Wednesday, January 22, 2014

"A Place at the Table" - Film on Hunger in America - My Favorite Line From This Trailer? ‘If Another Country Was Doing This To Our Kids, We’d Be At War.’

This movie was released last year but can now be streamed online. It's one of the best summaries of a growing problem we have in this country that is totally solvable.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Kale and Thyroid Concerns


The Dark Side Of Kale (And How To Eat Around It)

The headline in The New York Times made my heart sink: Kale? Juicing? Trouble Ahead.
Confession: I’m one of those Vitamix-loving, green-smoothie worshipping, kale bandwagoners. I brim with holier-than-thou pride when my kids eat raw kale (no dressing, even!) and thick kale-laden shakes while other children snack on sugary GoGURT squeezes and suck on juice boxes.
I am not alone. Presidents and stars are kale-lovers too.
Kale, in case you haven’t noticed, is health-conscious America’s “it” vegetable. Raw, blended, sauteed or in chip or “crunch” form, it appears to be the manna of celebrities: Gwyneth and Jennifer devour it while Kevin Bacon recently declared [it's] “the age of kale.” In an astutely reported feature called Stars Who Love Kale, US Weekly quotes Bette Midler saying: “Kale is burning up the veggisphere.”
Even the Obamas dined on kale salad at their Thanksgiving feast, notes The Washington Post.
But apparently there’s trouble in cruciferous paradise.
Writing for The Times, Jennifer Berman reports on the dark side of kale, and how the health-infused, veggie Eden she’d carefully built over years began to crumble:
Imagine my shock, then, at my last physical, when my doctor told me I had hypothyroidism, common in women over 40. When I got home I looked up the condition on the Internet and found a list of foods to avoid. Kale, which I juiced every morning, tops the list, followed by broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and collard greens — the cruciferous vegetables I consumed in large quantities because they are thought to prevent cancer, which runs in my family. And flax — as in the seeds — high in omega 3’s, that I sprinkled on cereal and blended in strawberry almond milk smoothies. Also forbidden: almonds and strawberries, not to mention soy, peaches, peanuts, corn, radishes, rutabaga and spinach.
My first reaction: Berman must be misguided, mistaken. Can kale possibly be bad?
Well, yes, possibly. Here’s the science-y low-down on the kale-thyroid connection from the Oregon State University Micronutrient Information site:
Very high intakes of cruciferous vegetables…have been found to cause hypothyroidism (insufficient thyroid hormone) in animals (68). There has been one case report of an 88-year-old woman developing severe hypothyroidism and coma following consumption of an estimated 1.0 to 1.5 kg/day of raw bok choy for several months. Two mechanisms have been identified to explain this effect. The hydrolysis of some glucosinolates found in cruciferous vegetables (e.g., progoitrin) may yield a compound known as goitrin, which has been found to interfere with thyroid hormone synthesis. The hydrolysis of another class of glucosinolates, known as indole glucosinolates, results in the release of thiocyanate ions, which can compete with iodine for uptake by the thyroid gland. Increased exposure to thiocyanate ions from cruciferous vegetable consumption or, more commonly, from cigarette smoking, does not appear to increase the risk of hypothyroidism unless accompanied by iodine deficiency. One study in humans found that the consumption of 150 g/day (5 oz/day) of cooked Brussels sprouts for four weeks had no adverse effects on thyroid function.
Teresa Fung, Sc.D., M.S.. an adjunct professor of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health and a professor at Simmons College in Boston, confirms the kale-thyroid link. But, she says, “normal, reasonable amounts of eating should not be a problem. A regular person [with no thyroid issues] who eats several servings of cruciferous vegetables a week should not have problems.”
