Exercising US Constitutional Rights comes with Price Tag

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Fighting for your Rights in a System of Privilege

According to the Bureau of Justice, U.S. Department of Justice, statistics, in 2003, of 75,573 criminal cases, federal, and state, 95% were disposed of by a guilty plea. The statistics further show that an estimated 90%-95% of those cases were resolved through a plea agreement. In addition, for those seeking to defend their case at trial, under federal laws, a pre-trial determination of “Incompetent to Stand Trial” can be made by the court, if you are not cooperative with your attorney. mythology, lithograph, justice; constitutional rights

In 2016, Augusta, Ga. business owner, R.D. was accused of a crime. Due to his financial hardship, he qualified for a court appointed attorney. The appointed public defender further complicated the case once he determined that R.D. was only interested in challenging the criminal allegations against him. When R.D. did not accept the plea agreement presented by the state prosecutor, the public defender responded by ordering a mental Evaluation for competence to stand trial, and a test for criminal responsibility. The evaluation cited the public defender’s primary concern was that R.D. did not want to plead guilty. Upon contacting the public defenders office, they stated based on their policy, they do not replace the attorney initially assigned to a case.

The forensic evaluation was overshadowed by the weight of the state prosecutor’s allegation, and a vague record of 4 or 5 criminal charges from the past 35 or so years, that were essentially dropped, though they were presented to the court evaluator as though they were prior criminal convictions. One of the charges, for example, was for returning a rental vehicle late, to which the charge that was later dropped was for theft. In addition to this information, provided without context,  the prosecutor forwarded the case information, which included the unsubstantiated, and unchallenged allegation. The evaluator reviewed this information prior to conducting the actual forensic evaluation, a standard practice. The resulting report was presented at the court hearing regarding R.D.’s competency to stand trial, to which he did not have an alternative strategy of defense. The judge essentially obliged the prosecutor, and public defender, in signing an order of committal for inpatient treatment at a mental institution, for what is referred to as “competency restoration.”

The extreme measures to which this case has taken a turn are in stark contradiction to US. constitutional law. More specifically, amendments v , vi, vii. xiii  and xiv. Amendments that pertain to the right to due process of law, right to effective counsel, right against involuntary servitude, and equal protection of the laws. The courts ignore these rights in the absence of a competent lawyer. Discuss the questionable practices of the justice system with a private lawyer, and you are likely to be met with acknowledgement. However, you will be hard pressed to find a reputable attorney that will take a criminal case pro, or low bono.

image of document; motion of the court; privilege constitutional rights

Influence of Poverty in the Criminal Justice System

2013-2015 Federal Safety Net.com statistics cited the US. poverty rate among the black population as almost 3 times that of  white, non–Hispanics. Additionally, A  US. Census Bureau ACS study conducted in 2014 revealed 27% of black Americans live below the poverty level. In contrast, the rate for all Americans was 11%. The US. Census Bureau reports black Americans make up approximately 13.3% of the US. population, although statistics reported by the Bureau of Justice suggest 1 in 3 black men will go to prison in their lifetime.

Further, The NAACP reports that from 1980–2008, the number of people incarcerated in America grew from 500,000 to 2.3 million. What is more, black Americans constitute nearly 1 million, close to 50% of the total US prison population. Black Americans are six times more likely to be incarcerated than whites, in a country that has one of the highest recorded prison populations globally.

The connection between poverty, and incarceration is glaring. Competent legal defense is the last line of defense that separates freedom from confinement. The adverse effects of poverty ripple out generationally, as mass incarceration deteriorates families, communities, and undermines America’s potential.

Change Starts With Outrage

When the president put forth his first immigration order in February 2017, the course changed for millions of people. Plans for attaining US citizenship, taking refuge in the US, and traveling to, and from America’s borders, was altered. Lawyers came forward. There was an outpouring of legal support, and defense for immigrants documented, and undocumented. Where is the outrage over mass incarceration, and it’s clear racial preference? As a nation, how is this phenomenon of epidemic proportion simply being treated as just an everyday occurrence. For anyone to say racism is no longer enforced, look again. The statistics are more than staggering.

As a society, to change a system that exploits human energy, we must first value the source of that energy. Long established attitudes of racism go well beyond our own personal, inner search for truth. They lie within the foundations of our society. In government, corporations, medicine, law. Wherever there is a lack of diversity, there is exclusion. There is a prevailing presence of boundaries, personal, as well as throughout the physical landscape. These boundaries contribute to a lack of understanding, and fear that is at the root of the devaluing of certain human lives. The leadership lies within our own selves, to change that landscape.

US Constitutional Amendments Cited:

  • Amendment v: …Nor be deprived of life liberty, or property, without due process of law.
  • Amendment vi: …And to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.
  • Amendment vii.: …The right to trial by jury shall be preserved.
  • Amendment xiii., section 1.: Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted , shall exist within the United States…

 

Bibliography:

https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/table/PST045216/00https://

www.prisonpolicy.org/reports/rates.htmlhttp://

www.naacp.org/criminal-justice-fact-sheet/

 

 

RELIEF FROM STRESS, AND ANXIETY

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stress reduction, meditation, sunset

Meditation; Ten Minutes to Better Health

In the middle of the bustling port authority bus terminal in mid-town, Manhattan, I passed by two people in a turn style sitting area, eyes closed, in the cross-legged half lotus posture. How necessary, and appropriate, I observed, however so appearing out-of-place. As I walked past them, I recognized the level of concentration that busy terminal demanded to receive the benefits of divine relaxation. The required discipline, will, and above all, necessity.

the object of meditation is not to check out, it is to check in. Daily, we encounter so many energy fields, that in proportion, it seems seldom that we stop, and consider the effects, or magnitude of the accumulation. meditation refreshes the mind, as our circulatory system recycles the blood in the body. It is as necessary to our health, and peace of mind, and should be considered a crucial component of preventive medicine.

