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Molds are in fact everywhere. They are a part of nature that we simply cannot get away from. However, molds are most active in places where they have cold, dampness and a source of food. This makes cold storage facilities for fruit and vegetables ideal places for molds to thrive.age-1238304_1920

Fruit and vegetables may sit in cold storage facilities for weeks, sometimes months. The air inside is stale, high in carbon dioxide which is also good for molds. Mold forms mostly on the walls and the ceiling of cold stores where they form spores. Spores are released in waves into the air and float down to settle upon the skin of Fruits and vegetables.

As the spores develop they produce tiny microscopic like structures that penetrate under the skin of the host and begin to soak up nutrients for digestion. If left long enough, these molds cells will connect until they take on the appearance that we are all familiar with, a green-grey furry coating.

Molds can seriously deplete the nutrient value of the host, soaking up vitamins and all kinds of phytonutrients which we believe we are getting when we buy fresh vegetable or fruit produce. What is more, because the produce is picked unripe, mold actually has an advantage over the produce because the plant has not fully developed its protection systems against mold and other microorganisms. The mold, actually reduces the acidity of the unripe produce.

Although most molds do not directly cause us disease, if we are healthy, it does indirectly help other microorganisms to gain an advantage over us by reducing the level of vital compounds in the food that we need to keep the body fit and disease resistant.

Now some companies are combating this phenomena by producing nutritional food supplements that have been made out of fully ripe and fresh vegetables. Such supplements undergo special procedure to separate a high percentage of phytonutrients from other parts of the plant structure such as sugars, carbohydrates and cellulose pulp. One such Company is Juice Plus. Their product is made from a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, thirty in fact. This gives the body a large compliment of nutrients that substitute what is lost in normal nutrition due to poor storage conditions. In fact, even if we buy farm fresh produce we would be hard pressed to eat such a large variety of fruit and vegetables every day so in this sense we are supplying the body with as much as we can for it to work with.

 

traditional-chinese-898567_1920Add to Technorati FavoritesMost people around the world have heard about the medicinal benefits of Chinese herbal remedies. These time tested traditional potions have maintained the one of the worlds largest and indeed greatest cultures for thousands of years. Today, few would dispute the benefits of herbal medicines in the hands of experienced and reputable practitioners.

In the advent of the computer age Chinese traditional medicine has gained a great deal of exposure through the Internet. Now there are a great many companies which sell herbal medicines over the Internet. Herbs, like all other organic substances are susceptible to all sorts of microbial infestations which can greatly compromise the quality of the plant and hence the product which you buy. Herbs infested with moulds, viruses or any of the many types of bacteria can loose most if not all of their beneficial medicinal properties and can even become dangerous to consume.

Herbs which are used in traditional Chinese medicine, like any other other cash crop are grown in fields or collected from the wild, they are then harvested, graded,cut to size,dehydrated, checked by quality control (hopefully), packed, stored in warehouses and finally shipped to the store where you buy them or sent directly to you if you buy via direct marketing routes. As you can see, plants used in traditional medicine go through many handling processes before they become the final product which you but. Every time the plant is handled, something of it’s original integrity and quality is lost. This is inevitable in any industry and each stage presents opportunities for cross contamination if the product is handled improperly. As with any product good manufacturing procedures (GMP) are an absolute necessity. Unfortunately, not all people who market traditional Chinese herbs are reputable manufacturers and great care must be taken in choosing which company to buy from.

Usually, the more high tech the facilities of a factory are, the higher product standards will be. Today, a number of Chinese companies are offering medicinal herbs in freeze dried form The advantages of freeze drying are that the raw materials used have to be of a high standard to ensure a stable end product. Secondly, freeze drying is a great way of preserving as many of the original qualities of the plant as possible. Thirdly, because freeze drying is a very quick process, there is no tome for bacterial or mould spores to form and oxidization is prevented. This means that from a food hygiene standpoint you are safeguarded against such micro organisms forming during usage. Fourthly, Freeze dried products deteriorate at a much slower rate than with other methods that are in use, among other things this means that the anti oxidizing properties of the plant(s) are preserved.

Freeze drying also permits the manufacturer to be very inventive during the manufacturing process. He can make blends that are intended to ensure that you the customer get a guaranteed strength of active ingredient and he can also blend different types of herbs to formulate products to make ready to use infusions for specific medical conditions. In addition, ingredients which make a product more palatable can also be added.

Some of these companies claim to have hundreds of blends in their product range which cover a great many medical requirements. If you intend to use traditional Chinese medicine I would strongly recommend that you investigate the possibilities offered by freeze dried technology.

bee-802592_1920Food safety issues in the honey industry cause global concern. Rapid decline in honey bee populations continues to elude experts.
The world watches in despair as the honey bee industry continues to take huge knocks. In recent weeks vast quantities of honey imported from China to the USA were stopped at US ports after checks showed that the honey contained low to moderate quantities of Chloramphenicol, an antibiotic which is not approved for ingestion.

