News on Health & Science

Free or Farmed, When Is a Fish Really Organic?

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Buying a pork chop labeled   organic  is relatively straightforward: it comes from a pig that ate only organic food, roamed outdoors from time to time and was left free of antibiotics

But what makes a fish organic?

That is a question troubling the Agriculture Department, which decides such things. The answer could determine whether Americans will be able to add fish to the growing list of organic foods they are buying, and whether fish farmers will be able to tap into that trend and the profits that go with it.

Organic foods, which many people believe to be more healthful (though others scoff), are grown on farms that shun chemicals and synthetic fertilizers and that meet certain government standards for safeguarding the environment and animals.

An organic tomato must flourish without conventional pesticides; an organic chicken cannot be fed antibiotics. Food marketers can use terms like “natural” and “free range” with some wiggle room, but only the Agriculture Department can sanction the “organic” label.

To the dismay of some fishermen — including many in the Alaskan salmon industry — this means that wild fish, whose living conditions are not controlled, are not likely to make the grade. And that has led to a lot of bafflement, since wild fish tend to swim in pristine waters and are favored by fish lovers.

“If you can’t call a wild Alaska salmon true and organic,” asked Senator Lisa Murkowski,a Republican from Alaska, “what can you call organic?”

Instead, it appears that only farm-raised salmon may pass muster, as may a good number of other farm-raised fish — much to the delight of fish farmers.

But a proposed guideline at the Agriculture Department for calling certain farmed fish “organic” is controversial on all sides. Environmentalists argue that many farm-raised fish live in cramped nets in conditions that can pollute the water, and that calling them organic is a perversion of the label. Those who catch and sell wild fish say that their products should be called organic and worry that if they are not, fish farmers will gain a huge leg up.

Even among people who favor the designation of farmed fish as organic, there are disputes over which types of fish should be included.

Trying to define what makes a fish organic  is a strange concept,  said George H. Leonard, science manager for the Seafood Watch Program at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which offers a consumer guide to picking seafood.   The more you look at it, particularly for particular kinds of fish, it gets even stranger.

The issue comes down largely to what a fish eats, and whether the fish can be fed an organic diet. There is broad agreement that the organic label is no problem for fish that are primarily vegetarians, like catfish and tilapia, because organic feed is available (though expensive).

Fish that are carnivores   salmon, for instance    are a different matter because they eat other fish, which cannot now be labeled organic.

The Agriculture Department panel that recommended adding farmed fish to the organic roster was willing to work around the issue, and offered various ways that fish-eating fish could qualify.

But those work-arounds have infuriated some environmentalists, who take issue with the idea that a fish could be called organic if it ate meal made from wild nonorganic fish. This constituency complains, among other things, that demand for fish meal is depleting wild fisheries.

When it comes to carnivorous fish, it seems to be a complete deception of what organic means,  said Andrea Kavanagh, director of the Pure Salmon Campaign, an advocacy group working to improve conditions for farm-raised fish.   Organic is supposed to be on 100 percent organic feed.

As the purists balk, the market for organic foods grows. Consumer sales reached $13.8 billion in 2005 compared with $3.6 billion in 1997, according to the Organic Trade Association. What started as a farming technique for crops has expanded into everything from processed foods to flowers and cosmetics. There was even a federal task force to evaluate organic pet food.

Fish farmers and retailers are painfully aware of what they are missing, and some of them are taking matters into their own hands. As things stand, a limited amount of seafood is being sold as organic at stores in the United States, usually because it was certified by other countries or by third-party accreditation agencies.

A company in Florida called OceanBoy Farms is selling what it says are organic shrimp to Wal-Mart, Costco and some other retailers. And at the Lobster Place, a seafood store in Manhattan,   organic   king salmon from New Zealand is offered for $13.50 a pound, compared with $22.95 for wild king salmon and $9.95 for farm-raised salmon.
Should wild fish receive an organic label? Or should it be reserved for farm-raised fish?

People will go for organic salmon when wild king salmon isn’t available,   said Todd Harding, director of wholesale operations for the Lobster Place. He said that the taste of organic salmon was more consistent, but that he generally preferred wild salmon.

