rich in the essential fatty acid omega 3, which acts as a precursor of prostaglandins, hormone-like substances that play a key role in sexual health. Word on the street is that a diet rich in pumpkin seeds will enhance potency, drive and fertility. 

Basil: Basil apparently basil increases circulation, stimulates the sex drive and boosts fertility. -

Cardamom: This deliciously exotic little spice has a reputation in its home country of India for being an aphrodisiac. I just think it’s got a wonderful, sensual taste. But there may be some science behind it too: cardamom is high in cineole, which stimulates the nervous system.

Ginseng: This high energy root normalizes hormones levels in both men and women and it’s been used for centuries by the Chinese to increase stamina and desire.

Ginkgo Biloba: Sort of a wonder herb touted for many purposes, ginkgo can be used to increase sexual energy and regulate blood circulation. -

Carrots: Another good reason to eat carrots, believed to be a stimulant to the male. The phallus shaped carrot has been associated with stimulation since ancient times and was used by early Middle Eastern royalty to aid seduction. High vitamins and beta-carotene.

Fennel: In the 1930′s fennel was found to be a source of natural plant estrogens. Use of fennel as an aphrodisiac dates back to the Egyptian times where it was used as “libido enhancement”.

Honey: Many medicines in Egyptian times were based on honey including cures for sterility and impotence. Medieval seducers plied their partners with Mead, a fermented drink made from honey. Lovers on their “Honeymoon” drank mead and it was thought to “sweeten” the marriage.

Licorice: The Chinese have used licorice for medicinal purposes since ancient times. The essence of the Glycyrrhiza glabra (licorice) plan, glycrrhizin, is 50 time sweeter than sugar. Chewing on bits of licorice root is said to enhance love and lust. It is particularly stimulating to woman.

Nutmeg: Nutmeg was highly prized by Chinese women as an aphrodisiac. In quantity nutmeg can produce a hallucinogenic effect.

Pine Nuts: Zinc is a key mineral necessary to maintain male potency and pine nuts are rich in zinc. Pine nuts have been used to stimulate the libido as far back as Medieval times. Serve pine nut cookies with a dark espresso for a stimulating dessert. -

Strawberries: Strawberries are an excellent source of folic acid, a B vitamin that helps ward off birth defects and may also be tied to higher sperm counts. -

Cocoa: Cocoa and chocolate have been acclaimed for several years for their possible medicinal/health benefits but it is only recently that some of these claims are being more clearly identified and studied. Recent epidemiological and clinical studies have shown that dietary supplementation with flavonoid-rich cocoa and chocolate may exert a protective effect on low-density lipoprotein (LDL) oxidation, which has been associated with a reduction in the risk of developing atherosclerosis. Some of the identified beneficial effects of flavonoid-rich cocoa and chocolate include: antioxidant properties, reduction in blood pressure via the induction of nitric-oxide (NO) dependent vasodilation in men, improvement in endothelial function, increased insulin sensitivity, decreased platelet activation and function, as well as modulation of immune function and inflammation. Furthermore, chocolate has been reported to release phenylethylamine and serotonin into the human system, producing some aphrodisiac and mood lifting effects. - Emmanuel O Afoakwa, South African Journal Of Nutrition

Monday, July 23, 2012

Vegetable Of The Week - Potatoes

Vegetable History:
The potato was first domesticated in the region of modern-day southern Peru and extreme northwestern Bolivia. This event took place between the years 8000 BC and 5000 BC. In the Altiplano, potatoes provided the principal energy source for the Inca Empire, its predecessors, and its Spanish successor. In Bolivia and Peru above 10,000 feet altitude, tubers exposed to the cold night air turned into chuño. When kept in permanently frozen underground storehouses, chuño can be stored for years with no loss of nutritional value. The Spanish fed chuño to the silver miners who produced vast wealth in the 16th century for the Spanish government. Potatoes were planted in Idaho as early as 1838; by 1900 the state's production exceeded a million bushels (about 27,000 tons). Prior to 1910, the crops were stored in barns or root cellars, but, by the 1920s, potato cellars came into use. U.S. potato production has increased steadily; two-thirds of the crop comes from Idaho, Washington, Oregon, Colorado, and Maine, and potato growers have strengthened their position in both domestic and foreign markets. - Wikipedia, Potato, History 

Health Benefits: 
The fiber content helps slow absorption of starch in the gut and thereby keeping blood sugar levels within normal range.  For the same reason, potato is still favored source of carbohydrates in diabetics. - Nutrition & You

High concentration of vitamin B6 (a cup of baked potato contains 21.0% of the daily value for this important nutrient). Vitamin B6 is involved in more than 100 enzymatic reactions. Enzymes are proteins that help chemical reactions take place, so vitamin B6 is active virtually everywhere in the body. Many of the building blocks of protein, amino acids, require B6 for their synthesis, as do the nucleic acids used in the creation of our DNA. - Worlds Healthiest Foods

Vitamin C and B complex and minerals like potassium, magnesium, phosphorus and zinc are good for the skin. Apart from that, pulp obtained from crushed raw potatoes, mixed with honey, can serve as excellent skin and face packs. This helps even curing pimples and spots on the skin. Again, this pulp, if applied externally on burns, gives a quick relief and heals fast. Smashed potatoes, even water in which potatoes are washed, are very good for softening and cleaning skin, especially around elbows, back of the palms etc. - Organic Facts 

Recent studies at Agricultural research service (by plant genetics scientist Roy Navarre) suggests that flavonoid antioxidant, quercetin present in potatoes has anti-cancer and cardio-protective properties. - Nutrition & You

