Fish started swallowing plastic in the 1950’s … matching the growth of our plastics industry ever since


A strand of microplastic from museum fish/Loren Hou

Forget diamonds–plastic is forever. It takes decades, or even centuries, for plastic to break down, and nearly every piece of plastic ever made still exists in some form today … To learn how these microplastics have built up over the past century, researchers examined the guts of freshwater fish preserved in museum collections; they found that fish have been swallowing microplastics since the 1950s and that the concentration of microplastics in their guts has increased over time…

Tim Hoellein and his graduate student Loren Hou were interested in examining the buildup of microplastics in freshwater fish from the Chicagoland region. They reached out to Caleb McMahan, an ichthyologist at the Field Museum, who helped identify four common fish species that the museum had chronological records of dating back to 1900: largemouth bass, channel catfish, sand shiners, and round gobies. Specimens from the Illinois Natural History Survey and University of Tennessee also filled in sampling gaps…

The researchers found that the amount of microplastics present in the fishes’ guts rose dramatically over time as more plastic was manufactured and built up in the ecosystem. There were no plastic particles before mid-century, but when plastic manufacturing was industrialized in the 1950s, the concentrations skyrocketed.

“We found that the load of microplastics in the guts of these fishes have basically gone up with the levels of plastic production,” says McMahan. “It’s the same pattern of what they’re finding in marine sediments, it follows the general trend that plastic is everywhere.”

Another stream of pollution contributing to the general poisoning of portions of the whole ecosystem we live within. Why we now have a field of medical practice called environmental medicine. Researchers get to examine air, water, soil and food … and how our industries can make these dangerous.

Self Portrait – Sunday morning

1. Yes, I really do have a neck. Just wearing my hoodie [and Mr.Robot cap underneath], ready to head out for our usual Sunday morning grocery shopping.

2. Returning home, I must note all the nutters out there panic shopping because the world is coming to an end or something equally Trumpian. Cripes! Checking out at Trader Joe’s – well prepared with every available checkout register staffed and the shelves pretty well filled – was a piece of cake. Unlike our first stop on the way into town which had only 2 registers open and half the shelves apparently still cleaned out from Saturday. TJ’s still took a while with middle-class twits and preppers loading up on boxes and boxes of cold cereal and “self-limiting” at 4 dozen eggs per cart. :-]

Trump and GOP turning pork inspection over to pork producers. What could possibly go wrong?

❝ The Trump administration plans to shift much of the power and responsibility for food safety inspections in hog plants to the pork industry as early as May, cutting the number of federal inspectors by about 40 percent and replacing them with plant employees.

Under the proposed new inspection system, the responsibility for identifying diseased and contaminated pork would be shared with plant employees, whose training would be at the discretion of plant owners. There would be no limits on slaughter-line speeds.

❝ The new pork inspection system would accelerate the federal government’s move toward delegating inspections to the livestock industry. During the Obama administration, poultry plant owners were given more power over safety inspections, although that administration canceled plans to increase line speeds. The Trump administration in September allowed some poultry plants to increase line speeds.

Give these creeps an inch they’ll take a mile. Put a corporate pimp like Trump into office, he’ll give away the whole road delivering inspected, regulated, food to the nation.

“We are sleepwalking towards the edge of a cliff”


This was forest before it was a cattle feedlotClick to enlarge

❝ Humanity has wiped out 60% of mammals, birds, fish and reptiles since 1970, leading the world’s foremost experts to warn that the annihilation of wildlife is now an emergency that threatens civilisation.

The new estimate of the massacre of wildlife is made in a major report produced by WWF and involving 59 scientists from across the globe. It finds that the vast and growing consumption of food and resources by the global population is destroying the web of life, billions of years in the making, upon which human society ultimately depends for clean air, water and everything else.

❝ “We are sleepwalking towards the edge of a cliff” said Mike Barrett, executive director of science and conservation at WWF. “If there was a 60% decline in the human population, that would be equivalent to emptying North America, South America, Africa, Europe, China and Oceania. That is the scale of what we have done.”