Health Benefits of Meditation

Meditation is a useful tool in reducing stress, and anxiety; improves focus, concentration, mood, and memory; increases mental acuity, and objectivity; lowers blood pressure; improves bodily functions, and increases the body’s natural healing process. The results of meditation are of such benefit that it is well worth your time to invest a few minutes of your day to build your natural foundation to wellbeing.

the practice of meditation transcends culture, land, and religious affiliation.  techniques, methods, and aspects vary accordingly. On a personal level, Every individual has a specific, and unique chemistry, and DNA. If you are just beginning, don’t worry about perfection. You may use certain common aspects as your guide. Though keep in mind that in time, you will find your own methods, and techniques to focus your attention.

Building your Foundation

In meditation, you are a conduit for energy. To meditate, always begin with the physical senses. Relax your body.  Inhale through the nostrils, and exhale through the mouth. The eye lids are a thin veil of skin above the eyes. When the eyes are closed, light is still visible through this thin veil. Observe this light, and the patterns of light, or motion you may see additionally. These patterns resemble the motion of energy that flows all around and through us.

Listen to the quiet. You may hear an audible frequency. It may shift, get louder, or softer. Focus attention on each breath; the diaphragm gathering air, and expanding as you inhale, and retreating as you exhale. the repetition of the respiratory system is reflected in the sound of the ocean’s tide, entering the sea, and exiting through the shore.

In this way, direct the focus to the body, and the physical senses; and away from the stimuli of daily activities, words, and thoughts. The path of meditation begins with the physical senses of the body, and expands to the consciousness of the greater connection to the universe. Your meditation is the tide that enters the sea, and shuffles to the shore. When you become more objective, you are more able to see the larger picture, beyond the self.

You can enhance your experience in various ways that you will find over time. Try Facing the sun. Go to a place where it is quiet. The meditation posture: the lotus, or half lotus position aligns the  body, and improves the respiratory, and circulatory systems. It is not necessary to close the eyes, though it can more effectively direct, and maintain your focus, and attention. Take at least 10 minutes of every day to develop your meditation. You will achieve peace within yourself, and your skills will improve over time.

Allergies, Cold, Flu and Sinus; Natural Remedies that Work

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Allergic conditions are among the most common medical Conditions affecting children in the US today. According to the Center for disease control, and prevention,  in 2016, 19.1 million adults, about 8.0%  were reportedly diagnosed with hay fever. Of diagnosis of children younger than 18 years, 7.4 million, (10%) had respiratory allergies, 4.0 million, (5.4%), food, and skin allergies, and 6.1 million, (8.4%) with hay fever. In addition, studies suggest an economic connection.  They show a greater predisposition to allergies in children living in families that live at or greater than 200% of the poverty level.

Origins of Allergies, and Illness

Most illness, and disease have, at their foundation, parasites. Bacteria in the stomach traveled there through our first line of defense, the breathing passageways. Once ingested, the bacteria may develop inflammation in the passageways, the nose, throat, and stomach. Inflammation is the body’s defensive response. The stomach manufactures excess mucous in its tireless effort to expel the bacteria out of the system. Physical illness is never simply physical. It takes its toll on the mind, and spirit as well. Everything slows down, muscles ache, the system works overtime in its efforts, resulting in fatigue.

Bacteria, the Good, the Bad, it’s Not All Ugly

Food can either strengthen the body, or wage destruction. Certain foods contribute to bad bacteria growth. It is important to note that there is more than one type of bacteria. Bad bacteria are parasitic, and harmful to the body, the other type of bacteria works as a parasite to the bacteria that is destructive to the body. This second type of bacteria is part of the immune systems army to fight off foreign invasion. Nature reflects the body’s internal system. Every organism has a specific purpose from an ecological perspective. Beneficial parasites include bees, earth worms, and other insects that break down organic matter in the environment.

The natural world of plants, and elements is at the root of all modern medicine. There you will find your refuge in the natural remedies to such monstrous ailments as the common cold. It is first important to discuss common causes of illness. Foods, and substances that promote the growth of bacteria, can cause, and contribute to colds, flu, and allergies.

Allergens in Animal Byproducts

Key findings of a national survey of health by the Centers for disease, and prevention determined that over the course of 14 years, from 1997-2011, food allergies increased drastically among children under 18 years of age.  Agriculture, and politics play a large role in stocking the grocery store shelves, and ultimately, your food choices. The consumer has a lot to consider. Consider this, when you eat the byproduct of an animal, you are also consuming what that animal consumed; the conditions in which the animal was raised; what was in the animal feed, and any antibiotics, and growth hormones administered. allergies

Antibiotics are commonly used in feed lots, to suppress a number of conditions, and diseases associated with the unnatural living conditions of livestock raised on feed lots, and exploited for mass production. These antibiotics can destroy the natural balance of the body’s ecosystem, thereby attacking the immune system itself. Growth hormones are commonly administered to accelerate the growth cycle of animals. Again, used for mass production. They are most destructive to the body’s nervous, and endocrine systems. Additionally, dairy derives from the mucous membranes of the animal. Consumption of dairy products increases the chance for exposure to allergy causing bacteria, which may contribute to, and escalate sinus conditions. All of these are important factors when thinking about what to, or not to eat.

Plant Allergens

Peanuts belong the botanical family of plants, leguminaceae. This family of plants includes legumes, or peas. The peanut, however is a viney root. of which the peanuts ripen underground. Peanuts contain aflatoxins, (any of a class of toxic compounds, produced by certain molds found in food, which can cause liver damage, and cancer). Aflatoxins can contribute to, and prolong allergy, cold, flu, and sinus conditions.

