Thursday, June 19, 2008

Ichy Scratchy Sneezies

I've never been the sickly type. But for the last couple of years I've had Itchy Scratchy Sneezies. Once in a while I'm covered in bumps. My skin itches, eyes are itchy, red and watery, nose runny and I'm sneezing. I'm just generally miserable.

My artist friend came by for a visit, saw the state I was in and said, "Allergies." I reply, "Me! Can't be. Must be stress. Hives! Need antihistamine." My friend said, "I've got allergies and take Zyrtec and/or Benadryle. Just happen to have some you can try." "What are they?" I asked. "Powerful antihistamines" he replied. Tried one, then the other. Dried me out. Didn't touch the Itchy Scratchy Sneezies. And I felt weird too. The next door neighbor dropped by, he recommended Quercetin, a natural supplement. I thought "Natural smatural! If super Zyrtec or Benadryle had no effect... that sure won't work." He handed me a bottle and said, "A friend of mine had itchy eyes, it helped him. Give it a try."

Quercetin helped. Drastically. Told him so and thanked him profusely. Now a bottle lives on the kitchen counter. Temporary relief!

My gardener friend called said she's upset about something called terminator seeds, GMO's and cross pollination. What ever that is? Said she's concerned that crops downwind will damage her seeds forever. Yea Right! Like something downwind can do anything to your seed. Bunch of hooey. Grunted acknowledgement at her. She then started talking about GMO's, and never being able to trust seed producers again. I sighed. Get out the violins, let's have a pity party! Like seed producers would do that. Right! Bunch o' crap, that's what it is! Said she knew GM corn and soy beans were in the products we consume and she'd never knowingly buy them. Why not, geez!

Enter a new organic, veggie, earth friendly room mate sometime soon after that conversation. One morning I made breakfast for us. Opened a can of grapefruit sections. Scrambled some eggs and buttered some rye toast. When it's served up my roommate looks at the grapefruit, pushes it across the table and says, "You want mine?" I ask her, "Why? You don't like grapefruit?" She replies, "I do but that contains corn syrup. I don't eat that." I say, "Oh?" Here comes some cockamamie story. She says, "Corn syrup is made mostly from genetically modified corn (GMO). It's bad for us and the environment." How could food be bad for us or the environment?

I've heard that somewhere. Oh yea my gardener friend. So I Google it... GM or GMOs. First webpage said
75% of genetically modified (GM) crops worldwide are engineered to tolerate glyphosate, with Monsanto's Roundup brand holding the biggest market share. Went to read 8.25 million farmers – 90 percent of whom farm in developing countries – choose to plant biotech crops. Farmers have decreased pesticide applications by 172,000 metric tons. GM crops benefit the environment and conserve natural habitat for wildlife. Kept reading. It is glyphosate’s ability to translocate to the growing root and shoot tissues - where it shuts down growth - that makes it useful for killing not only annual weeds, but perennial weeds as well. Ability to translocate means it is a systemic so it goes everywhere throughout the plant. Ok. Continued reading. The Roundup Ready® seeds contain in-plant tolerance to Roundup® agricultural herbicides, allowing growers to spray Roundup agricultural herbicides to kill the weeds without harming the crop. Roundup Ready varieties provide unsurpassed weed control, proven crop safety and maximum yield potential. Many Roundup Ready products are stacked with other traits such as Bollgard and YieldGard to add insect protection. Good right? It means spraying less pesticides and herbicides. Which is good for the environment. Continued reading. Consumer benefits are advantages such as increased protein, healthier oils or carbohydrate enhancements. Product Stewardship Safety: The legal, ethical and moral obligations to ensure our products and technologies are safe and environmentally responsible. That's great. Healthier food that's better for us. Products that are safe. A company that is environmentally responsible. Sounds almost too good to be true.

Searched deeper. Another website.
The study – carried out over the past three years at the University of Kansas in the US grain belt – has found that GM soya produces about 10 per cent less food than its conventional equivalent. If that's true it would lessen the available crop yields not increase them. Hunger would worsen. Hum! I continue to read. Last week the biggest study of its kind ever conducted – the International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development – concluded that GM was not the answer to world hunger. Humm.

Another page says
a team of scientists led by Gilles-Eric Séralini have produced a peer-reviewed scientific paper stating that their statistical analysis shows significant levels of liver and kidney damage in some rats fed with MON863.... MON863 is a GM crop. Another page says In the recent case of the GM forage maize, Chardon LL, the herbicide used was glufosinate, a neurotoxin and a teratogen (ie it damages embryos). What is particularly worrying is that there seems to be a 10 per cent reconversion rate of the degraded herbicide back to the original toxic form in the gut. Hum that means it gets more toxic after it enters the body. Not good.

Continued deeper
In fact, while Roundup and similar products were originally used against weeds, 'they have become a food product, since they are used on GMOs, which can absorb them without dying,' maintains the biochemist Gilles-Eric Séralini. A member of the French Commission on Biomolecular Genetics (CBG). A herbicidal food product? Kept reading From the Centre for Agriculture and Environment. "Residues of the commonly-used herbicide glyphosate have been found in a variety of fruits and vegetables. Residues can be detected long after glyphosate treatments have been made. Lettuce, carrots and barley planted a year after glyphosate treatment contained residue at harvest" Yuck! That's a disgusting thought.

Searched further.
"The Documented Health Risks of Genetically Engineered Foods" With input from more than 30 scientists over two years, presents 65 health risks of GM foods and why current safety assessments are not competent to protect us from most of them. Whoa. Why are they still grown? Read another page. The potential of genetically engineered foods to cause allergic reactions in humans is a big reason for opposition to such crops. Lights start flashing, things begin clicking... OMG. I'm having major allergic reactions which I've never had before could it be the GMOs I didn't even know I was eating? And another website exclaimed. GMO’s are present in approximately 70% of processed foods and have been consumed widely in the U.S. since 1996 (GEO-PIE, 2002). The list of products containing GM foods were staggering.

Frustrated, I start singing, "I can't get no... satisfaction. And I've got a... food reaction."

My roommate asks me why I'm sitting at my desk singing about no satisfaction. Told her what I discovered in my online search. Said, "I'm helpless. It's hopeless. The foods I eat are full of GMOs from ketchup and cookies to soup and even spaghetti sauce. There's nothing left to eat. What will I dooooo. May be allergic to GMs. I'm gonna die in itchy-scratchy agony. I just know it. Oh whoa is me!"

She said, "Stop silly. You can go all organic. You're halfway there already." I say "Organic is so expensive I can't afford to eat it. Bwahah!" She hands me a kleenex saying, "Here dry your eyes, stop crying. It's not hopeless, just a change in lifestyle. You can buy locally grown produce. And organic products don't cost THAT much more. Besides if eating organic food stops your itchies it'd be cheaper than a visit to the doctor or hospital." Dried my eyes, sniffed. Better than a poke in the eye. Ah huh! Replied, "Logical Ms. Spock." She counters, "Nowhere am I so desperately needed as among a planet-full of illogical humans." We smile at each other and break into laughter.

EPIPHANY 1 - Quercetin = less itchy-scratchy sneezies
EPIPHANY 2 - Organic products = no itchy-scratchy sneezies

I'm happy, my body is happy, the planet is happier too. Makes sense. Back to basics the way it used to be. Still get itchy-scratchy sneezies once in a while 'cause I can't stop myself from an occasional sinful meal out.

Strummin' an air guitar singing...

Oh yeah, just call me Mrs. Organic
Just as healthy as I can be
But sometimes I'm a junk food junkie
Good lord have pity on me

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