September 2010 - Our Daily Green

Friday, September 24, 2010

Smackdown Green

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I have more to say to the manufacturers of CORN SUGAR, the modified food formerly known as High Fructose Corn Syrup/HFCS.  I need the help of all my readers and friends on this one, help me make this post go viral and maybe we can get some answers.

Last year, I wrote an article for The Examiner and I received this email from none other than Audrae Erickson, the president of the Corn Refiners Association. I felt like I had truly arrived to receive such high profile attention for my article.

September 2, 2009

Kimberly Urig
Cleveland Green Parenting Examiner

Dear Ms. Urig:

We read the September 2 article “Elevated mercury levels found in one in three women,” with interest.  We would like to provide you with science-based information concerning high fructose corn syrup and alleged mercury findings and be a reference for you for future articles.

No mercury or mercury-based technology is used in the production of high fructose corn syrup in North America.

Safety is the highest priority for our industry, which is why we immediately commissioned external testing as well as independent expert review of claims concerning mercury and our corn sweetener.

Woodhall Stopford, MD, MSPH, of Duke University Medical Center, one of the nation’s leading experts in mercury contamination, reviewed the results of total mercury testing of samples of high fructose corn syrup conducted by Eurofins Central Analytical Laboratory (Metairie, LA) in February and March 2009. Dr. Stopford concluded:

  • No quantifiable mercury was detected in any of the samples analyzed.
  • High fructose corn syrup does not appear to be a measurable contributor to mercury in foods.
In his summary of findings, Dr. Stopford stated, “Mercury is ubiquitous in the environment being generated both by man-made activities (such as coal-fired power plants) and by natural phenomenon (such as volcanoes). Mercury is found naturally in all living things, including all categories of foods and beverages. Levels in foods and beverages have dropped significantly in the last 40 years. The introduction of high fructose corn syrup as a sweetener has not been associated with any noticeable difference in mercury levels in foods and beverages containing high fructose corn syrup. Levels of mercury found in such foods and beverages are what would be expected from mercury found normally in such foods and beverages and are at background levels.”

Dr. Stopford’s analysis and conclusions are attached.

In 1983, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration formally listed high fructose corn syrup as safe for use in food and reaffirmed that decision in 1996.
To read the latest research and learn more about high fructose corn syrup, please visit  Please feel free to contact me if you would like additional information about the products made from corn.

Thank you for your consideration,

Audrae Erickson
Corn Refiners Association
Washington, DC

I responded to her letter with this:  

Dear Audrae,
Thank you for contacting me and adding your input to my article. I personally remain a skeptic. I don't understand why if HFCS is so great, economical, and safe... WHY can't I, a typical average consumer, purchase it at a store?
Why can't the public use it as an ingredient in their own cooking? Do you use it when you cook at home? Is it in your pantry? When I am able to purchase it as a stand alone ingredient and see/feel/touch/taste it on its own... I will trust it.
I respect that you've shared your information with me. I just don't feel that there is anything healthy about a diet that contains large amounts of HFCS.
Thank you for your vigilance. I do respect that you also have a job to do.
Kim Urig

I have yet to receive a reply. I think I've been patient enough. My request to the manufacturers of CORN SUGAR is for a home use sample as well as a few recipes to test in my personal kitchen. I will report back the results of using this product that is "just the same as sugar" and if I am satisfied, I vow to never write another negative word about CORN SUGAR. (see that just rolls off the tongue, while tasting just as sweet).

Can you help me make this request heard? Can we go viral? Would you link this to your social media accounts like Twitter and Facebook? Would you repost this link on your own blog? Anything you can do to help get the attention of the corn refiners will help.

Thanks in advance.


Corny Green

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet."
Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2)

High fructose corn syrup, by any other name, such as corn sugar, still may taste just as sweet and remains just as chemically modified and processed.

