Major Fast-Food Chain Is Now GMO-Free

Your voices are hear and the efforts of Chipotle are commendable.  Hopefully other fast food chains will follow suit in the near future.

Chipotle Is Now Totally GMO-Free

 
Chipotle Is Now Totally GMO-Free

Chipotle is completely off GMO ingredients. (Photo: Getty Images)

NEW YORK (AP) –Chipotle says it has completed phasing out genetically modified ingredients from its food, making it the first national fast-food chain to do so.

The Denver-based chain had already been using mostly non-GMO ingredients, but was working on making final changes to its tortillas.

The Food and Drug Administration maintains that GMOs are safe, and most of the country’s corn and soybean crops are genetically modified to have certain traits like resistance to herbicides and plant diseases.

In recent years, however, activists have been calling for regulations that require labeling for foods that contain genetically modified ingredients. Many companies have responded to such concerns; Whole Foods has said all products in its stores that contain genetically modified ingredients will be labeled as such by 2018.

Chipotle co-CEO Steve Ells has said in the past that the company felt it was best not to use GMOs given the “lack of consensus” about their effects.

On its website Monday, Chipotle said it was “G-M-Over It.”

Chipotle Mexican Grill, which has around 1,800 locations, has enjoyed strong sales growth in part by playing up the quality of its ingredients and defining itself as a more wholesome alternative to traditional fast-food chains. On a page explaining its transition away from genetically modified ingredients, for instance, it cited “fast food” under an image of a burger as an example of where people might encounter GMOs.

To rid its menu of GMO ingredients, Chipotle said its suppliers planted non-GMO corn varieties for its tortillas. It also replaced soybean oil with sunflower oil to cook its chips and taco shells, and with rice bran oil in other recipes. The new oils are made from crops for which there are no genetically modified varieties available for commercial use, the company noted.

It said the changes did not result in significantly higher costs and that it was not raising prices.

Going forward, the company said it was working on removing additives from its tortillas as well.

The announcement comes after Chipotle said in January it would stop serving pork in about a third of its restaurants after finding one of its suppliers violated its animal welfare standards. The company said it doesn’t expect the pork shortage to be fully resolved until late this year.

Chipotle still serves Coca-Cola fountain drinks, which are made with high-fructose corn syrup.  But this past summer, it started testing a root beer that is organically sweetened in Denver. That test is ongoing, said Chris Arnold, a company spokesman.

The completion of the phase-out was first reported by The New York Times and CNN.

 

Toxic Substance Control Act To Be Updated After 39 Years

Finally! 

The US is finally about to update its toxic chemical protections, after 39 years

But convenience comes with a cost. Any baby born in America today is likely to carry hundreds of synthetic chemicals in his or her body at birth. According to a 2008-2009 report by the US Department of Health and Human Services, traces of nearly 300 pollutants, “such as chemicals used in fast-food packaging, flame retardants present in household dust, and pesticides,” have been found in the umbilical cord blood of newborns. And some chemicals in common use today are linked with certain cancers, Parkinson’s, developmental disorders and other illnesses. Any baby born in America today is likely to carry hundreds of synthetic chemicals in his or her body  

So it is a national scandal that the United States’ primary chemical safety law hasn’t been updated since the day it was enacted, back when America’s No. 1 song was “Disco Duck” and appointment TV meant “Charlie’s Angels.” Since the day it passed in 1976, the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) hasn’t protected anyone. The chemicals in products you buy at the store—from clothes to couches to cleaning supplies—are essentially untested and unregulated.

For decades, Congress has been trying to fix TSCA, but the lawmakers have gotten nowhere.

There have been hearings since 1994, and several proposed bills, but industry opposition kept the reform effort from advancing. Meanwhile, thousands of chemicals have come on the market. They permeate every aspect of American life. And the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been all but powerless to police them. 

In recent years, however, some companies have begun to realize the current system isn’t good for their bottom lines either. As one DuPont executive testified before Congress in 2010:

“In the absence of reforms to TSCA we are seeing a plethora of state actions that are serving to create tremendous uncertainty in our markets…we think a robust reformed TSCA would remove the motivation for state by state regulation of chemicals.”

She went on to describe the hundreds of millions of dollars her company had spent to reformulate products after the market moved away from a particular chemical in response to consumer pressure. Now, after years of denial, many in the industry are now willing to accept more federal regulation to secure a predictable system that will restore consumer confidence in the safety of their products. The Lautenberg Act would let EPA do the things most Americans assume it can already do.
 