Proper brain function largely depend on oxygen supply, glucose level, magnesium, some members of the vitamin B complex and some hormones, such as amino acids and fatty acids like omega-3 fatty acids. Potatoes meet almost all the needs mentioned above. In addition, it contains certain other substances like zinc and phosphorus which are good for brain too. - Health Online Ezine

UK scientists at the Institute for Food Research have identified blood pressure-lowering compounds called kukoamines in potatoes. Previously only found in Lycium chinense, an exotic herbal plant whose bark is used to make an infusion in Chinese herbal medicine, kukoamines were found in potatoes using a new type of research called metabolomics. - Worlds Healthiest Foods

Fruit Of The Week - Pears

Fruit History:
Pears are one of the world's oldest cultivated and beloved fruits. In 5,000 B.C., Feng Li, a Chinese diplomat, abandoned his responsibilities when he became consumed by grafting peaches, almonds, persimmons, pears and apples as a commercial venture. In The Odyssey, the Greek poet laureate Homer lauds pears as a "gift of the gods." Pomona, goddess of fruit, was a cherished member of the Roman Pantheon and Roman farmers documented extensive pear growing and grafting techniques. Thanks to their versatility and long storage life, pears were a valuable and much-desired commodity among the trading routes of the ancient world. Evident in the works of Renaissance Masters, pears have long been an elegant still-life muse for artists. In the 17th century a great flourishing of modern pear variety cultivation began taking place in Europe. And in popular culture, the pear tree was immortalized alongside a partridge in the 18th-century Christmas carol, The Twelve Days of Christmas.

Early colonists brought the first pear trees to America's eastern settlements where they thrived until crop blights proved too severe to sustain widespread cultivation. Fortunately, the pear trees brought west to Oregon and Washington by pioneers in the 1800's thrived in the unique agricultural conditions found in the Pacific Northwest. Today's Northwest pear varieties are the same or similar to those first cultivated in France and Belgium where they were prized for their delicate flavor, buttery texture, and long storage life.
As more sophisticated irrigation and growing techniques developed during the past century, pear orchards flourished dramatically in the Northwest's river valley regions located in a serpentine sprawl from Northern Central Washington to Central Southern Oregon.

Today, pear orchards in Oregon and Washington are as specialized as the regions that support them. Organic, commercial and multi-generation family orchards all contribute high-quality fruit to the Northwest's fresh pear industry. Consumer interest and enjoyment of Northwest pears grows each year. Thanks to advancements in Controlled Atmosphere (CA) storage technology, fresh USA Pears are available to consumers nearly year-round. - USA Pears 

Health Benefits: 
Pears provide about 3.1 g of dietary fiber per 100g. Regular eating of pears may offer protection against colon cancer.  Most of the fiber is non soluble polysaccharide (NSP), making them a good bulk laxative. Also, the gritty fiber content binds to cancer causing toxins and chemicals in the colon, protecting its mucous membrane from contact with these compounds. - Nutrition & You

Pears contain boron, which our bodies need in order to retain calcium, so this fruit can also be linked to osteoporosis prevention. - Fit Sugar 

Pears have anti-oxidant and anti-carcinogen glutathione which help prevent high blood pressure and stroke. - A Perfect Pear

Pears have suggested being useful in treating colitis, chronic gallbladder disorders, arthritis and gout. - Nutrition & You 

Pears contain high amounts of copper which helps protect the body from free radical damage as a necessary component of superoxide dismutase (SOD), a copper-dependent enzyme that eliminates superoxide radicals. Superoxide radicals are a type of free radical generated during normal metabolism, as well as when white blood cells attack invading bacteria and viruses. If not eliminated quickly, superoxide radicals damage cell membranes. - Worlds Healthiest Foods 

The cooling effect in pear is excellent in relieving fever.  Best way to bring a fever down quickly is by drinking a big glass of pear juice. - Juicing For Health 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Does The House Farm Bill Hide Where Pesticides Are Being Sprayed?

The House Agriculture Committee adopted a farm bill July 12 that would provide $57 billion for conservation programs over the next 10 years and prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency from requiring Clean Water Act discharge permits for pesticide spraying on or near water bodies.

The Federal Agriculture, Risk, and Reform Management (FARRM) Act (H.R. 6083), which was approved on a 35-11 committee vote, would reauthorize conservation, renewable energy, and nutrition programs at the Agriculture Department, as well as forestry and related activities at the U.S. Forest Service for fiscal years 2013-2017.

In addition to the pesticide spraying language, the legislation includes environmental provisions on pesticide registration, biotechnology in crop production, pine beetle infestations in the West, research on bed bugs, and procedures for forestry projects under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

The bill also would provide no mandatory funding for energy programs administered by the Agriculture Department, including loan guarantees, grants, and other support for biofuels, as well as other forms of renewable energy and energy efficiency (see related story in this issue).

The bill, which replaces direct payments to farmers with a new safety net based on revenue insurance, price protections and crop insurance, survived a 12-hour markup (see related story in this issue).

Current Bill Expires Sept. 30.
The final version of the 2012 farm bill, after the House and Senate have reconciled their differences, would replace the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (Pub. L. No. 110-234), which expires Sept. 30.

The House Agriculture Committee's action comes less than a month after the Senate passed its version of the farm bill, which would provide $56.8 billion for conservation programs (120 DER A-38, 6/22/12).

Both the House and Senate would cut at least $6 billion in conservation spending between 2013-2022 through streamlining and consolidating existing programs and by reducing the acreage enrolled in two USDA conservation programs (133 DER A-32, 7/12/12).

Overall, the House bill would cut $35.1 billion in farm program spending over the 10-year period, while the Senate's version would reduce spending by at least $23 billion, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

The bill's main policy provisions--replacing direct payment programs for farmers with a mix of price-based and revenue-based insurance, as well as increased crop insurance--remained intact from the draft version of the legislation.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said July 12 that no schedule has been set yet for taking up the farm bill on the floor.