The timing of the name change is shortly after the results of a study by the University of California indicating pancreatic cancer cells grow and proliferate more rapidly with fructose. Fructose is metabolized differently than glucose. Fructose metabolizes through the liver, bypassing the brain. HFCS, or corn sugar, as it is now named, consumption increased 1000% from the time it was introduced in 1970 to 1990, according to a 2004 report in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Consumers need to understand the only thing that has changed about high fructose corn syrup is the name. The risks surrounding consumption of the product remain the same. I'm quite adamant about my objection to this chemically processed food stuff, as evidenced over the years with my assorted articles about CORN SUGAR.

If you're interested in additional reading, I've included the links.  

(HFCS often has a mercury residue from the processing)

It's going to take me a while to get used to the name change, but to be honest, I think the whole thing is pretty corny and I hope it doesn't fool too many consumers.



mean joe green cartoons
Cartoon courtesy of MeanJoeGreen Cartoons

Supply Chain Green

Let's face it, we're a nation of consumers. Despite our claims of simplified living, minimalism, and making do with less, consumerism still drives our economy, even in tough times. In layman's terms a supply chain is the way the product gets from the producer to the consumer. It is something many consumers never even consider. However, the supply chain provides an opportunity ripe for reducing environmental impact. According to Stephen Jannise of Software Advice, a free online resource that offers reviews of WMS software, key components from the supply chain include, sourcing, packaging and delivery. He examines several examples in his blog.
One major company that addresses sourcing is IBM. IBM's policy for suppliers requires them to provide full disclosure of their environmental impact as well as require the suppliers to check the environmental impact of THEIR suppliers, a type of domino effect that has potential to influence the entire industry. Disclosure is merely release of information, though, not a guarentee of environmentally friendly practices.  
Whole Foods is a company that is putting policies in place for less and more environmentally friendly packaging. The company is encouraging suppliers to use less plastic and switch to glass whenever possible. On the other hand, they are still using paper receipts printed on thermal paper which cannot be recycled and often contain BPA.
Pepsi has cut their delivery costs by beginning to manufacture their own bottles on site, resulting in a 4 million gallon fuel savings. However, the bottles they manufacture are still petroleum based and wind up in landfills or the ocean.
While these and other companies with such policies have a noble start, is it enough? Or is it just a ploy to greenwash their business practices? Does a company's supply chain policy affect your choices as a consumer? Would you take a minute to take a survey?

supply chain

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Clean energy victory bonds

This post has also been syndicated by the fabulous non-profit organization, please visit them!

From the first US Savings bond issued in 1935, United States savings bonds were created to give small investors a way to earn a return on their money, while enjoying an ironclad governmental guarantee by the United States.
clean energy victory bonds
WWII poster

War Bonds were popular during World Wars I and II, helping the nation achieve victory over the enemies.

Today, our enemy is petroleum, whether considered concrete or abstract. After the recent BP debacle, coupled with the ongoing war in oil rich nations, petroleum seems to fund the national economic decisions. The only way to achieve victory against this insipid enemy is to create apathy. Apathy is only created by lack of dependence.

For eight presidential administrations, a pledge has been made to reduce petroleum dependence. The time is now to act. Public support from a financial place is paramount.

Green America is encouraging Congress to adopt "Victory Bonds" as investments in Clean Energy.
What if Americans could easily invest in all of the above? With Clean Energy Victory Bonds, we can!

Clean Energy Victory Bonds would allow anyone with an investment of as little as $100 to help create energy efficiency and renewable energy projects around the country.

In the past, when America has needed to mobilize public commitment and engage citizens in underwriting the costs of collective challenges, we have often turned to a simple financial solution: bonds. Like Woodrow Wilson’s Liberty Bonds and Franklin Roosevelt’s Victory Bonds, Clean Energy Victory Bonds would provide much needed financial capital for ensuring acceleration towards a clean energy economy.

Clean Energy Victory Bonds will enable millions of Americans to invest small amounts in clean energy technologies by buying bonds from the federal government. The $5 to $10 billion in proceeds from the bonds will be invested in energy efficiency and renewable energy projects around the country that will help to replace fossil fuels. The bonds will pay an annual interest rate back to the buyer, based partially on the energy savings or climate change emissions reductions generated by the investments from Clean Energy Victory Bonds.

