Regulars and Shorts

Green Bits: February 2014

By Pax Rasmussen

New ideas from near and far for a healthier, more sustainable future.
by Pax Rasmussen


Let them eat eggs

Seems like every day I hear something new about what I should and shouldn’t eat, and what’s ‘healthy’ today will be deadly tomorrow (remember when everyone thought margarine was a healthy alternative to butter?). Nutrition blogger Kris Gunnars recently had an interesting article appear on “The 11 Most Destructive Nutrition Lies Ever Told. The piece takes you through the biggest misconceptions (and outright lies) about food fads.” Topping the list? That eggs are unhealthy. They’re not.

Also on the list: Saturated fat is bad for you; grains are good; too much protein is bad for bones and kidneys; low fat = better food; many small meals are better than fewer big ones; calories should come from complex carbs; all polyunsaturated fats are good for you; low carb diets are dangerous; sugar is bad because of the empty calories; high-fat foods make you fat.

Funny thing is, we used to believe some of these things. But we pretty much agree that, aside from the sensationalist phrasing, Gunnars is right on.

Anti-antibacterial soap

In December, the FDA called into question the safety and efficacy of antibacterial soaps. Given that numerous studies have shown that washing your hands with plain old soap gets rid of the vast majority of germs, I’ve always been a bit suspect of the triclosan-touting corps. According to the FDA, not only is there no evidence that these soaps are any better at preventing illness, but that triclosan and triclocarban may “contribute to bacterial resistance to antibiotics, and may have unanticipated hormonal effects.” In other words, they’re not doing us any good, might be growing superbugs, and could also be poisonous. In the release of their “Consumer Update” statement, the FDA cites several studies indicating some pretty awful potential effects of triclosan exposure on a daily basis. There’s even some talk of banning the soaps for over-the-counter sale. Just goes to show the megacorps will sell us anything, regardless of the risks.

New farm bill passes

Last month, Congress finally passed a Farm Bill—and it’s totally a mixed bag. On the one hand, it cuts far less from food stamps over the next decade ($9 billion instead of $40 billion), but on the other hand, the president of the American Soybean Association thinks it’s a good bill If Big Ag likes it, there’s gotta be plenty in it that scares the hell out of me.

Latinos love the Earth

And Republicans wonder why they can never snag the Latino vote: A new poll conducted by Latino Decisions, a leader in Latino opinion research, finds that 90% of Latino-Americans want the government to take action to address climate change. The poll also finds extremely high percentages of Latinos want restrictions on carbon outputs. Lower income Latinos support climate change action about 10% more than upper income Latinos.

This article was originally published on January 30, 2014.