Pesticide Spraying on Waters.
The pesticide-spraying language, taken from a bill (H.R. 872) that passed by the House in March 2011, would bar the agency from requiring National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits for pesticides that already are registered for use, sale, and distribution under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act.

That bill was approved in June 2011 by the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee, but it stalled after Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Benjamin Cardin (D-Md.) placed a hold on the legislation.

The NPDES permitting requirements took effect Oct. 31, 2011, after a 2009 decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit overturned a regulation allowing permitting exemptions for farmers and public health officials who apply pesticides on or near water (National Cotton Council v. EPA, 553 F.3d 927, 68 ERC 1129 (6th Cir., 2009); (212 DER A-37, 11/2/11).

Forest Service Exempted From Comment.
In another environmental provision, Rep. Glenn Thompson (R-Pa.) successfully offered an amendment that would exempt the U.S. Forest Service from providing public comment and environmental appeals of day-to-day “routine” activities in national forests.

Under NEPA, routine activities that do not have an environmental impact can be grouped as categorical exclusions and are exempt from detailed environmental impact analyses. However, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California ruled in March that the Forest Service is required to provide a public comment and an environmental appeals process for what Thompson said was “something as minor as repairing a power line.”

“Under this ruling, this decision will add at least 30 days, and up to 145 days, for all these noncontroversial, everyday activities,” Thompson said.

Thompson said there are 600 routine projects that are tied up at the Forest Service because of this requirement.

Pine Beetle Provision.
Rep. Kristi Noem (R-S.D.) also was successful in amending the bill's forestry title. Her measure would allow the Forest Service to designate 10,000 acres, instead of the 1,000 acres allowed in the original draft bill, as a categorical exclusion area to combat pine beetle infestation.

Noem said the larger acreage is needed because the infestation is widespread in the West. Noem's amendment was based on the National Forest Emergency Act (H.R. 4331 and S. 2277) that Noem and Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) jointly introduced in April.

Pesticide Registration, Biotechnology.
Another pesticide provision in the House bill would renew EPA's authority to collect pesticide fees through fiscal year 2017. However, it would prohibit EPA from modifying, canceling, or suspending a pesticide registration on the basis of a biological opinion issued by NOAA Fisheries Service or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service until the completion of an independent study on the opinions (130 DER A-21, 7/9/12).

The bill would require USDA, EPA, and the Department of Health and Human Services to report to Congress within one year of the bill's enactment on proposed measures to reduce the regulatory burden on the research and development of agricultural biotechnology products.

Further, the bill would outline requirements for the regulation of plant-incorporated pesticidal substances by EPA. The agency would be required to base those regulations on sound science, provide for regulatory exemptions for certain products, and use the “least burdensome” requirements.

Also included in the bill is a provision that would require USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service to make a determination on any petition for “nonregulated” status within one year. APHIS conducts plant pest risk assessments and environmental analyses on products to determine if they are subject to regulation under Part 340 of the Plant Protection Act. The language in the underlying bill also would clarify that the assessments conducted by APHIS are the only requirements mandated or authorized by law with respect to the review of petitions for nonregulated status.

Research on Bed Bugs.
Rep. Jeanne Schmidt (R-Ohio) was successful in her amendments to require the USDA to prioritize research on bed bugs. She also was able to amend FIFRA's definition to include bed bugs as vectors that cause disease and would require EPA to establish efficacy requirements for pesticides to kill public health pests, including bed bugs. That amendment also would prohibit EPA from approving any product for sale unless the efficacy data support any public health pest controls on the pesticide label.

Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.), who supported Schmidt's amendments, remarked that “bed bugs don't stand a chance when the congresswoman is on the case.”

Mixed Reactions to Legislation.
The American Farm Bureau Federation termed the bill a fiscally responsible piece of legislation. Bob Stallman, the federation's president, said farmers would not receive all the provisions they had hoped for, but he commended the “bipartisan spirit” that went into crafting a bill. The National Farmers Union, which is usually at odds with the farm bureau, also praised the committee's bill.

“The House Agriculture Committee did well to preserve funding levels for conservation programs, which a recent NFU poll found is a priority for farmers across the country,” the union said.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the bill makes “misguided reductions” to critical energy and conservation programs.

Franz Matzner, the Natural Resources Defense Council's associate director for government affairs, told BNA the bill passed by the committee went from bad to worse.

“It already included serious threats to public health with treatment of pesticides, and now it includes additional provisions that threaten our water, wildlife, and our children,” Matzner said.

He particularly decried the Forest Service amendment that would cut the public out of decision making. - Amena H. Saiyid and Patrick Ambrosio, Bloomberg BNA


Can Pesticides Cause Neurodevelopement Disorders?

A pilot study found air samples in the Hidalgo County homes of pregnant Hispanic women contained levels of household pesticides that could harm fetuses and young children, a researcher said Friday.

The first study of its kind conducted in South Texas found traces of both household and agricultural pesticides that have been linked to disorders such as autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, said Beatriz Tapia, M.D., the study’s lead author and a lecturer at the University of Texas Health Science Center’s Regional Academic Health Center in Harlingen.

“There is a lack of awareness in terms of the health hazards that these toxic (household) pest control methods present,” said Tapia, who in addition to being a medical doctor holds a master’s in public health. “These are common chemicals we use over-the-counter. If they had knowledge about how this affects their children, they would probably not use it.”

Findings of the survey of 25 urban and rural homes in Hidalgo County were published in the current issue of the Texas Public Health Journal, Tapia said.

The article is the first clinical research publication to come out of the Regional Academic Health Center in Harlingen, researchers said.

The study was conducted by the School of Medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, which includes the RAHC campus in Harlingen.