If this were not enough, another major source of honey was deemed unfit for human consumption. This honey came from Brazil where honey bees pollinate genetically modifies soy bean and genetically modified sweet corn.

Honey is a natural product which has a great many healthy qualities. Enzymes in honey have been proved to be beneficial to the cardio vascular system and other enzymes within honey are thought to have very good properties in the healing of wounded tissue, both internally and externally. Genetically modified honey is accused of unbalancing the action of the enzymes within the honey and it is for this reason that many countries are refusing to permit the import of honey that comes from bees which have been raised on GM crops.

Five hundred million bees died in Germany when crops were sprayed with the wrong insecticide. This is a major financial blow for German agriculture and will be the subject of a public enquiry into the events and decision making processes that led up to the use of the said chemical and into new policy that will be directed at ensuring that pollinating bees will not be harmed in the future.

And still, in spite of all of these regretable instances, the population of bees in the world continues to rapidly decline. The name being given to this phenomenon is colony collapse disorder. I had occasion to interview bee keepers today into their opinion on the decline in honey bee numbers around the world and this was their response. ” In our opinion several factors contribute to the decline in the numbers of bees. One reason that we strongly suspect is the mobile phone technology. Antennas are everywhere and they emit high levels of radiation that cause some sort of disturbance in the way bees react. We have carried out some minor experiments and we know that it takes many bees a lot longer to return to the hive than in previous decades.

In addition we suspect that the usage of slow release insecticides is having a detrimental effect on bees. Slow release chemicals were developed several decades ago to lower the lethal dose (LD grading) of chemicals to lessen the effect of harmful chemicals on humans and to increase the longevity of the chemical’s effect upon the harmful insect population. We suspect that some of these slow release capsules are not becoming active within the advertised time framework and are being brought to the hive on the bodies of the bees. Furthermore we suspect that the environment within the hive contribute into making the potency of these chemicals greater than in open air scenarios.

Other industries cannot be ruled out as not putting stress on the physiology of the bee. The plastics industry, among others, has been pumping chemicals into the environment for decades. The concentrations of these chemicals has been slowly increasing over the years. Bees drink water in the environment where ever it is available. Lets say that bees find a water source that comes from a plastic hose pipe which has been manufactured in one of the Far East countries. It is no secret that plastics that are manufactured in the far east are not as chemically stable as those manufactured in the west but because of lower costs, crop irrigation and garden hoses are now supplied mostly from China and India. We think that the Estrogen mimics that are present in the water which has come into contact with these plastic products is also having an effect on bee populations. These chemicals could be appearing in the water that the bees drink and in the nectar that they collect.”

We can see from this report that bee keepers are very tuned into what is happening in the environment We also see that some of their concerns could well have effect on food safety issues, particularly in areas where GM crops are being grown and concerning the issue of estrogen mimics. However the major concern lies in the decline in bee populations worldwide. Could it be that the humble little bee will present us with the answers on what we need to do to avoid destroying ourselves as a species?

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The term organic has become deeply engrained upon the way we think of food.  Now, whenever I go to the supermarket and see organic this and that on the shelves I really have to think if I can afford the luxury. Organic food, by enlarge, is not cheap. Whenever I decide to pass by the organic product stand by and opt for the non organic alternative I get a little guilt trip for not buying the “better” option and I ask myself if am I giving my family second rate food?

Until the beginning of the last century there was simply no such thing as organic or non organic food. There was just produce. Granted, the “organic” people of today would rightly claim that everything back then was organic. Strictly speaking this was true but does that mean that everything you might have bought back then was of a consistantly superior quality?

People who grow organic food claim that they are staying true to nature by using no artificial fertilizers, pesticides of fungicides. Their claim is that modern technology has reduced the quality and taste of food making it detrimental to public health.

Vast corporate empires have sprung up around the organic food industry. Many of these industries have a very sincere mission statement and have a genuine intent to bring better quality food to their customers.

To say that the big corporations have the monopoly on the organic food market is very far from the truth. Wherever you will find a plot of land be it in the countryside, by a river,  canal bank, an allotment or a back garden, you will find people trying their hand at producing organic food.

Many non organic farmers will grow crops with absolutely intent on using any chemicals to insure a successful harvest unless they absolutely have to. After all, chemicals cost money and a lot of farmers are spendthrifts. Instead they will keep a trained an watchful eye on the developments  of the crop and only if they see that there is a danger of  ruininf  their crop will they intervene with the use of chemical or biological solutions to the problem.

Other farmers will maintain a regime in which they will adopt the policy of “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” and will spray crops with whatever they feel is necessary to within legal levels to ensure a successful harvest. When we think about crop spraying we should remember that farmers will not spray in such quantities that would render the process contrary to cost effective calculations. There is a definite limit to how much you can spray in financial terms.

