Spices grown in the mist-shrouded Western Ghats here have fueled wars, fortunes and even the discovery of continents, and for thousands of years farmers harvested them in the same traditional ways. Until now.
Science has revealed what ancient kings and sultans never knew: instead of improving health, spices sometimes make people very sick, so Indian government officials are quietly pushing some of the most far-reaching changes ever in the way farmers here pick, dry and thresh their rich bounty.
The United States Food and Drug Administration will soon release a comprehensive analysis that pinpoints imported spices, found in just about every kitchen in the Western world, as a surprisingly potent source of salmonella poisoning.
In a study of more than 20,000 food shipments, the food agency found that nearly 7 percent of spice lots were contaminated with salmonella, twice the average of all other imported foods. Some 15 percent of coriander and 12 percent of oregano and basil shipments were contaminated, with high contamination levels also found in sesame seeds, curry powder and cumin. Four percent of black pepper shipments were contaminated…
Mexico and India had the highest share of contaminated spices. About 14 percent of the samples from Mexico contained salmonella, the study found, a result Mexican officials disputed.
India’s exports were the second-most contaminated, at approximately 9 percent, but India ships nearly four times the amount of spices to the United States that Mexico does, so its contamination problems are particularly worrisome, officials said. Nearly one-quarter of the spices, oils and food colorings used in the United States comes from India…
Westerners are particularly vulnerable to contaminated spices because pepper and other spices are added at the table, so bacterial hitchhikers are consumed live and unharmed. Bacteria do not survive high temperatures, so contaminated spices present fewer problems when added during cooking, as is typical in the cuisine of India and most other Asian countries.
…Sophisticated DNA sequencing of salmonella types is finally allowing food officials to pinpoint spices as a cause of repeated outbreaks, including one in 2010 involving black and red pepper that sickened more than 250 people in 44 states. After a 2009 outbreak linked to white pepper, an inspection found that salmonella had colonized much of the Union City, Calif., spice processing facility at the heart of the outbreak…
One more example of how “tradition” often means unhealthy. Dedication to clean conditions during harvest and processing for market can make all the difference in the world to the safety of consumers – with no loss of flavor or function.
RTFA for lots of anecdotal info on the raising of many spices. Interesting stuff. You can never have too much knowledge about what you eat.
Colima has become the latest Mexican state to allow same-sex couples to enter into civil unions after a majority of local authorities passed a change in the state’s constitution.
Legalisation on same-sex unions falls under state legislation, and a number of states have divergent rules.
Mexico City and the southern state of Quintana Roo allow gay marriages, while Coahuila allows same-sex civil unions.
Congress in Yucatan on the other hand banned same-sex marriage in 2009.
Seven out of ten authorities in Colima approved the constitutional change, which had been passed by the state’s congress earlier this month.
Only two Congressmen voted against the change, arguing the state should legalise gay marriages rather than restricting same-sex couples to civil unions…
Gay marriage was legalised in Uruguay earlier this year, and in Argentina in 2010.
In Brazil, the Supreme Court in May voted overwhelmingly in favour of allowing same-sex couples the same legal rights as married heterosexuals, effectively authorising gay marriage.
However, full legalisation of gay marriage in Brazil still depends on the passage of a law in Congress.
And then there’s the United States which still can’t find sufficient political courage in Congress to support constitutional legislation from decades ago – much less move forward towards civil rights for all citizens.
Football fans the world over are all reasonably crazy. Here’s a Brasil supporter in the stands at today’s match with Mexico at Confederations Cup in the Estádio Plácido Aderaldo Castelo, Fortaleza, Brasil – who made a TV set from a cardboard box to wear in his seat in the crowd.
A former Microsoft executive plans to create the first U.S. national marijuana brand, with cannabis he hopes to eventually import legally from Mexico, and said he was kicking off his business by acquiring medical pot dispensaries in three U.S. states.
Jamen Shively, a former Microsoft corporate strategy manager, said he envisions his Seattle-based enterprise becoming the leader in both recreational and medical cannabis – much like Starbucks is the dominant name in coffee, he said…
Shively laid out his plans, along with his vision for a future in which marijuana will be imported from Mexico, at a Thursday news conference in downtown Seattle.