The study found prevalent use of household pesticide sprays, Tapia said.

“Increasingly, pesticide exposures are linked to neurodevelopment disorders such as autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder,” said Claudia S. Miller, M.D., the study’s co-author who is a professor of environmental and occupational medicine. “Planning for pregnancy today should include not only prenatal vitamins and a good diet but also avoiding potentially hazardous pesticides.”

The study verified conclusions of a larger 2007 survey that found household pesticide levels were higher than desirable in the homes of 102 pregnant minority women in New York City, Tapia said.

The Harlingen study found similar pesticide levels in both urban and rural homes, Tapia said.

The local study also found that 12 percent of homes surveyed contained traces of agricultural pesticides, said Tapia. She said the New York study didn’t test for agricultural chemicals.

The Harlingen study found traces of at least five pesticides in 60 percent of the 25 homes, Tapia said. Levels of nine other pesticides were found in less than one-third of homes, she said.

The study found 92 percent of air samples contained o-phenylphenol, which is used as a fungicide, germicide and household disinfectant, while 80 percent of samples contained chlorpyrifos, used in agriculture to kill mosquitoes and other pests, researchers said.

Propoxur, found in such products as granular baits and pet collars, was detected in 76 percent of samples; the insecticide diazinon was found in 72 percent; and the herbicide trifluralin was found in 60 percent, researchers said.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2000 banned homeowner use of chlorpyrifos, except in ant and roach baits in child-resistant packaging, researchers said. The agency banned residential use of diazinon in 2004, they said.

Researchers, who urged the use of household pesticide methods other than spraying, suggested less toxic pest control techniques such as the caulking of windows and doors; installation of door and window screens; and the use of boric acid.

“What we found is there is a true need to educate our families about other methods,” Tapia said.

The pilot study will spur further research, she said.

“We want to definitely look into future studies that can tell us about affects of these pesticides in children in South Texas,” Tapia said.

The Harlingen study surveyed 25 Hidalgo County women who responded to a flyer that sought women in their third trimester of pregnancy to participate in an unspecified study, Tapia said. The Hispanic women from two maternity clinics ranged from 18 to 35 years of age and had no serious medical conditions, researchers said.

Researchers asked the women questions about pesticide use and exposure, proximity to agricultural fields, the frequency of spraying operations, and the detection of pesticide odors drifting from fields. -  Fernando Del Valle, Valley Morning Star

Have Pesticides Been Found On Lobsters?

The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection has confirmed the presence of pesticides in Long Island Sound lobsters, albeit a very small sample for the first time since the crustaceans began their precipitous decline in 1999.

The findings are a surprise to the scientific and environmental communities, which have generally thought that warming water in the Sound was causing the die-off. The commercial fishing industry, however, has long pointed its finger at pesticide runoff because the lobster decline coincided with the West Nile Virus outbreak and the use of mosquito sprays to combat it.

"I'm sure there are a couple of fishermen who'll say, 'I told you so,'" said David Simpson, the director of Marine Fisheries at DEEP. "I was pretty surprised; I was expecting no pesticide residue at all."

Simpson said even with the pesticide findings, Long Island Sound lobster posed no health risk. The pesticides were found in lobster organ tissue, not meat, and in any case the levels were below what is considered harmful. And with lobster hauls at historic lows, the likelihood of actually buying a Connecticut lobster -- while higher in this state -- is still low.

Lobster landings in Long Island Sound dropped from 3.7 million pounds in 1998 to 142,000 pounds last year. That period was also marked by warming water trends and a clear shift from colder water species to warmer water ones in the Sound.

Warm-water fish such as striped bass, summer flounder, scup and butterfish increased while cold-water species such as winter flounder, Atlantic herring, winter skate and lobster seemed to move north. Testing consistently showed no presence of pesticides. Until now.

Advances in testing technology that could detect concentrations of substances one-tenth the size of that tested previously prompted DEEP's Marine Fisheries Division to partner with the University of Connecticut's Veterinary Medical Diagnostics Laboratory to try testing again last September.

Ten lobsters, nine weak ones and one healthy one, were tested for Malathion, methoprene and resmethrin. All three chemicals had been used to combat mosquitoes, though less so recently. The state's anti-mosquito efforts now center on nonchemical bacterial products that target mosquito larvae.

The results showed no Malathion in the lobsters. One tested positive for methoprene which is used to inhibit growth of insects, and there were three positive tests for resmethrin, including in the seemingly healthy lobster.

"Honesty, these results are completely puzzling to me," said Bradford Robinson, supervising environmental analyst in DEEP's pesticide management program. "It's a very head-scratching result that has us all kind of baffled.

"I don't think it's a smoking gun."

Neither does Simpson. "I haven't learned anything new that changes the opinion that stressful water temperature in the fall is the most likely cause of the mortality we've seen," he said, referring to the historical death of lobsters when water in the Sound is at its warmest.

Leah Schmalz of Save the Sound, a program of Connecticut Fund for the Environment, said she was intrigued by the initial pesticide findings.

"The theory has been floating around for quite some time, but this is the first real proof," she said. "I was in the 'increased water temperature is the leading cause of stress and mortality' camp, and thought that perhaps other factors were compounding that impact. While it is entirely too early to say, this finding has me wondering if 'perhaps' we had it backwards."

Rep. Terry Backer, D-Stratford, said in a statement that the findings “reinforce our contention that the use of methoprene and other ultra toxic pesticides in our waters for the purposes of killing mosquito larva is dangerous and reckless.” He called for the re-introduction of legislation that failed this year that would have curtailed its use.

DEEP now plans more extensive testing beginning this summer. It will include testing for additional pesticides in a much larger sample of lobsters as well as testing of water temperature and contamination. Robinson said he would recommend looking for the widely used pyrethroid family and insecticides similar to Malathion.