While most consumers say they prefer wild-caught fish, 72 percent would buy organic fish at least some of the time, according to a recent survey by the New Jersey Department of Agriculture and Rutgers.

If the Agriculture Department ultimately approves organic fish, it would certainly complicate the debate about what types of seafood are best in terms of taste, nutrition, price and environmental impact. Farm-raised? Wild-caught? Or farm-raised organic?

There is plenty of history to the debate. In 2000, when the Agriculture Department sought to weed out some of the food industry’s murkier organic claims, it named a task force to evaluate requests from fish farmers for organic eligibility.

The farmers argued, then as now, that with demand for seafood growing and many wild fisheries being depleted, farm-raised seafood should have a competitive edge. On farms, they said, the number of fish remains stable, and the quality of water and feed are controlled.

One thing the task force did was rule out the possibility that wild fish could be labeled organic.

It takes some thinking about,  said Rebecca J. Goldburg, a senior scientist at the advocacy group Environmental Defense, who was on the advisory panel.   What it comes down to is organic is about agriculture, and catching wild animals isn’t agriculture.

The task force recommended that farm-raised fish could be labeled organic as long as their diets were almost entirely organic plant feed.

The Agriculture Department shelved those recommendations and let the issue lie fallow. In 2005 a second task force was convened — this time, with more members affiliated with the aquaculture industry.

This year, the group recommended far less stringent rules, including three options for what organic fish could eat: an entirely organic diet; nonorganic fish during a seven-year transition period while fish farms shift to organic fish meal; or nonorganic fish meal from   sustainable  fisheries. Sustainable fisheries are those that ensure that their fish stocks do not become depleted.

Even if the recommendations are adopted, it will still take several years before U.S.D.A.-certified organic fish appears in stores or restaurants. But domestic fish farmers say that new rules cannot come soon enough. While the aquaculture industry has experienced rapid growth, the vast majority of it has been overseas    mainly in China   and much of the growth in seafood sales in the United States, which had a wholesale value of $29.2 billion in 2004, has come from imports.

Rodger May, a Seattle businessman who sells wild and farm-raised salmon, is preparing for the day when he can sell his fish as organic. For now he refers to some of his farm-raised salmon  which live in ocean pens, as opposed to man-made ponds    as   natural,  a designation that does not carry the same marketing punch as would   organic.

Mr. May says he believes that he has created the perfect environment for organic fish. His  natural   fish are raised in pens that hold fewer fish than those for his regular farm-raised salmon, and they live in a body of water where fast-moving currents constantly provide fresh water and flush away waste.

His fish eat a mixture of oily brown pellets that resemble dog food and contain protein in the form of ground-up fish; other farm-raised salmon are fed protein from chicken and other land animals, he said.

How can a wild fish be cleaner than one of these?   he asked.    What can be more organic than something that comes out of the sea, that has no chemicals near it, no antibiotics and is fed fish?

The Agriculture Department may ultimately agree with Mr. May. But even if it does, it could then face another round of difficult questions. For instance, what is an organic clam? An oyster? A scallop?

“How do you make conventional mollusk production different from organic mollusk production?” asked Ms. Goldburg, the Agriculture Department panelist, who noted that mollusks filter water for food. They are all just sucking up water. Is it cleaner water.

Source:  The New York Times

News on Health & Science

Every person has a unique odour

VIENNA: You don’t smell so good… a survey of about 400 compounds can tell one person from another. There are many good reasons to believe that we all have our own unique smell.

Dogs, for example — as pets or police sniffers — seem to be able to distinguish individuals by their smell. And the mother-baby bond is cemented by their own distinctive odours.

Now a large and systematic study led by Dustin Penn from the Konrad Lorenz Institute for Ethology in Vienna, Austria, has provided stronger support for the notion that your smell might distinguish you from others — maybe even as much as your face.

The researchers further suggest that profiles of individual odours may also fall into two groups according to gender.