❝ “This is far more than just being about losing the wonders of nature, desperately sad though that is,” he said. “This is actually now jeopardising the future of people. Nature is not a ‘nice to have’ – it is our life-support system.”

This may surprise our misleaders; but, all Earth’s species are the product of an evolution millions of years in process. Interdependence is a normal part of such processes. Survival really does concern more than greed and war. It requires perception, understanding, education and management. Management – most often – of the humans at the top of the food chain.

Soon you’ll know how much added sugar is in your groceries


Old label vs new label

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently ordered up new nutrition labels for cereal boxes, candy bars, and every other packaged food item in the supermarket. Soon, they will list not just how much sugar is inside, but whether that sugar was naturally occurring, as in raisins, or added later, as on the flakes that come with them.

Though this additional information won’t be required until next year, health advocates predicted that such legally mandated disclosure would deliver less-sugary foods in its wake. They were right.

Four Twizzler strawberry twists have the same sugar content as an apple, but clearly the fruit is a better choice — in no small part because it comes with fiber and Vitamin C. The FDA decision recognized that the source of sugar matters, and that listing “Sugars” alone doesn’t reflect that. The agency decision attempts to outsmart food manufacturers that commonly call added sugar ingredients by other names, such as high fructose corn syrup, agave, and fruit juice. Current-ingredients lists and nutrition-facts panels, the FDA was saying, can be surprisingly deceptive.

Experts in both health and the food industry predicted that the new labels would lead to reformulated products, with those marketed as “healthy” likely to be the first to get makeovers. Now that manufacturers would have to show in no uncertain terms how much sugar was being added, they would cut it, just as they did with trans fats when their disclosure became required.

Lo and behold, those predictions proved prescient. On Tuesday, Kind, maker of the increasingly popular fruit and nut bars, is to start posting the added sugar content of its more than 60 products on its website. The information, which will appear on the bars themselves early next year, shows that, as with other foods getting ingredient makeovers, some of the bars now have less added sugar than they once had. It also lets Kind be one of the first brands, if not the first, to give the new nutritional information to customers…

Companies seem to recognize the rising consumer interest in ingredients and aren’t fighting the new FDA requirement. The Grocery Manufacturers Association called the update “timely,” noting that “consumer preferences have changed dramatically since the Nutrition Facts panel was first introduced.”…Only the Sugar Association, the trade group representing the companies that make all that added sugar, pushed back, saying, blah, blah, blah, blah.

An informed consumer has the opportunity to make better choices. We certainly try to do so in our family. I hope that you do, too. The new nutrition panels are supposed to be easier to read – which will be a big help to folks like me who never remembers to bring along his reading glasses.

I look pretty silly when I take a quick photo with my iPhone of the nutrition info on a box of cereal so I can enlarge it onscreen with my fingertips to readable size. 🙂

43% of foods aimed at children contain artificial dyes

In an effort to appeal to picky young palates, food processors often make their products more tempting by putting color in the food. A recent study has shown, though, that 43% of foods marketed to children contain artificial food colors…

According to researchers…the food most likely to contain artificial dyes is — no surprise — candy, with 96.3% of the brands sampled containing artificial dyes. Next on the list were fruit-flavored snacks (94.7%); drink mixes and powders (89.7%); and frozen breakfasts (85.7%).

At the other end of the scale were produce (0%); cheese, yogurt and milk products (12%); ice cream and cones (16%); and packaged pasta and soups (19%)…

Researchers surveyed grocery stores and found 810 products that were marketed to children. Other foods that aren’t specifically marketed to children, such as soda pop, were not included in the survey.

Kraft Foods was the leader in using AFCs, with 105 of that company’s line using the dyes, amounting to 65.7% of their products. Kellogg was next at 69 products, followed by General Mills with 67.

The most popular AFC used by food processors was Red 40, followed by Blue 1 and Yellow 5.

Just in case you wished to coordinate your kids’ finger-painting with the crap palette used on foods aimed at their young lives.