April 2011

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By: Jim Gorman
On October 6, 2003, Jeff Cook took his family out to dinner at the Chi-Chi’s Restaurant in the Beaver Valley Mall, north of Pittsburgh. When his chicken-and-steak fajitas arrived at the table, they were accompanied by the obvious—sauted peppers, onions, sour cream—and the invisible—a helping of hepatitis A. Cook, 38, healthy and energetic on that autumn evening, died of acute liver failure a month later.

Hepatitis A may have been the disease that ended up sickening 575 Chi-Chi’s patrons and employees—and killing three—but a batch of green onions was the carrier. Dirty food. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that every day, 200,000 Americans contract food poisoning. But Philip Tierno, Ph.D., a microbiologist at New York University medical center and author of The Secret Life of Germs, pegs the true eat-‘em-and-weep rate at around 800,000 a day. “Everyone in this country will have at least one incident of sickness this year attributable to a foodborne virus, bacteria, or toxin,” Tierno says. Except that most of us won’t know what hit us; we’ll chalk up the usually mild symptoms—nausea, diarrhea, cramping—to “that stomach flu that’s going around.”

Scientists currently know of only one 100 percent foolproof way to prevent foodborne illness: Stop eating. Or, almost as effective, obsess over every morsel you bring to your mouth and whether it might be staring back at you. But assuming you’d rather not die of slow starvation or, worse, live like Nick Nolte, we present you with a third, saner solution: Identify and sanitize the 10 dirtiest foods.

After considering incidence of foodborne outbreaks, relative danger of the dirt, and how often the carrier is found on our forks, we came up with a list of the edibles most likely to send your day spiraling down the crapper. We then assembled simple strategies for decontaminating the prime suspects—from the supermarket to the supper table—without worrying yourself sick. And what if, as with Jeff Cook, someone else does the cooking? We’ll also tell you how to spot a dirty restaurant. Add it all up and what we’re giving you is a recipe—for clean living.

Chicken
The dirt:
Never mind cigarettes; the Surgeon General should slap a warning label on chicken. Recent nationwide testing by Consumers Union, the advocacy group behind Consumer Reports, notes that of the 484 raw broilers examined, 42 percent were infected by Campylobacter jejuni, and 12 percent by Salmonella enterides.

The latest USDA research notes similar Salmonella levels. Now add in the fact that we each consume about 70 pounds of chicken a year—more than our intake of beef, pork, or turkey—and it’s a wonder broilers don’t come with barf bags.

At the supermarket: Look for birds labeled “free range.” Close quarters in the henhouse give bad bugs the chance to spread, as do high-volume processing operations. Free-range chickens, which are given more room to roost and are usually slaughtered in smaller numbers, present a potentially safer option. For example, Ranger chickens, a free-range brand sold in the Pacific Northwest, came up negative for Salmonella and Campylobacter in Consumers Union’s tests.

At home: To help prevent foodborne illness, bypass rinsing your raw bird in the sink, and instead put it directly into a baking dish or pan. This shortcut reduces the odds of sullying counters and other foods, says Janet B. Anderson, R.D., director of the Safe Food Institute in North Logan, Utah. If you used a cutting board, clean it (and the knife) with a mild, dilute bleach solution. As for your heat treatment, cook breasts and other cuts until the temperature hits 180°F. (If it’s a whole bird, take the temperature in the thickest part of the thigh.) “Poking the chicken or judging by juice color is risky,” says Anderson.

Ground Beef

The dirt: Even a little ground chuck can make you upchuck. When USDA inspectors last tested hamburger meat, they looked at 563 sources nationwide and discovered Clostridium perfringens in 53 percent of the batches, Staphylococcus in 30 percent, and Listeria monocytogenes in 12 percent. Interestingly, the USDA found no trace of Escherichia coli 0157:H7, a.k.a. E. coli, one of the desperadoes of foodborne illness. Despite this finding, if slaughterhouse safeguards fail (and they sometimes do), E. coli could potentially pop up in your next patty.

At the supermarket: Choose ground cow that’s been nuked. “Find a grocery store that sells irradiated ground beef,” says Donald W. Schaffner, Ph.D., an extension specialist in food science at Rutgers University. The package will bear the words “treated by irradiation.” Schaffner gives the safety of the treatment a glowing review: “The amount of induced radioactivity is 200,000 times smaller than the level of radioactivity naturally present in all foods.”