He also recommends testing northern water lobsters from Maine for comparison. He and Simpson point out there are many questions, including if the timing of last year's testing after Tropical Storm Irene resulted in large amounts of runoff into the Sound was a factor.

"Will we find it again?" Robinson asked. "Is this an anomaly?"

DEEP expects its first results this fall.

"This study may finally give the region something solid to work from," Schmalz said. - Jan Ellen Spiegel, The CT Mirror

Is Pesticide Free The Same As Organic?

A lingering fragrance of citrus and flowering sweet peas drifts as the coos of chickens mix into the warm spring breeze. The smoldering sun stretches down, warming the soil as students work the soil with hand tools. The deep mocha brown of freshly tilled beds somehow manages to stain the pants and hands of everyone present at the Stanford farm.

Patrick Archie doesn’t allow pesticides on his plot at the farm and encourages holistic connections with the land. This small corner of campus might as well be a portrait of what most people imagine when they think “organic.” But it’s not—at least, not officially. Organic is more than an attitude or a concept, it’s a legal designation, the rules of which are rarely understood completely by consumers. As the summer season of fresh fruits and vegetables arrives, it’s worth taking a closer look at what the term “organic” really means.

“We’re not organic,” Archie said about the Stanford farm, “but we are using organic practices.”

Because Archie doesn’t control all the surrounding farm plots and therefore doesn’t regulate inputs, the farm is not certified organic. All the practices used by Archie including composting, growing cover crops, and pest control meet the organic standard. Archie teaches the practice of sustainable agriculture and food systems. He emphasizes to his students the importance of a hands-on approach to learning organic farming practices. Although it is the fastest growing sector in agriculture, the term “organic” is not widely understood.

“Outside the world of academia and California health nuts, I think the majority of people in America still do not care much about whether food is organic or not and probably don’t know what organic actually means,” said Amanda Martinez, a Stanford sophomore and active member of the student-run Stanford Farm Project.

“It’s a law now,” Archie said, “It used to mean whatever people wanted it to.”

Strict guidelines must be met before a farmer can claim to be organic. According to United Stated Department of Agriculture (USDA) standards, growers must “demonstrate that they are protecting natural resources, conserving biodiversity, and using only approved substances” to be certified organic. The USDA “organic” label has improved over the years to become more strict about certain regulations that farmers must adhere to in order to be “organic”, Martinez said. Among these include not using pesticides or feeding hormones and antibiotics to livestock.

Patrick Archie teaching students to build irrigation lines for crops on the Stanford farm as part of the Principles and Practices of Sustainable Agriculture class. (Photo: Hannah Donaghe/ Peninsula Press)
“The label is not perfect,” Martinez said, “and since it has become such a selling point for consumers, more and more large farm operations are earning the “organic” label without actually being sustainable operations.”

Individual farmers may take into account sustainability, but it’s not required under the organic standard.

Sustainability is a holistic approach that takes into account the entire system and life cycle of its products, from soil preparation to growing to transportation. The organic label doesn’t require specific levels of sustainability. Christof Bernau, garden manager at UC Santa Cruz echoes Martinez’s frustration with the common misconception that organic is synonymous with sustainable. “The terms get muddled together,” he said “and the public perception of organic is incomplete or inaccurate.”

The ecological footprint and transportation costs of shipping goods are not always reflected by organic products. Many organic farms are now controlled by larger corporations, Archie said, which often have to transport food long distances.

“It’s not surprising food is coming from further away,” Bernau said. We’re lucky to have an abundance of local produce year round in Northern California, he continued, but this isn’t the case everywhere. As organic has grown, a lot of large scale conventional farms have gotten into organic production as well. Most of what you see in grocery stores is from these larger organic corporations.

Organic farming reduces potentially harmful inputs, compared to conventional farming. But there are other approaches to farming that come closer to the idyllic image many people have when they think of the word “organic.” They come with names like “agroecology” and “biodynamic farming” which are the best for the land, the animals, and the people.

Because of this, Archie refers to his farming as agroecology: a broader form of agriculture that emphasizes practices that work to improve the land while keeping in mind the ecology of surrounding systems. “Agroecology is a system wide approach,” Bernau said. “It tries to farm in a way that enhances or at the very least doesn’t degrade the surrounding environment.”

Composting and planting cover crops are a couple of practices that improve the soil, both utilized under the agroecology framework at the Stanford farm.

Archie believes that by immersing his students in these practices it will make them more aware and conscious about where their food comes from and what exactly organic means and doesn’t mean.

Like Archie, Bernau believes the organic sector will continue to grow. It is the question of how it will do so that is of concern. Both hope that organic will become a standardized norm, rather than a specialty niche, making healthy produce widely available to consumers. The first step is collectively increasing awareness at the consumer level about where and how, organic or not, our food is being produced.

It’s Archie’s hope that when students put down their shovels and step off the Stanford farm, they take with them an understanding of what goes into producing organic food as well as an appreciation for knowing where their food comes from. - Hannah Donaghe, Penisula Press 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Is A Pesticide That Could Cause Mental Retardation Made By Dow Being Sprayed On Crops?

Endocrine disruptors, synthetic chemicals that mimic and interfere with natural hormones, lurk everywhere from canned foods and microwave popcorn bags to cosmetics and carpet-cleaning solutions. The chemicals, which include pesticides, fire retardants and plastics, are in thermal store receipts, antibacterial detergents and toothpaste (like Colgate's Total with triclosan) and the plastic BPA which Washington state banned in baby bottles. Endocrine disruptors are linked to breast cancer, infertility, low sperm counts, genital deformities, early puberty and diabetes in humans and alarming mutations in wildlife. They are also suspected in the epidemic of behavior and learning problems in children which has coincided, many say, with wide endocrine disruptor use.