Clean Energy Victory Bonds aren't yet available in the US, but Green America is working with White House and Hill staffers to create CEVB legislation.
Would you be willing to invest $100 to reduce our dependency on petroleum? To work towards a cleaner energy future?

If you're interested, contact your elected officials in Washington DC and share your thoughts. Show congress that Americans are ready to invest in clean energy and declare victory over petroleum!
for additional reading:

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Clean Plate Club Green

A frequent encouragement in Our Daily Green's youth was to join the Clean Plate Club, echoed closely by admonitions to eat our peas because there were children starving in Africa. It seems the wisdom of our parents and grandparents wasn't so far fetched.

With one billion malnutritioned people in the world and nearly 40 tons of food wasted in the US annually, (from: Tristram Stuart's site, Waste); the true hunger issues are about poor management of the resources in question, rather than lack of actual food.

Driven by consumer demand for perfect appearing produce and predetermined sizes for packaging, thousands of pounds of food are simply thrown out for aesthetic reasons. Additionally, this demand has dictated more stringent factory farming methods in order to guarantee certain sized cuts of meat to fit properly in the store cases.

Several groups around the world have come up with creative solutions to salvage such wasted food, including the critically acclaimed BBC production, The Great British Waste Menu,  
The Great British Waste Menu followed four of the nation’s top chefs – Angela Hartnett, Richard Corrigan, Matt Tebbutt and Simon Rimmer – as they journeyed deep into the heart of Britain’s food waste problem, They explored how and why the nation throws away and reject huge quantities of perfectly edible food.

Cameras followed the chefs as they sourced shocking amounts of unwanted food from every link in the food chain – from supermarkets to ordinary homes, markets to farms – and then transformed it into mouth-watering dishes. As the grand finale the chefs faced a unique and near-impossible task: to create a fabulous banquet for over 60 VIPs using the food that the rest of us don’t want. Could the chefs create restaurant-standard food using ingredients that have been discarded, rejected or deemed unsuitable for sale? Were they be able to change the way Britons think about waste food? YES!!!
A less media focused approach is the communal dining experience in Brooklyn, NYC, at the underground eatery, Grub. According to the NY Times, dumpster diving outside restaurants and supermarkets has generated a waste free and practical dinner club that meets twice a month in an urban loft in Brooklyn.

wasting food
WWII war poster
While both of the previous stories are extreme approaches, the extreme is what will lead the everyday consumer in a direction of less wasteful consumption. Our Daily Green is not suggesting dumpster diving for meals, but instead suggests directions to move so there is no food to dive for in dumpsters.

Can we accept irregularly sized fruits and vegetables, imperfectly shaped bread, irregularly sized cuts of meat? Can we learn how to use what we purchase before it goes spoils or compost it and return it to the earth if it does?

When I am at a grocery store, I go to the damaged produce first. Often, I find bags of precut fresh vegetables, about to expire. This is when my freezer is my best friend. I bring the veggies home, blanch them quickly until they are brightly colored, drain them and freeze them in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Once frozen solid, I repackage for a quick vegetable side dish another day.

One of the most crucial elements to waste-free food consumption is a cursory ability to cook. Some of Our Daily Green's favorite found recipes are at my fingertips based merely on what is in my pantry. I enter the ingredients that I need to use up before they expire and the Internet produces several suggested recipes. We've dined on milk braised pork loin (when we overbought milk), steamed greens from salad that was getting wilted, Brussels sprouts with bacon, apple and onion (when the apple was getting too mushy to eat), etc. Simply shop your freezer and pantry and refrigerator before letting the food go to waste.

Challenge yourself to not throw out food, heeding the echoes of our forefathers. They were onto something. A new waste free world is beckoning and the first step begins with us.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Groundwater Green

At a recent trip to our local county fair, Our Daily Green had the opportunity to talk with the local Green Team representative about different local recycling initiatives and learned about the upcoming, first ever, DEA Nationwide Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, in municipalities around the nation on September 25, 2010.

It was once common practice to simply flush unused medications or pour them down the sink. In a 2008 study, traces of pharmaceuticals were found in tap water around the nation, showing the most heavy concentrations in densely populated metropolitan areas.