At home: Add fresh oregano to your burgers and meat loaf. When researchers at Kansas State University mixed a variety of common household spices into ground beef to test their antibacterial properties, oregano tested as one of the best at wiping out E. coli. Use at least 1 tablespoon per pound of meat. Just as important, flatten your patties—thick burgers will char on the outside before the interior reaches the required 160°F.

Ground Turkey

The dirt: Potentially one of the foulest of the fowl. A USDA survey showed that the odds are better than one in four that your ground gobbler contains Listeria, Campylobacter, Clostridium, or some combination of the three. What’s more, in a separate study by the FDA and the University of Maryland, 24 percent of the ground turkey sampled came back positive for Salmonella. And some of that Salmonella was resistant to antibiotics.

At the supermarket: Hunt for organic turkey. Most commercial turkey processors pump up their birds with antibiotics, a practice that may have encouraged the rise of resistant bacteria. Organic outfits, on the other hand, say no to drugs. When you reach the checkout, insist that the turkey be slipped into its own plastic bag and then placed in a meat-only shopping bag. This rule applies to beef and chicken, too: Otherwise, meat drippings might contaminate other groceries.

At home: “Change your mind-set about poultry. Start by thinking of it as being contaminated,” says Schaffner. Immediately retire to the dishwasher any platter that has come in contact with raw ground turkey. (Use the hottest setting.) Serve cooked turkey burgers (180°F) on a clean plate. And wipe up any spillage with a paper towel instead of a sponge. “The sponge is the most dangerous item in the house because of the organisms potentially living in it,” says Tierno.

Raw Oysters

The dirt: Oysters’ power as an aphrodisiac is overblown, but their power as a diarrheic when slurped raw is not. These filters for ocean waste can contain the norovirus (a pathogen notorious for nixing ocean cruises), Campylobacter, and Vibrio vulnificus. University of Arizona researchers who studied oysters from so-called certified-safe beds discovered that 9 percent were contaminated with Salmonella bacteria. Still hungry? “We found E. coli in 100 percent of Gulf Coast locations, and in high amounts,” says Lynn Joens, Ph.D., the study author.

At the supermarket: Buy from the same beds that a chef stakes his reputation on. Sandy Ingber, executive chef and seafood buyer for Grand Central Oyster Bar in New York City, buys Blue Point, Chincoteague, Glidden Point, Narragansett Bay, Pemaquid, and Wellfleet oysters in the winter months. During summer, he buys Coromandel oysters from New Zealand. The reason for the seasonal shift: More than three-quarters of outbreaks involving raw oysters occur in the Northern Hemisphere’s warm-water months.

At home: Very simple: Eat only thoroughly cooked oysters. If you must slurp, do so only after following the buying advice above.

Eggs

The dirt: Which is dirtier, the chicken or the egg? The chicken, by a long shot, or so it seems at first. More widespread pasteurization has reduced the rate of Salmonella contamination in eggs to only one in 20,000. But that still leaves more than two million hazardous eggs in circulation each year. Food poisoning linked to eggs sickens an estimated 660,000 people annually and kills 300. “Often, dishes made at restaurants are from pooled eggs,” which increases the risk, says Schaffner. “It’s really a matter of statistics. Eat an egg sunny-side up and your risk of Salmonella is one in 10,000. Eat an undercooked omelette made from a mix of 100 eggs, and the risk is significantly higher.”

At the supermarket: Check the egg cartons. You’re looking for one word—”pasteurized”—and four numbers—the expiration date. Then remove each egg and look for cracks; germs can enter after pasteurization.

At home: Ignore the egg keeper on the refrigerator door. Instead, keep the eggs in their carton and stow it in the coldest part of your fridge (usually the back of the lowest shelf). Then, after you crack one open, wash your hands. In her study of household food preparation, Utah State’s Anderson reports that 60 percent of people failed to wash their hands after handling raw eggs. Finally, cook your eggs—thoroughly (or, if they’re an ingredient in a dish, to 160°F).

Cantaloupe

The dirt: File this under “Who knew?” When the FDA sampled domestically grown cantaloupe, it found that 3.5 percent of the melons carried Salmonella and Shigella, the latter a bacteria normally passed person-to-person. Among imported cantaloupe, 7 percent tested positive for both bugs. And because you eat melons raw, the bacteria go right down your gullet. That’s a big part of the reason why from 1990 to 2001, produce in general has sickened as many people as have beef and poultry combined.