The researchers took samples of armpit sweat, urine and spit from 197 adults. Each subject was sampled five times over a ten-week collecting period.

They extracted thousands of volatile chemicals from the samples — the type of compound most likely to have an odour — and identified them by chromatography and mass spectrometry.

The team found many more different volatile chemicals in sweat than in urine or saliva, it reports in Journal of the Royal Society Interface.

This could be because humans have a reason to be able to distinguish themselves by general body odour, more than by marking territory as many animals do.

An individual’s cocktail of odours changed all the time, but the researchers identified nearly 400 compounds that persisted in sweat samples taken at different times.

Source:The Times Of India

News on Health & Science

Prognosis: In Smoking, Research Finds, Cutting Back Won’t Do

Smokers who say they just can’t quit are sometimes told to at least cut down. But even if they reduce their intake by half or more, they are unlikely to see much benefit, a new study reports.

The study, which appears in the journal Tobacco Control, followed the health of more than 50,000 Norwegian smokers over more than two decades.

The subjects, men and women ages 20 to 49 at the start of the research in the mid-1970s, were screened once at the start of their involvement and again after 3 to 13 years. A smaller group was screened a third time. On average, the researchers kept track of each participant for about 20 years.

The researchers found that those who reduced their cigarette intake by 50 percent or more did not have a better mortality rate from all causes of death than heavier smokers did. They did not even do better when it came to diseases specifically associated with smoking.

“In health education and patient counseling,” the researchers wrote, “it may give people false expectations to advise that reduction in consumptions is associated with reduction in harm.”

They did say that cutting back probably had value as an interim step to quitting smoking.

It is unclear why those who cut back did not seem to be healthier. One possibility, the study said, is that to compensate for the cigarettes they give up, smokers inhale smoke more deeply and smoke more of each cigarette.

Source:The New York Times

Positive thinking

Morning Tones The Day

Morning is the time to start the good and beautiful day.The choices you make upon waking can have a profound impact on your day. If, still drowsy, you hit the ground running, rushing to prepare yourself to face your worldly obligations, you will likely feel fatigued and overwhelmed for most of your day. A leisurely and relaxing morning, on the other hand, can energize and excite you, as well as give you the courage to meet the challenges waiting for you. By beginning your day in a focused and centered fashion, you make it your own. You set the tone of your expectations and choose the mood you will use to respond to your circumstances. A gentle, reflective, and thoughtful morning will prepare you to create a gentle, conscious, and thoughtful day.

The simplest way to eliminate the rush from your morning routine is to rise earlier. Getting children into routines and getting themselves ready as much as possible will also give you more time. Though this may seem like a hardship at first, you will soon grow to love the extra minutes or hours that afford you an opportunity to really enjoy watching the sun come up or connect with your loved ones before you go in your separate directions. There are many more ways you can constructively use the time you gain. A mere half-hour of introspection in which you examine your goals, thank the universe for the richness in your life, and contemplate the blessings you will receive this day can lift your spirit and help you formulate lasting positive expectations. Likewise, you can solidify your day’s intention through spoken affirmations or the words you record in a journal. Or, if you want little more than to enjoy your day, devote a portion of your personal time to activities that bot! h ground and delight you, such as meditation, yoga, chanting, singing, reading, or listening to music. If you feel, however, that there is little room for change in your start-of-the-day routine, try to make each activity you engage in upon waking a ritual in its own right. The time you spend everyday savoring a soothing cup of tea or washing away tension in a hot shower can serve as a potent reminder of the need to care for yourself no matter what the hour.

Your morning is yours and should reflect not only your practical needs but also the needs of your soul. When you center yourself at the start of your day, you will likely find it easier to remain centered during subsequent work, play, and downtime because the overall sense of serenity you create through your choices will stay with you throughout the day.

Source:Daily Om

Ailmemts & Remedies


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Red, itchy, or puffy eyes, sometimes with allergic shiners — dark circles around the eyes.
Swollen nasal passages.
Runny nose with a clear discharge.
Irritated throat.

