The good news is that there may well be a relatively simple way for many individuals now caught up in the ongoing nationwide opioid crisis to pull themselves out of it. And that’s no small thing, considering that that this man-made catastrophe has killed an estimated 20,000 Americans from overdoses in 2016 alone. The bad news is that the federal government is trying its best to make such apparent salvation illegal.
Thanksgiving offers a wonderful opportunity — not only to “gather together” with family members and friends from near and far for a traditional homemade feast, but in so doing, to reject today’s fraudulent food culture in favor of the kinds of things that Mother Nature intended to sustain us.
You might even say that there’s no better way to show how thankful we are for the ‘blessings of the harvest’ than to restore them to their proper place on our table. By that, I mean preparing and serving only the kinds of foods that are the ‘real deal’, rather than the adulterated, additive-laden, disease-promoting products that manufacturers have substituted for no other purpose than to minimize their costs and maximize their profits.
In an age when children have been encouraged by multimillion-dollar marketing campaigns to develop cravings for junk food and parents persuaded to serve nutrition-deficient, ready-made meals permeated with neurotoxic flavor enhancers and other synthetic ingredients that wreak havoc on health, Thanksgiving is an occasion for reintroducing to our families the simple delights of genuine food.
Take cranberry sauce, for example. Now, the cranberry is one of nature’s most healthful fruits — loaded with antioxidants, phyto-nutrients, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer benefits. Unfortunately, commercial food processors such as Ocean Spray have made it easy to serve canned varieties of cranberry sauce (either jellied or “whole berry”) that have been sweetened with high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), the laboratory concoction that studies have linked to our current epidemics of obesity and diabetes, as well as various other health problems.
But with just a little more effort than that required to open a can and coax the HFCS-sweetened blob out with a knife, you can make HFCS-free cranberry sauce all by yourself. Fresh cranberries, water and sugar cooked till the berries pop will thicken as it cools and taste amazing (see recipe measurements here. Note, this recipe calls for orange juice, but you can also substitute water using the same amount).
Even worse than the canned cranberry sauce are commercial variants on some of the other stuff traditionally served at Thanksgiving — like stuffing, for instance.
Two of the worst examples of this good side dish-turned bad are made by Kraft — Stove Top Turkey Stuffing and Stove Top Cornbread Stuffing. Both look like laboratory creations, having been laced not only with HFCS, but two other atrocious additives — partially hydrogenated soybean or cottonseed oil (a source of trans fats that ‘s now being officially phased out by the Food and Drug Administration as a cause of thousands of heart attacks every year) and hydrolyzed protein, a form of disguised MSG that can actually destroy certain brain cells — especially in children and the elderly.
Other brands of commercial stuffing mix, such as Arnold “Premium” Cornbread Stuffing and Pepperidge Farm Herb Seasoned Stuffing, aren’t much better, despite the image of wholesomeness these brands have tried to cultivate. Both contain HFCS and that coronary artery disease-inducing partially hydrogenated oil.
Even if you have to make your stuffing from scratch (which is not all that complicated) there is absolutely no excuse to be using chemical concoctions like the ones mentioned above. Arrowhead Mills, for example, makes a ready-seasoned organic stuffing mix that’s just as easy to prepare as Stove Top.
Let’s talk turkey — the unadulterated kind
Then there’s the turkey itself, which can also contribute its own share of unhealthy ingredients to the mix. Watch out for any bird that is said to be “self basting,” deep basted,” or any similar claim. Also check the packaging for any added ingredients. You should be cooking a turkey, not conducting a lab experiment.
Of course, no Thanksgiving dinner would be complete without the seasonal scrumptiousness of pumpkin pie for dessert. And your local supermarket can no doubt accommodate you with a choice of at least two or three brands, Marie Callender’s being a prime example. The problem is, Marie’s pumpkin pie comes with something besides pumpkin. It contains so much partially hydrogenated oil that it actually registers on the trans fat scale of the Nutrition Facts label. (Most products that harbor this artificially processed artery clogger are able to use a loophole in the law to falsely claim they contain contain “zero trans fat.”)