Fung adds: “It’s the dose that makes a poison. If people have hypothyroidism or they’re taking thyroid medication, then they should check with their doctor. But even in this case, reasonable amounts shouldn’t be a problem. Now, if people have a tall glass of kale juice every single day, then it gets into the unknown territory.”
So, what are still-anxious kale-lovers to do? I asked Somerville health coach and psychology of eating coach Nina Manolson to offer some guidance. (She’s not a doctor, but she knows a lot about food, so keep that in mind and always check with a professional if you make major changes in your diet.)
Nina reiterated that kale is a goitergenic food – meaning that it can contribute to an enlarged thyroid – a goiter. A goiter indicates that the thyroid gland is not functioning optimally. But, she says, there are ways to have our kale and eat it too. Here, lightly edited, are her suggestions:
1. Cook Your Kale
The goitergenics properties of kale become dramatically lessened when kale — or any other cruciferous vegetable — is cooked. (Other veggies in this category include: broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, kohlrabi, mustard, rutabaga, turnips, bok choy, and Chinese cabbage. Arugula, horse radish, radish, wasabi and watercress are also cruciferous vegetables.)
2. Eat Seaweed
Kale on its own does not increase the risk of thyroid problems. It’s a combination of factors; including potential iodine deficiency. (One of the most common causes of goiters is iodine deficiency.) Adding seaweed or another iodine rich food to your diet may, in some cases, help you get adequate iodine.
3. Throw A Brazil Nut Into Your Smoothie
Selenium can support normal iodine levels which in turn may support a healthy thyroid. A Brazil nut or two in your daily smoothie or as a topping to any dish might help keep selenium levels strong.
4. Switch Up Your Greens
Vary your greens. If you’re going to eat kale one day choose a non-cruciferous, non-goitergenic veggie dish the next, like a simple cucumber and tomato salad, or beets. There are many highly nutritious vegetables that aren’t goitergenic, including celery, parsley, zucchini, carrots and more. Our bodies need many nutrients and by eating a variety of vegetables you’ll ensure that you don’t overload on one and skip another.
Nina adds:
If you don’t have a thyroid issue, kale can and should be a delicious and healthy part of your diet because it is, indeed, a nutritional superstar with excellent credentials:
•It supports strong bones because of its high calcium content.
•It’s a potential immune booster, rich in Vitamin C
•It may protect us against cancer because it’s packed with anti-oxidants and as mentioned, it’s a cruciferous vegetable.
•It’s high in iron which can support blood and energy levels.
•And of course, it’s packed with fiber so it’s great for digestion.
All of this leaves me wishing that eating were just, well, simpler. With no arsenic in the rice and no flip-flopping guidance on milk, soy, whatever, from the experts. It reminds me (and several commenters on The Times‘ kale story) of that looming prophet of health, Woody Allen, and this scene from his film, Sleeper:
Dr. Melik: This morning for breakfast he requested something called “wheat germ, organic honey and tiger’s milk.”
Dr. Aragon: [chuckling] Oh, yes. Those are the charmed substances that some years ago were thought to contain life-preserving properties.
Dr. Melik: You mean there was no deep fat? No steak or cream pies or… hot fudge?
Dr. Aragon: Those were thought to be unhealthy… precisely the opposite of what we now know to be true.
Dr. Melik: Incredible.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Stop Citizen's United - Sign Kay Hagan's Petition vs. Citizen's United