Like Big Pharma, Big Chem holds tremendous sway at the FDA, which gave the endocrine disruptor BPA a pass in March, citing "serious questions"about the applicability of damning animal studies to humans. But in April, research from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences presented new evidence of the ability of endocrine disruptors--in this case the pesticide, chlorpyrifos--to harm developing fetuses. Janette Sherman, a pesticide expert and toxicologist, has studied the effects of chlorpyrifos (found in Dow's pesticide Dursban) for many years and spoke with AlterNet about what her research has revealed.

Martha Rosenberg: Published studies, including your own, signaled safety problems with Dursban years ago. The EPA's own data found eight out of 10 adults and nine of 10 children had "measurable concentrations." Dow paid a $2 million penalty for hiding Dursban's risks from 1995 and 2003 in New York. But the pesticide was not banned for residential use until 2000, and after it was banned, people were allowed to use remaining quantities. Why did the cases that you and others uncovered seem to have little effect?

Janette Sherman: Dow attorneys took my deposition for four eight-hour days in the mid-1990s and I supplied over 10,000 pages of medical records, depositions, EPA documents, patent information and toxicology studies on which I based my opinion. Even though genetic analyses were conducted for the paper and genetic causes for the defects were ruled out--siblings who were not exposed to chlorpyrifos, for example, were normal--Dow termed the cases genetic and was able to stop most, if not all, chlorpyrifos birth-defect suits.

Dow has almost unlimited money and personnel to fight families and small-town attorneys and they send multiple personnel to the EPA to argue their side. There is also no penalty for withholding information.

MR: Dow claimed there was insufficient proof of chlorpyrifos exposure.

JS: Yes and one of the ironies, that I have cited in several papers, is that monitoring data for pesticide levels, either at the time of application or at the time of birth, is simply not done. People have no records and no way of collecting records of pesticides they have been exposed to.

MR: Lorsban, the agricultural version of Dursban, is still widely in use in crops like apples, corn, soybeans, wheat, nuts, grapes, citrus and other fruit and vegetables. Virginia Rauh, the author of the recent Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences paper cautioned pregnant women to seek organic produce to avoid chlorpyrifos.

JS: I believe farm workers and pregnant women are at risk and obviously, a pesticide that is used widely in crops will also get in the drinking water. I don't know how widespread chlorpyrifos use is overseas and in poor countries but the same risks apply.

MR: You published a paper in the European Journal of Oncology in 1999 which is eerily predictive of recent Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences research about children exposed in the womb to the pesticide chlorpyrifos. This research found actual structural changes in exposed children's brains, especially related to emotion, attention and behavior control.

JS: Dursban (chlorpyrifos) is a pesticide manufactured by Dow Chemical Co. and Eli Lilly that has both organophosphate and tri-chlorinated pesticide characteristics and toxicities. Working as a legal consultant, I evaluated eight children with profound abnormalities whose families had proof of their child’s exposure to chlorpyrifos in the womb. I was stunned by how much the children resembled one another--they looked so similar they could have been siblings or cousins. The children were all severely retarded and needed feeding and diapering. One had quadriplegia and another died soon after I examined him.

MR: In your 1999 paper you refer to the brain problems cited in the Proceedings research as possibly pesticide-related.

JS: Yes. The children also had corpus callosum defects, which means there was no connection between their right and left side of their brains.

MR: Where were the children located and where did you examine them?

JS: The children were in Arkansas, on Long Island and in California. The use of Dursban occurred in the homes. Since Dursban has been restricted from home use [in 2000] of concern are agricultural use of chlorpyrifos that continues and questions of birth defects in women agricultural workers. I examined some of the children in their homes. In other cases, the parents brought them to be examined, if they had vans equipped to move the children.

MR: In addition to the mental retardation, paralysis and structural brain problems you found deafness, cleft palate, eye cysts and low vision, nose, brain, heart, tooth and feet abnormalities and many sexual deformities.

JS: Yes, the sexual and reproductive defects included undescended testes, microphallus [tiny penis], fused labias [vaginal lips] and widespread nipples. I also report in the paper, 13 adverse reproductive cases linked to chlorpyrifos from Dow's own research database (European Journal of Oncology, Vol. 4, n.6, pp 653-659 1999).

MR:  Anyone who is aware of the effects of endocrine-disrupting pesticides on wildlife can't help but think of the frogs reported with no penises in so many U.S. streams or the sexual abnormalities reported in both male and female birds and other animals.

JS: Yes, the children's defects mirrored effects of endocrine disrupters seen in wildlife. They also mirrored Dow's own rat studies which showed testicular and urogenital deformities, skull and sternebrae (part of breast bone) abnormalities and cleft palate in exposed animals, especially from in utero exposure to chlorpyrifos (European Journal of Oncology, Vol. 4, n.6, pp 653-659 1999).

MR: You have not been one to shirk from doing battle with Dow and other giant chemical companies. You write in one paper, "Dow has been reluctant to accept that exposure to a chlorinated organophosphate chemical designed to kill insects by interfering with neurological function could harm the developing human." That's pretty direct.

JS: Dow works powerfully against criticism. During one legal proceeding, I overheard a Dow attorney say, "This is the last deposition Sherman will appear at." It takes nerve to go up against them.

MR: Before medical school you worked for the Atomic Energy Commission and at the U. S. Navy Radiological Laboratory. But now you publish outspoken books and papers about radiation poisoning related to Chernobyl, Fukushima and other sources. What shaped your medical career?