A far better idea is to bake your own pumpkin pie using ready-made canned pumpkin, adding your own ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon, condensed milk and an additive-free pie shell (Arrowhead Mills makes a good one of those as well). You can also make your own pie shell from scratch, it’s much easier than you think. Just be sure to use graham cracker crumbs that have good ingredients, i.e., no partially hydrogenated oils, HFCS or artificial flavors or colors. The recipe is easy to find (also on every can of pumpkin), and easy to prepare. Just make sure you allow enough time to chill your creation in the fridge.
With just a little bit of extra effort, you’ll have a Thanksgiving table of which you can really be proud — one that’s free of the junk foods that the big food companies would like to have us think are traditional dishes and “original recipes.” And you can prove to your family and your guests that old-fashioned, genuinely ‘natural” food tastes even better than cheap, “convenient” imitations — and can make for a holiday feast that’s every bit as enjoyable as those pictured by Norman Rockwell.
October 31, 2017
Now that Halloween is here again (it always sneaks up on you), we hope you’ve heeded our earlier advice and found treats that are free of the various “badditives” that are still being allowed in so many products.
But those scary ingredients, such as high fructose corn syrup, artificial colors, aspartame and even the partially hydrogenated oil that is now in the process of being phased out – can be found in a lot more things than Halloween candy.
In fact, you might even say that a lot of the items we eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner on a daily basis can actually be put in the “junk food” category because of the harmful chemicals they contain. And that includes a long list of items that you may have on the menu for your upcoming holiday feasts.
Take cranberry sauce, for example. While the cranberry is coming to be regarded as a “superfood” that offers many nutritional and even medicinal benefits (and should absolutely be part of your holiday festivities), much of the conventional canned cranberry sauce you’ll find in the supermarket has added the laboratory sweetener HFCS. That turns this incredibly healthful food into something that’s actually hazardous to our health.
Then there’s stuffing, which may contain a variety of badditives we talk about in our book – including various disguised forms of MSG that, depending on your degree of sensitivity to them, can cause everything from headaches to vision problems, seizures and Afib.
And that’s not to mention the things you might find in even home-baked pies, bread or muffins if you’ve made them from a commercial mix, and which may well include aluminum, a common ingredient in baking powder, which has been linked to Alzheimer’s and other health problems.
Of course, if turkey is on your menu, you should seriously consider serving an organic or free-range one, rather than a bird that has been fattened up using growth hormones, or on genetically modified feed laced with the herbicide Roundup.
By keeping these things in mind as you prepare for the upcoming holiday season, you can turn the festivities into an occasion for some truly healthy as well as enjoyable eating.
Linda and Bill Bonvie
October 18, 2017
New Jersey – Halloween is coming. And the scariest stuff is as close as your fridge or pantry.
It’s that time of year again when, unless you live in an isolated cabin in the woods (or possibly more so if you do), stocking up on “treats” is practically obligatory.
Now, maybe you’re not in the habit of checking the ingredients in the goodies you hand out to your neighborhood goblins. But remember, your contributions can have an impact on how healthy your community is. (And don’t overlook that you and your family may well end up eating the leftovers yourselves.)
So it’s a good idea to turn more than a passing glance toward the labels on the Halloween treats you’re giving out. A lot of them contain some scary ingredients you will likely want to avoid – even if they’re going to be gobbled up by witches and ghosts!
Here are some spooky “Tricks” lurking in those treats:
Trick #1: High fructose corn syrup or HFCS, the laboratory-created sweetener that took first-place honors in the Citizens for Health Read Your Labels campaign – and for good reason. The scientific rap sheet on HFCS is getting longer all time.
High fructose consumption in general, and consumption of HFCS in particular, recently have been linked to a higher risk for heart disease and diabetes – especially in kids. The additive has also been identified in studies as contributing to weight gain and obesity, hampered brain function and increased levels of cholesterol and triglycerides.