Joining him was former Mexican President Vicente Fox, a longtime Shively acquaintance who has been an advocate of decriminalizing marijuana. Fox said he was there to show his support for Shively’s company but has no financial stake in it…
Shively told Reuters he hoped Fox would serve an advisory role in his enterprise, dubbed Diego Pellicer after Shively’s hemp-producing great grandfather…
Shively said he ultimately plans to create separate medical and recreational-use marijuana brands. Shively said he also plans to launch a study of the effectiveness of concentrated cannabis oil in the treatment of cancer and other illnesses.
Worth a modicum of discussion. I see this only as a symptom of “early days” in the removal of marijuana from the Prohibition ideology of American politicians, priests and pundits.
For me, it’s just a chuckle that a former MSoft exec who made his mark hustling a crap OS to corporate IT plans to make this his new frontier. Har.
And, BTW, all the major tobacco brands already have their portfolio of trademarked brand names sorted – along with growing fields, etc.. You’re only kidding yourself if you think they won’t jump in when the heavy lifting is over.
A man who calls himself “El Dentista” is facing charges after Santa Fe police say the unlicensed tooth doctor was found operating as a “mobile dentist” out of a sedan around town.
The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that 36-year-old Eliver Kestler, also known as Eliver Lopez, was arrested Saturday following a tip from a former customer.
According to police, investigators discovered Kestler with a portable drill machine and other dental equipment in a small, red Chevrolet sedan.
Authorities say Kestler told police that he had a dentistry license in Mexico but no license in the U.S. Kestler, who was wearing blue hospital scrubs when he met with police, was arrested on a number of charges, including practicing dentistry without a license.
It was unclear if he had an attorney.
You have to understand there is nothing surprising about this story, here in the Southwest. Especially in New Mexico.
Mexican President Felipe Calderon has sent a bill to congress to change the official name of the country.
The current name, the United Mexican States, was adopted in 1824 and was intended to emulate its northern neighbour…
Mr Calderon, who leaves office on 1 December, said Mexico no longer needed to copy any foreign power…
“Forgive me for the expression, but Mexico’s name is Mexico.”
The name United Mexican States (Estados Unidos Mexicanos) was brought in after independence from Spain.
It is used mostly on official documents, money and other government material…
The BBC’s Will Grant in Mexico says if the reaction on Twitter is anything to go by few Mexicans see this as a serious issue.
Suggestions flooded in for a new name for Mexico, many of them mocking Mr Calderon, such as “Fraud-land” in reference to widespread corruption…
With a week to go till Calderon is out of a job, this request is symbolic at best. Not that there’s any surprise about a politician making symbolic gestures instead of trying to accomplish some real measure of change.
Six in 10 of Mexican prisons ‘self governed’ by gangs…Prisons are also plagued by overcrowding, a shortage of guards and corrupt employees who sometimes help with breakouts, according to Mexico’s human rights commission.
Representative Andres Aguirre said 60 percent of the country’s 430 prisons or jails are controlled by criminal elements.
He added that the escape of 521 inmates over 14 incidents since 2010 – often with the help of corrupt prison officials – constitutes a grave problem for the country.
Earlier this month, more than 130 inmates escaped from a prison near the U.S. border in Piedras Negras, Coahuila, one of numerous mass breakouts tied to organized crime in the past few years.
Initial reports indicated the Piedras Negras inmates escaped through a 23-foot-long underground tunnel, but it was later revealed that they had merely walked out the facility’s front door with the help of prison guards…
The commission’s findings are a reminder of the challenges that await Enrique Pena Nieto, Mexico’s incoming president, who has pledged to reduce crime in the country after six years of increased gang-related violence under President Felipe Calderon.
Same as it ever was. Anyone who believes decades of political corruption can be wiped away by one term of a reformist president is deluded. But, then, that isn’t just true of Mexico – is it?
Police guarding the prison after the escape – in case anyone tries to return, I guess…
The 129 inmates who escaped from a northern Mexico prison did not flee through a tunnel, as authorities first reported. They walked out the front door.
Federal and local authorities launched a manhunt after the inmates escaped Monday in Piedras Negras, across the border from Eagle Pass, Texas.
