‘You treat your body as a temple, I treat mine as a tent’ Looking on the bright side may be good for your health

Faith-based food safety hasn’t done much.

Faith-based attitudes may do about the same.

I try to be optimistic, but as Kurt Vonnegut wrote, maybe I just have bad wiring.

It’s been one hell of a challenge to take on the falls and the life changes, and would be easier if I didn’t fall and currently have 8 broken ribs and a broken collarbone, but no worse than anyone else.

Jane Brody of the New York Times writes, my husband and I were psychological opposites. I’ve always seen the glass as half-full; to him it was half-empty. That difference, research findings suggest, is likely why I pursue good health habits with a vengeance while he was far less inclined to follow the health-promoting lifestyle I advocated.

I’m no cockeyed optimist, but I’ve long believed that how I eat and exercise, as well as how I view the world, can benefit my mental and physical well-being.

An increasing number of recent long-term studies has linked greater optimism to a lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease and other chronic ailments and to fostering “exceptional longevity,” a category one team of researchers used for people who live to 85 and beyond.

Admittedly, the relationship between optimism and better health and a longer life is still only a correlation that doesn’t prove cause and effect. But there is also now biological evidence to suggest that optimism can have a direct impact on health, which should encourage both the medical profession and individuals to do more to foster optimism as a potential health benefit.

According to Dr. Alan Rozanski, one of the field’s primary researchers, “It’s never too early and it’s never too late to foster optimism. From teenagers to people in their 90s, all have better outcomes if they’re optimistic.”

I project pessimism, but am eternally internally optimistic.

I’m trying to share that instead of sharing the asshole bit.

Losing my religion: Salmonella victim says be more forgiving

An Iowa County woman says people need to work to be more forgiving after a recent salmonella outbreak sickened roughly 25 people, including her.

Sharon+FrySharon Fry says she came down with salmonella after eating potato salad from the Big G Food Store in Marengo earlier this month. The sickness put Fry in the hospital for several days, which was especially difficult on her because she is also battling terminal cancer in her stomach.

“I didn’t want to get sick, who wants to get sick? But show a little Christian charity, they’re good people doing the best they can,” Fry said of the family owned grocery store that sold the potato salad. “For everybody to get up in arms when this is the only time they’ve had a problem, I just think it’s mean.”

Fry said the sickness left her dehydrated for several days. Symptoms included throwing-up, diarrhea, stomach cramping and a headache, Fry said.

“[Big G] is very much a family owned business, they give back to the community all the time,” Fry said.

Faith-based food safety: States ease food safety rules for homemade goods

The most astute point comes at the end of an AP wire story this morning about how various states are letting anyone sell anything food-wise.

Ken Ruegsegger of New Glarus, Wis., bottles about 20 kinds of pickled fruits and vegetables such as peppers and carrots. He already invested in a commercial kitchen that meets licensing requirements and is charging $4 to $7 for his products to try to make back the money.

Unlicensed competitors can now make the same product in uninspected kitchens and sell it for half the price, he said.

"That could cost me thousands of dollars per year," he said. "And I’m inspected four times a year. These people could be making it in their kitchens with cats walking around. It’s not fair."

Why should people who play by the rules suddenly be penalized by letting anyone who makes some claim to local, natural or organic sell whatever they want for political expediency.

The story says that at Wisconsin farmers markets, vendors no longer need licenses to sell pickles, jams and other canned foods, while small farmers in Maine can sell slaughtered chickens without worrying about inspections.

Federal and state laws require that most food sold to the public be made in licensed facilities open to government inspectors. But as more people become interested in buying local food, a few states have created exemptions for amateur chefs who sell homemade goods at farmers markets and on small farms.

Robert Harrington, director of the Casper-Natrona County Health Department in Casper, Wyo., said,

"The two major failures in food production are temperature control and personal hygiene. If someone says they shouldn’t have to follow regulations because they’re making food in their home, I’d say, ‘Why is your home so safe that it doesn’t need that level of oversight and control?"

I’ll still go to the biggest supermarket I can find. And when I do shop at the market, vendors can expect a lot of microbiologically-based questions.

Raw milk rhetoric and those who threaten lawsuits

Three groups or individuals have knowingly tried to sue me for evidence-based food safety statements I have made over the years: a grower of raw sprouts, a grower of organic produce, and The Food Network in Canada.

It’s a telling list, to which the Weston A. Price Foundation can now be added – sorta.

On March 26, 2010, Mike Nichols of the Wilwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel wrote about raw milk, stating,

“… I had to ask the question that everybody is asking of late out in our nation’s capital. I asked it of Kathy Kramer, a nutritionist and office manager at the Weston A. Price Foundation in Washington, D.C., a place that vociferously supports drinking raw milk.

What if you get sick?

‘That is rare,’ she told me, adding that people have been drinking raw milk in some states for a long time.

But what if you do?

‘We just don’t see that as an issue,’ she said.”

Given the number of outbreaks and people barfing because of consuming raw dairy products, especially when compared on a per capita basis – number of sick people per food serving consumed, and the vast majority of people consume pasteurized products – I thought the statement was a little over-the-top and put it in barfblog.com.

“"We just don’t see that as an issue.” …

Lots of foods make people sick. Some of these illnesses are easily preventable. For an organization such as Weston Price that is often quoted or cited as some sort of authority on raw milk (or dentistry) to publicly state that people getting sick isn’t an issue demonstrates their priorities – and it doesn’t have much to do with you.

