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"One glance at a book and you hear the voice of another person, perhaps someone dead for 1,000 years. To read is to voyage through time." Carl Sagan
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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Progress report T-32 years and counting
It's a Matter of Survival

It's a Matter of Survival
By Anita Gordon, David Suzuki

This book is very scary. It was inspired by a radio program of the same name on CBC radio almost 20 years ago. Based on computer models a glimpse of a possible world in 50 years is painted. Enter 2040 an era named despair. It is interesting to see where we have got to in 20 years. 2040 is still about 32 years in the future. It seems that the message that has been sent by this book and many others has entered the public consciousness. However much of the focus has been on greenhouse gas emmision. It is interesting that this book includes the global warming as a problem in 1990 however it is not the most important one and for sure it is not the only one. I will try and summarize the important points covered so far in the book.

1. Global warming - rising sea levels will cause global refugees even in Canada (Nasa's James Hansen first predicted this based on his models 20 years ago)

2. Rates of temperature change are 10 times that of nature. By 2040 predictions point to 100 times the rate of nature. Changes that normally take 10,000 years are happenning in decades or less.

3. Global effects - over fishing, pollution, agriculture, overproduction of beef. Examples include high levels of pollutants found in Innuit thousands of miles away from pollution source. A shortage of fish in the oceans based on incorrect models.

4. All of these things will lead to social disintegration.

5. Over production of beef leads to heavy usage of grains. It is estimated in 1990 that if there were a 10% reduction of beef consumption there would be a 12 million ton savings of grain that could be used to satisfy the hunger problem of the world.

4:36 pm edt 

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

An Apple a Day - A final Word
Apple a Day

Apple a Day
By Joe Schwarcz

I guess the most important take home message from this book is everything in moderation! It seems that any food or additive can be supported or or attacked depending on what study is examined. One must remember that when substances are isolated and used on test experiments they react differently than when they are ingested with a complex food sources. An example is an apple. There was the case of a pesticide that was turning up on apples. However when looking at the data it appeared that pesticides were being naturally produced by apples in even higher amounts. Again this makes me think of everything in moderation. In this case apples were still beneficial in small quantities but pesticide or no pesticide if you eat a bushel of apples in a day it will most definitely make you very ill.

The other point to remember is red meat. Apparently when heated a toxin gets released that isn't there when chicken or fish is heated. The latter is advantageous also since it has lower levels of fat and the fish has lower fat and the good cholesterol. He says it is ok to occasionally have the red meat and problem foods however if you are concerned about the type of oil being used in the foods as a rule this generally means you should be cautious with this food and don't eat it very often. -sak
2:15 pm edt 

Monday, October 6, 2008

Myths Misconceptions & Truth about Food
Apple a Day

Apple a Day
By Joe Schwarcz

The additives issues is got to be the most contentious issue alive. Some of the amazing things that are covered in this book includes 1. Botulism a bacteria that is 6 million times more toxic than cobra venom is stopped cold by sodium nitrite. 2. Viruses can be used to kill bacterias that are harmful to humans by adding them to food. 3. Irradiating food has benefits that out weigh the risks apparently. 4. There has been an improvement in natural ingredients when it comes to food dyes.

Contaminants in the food supply is also very interesting. Is it the fact that we have technology that can measure very minute amounts of contaminants that has got everyone up in arms? Perhaps we are all being alarmist since even in nature for example vegetable plants produce their own pesticides when not protected by man made versions. Antibiotics left over in food and even farm animals exposed to other animals being treated with antibiotics can lead to dangerous antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria. This has prompted a much stronger control on antibiotics.

This last part of the book is instilling me with some trust in the system. These are very big issues and the regulations are very strict in allowing chemical controls and additives into the food supply. Since the measurement techniques are so much better we are all getting sensationalized into believing there are all these huge amounts of toxins in our food. In reality it seems that we would have to eat truckloads of a certain food before we would get exposed to a dangerous amount of an additive. Also the interactions between the many ingredients in natural foods such as apples seems to cancel out some of the nasty ingredients effects. This in a way shows the importance of getting minerals and vitamins from natural foods and not from vitamin pills for example. Perhaps we do have to trust the system since they are fighting some very real enemies when it comes to food contaminants -sak.
4:47 pm edt 

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