At the supermarket: Dents or bruising on the fruit can provide a path in for pathogens. But don’t think precut cantaloupe is safer. “I’ve been in several supermarkets where the produce was cut by personnel who didn’t wash their hands after handling eggs and other items,” says Anderson.

At home: Because cantaloupe grows on the ground and has a netted exterior, it’s easy for Salmonella to sneak on, and once on, it’s hard to clean off. Scrub the fruit with a dab of mild dishwashing liquid for 15 to 30 seconds under running water. And make sure you buy a scrub brush that you use exclusively to clean fruits and vegetables; otherwise it could become cross-contaminated.

Peaches

The dirt: Being pretty as a peach comes at a price. The fruit is doused with pesticides in the weeks prior to harvest to ensure blemish-free skin. By the time it arrives in your produce department, the typical peach can be coated with up to nine different pesticides, according to USDA sampling. And while apples tote a wider variety of pesticides, the sheer amount and strength of those on peaches sets the fuzzy fruit apart. On an index of pesticide toxicity devised by Consumers Union, peaches rank highest.

At the supermarket: Fill your plastic produce bag with peaches that wear a “USDA Organic” sticker. And since apples, grapes, pears, and green beans occupy top spots on the Toxicity Index, too, you may want to opt for organic here as well. Just know that organic produce also contains some pesticide residues, but in minuscule amounts.

At home: Wax on, wax off. “A lot of produce has a natural wax coating that holds pesticides, so wash with a sponge or scrub brush and a dab of mild dishwashing detergent. This can eliminate more than half of the residues,” says Edward Groth III, Ph.D., a senior scientist with Consumers Union. Got kids? Play it extra safe, and wash and pare peaches, apples, and pears.

Prepackaged Lettuce

The dirt: Don’t look now, but the lettuce on a burger could cause you more grief than the beef. Outbreaks of E. coli sickened 36 people in San Diego in September 2003 and sent 29 people reeling in eastern Washington in July 2002. In both cases, prepackaged lettuce was to blame. And according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, lettuce accounted for 11 percent of reported food-poisoning outbreaks linked to produce from 1990 to 2002, and “salad” accounted for 28 percent.

At the supermarket: Prepackaged salad mix is not inherently more hazardous than loose greens or a head of lettuce. It’s the claims of being “triple washed” that lull consumers into complacency. “Just because something is wrapped in cellophane doesn’t mean it’s free of pathogens,” says J. Glenn Morris, M.D., chairman of epidemiology and preventive medicine at the University of Maryland school of medicine.

At home: Rinse salad greens one leaf at a time under running water before eating. Beware of cross-contamination, too. “People know it’s risky to put salad in the same colander they washed chicken in,” says Anderson, “but they think nothing of touching a towel used to wipe up poultry juice, then making a salad.”

Cold Cuts

The dirt: Germs don’t take a number in the deli; cold cuts have been labeled at “high risk” of causing listeriosis by a joint team of researchers from the USDA, FDA, and CDC. While only 3 percent of the deli meats sampled contained Listeria at the point of purchase, the bacteria’s rapid growth rate on cuts stored even under ideal conditions concerned researchers. Combine that with the fact that cold cuts are, well, eaten cold, and you’ve got trouble; Listeria thrives at refrigerator temperatures that stun other foodborne pathogens.

At the supermarket: Turns out the most likely source of Listeria-contaminated cold cuts is the deli slicer. Without regular cleaning, the blade can transfer bacteria from roast beef to turkey to pastrami and back. But aside from asking the clerk to stop and clean the slicer before handling your order, the best you can do is avoid delis that are obviously dirty and stick with those that are annoyingly busy. Meats that rotate through a deli quickly have less opportunity to bloom with Listeria.

At home: From now on, skip the sniff test and trash whatever meat you haven’t eaten in a week. When you’re ready to build your sandwich, slather on the mustard. Researchers at Washington State University killed off 90 percent of three potent pathogens—Listeria, E. coli, and Salmonella—within 2 hours of exposing them to a mustard compound.

Scallions

The dirt: Scallions play a bit part in most dishes, but a little goes a long way, as evidenced by the massive hepatitis A outbreak at that Chi-Chi’s in October 2003. Dirty scallions have also triggered small hep A outbreaks in Georgia, North Carolina, and Tennessee. Other bugs known to have grabbed a ride on green onions include the parasite Cryptosporidium, Shigella, and the ever-present Salmonella. In FDA tests, U.S.-grown scallions carried Salmonella or Shigella in 3 percent of samples, nearly twice the number detected in imported samples.