Toxins, and Carcinogens Contribute to Allergies, and Infection

Smoke, and alcohol can deplete the system of oxygen, causing dehydration, and the need for a good dose of vitamin c. Ironically, certain toothpaste contain ingredients that promote mold, or bacteria. Xylitol, for example, is an ingredient commonly used in some toothpaste that do not contain fluoride. It may agitate the sinuses, and cause allergic response. Talc is in a host of personal care products. It is toxic to the system, and only recently reported a carcinogen in the medical world, though it is still in use.

 

Lotions, and oils applied to the skin can trap mold, stimulate bacteria growth, and cause skin allergies. Harsh chemicals are found in many body care products, including soap, shampoo, cologne, and perfume. They can also trigger allergies, and infection. Vigilance is a necessary part of staying well

Instant Relief for Cold, Flu, and Allergies

dscn0321 instant relief, allergies, cold, flu, sinus; photo of garlic segment of clove, halved

Sickness travels into the body, to the gut, then settles in with the mind, and spirit. To unravel it all, start with the mind, and spirit, then to the gut, and back out the passageways. What fights gut bacteria? Onions, and garlic have been utilized for centuries throughout civilizations to fight parasites of the body.

 

Old folklore centered around garlic necklaces worn to ward off blood suckers do have some truth. Indeed, garlic repels mosquitos, and other bugs. Laboratory studies, conducted utilizing a sample of bacteria culture next to raw garlic have shown the instantaneous dispersal of bacteria. During the time of Egypt’s youth, it was common that raw garlic was eaten with daily meals to keep the immune system strong.

 

dscn0216 allergies, cold , sinus, natural remedies that work. photo of garlic cloveFor congestion, cut in half one segment of the raw garlic from the clove. Hold it up to one nostril, on the surface of the skin, or half a centimeter from the skin. Hold it in place for one to three minutes, or as necessary. Then hold the other half up to the other nostril. You should feel the bacteria instantly dispersing as it becomes easier to breathe.

 

Eating raw garlic, onions, or green onions with meals is a good way to arm the immune system. Chop, and mince one segment, and add to the meal. The raw form is the most potent protection against illness.

Bibliography

“Allergies and hay fever”.[05/2013], “Centers for Disease Control National center for health statistics” [http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/faststats/allergies.htm] [10/31/2016].



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Diet Change is a Process of Transformation

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Maintaining a Disciplined Diet After you have Made the First Step

Changing your diet is by no means a simple task. It is actually a process of transformation. One of the reasons that many of those that take this task on feel that they are not successful is simply that it is easily underestimated. Identifying, and eliminating toxic foods from the diet is the first step. In order to keep up resistance to toxic foods, you have to compose a diet that will address nutritional needs, as well as desires for certain tastes, or foods.

Addressing Desires, and Cravings of the Appetite

As a part of a balanced diet,

the taste for sweet things is natural. The best approach in confronting this part of the appetite is to give it equal attention. Anticipate that monster that inevitably will rise up, and demand cupcakes at unreasonable hours. Finding healthy alternatives can be satisfying, and stimulate the senses. Dried fruits, such as medjool dates, mission figs, raisins, and coconut are effective in satisfying sweet cravings, while delivering essential vitamins, and minerals. They make effective snacks, when paired with pecans, cashews, and, or walnuts. They are also useful for enhancing meals with naturally sweet flavor.

Balancing the  Diet

The concept of dessert has fostered many unhealthy eating patterns. It is better to include naturally sweet fruits, and vegetables by incorporating them in your meal, as part of the layers of the dish. The most important aspect to good food is balance. You can combine dried fruits to vegetables, in soups, stir fry with other vegetables, and fish, or in any variety of meal preparations. Try chopping Medjool dates, add pecans, tomato, green onion, cucumber, grated ginger root, and Romaine lettuce, Buttercress, Spinach, or Swiss chard for a meal on the go. In these ways, composing your own diet can stir up creativity, stimulate the mind to reach further to satisfy the appetite, and wake up the palate with nuances of flavor, and vitamin power.diet change; a process of transformation

Tips on Selecting Foods at the Market

Choose those that list simply the fruit itself, and no additional additives. This ensures that you have the most enjoyable experience in eating healthy. Select raw, unsalted nuts, when possible, and avoid those that contain added oil. Additives can weight your system down, instead of giving you the energy you need from food. Inspecting ingredient labels may seem tedious at first. Once you zero in on what you’re looking for in a product, breaking down labels becomes easier.

Additional Ingredients for a Healthy Diet

Dried fruits are only one example of whole foods that satisfy the appetite for sweet foods. There is a whole host of fruits that can deliver on this. Tangerines, mandarins, Asian pears, Bartlet pears, apples such as Fuji, Gala, and Honey-crisp, oranges, cantaloupe, honey-dew melon, watermelon, grapes, peaches, plums, and coconut are just a fraction of the healthy choices that are available. Beverages that contain higher natural sugar concentrations include, apple juice, (additive free), orange juice, (fresh squeezed), grape juice, (no additives), and pomegranate juice, (no additives). Due to their high sugar content, they are best consumed in moderation, supplemented with spring water to address thirst.

Toxic Food Trap; What you Don’t Know About your Food Choices can be Lethal

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toxic food trap; photo of hamburger orderYou want to stick to a healthy diet.  You may find yourself on the road, hungry, without visible options, other than a gas station, fast food restaurant, or convenience store. What do you do? The best solution is think ahead. Invest in a quality cooler, and buy groceries in advance. Life is not always so simple. Where you live geographically, and available transportation can influence your decisions. I can tell you from personal experience, it is possible to survive in the wild mystery food lands across America.


Some say that what does not kill you makes you stronger. Don’t throw your sense of caution out the window just yet. Here is your guide.

Hungry On the Road

Convenience stores, and gas station food are notoriously overpriced, and under represented. Maintain your scrutiny, and you will survive the inconvenience.