Companies such as Walmart—which announced a robust chemicals policy in 2013—began to step up and do their own testing on household products. That helped nudge chemical companies to the negotiating table—and so did new state laws. Although states have only restricted about a dozen chemicals or chemical groups for health reasons in 40 years—providing little protection to most Americans—the threat of 50 different local regulators was enough to get industry to see the benefits of a  single strong federal regulator, empowered to offer a final “yay” or “nay.” 

That realization provided an opening for longtime public health champion Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) to negotiate with chemical industry ally Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) in 2013. After Lautenberg passed away, Sen. Tom Udall of New Mexico took over on the Democratic side, continuing the negotiations. 

The bill Udall and Vitter came up with, known as the Lautenberg Act,  would let EPA do the things most Americans assume it can already do. These include a mandate to review the safety of all chemicals in commerce, a required safety finding before a new chemical can enter the market, powerful new authority to require testing of chemicals, and explicit requirements to protect the most susceptible—infants and pregnant women— from harmful chemicals, along with concrete deadlines, a new source of funding, and more. Cutting a deal with big bad interest groups can lead to progressive change.

Rare political circumstances have forced the industry to make major concessions, so the result is a strong bill that has 11 Democratic and 11 Republican sponsors. It actually might pass—yes, something big might pass Congress and become law—and it would be the most important environmental law since the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments. (The House also seems to be working on a bipartisan basis.) 

But laws are never perfect. The big trade-off here is that some decisions by EPA on chemicals will supersede some state actions and restrictions.  As David Vitter put it, “Republicans agree to give EPA a whole lot [of] new additional authority, which we’re not in the habit of being excited about, to state the obvious. In exchange, that leads to … a common rulebook.”

Even so, there are limits to the preemption of state authority in the bill. For example, all state actions taken before 2015 remain intact, and, after enactment, states can restrict a chemical until and unless EPA takes up that same chemical and addresses the same uses.

This week, three progressive Democrats announced their support for the bill after negotiations yielded changes that allow states to “co-enforce” federal requirements on chemicals and better ensure EPA can restrict chemicals in finished products (such as formaldehyde-laden floor boards). Still, there is no question the bill remains a compromise. In many ways, the dynamic here is like Obamacare, where the President had to cut deals with Big Pharma and the insurance industry to get legislation passed. That bill wasn’t perfect, but nine out of ten Americans have health insurance and the other benefits of the law.

In other words, cutting a deal with big bad interest groups can lead to progressive change. 

Of course, to some that’s heresy. They see the strange bedfellows as being more important than the substance. In my view, we’ve got a classic case of the perfect vs. the good—and in an era when precious little good has come out of Washington, I’ll take it. 

After decades of inaction and several “ideal” bills that couldn’t attract the bipartisan support necessary to pass, it’s time to move forward. We can let this moment pass and leave American families vulnerable to the dangerous chemicals that surround us, or we can forge ahead with a dramatic improvement over current law.

(via Quartz)

 

When Earth Day Changed the World

By Jamie Henn–Forty-five years ago, on April 22, 1970, an estimated 20 million people took to the streets for the first ever Earth Day. It was the largest public demonstration in United States history and helped turn environmentalism into a mass social movement for the first time. Today, Earth Day is known for feel-good concerts, eco-fairs, or recycling parties. But in 1970, Earth Day still had bite. The story of how it came together, where it succeeded, and where it failed, contains powerful lessons for today’s environmental movement.  

“Today, Earth Day is known for feel-good concerts, eco-fairs, or recycling parties. But in 1970, Earth Day still had bite.”

Back in 1969, Sen. Gaylord Nelson, a longtime environmental advocate in Congress, watched as teach-ins against the Vietnam War swept college campuses across the nation. Could this student energy be harnessed to protect the environment, he wondered? 

“I was satisfied that if we could tap into the environmental concerns of the public and infuse the student anti-war energy into the environmental cause, we could generate a demonstration that would force this issue onto the national political agenda,” Nelson later recalled.

While politicians had been slow to respond, by the late 1960s there was already a growing public outcry over the state of the environment. All across the country, smog, trash, and water pollution were ravaging America’s natural beauty and impacting public health. Then, a series of high profile environmental disasters helped put environmental concerns at the top of the agenda. 