At the supermarket: Forget trying to weed out U.S. or Mexican scallions. Given current labeling laws, grocers are under no obligation to list the country of origin of any produce item. More important, buy refrigerated scallions; room temperature can trigger a bacterial explosion.

At home: Turn on your faucet full force to blast away visible dirt. As you rinse, remove the outer sheath to expose lingering microorganisms, but realize that any step short of thorough cooking is only a partial solution. “More and more, pathogens are entering produce like scallions at a cellular level,” says Caroline Smith DeWaal, director of food safety at the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

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John Hunter puts all the problems of the world on a 4’x5′ plywood board — and lets his 4th-graders solve them. At TED2011, he explains how his World Peace Game engages schoolkids, and why the complex lessons it teaches — spontaneous, and always surprising — go further than classroom lectures can.

Why you should listen to him: .Musician, teacher, filmmaker and game designer, John Hunter has dedicated his life to helping children realize their full potential. His own life story is one of a never-ending quest for harmony. As a student, he studied comparative religions and philosophy while traveling through Japan, China and India. In India, inspired by Ghandi’s philosophy, he began to think about the role of the schoolteacher in creating a more peaceful world.

As his online biography says: “Accepting the reality of violence, he would seek to incorporate ways to explore harmony in various situations. This exploration would take form in the framework of a game – something that students would enjoy. Within the game data space, they would be challenged, while enhancing collaborative and communication skills.”

In 1978, at the Richmond Community High School, Hunter led the first sessions of his World Peace Game, a hands-on political simulation. The game has now been played around the world, on a four-tiered board. It’s the subject of the new film World Peace and Other 4th-Grade Achievements.
Read John Hunter’s note to the community following the publication of his TEDTalk >>

“The World Peace Game is about learning to live and work comfortably in the unknown.”
John Hunter

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“The best way to cut carbs from your diet is to make creative substitutions,” says Arthur Agatston, M.D., author of The South Beach Diet. “That way you can still eat the foods you love, without busting your diet.”

Dr. Agatston told us how to make cauliflower taste like mashed potatoes. Other nutrition experts gave us tricks for cutting white flour, pasta, and potatoes and replacing them with lower-carb alternatives that taste nearly identical. We then had some loyal carbo-cravers taste-test these dishes. Turns out some of them are so good, you’ll wonder why you weren’t eating them in the first place.

And for more great ways to and lose weight and stay slim for good, pick up a copy of The Men’s Health Diet today! It combines the latest findings in exercise and nutrition with practical how-to-advice that will transform your body into a fat-burning machine.

Hash Browns

Substitute: Squash for potatoes

Summer squash (the football-shaped yellow kind) tastes similar to potatoes when cooked—but has just a fraction of the carbs. Grate the squash, mix in an egg as binder, make patties, and fry them in olive oil, says Mary Dan Eades, M.D., coauthor of The Low-Carb Comfort Food Cookbook.

Carbs Eliminated: About 15 grams (g) per hash-brown patty

The Taste: “Not as firm and crispy as regular hash browns, but the potato flavor is there.”

Mash Potatoes

Substitute: Cauliflower for potatoes

One of Dr. Agatston’s favorites: Steam some fresh or frozen cauliflower in the microwave. Then spray the cauliflower with butter substitute, add a little nonfat half-and-half substitute, and puree in a food processor or blender. “Salt and pepper to taste and you’ve got something that quite honestly can compete with the real thing any day,” says Dr. Agatston. To make it even better, try adding roasted garlic, cheese, or sour cream to the mixture.

Carbs Eliminated: 30 g per cup

The Taste: “After a couple of bites, you forget it’s not potatoes.”

Lasagna

Substitute: Zucchini slices for noodles

Slice four to five medium-size zukes lengthwise into three-quarter-inch-thick strips, instructs Lise Battaglia, a New Jersey chef whose past clients include Jon Bon Jovi. Sprinkle Italian seasoning on the strips, place them in a single layer on a nonstick cookie sheet, and bake at 425 degrees F for 20 minutes. You want them firm, not crisp. “Then simply make the lasagna as you normally would, replacing lasagna noodles with the baked zucchini,” she says.

Carbs Eliminated: 36 g per serving

The Taste: “Delicious. The zucchini provides texture that you don’t get from noodles alone.”