Trick #2: Partially hydrogenated oil (PHO), a.k.a. trans fats. Unbelievably, some cakes and candies still contain this ingredient, even though the FDA promised it would be phased out by June of next year. All health professionals and experts – yes, all of them – agree that PHO poses a major cardiovascular threat.
Even the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention admit that PHOs are responsible for causing more than 20,000 heart attacks and roughly 7,000 deaths a year in the U.S. alone.
Trick #3: Artificial colors, which are widely used in candies, are often derived from coal tar and petroleum extracts. These additives are acknowledged to cause hyperactivity in some children, which is why since 2010 European regulatory officials have required that products containing these unnatural coloring agents contain a warning label saying that consumption “may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children”.
Trick #4: Aspartame can be in anything from beverages to yogurt, but it’s also found in some common Halloween treats like gum and hard candies. And in a bizarre way, that’s kind of fitting, as it’s actually a brain-eating mini-monster in disguise, one of a class of chemicals known as “excitotoxins” that are actually capable of exciting certain brain cells to death.
That little side effect is especially true for kids whose blood-brain barrier isn’t fully developed. Since aspartame’s shady approval in 1981 by a political appointee at the Food and Drug Administration, thousands upon thousands of health-related complaints about it have been lodged with the agency ranging from migraines to dizziness to vision problems. And that that’s really scary!
No one, of course, expects candy to be health food. But some of the treats stacked up in anticipation of Halloween are far less healthy than others. And remember, the ingredient list, not the Nutrition Facts Label, is your only guide to what they really contain.
October 6, 2017
New Jersey – For several weeks during the spring and summer we sent you excerpts from Badditives! The 13 Most Harmful Food Additives in Your Diet and How to Avoid Them by Linda and Bill Bonvie, the longtime writers of our Food Identity Theft blogs. We are pleased to share with you here a follow-up message from Linda Bonvie, and look forward to providing more guidance on this issue in the near future:
What you read in the excerpts Bill and I shared was merely a glimpse into the world of an industry that has control over something that’s fundamental to life itself – the food we eat.
Even if you’re a confirmed label reader and avoid processed food like the plague, you’d still be hard-pressed to totally avoid all of the dangerous additives that have managed to worm their way into our food supply. Whether approved by the FDA or a shadow group known as the Flavor and Extract Manufacturers Association (FEMA), which can give its “FEMA-GRAS” stamp of approval on practically anything, it all comes down to the fact that eating has turned into a risky proposition.
And what we’re up against as consumers is more than just lobbyists from the food industry.
Most of the risky ingredients covered in Badditives! have their own front groups as well – often made out to look like grassroots organizations – a textbook illustration of astroturfing.
One example is the International Food Additives Council. It claims that its mission is to “promote the benefits of food ingredients” and “support science-based regulations”. Translation: Don’t let regulations get in the way of our members’ bottom line. Only our science is valid – anything else is “junk science”.
If you thought the list of food additives from Badditives! covered everything you need to know on the subject – well, that’s far from the case. There are a lot more revelations where those came from – and you’ll be hearing more from us about them in upcoming messages from CFH.
In the meantime, if you haven’t already gotten your copy of Badditives! you can do so here. And please drop the folks at Citizens for Health a line at email@example.com to let us know if there’s a particular food ingredient about which you would like to learn more.
We thank you for following along with the evolution of the Transpartisan Review. We believe strongly in this project by CFH President and Board Chair James S. Turner and colleague A. Lawrence Chickering – an effort to free the issues of the day from the shackles of partisan politics as a means of finding common ground for a solution-oriented dialogue of inclusion. We share it with you because such discussion is what is needed for progress on all issues, including those fundamental to our health freedom.
Going forward, we encourage you to check out issues of the Transpartisan Review, as well as the full series of Notes and other content, at http://www.transpartisanreview.com/.
Possibilities for Transpartisan Governance
Transpartisan Note #56
by A. Lawrence Chickering and James S. Turner
In Note #54 we introduced the Centrist Project. This group promotes cooperation and collaboration among state legislators. It seeks out sitting legislators willing to declare independence from current parties and willing candidates to run as independents. They expect Independents to use their leverage to reduce conflict in politics.
