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Conscious Consumer

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.”
Margaret Mead, Cultural Anthropologist, 1901-1978


Conscious consumerism is about shifting our spending habits to effect change in the marketplace. If we care about our health, our family's wellbeing and the environment, we need to change our patterns of consumption. Making conscious choices means buying wisely, consuming and wasting less, as well as thinking through the consequences of our purchases.

Ractopamine

Ractopamine is banned from food production in at least 160 countries around the world, including countries across Europe, Russia, mainland China and Republic of China (Taiwan), due to its suspected health effects. Yet, the majority of North Americans are unaware that the drug is used in meat production.

Since 1998, more than 1,700 people have reportedly been "poisoned" from eating pigs fed the drug. If imported meat is found to contain traces of the drug, it is turned away, while fines and imprisonment result for its use in banned countries. Fear that the ractopamine ban might be lifted brought thousands of demonstrators onto the streets in Taiwan last year, demanding that the ban remain in place.

Avoiding Factory Foods

In polls taken in the U.S. and Canada, over 80% of participants want food containing GMO ingredients labeled. Consumers have a right to know what they are eating, but it’s increasingly evident that we’re not getting any help in that regard from our regulators. So it’s up to us to know what to look for so we can make informed purchasing decisions. Avoiding GE ingredients isn’t easy and once you make the transition from purchasing food without transgenic ingredients, you’ll be surprised how much of it is on grocery shelves and in your kitchen. Estimates indicate that more than 75 percent of the food in supermarkets is genetically engineered or contains transgenic ingredients and that doesn’t include meat products.

Sugarjacked

It's really hard to figure out how much sugar you're eating when downing a bowl of breakfast cereal. For starters, serving sizes are usually 30 percent more than what's listed on the box. Another problem is that naturally occurring sugars and the more dangerous added sugars are lumped into one "sugar" category on the nutrition label. And let's not forget that sugar-laced cereals are legally allowed to make healthy-sounding front-of-label claim about whole-grain, fiber, and/or vitamin or mineral content without addressing the toxic levels of sugar in the products.

New Dirty Dozen List Released

While regulators and scientists continue to debate pesticide safety, a 2012 report by the American Academy of Pediatrics reminds us that children are particularly susceptible to the impacts of pesticide exposure, including an increased risk of pediatric cancers and behavioral problems, along with trouble learning. Pesticide exposure has also been linked to all sorts of conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, and cancer, among others. So this time of year, when eating raw comes back into vogue for the summer months, the annual list issued by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) that draws attention to the pesticide load in fruits and vegetables is a must read.

High CO2 Makes Crops Less Nutritious

According to a new landmark study from Harvard, dangerously low levels of nutrients in foods are expected in just a few decades if carbon dioxide (CO2) levels rise as predicted. The study is the first to prove that increasing CO2 levels rob certain crop staples of zinc and iron.

Coca-Cola to Remove Controversial Ingredient

If you ever doubted the power of one consider this. The world's largest beverage-maker, Coca-Cola, plans to remove a controversial ingredient from some of its US and Canada drink brands by the end of this year, following an online petition.

Disappearing Act

While the fact that the sardine population off the West Coast is down 72% since 2006 may not mean anything to you, this drop represents the worst crash since the mid-20th century and it has far-reaching implications for thousands of species including humans.

Thanks but No Thanks

Researchers found bluefin tuna caught off the coast of San Diego, California are still carrying contamination from the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan. This is the first time a large migratory fish species has been known to carry radiation over such a large distance – 6,000 miles from Fukushima to the West Coast of the United States.

Honeybees dead in Elmwood, Ontario

Shortly after 50,000 bees and other pollinators were found dead in an Oregon parking lot, 37 millions honeybees were found dead in Elmwood, Ontario. Dave Schuit, who runs a honey operation in Elmwood lost 600 hives and he's pointing to the class of insecticides known as neonicotinoids, which are manufactured by Bayer CropScience Inc as the culprit.

Pollinator Die-off In Oregon

Tens of thousands of dead bumblebees, honeybees and ladybugs blanketed a shopping plaza's parking lot in Wilsonville, Oregon.

Its estimated 25,000 dead bumblebees and 150 colonies were lost. Rich Hatfield, a conservation biologist with the non-profit Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation said "To our knowledge this is one of the largest documented bumblebee deaths in the Western U.S. It was heartbreaking to watch."