Citizens United opened the floodgates for outside special interest groups, run by the likes of Karl Rove and the Koch brothers, to dominate the conversation around our elections. There’s no transparency. There’s no accountability. And it needs to end.
Urge Congress to reverse the effects of Citizens United — sign the petition.
Members of Congress:
It’s time we put an end to limitless corporate cash in our elections.
Elections should be about the people and their interests, not the powerful and their bank accounts.
It’s time for Congress to end the disastrous effects of Citizens United, and restore accountability and transparency to our campaign finance system.
[Your Name Here]

Daily kos, FRI NOV 15, 2013 AT 07:52 AM PST

NC-Sen: Kay Hagan (D) Highlights The Negative Effects Citizens United Has Had On North Carolina

You’ve all heard of Citizens United -- the Supreme Court decision that paved the way for Super PACs and out-of-touch special interests to spend millions of dollars in our elections with no transparency.
North Carolinians have seen the damage of all that secretive spending. According to theCenter for Public Integrity, our state judicial races in 2012 were “rocked” by the Citizens United decision. And we’ve already seen the outside interests hard at work in our race, launching attacks on TV, online, even on billboards to influence North Carolinians.
It’s not a secret to anyone: Our campaign finance system is broken. It’s far past time we took steps to fix it.
I’m joining with a group of my colleagues to call for an end to the effects of Citizens United, and we need you to join us. Can you sign the petition right now?
    *   *   *    *
Kay Hagan, junior and first term U.S. Senator from North Carolina in 2014, is in many ways one of the most progressive Democrats to come out of the Carolinas in a long time. Elected in the wake of President Obama's 2008 victory, her labor union ratings are good, and her candidacy deserves support. A Washington Post article, "Can Sen. Kay Hagan can get away with what other red state Democrats can’t?," noted her braving conservative region conventions: among other issues, she has declared her support for marriage equality.

It will be a tough campaign. Elizabeth Dole has already come out with sleaze attacks attacking her religious beliefs. But Hagan's not backing down, and has ads of her own.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Sick of NPR's Pro-fracking ads on the Radio?

It might surprise you that one of NPR's biggest corporate sponsors is the American Natural Gas Alliance,
a front group for some of the worst polluters in America.

Fracking for natural gas puts America on a path toward a bleak energy future, with polluted land, flammable tap water and earthquakes.

Even worse, NPR's financial dependence on the fracking industry could be fouling its news coverage, just like fracking fouls up our air, water and climate.

Sign Environmental Action's online petition.

Please sign this important petition on globalization, Trans-Pacific Partnership from SumOfUS

Please sign this important petition on globalization from SumOfUS, SumOfUs is a movement of consumers, workers and shareholders speaking with one voice to counterbalance the growing power of large corporations. Join us on our journey as we seek to make the world a better place for ourselves, our children and all who share our planet.

Our democracy could suffer a huge blow this month -- Congress is preparing to sign away its authority on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade deal that reads like a corporate lobbyist’s wildest dream.
The TPP would make it easier for corporations to sue our government, prevent regulation of GMOs, and keep people in impoverished countries from accessing life-saving medicines. And worst of all, the full text of the deal has been kept secret from the public, and even Congress doesn’t have full access -- even though hundreds of corporate lobbyists who have helped write the agreement do!
Now President Obama is trying to ram this deal through by seeking “fast-track” authority, which would prevent Congress from making any changes to the deal and stifle any debate. Members of Congress from both sides of the aisle have spoken out against fast track authority, and if we can get more Democrats to join them, we’ll have a real chance to stop this corporate power grab.
Rep. Sandy Levin is key. He’s the top Democrat on the congressional committee that's responsible for trade policy, but he’s breaking with most of the party to support a fast-track bill. Can you call his office today and tell him to stop fast-track?
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is called a trade deal, but it's really a corporate wish-list aimed at attacking everything from environmental protections to affordable medicines to internet freedoms.
If the deal is signed, future laws designed to protect consumers, our health or our environment could be challenged by corporations that claim that the law reduces their profit -- and there is nothing we or our governments could do to stop them.
Corporate lobbyists and government insiders are keeping the text of the deal secret because they know that if the full details got out into public view, we wouldn't like what we saw. Even Congress can’t see the bill, but the Obama administration wants authority to negotiate without any oversight. But we already know enough through leaks to know it's really bad. We can't let this sail through without public scrutiny, and the only way we can give the public time to review the bill is by stopping fast track now!
Can we count on you to call Rep. Levin and tell him not to let the TPP sail through without real oversight?.
Thanks for all you do,
Kaytee, Paul, Rob, and the team at SumOfUs