The Centrist Project aims to get a minimum of five Independent legislators into each state legislative house across the country and in the US House and Senate. It believes these Independents—we might call them Transpartisans—can use their strategic positions to reduce partisan conflict and promote bipartisan or transpartisan legislative action.
Here are some of our thoughts on achieving this objective:
First, concentrating force wins wars. The Centrist Project follows this principle by concentrating first on the state of Colorado. This focus gives the energetic Colorado transpartisan community a goal for effective action. It creates the opportunity to build a model for other states and Congress.
Second, finding five or more Independent legislators—by conversion or election—works best if the assembled group comes from diverse political backgrounds. Sitting members from ‘safe’ districts offer the most enticing prospects. Working through key donors can be particularly effective.
Most importantly, we believe, recruiting with policy proposals aligned with our Four-Quadrant Transpartisan Matrix and focusing on issues of special interest to prospects can be especially powerful.
The Matrix shows both Democrats and Republicans split between ‘freedom’ and ‘order’ factions. Understanding individual legislators’ places on the Matrix allows recruiters of potential Independent legislators to appeal both to their immediate prospects and to people in other quadrants. Five or more Independents in a legislature broadens the policy playing field for new ideas and offers ‘cover’ (broader space for political action) for legislators who remain in their parties as partisans.
In Beyond Left and Right, Lawry Chickering, a conservative, told of approaching radical black lawyers about financing legal services for the poor. He proposed that instead of paying poverty lawyers from outside affected communities in effect to take clients from private lawyers, the government should pay the clients and let them choose their own lawyers.
This empowerment strategy would allow the indigenous bar to work for local clients who need help. Even the most radical black lawyers were indifferent to the fact that Lawry developed this idea working for conservative Governor Ronald Reagan. They responded to the empowerment vision behind this transpartisan proposal.
In The Chemical Feast: The Nader Report on food protection at the FDA, Jim Turner, a liberal/progressive, told of consumer initiatives that over time led to Congressionally-adopted policies such as Organic Food Production, Nutrition Labeling, and the National Institutes of Health’s National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH).
Conservatives and progressives such as Senators Orrin Hatch, Tom Harkin, Richard Lugar and Patrick Leahy championed these initiatives, which passed Congress with robust bipartisan support. Each of these initiatives created citizen/consumer empowerment programs that support individual people making personal choices that fit their specific needs and resources. They exemplify transpartisan.
This is a very large subject, which we explore in Voice of the People: The Transpartisan Imperative in American Life, our book on a transpartisan politics, our weekly Notes, and The Transpartisan Review.
As the Centrist Project and others seeking legislators and candidates to get Independents into power (or anyone considering office as an Independent) look for policy guidelines, we urge them to use The Transpartisan Matrix. It is a tool to help find policies that advance people’s desires for freedom and choice in a framework of security and order.
The Centrist Project Meets the Washington Press
Transpartisan Note #55
by A. Lawrence Chickering and James S. Turner
Alaska Gov. Bill Walker, an Independent and former Republican, and Byron Mallott, his Democratic rival, debated each other so many times that they got to be allies. “We discovered that we liked our state a whole lot more than we liked politics,” Walker told a Washington, D.C. press conference on July 12. “So we did something that you don’t typically do in politics. We combined our campaigns.” They won. Walker is Governor, and Mallot is Lieutenant Governor.
The Centrist Project, which seeks to bridge the growing partisan divide in government by strategically electing Independent, centrist candidates to office, hosted the conference, which we attended. At the conference they presented four Independents, Governor Walker, state Sen. David Johnson (IA), and state Reps. Owen Casás (ME) and Jason Grenn (AK) for #IndependentsDay in the nation’s capital. They got good press:
Roll Call: On building the infrastructure necessary to compete with the two parties: “The biggest problem is that voters only invest time and resources in Independents if they believe the candidates can win,” said Project Executive Director Nick Troianao. “The Centrist Project aims to overcome these challenges by providing support to Independents,” he added.