Spaghetti

Substitute: Spaghetti squash for spaghetti

A cooked spaghetti squash is like Mother Nature’s automatic spaghetti maker—the flesh becomes noodlelike strands. “All you have to do is cut the squash in half and remove the seeds. Then place each half—cut side down—on a plate with a quarter cup of water,” says Elizabeth Perreault, a chef at Colorado’s Culinary School of the Rockies. Nuke the squash for 10 minutes or until it’s soft to the touch. Let it cool, then scrape out the “spaghetti” strands and top with pasta sauce and cheese.

Carbs Eliminated: 30 g per cup

The Taste: “Great. Spaghetti squash has exactly the same consistency as real pasta.”

Pancakes

Substitute: Oatmeal and cottage cheese for pancake mix

Here’s a can’t-fail recipe from The South Beach Diet. Mix together half a cup of old-fashioned oatmeal, a quarter cup of low-fat cottage cheese, two eggs, and a dash each of vanilla extract, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Process in a blender until smooth. Cook the mixture like a regular pancake.

Carbs Eliminated: 45 g per pancake

The Taste: “With syrup, you could never tell the difference.”

Scalloped Potatoes

Substitute: Tempeh for potatoes

You may think you don’t like soy-based foods, but that could be because you don’t cook them right, says Beckette Williams, R.D., a San Diego-based personal chef. “Tempeh can be really bland, but if you jazz it up with herbs and spices, it’s a great substitute for potatoes.” Her recommendation: Saute a couple of cups of thinly diced tempeh with garlic and onions. Then pour a cheese sauce (sharper is better) over the tempeh cubes and bake for half an hour.

Carbs Eliminated: 11 g per cup

The Taste: “Just like a slightly nutty baked potato.”

Macaroni and Cheese

Substitute: Diced vegetables for macaroni

Even instant mac and cheese can go lower-carb; use only half the pasta in the box and bulk it up with a couple of cups of frozen mixed vegetables, says Sandra Woodruff, R.D., coauthor of The Good Carb Cookbook.

Carbs Eliminated: 13 g per cup

The Taste: “I hate broccoli, but I wouldn’t mind eating this.”

Pasta Salad

Substitute: Mixed vegetables or black beans for half the pasta

Same idea as the mac and cheese, but try black beans, diced tomatoes, and chunks of ham, tuna, chicken, or hard-boiled eggs, suggests Richard Ruben, an instructor at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City. “These kinds of salads are a blank slate, so you can top them with anything from a creamy blue-cheese dressing to vinaigrette, or even lime juice and slices of avocado,” Ruben says.

Carbs Eliminated: 10 g per cup

The Taste: “Awesome. I don’t miss the extra pasta at all.”

Cheese-Flavored Chips

Substitute: Low-fat string cheese for chips

Just crazy enough to work: Cut sticks of string cheese into quarter-inch-thick slices and scatter the rounds on a cookie sheet coated with nonstick spray, leaving them an inch or two apart. Bake at 375 F for 4 to 5 minutes or until the cheese melts and turns golden brown. Let them cool, then peel the chips off the tray.

Carbs Eliminated: Up to 90 g per serving

The Taste: “Like the cheese you pull off the top of a pizza.”

Pizza

Substitute: Portobello mushrooms for pizza crust

Cut the gills out of the inside of the mushroom, says Ruben, “then place the mushroom on an oiled cookie sheet and bake for 5 to 10 minutes so it dries out slightly.” Add tomato sauce, mozzarella, and pepperoni or other toppings and broil until the cheese begins to melt.

Carbs Eliminated: About 20 g per slice

The Taste: “Like pizza, but moister. Give me a fork!”

Beef-a-Roni

Substitute: Eggplant for pasta

Mixing diced eggplant with ground beef is healthier and more highbrow than this old skillet special—call it moussaka American style. You have to soften the eggplant first, says Williams. Cut it in half, brush it with olive oil, and then broil for 10 to 20 minutes. “Let it cool, dice it up, and mix with hamburger, tomato sauce, and spices,” she says.

Carbs Eliminated: 26 g per cup

The Taste: “Exactly like Hamburger Helper, in a good way.”

Sandwiches

Substitute: Napa or Chinese cabbage for bread

Slap your turkey and Swiss onto a leaf of cabbage and roll it up. “I’ve made some great-tasting BLTs using cabbage instead of bread,” Battaglia says. Dip the roll in low-fat mayonnaise or mustard.