Road Food Additives

There are a few simple guidelines when purchasing food in the galaxy.

  1. Steer Clear:  Msg., and High Fructose Corn Syrup. 

Msg., or Monosodium Glutamate is a popular condiment used in fast-food, and particularly in Asian fast food in America, as well as a broad range of prepared foods commonly found on store shelves. Used as a flavor enhancer, and associated with an array of chemical reactions, resulting from it’s consumption. From migraines, indigestion, to mood swings,  the use of Msg. as a flavor enhancer, simply does not justify the results.

High fructose corn syrup, (HFCS), incorporated into American food, and beverages, as a less expensive substitute to sugar, and as a texture agent in processed foods. Sugar has been historically more costly to import in the US., due largely to tariffs imposed by international, and domestic politics. This laboratory manufactured substance is not properly metabolized in the human body, and when accumulated in the system, attacks the linings to such major organs as the liver, and kidneys. The threshold for accumulation can vary from person to person, and is influenced by factors, such as the density of the organ’s linings, which may be pre-determined by heredity. Continued use of HFCS can lead to symptoms associated with such diagnosis of cancer, diabetes, and organ failure.

Salt is as lethal as sugar when it accumulates in the body. Both make the blood more acidic. Acid’s action is to eat away at whatever matter is in it’s path. If you find yourself face to face with the fast food industry, order with discretion.

Customize your Order

Order sandwiches plain, so that they might be cooked fresh. Request your burger, chicken, sandwich, fries, or anything cooked, without salt.  This further increases your chances that the food is fresh-cooked, and you can add salt using your own discretion. Many establishments think nothing of going overboard with the salt shaker. Avoiding the condiments means avoiding  further mystery. Bread, biscuits, batter, sauces, and seasonings often contain HFCS, regardless of whether they are white, wheat, artisan, or sourdough breads, or gourmet etc.

For foods that are deep-fried, such as fish, or chicken, ask for no batter. To this request, anticipate the shock, and uproar. Some foods, common at many fast food, particularly at chicken restaurants are already pre-battered before being cooked. Though if you catch the site of a cook with a pan of flour, make your request. Batter is worse than the fine print in a contract. Not only do you not know what’s in it, the retailer is not required to notify the public.

Know Something About your Food Choices

Ask if the fries are actually cut from real potatoes. Dehydrated potato flakes don’t have the same chemical reaction in the body as the whole food that contains essential vitamins, and minerals. If fries, or foods contain seasoning, ask for no seasoning, or for the seasoning on the side. This will at least give you the opportunity to look at what you are avoiding.

Additional Notes on Food

For pizza, request extra light sauce, thin crust, and minimal toppings. If there is sauce in the dish, common in most cuisines, request it on the side. Some hamburger restaurants make burgers that contain a higher ratio of additives to ground beef in hamburger patties. These burgers may resemble something like a slice of meat loaf, (mysterious meat). Meat bi-products, and an array of fillers make up a large portion of these additives, and subsequently contribute to a higher ratio of fat. 

  • Skip the biscuits. Many baked goods, including buns, and biscuits are made with HFCS, which doubles as a sweetener, and enhances the texture of the bread, and bread products.
  • Avoid sweetened coffee creamers, particularly flavored sweetened cream.
  •  Thinking about ordering from the breakfast menu, be careful. It is a little known fact that some fast food breakfast menus will make you drowsy.
  • Look carefully if your selecting a salad. Don’t buy salads that don’t look fresh.
  • Avoid snack cakes.

Healthy Beverage Options

Skip the soda fountain. One of the largest segments of the American food supply that contains HFCS is the beverage industry. Skip the ice. Go for bottled water, or juice. For bottled water, choose a brand you recognize. They are not only sourced from different locations, additionally, the type of source indicates the method of purification, or filtering., that often varies. At convenience stores, fast food restaurants, and gas stations, choose juices that don’t contain added sweeteners. Always select 100% fruit juice, when possible. V-8 may be a better option than soda. Don’t assume, read the labels. Those .99 cent can teas usually contain HFCS. Skip the dairy products, which can create much inconvenience, and turn your good day into a nightmare. Natural products will give you more energy to handle driving conditions.

If you are on a gluten-free diet, have food allergies, or health issues, it is best to purchase whole foods at grocery stores, markets, and road side stands.

Nature, Our Connection to the Universe

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DSCN5651 nature; photo of forest
Walk into a house, or building, shut the door, and the natural world is immediately shut out. In the center of a big city, this is 200% true. Climate-controlled settings forge a greater distance between human understanding, and nature. They help create the illusion that the natural climate is unbearable, by resetting our body’s thermostat.  The result is that the mind, body, and spirit become disconnected from nature, and desensitized to environmental conditions, and concerns.

Nature, Recharging the Mind

From the seasonal changes, to the constellations, to the origins of foods. Harmony between the self, and the universe is essential to inner well-being. Furthermore, this harmony can stimulate the mind, and activate objective vision.

Walking outside for 30 minutes to one hour, every day moves both the body, and the mind. Based on an average stride of 2.1-2.5 feet, 1 mile would require approximately more than 2000 steps. This is actually easier done than said. Physical circulation strengthens the bones by increasing their inner web connections. In addition, mentally, it allows you to reconnect with the universe, and let go of stagnant thoughts. The mind recharges by focusing attention on nature, and the expansive, constantly changing universe.


Overcoming Barriers to the Outdoors

nature our connection to the universe; photo of walking shoesDressing appropriately for the weather factors into the desire, or resistance to step outside. In cold climates, simply making sure all body parts are warm, and insulated from freezing temperatures can increase the body-mind harmony that is a necessary factor to stepping out, and being outdoors. Wrapping feet up well, and something as simple as leg warmers can effectively reinforce warmth underneath outer garments in sub-zero weather. Dressing in layers helps the body to adjust to indoor, and outdoor temperature fluctuations.

