Food Truth Freedom

Your food, where it comes from & what's in it


Salmonella Outbreak in Red Onions

The FDA has reported 375 cases and 75 hospitalizations are confirmed due to a salmonella outbreak in red onions.

Thomson International, a produce supplier in Bakersfield, Calif., distributed them to restaurants across the country.  They also went to retail outlets under the names TII Premium, El Competitor, Hartley, Onions 52, Imperial Fresh, Utah Onions, and Food Lion.

The following advisory from the FDA:

Recommendations

Advice for consumers, restaurants, and retailers: Consumers, restaurants, and retailers should not eat, sell, or serve red, white, yellow, or sweet onions from Thomson International, Inc. or products containing such onions. If you cannot tell if your onion is from Thomson International Inc., or your food product contains such onions, you should not eat, sell, or serve it, and should throw it out.

FDA recommends that anyone who received or suspects having received onions from Thomson International, Inc. use extra vigilance in cleaning and sanitizing any surfaces and containers that may have come in contact with these products to reduce the risk of cross-contamination. This includes cutting boards, slicers, countertops, refrigerators, and storage bins.

The agency also recommends that if you’re unsure where the onions came from, to discard all onions (red, white & yellow).

The following states have reported cases:

States with Cases: AK (6), AZ (14), CA (49), CO (10), FL (3), ID (5), IL (10), IN (2), IA (15), KS (1), KY (1), ME (4), MD (1), MI (23), MN (10), MO (6), MT (33), NE (5), NV (5), NY (4), NC (3), ND (5), OH (7), OR (71), PA (2), SC (1), SD (11), TN (5), TX (1), UT (61), VA (4), WA (2), WI (5), WY (11)

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Do We Need 37 Different Versions of Oreo’s?

Yesterday I straightened shelves. In retail, it’s called many names, front-face, zone,  or recovery. In other words, make things look nice and move product from the back of the shelf so customers can get to it easily.

Now this being a “regular” grocery store, not a healthy one like where I used to work, I am utterly amazed at the amount of crap foisted upon the American people.  Utter garbage, loaded with artificial ingredients with unpronounceable names, preservatives,  and glow-in-the-dark colors.

‘Course this isn’t news to me. I’ve been writing and researching about food for almost 20 years now.

A case in point is the selection of a cookie named “Oreos.”
How about “Cheerios?” These are two standards of the grocery industry, they’ve been around for decades.

Remember when there was only one kind of Oreos and Cheerios?

I counted no less than 37 different versions of Oreos on our shelves. Some were different sizes of the same thing but the overall dizzying array of selections: Oreos, Double Stuf’d, Mega Stuf’d, Golden, DS Golden, Birthday Cake, Mint, Peanut butter, Chocolate, Red Velvet, Chocolate Peanut Butter, Carrot Cake, and Lemon. Then there were variations of “Thins” – think skinny Oreos- Classic, Golden, Mint, Chocolate. This wouldn’t have been enough so they had to make “Thins Bites.” Then “Thins Chocolate Covered.”

The kicker was “Oreo Cookie Crumbles.” They take the broken ones from production and bag them up for you to buy.

Why?

If you want Oreos on your ice cream or in/on anything else – why not just smash them up yourself?

Oh, wait – I forgot! It’s Corporate Greed 101. Sell anything to make money.

God forbid we should inconvenience the customer!  It’s too much trouble for them to smash up Oreos by hand or whiz them up in a food processor for a few seconds, isn’t it?

Don’t even get me started on the Cheerios. There are 19 different selections listed on the Cheerios site: We had 18 various ones & sizes in our store ranging from Regular, Blueberry, Frosted….. well, check out the link to the Cheerios page.  It’s ridiculous.

I waded through Triscuits: We had about 15 sizes/varieties or so on our shelves. There were 37 different kinds listed on the Triscuit website, including “minis,” “thin crisps.”

Let’s not go there on Pop-Tarts, either!


Avoid Fresh Express Salads

For the umpteenth time, Fresh Express Salads have been recalled. This time it’s for cyclospora.  The salads were sold at ALDI, Giant Eagle, Hy-Vee, Jewel-Osco, ShopRite and Walmart.  Click here for the latest info from the FDA.

All the affected products were produced at the Fresh Express production facility in Streamwood, IL.

Fresh Express salad mix

There have been too many recalls for Fresh Express salad mixes for me.

Cyclospora cayetanensis, is a parasite that is transmitted through feces.

