Contaminated “organic” food makes you just as sick as contaminated”conventional” food

…CRF Frozen Foods of Pasco, Washington is expanding its voluntary recall of frozen organic and traditional fruits and vegetables…because these products have the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. The organism can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain, and diarrhea, Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.

This expanded recall of frozen vegetables includes all of the frozen organic and traditional fruit and vegetable products manufactured or processed in CRF Frozen Foods’ Pasco facility since May 1, 2014…These include approximately 358 consumer products sold under 42 separate brands, the details of which are listed below. Products include organic and non-organic broccoli, butternut squash, carrots, cauliflower, corn, edamame, green beans, Italian beans, kale, leeks, lima beans, onions, peas, pepper strips, potatoes, potato medley, root medley, spinach, sweet potatoes, various vegetable medleys, blends, and stir fry packages, blueberries, cherries, cranberries, peaches, raspberries, and strawberries. For a complete list of affected products, click through to the article. It goes on forever.

We apologize for any concern or inconvenience, blah, blah, blah…Consumers with questions may call the company’s consumer hotline at 844-483-3866, Monday through Friday, 8:00 am to 8:00 pm Eastern Standard Time.

Lots of frozen fruits and veggies under lots of brands – ranging from products sold at WalMart to Trader Joe’s and Wild Oats. I suggest you click that link above and check your freezer.

Fewer than 15% of US adults eat enough fruits and vegetables

A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that most adults in the US consume fewer fruits and vegetables than recommended by the federal government…According to the report, less than 15% of US citizens met their recommended fruit intake, and 8.9% met vegetable recommendations in 2013.

Adults who engage in less than 30 minutes of moderate physical activity each day should consume between 1.5 and two cups of fruit and two to three cups of vegetables daily, according to federal recommendations.

Fruit and vegetable intake was lowest in the south. In Tennessee, just 7.5% of citizens met the fruit intake recommendation, and in Mississippi, 5.5% of adults ate the recommended portion of vegetables. The highest percentages were in California, where 17.7% of adults consumed the recommended portion of fruit.

The study’s lead author, Latetia V Moore of the…CDC, said the low numbers were tied to socioeconomic factors, as well as convenience…“It has to do with convenience, affordability, palatability,” Moore said. “It’s making sure fruits and vegetables are conveniently priced and convenient to access.”

How about intellectual laziness?

Moore and the report’s co-authors studied data from the…survey of 373,580 people across all 50 states and Washington DC. The survey asked people about the frequency of their fruit and vegetable intake, and took personal characteristics such as ethnicity, age and income into account.

Researchers compared survey results with recommendations from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which measured intake by number of cups rather than frequency…

Fruit and vegetable intake can be tied to heart disease and stroke. The study was focused on American adults, but Moore said she is starting to see a shift toward incorporating healthier foods into children’s diets.

I don’t care what the motivation may be. Changing your diet, upgrading to thoughtful, up-to-date nutritional standards ain’t expensive or difficult. Costs increase if you try to move to a completely organic diet plus availability is more likely to be a problem in some communities. But, do some reading online, folks. There’s a great deal of commercially-produced fruit and veggies that haven’t any notable risk associated with “conventional” foodstuffs.

My experience is that many thoughtful market chains that carry both also take a great deal of care with the quality and safety of that so-called conventional food.

Flower power – Sweet Alyssum – fights orchard pests

Lessando sweeping
Click to enlarge

Washington State University researchers have found they can control one of fruit growers’ more severe pests, aphids, with a remarkably benign tool: flowers. The discovery is a boon for organic as well as conventional tree fruit growers.

…They found that plantings of sweet alyssum attracted a host of spiders and predator bugs that in turn preyed on woolly apple aphids, a pest that growers often control with chemical sprays.

“The results were striking,” said Lessando Gontijo, who led the research project while a doctoral student in the WSU Department of Entomology. “After one week, aphid densities were significantly lower on trees adjacent to flowers than on control plots, and these differences were maintained for several weeks…”

Researchers compared plots of apple trees with sweet alyssum to plots without flowers. While the sweet alyssum attracted hoverflies, as desired, Gontijo and colleagues found few hoverfly larvae, showing that the hoverflies had only a marginal effect on the aphid population.

The mystery of the disappearing aphids seemed solved when the researchers found a diverse community of spiders and predatory insects in the plots with sweet alyssum. But was it really the flowers that attracted aphid predators? The scientists sprayed protein markers on the sweet alyssum and later captured insects and spiders at a distance from the flower plots. Many of the insects and spiders tested positive for the proteins, proving that they had visited the flowers…

The aphids were previously kept at bay when orchardists sprayed pesticides to control codling moths. Since the phase-out of organophosphate insecticides, though, the woolly apple aphid has been making a comeback in central Washington and elsewhere.