Furthermore, in hot climates, keeping a cool head can keep the body from over-heating. Simply pouring cool water on the hair, and scalp throughout the day can accomplish this. In addition, loose clothing allows air to circulate to the skin. Foot wear may influence your daily decisions in sub-conscious ways. Each foot bears the weight of the body with each step. If your shoes are not absorbing the shock, then they are reflecting it back to the rest of the body. Consequently, this can significantly contribute to fatigue, and potentially cause injury. The human body is a well designed composition that demands care, and maintenance.

AVAILABILITY OF FRUITS, AND VEGETABLES

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According to the United States Department of Agriculture  Economic Research Service, (USDA ERS), in 2010 fruits and vegetables accounted for merely .08% of the average American diet. In contrast, grains composed 23%, added fats and

oils contributed to 22%, and caloric sweeteners accounted for 15%. If you compare this with the statistics recorded in 1970, grains, (primarily refined), fats and oils have accounted for an overall estimated 15% rp_281-224x300.jpg availability of fruits, and vegetablesincrease in calories to the American diet. That is an astounding ratio of low consumption of fruits and vegetables in the diet; to high consumption of sweets and refined grains.

Availability, and Breakdown of Produce Consumption

USDA data reports that fruits, and vegetables form 0.8% of the average American diet. Further information suggests that Americans age 2-30 get more than 50% of their fruit consumption from juice.

Peruse the product labels of juices found at many retail stores, (grocery, convenience, and discount stores). Consequently, what you will find is that many fruit juices consist of added sweeteners, colors, artificial flavorings, and other additives. However, fruit juice has a higher rate of availability than fresh produce. This link cites the direct impact of market and product availability on population. rp_Untitled-2-225x300.jpgThese  statistics are not representative of American’s eating habits so much as they are the  result of the impact of product availability on American’s eating habits.

Further, a breakdown of American’s fruit and vegetable consumption suggests potatoes and tomatoes contribute to the highest vegetable consumption. In 2012, on average, Americans each consumed 52.3lbs. of potatoes, (1/2 fresh). In the same year, each American on average polished off 31.1lbs. of tomatoes, (59% canned). French fries and pizza easily account for these findings.  With regards to fruit intake, 107.6lb per person of fresh and processed fruit.

Simple Health Strategies

 

Eating more fresh fruits and vegetables is the simple and effective health strategy. Availability is the key. Industries that have long been thriving on the poor health of the individual are bracing for change. Companies can no longer ignore the rise in health consciousness as people are becoming more engaged in the process of food availability of fruits, and vegetableschoices and acknowledging a connection between  their food to their environment. Americans are able to communicate with others on a global level by sharing knowledge and experiences. According to Pew Research Center, over 205,808,420 people in the United States own, and carry a tool that instantly delivers information on any subject. In summary, children today following a diet consistent with the new USDA guidelines recommending half of meals be composed of fruits and vegetables will establish a foundation for healthier eating habits of future generations and lead to increased market availability.


increase availability,USDA, new federal dietary standardBibliography:  Bentley, Jeanine. Food Availability and Consumption.  [05/19/2014.] “USDA Economic  Research Service”  [http://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/ag-and-food-statistics-charting-the-essentials/food-availability-and-consumption.aspx][8/23/2015.]; Smith, Aaron. Adoption and Usage. [07/11/11.] “Pew Research Center Internet, Science & Technology”  [http://pewresearch.org/2011/07/11/smartphone-adoption-and-usage] [8/23/2015.]; “United States Census Bureau;  U.S. and World Population Clock”   [http://www.census.gov/popclock]  [8/23/2015.]; Image: “USDA” [http://www.choosemyplate.gov]

COLLARD GREENS; How to Select, and Prepare Amazing Greens

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collard greens

Greens grow wild in various climates, conditions, and terrains all around the world. Valued as food, and medicine, in various cultures, and traditions, where plant tops are only one aspect of edible plants that offer healing properties through root, stalk, seeds, berries, and other plant features. Common greens cultivated in the US. include collard greens, turnips, rudabega, and mustard greens. Other edible varieties, such as dandelion, watercress, chard, and kale also offer unique nutritional values. Greens seem to catch more attention around the holidays, or in southern cuisine.

Where to Buy Collard Greens

You can buy bunches of greens at grocery stores, farmer’s markets, roadside stands, and mobile vegetable trucks. They are available throughout the southern united states year-round, and enjoyed indiscriminately throughout the population. In northern climates, there is a shorter window for cultivation, with exception to hot-house growers.  They do not have nearly the status, and demand as in the southern region.

Tips on Purchasing, and What to Look for

The most tender greens are winter greens, grown in cold temperatures, above 30 degrees Fahrenheit. Grocery stores market greens in varying ways. I have seen collard greens, mustards, and turnips in small bunches, comparable in size to bunches of cilantro, or parsley. This does not do justice to the shoppers visual sensibilities. All stores do not display small bunches, nor do they all display greens such as turnips, removed from roots. They are likely, however to stock prepackaged turnips, or collard greens, cleaned, and cut-up. Road-side stands, mobile retailers, and farmer’s markets are more likely to  sell larger bunches, with roots, due to direct connections to local farms, and retail environments where greens are kept fresher, longer.