According to an article from Pharmwaste problems of contamination from flushing medications are being studied by the WHO:
The World Health Organization indicates that human risk assessments have shown low concentrations of pharmaceuticals in drinking water have a negligible health risk. But WHO points out that long-term exposures have not been evaluated, especially in populations with other illnesses or with compromised immune systems.

Also, according to the WHO, antibiotics in water supplies are a potential concern because the most frequently used antibiotics are becoming less effective as the infections they are designed to combat become resistant. That resistance increases with heightened exposure to the drugs.
There is a better way to dispose of unused prescription medications and over the counter drugs as outlined by the Office of National Drug Control Policy, including removing the drugs from the bottles, (recycling the bottles), and putting them in sealed containers such as old deli or margarine containers and mix with coffee grounds before disposal. Frankly, it is the opinion of Our Daily Green that it's a lot easier to just participate in a drug take-back program such as the upcoming national one or more frequently sponsored local ones.  
In 2006, the Wisconsin Groundwater Guardians organized a drug take back day, and  "homeowners turned in 418 pounds of uncontrolled pharmaceuticals and three, 3-gallon containers of controlled drugs such as painkillers. Many times during the day, as many as 10 cars were waiting in line to dispose of drugs". Many pharmacies also have collection bins. Such initiatives result in safe disposal of the pharmaceuticals by proper incineration, protecting the groundwater.

Our Daily Green encourages our readers to sort through expired and unused medications and get ready for the National Take Back day, September 25th. To find the local collection site, enter a zip code on the

Make our water safer for today and future generations.

drugs in water
this cartoon courtesy of the fabulous artist and green cartoonist, Mean Joe Green aka Joe Mohr, MANY THANKS!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Upcyled Green

Over the past several months, Our Daily Green has pondered the future of printed-on-paper media in the digital age.

The beginning
of obsession
Will paper media become obsolete, gradually replaced by digital? As Our Daily Green simultaneously confesses and asks for absolution, we do have a magazine fetish. I am a fan of magazines and cannot resist the offers for discounted or free issues. We try to select magazines that can be recycled or reused or are printed on such materials, opting for publications with earth friendly policies. (Current favorites include Yes and Ode).

cricket magazine
Inaugural issue
This magazine fetish began as a child, when I would receive a monthly Cricket magazine. In fact, I regularly submitted letters, stories and drawings to Cricket, dreaming of fame and fortune. Instead, we learned the art of rejection on a regular basis, setting me up for a career as a writer.

I did save all my Crickets, I believe the photo is a stunning example of perhaps the world's most comprehensive Cricket collection, including the inaugural issue from September 1973.

(note to readers: I was honored to become an affiliate for Cricket magazine, hearkening back to my youth and a love I've shared with my children... I am proud to say that I will receive a small commission if you subscribe to any of their publications via this site).
To absolve myself of some of the magazine love guilt, I was thrilled to discover all the repurposed, upcycle uses for old magazines.

upcycled, magazine beads
Magazine Beads
Personally, Our Daily Green has cut magazines into mosaic squares to create amazing craft projects for Sunday School and other assorted outreach projects. Colorful, glossy magazine pages bring out the artist in everyone.

Many Fair Trade companies roll pages into beads or frames and have discovered other incredible ways to turn the colorful inviting pages of a magazine into permanent, artistic pieces, from jewelry to handbags to bowls.

With a little research, magazine addiction can quickly become guilt free when repurposed and upcycled!

Happy greening!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Literary Green

One of the most environmentally friendly forms of publishing are ebooks. No trees are sacrificed for the pleasure of reading. Our Daily Green is sharing a free publication with you today (more green, saved). Several of my writing colleagues are featured in the newly released, critically acclaimed Dog Days of Summer 2010.

Published by Michael J. Solender of the popular literary blog, Not From Here, Are You?,  over 80 authors of award winning flash fiction have come together to bring you a collection of reads as varied as the authors themselves. Each short story is exactly 101 words long and features the words "heat" and "summer". What a way to celebrate the end of summer and usher in the fall! Enjoy today's paper-free read. (and look for my honorable mention on page 43!)