The researchers state that the use of sweet alyssum for biological control can be easily integrated with standard orchard-management practices and should be especially appealing to organic growers, who have fewer insecticide options.

Your basic win-win. A phrase I hate with a passion; but, perfectly appropriate.

If you care to wander through the technical article, you can get it over here.

Scalia admits to Constitutional limitations of the right to bear arms


“Should we bring back beheading?
Daylife/Getty Images used by permission

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia said Sunday the Constitution allows for limitations to a person’s right to bear arms.

In an interview…Scalia said future cases will have to determine whether the Constitution permits citizens to “keep and bear” semiautomatic weapons or magazines carrying 100 rounds, like those used in the theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado, last week.

“Some [limits] undoubtedly are [permissible], because there were some that were acknowledged at the time” the Constitution was written, he said.

He pointed to a law at the time against what was called afrighting, “which, if you carried around a really horrible weapon just to scare people, like a head ax or something, that was, I believe, a misdemeanor,” Scalia said.

“So yes, there are some limitations that can be imposed. What they are will depend on what the society understood was reasonable limitation,” he added.

Kool Aid Party types are already blowing a gasket. They don’t even comprehend that the law which Bush let expire – with the aid of the usual useless crop of Congressional do-nothings – went through all possible Constitutional challenges from gun nuts when it was passed a couple decades ago.

They do not understand that common law, history and legal precedent affect the Constitution as well as vice versa.

Wireless advance could mean no more cell towers

As cell phones have spread, so have large cell towers — those unsightly stalks of steel topped by transmitters and other electronics that sprouted across the country over the last decade.

Now the wireless industry is planning a future without them, or at least without many more of them. Instead, it’s looking at much smaller antennas, some tiny enough to hold in a hand. These could be placed on lampposts, utility poles and buildings — virtually anywhere with electrical and network connections…

Some big names in the wireless world are set to demonstrate “small cell” technologies at the Mobile World Congress, the world’s largest cell phone trade show, which starts Monday in Barcelona, Spain…

Alcatel-Lucent will be at the show to demonstrate its “lightRadio cube,” a cellular antenna about the size and shape of a Rubik’s cube, vastly smaller than the ironing-board-sized antennas that now decorate cell towers. The cube was developed at the famous Bell Labs in New Jersey, birthplace of many other inventions when it was AT&T’s research center.

In Alcatel-Lucent’s vision, these little cubes could soon begin replacing conventional cell towers. Single cubes or clusters of them could be placed indoors or out and be easily hidden from view. All they need is electrical power and an optical fiber connecting them to the phone company’s network.

The cube, Sweldens said, can make the notion of a conventional cell tower “go away.” Alcatel-Lucent will start trials of the cube with carriers in September. The company hopes to make it commercially available next year.

Of course, you’ll still have to get the concept past local NIMBYs and nutballs who think radio waves are melting their pitiful little brains.

Photo-Voltaic power generation reaches grid parity for the first time

First Solar appears to have reached an important and, for many solar companies, elusive target: grid parity, or the point where photovoltaic electricity is as cheap as conventional electric power.

Pacific Crest analyst Mark Bachman ran some calculations on First Solar’s 12.6 megawatt solar system for Sempra Generation, a subsidiary of California utility Sempra Energy. Instead of focusing on the cost per watt, which Bachman said investors have put too much emphasis on, he looked at the cost per kilowatt-hour.

Bachman priced the Sempra plant at 7.5 cents per kilowatt hour, which is below the U.S. grid parity price of 9 cents per kilowatt-hour. First Solar’s plant didn’t rely on subsidies, he notes.

The industry leaders will be those companies that can deliver electricity at or below grid parity pricing without the aid of subsidies while also delivering superior return to shareholders. Currently, only First Solar can claim these achievements, in our view.

Other companies are also pushing for the grid-parity goal. Greentech Media reported that Cypress Semiconductor CEO T.J. Rodgers said: “that power from crystalline silicon solar panels will be cheaper than coal power by 2012 when transmissions lines, utility bureaucracy and other factors are added in. ‘We are zeroing in on parity,’ Rodgers said. ‘We’re going to match PG&E (Pacific Gas and Electric) by 2012. Within a couple of years, the price of solar will be just as cheap.’ “

Bravo. The best news I’ve heard since Election Day.