This isn’t the first time Fresh Express has been pulled from the shelves.  It’s been pulled in 2010 for listeria (3 times) and, in 2011 and 2012.  In April of 2017… this is really disgusting… parts of a bat were discovered in a salad mix.  2018 showed another recall for Fresh Express, this time for cyclospora again.  In December of 2019,  Fresh Express Sunflower Crisp chopped salad kits were recalled for E. coli.

There are probably more but I just don’t feel like digging through volumes of information.  They have a lousy track record in my book.  I avoid them at all costs.

Bottom line:  Way too many recalls.  This stuff is constantly getting recalled. Stay away from it.

 


Your Grocery Store During COVID

Being an “essential” worker in a grocery store, I’ve been on the floor since the start of the COVID pandemic.  It hasn’t been easy.

We’ve had customers go ballistic at each other, freak out at the register because they have to touch the pin pad,  scream that they don’t want bags or the register tape (because I’ve handled it) and refuse to get a cart because of COVID. (the carts are sanitized after every use.)

At the other end of the spectrum – even early on in the pandemic, entire families, sans masks, would traipse through the store, totally oblivious to the possible exposure of COVID.  I repeatedly heard, “Well, everything’s closed so I might as well come here and wander around.”  So much for staying home, eh?

Now since restrictions have been lifted it’s even worse.

Customers have gotten upset because the shelves are bare.

Lemmee ‘splain it to you, Lucy…..

1:  The entire supply chain has been disrupted. COVID has affected everything from the field to the factory – either workers have not been available to harvest, or the processing plants have temporarily been shuttered.

2:  Materials shortages.  Currently, there is an aluminum shortage. Kaiser Aluminum’s LA factory suffered an explosion recently.  Coupled with a return to the market of Chinese consumers, demand is way up.

3:  Labor shortages.  Travel between states by farmworkers has been curtailed regarding hand-harvested crops during the pandemic.

4:  There are 2 different supply chains. Grocery and restaurant/schools are separate from household consumer products.  Toilet paper,  for instance.  That big roll in the restroom of a public place (school, restaurant, grocery store or entertainment complex) is produced on a different manufacturing line than the Charmin or White Cloud that ends up in your bathroom.  Food is the same way.  Huge amounts are produced, packaged & delivered to institutions and restaurants, while a separate faction makes what goes to your grocery store.

5:  What we employees can’t say.  Stop being selfish and wear a mask.

  • I wear a mask FOR you and FOR me, too.  If I’m asymptomatic (infected but feeling no symptoms) I don’t want to spread it to you.  I would hope the reverse is true.
  • How would you feel if one of your loved ones caught and died of this?  Think about that really carefully because *you* could be the one who transmits it to them by refusing to wear a mask.
  • Your refusal to wear a mask will keep this going on and on and on. You, not me!
  • We, like other essential workers, have to wear these masks *all* day for 8 hours. You just have to put it on when you come in to shop.  Lucky you.  We have to be around the public for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, around people like you, who refuse to wear a mask.
  • YOU are putting my life and that of my co-workers and all other customers in danger by not wearing a mask.
  • Would you get falling-down drunk, load your family & friends into a car and drive drunk?  That’s playing Russian Roulette.  Every time you leave the house without a mask it’s a chance you take.

Wear a damn mask!

We’re tired, too.  We don’t want to wear masks, either.

We can’t do much about the empty shelves and are stocking as fast as we get the stuff.  Please be patient. Don’t ask if we have something.  If it’s not out there, we haven’t got it.

We want this to be over, just like you do. Please do your part.


Antibiotic Resistance Rising: Meat Industry Hampers FDA & CDC

Antibiotic resistance is rising in farm animals.

We are losing the war on germs.

Antibiotic resistance for common illnesses is increasing.  With over 2,500 strains of salmonella alone, the bugs are winning. The meat industry is only required to voluntarily submit data to the FDA and refuses in part, because of the potential of damaging their reputation.  Powerful lobbying in Washington has tied the hands of the FDA and the CDC.

To make matters worse, about 80% of antibiotic use goes into agriculture.

Furthering this, there is no system of tracking the source of meat in the United States. The EU has it. Each farm has a tracking number and it’s on every package of meal sold.  So if you were to become ill, and it turned out to be from the meat, there would be a link.

A few years ago in Washington state there was an outbreak related to pork. The CDC was notified that over 50 people in 8 counties were sickened: 192 people sick, 30 were admitted to hospitals. The slaughterhouse in question received meat from 6 farms where the infection could have come from. Because the farms have to voluntarily give any information to inspectors, the investigation ended there.