In 1969, an oil rig exploded off the coast of Santa Barbara, spilling millions of gallons of crude into the ocean, much of which washed up on some of California’s finest beaches. The New York Timeslater referred to the disaster as the “ecological shot heard ‘round the world.” That same year, Timemagazine ran a special report on the Cuyahoga River, which had famously caught fire because of all the oil and pollution befouling the waterway. Meanwhile, the smog in major American cities had become a national crisis. “Just breathing the air in some areas of Los Angeles is said to be equivalent of smoking two packs of cigarettes a day,” wrote the Los Angeles Times in 1970. Something needed to be done. 

The team behind the first Earth Day was perhaps an unlikely crew to rise to the occasion. While Earth Day 1970 had the backing of a prominent politician in Nelson, the organizing effort took a distinctly grassroots approach.

While the nation’s traditional conservation groups helped promote the event, they weren’t the driving force behind the effort. Instead, Nelson hired Dennis Hayes, a Harvard graduate student, to head up a ragtag crew of students and volunteers who based themselves out of a cramped office above a Chinese restaurant in Washington, D.C. The group quickly got to work tapping into the environmental energy that was exploding across college campuses and communities around the country. They worked around the clock, sending out thousands of mailings, hitting the phone lines, and issuing regular press releases documenting their progress—anything to get people to circle the date April 22, 1970 on their calendars. 

The effort benefited from alliances that may seem unlikely today. Earth Day organizers, for example, found a strong ally in the hard-hitting United Auto Workers president Walter Reuther. Known as the “most dangerous man in Detroit” for his ability to take on the auto industry, Reuther had a soft spot for Mother Nature—and a radical vision of how the UAW could be at the forefront of a new industrial revolution.

Pointing to the smog choking America’s cities, Reuther put the blame squarely at the feet of the car companies. “The auto industry is one of the worst culprits and it has failed to meet its public responsibility,” he declared. “It is asinine (I don’t know of a better word to describe it, to have hundreds of thousands of people all going to the same place at the same time for the same purpose and all of them dragging two tons of gadgets with them.” 

Breaching Iceberg, Greenland 2008.
The Arctic’s devastating transformation
There was no snow, no sea ice anywhere to be seen. These would be my last days in Svalbard in August of 2011.

As a solution, Reuther envisioned a partnership between industry and government to create the most extensive, modern mass-transit system in the world. He proceeded to write the first check to the Earth Day organizing committee, providing much-needed funds to get the operation up and running. Just weeks after the day’s success, however, Reuther died in a plane crash, taking much of the energy behind his transformational vision with him. Today, labor and environmentalists are just beginning to come together again to put forward a vision much like the one Reuther dreamed of decades ago. 

The first Earth Day also helped invigorate a discussion between the environmental and civil rights movements. African Americans, especially in inner cities, had been fighting problems like pollution, lead paint, pests, and improper waste management for years, but it wasn’t until the late 1960s that these were identified as “environmental” issues. 

Some African American leaders saw Earth Day as a dangerous distraction from the many daily injustices from which white America would prefer to avert its eyes. “The nation’s concern with environment has done what George Wallace was unable to do: distract the nation from the human problems of the black and brown American, living in just as much misery as ever,” said Richard. G. Hatcher, the mayor of Gary, Indiana. George Wiley, the director of the National Welfare Rights Organization, argued that before they started proposing new policy solutions, environmentalists had to “deal initially with the problem of racism in the United States of America.”

Other civil rights leaders saw an opportunity in Earth Day to get whites on board with solving these pervasive challenges. “But now that White America is being threatened, perhaps we can deal with black needs and white needs – human needs – in a united effort to remedy the value system that has brought us to this Earth Day,” the Rev. Channing Phillips told an audience in Washington, D.C. 

Whatever their motivation, when Earth Day arrived on April 22, 1970, tens of millions of people took to the streets across the nation. In New York City, tens of thousands marched and the mayor bicycled around town to give various speeches. In Chicago, high school students marched to protest air pollution. In West Virginia, students collected five tons of garbage along a five-mile stretch of highway and dumped it on the steps of the Harrison County courthouse. In Los Angeles, organizers sold tickets to a “car smashing” to people who wanted to “vent their feelings about cars.” Up in San Francisco, a group of 300 divers scoured the adjacent ocean shelf to collect trash. 