Carbs Eliminated: 29 g per sandwich

The Taste: “Better than eating plain cold cuts.”

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Stealth enemies may be hiding inside your house. Here’s how they happen, and how to eliminate them now.

Poisoned ProduceHow it happens: You already know bird-borne salmonella can kill you. Even if you treat raw poultry like toxic waste when cooking it, you may not be in the clear. While cutlets defrost in the fridge, salmonella can drip onto porous produce.

The fix: When defrosting poultry, cover it with plastic wrap and place it on a plate away from other foods, says Stanley Maloy, Ph.D., associate director of the center for microbial sciences at San Diego State University.

Perilous PipesHow it happens: You inhale Legionella, pneumonia-inducing bacteria that thrive in water and are found in industrial air-conditioning units and water pipes. The result is Legionnaires’ disease, named after a 1976 American Legion convention where the bacteria killed 29 people.

The fix: Every 3 months, crank your hot-water heater above 140°F and run all the faucets on hot for 10 minutes, Maloy says. The heat kills off the bacteria.

Lethal LightbulbsHow it happens: You replace your incandescent lightbulbs with more-energy-efficient compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFL). But when these eco-friendly beacons break, they release mercury gas, a neurotoxin that attacks the nervous system and can cause chronic kidney problems.

The fix: Hold the bulbs by the plastic base, not the glass, when inserting and unscrewing them. Put spent bulbs into the original boxes or in double plastic bags before recycling. No excuses: Ikea stores offer free drop-off.

Putrid SpongesHow it happens: Even when it appears “like new,” the sponge you use for wiping the table and washing dishes can harbor 10,000 bacteria per square inch. The Journal of Environmental Health recently suggested microwaving the sponges to kill the bacteria, but hundreds of people have found that dry sponges catch fire when zapped.

The fix: “A great way to disinfect dish sponges is to boil them or throw them in the dishwasher once a week,” says Joseph Laquatra, Ph.D., a professor of family policy at Cornell University.

Toxic Furniture How it happens: Those assembly-required bookshelves may be more trouble than they’re worth. Particleboard is glued together with the toxin formaldehyde, the vapors of which irritate the eyes and skin of some people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The fix: Slap on a coat of varnish to trap the formaldehyde. You’ll stave off exposure and maybe convince people you don’t have cheapo shelves.

Deadly SoilHow it happens: Your home may be built on soil with dangerous levels of decayed uranium, called radon. “A home is like a vacuum cleaner over soil,” says Laquatra. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer. (Cigarettes are the first.)

The fix: Conduct a radon test at least every 2 years. If your home fails the test, hire a contractor to install a ventilation pipe that stretches from below the basement floor to the roof. It will siphon off the deadly radon particles—an easy fix for a dangerous problem.

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This fragile Earth deserves a voice. It needs solutions. It needs change. It needs you.


Today is Earth Day: a day to highlight environmental issues and bring them to the forefront. For the past 40 years, Earth Day has motivated people to give back to the planet and to move towards protecting its resources. Though we should always strive to live in an environmentally friendly fashion, you can recognize Earth Day by doing something good for the planet — something as simple as planting a tree, turning off your lights to conserve energy, or walking instead of driving to help reduce pollution. Watch this week’s video for an inspirational message about lending the Earth a hand.

Do you do anything special to recognize Earth Day? What are some steps you take to help the environment? After watching the video be sure to share your comments below, and feel free to pass this video on to friends and family.

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Every item in the grocery store claims to be “low in,” “free of” or “good for” . . . something. This makes it difficult to separate the healthy stuff from the waistline wreckers. Use this encyclopedia to learn what the most misleading food labeling claims really mean.

Lightly Sweetened

A frequently abused claim with no formal definition, this appears most often in the cereal aisle, and many of the boxes it adorns are actually loaded with various sweeteners. Need proof? Look at Kellogg’s Smart Start. It claims to be “lightly sweetened,” yet it has more sugar per cup than a full serving of Oreo cookies!

Good Source Of . . .

This packaging claim is of slightly less importance than “excellent source of.” It means that the product contains between 10 and 19 percent of your daily requirement for the mentioned nutrient. In other words, you would have to eat between 5 and 10 servings to get your full day’s value.

Reduced Fat

Splashed across too many packaged goods to count, this term means that the total fat grams have been reduced by at least 25 percent. Sounds great, right? Problem is, that reduction in fat often comes with an increase in sugar and sodium and, ultimately, no net nutritional gain to speak of. 

