Who’s Vote Matters in Elections? Political Corruption Undermines Communities, and Silences the Popular Vote

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elections, political corruption: photo: close-up of Abraham Lincoln on US. currencyWhen I hear people discuss injustices exposed by media outlets direct their conversation to the importance of voting, I often think this is their way of throwing their hands up. Voting is important. This is evidenced by the fact that in just one 6 year period, states made 262 requests to change local voting laws, then later altered, or withdrew them after they were vetted for discrimination under section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Furthermore this section is the same piece of legislation deemed obsolete according to Supreme Court justice chief John Roberts in the 2013 Supreme Court case, Shelby County v. Holder. He argued that states with a historical legacy of racism no longer required federal oversight, when attempting to change local voting laws. “The country has changed”, Roberts stated. Although the new law does contain a provision to place jurisdictions under “pre-clearance”, or federal oversight if they demonstrate intentional discrimination.

 

How New Voting Laws Affect Americans




 
The three key results of the new law are:
1. Sections of the Voting Rights Act no longer deter the passage of discriminatory voting changes.
2. Challenging discriminatory voting laws, and practices is now more costly, difficult, and time-consuming, as cases must be litigated, as opposed to the administrative process Section 5 previously provided.
3. The American public is no longer required to receive information about new voting laws prior to their implementation, as was mandated under Section 5. Litigations persist, as a direct result of discriminatory laws passed since the Shelby case. They now cite other protections provided within the Voting Rights Act.

Additional Components of the Political Process

Voting is only one aspect of the political process when considering how elections are decided. At the state level, nationwide, the popular vote is not a determining factor in electing legislative seats. The following are two political processes that influence citizen representation, and elections:
Reapportionment: The census recalculates the US. population every 10 years. States use this data to determine the number of districts of each state, which determines the number of electors in each state; also called the congressional delegation. Which is the number of representatives of that state in the house, and senate combined. The US. constitution assigns two congressional houses per state. The first, the senate, is composed of two representatives from each state. The second, is the house of representatives, which consists of 435 representatives. This number is distributed among the states, based on their recorded populations.
 Redistricting: After states receive the data on the number of districts per state, it is their task to draw the boundaries of the districts. This process is called redistricting.

Corruption Controls Elections; Gerrymandering

 
Generally, the legislators holding stronger political influence redraw the geographical boundaries into districts. Corruption taints this process when politicians cunningly create districts, based on well researched voter data, with the sole aim of maintaining political power. Opposing constituents are split up, and drawn into constituencies that favor a certain party. Favorable constituents are added to competitive areas where close races are won. Moreover, the prison industry, which has grown fastidiously over the last 30 years,  infuses a large economic, and political boost to mostly rural areas where their construction has dominated. These rural towns rely on the prison industry that provides economic opportunities, and increases their political representation.
 

US Census Factors into Population Distortion

 
The US. census counts prison populations as residents of the counties of those prisons. This diminishes the political representation in the home towns of majority black detainees, redistributes the allocation of federal funding, and increases political influence in prison counties. According to the Brookings Institution, a leading research organization, in fiscal year 1998, federal grant programs totaling $185 billion relied on census data. While those incarcerated lose their constitutional rights, including the right to vote, they are counted as constituents, and utilized in a massive economic power grab.
 
Prison gerrymandering is corruption that exists in both processes of reapportionment, and redistricting. In redistricting, legislators draw prison populations into areas of political opposition to increase the party’s influence. This results in abridgement of American citizen’s rights, and reallocation of funds. Consequently, In 2010, after years of litigation, Maryland was the first state in the US. to redraw districts by counting prisoners in their home towns instead of prison jurisdictions. Maryland Governor, Martin O’malley signed the “No Representation Without Population Act”. The Maryland law is a significant first step in addressing the American epidemic of mass incarceration. This action begins to de-incentivize an industry that has risen swiftly, in conjunction with disproportionate  crime laws designed to grow, and maintain a population in confinement.
 