 

Collard Greens are Living Foods

collard greens, and other varieties; photo of rudabega greens

Rudabega greens

Skip the canned greens. The best way to buy greens is by the bunch. Of the four most popular varieties, collard greens stay fresh longer, followed by rudabega, then turnips. Mustards have the shortest shelf life. Collards contain higher concentrations of calcium, as noted by their stronger stalks, and denser leaves. Rudabega greens, also known as northern turnips, also have dense leaves. Their leaves, and shoots are characteristic of both collards, and turnips in appearance. When selecting bunches, briefly look at the center of the bunch, to check for any mold. This is not necessarily a frequent occurrence, though not uncommon. Always select bunches with green leaves.

collard greens, and other varieties

Mustard greens, (curly leaf variety)

The stalk will allow you to keep bunches fresh prior to using them. The stalk of the plant connects the bunch to the root. Try Placing a bunch of collard greens in an up-right position in a 5-gallon bucket of ice water, 1/5 full, and watch the leaves perk up, just as a flower in a vase of water. You can trim the base of the stalk at an angle, as you would the stem of a rose. This will allow for better hydration of the whole plant. On bunches with roots, you can also place them upright, root fibers will absorb the cold water, and deliver it to the leaf.

Cleaning Greens

When fresh from the farm, greens will need a good rinse to remove any traces of dirt, or silt. This can be done easily outside, using a nozzle attachment and hose. Remove the rubber band from the bunch, and use cold water, with a medium force shower setting. You can place the bunch over a bucket, or lay it across a patio table. Wash the bunch from the tops, down. Collard greens are the easiest to clean. For greens with roots, you can use a scrub brush or your hand to rub away stubborn grit that accumulates in crevices, and on the surface of the root. For pre-cleaned greens, as many store-bought bunches are, you can make sure they are free of grit by filling a large bowl, or pan of water, soaking and draining the leaves as you go. Watch that grit settle to the bottom!

Cutting the LeafRSCN5928 - Copy collard greens

To prepare greens for easy eating, one of the best ways is to shred them. You can either remove the stems, or shred greens with the stem. To remove stems, lay one leaf on a cutting board, cut around the stem, then place the it to the side. You can cut, and cook stems, separately, or freeze them, for later use. Fold the leaf in half, then roll it. Slice across in strips, about 1/2 in. to an inch wide. Continue slicing from one end to the other. You can stack 4 leaves at a time. Line them up, de-stem, fold, roll, and shred. After you cut  across, you can go back, and cut them vertically, for bite-size greens.

Nutritious Flavor

collard greens, and other varieties

The key to enjoying food is cooking for your self, and valuing each ingredient. Instead of thinking in terms of flavoring greens, aim to compliment them. What you add to your recipe should not smother, or overwhelm these natural flavors. Rudabega roots are not starchy, or heavy, as baking potatoes are. They contain the similar spicy, bitter, sweet flavor of the tops. If you enjoy turnip greens, rudabega tops are a sublime alternative. Mustards are generally grown, and marketed in two varieties, slick leaf, and curly leaf. The flavor is similar, though curly leaf mustards are even more delicate. Mustards lend a delightful, mildly horseradish like spice, and tanginess. Turnip, and rudabega greens add that bitter, sweet flavor, and their roots pack more flavor punch. Collard greens have a milder flavor. They are botanically closer to the cabbage plant, and can easily blend, and compliment other greens.


Cooking with Pot Liquor

The major benefit of boiling greens in water is that you can re-use that deliciously nutritious flavored water, or (pot liquor), to cook an easy accompaniment such as steel-cut oats, brown rice, barley, or noodles. If you can’t decide on which variety of greens to cook, try more than one. Add 2 sliced jalapeño peppers, and 3-4 small segments of garlic to a pot of greens. You can add *smoked fish after the greens are cooked, such as smoke chub, herring, or salmon. Or you can opt for an organic, tender cut of meat. You don’t have to trim the fat to make a healthy dish. As long as the fat does not steal the show.

collard greens, and other varieties

*Please note, when selecting smoked meats or fish, naturally smoked methods are more harmonious to the human digestive system than chemical processes. Additives used in chemically processed smoked meats, such as nitrates, are also used in the manufacture of fireworks, and explosives. They can create an explosive response in the digestive system, and therefore, promote negative associations about eating greens.

 

 

FRUIT JUICE; Navigating the Store’s Beverage Section

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RSCN7219 fruit juice; image of collage of fruit juice labels

Choosing from the beverages available at some stores is a challenge, especially at convenience, and stores other than grocery stores. If you are choosing a fruit juice, the likely aim is to A. Quench thirst, B. Hydrate the cells of the body, and C. Absorb essential vitamins, and minerals for optimal health, and energy To carry out all that is conceivably as much an accomplishment as scoring a touchdown on the foot-ball field. The big beverage industries are vying for your thirst by investing billions of dollars, marketing soda, and sports drinks. These drinks, are mass marketed with low prices, and guaranteed by politics. How much money do corporations invest in the marketing of fruit juice, and other non-alcoholic beverages? The answer lies in the stock you see on the store shelves and beverage display areas. The best strategy to choosing healthy beverages is knowledge.

Common Fruit Juice, and Beverage Label Terminology

Successfully naviWP_20151111_18_59_39_Pro (4)[1] fruit juice labels, terminologiesgating the beverage aisle requires an inquisitive mind, and a basic understanding of certain terms. Most terms apply to one of six categories, sweeteners, neutraceuticals, colorants, preservatives, processing methods, and marketing terms.

  1. Sweeteners: High-fructose-corn-syrup, corn syrup, aspartame, saccharine, sorbitol, malitol, stevia, sugar, cane-sugar, and words used with the suffix, ose, (glucose, fructose, dextrose, sucrose)
  2. Neutraceuticals: Ascorbic- acid, citric-acid, retinol, vitamin a, b, c, d, e, calcium, folic-acid, niacin, pantothenic acid, thiamine, vitamin b-6, vitamin-b-12, etc.
  3. Colors: Natural and artificial colors, red, yellow, blue
  4. Preservatives & antioxidants: Benzoic acid, benzoate, fumaric acid, malic acid, pectin, sodium benzoate
  5. Methods of processing: Pasteurized, concentrated, clarified, pureed, fresh squeezed, reconstituted, fortified
  6. Marketing terms:  Fruit flavored, fruit juice blend, fruit drink, natural and artificial flavors, 100% natural, natural flavors, fruit essence, no sugar added, with added ingredients, etc.