In total, more than 1,500 colleges and 10,000 primary and high schools hosted events. Even those that chose to stay home could watch the special “Earth Day” programming on nearly every major network. Newspaper estimates put the total number of participants at 20 million, but the scale of the day made it nearly impossible to count. “I’ve been on the road at least three days a week this last year,” said Hayes, the organizer, a year later, “and I have never been in a city or  school which didn’t take part in Earth Day.”

“When Earth Day arrived on April 22, 1970, tens of millions of people took to the streets across the nation.”
JAMIE HENN

The outpouring of public activity made an immediate political impact. In the years following Earth Day, President Richard Nixon, hardly a bleeding heart, passed the National Environmental Protection Act, creating the Environmental Protection Agency, the Clean Air Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Occupational Safety and Health Act, and more. “Environmental concerns have become part of our political value system,” reflected EPA Administrator Douglas M. Costle some years later. 

Like any political moment, the energy didn’t last forever. Just a week after Earth Day, President Nixon announced that he’d given the order for American troops to invade Cambodia, sparking a new wave of protest against the Vietnam War. Then, on May 4, National Guard troops fired on students at Kent State.

The good mood of Earth Day vanished overnight. “With an almost manic abruptness, the nation seemed, as Yeats once wrote, ‘all changed, changed utterly,’” wrote Time magazine. Environmentalists were able to maintain momentum during the Ford and Carter administrations, but came up against a brick wall once Reagan took office, forcing the movement back on the defensive, where it has largely remained ever since. 

RELATED: Growing fossil fuel divestment protests hit colleges nationwide

Now, 45 years later, it seems as if many of the conditions that led to the first Earth Day could once again be falling into place. Just as the “pollution crisis” began to move the forefront of American’s minds in the late 1960s, the climate crisis is beginning to creep its way up on the national agenda. Iconic disasters, like Hurricane Sandy, the California drought and the BP oil spill, are galvanizing a new environmental consciousness, while fights against projects like the Keystone XL pipeline are invigorating a newly powerful climate movement. Last September, more than 400,000 people took the streets of New York City for the People’s Climate March, an effort that united the climate movement with social justice, labor, faith communities, and more. Across college campuses, the fossil fuel divestment campaign is emerging as one of the most powerful sources of student organizing in the country. 

When Sen. Nelson first dreamed up the idea of Earth Day in 1969, he hoped that it would spread to at least twenty or so campuses. Instead, it swept the entire nation and resulted in the largest public demonstration in the history of the United States.

It’s hard to know when you stand on the brink of incredible change. But as today’s climate crisis threatens to spin out of control, Earth Day should give us hope. When the right conditions arise, we can still come together to do extraordinary things. 

Jamie Henn is the Communications Director for 350 Action and co-founder of 350.orgThis essay is based on research from his 2007 thesis, “Out of the Wilderness: The First Earth Day” (PDF).

 

Happy Earth Day!

Today is the 45th celebration of Earth Day!
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Today, Nature’s Pulchritude challenges YOU to think about what the Earth means to you and how it provides for you  AND one behavior change (big or small) that can help the world collectively improve our planet!

What is my behavior change you ask?  Stop leaving the water running! (:))

FDA Sends Warning Letter To Popular Granola Bar Maker

(This is our 200th post!  Not surprising that another brand has been called our for deceiving their customers into thinking they are eating something healthy, when in fact the reality is the opposite!  Do you read nutrition labels?  If so, do you understand them?

Kind Bars may not be so kind after all.

The Food and Drug Administration has sent a letter to the maker of the snacks saying the company must remove the term “healthy” from its labels.

Bloomberg reported Tuesday that regulators found that the company’s products contain too much saturated fat.  According to the Bloomberg article:

‘Your products do not meet the requirements for use of the nutrient content claim ‘healthy’ on a food label,’ William Correll, director of the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, said in the letter, dated March 17 and released publicly on Tuesday. ‘You should take prompt action to correct the violations.’

The Fruit & Almond & Apricot, Fruit & Nut Almond & Coconut, Plus Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate + Protein, and Fruit & Nut Dark Chocolate Cherry Cashew products, all have over 3 grams of saturated fat. The FDA states that a product must have less than 1 gram of fat to be labeled “healthy.”