 

References:

Lopez, Tomas. 06/24/2014. “Shelby County: One Year Later”. Brennan Center for Justice New York University School of Law. [Https://www.brennancenter.org/analysis/shelby-county-one-year-later].;

Cooper, Ryan. 11/07/2016. “This is the First Election Without the Full Voting Rights Act – and it’s Already a Disaster”. The Week. [Http://theweek.com/articles/659599/first-election-without-full-voting-rights-act-already-disaster].; the Leadership Conference. [Http://www.Civilrights.org].; Skerry, Peter. 03/2000. “Counting on the Census?” Brookings Institution.  Policy Brief. PDF.; Morello, Carol. 4/15/2010. “Maryland Changes how Prisoners are Counted in Census”. Washington Post. [Http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/04/14/AR2010041404600.html].

 

Water: How to Select the Drinkable Solution

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You find a brand of drinking water the family can agree on, so you decide to stock up. No sooner
than your thirst hits you, you pour yourself a glass without hesitation, then spit it back out in alarm.
Where did you go wrong? The first lesson here: Complacency is not your friend. When it comes to
selecting water, your scrutiny is always rewarded, even after you have found a brand that is
compatible with your system, and agreeable with your palette. Staying ahead means discerning
information at every step of the selection process.

Where Water Comes From

Less than 1% of Earth’s water is freshwater, usable for human consumption. The US has 4.5% if
the world’s population, and 8% of it’s fresh water resources. Jardine Water Filtration Plant, located
on the Michigan Lake front in Chicago, Ill is the world’s largest water filtration plant, by volume.
It pumps about 1 billion gallons of purified drinking water, through thousands of miles of piping, to
5 million Chicago, and surrounding area residents. Water from sewers, drains, and streams runs
off into the lakes and rivers. The surface water runs through the city treatment plant where it is
treated with chemical processes to eliminate harmful bacteria, and bring the water to levels
considered potable, (drinkable), by Federal Standards which are enforced by the EPA,
(Environmental Protection Agency).

Common Chemicals Contents of Tap Water

The most common chemicals found in tap water include:
Chlorine; Fluorine; Tritalomethanes; Sodium; Potassium; Iron; Calcium; Sulphates; Phosphates;
Salts of: Arsenic, Radium, Aluminum, Copper, Lead, Mercury, Cadmium, Barium;
Hormones; Nitrates; Pesticides.

Copper, Zinc, and Lead can often be traced to plumbing systems. Iron, and Lead are linked to
corroded pipes in old houses. PAH, (Polynuclear Aromatic Hydrocarbons) are a direct result from
corrosion of linings in old cast iron mains. Water flowing through limestone, absorbs Calcium
deposits. Aluminum, and Nitrates are an agricultural bi-product, which runs into lakes and rivers
from farm waste.

Water-Borne Illness

Despite federal standards, an estimated *1.1 million people are annually treated for illnesses
directly resulting from contaminants in drinking water. These chemicals cause a whole host of
health issues. Chlorine, one of the most widely used chemicals can cause breast, bladder, and
rectal cancer, and asthma. Fluorine, or Fluoride is so toxic, it is banned in most European
countries, and has been linked to various forms of cancer. Accumulation of lead in the body causes
developmental disorders in children, and impairs learning abilities. Sulphates, and Nitrates can
cause respiratory problems, and contribute to asthma, and heart disease. If there is a sanitation
breakdown in your city, the tap water is all the more a health risk as ingestion of bacteria and
protozoa can lead to gastrointestinal diseases.

Healthy Drinking Water Solutions

Testing your tap water gives you a perspective on the standards that you want from your drinking
water. A TDS meter can be purchased on-line. When you test the water, you test for Total
Dissolved Solids, (TDS). The test will give you a read-out in parts per million, (PPM). Over 500 is
not suitable for human use. Most tap water falls between 150-420 PPM TDS. The process of
Reverse Osmosis usually results in a TDS of 90-95%.
Carbon Block Filters, are highly recommended for filtering water. They can capture up to 100% of
toxins. You can install carbon filters in your home. Additionally, there are portable filters available
on the market.

drinking water

Note the SOURCE of bottled water

Buying Bottled Water

There is a large number bottled water companies, and even larger number of brands available on
the market.
Generally they fall in one of four categories:
1. Spring Water – This category has one key distinction from the others. It’s source is
underground, as opposed to surface water. The springs flow to the rivers on the surface. The
water is then processed by ionization, and carbon filter.
2. Purified – Source: Either from a spring, or surface water. Purified through Reverse Osmosis,
Distillation, or De ionization. Contains mineral additives.
3. Filtered – Source: Surface water. Filtered through Carbon Filter, Micron Filter.
4. Distilled – Source: Surface water, then distilled using high boiling points to kill bacteria.

