1. Dangers of food contamination

    Food contamination on Chinese farms 

    I'm blessed in a lot of ways by living here in Southern California, and not just because of the endless good weather.

    Just beyond the desert that surrounds the San Diego area, you'll find some of the nation's most fertile farmland -- including thousands upon thousands of acres dedicated to healthy organic fruits and vegetables.

    That means the markets here are always full of fresh and local organic produce.

    But many supermarkets, even here, don't stock local foods. No, much of it's imported from places like China. It's cheaper, even with the cost of shipping. But it's also grown in dubious conditions with a high risk of food contamination.

    Now, the Chinese government admits that a full fifth of the nation's farmland is contaminated with toxic metals such as cadmium, nickel and arsenic.

    If you want to trust the Chinese government's official numbers, you can. But personally, I'd bet the farm that the real number is much higher.

    The food contamination is of course causing problems for people who live near the farms, including cancer clusters in the surrounding communities.

    But I'm more concerned about what this means for you -- because when you ingest foods contaminated with trace amounts of metals, you won't get sick immediately after eating them.

    Instead, these metals slowly accumulate in your body, building up over time and eventually causing or contributing to serious health conditions, including problems with your arteries and heart as well as damage to your vital organs.

    These metals can even cross the blood-brain barrier, where they can do the damage that leads to conditions such as dementia, Parkinson's disease and more.

    Don't count on the U.S. government to protect you here. Very little of the food that enters the country is inspected for food contamination, and we have even less oversight of the land on which it's grown.

    So don't be tempted by cheap imported produce, whether it's from China or anywhere else. Shop local, organic and fresh. Yes, you will pay more. But can your really put a price on your health?

  2. Learn which foods use genetically modified ingredients

    Give yourself the right to know

    You might think you know what you're eating, but you don't.

    Genetically modified ingredients have taken the food industry by storm, turning up everywhere and in everything in the space of just a few short years. And despite the considerable health and safety concerns over these ingredients, there are no requirements in the United States to list them.

    According to new numbers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 88 percent of all corn grown in the United States is now genetically engineered, along with 93 percent of all soybeans and even 94 percent of our cotton.

    Most people eat corn and soy in some form or another all day long -- and most of them have no idea what they're really eating. And it's not just these two staples.

    Fruits and vegetables have been "tweaked" to make them larger, brighter, longer lasting, and more appealing. And if these "frankenfoods" aren't bad enough, there are even "frankenfish" getting ready to head to the market soon.

    You'd think this widespread availability would mean GM ingredients have been tested in humans and proven safe. You'd think that, but you'd be wrong -- because there are literally no long-term studies on the safety of genetically modified foods in humans.

    In the limited studies we do have -- on animals, not people -- GM foods have been linked to fertility problems, immune system disorders, birth defects, and more.

    Some studies have also found changes in the gut, liver, kidney, and spleen.

    Even worse, the genetic modifications to some crops were made so they could withstand more and more powerful chemical pesticides and herbicides. That makes it easier for the factory farms -- just soak the fields and call it a day -- but it also means today's produce contain higher-than-ever levels of chemicals.

    In addition, some of my colleagues are very suspicious that GMO's are one of the main reasons food allergies and sensitivities in Americans are skyrocketing.

    That's why it's so important to eat organic foods (and I mean real organic foods, not foods with the meaningless "all-natural" label).

    But even that's no guarantee anymore.

    While organic rules don't allow for genetically modified ingredients, organic farmers are facing a growing threat of cross-contamination as seed from nearby GM fields begin to drift.

    Even more outrageously, the organic farmers could then be sued for not paying for the right to grow the GM crops they never wanted in their fields in the first place!

    For those reasons and more, I joined the "Right to Know" movement here in California. If you live in this state, you can sign up yourself -- and more importantly, vote for Proposition 37 this November.

    This proposition would require all food with genetically modified ingredients sold in our state to have labels indicating the presence of those ingredients -- a common-sense requirement already found in 50 countries, including the entire European Union and even China.

    If you don't live in California, see if you can find a similar movement in your home state -- or start one yourself. Tell your neighbors you just want one of the same basic rights given to people in China. That'll get their attention.

    Remember, knowledge isn't just power. It's health. And without this knowledge, your health could be in jeopardy.

  3. Take two chickens and call me in the morning

    It's the Buy-One-Get-One-Free special stores don't advertise: Buy some chicken, get some meds for free. And just to make it more convenient for everyone, the drugs aren't in their own package -- they're already inside the chicken.
  4. The secret ingredient in pork

    I'm getting hungry just thinking about all the great ways to eat pork. But there's one form of pig that makes me lose my appetite every time -- and it's exactly what people eat the most of: pork from factory farms.
  5. Apples top pesticide list

    I know it feels like summer has only just begun, but fall is right around the corner -- and that means apple season is almost here. Don't be fooled by the apples you'll find in the supermarket year 'round -- most of them are actually months old... and you won't believe the tricks they use to keep them fresh.
  6. The dark truth behind milk

    It might seem like there's nothing more natural than a kid with a glass of milk -- but what's in that glass could be anything but natural.

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