Authorities arrested 16 employees, including the prison director, after the escape…
Mexican President Felipe Calderon condemned the escape, calling it “deplorable” in a series of Twitter posts Tuesday.
“In the past six years, more than 1,000 inmates have escaped from state prisons. From the federal prisons, not one,” he wrote.
Authorities originally said the inmates in the latest escape slipped through a 23-foot tunnel, sliced through a chain-link fence and ran through an empty lot.
But they released new information saying the inmates went through the front door.
Police set up blockades on roads leading to the Mexico-U.S. border. U.S. Customs and Border Protection placed its officers and agents in the area on alert, a homeland security official said.
“At this point, CBP has no reports of escapees attempting to cross the border. We will continue coordinating with our Mexican counterparts as we monitor this situation,” the source said.
Golly. I’m so relieved to know that Homeland Security is on the job. Har.
Seventeen mutilated bodies were found along a road in west-central Mexico’s Jalisco state, authorities said Sunday…No one had claimed responsibility for the slayings, the Organizacion Editorial Mexicana reported.
Witnesses said they saw men in two black trucks stop and unload boxes containing the bodies along the highway to Morelia. Police determined they were the bodies of 17 young men who had been shot to death and dismembered…
The newspaper El Universal reported the remains would be sent to the Jalisco Institute of Forensic Sciences for identification.
In other news from Mexico:
Mexicans celebrated their country’s 202 years of independence Sunday with President Felipe Calderon calling on them to join together to transform their nation…”Mexico needs all of us,” Calderon said in a post on his Twitter account.
The day also was an opportunity for Mexico’s military to parade.
“May the strength of feeling and the legacy of our founding fathers always inspire us to be better and give [our] all for Mexico,” the president said in another post on the social media service following an elaborate military, federal police and civilian parade outside the National Palace in Mexico City.
The Organizacion Editorial Mexicana news service said thousands of people attended the parade with no incidents reported.
Anyone see any contradictions here?
Yeah, yeah, I know. Decades of corrupt government allowed gangsters to achieve prominence, safety, sufficient participation in the day-to-day administration of governance that even a very public and deadly war has apparently changed nothing.
Which means the contradictions that brought this corruption to significant control of all life and livelihood in Mexico – still haven’t been addressed or changed.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is considering sending federal veterinarians in Texas across the border into Mexico to inspect cattle, a practice that ended years ago over safety fears.
Government workers have come out against the plan, confounded as to why they would be required to work in a Mexican state under a travel warning by the State Department because of carjackings and robberies…
According to its most recent travel warning, the State Department urges U.S. citizens to “defer non-essential travel” to the Nuevo Leon, except for the major hub of Monterrey, which itself carries other warnings.
The closest major city to the facility is Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, a place known for the drug cartel violence that has been recorded there.
A lawyer for the government veterinarians along the border said the federal workers are unwilling to work there because of fears of being kidnapped or killed.
“Nobody is holding a gun to their head … yet,” said Bill Hughes who represents the National Association of Federal Veterinarians, which opposes the plan. “But USDA officials have told them in no uncertain terms that when they’re assigned there they better go or there are going be serious consequences to their careers, such as losing their jobs…”
Until March 2010, cattle inspections were routinely done in Mexico, but due to the rise in drug cartel violence along the border, U.S. authorities transferred inspections to U.S.-based facilities. During inspections veterinarians are tasked with clearing the cattle for fever ticks, hoof and mouth disease and other illnesses.
“The real question is, why would (the) USDA even be taking a chance? How much risk is acceptable to place its civilian employees into for even the slight convenience of having the animals inspected in Mexico?” Hughes said.
Idiots. Hughes says reassuring things about the bureaucrats considering this decision. All well and good. He represents veterinarians employed by the USDA. No need to jostle the flunkies who can threaten their jobs, their careers.
I doubt there is any portion of the US meatpacking industry that cares much about the safety of veterinary professionals compared to profits. They’ve already proven that by ridding their packing plants of American citizens and replacing them with undocumentados – cutting wages in half. Experience tells me that political pressure with an emphasis on pace and costs is motivating USDA bureaucrats to consider a procedural change this stupid.