Pay Attention to the Source

Whatever class of your bottled water selection, always pay close attention to the source. The source
is usually printed on the back of the label. In some brands of water, the source will change from time to
time. This affects the taste, and content of the water, as not all sources are the same, regardless
of whether they are underground, or surface derived.

 

Bibliography: * Lambertine E, et AL. “Risk of Viral Accute Gastrointestinal Illness from Non disinfected Drinking
Water Distribution Systems”. Environmental Science Technology. 2012; 46 (17): 9299-9307
Water and Health. “What’s in your Drinking Water?”
[HTTP://Freshlysqeezedwater.org.uk/waterarticle_watercontent. php][06/20/2017]; “Types of
Water”. [HTTP://Drinkmorewater.com/Types-of-water][06/20/2017]; Wagner, Jamey. “What
Chemicals are in Tap Water”. [HTTP://www.Healthguidance.org/Entry/14913/1/What-chemicalsare-
in-tap-water.htm][06/20/2017]; Grace Communications Foundation. Water Program. “How the United States
Uses Water” [06/20/2017]; Schaper, David. NPR [10/29/2014]. “As Infrastructure
Crumbles Trillions of Gallons of Water is Lost”. NPR. [HTTP://Npr.org/2014/10/29/359875321/Asinfrastructure-
crumbles-trillions-of-gallons-of-water-lost].

 

YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO KNOW ABOUT AMERICA’S UNJUST SYSTEM OF FREE LABOR

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right tights; federal reserve seal located on front of us. currency

Thirteen percent of the US. population has a poverty rate that is almost 3 times that of the rest of the nation. Poverty is the modern-day vehicle for the system of free labor that dominated global trade for 400 years. Within our US. constitution lies one loophole that preserves this system of free labor. The 13th Amendment of the American Constitution declares: “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, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” The stipulation here lies in the word convicted. To be convicted of any alleged criminal act, a person either pleads guilty, (accepts a plea agreement), or pleads his case before a judge or jury, wherein they deliberate the outcome of the case. One key element stands between the judge or jury, and the outcome in any case. That is legal counsel.

FUNDAMENTAL RIGHT OR WRONG

The 5th amendment of the US. constitution states: “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.” The language, “To have the assistance of counsel for his defense,” suggests that an American citizen has a fundamental right to the assistance of a lawyer that will work to defend him. However, often this fundamental right is not upheld. The Bureau of Justice reports, approximately ¾ of inmates in state prisons received publicly provided counsel on the cases in which they were convicted, and imprisoned. Further, in a 2003 Department of Justice study of 75,573 US. criminal cases, 95% were resolved by guilty plea. Essentially, only an estimated 3% – 4% of the total US criminal cases make it to trial.

STATISTICS LEAD THE TRAIL

Black citizens in America today account for nearly 50% of the prison population. In contrast, according to the US. Census Bureau the black population forms less than 15% of the nation, of which 27% live below the poverty level. The incarceration rate has steadily increased over the last four decades. The Bureau of Justice reports 1 in 3 black men will go to prison in their lifetime. This leads to a complete disruption in the family cycle, it disintegrates the foundation necessary to build generational wealth. Men are confined to the greatest extent. According to a 2010 finding by the Bureau of Justice, men are incarcerated well over 10 times the rate of women. Families are impacted by the absence of a father figure, and all that it represents.  Fundamentally, communities of these broken families are left to fend for themselves, while men are utilized as free labor, medical experimentation, and further exploitation.