Multigrain

This simply means that more than one type of grain was used in processing (e.g., wheat, rye, barley, and rice). It doesn’t, however, make any claim about the degree of processing used on those grains. Also, beware of the equally ambiguous “wheat bread,” a claim that simply means the loaf was made from wheat flour, which might very well be refined and colored with molasses to appear darker.  The only trustworthy claim for whole grains is “100 percent whole grain.”

Lightly Breaded

The phrase most restaurants use to distract diners from the fact that the food they’re about to eat has been rolled in flour, egg, and bread crumbs and let loose in a vat of bubbling fat. Doesn’t matter how light the breading is; it’s the oil part that will get you.

Natural

This term is used almost entirely at the discretion of food processors. With the exception of meat and poultry products, the USDA has set no definition and imposes no regulations on the use of this term, making it essentially meaningless.

NEXT »

Complimentary

Usually attached to one of the following words: chips, bread, desserts, refills. In any case, the act of giving away low-cost, high-calorie foods is a common tactic restaurants use to add value to the “customer experience.” Remember, just because it’s free doesn’t mean it won’t cost you—these empty calories add up fast. 

Reduced Sodium

Used when the sodium level is reduced by 25 percent or more, regardless of the total amount. “Low sodium,” on the other hand, can be used only when the product contains no more than 140 milligrams per serving.

Trans Fat–Free

Food processors can make this claim so long as their product contains less than 0.49 gram of trans fat per serving. Considering the American Heart Association recommends capping daily intake at 2 grams, this is no small amount. So even if the label reads “0 g trans fat,” that’s no guarantee that you’re in the clear. Instead, read the ingredients list; if shortening or partially hydrogenated oil is listed, then you need to find another product.

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“The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.”

A great montage of all the “crazy” people who made a huge difference in the world.

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Activist Caroline Casey tells the story of her extraordinary life, starting with a revelation (no spoilers). In a talk that challenges perceptions, Casey asks us all to move beyond the limits we may think we have.

Why you should listen to her:

Caroline Casey has dedicated the past decade of her life to changing how global society views people with disabilities. In 2000, she rode 1,000 kilometers across India on an elephant to raise funds for Sight Savers. Then, as founding CEO of Kanchi in Dublin, she developed a set of best practices (based on ISO 9000 quality standards) for businesses, to help them see “disabled” workers as an asset as opposed to a liability. Hundreds of companies have adopted the standards, changing their policies and attitudes.

In 2004, Casey started the O2 Ability Awards to recognize Irish businesses for their inclusion of people with disabilities, both as employees and customers. The initiative has received international praise and, in 2010, a parallel program was launched in Spain.

“She is one of those people who, instead of just talking about changing the world, gets up and actually does it however tough the doing of it turns out to be. ”

The Irish Times

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core.jpg

Every exercise targets certain parts of your body—but if you tweak a move just right, you can build other muscles at the same time. This workout, designed by Craig Ballantyne, C.S.C.S., does that by challenging your core, chest, back, arms, and shoulders. Perform it as a circuit with no breaks between moves; then rest for 1 minute and repeat two more times.

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Chinup + Knee Raise

Hang from a chinup bar using a shoulder-width, underhand grip. Pull your chest to the bar while also raising your knees to your chest. Pause, and slowly lower your body while also lowering your knees. If you can’t complete a chinup, simply raise your knees while hanging from the bar. Complete 10 reps, or as many as you can.

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Standing Single-Arm Shoulder Press

Stand holding a dumbbell just outside your shoulder, with your palm facing you. Set your feet shoulder-width apart and keep your knees slightly bent. Raise the weight until your arm is completely straight, and then lower it to the starting position. Do 10 repetitions with each arm.

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Pushup + Row

Start in a pushup position as you grip a pair of hex dumbbells placed shoulder-width apart, your palms facing in. Lower your body, pause, and push yourself back up. Now pull the dumbbell in your right hand straight up to the side of your chest. Pause, and lower it. Repeat the move with your left arm. That’s 1 rep. Do 10.

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Lying Triceps Extension

Lie faceup on a bench with your feet flat on the floor. Hold a pair of dumbbells at arm’s length above your head, your palms facing each other. Without moving your upper arms, bend your elbows to lower the weights until your forearms are past parallel to the floor. Pause; lift back to the starting position. Do 12 reps.

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