JS: In the 1970s, I began doing worker compensation cases involving people working in foundries and I began to see a high incidence of lung disease. When the occupational medicine department at my university told me the information was anecdotal and there were not enough cases to be statistically significant, I sent the information to former Senator Phil Hart, D-Mich, who was working with the consumer advocate Ralph Nader at the time. Soon, the information I had uncovered was on the front page of the New York Times and I began to be flooded with information and requests from people who had knowledge of other apparent environment toxicity cases. I became specialized in toxicology and continue to cover environmental hazards presented by radiation, chemicals and pesticides like Dursban.

MR: Since Dursban's ban, there have been calls for a Lorsban ban because of its effects on farmworkers. In India, Dow's offices were raided by Indian authorities for allegedly bribing officials to allow chlorpyrifos to be sold in the country. (Dow bought the Union Carbide plant in India where the 1984 Bhopal gas leak occurred.) And In 2008, the National Marine Fisheries Service sought chlorpyrifos restrictions because of dangerous levels seen in Pacific salmon and steelhead. Yet, like DDT, there have been calls to bring Dursban back into wider use--especially when bedbug infestations hit major cities.

JS: Well, with many of these harmful chemicals, you need to follow the money. In some cases, companies making harmful chemicals are even making drugs to treat their effects, like anti-cancer drugs. But consumers are not off the hook either, because we fail to ask questions, pay attention and read the fine print. - Martha Rosenberg, Alertnet

Could A Pesticide That Causes Parkinson's Disease Be In Connecticut's Water?

Health officials in Connecticut are telling residents who drink from private wells to test their water for the banned pesticides chlordane and dieldrin, after a study from the town of Stamford, CT found at least one of the toxic chemicals in 195 out of 628 wells tested. Over half of the wells that tested positive for one of the pesticides were found to contain concentrations at levels above what the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers acceptable.

Both of these chemicals, discussed at length in Rachael Carson’s seminal book Silent Spring, were widely used throughout the country before their ban in the late 1980s. Since then, these chemicals have revealed themselves to be pervasive in our environment. In 2007, Beyond Pesticides wrote on the discovery of chlordane on the grounds of a New Jersey middle school at levels above EPA limits. In 2009, the U.S Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and EPA conducted a survey that found chlordane in 64% of U.S households sampled. In 2010, we reported on the occurrence of these two historic-use chemicals in what are considered “pristine” National Parks. Unfortunately, if the water contamination residents are finding turns out to be a consequence of past use, the results from Stamford, CT are only the tip of the iceberg.

The Stamford Health Department began its study in 2009 after testing revealed pesticide contamination near a local town dump. Health officials expected the results to be localized, but were caught off guard as the chemicals were identified in areas away from the dump. Sharee Rusnak, epidemiologist for the Connecticut Department of Public Health said, “We believe that this problem in Stamford could reach much further than Stamford itself and it could exist even beyond Fairfield County.”

The town of Stamford has a map on their website listing the locations and results of testing sites. While other communities have been slow to perform their own testing, Stamford Health Director Anne Fountain remarked, “As you can see, one house may have it and the one next door may not. This is happening in Stamford and I don’t think it stops at the borders.” Around 2.3 million people in New England get their water from private wells, and most all do not require pesticide testing before use.

Chlordane was used on lawns and agricultural crops until a five-year phase out for above ground use began in 1979. From 1983 to 1988, the chemical could still be applied to the foundation of houses as a termicide (termite insecticide). In 1987, Beyond Pesticides petitioned the EPA to ban all uses of chlordane, citing EPA findings that the chemical posed an “imminent hazard” to public health. After the ban went into effect, we called on Congress to establish a special Superfund remediation program to clean up all the contamination of homes and the environment caused by this use. However, Congress never acted, and now, because this toxicant can persist in the environment for over 40 years, it can still be found in our homes, soil, water, and even the food we eat. This bioaccumulative organochlorine pesticide is considered a probable human carcinogen by EPA, with links to nonHodgkin’s lymphoma and adverse neurological, reproductive, and gastrointestinal effects.

Dieldrin, another organochlorine pesticide with a history similar to chlordane, was most commonly used to control agricultural pests and termites. It was prohibited for most uses by EPA in 1974, and in 1987, after it was found to be harmful to fish and other wildlife, all uses of the chemical were banned. Although no longer used, dieldrin can also persist in the environment for decades and move up through the food chain, particularly in dairy products and meats, to humans. EPA notes that the chemical decreases the effectiveness of our immune system, may cause cancer and birth defects, increase infant mortality, and damage the kidney. Low-level exposure of the chemical has been linked to changes in brain function that may speed up the onset of Parkinson’s disease.

The results of this and numerous other studies show that the consequences of allowing harmful chemicals into our environment will oftentimes not be revealed until it is too late. The procedure our government takes to assess the risk these chemicals pose makes all the difference. This is why Beyond Pesticides consistently advocates for EPA to adopt an “alternatives assessment” in environmental rulemaking, which creates a regulatory trigger to adopt alternatives and drive the market to go green. The “alternatives assessment” approach differs most dramatically from the current EPA risk assessment method by rejecting uses and exposures deemed acceptable under risk assessment calculations, but unnecessary because of the availability of safer alternatives. - E Park News 

Have Scientist Proved Organic Tomatoes Are More Nutritious Than Conventional?

A study conducted at the University of Barcelona shows that organic tomatoes contain higher levels of phenolic compounds than conventional tomatoes. Phenolic compounds are organic molecules found in many vegetables with proven human health benefits. The UB’s Natural Antioxidant Group, headed by lecturer Rosa M. Lamuela, had previously proved that organic tomato juice and ketchup contain higher polyphenol content than juice and ketchup made from conventionally grown tomatoes. Lamuela points out that during the production process of ketchup and juice, there are lower levels of polyphenols; therefore it was necessary to verify that the differences observed in previous studies had their origin in the tomatoes themselves and not in the technology used during the production process. As lecturer Lamuela states, “it must be verified with raw material”.