Chemical technologies are developing all the time. Since the old days huge advances have been made in the area of chemicals. Such advances include chemicals which are designed to break down into harmless components after their active stage is finished. Other advances include time release mechanisms which lower the lethal dose (LD) rating of the chemical thus lessening it’s environmental effect. More and more essential oils from natural sources are being used as solutions to problems which were treated with dangerous chemicals not so many years ago.

Biological solutions are being discovered and implemented to solve age old issues all the time. The bad days of chemical agriculture are coming to and end by leaps and bounds.

Organic farming can be described as unprotected farming. If all goes well you will get a superb quality crop and both you and your customers are happy. However, what if one morning you were to wake up only to discover that your whole crop has been infected by some sort of microscopic invader. How do you save your crop? Do you stay true to your mission statement and take no intervention to save the crop through technological means or do you spray your crop and sell it through alternative channels?

This is a huge dilemma that many organic food producers find themselves in. I’m not going to give you the answer. I think that it is enough to leave you with the question. Many small organic food growers are complete amateurs and will readily spread manure of one kind or another around their crop. The effect of this is that many types of bacteria may be drawn up into the vegetable that you might eat. Many such mistakes are made out of enthusiasm and not through ill intent but from your perspective the plant is not fit for human consumption despite all the efforts to grow food organically.

Other small organic food producers may find that it is expensive and not cost effective to water their plants with fresh water. Instead they may set up a device to pump water from a river of a canal. This practice may also be undertaken by larger growers. Most river and canal water in the modern world contains chemicals and raw sewage. It is not fit for use on any type of food crop. In addition, growers may buy or rent land that is not suitable for the production of food for any number of reasons.

In fact, you have little or no knowledge on how your organic food was produced. If you see that the suppliers you get your produce from are ISO 9002 regulated, you can be sure that you are safe. Other suppliers may not be so trustworthy. The organic food market provides a tremendous marketing canopy for a vast number of food growers. I strongly suggest avoiding blind loyalty to anything bearing an organic food product label. Investigate your supplier before you commit yourself.    

Vast corporate empires have sprung up around the organic food industry. Many of these industries have a very sincere mission statement and have a genuine intent to bring better quality food to their customers.

To say that the big corporations have the monopoly on the organic food market is very far from the truth. Wherever you will find a plot of land be it in the countryside, by a river or canal bank, an allotment or a back garden, you will find people trying their hand at producing organic food.

Many non organic farmers will grow crops with no intent on using any chemicals to insure a successful harvest. Instead they will keep a trained an watchful eye on the developments  of the crop and only if they see that there is a danger of a specific element reducing or spoiling their crop will they intervene with the use of chemical or biological solutions to the problem.

Other farmers will maintain a regime in which they will adopt the policy of “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” and will spray crops with whatever they feel is necessary to within legal levels to ensure a successful harvest. When we think about crop spraying we should remember that farmers will not spray in quantities which would render the process contrary to cost effective calculations. There is a definite limit to how much you can spray in financial terms.

Chemical technologies are developing all the time. Since the old days huge advances have been made in the area of chemicals. Such advances include chemicals which are designed to break down into harmless residues after their active state is finished. Other advances include time release technologies which lower the lethal dose (LD) rating of the chemical. More and more essential oils from natural sources are being used as solutions to problems which were treated with dangerous chemicals not so many years ago.

Biological solutions are being discovered and implemented to solve age old issues all the time. The bad days of chemical agriculture are coming to and end by leaps and bounds.

Organic farming can be described as unprotected farming. If all goes well you will get a superb quality crop and both you and your customers are happy. However, what if one morning you were to wake up only to discover that your whole crop has been infected by some sort of microscopic invader? How do you save your crop? Do you stay true to your mission statement and take no intervention to save the crop through technological means or do you spray your crop and sell it through alternative channels?

This is a huge dilemma that many organic food producers find themselves in. I’m not going to give you the answer. I think that it is enough to leave you with the question.

Many small organic food growers are complete amateurs and will readily spread manure of one kind or another around their crop. The effect of this is that many types of bacteria may be drawn up into the vegetable that you might eat. Many such mistakes are made out of enthusiasm and not through ill intent but from your perspective the plant is not fit for human consumption despite all the efforts to grow food organically.

Other small organic food producers may find that it is expensive and not cost effective to water their plants with fresh water. Instead they may set up a device to pump water from a river of a canal. This practice may also be undertaken by larger growers. Most river and canal water in the modern world contains chemicals and raw sewage. It is not fit for use on any type of food crop. In addition, growers may buy or rent land that is not suitable for the production of food for any number of reasons.

In fact, you have little or no knowledge on how your organic food was produced. If you see that the suppliers you get your produce from are ISO 9002 regulated, you can be sure that you are safe. Other suppliers may not be so trustworthy. The organic food market provides a tremendous marketing canopy for a vast number of food growers. I strongly suggest avoiding blind loyalty to anything bearing an organic food product label. Investigate your supplier before you commit yourself.

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