    Defining Terms

Antioxidants prevent undesirable changes in color and flavor caused by oxygen or air. They include pectin, vegetable gums, modified starches, and sodium benzoate, (used in fruit juice to stop fermentation).

These ingredients act as acids, alkalis, buffers, and neutralizing agents. Natural flavors, in beverages are a mix of flavors, sweeteners, acidifiers, colors, neutraceuticals, botanicals, preservatives, and other ingredients. The neutraceuticals are synthetic versions of vitamins, manufactured in the laboratory, and commonly added either to pasteurized beverages, or those that contain limited nutritional value.

Where to Look for What

Labels on fruit juice typically have 4 major components:

  • A.  product name, image, and description: This is on the front of the label.
  • B.  nutrition facts: Usually found on the back of the label.
  • C.  product narrative, and added product information: Typically, on the side, or back of the label, or container.
  • D. U.P.C. label, bar-code, manufacturer, distributor, and contact information: Found on the side or back of the label.

__________________________________________________________________________

A: This includes such information as the type of fruit, and whether the juice is from concentrate. If the label claims to contain 100%, or more of a vitamin, it will be in print on this part of the label, and is usually an indication that the product is pasteurized.

B: The percentage of fruit juice contained in the product is above the words “Nutrition Facts” on this part of the label.

B: Ingredients are generally printed at the bottom of the nutrition facts area of the label.

fruit juice label, placement of information; ingredients

 

B: Sugars – High sugar content is not necessarily attributed to added RSCN7049 fruit juice labels, placement of information; sugarssweeteners. Grape juice has one of the highest natural fruit sugar concentrations, followed by apple juice. These are often used to sweeten juice, and juice products.

  • D: pasteurized products display the term pasteurized beside the bar-code.RSCN7056 fruit juice labels- placement of information, terminologies

 Common Fruit Juice Ingredients to Absolutely Avoid

Some grocery stores, and specialty foods stores carry a variety of natural, 100% fruit juice that is free of additives. In this case, their product’s ingredients labels will list only fruit juice, fruit and water, or fruit juice, and water. If, based on the store’s level of quality selection, you have to compromise, it is necessary to assess the ingredients in order of toxicity. Arguably, the most harmful additives are the sweeteners used in today’s beverage industry. Far from mimicking the chemistry of natural cane sugar, the sweeteners used today metabolize in such a way as to ultimately cause destruction to the human body. Additionally, if consumed regularly, they contribute to a number of diseases, including organ failure, and cancer.

Allergens, and Additives

Color agents, red, blue, and yellow dyes, are allergens that contribute to Attention deficit hyper-activity disorder, (ADHD), and Attention deficit disorder, (ADD), in children. Neutraceuticals, synthetic, (laboratory manufactured), vitamins, are not an exact replica of the vitamins contained in whole foods. For instance, vitamin C. complex’s natural composition, contained in raw fruits and vegetables, includes vitamins J, K, and P, as well as enzymes, such as Terrosenase. These synthetic vitamins are not the complete package. They are often added to beverages that are either pasteurized, or lacking nutritional value. In the case of pasteurization, the heat used in the process itself, significantly diminishes, or destroys the  natural vitamins, naturally contained in the raw fruit.

Pasteurization is one scientific development that addresses bacteria related illnesses from foods, and beverages. This solution does not destroy all the fruit’s enzymes. The irony in adding neutraceuticals to a product is that laboratory manufactured vitamins create further destruction by causing the body to mal-absorb the natural vitamins, and minerals contained in the juice, and other whole foods. They do this by blocking the body’s natural response. Similarly, added sweeteners block the body’s natural response to naturally sweet whole foods. This easily contributes to vitamin and mineral deficiencies, as well as toxic eating habits.

No More Than Three

When making your choice, keep these factors in mind:

  1. It is not necessary for fruit juice to contain added sweeteners.
  2. Avoid color additives
  3. If a product claims to contain 100%, or more of any vitamin, it is almost always pasteurized, and “fortified” with a synthetic form of that vitamin.
  4. You will receive the most important information from  your body’s natural response. The human body is capable of giving instant feedback to diet.


 

 

TREES Improve Quality of Life

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Seven Easy Ways to Enhance Your Environment

Trees  coexist in all stages of their evolution, everywhere on this planet. They filter the air, water, and soil in the ecosystem. In addition to commercial and industrial uses, trees provide shade, cool the atmosphere, are a source of food, medicine, heat, and folklore. They enhance the environment, and provide a refuge for the inner spirit, and therapy to the physical senses. Who can deny the enchanting serenity generated by the glowing embers of a crackling wood fire? With their expressive displays of winding limbs, cascading through atmospheric heights, trees have long been a source of artistic inspiration.

The Versatile Nature of Trees

A broad range of industries use trees, for the manufacture of a wide array of products. From construction, furniture, carpentry, paper, paper products, and textiles, to chopsticks, automotive products, and food and beverage additives. Even In the real-estate industry, it is widely known that trees can increase property values by up to 27%.

There are over 23,000 different varieties of trees. Versatility is one of their best features. The Black walnut tree, for instance, is a deciduous hardwood, prized in the furniture, industry, valued aesthetically, and for its solid structure and durability. The Black walnut tree provides a nutritionally valued food, medicine, (varied applications), natural dye, (used in tanning),  and an insecticide, It can grow to more than 100 feet in height, and 4 feet in diameter.
trees- view from ground of the height of tall tree, summer-time

What to Consider Before Choosing Tree Species

The tallest tree officially recorded is a Coast Redwood, (Sequoia), in California, measuring 115.72 meters, or 379 feet. The Montezuma Cyprus, found in Mexico is the widest tree on record, at 36.2 meters, (118 feet). Important information to consider when beginning tree cultivation includes, the tree’s projected dimensions at maturity, the depth, and spread of roots, and soil, sun, and water requirements. Weather your interest is in enhancing your environment, living sustainably, or developing a source of income, there are a variety of options available to obtain, and cultivate trees, and tree seedlings.