In a statement, Kind said it’s working to comply with the FDA’s standards: “Our team at Kind is fully committed to working alongside the FDA, and we’re moving quickly to comply with its request,” the company said. “We’re also taking it upon ourselves to conduct a thorough review of all of our snack food labels and website information to ensure that they’re compliant.”
The FDA’s warning comes as Kind has seen a sales boom recently. As Bloomberg reported:

‘Kind has seen its sales surge in recent years as Americans have moved toward savory snacks and demanded better ingredients. Kind products are now in 150,000 retail stores in the U.S. The company sold 458 million units in 2014, more than tripling over the last two years, according to Daniel Lubetzky, the company’s chief executive officer.’

(via Fortune)

Is Your Eyeliner Safe?

Have you every wondered about the effect your eyeliner is having on your vision health?  This report is not too surprising, especially when you consider the chemicals used!

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You might want to think twice before layering on your eyeliner at your lower lash line. A new study in the Eye and Contact Lens journal found that using eyeliner on your inner lash line may put you at risk for infection and vision trouble.

The study was conducted by Dr. Alison Ng, a post-doctoral fellow in the School of Optometry and Vision Science in the Faculty of Science at Waterloo, who used video recordings to track the migration of eyeliner particles into the eye depending on the makeup application. Participants in the study applied a glitter liner to their outer lash line and then to their waterline. “We noticed the makeup migration happened quicker and was greater when the eyeliner was put on the inner lid,” says Ng.

When the liner was applied to the inner lash line, 15-30 percent more particles entered the tear film—the thin protective coating on the eye—than when liner was applied outside the lash line. The problems with liner entering the tear film ranges from minor discomfort for those with dry or sensitive eyes to more serious infections and blurred vision. “People who wear contact lenses are most likely to notice some problems,” says Ng. “If they have eyeliner stuck to their lenses, increasing deposits might cause vision disruption as the lens becomes cloudier.”

Not ready to give up inner liner? New York City-based makeup artist Lisa Aharon says there are ways to get the look and minimize your risk for infection. “When using eyeliner on your waterline, look for a cream pencil as opposed to a kohl,” says Aharon. “Kohl contains heavy metals like lead that could be harmful to the health of your eye.” Aharon also recommends avoiding glitter or metallic liners on the waterline, as the flecks are more likely to cause irritation.

When it comes to keeping your eyeliner clean of bacteria, Aharon says it’s important to sharpen your pencil before each use. “If your sharpener isn’t handy, sterilize it by spraying it with a little rubbing alcohol and clean of the tip with a tissue before application,” she says. “As long as you’re properly sanitizing your eyeliner, it should keep fresh for a year or even two.”

 

Spring Nails

It is officially spring, though temperatures are not quite feeling that way yet.  Like most people, my nail polish choices vary with season–rich, dark colors in winter, neutrals in fall, and pastels in spring.  Here are my all time top Spring Nail choices!

 

NPSpringNails2015
L-R: China Glaze Light As Air, Zoya Blu, China Glaze For Audrey, China Glaze Refresh Mint, OPI Jinx

 

China Glaze’s Light as Air, For Audrey, and Refresh Mint are long time (6 years) favorites!  Light as Air and Refresh Mint are both from the same collection, Up Up and Away.  Zoya Blu and OPI Jinx (Liquid Sand/Textured) are new additions that work will for spring.  Zoya polish is Big 5 Free, OPI and China Glaze are Big 3 Free.

 

  What are your favorite nail colors for Spring?

Pulchritude: Dead Sea

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The Dead Sea is best known as one of the most saline bodies of water on the planet. The Dead Sea is had an approximate salinity of 34% in 2011. The high salinity of the Dead Sea is a difficult environment for flora and fauna to survive, hence its common name. The Dead Sea has no outflows to other bodies of water (endorheic) and is located between the African and Arabian Plates, bordering Jordan, Palestine, and Israel. The Dead Sea Salt and Mud are frequently used in cosmetics and skin care due to the high mineral content and believed therapeutic and healing ability. The volume of the Dead Sea has steadily declined over several decades due to diversion of its source input the Jordan River. The Dead Sea is being used as a source of freshwater (once desalinized) by various countries due to water scarcity in the region. The Dead Sea is the deepest hypersaline lake in the world with a depth of 997 feet (304 meters).