A particularly virulent strain of salmonella, 4-5-12:i-minus, which resists ampicillin, streptomycin, sulfisoxazole and tetracycline, started in the 1980’s,  has shown a 35% increase where other strains of salmonella have remained constant.

Non-meat eaters like vegans and vegetarians aren’t safe either. Animal waste has long been used on organic farms and once the bacteria get into the soil, anyone is fair game. Unless one is growing their own food, there is no guarantee that they are immune from an antibiotic-resistant illness.

The meat industry, as well as the pharmaceutical companies need to be held accountable.  Until the FDA and CDC are allowed access, there is no slowing this descent into drug-resistant oblivion.

 

 


Dollar Stores: Unhealthy Food Choices For Poor Americans

 

Dollar stores offer the poor cheap, unhealthy food.

Years ago I worked in Dollar General as a cashier. It was in a rural Virginia town that had just lost its only grocery store.  The nearest one was over 10 miles away.  The people of the surrounding area were poor and lacking jobs.  Many were elderly and had no cars.  While the shuttered grocery store did offer fresh food, the produce was wilted and inferior and I sure didn’t trust the meat they sold there, and only bought pre-packed groceries.

When the Dollar General moved into its own building on the town’s main thoroughfare, people raved.  True, it did supply some basic food items, but most of it was high in fat, salt, and sugar.

I eyed customers as they came through my line, noticing the items they were purchasing.  One obese elderly man, who hobbled along in my line, was struggling to breathe.  He had a pile of canned Vienna Sausage.  I cringed. Knowing that the sodium content was staggering, well above 700mg for a half can – and he’d probably eat that whole can for a meal – he’d get over 1,400 mg.  More than likely he had high blood pressure and diabetes.  This was not a good meal choice. Alas, it was cheap.

And so it went – customer after customer purchasing neon-colored juices, artificially flavored, chemically-laden processed food – for a dollar or two.  It was sad. Many of these people had no cars, relying on friends, family or the overpriced local conman taxi service.  They were trapped in this food nightmare.

820mg of sodium for one can in one sitting.

740mg of sodium per serving would equal 1,850mg per can.

This is the lure of Dollar General-type stores.  Cheap food in impoverished food deserts in rural & urban America.   They’ve invaded blighted inner-city neighborhoods like those in Detroit, Philadelphia, and Baltimore.

The unchecked growth of dollar stores creates zero incentive for grocery stores to enter rural areas or food deserts in inner-cities.  The population numbers are thin, unlike more urban and affluent locations.  A stunted earnings base with impoverished citizens counting every cent makes the appeal of a Dollar General, Family Dollar or Dollar Tree all much more alluring.

Dollar General has tried to tout that they are offering fresh produce.  This is only evident in about 600 of their more than 15,000 stores.  The cheap off-brand food is furthering the health crisis of vulnerable Americans who should be eating anything but salt, sugar and fat-saturated foods. Poor people buy far more processed food than their more affluent counterparts. They’re living dollar to dollar.  For instance, in my rural community, organic merchandise wasn’t offered in Wal-Mart because customers on limited budgets can’t afford, or are just plain not interested in it. They tried, then abandoned, selling organics for the most part.  We’ll see how selling produce goes for DG.

Dollar stores, like their gigantic cousin Wal-Mart, stymie and destroy the local Mom and Pop businesses. Where people were once content with a local general store, where produce and meat likely came from nearby farmers which generated income back into the community,  dollar stores rely on corporate distribution warehouses & supply chains. Profits enrich the already wealthy conglomerates.

Market saturation is evident, too. It’s part of their business plan and they’re proud of it.  They aim to populate the abandoned and more remote areas.  This further chokes any interest for small scale family operated groceries to stay in business or open.  In my community, Dollar General opened another store not five miles away. It wasn’t uncommon in rural Virginia to find a Dollar General at one end of town and a Family Dollar at the other.

The Institute For Self-Reliance reports:  “While dollar stores sometimes fill a need in cash-strapped communities, growing evidence suggests these stores are not merely a byproduct of economic distress. They’re a cause of it. In small towns and urban neighborhoods alike, dollar stores are triggering the closure of grocery stores, eliminating jobs, and further eroding the prospects of the vulnerable communities they target. These chains both rely on and fuel the growing economic precarity and widening inequality that plague America.” 