Inside Sources: On the takeover by independents in Alaskan politics: “As a result of a compromise ironed out by Grenn and his colleagues, moderate Republicans, Independents, and some Democrats have come together to form a centrist coalition to lead the lower house that is facing down the more conservative state Senate in the state’s high-stakes fiscal negotiations.”
The Hill: Owen Casás and Jason Grenn, two of the Independent legislators at the press conference, wrote: “We live on opposite sides of the country—one of us in Maine, the other in Alaska—but we each serve as state legislators in the center of our increasingly polarized politics. We’re both Independents. We’re both millennials with young families. And like many across the country, we’re frustrated with both major parties and the state of our dysfunctional politics.”
Real Clear Politics: On the Centrist Project’s “fulcrum” strategy: “Imagine a U.S. Senate with five or six Independent members, which would deny both major political parties an outright majority and give said coalition a large amount of power.”
Imagine the same in each state legislative assembly across the nation. Or even in the U.S. House of Representatives. Note this May 7, 2017, news about the Problem Solvers Caucus, an outgrowth, according to the Washington Post, of the No Labels organization, whose motto is: “Stop fighting. Start fixing.”
In a May 3, 2017 press release, Problem Solvers Caucus Co-Chairs Republican Tom Reed and Democrat Josh Gottheimer “announced a first win… get[ting] the FY17 funding bill passed… The Caucus’ support of the bill was the result of the 40 Members of Congress, evenly split between Republicans and Democrats, working together.”
The Centrist Project’s ultimate goal is to elect 3-5 Centrist candidates to the U.S. Senate, where they can deny both parties an outright majority and, as a crucial swing coalition, use their political leverage to force both sides back to the center and forge common ground policy solutions. Their initial effort is to begin with state legislatures, with an intense 2018 focus on Colorado.
While they call their project “centrist,” we suggest that, to the extent they integrate rather than balance the party differences on any given issue, they act more as transpartisans than bipartisans. They embrace bipartisan and transcend it to a new policy position different from that of either party. All these efforts underscore a political process that is expanding to embrace transpartisan initiatives that we report on. They are a hopeful sign for a maturing political process.
Transpartisan Note #54
by A. Lawrence Chickering and James S. Turner
Today we present The Centrist Project’s announcement of its first Washington, DC press conference…
Independent elected officials from across the country will join together for the first time in Washington, DC, on Wednesday, July 12, for an ‘Independents Day’ event organized by The Centrist Project.
The group of Independents will participate in a news conference at the National Press Club at 10:00 a.m. to describe how they are playing a unique role in bringing both political parties together to solve pressing challenges and in growing the Independents’ movement to impact national governance.
- Governor Bill Walker (I-AK)
- State Senator David Johnson (I-IA)
- State Representative Jason Grenn (I-AK)
- State Representative Owen Casás (I-ME)
In Alaska, two independent state representatives helped flip control of the state house for the first time in decades from the GOP to a new ‘bipartisan governing majority’—comprised of several moderate Republicans and the House Democratic Caucus. The bipartisan governing majority has been instrumental in putting forward balanced and bipartisan proposals to address the state’s historic budget deficits.
In Maine, since two independent state representatives were elected in 2016, three incumbent state representatives—one Republican and two Democrats—dropped their party affiliation. Now, neither party controls an outright majority in the Maine state house. The Independents have been outspoken in advocating for structural political reform, including protecting a Ranked Choice Voting ballot measure passed by Maine voters last year.
In Iowa, State Senator David Johnson became the first serving Independent legislator in 45 years after he left the Republican Party in June of 2016. He acted during his fourth term as an objection to Donald Trump’s campaign. ‘I am feeling more comfortable with my votes than I ever have,’ Johnson recently told The Des Moines Register.
Independent voters now comprise the largest and fastest growing segment of the American electorate, at 40% as of May 2017 according to Gallup. This figure is significantly higher among millennial voters.
In France, a new centrist, independent* movement (‘La République En Marche’) recently propelled a first-time candidate to the Presidency and a near super-majority of Parliamentary candidates into office. With a majority of voters holding an unfavorable view of both political parties in the United States, according to Pew Research, many political observers speculate that a similar movement can take hold in America.
