Independent Women's Forum RSS feedhttp://www.iwf.orgThe RSS feed for the IWF. News/Commentary, Blog posts and publications(...)IWF RSShttp://iwf.org/images/email-logo.pnghttp://www.iwf.org33968Toxic Tampons?<p> Are tampons and maxi pads toxic?&nbsp;</p> <p> Pardon me while I laugh hysterically&hellip;.</p> <p> Okay, I&rsquo;m done.</p> <p> Ladies, your favorite feminine products are not killing you so don&rsquo;t listen to <a href="http://org.salsalabs.com/o/2708/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=14499">Women&rsquo;s Voices for the Earth</a> who claim your maxi pad is soaked in chemicals before being boxed up and sent to your local drug store. Their cute &quot;detox the box&quot; memes might scare you into buying &quot;all natural&quot; and &quot;chemical-free&quot; feminine products (and that&#39;s their marketing strategy) but when you consider why bacteria fighting chemicals are put in feminine products, you might reconsider.</p> <p> The truth is, yes, these products do contain trace (meaning teeny tiny) amounts of chemicals to keep bacteria at bay and to keep it all smelling fresh as a daisy down there but these chemicals aren&rsquo;t used in amounts that are dangerous for you.</p> <p> So, go ahead and buy your maxi pads worry free and ignore the toxic messages coming from the chem-phobes.</p> http://iwf.org/blog/2795352/Julie GunlockMon, 20 Oct 2014 10:10:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumApple and Facebook to add "benefit" for women: egg-freezing• WIBC Greg Garrisonhttp://iwf.org/media/2795342/Julie GunlockThu, 16 Oct 2014 10:10:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumBig Brother: Schools taking up the jobs of parents • WIBC Greg Garrisonhttp://iwf.org/media/2795341/Julie GunlockThu, 16 Oct 2014 09:10:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumAs You Were Saying...Feds forget kids’ picky food habits<p> Kids are finicky eaters. Most prefer a few favored items, making it a challenge for parents to provide their kids with the varied, nutritious meals that are critical for a growing body. And now, because of dietary guidelines soon to be released by the Obama administration, getting kids the food they need &mdash; particularly at school &mdash; is going to become even more difficult.</p> <p> The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, which is made up of representatives from the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services, has been working all year to update the federal dietary guidelines. These guidelines are supposed to provide Americans with information based on the latest nutrition research and determine the allocation of certain federal food programs &mdash; including the federal school lunch program.</p> <p> During a year of hearings, the committee heard from a variety of witnesses, including nutritionists, environmentalists, food activists and other &ldquo;experts,&rdquo; many of whom told the committee that Americans should switch to a plant-based diet, not for nutrition reasons, but for the environmental benefit of the planet. The committee failed to hear from one critical demographic: parents, who actually know quite a lot about the reality of getting kids to eat their peas and carrots.</p> <p> It isn&rsquo;t hard to find people willing to talk about this topic. The committee could have asked one of the thousands of mommy bloggers who write about struggling to get kids to eat healthy. They might have reached out to Jessica Seinfeld (wife of Jerry Seinfeld) who wrote a charming bestselling cookbook about hiding vegetables in kid-friendly foods.</p> <p> My own three children are exposed to a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, meat, seafood, and dairy products, yet only my middle child is willing to try new things. I often ask myself: Where did I go wrong?</p> <p> Instead of laying blame, parents should know that their child&rsquo;s limited palate isn&rsquo;t their fault. According to Dr. Leann Birch, Penn State University&rsquo;s head of the human development and family studies department, kids are naturally neophobic &mdash; a big word for a phenomenon very familiar to parents: Kids just don&rsquo;t want to try anything new. Studies on children&rsquo;s eating habits also show them to be quite sensitive to bitter tastes &mdash; such as those in some green vegetables. Not surprisingly, children tend to prefer sweeter food and most focus on one or two items at dinner, instead of eating a plate filled with different foods.</p> <p> The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics warns that iron deficiency is the most common nutritional problem and the leading cause of anemia among American children. Kids absorb 2 to 3 times more iron from animal sources than from plants, so the Academy recommends kids eat lean beef, turkey, chicken, lean pork and fish.</p> <p> Yet, the dietary guidelines committee wants all Americans &mdash; including children &mdash; to reduce meat consumption. And because the committee&rsquo;s recommendations dictate how the 32 million students who participate in the federal school lunch and breakfast programs eat at school, kids will simply be getting less meat on their lunch trays. The first lady&rsquo;s school lunch reforms have already proven enormously unpopular, resulting in massive food waste in the school cafeterias. Perhaps the committee should take note of this trend before making recommendations that will make these meals even less popular.</p> <p> <em>Julie Gunlock, mother of three picky eaters, writes for the Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum and is the author of &ldquo;From Cupcakes to Chemicals: How the Culture of Alarmism Makes Us Afraid of Everything and How to Fight Back.&rdquo;</em></p> http://iwf.org/news/2795273/Julie GunlockSun, 12 Oct 2014 08:10:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumSchools: The New Social-Welfare Centers<p> &nbsp;</p> <p> There are many reasons that our country&rsquo;s public-school system fails so many American kids. Unions protect incompetent teachers (and even defend convicted child&nbsp;<a href="http://townhall.com/tipsheet/danieldoherty/2013/12/12/michigan-teachers-union-seeks-10000-severance-package-for-convicted-child-molester-n1761847">molesters</a>), and our location-based schooling system prevents the kind of competition that has spurred tremendous innovation in other sectors of the economy.</p> <p> Yet here&rsquo;s another less-discussed reason many schools are in bad shape: Today, schools are not so much educational institutions as they are child-welfare centers, offering an array of services that lie outside the core educational mission.