Polyphenols natural antioxidants of plant origin are considered to be of great nutritional interest because its consumption is associated with the prevention of cardiovascular and degenerative diseases, and some forms of cancer. The team behind the study has analysed a variety of tomato called Daniela and has determined its phenolic profile by using liquid chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry. With this method, the research group of the UB could identify 34 different phenolic compounds in tomatoes. According to Rosa M. Lamuela, “the benefit of taking polyphenols through foods is that they contain a wide variety of such molecules, which are increased”. This would be more beneficial to health than the intake of supplements. Tomatoes also contain lycopene and other carotenoids, and vitamin C. Hence, according to Lamuela, “they contain many beneficial compounds”.

Organic or conventional crops?
Differences between organic and conventional tomatoes can be explained by the manure used in both cases. “Organic farming doesn’t use nitrogenous fertilizers; as a result, plants respond by activating their own defence mechanisms, increasing the levels of all antioxidants”, explains the first author of the article, Anna Vallverdú Queralt. “The more stress plants suffer, the more polyphenols they produce”, points out lecturer Lamuela. Numerous scientific investigations show that the consumption of these antioxidants has numerous health benefits. Researchers claim that more studies of clinical evidence are still needed to be able to state that organic products are truly better for our health than conventional ones. Lamuela would like to carry out a study with humans comparing organic and conventional tomato consumers.

Also participating in this research, published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, are researchers Olga Jáuregui, from the UB’s Scientific and Technological Centres (CCiTUB), and Alexander Medina Remón, who, together with Rosa M. Lamuela and Anna Vallverdú Queralt, are from the UB’s Department of Nutrition and Bromatology, from the Reference Network on Food Technology of the Government of Catalonia (XaRTA) and from the Institute for Research on Nutrition and Food Safety (INSA-UB). This research group is also affiliated to the Spanish Biomedical Research Centre in Physiopathology of Obesity and Nutrition (CIBERobn) and RETICS networks, from Carlos III Health Institute.

Gazpacho, a good source of antioxidants
This research group, specialised in natural antioxidants, has also published this year a study to assess changes in individual phenolic and carotenoid compounds of commercial gazpachos kept in the fridge. This research, also published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, shows that the storage of gazpachos for three months results in a slight decrease in their polyphenol and carotenoid content capacities. Therefore, commercial gazpachos are also a good source of healthy products. “Gazpacho does not only contain polyphenols from tomato, but also polyphenols from onion, garlic, etc., being a more complex product in terms of phenolic compounds”, claims Rosa M. Lamuela. Also participating in the study are Sara Arranz, from the Hospital Clínic (UB-IDIBAPS), and Isidre Casals Ribes, from CCiTUB. - University Of Barcelona

Would "Food Fingerprinting" Help Prevent Fraudulent Organic Foods?

The market for organic and eco-labelled foods has grown from pretty much zero to a staggering $60 billion industry within the past twenty years. It is no surprise that this extreme growth has encouraged many to flock to the market to earn their share. But like in any other industry, there are always some who try to cut corners, falsely advertise and misrepresent themselves to consumers.  Today, more and more scientists are specializing in food authenticity, helping customers weed out the imposters and ensure the words on each organic food label accurately describe the goods wrapped within them.

Several methodologies have been perfected to detect food fraud and counterfeiting, including spectrometry, chromatography, DNA fingerprinting and isotope analysis. Lesley Chesson, a staff scientist and researcher at the University of Utah and research company IsoForensics, is an expert in such methodologies.  Her work reveals that even when a label is dishonest, a food’s chemical fingerprint always tells the truth.

Says Chesson, “There are definitely people who are starting to pay attention to where their food comes from, who want to make sure that it’s produced in a certain way or coming from a certain area.”

So, how does chemical fingerprinting work? An optical stable isotope analyzer will get the job done every time. This spectrometer measures stable isotopes in a gas. Researchers convert food samples into a gas (at 1,000 degrees Celsius) and then bounce light off the gas. The isotopes present in a sample are determined based on the  absorption and diffusion rates of the light through the gas. Isotopes are forms of elements like carbon, nitrogen or oxygen, all of which are found in meats, dairy, sugar – just about anything edible.

These detectable variations coincide with climate, growing conditions and manufacturing processes, giving researchers an indication of whether an animal was raised on grass or grain, or what type of soil a vegetable was grown in. Likewise, known variations in hydrogen and oxygen masses have been mapped across the United States and can tell you quite accurately where bottled water was pumped out of the ground.

Back in the day, this kind of forensic analyses required a million-dollar piece of instrumentation the size of a room. Now, companies like Picarro and Los Gatos produce smaller (and more wallet-friendly) shoe-box spectrometers.

Food fingerprinting can do more than just identify a sample’s origin. Food authenticity is undeniably linked to food safety, as products with high levels of pesticides, GMOs and toxins can be identified and removed from the supply chain. Furthermore, food authentication techniques are promoting the sustainability cause:

“By providing traceability to food manufacturers and retailers, they are encouraging production of organic and eco-labelled products. By reducing incidents of food fraud, consumer trust in sustainable foods is strengthened.”

With science on their side, federal regulators hope to better combat food frauds, especially since their products don’t always lead to consumer sickness or some other obvious side effect. John Spinck, a food fraud expert at Michigan State University, says, “In many cases, there is not a clear violation of a law or regulation. This is a chess-match with a very intelligent, resilient, creative, and driven adversary.” However, the USDA’s Food Export Certificate Project and similar worldwide initiatives  are making counterfeiters second-guess themselves. Since February 2011, the USDA has reported 12 incidents of fake organic certificates in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, the Caribbean and Europe and shut them down. - Samantha Neary, Triple Pundit