JUNK SCI: The Birds, The Bees And Thoreau

BY ELIZABETH FIEND JUNK SCIENCE EDITOR I’ve been reading Wild Fruits, an unfinished, recently published manuscript by American naturalist Henry David Thoreau. The book is a combination of diary and essay, chronicling the ways Thoreau spent his days and what he learned during the final years of his brief life. With each page I get more jealous, wishing I too could spend my day stalking a bee to find its hive and to learn what type of flower the bee drinks nectar from and how that affects the flavor of the honey. Of all the things I love to do […]

JUNK SCI: Airborne Toxic Event

FAREWELL TO HARMS: U.S. Military personnel toss everything from unexploded ordinance to amputated limbs onto the burnpit at Balad Air Base in northern Iraq, creating a near-constant toxic plume that can be seen and smelt for miles. BY ELIZABETH FIEND LIVING EDITOR Balad, the largest military base in Iraq is home to about 25,000 U.S. military personnel as well as several thousand civilian contractors. In December 2006, Air Force Lt. Col. Darrin Curtis, a bioenvironmental flight commander for the base, reported that there is an acute health hazard with possible chronic implications associated with the disposal of waste, via a […]

JUNK SCIENCE: Frankenfood For Dummies

BY ELIZABETH FIEND LIVING EDITOR Genetic engineering is a biological science that involves modifying plants, animals or any living cell on a genetic level using gene splicing and gene modification. Complex technology allows scientists to isolate DNA from a plant or animal, and also from tinier organisms like bacteria. The DNA is then cut and spliced and either removed from the original source or implanted into another organism. This allows alterations and direct manipulation of hereditary traits of either the original organism, or whichever new host organism into which the DNA has been implanted. OLD SCHOOL Hybridization, the old way […]

JUNK SCI: Nutraceuticals, It’s What’s For Dinner

BY ELIZABETH FIEND LIVING EDITOR Orange juice laced with anchovies, fish genes in ice cream, cheese that kills intestinal parasites, laboratory extracted elements of green tea in your ginger ale, bacteria from yogurt hidden in salsa. Welcome to the supermarket of the 21st century. Not the 21st century to come, I mean today, this is your food store now. Fortified foods aka functional foods are the newest adventure in eating. The fancy name for fortified foods is nutraceuticals. Say that out loud, it’s kind of nauseating. A combo of nutrition and pharmaceutical, this name is trying to convince us that […]

JUNK SCI: If Cows Could Break Home Run Records

BY ELIZABETH FIEND LIVING EDITOR In a stunning consumer victory the biotech behemoth Monsanto announced on August 8th that they want to dump their business of producing rBGH and hope to find a buyer for the product. rBGH is a lab produced, genetically modified artificial growth hormone that is being administered to about 15-17 percent of America’s milk producing dairy cows. r = recombinant which means it’s artificially produced in a lab; BGH, Bovine-Growth-Hormone is the common description for the hormone bovine somatotropin (BST) sold to dairy farmers under the commercial name of Posilac. The label on a bottle of […]

JUNK SCIENCE: Confucius Say

BY ELIZABETH FIEND LIVING EDITOR “You peng zi yuan fang lai, bu yi yue hu?” “Is it not delightful to have friends coming from distant quarters?” To the thunderous beat of 2,008 Xia Dynasty drums, 2,008 voices chanted this classic greeting from Confucius in welcoming the 100,000 spectators to the opening of the Summer Olympics in Beijing. The games are now well underway, and it’s impossible to ignore thinking about China, especially after that dazzling opening ceremony. Are the Chinese scary task masters, or did that display show the wonders of a large group of people working together in harmony? […]

JUNK SCI: Big Box Organic

[CLICK TO ENLARGE] BY ELIZABETH FIEND LIVING EDITOR There’s a crisis in the organics world, and it’s called big business. Too much of a good thing has gone haywire. Organic food is so much in demand these days that there simply isn’t enough to go around. As a result, manufactures of organic products have had to outsource. What was once an industry of small family farms has mushroomed into a new kind of agribusiness, with direct financial ties to the likes of Wal-Mart, Kraft, Kellogg and General Mills. Yikes. Big business is finding loopholes in the legal definition of organic […]

JUNK SCI: The Groove Is In The Heart

BY ELIZABETH FIEND LIVING EDITOR You go to the doctor. First thing, a nurse takes your blood pressure, then makes a face and leaves the room. Most of the time they never tell you the numbers. Infuriating! You should always ask what your numbers are. It’s a pet peeve of mine that you even have to do this — the nurse or doctor should automatically tell you, but mostly they don’t. I’ve found that a lot of people don’t really understand what their blood pressure readings mean or how having high blood pressure might impact your health. So, here’s a […]

JUNK SCIENCE: The Dark Side Of The Soy

BY ELIZABETH FIEND LIVING EDITOR Tempeh (pronounced TEM pay) is a ‘cake’ of halved soybeans bonded together with mold. Mold you say? Yes, mold — sweet, delicious mold. Tempeh is totally different than tofu. I mean, like totally different — in taste, texture, manufacturing process, even having different nutritional attributes. Some people call tempeh the ‘dark meat’ to tofu’s light. Tempeh could be the original veggie burger with its firm, nougat-like texture, nutty, mushroom, yeasty, bean flavor. It really is nothing at all like tofu – except they’re both made of soybeans and I love them both. Most soy foods […]

JUNK SCIENCE: Heavy Metal Fishing Lot

BY ELIZABETH FIEND LIVING EDITOR Subway’s Tuna sandwich is advertised as dolphin-safe but they fail to mention it comes with a side order of heavy metal — mercury, to be exact. Not just hoagies, sushi too. Shocking news outta Manhattan recently. How much mercury did you say was in that sushi? Yikes, just eating two or three pieces a week of bluefin tuna sushi could be a health hazard for an adult. There are dangerous levels of mercury in marlin, shark, and swordfish, too. Tuna is the fish most often consumed by Americans, so this is the vehicle for most […]

JUNK SCI: How Does Your Garden Grow?

BY ELIZABETH FIEND LIVING EDITOR Although there’s still a chill in the air and a bit of winter left, if you want to do a garden this year, start now. That’s right. The key to gardening is to be on top of everything. Gardening is based around the weather and the weather waits for no man — or woman. You probably have a growing mound of garden catalogs by now. A few arrive in my mailbox every day. Overwhelming! But If you don’t have catalogs, try buying a mail-order plant ONE time, and you’ll be flooded with garden catalogs for […]

JUNK SCIENCE: Mr. Peanut Goes To Washington

BY ELIZABETH FIEND LIVING EDITOR Not just one, but TWO different strains of fungi and a submarine are named after him. He was a man of great spirituality and faith, but subscribed to no specific church. He was recruited by Booker T. (though the MG’s weren’t around yet) and started out growing green onions. Aids to both Gandhi and Stalin asked for his advice. There are rumors that in an unimaginable act of racially-motivated violence he may have been castrated, and other rumors that his disinterest in female companionship simply implied that he was gay. Either way, he was doing […]

JUNK SCI: Sunshine On My Shoulder Makes Me Happy

BY ELIZABETH FIEND LIVING EDITOR People invariably get depressed in the winter. They complain about the weather. They huddle in the dark, alone and SAD with Seasonal Affective Disorder, or just plain bad moods. They sleep too much, eat too much. Productivity levels go down, anxiety sets in. In Northern Europe, Canada and other cold climates, people sit on park benches, eat and drink at outdoor cafes, ice skate and cross- country ski, soaking in the sun — even if its rays are dimmer, present for shorter periods and there’s a chill in the air. Americans? We hide indoors and […]