Insight News

Feb 10th


Sustainable sugar: An oxymoron?

Sustainable sugar: An oxymoron?Dear EarthTalk: I am a bartender in Sacramento and I would love to be able to use some sort of locally made or sustainable version of sugar. What’s out there? -- Ryan Seng, via e-mail

It sure would be nice if we could obtain all of our food and drink items from local sources, but sugar provides an excellent example of why such a desire may remain a pipe dream in the United States for a long time to come. The sugar we consume that is produced domestically comes from sugar cane grown in Hawaii and the Southeast and sugar beet from the Upper Midwest, Pacific Northwest, California and elsewhere. However, it is likely milled and refined hundreds if not thousands of miles from where it is harvested, and then shipped all over the country—causing untold greenhouse gas emissions—in various sized packages for our consumption in our coffee, on our cereal and, for some of us, in our cocktails.

Antibacterial triclosan: Effective or just risky?

Antibacterial triclosan: Effective or just risky?Dear EarthTalk: I heard about a supposed dangerous chemical called “triclosan” that is in many personal care and other consumer products. Can you enlighten? -- Carl Stoneman, Richland, WA

Triclosan is a synthetic chemical compound added to many personal and household care products to inhibit illness by preventing bacterial infection. It works by breaking down the biochemical pathways that bacteria use to keep their cell walls intact, and as such kills potentially harmful germs if used in strong enough formulations. First developed as a surgical scrub back in 1972, triclosan is now used in upwards of 700 different consumer-oriented products, many of which people use more than once a day. They include hand soaps, deodorants, toothpastes, kids’ toys, yoga mats and, of course, hand sanitizers.

Study finds breast conservation viable for Black women with breast cancer

Special to the NNPA from the Louisiana Weekly

(NNPA) - Breast-conserving therapy is a viable treatment option for African American women, although they tend to have more advanced breast cancer at diagnosis, according to researchers from Beaumont Hospitals, Royal Oak, MI. The study is available online now and will be in the July 15 issue of the journal Cancer.

The study, which reviewed the data of 699 women treated with breast conserving therapy  --which means a lumpectomy or partial mastectomy instead of removing the entire breast-- at Beaumont from 1980 to 2003, found that African American women were younger and had larger, more aggressive tumors at the time of diagnosis. As a result, they more frequently required chemotherapy and lymph node irradiation as part of their treatment.

Minneapolis Farmers Market unveils EBT Program

It's been a ten-month journey to last week's roll-out of EBT (Electronic Benefits Transfer) at the Minneapolis Farmers Market, but Communications Director Sandy Hill is grateful to see the program underway.

“The addition of EBT accessibility is a positive way to welcome more community residents into the market," said Hill.  The Market's North Loop neighborhood has been underserved by supermarkets, leaving residents without limited access to nutritious, locally grown fruits and vegetables.  "We're pleased that the community can use EBT benefits for fresh produce," added Hill, “These consumers will have greater access to local and affordable healthy food options, resulting in positive health impacts.”  

Initiative designed to encourage healthy lifestyles for children and families

Lynx Team Up with Minneapolis Public Schools, General Mills, The Wedge and Farmer's Hat Production to Continue 'Lynx Fit'

For the second consecutive summer, the Minnesota Lynx will partner with the Minneapolis Public Schools, General Mills, The Wedge and Farmer's Hat Productions through ‘Lynx Fit,’ a five-week program designed to educate today's youth about the importance of living a healthy and active lifestyle.

With the help of Lynx players, staff and General Mills employees, the students enrolled in the summer programs at Bryn Mawr Elementary School and Seward Montessori School will learn about healthy eating, physical fitness and the importance of reading and education.

New law sets toughest standards in nation for lead exposure

Environmental and health groups say it will better protect young children

ST. PAUL, MN— Cody Oesterreich and her family moved into a house in the Phillips neighborhood of Minneapolis late last year and as a concerned mother she eventually took her then-seven-month-old daughter, Ila, in for a test to make sure she was not being exposed to lead in the old house.

“The doctor told me, ‘we won’t call unless it’s elevated,’ ” Oesterreich said at a Monday news conference in Richfield. “But I called them and the nurse told me, ‘it’s fine, it’s only eight.’”

Oesterreich knew better and she and Ila moved out for a week while the house was cleaned. Thanks to a law that went into affect Thursday, July 1, other parents will have an easier time finding out their child’s lead levels and what to do.

Volcanoes and global warming.

Volcanoes and global warming.Dear EarthTalk: Is there any link between increased volcanic activity—such as the recent eruptions in Iceland, Alaska and elsewhere—and global warming? -- Ellen McAndrew, via e-mail

It’s impossible to pin isolated natural phenomena—like an individual volcanic eruption—on global warming, but some researchers insist that there is a correlation between the two in some instances.

“Global warming melts ice and this can influence magmatic systems,” reports Freysteinn Sigmundsson of the Nordic Volcanological Centre at the University of Iceland. Her research with Carolina Pagli of the University of Leeds in England suggests that rocks cannot expand to turn into magma—the primary “feedstock” for volcanic eruptions—when they are under the pressure of a big ice cap pushing down on them. As the theory goes, melting ice caps relieve that pressure and allow the rocks to become magma. This in turn increases the chances of larger and/or more frequent eruptions in affected regions, from Iceland to Alaska to Patagonia to Antarctica.
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