What It Is

Allergic rhinitis is the medical term for the nasal symptoms caused by allergies to a variety of airborne particles. The condition can be an occasional inconvenience or a problem so severe that it interferes with almost every aspect of daily life. If you notice symptoms in warm weather, you may have seasonal allergies, commonly called hay fever, triggered by tree or grass pollen in spring and by ragweed in the fall. If you have symptoms year-round — called perennial allergies — the most likely culprits are mites in household dust, mold, or animal dander. You may be allergic to one or more of these irritants. For either type of allergy, the symptoms are the same. People with allergic rhinitis may have a decreased resistance to colds, flu, sinus infections, and other respiratory illnesses.

click & see the pictures

What Causes It

When bacteria, viruses, or other substances enter the body, the immune system sets out to destroy those that can cause illness, but ignores such harmless particles as pollen. In some individuals, however, the immune system can’t tell the difference between threatening and benign material. As a result, innocuous particles can trigger the release of a naturally occurring substance called histamine and other inflammatory compounds in the area where the irritant entered the body — the nose, throat, or eyes.
No one knows why the immune system overreacts this way, but some experts think that poor nutrition and pollutants in the air may weaken the system. Allergic rhinitis also runs in some families.

How Supplements Can Help

For seasonal allergies, take all supplements in the list below from early spring through the first frost. In place of prescription or over-the-counter drugs, try quercetin. Whereas drugs simply block the effect of histamine, this flavonoid inhibits its release — without any side effects. Combining it with the herb nettle can combat sneezing, itching, and swollen nasal passages.
Vitamin A and vitamin C support the immune system; vitamin C, the main antioxidant in the cells of the respiratory passages, may also have anti-inflammatory and antihistamine effects. The B vitamin pantothenic acid may reduce nasal congestion. You may want to take these three nutrients during allergy season, even if you opt for traditional drugs for specific symptom relief.

And, for severe cases of hay fever, ephedra (Ma huang) may be useful because it opens the respiratory passages. You can use ephedra with quercetin and nettle, but not with prescription or over-the-counter antihistamines or decongestants.

What Else You Can Do

Stay indoors with the windows closed when pollen counts are high. Use an air-conditioner even in the car and clean the filter regularly.
Eliminate carpets and use furniture slipcovers that can be washed. Encase mattresses and pillows in allergy-proof covers and wash bedding weekly in very hot water. Dust mites collect in these areas.
Clean damp areas to prevent the growth of mold.
Certain herbs are natural antihistamines. Try sipping teas made from anise, ginger, or peppermint singly or in combination. Ginger and peppermint also have a decongestant effect. Drink up to four cups a day as needed to reduce symptoms.
Wash bedding in very hot water (130?F) to kill the dust mites that accumulate and trigger allergic reactions or add eucalyptus oil to a warm-water wash. Mix 2 ounces oil with 1 ounce liquid dishwashing detergent (otherwise the oil will separate from the water). In the washer presoak the bedding in this mixture for half an hour; then put in your usual laundry detergent and run the laundry cycle as you normally do.

Supplement Recommendations:-

1. Quercetin:-Dosage: 500 mg twice a day.
Comments: Use 20 minutes before meals; often sold with vitamin C.

2.Nettle:- Dosage: 250 mg 3 times a day on an empty stomach.
Comments: Standardized to contain at least 1% plant silica.

3.Vitamin A:-Dosage: 10,000 IU a day.
Comments: Women who are pregnant or considering pregnancy should not exceed 5,000 IU a day.

4.Vitamin C:-Dosage: 1,000 mg 3 times a day.
Comments: Reduce dose if diarrhea develops.

5.Pantothenic Acid:- Dosage: 500 mg 3 times a day.
Comments: Take with meals.

6.Ephedra:- Dosage: 130 mg standardized extract 3 times a day.
Comments: May cause insomnia.

Ayurvedic treatment may sometimes cure Allergy permanently.

Homeremedies are helpful for curing several Allergies.

Homeopathic sometimes plays a good role in curing Allergy.
Help taken from: Your Guide to Vitamins, Minerals, and Herbs

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