POVERTY AFFECTS THE NATION

This cycle of poverty is built into the American justice system. Free labor is a utility of the prison structure. Conversely, those reintegrated into society struggle to find employment, once freed, due to restrictions built into the justice system, and enforced by society at large. The value of American citizens is diminished not from crimes they have committed, though this is a common misconception. They are undervalued based on a system that castigates those living in poverty. The current system that devalues human potential, undermines the United States’ capacity to solve world, and domestic problems effectively. America is the richest, most powerful nation in the world, yet it has yet to resolve its own biggest problem, poverty.

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

Http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/id.htm


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Fighting for your Rights in a Criminal Case? Why you Should Research and Hire a Lawyer

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Fighting for your Rights in a System of Privilege Requires a Competent Lawyer

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 lawyer.

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.

Public Defender is not a Private Lawyer

The forensic evaluation was overshadowed by the weight of the state prosecutor’s allegation, and a vague record of 4 or 5 minor 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 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 “Competence 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 lawyer that will take a criminal case pro, or low bono.

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.lawyer; photo of legal motion

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, though it is not the only factor in the racial imbalance. USA Today recently conducted a review of 3,538 police departments across the US. The review was based on data reported by police departments to FBI annually. It concluded that black citizens are more likely than other citizens to be arrested in nearly every city, and for almost every type of crime, or offense, from loitering to murder. Information gathered showed 1,581 departments across the US arrest black citizens at rates higher than 3 times that of white citizens. At least 70 departments from Connecticut to California reported an arrest rate 10 times higher than that of the white population. In Clayton, a Missouri suburb, black citizens composed 8% of the population, and accounted for 57% of arrests.

The detrimental consequence of these disproportionate arrest rates is not just that they impact unequal incarceration rates, they factor heavily in how so they contribute. If these arrests, or charges remain on someone’s record, they can be utilized by prosecutors later to build a case against a defendant. This information contributes to higher bond sums, longer sentences, and more convictions. If not expunged, charges stemming from minor misunderstandings can later be mischaracterized to reflect a crime record. Competent legal defense is the last line of defense that separates freedom from confinement. The effects of racism and poverty ripple out generationally, as mass incarceration deteriorates families, communities, and undermines America’s potential.lawyer; photo of statue of liberty

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 its 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/

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/11/18/ferguson-black-arrest-rates/19043207

 

RELIEF FROM STRESS AND ANXIETY: How Meditation can be an Effective Tool for 21st Century Healthcare

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stress reduction, meditation, sunset

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.candles, meditation

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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You 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.


 

Road Food Additives

Convenience stores, and gas station food are notoriously overpriced, and underrepresented. Maintain your scrutiny, and you will survive the inconvenience. Here are a few simple guidelines when purchasing food in the galaxy:

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

Monosodium Glutamate, (MSG.): A popular condiment used in fast-food, including Asian fast food, in addition to a broad range of prepared foods commonly found on store shelves. It is used as a flavor enhancer, and associated with an array of chemical reactions, resulting from its 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 is historically costlier to import in the US., due largely to tariffs imposed by international, and domestic politics. HFCS., a laboratory manufactured substance developed to solve the problem of costly sugar importation, is not properly metabolized in the human body. Its’ accumulation in the system leads to an attack of the linings to such major organs as the liver, and kidneys. The threshold for accumulation can vary from person to person. It 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 diagnosis of cancer, diabetes, and organ failure.

Salt: As lethal as sugar when it accumulates in the body. High concentrations of both salt, and sugar make the blood more acidic. Acid’s action is to eat away at whatever matter is in its’ path.

Customize your Order

Order sandwiches plain, so that they might be cooked fresh. Request for food to be cooked without salt.  The benefit of this request is two-fold. It 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 come in pre-battered prior to cooking. 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 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 that seasoning be placed 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 bread, and bread products.
  • Avoid sweetened coffee creamers, particularly flavored sweetened cream.
  • Thinking about ordering from the breakfast menu? Beware; 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. 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. On dairy products: As humans develop beyond the stage of infancy, they lose the enzyme necessary to metabolize milk, and dairy products. The consumption of dairy can create an inconvenience, and turn your good day into a nightmare.

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.

nature, photo of man reclining

 

Overcoming Barriers to the Outdoors

Dressing 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 fluctuationsnature our connection to the universe; photo of walking shoes

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.