They have no choice.  They are stranded in a food desert.

 


Portland Maine Bans Pesticides

 

Image result for roundup pictures

Portland, Maine has banned the use of pesticides, herbicides and weed killers like Round Up, made by Monsanto.  It joins other communities who have either banned the use of glyphosate and other lawn chemicals or severely restricted it.

With mounting evidence of its cancer-causing effects – something that we in the environmental movement have suspected for a long time – many municipalities are taking notice. California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Maryland, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, New Jersey, New York and Oregon have already instituted restrictions or outlawed use altogether.

The high-profile cancer lawsuit against Monsanto – now owned by Bayer – has attracted much attention, and for good reason.  11,200 lawsuits have been filed against Monsanto but the most recent unanimous ruling in the Edwin Hardeman case will go into its second phase.   Judge Vince Chhabria presided over the case in which jurors found Monsanto’s Round-Up to be the contributing factor in Mr. Hardeman’s non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Prior to the trial, the Agricultural Health Study (AHS) conducted various studies to find the risk of exposure.  Environmental toxicologists determined that exposure to glyphosate contributes to an increased chance of developing NHL (non-Hodgkins-Lymphoma)

The trial of Dewayne Johnson, a former school groundskeeper suffering from terminal cancer, received a unanimous ruling back in August, declaring that Round-Up was a contributing factor in his Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma.

Needless to say, the recent court decisions, along with the recent bans on pesticides and herbicides – have brought this fight to the forefront.  Hopefully, more people will realize that the use of these chemicals is not safe – something that millions of us have realized for many years.

PLEASE!  Put down that container of Round-Up.

For more, Read Here:

Pesticides Affect Babies & Children

Pesticide Use Linked to Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and ALS

If You Use Pesticides, READ THIS!

 

 

 

 


Words For Earth Day: “If It Doesn’t Grow There, Don’t Leave It There.”

Dad and a neighbor, Cathy Callahan, cooking on one of our camping trips.

“If it doesn’t grow there, don’t leave it there.”

Those words were spoken by my Dad, G.V. Hill, decades before Earth Day.  This is what I was taught as a young child:  respect the Earth.

My Dad loved the woods & everything in it.  As small children, he would take us on camping trips for an afternoon, to our favorite woods, one long block from our house.  Rounding up some of the other neighborhood kids, we’d lug cast iron skillets, cooking utensils, food, condiments and tools to make a fire pit and traipse off to the Creek Woods. If we’d forgotten anything he’d send his “Indian runners” back to the house. (This was the 50’s – everybody was into playing cowboys & Indians.)

We were schooled in creating a fire pit as we collected stones to rest the pots on.  Above all, he reminded us of fire safety (we all believed in Smokey The Bear back then) and how to make sure the fire was out before we left.

Utmost in his instructions were to leave nothing behind.

Don’t litter, ever.

“If it doesn’t grow there, don’t leave it there.”

When I was very young I found Dad’s hatchet.  I was hacking away at a beech tree in our backyard and he caught me.  I wasn’t spanked for it, only told, “That tree is alive.  It can feel what you do to it and you’re hurting it.”  He calmly returned to the garage, found some tar and patched up the gouges.  For years after that, the tree bore those scars, tar and all.  It hurt me to know that I’d hurt a tree.  It still does to this day.

One summer day when I was 10, I walked that long block from my house to my sanctuary, the Creek Woods.

It was gone.

All the trees lay horizontally for as far as I could see.

My only thought was of the animals who were killed by falling trees and others who had lost their homes because of the monstrous bulldozers. What would become of them?

This was the most horrific event of my young life. It struck me to my very core.  I was devastated.  I still can vividly see it in my mind’s eye and remember the exact spot where I was standing, looking at all the trees on the ground, exhaust from the machinery and dust rising as they worked.

Unbeknownst to my sister and me, our beloved woods which was miles long and very narrow, had long been slated to become a 6-lane expressway.  My parents undoubtedly knew, of course, but wouldn’t tell us because it was our favorite place to play.

My Dad has been gone now for 28 years.  He didn’t live long enough to visit me when I lived in what I consider one of the most beautiful places on Earth, the Adirondack Park in upstate New York.

Dad, still camping, June 1987

He would’ve loved my woods.

I tell people: “Littering is against my religion,” and it truly is.  This was taught to me, lovingly, by my Dad: Have respect for the Earth and all its inhabitants, decades before Earth Day.