The Centrist Project is a national organization that seeks to bridge the partisan divide in government by promoting centrist, independent leadership and policies that put ‘We, the people’ before any party or special interest. For more information, please visit www.CentristProject.org.
We at The Transpartisan Review see left, right and other collaborations such as these springing up across the country and around the world as an expression of the Transpartisan Imperative.
Powerful subjective and objective forces drive these efforts and point to new political forms to express our democratic impulses. On July 17 we will post Vol. I, Issue 2 of the Transpartisan Review. Read it for some ideas for new forms of organization.
Our times offer great opportunity for innovation.
*En Marche! considers every person who submits identification information (date of birth, email, full address, and telephone number) and adheres to the party’s charter to be an adherent. Unlike other political parties, it does not require adherents to make a monetary donation. Emmanuel Macron has indicated that it is possible to adhere to En Marche! while remaining a member of “another republican party.” (Wikipedia)
Trump as “Disrupter”
Transpartisan Note #53
by A. Lawrence Chickering and James S. Turner
We have been musing along the following lines: Among all criticisms of President Trump, the most common is his apparently unbreakable habit of sending provocative tweets that often conflict with and disturb efforts to advance his developing policy agenda.
Such criticisms are constantly repeated, and they all rest on the same assumption: that Donald Trump is stupid because he is choosing actions (tweeting) that are undermining objectives he cares more about (his policy agenda). Although it is hard to defend Trump’s Twitter habit from any perspective related to traditional politics, in this Note we look at his actions based on three assumptions: a) he is not stupid; b) he is not crazy; and c) he cares about more than his policy agenda. In this context tweeting is important to him to accomplish more than policy—he afflicts the comfortable.
Although he was critical of Trump during the campaign, former Defense Secretary Robert Gates expressed a positive insight about him this spring in calling him a “disrupter.” The political environment, Gates said, can get pretty calcified; and sometimes a disrupter can accomplish things that others cannot. Order out of chaos.
Disruption is a negative word, and it is hard to think how it can be part of any positive agenda. Its power comes from being entirely negative. How can Trump be understood as anything except a disruptor while tolerating contradictions such as those from associates – Cabinet Secretaries or Jared Kushner – softening and reinterpreting harsh tweets (which the White House insists are official declarations) to foreign leaders? The tweets are disruptive, keeping things churned up, nothing more.
Protesting otherwise, critics try to understand Trump as a traditional President or urge him to become one. What positive outcomes can be imagined from disruption?
One positive outcome for Trump personally is that he gets to do what he knows. He knows nothing about being President, but he knows how to host a reality television show. What greater impact than disruption is his decision to host a reality show out of the Oval Office?
When the President doesn’t know how to “lead,” what is the principal effect of his reality show disruptions? It empowers other parties, whether in Congress, who must pass tax reform, replace Obamacare, or create numerous other policy initiatives. It also empowers leaders of other countries in global affairs, who must “step up” and act on a basis more equal with the U.S. than before.
Washington elites have absolutely howled their displeasure at what they see as Presidential abdication of responsibilities on both domestic and global issues. What possible order can be imagined (they seem to be saying) without the hegemon as leader, managing and directing all of the children, whether in Congress or in international forums? Would it really be so terrible if power and authority were shared in genuine equality with our European allies so they contributed their fair share, and not just in money, for common defense, as all recent Presidents have called for?
Strong Presidential leadership would allow the Republicans, who control both houses, to pass bills over Democrats’ unanimous opposition. Why should we applaud continuation of such unstable polarization? Voices are now starting to be heard that Trump’s “abdication” may push Democrats and Republicans to work together to pass a health reform bill.
While so far looking unlikely, why is that prospect seen to be so terrible?
If forced to work together, they may discover innovative transpartisan possibilities for effective policy, some of which are described in The Transpartisan Review Vol. I, No.1, which was published on Inauguration Day, and Vol. I, No. 2, which will be available later this month.