Where to Buy Trees

The following methods can accommodate any budget:

  • Nurseries, as well as Garden Centers at Large Retail Outlets: If you are intent on purchasing 1-10 trees, or want to develop a collection of plants, and trees, nurseries and garden centers carry a variety. They generally stock an evolving selection of trees and plants that are most suitable to their specific geographic climate, and season. In the spring, march through may, retailers will begin expanding their stock to accommodate the seasonal shift. Their prices vary, and you can find trees, significantly marked down toward the end of the season, (mid-July through August). Nurseries can usually offer more extensive information on plants than garden centers, for the simple fact that plants are their primary retail item.
  • Florist Found in Grocery Stores: The florist department can easily be overlooked, along with the music played over the speaker system at grocery chain stores. However, you may find a unique, and interesting variety of plants, and trees throughout the year, and increasingly so from spring to fall.

Tree Seedlings

It’s a little known fact that you can buy native tree seedlings, (one year old), in bulk, at little cost, through your state’s department of forestry. It is in the interest of the environment, and habitat to provide this service to the public. Each state has its own guidelines, rules, and native selection of trees. If you’re interest is in a certain species, in some instances, you can order from out-of-state.

Orders are generally handled on a first come, first served basis, and residents of that state will take priority. To find the website, enter the following into the web browser search box: The abbreviation for your state, .forest service.gov/nursery. They can additionally give you planting instructions. If you are planting from the stage of the seed, using seed starters, indoors can help to ensure successful development.

Cost Free Methods of Obtaining Trees

  • Tree Cuttings: Depending on the species, there are different methods for easy propagation of trees. Tree cuttings will have to develop root fibers for successful planting, and growth. Air-layering is one method of tree propagation.
  • Local, state parks: Parks can provide an instant refuge from stress, and enhance your appreciation for the natural wonders around you. They are also an inexhaustive reference point for your curiosity, including plant, and ecological research. You can find a park in your state at, [http://www.nps.gov/findapark/index.htm],
  • Or, search for the nearest campground at, [http://www.recreation.gov/]

You are not on your own with regards to acquiring the necessary information for growing, and cultivating trees, and plants. In my experience, I find those involved in horticulture eager to share valuable knowledge on this topic. From an environmental, or ecological stand-point, the public’s awareness, and interest is beneficial, and it is also personally uplifting to observe, and reap the many rewards of the plant world.

Bibliography:  Tree facts. “nc state university college of agriculture & life sciences department of horticultural science” [www.ncsu.edu/project/treesofstrength/treefact.html] [11/07/2015.]; the tallest, and oldest trees worldwide. “Monumental Trees” [http://www.monumentaltrees.com/en/] [11/07/2015.]


BUYING FRESH FISH AT THE MARKET

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C__Data_Users_DefApps_AppData_INTERNETEXPLORER_Temp_Saved Images_1280px-pike_place_market_-_silver_salmon_at_pure_food_fish_01_custom-583b33496a4c7e216bc8e892f3dd825469cc437e-s1100-c15

Fresh Fish Market. Wikimedia

The fresh fish market is a thrilling stimulation to the senses. The sights, and smells of fresh, and smoked fish, combined with the anticipation of the savory meal can peak the interest of anyone that can appreciate the varied flavors of fish.  Moreover the experience can be doubly valued for those that know the pleasures of fishing.  Each fish variety has a unique flavor, texture, and exclusive methods of cooking and preparation that can optimize those unique qualities. Weather you are shopping for salmon, trout, catfish, tilapia, or bream, the process of selection is crucial to your enjoyment.

Selection of Fresh Fish

Most fish have the same, or similar anatomical features. If you are selecting whole fish with the head, take note of the eyes and gills.  The eyes of freshly caught fish will be clear, bright, and the pupils will appear black. You may notice a bright red lining on the perimeter of the outer edge of the eyeball, and translucent silver within the eye. When you lift the gill cover, fresh fish will reveal bright red gills. Within two days, the gills may begin to transition to a crimson red, then progress to brown, then green. Basically this color change will follow the pattern of blood as it dries. For best results, avoid fish that has green tones within the gills.

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Fish Anatomy. Pearson Benjamin Cummings.

The Body of a Fresh Fish

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Stork with fish in mouth. Wikimedia.

When looking at the body of fresh fish, the scales or skin of the fish should appear uniform, bright, and shiny. Fish manufacture slime as one of their defense mechanisms against other predators. Therefore, when fish emerge from their waters, they tend to be slimy. Properly cleaning fish will minimize this factor. Translucent scales are an indicator of freshness. This trait may vary, based on the fish variety, though scales tend to become opaque with the progression of time. For fish in the catfish family, or fish with smooth skin, markings on the body are generally not as visible when freshly caught. The fins and tail on fish should appear whole, and unbroken. Usually when fresh, the body will be pliable, not stiff.

Flesh of fish

The flesh of white fish, when fresh, has a translucent sheen. Fish, such as cod, haddock, or halibut may have a slight whitish, yellow tone. White fish may also appear pink, due to exposed fresh blood content. The texture of the flesh should be firm, and bounce back when you press it, not sink down as if it were mashed.  Fish, such as salmon will have a bright, coral, shiny tone. If you are looking at whole, fish, look for traces of fresh, bright red blood as indicators of freshness. If you are looking at filleted fish, the skin should usually be soft and vibrant, not hard or dried. Fresh fish, weather whole, filleted, or cut however so, should not give off a “fishy” smell.