 

 

 


The EPA Will No Longer Protect Us

With the recent appointments of the Trump administration to the EPA, the word “protection” in the title, Environmental Protection Agency, no longer applies.

This administration’s vow to roll back government oversight, which was championed by Trump during the campaign, has taken a potentially deadly turn in the installation of Scott Pruitt as EPA head.  Pruitt has been an advocate for the oil, gas and coal industry, has denied the impacts of climate change, and after his appointment, signaled that he will not renew the Obama administration’s Clean Water Act.  He has also gone against the agency’s findings in mothballing a ban on the use of chlorpyrifos, an insecticide widely used on vegetables and fruits, which has been shown to poison groundwater and directly impact human health, especially that of farmworkers.  This is just the tip of the iceberg in the dismantling of the EPA.

Shortly after his inauguration, Trump welcomed coal miners to the White House in an effort to make good on his promise to revive the dying coal industry. This went hand in hand with the rolling back of the Clean Water Act which will allow mines to resume dumping toxic chemicals into waterways.

To further add insult to injury, Nancy B. Beck, joined the EPA in May.  She is a former member of the American Chemistry Council, the chemical industry’s main trade association.  She is an advocate of lessening oversight on potentially harmful chemicals.

Just announced is the EPA’s decision not to let 2 of its scientists speak at a conference, 3 years in the making, of the state of the Narragansett Bay Watershed Program and the relation to climate change.  This follows the scrubbing of the EPA website by Trump’s political appointees which addresses human causes in climate change.

This is just the latest in the Trump administration’s assault on the banishment of scientific evidence regarding climate change, environmental impacts of chemicals, pesticides and potentially harmful substances which endanger humans and the ecosystem.

It is horrifically clear to those of us concerned with our planet’s health and that of its people,  this is not a priority of this administration.

Government oversight has protected us from a myriad of potential harm from insidious corporate actions executed in the name of cost-cutting and greed.  Citizens who applauded a rollback of regulations in favor of less government may learn that they are the ones being hurt most.

Therefore, we need that protection in the “P” of the EPA, as well as other agencies under the axe of the Trump administration.

 

 


Monsanto’s Roundup-Ready XTend: Dicamba & Roundup. The Poison Treadmill Continues

Use of Roundup has increased because of resistance to super weeds.

To battle the super weed crisis that American farmers have experienced with Roundup’s failure, the FDA approved  GMO (genetically modified) dicamba-resistant soybean & cotton crops.  This follows on the heels of the EPA green light for the “new &  improved” Roundup, Monsanto’s Xtend, a marriage between Roundup and Dicamba.

Dicamba’s been used since the 60’s. There’s one problem.  It’s highly volatile and prone to drift – even up to 72 hours after application –  to fields where it hasn’t been sprayed.

Soybean plant with Xtend damage. Photo: Andrea Morales for Washington Post

Farmers were told not to spray it directly on crops; only on the soil before planting, for post-emergent weed control. Dicamba has a tendency to drift when airborne,  so instructions were to maintain a sprayer height of 24 inches, adjust nozzles for a larger spray (heavier drops) and avoid use when weather conditions made drift more likely. Because of temperature inversions, night-time spraying was not advised. However, some farmers didn’t heed this advice & sprayed it directly on the GMO crops. In violation of federal pesticide laws, some used an older version of dicamba which is more prone to drift.

 A lawsuit was filed on July 19, 2017, against Monsanto, BASF and DuPont by 7 farmers in Arkansas citing crop damage. Approximately of 22% soybean crops were impacted by dicamba drift.  Over 3 million acres have been involved in 16 states, affecting not only farms but residential areas, as well as organic farms.

Missouri and Arkansas have banned the use of Xtend. Damage has been found in Mississippi, Illinois, Tennesee, and other areas of the South.

Monsanto, in its usual nefarious rush toward approval because of greed, didn’t test Xtend for commercial applications to avoid delay in the process.  BSAF limited their testing of their version, Engenia, further allowing scientists to “selectively choose” data for regulators.  “Monsanto, in particular, did very little volatility field work,” said Jason Norsworthy, an agronomy professor at the University of Arkansas.

More disconcerting is that research indicates this new pairing of herbicides may not work for very long. Scientists have found that in just 3 seasons Xtend is no longer effective against superweeds like pigweed.

So guess what?  More applications of Roundup and Dicamba will be needed. Or Monsanto, BASF, DuPont, Bayer or Syngenta will have to come up with another chemical concoction.

The poison treadmill continues.