This was re-posted by Seattle-lawyer Bill Marler on his Marlerblog.com

(I know all this detail is boring and repetitive, but it may be going somewhere.)

Kimberly Hartke, who is apparently the publicist for the Weston A. Price Foundation, e-mailed Marler to say,

“Calling someone a ‘so-called’ nutritionist is as close to libel as I think
you can get.

“Kathy Kramer, when she had this conversation, was not even aware of the
foodborne illness issue going on in Wisconsin. She handles administrative
duties in the office, and doesn’t handle press inquiries, and from what I
understand she was not even aware she was talking to a reporter.

“Perhaps she should find a good attorney!”

Marler told her to talk with barfblog.com, “and if you sue, I would be honored to defend them. By the way, I think WP needs better press people.”

Hartke the publicist then e-mailed me to say the person who originally quoted in the newspaper was,

“… an adminstrative person in our office and does not field press inquiries, I do.

“So, needless to say, her remark is being blown way out of proportion, because it seems inappropriate under the circumstances.

“Please add this as a comment to your blog or tell your readers the truth behind her statement.

“WAPF consumers are extremely health and food safety conscious, which is why we source from local farms. We believe pasteurized, adulterated products of any kind are less safe, less nutritious.”

Marler’s right. This so-called publicist doesn’t seem particularly good at her job. People who proclaim to speak truth are demagogues who should not be trusted because they promote faith-based food safety. I eagerly await the data demonstrating that food from local farms is microbiologically safer that other farms.

And when it comes to data, a raw milk provider at the center of a legal battle in British Columbia told Toronto’s Globe and Mail newspaper Saturday she isn’t worried about anyone becoming sick from her milk, adding,

“’We do the very best that we possibly can.’ … Those who pay her for the milk and to look after the cows, which are tested annually for various pathogens, can visit the farm any time.”

She said her view is that raw milk is a pure form of God-given food, and business – via pasteurization – changes what’s pure. There have been times she’s wanted to stop the dairy, but her strong faith kept her going.

Similarly in Indiana, Kyra Miller said of the milk in stores,

"I would not call it a God-given food."

Instead, as she picked up milk from Forest Grove. "I’m getting it natural, straight from the cow. I know there’s no extra additives. I know his cows are grass-fed."

Grass-fed cows as a source of supposedly safe raw milk is another source of faith-based food safety. Trust is the essence of almost all food purchases. But data is required to verify that trust. And with these raw milk pushers, it’s just not there. Trust, but verify.

Faith-based food safety? Market microbial food safety directly at retail so consumers can choose

Most food purchases are based on faith. That’s why an extensive series of rules, regulations and punishments emerged beginning in 12th century Mediterranean areas.

Faith-based food safety systems are prevalent from the farmer’s market to the supermarket, especially in the produce section. And almost anything can, and is, claimed on food labels – except microbial food safety.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has announced they are going to examine the growing number of nutrition claims found on the front of food packages after complaints the labels promote health fairytales.

In the U.K., the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has encouraged diners to boycott restaurants that cannot answer questions about the origin of their food.

British chefs Raymond Blanc, Peter Gordon, Martin Lam, Paul Merrett and Antony Worrall-Thompson issued a joint statement saying:

“The British public need to stop being so reticent in restaurants and start asking where their food comes from. It’s your right to know the origin of the food you are served and what types of farms are being used – and the mark of a good restaurant is one that is proud to tell you.”

In response to this news Freedom Food has launched a new long-term campaign called ‘Simply Ask’ which aims to get people asking about food provenance when eating out. This is in a bid to encourage restaurants, pubs and cafes to start sourcing products from higher welfare farms such as Freedom Food, free-range or organic.

Americans are questioning nutrition claims, Brits are questioning allegedly animal-friendly sources of food, maybe there’s room to ask for microbiologically safe food – the stuff that sickens up to 30 per cent of all people everywhere every year (so says the World health Organization).

Lots of companies and retailers are taking baby steps in the direction of empowering consumers to hold producers accountable, but lots aren’t.

Maple Leaf Foods, whose listeria-laden cold-cuts killed 22 Canadians last year, is continuing on its bad Journey to Food Safety Leadership by announcing today that, “Industry and government come together to make food safer for Canadians.”

Invoking the two groups shoppers distrust the most – industry and government – and proclaiming they are working together to better things may not be the best communication strategy to build trust and confidence.

Dr. Randall Huffman, Chief Food Safety Officer for Maple Leaf Foods, stated,

"The Canadian food industry is united that food safety not be used as a competitive advantage. Every member at every step in the production process is a steward of food safety. This spirit of cooperation heralds a new beginning for our industry, and together we will make Canada the gold standard for food safety. This symposium is the first in a series to ensure we share experiences and knowledge, and gain insights into emerging risks, technology advances and cutting edge science that can deliver safer food for Canadians."

That’s nice. Computer companies share technology all the time but that doesn’t stop them from marketing their individual technological advantages.

Stop pandering. Companies that are serious about food safety will go beyond the trust-me approach of faith-based food safety systems and provide public access to food safety test results, provide warnings to populations at risk, and market food safety at retail, to enhance the food safety culture back at the producer or processor level, and to build consumer confidence. May even make money.