</p> <p> <strong>BABYSITTING SERVICES</strong><br /> Among the more popular programs offered at schools are the before- and after-school babysitting programs. While some are privately managed and operated, many are run directly out of the school. And even when the federal government awards grants to a private company, the programs are usually located on school property, using school facilities and resources.</p> <p> Before- and after-school programs begin as early as 6&nbsp;a.m.&nbsp;and run until 6 or 6:30&nbsp;p.m.&nbsp;That means some children will spend more than twelve hours at school &mdash; that&rsquo;s a long day even for adults. While these programs are often very popular and well run, they are also a burden on schools.</p> <p> Moreover, these programs continue the already pronounced trend of shifting child-care responsibilities from family, friends, and, most of all, parents to schools and government-sponsored programs. That creates new challenges for schools, which can no longer expect parents or a loved one to engage with kids after school, helping with homework and hearing about what&rsquo;s happening in their classrooms and among their peers.</p> <p> Schools and these after-school care programs command the lion&rsquo;s share of kids&rsquo; time during the work week and therefore end up providing the bulk of their educational and emotional support. That&rsquo;s a big job even for the most dedicated education professionals, whose time is inevitably divided among dozens of kids. Kids who spend less time and who get less support from parents need more from schools, and even good schools can struggle to deliver.</p> <p> <strong>SCHOOL MEAL PROGRAMS</strong><br /> Unsurprisingly, when kids began spending so many of their waking hours at schools, schools began taking over the responsibility of providing meals to students. And officials also see school feeding initiatives as a way to expand their programs and power.</p> <p> For example, when officials in Washington, D.C., announced that they would expand the school dinner program from 99 to 123 of the city&rsquo;s public schools, they&nbsp;<a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/10/18/AR2010101805040.html">explained</a>&nbsp;to the&nbsp;<em>Washington Post&nbsp;</em>that the expansion had three goals: &ldquo;hedging against childhood hunger, reducing alarming rates of obesity, and drawing more students to after-school programs.&rdquo; So one direct purpose of these efforts is to encourage more parents to make use of after-school care. At some point the public might wonder when enough is enough: To what extent should schools be encouraging parents to outsource oversight of their kids to government bureaucracies?</p> <p> This official also noted to the&nbsp;<em>Post&nbsp;</em>that principals and teachers reported that &ldquo;not only were many kids hungry for the last few hours of a long day, some of them weren&rsquo;t eating much at home.&rdquo; The&nbsp;<em>Post</em>&nbsp;reporter focused his story on the expanded school-lunch program but could have instead considered a more fundamental question of why parents are sending their kids to school for ten-plus hours without packing them a simple meal or at least a snack to hold them over until dinner.</p> <p> Similarly, a 2012&nbsp;<em>USA Today</em>&nbsp;story about summer meals programs&nbsp;<a href="http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/nation/story/2012-07-01/summer-lunch-programs-children/55944996/1?AID=10709313&amp;PID=4003003&amp;SID=rgdbvg1ot7dv">explained</a>&nbsp;that these programs offer &ldquo;a safe location for children to eat lunch, and [a place to] get free food to take home to their families.&rdquo; Yet the reporter seemed to miss the much bigger story: Why aren&rsquo;t parents feeding their children during the summer months? Why do children have to go to their schools or to mobile feeding sites to get food for themselves and their families? Talk about burying the lede!</p> <p> Sadly, feeding kids is less and less seen as the parents&rsquo; responsibility, as many school officials actively discourage parents from performing this simple task. The much-lauded Healthy and Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010 &mdash; the school-lunch reform bill pushed by the first lady &mdash; did just that when it created a mechanism for the automatic enrollment of poor kids in school meal programs. Parents no longer even had to take the step of signing their kids up for free or reduced-price meals. Instead, students who were already receiving welfare benefits were automatically added to the meal rolls. The bill authorized the USDA to award bonuses to states that expand their free-lunch rolls &mdash; thereby incentivizing states to increase enrollment in the programs.</p> <p> In February 2014, the first lady&nbsp;<a href="http://www.iwf.org/blog/2793248/Universal-School-Lunch">announced</a>&nbsp;yet another expansion of school feeding programs: All children who attend schools in which 40 percent or more of the students are eligible (not actually participating, but eligible) for free or reduced-price lunch will now be provided, at no cost to them, school-prepared meals. In other words, demonstrating financial need is no longer required to get a government handout. Instead, all parents are encouraged to let the state take over this core parental duty.</p> <p> The first lady said that the expansion was a way to &ldquo;reduce the stigma and paperwork for schools,&rdquo; but it also came at a big cost:&nbsp;<a href="http://researchnews.osu.edu/archive/homeroutines.htm">Study</a>&nbsp;after&nbsp;<a href="http://www.iwf.org/blog/2792951/Shocking-Breaking-News:-Parents-Matter">study</a>&nbsp;shows that parental involvement is key to helping kids eating right and maintain a healthy weight, yet government increasingly seeks to push parents out of the role of feeding their own kids.</p> <p> <strong>AND THERE&rsquo;S MORE&nbsp;.&nbsp;.&nbsp;.&nbsp;</strong><br /> Today, schools do an awful lot more than reading, writing, and arithmetic. From gardening programs to school-based clubs to condom handouts and sex education to those often-politicized environmental and recycling efforts, schools have become the hub for everything a child must learn and do. Some would argue that this is a good thing, because schools have become a gathering place for the community. But putting so many responsibilities in the hands of schools erodes it.</p> <p> Consider school gardens, which have long been promoted as a solution to the problem of childhood obesity problem. The idea behind the enthusiasm for these gardens was that children would more eagerly consume healthy food if they knew where it came from. But as Caitlin Flannigan observed in&nbsp;<em>The Atlantic</em>, in a powerful essay entitled &ldquo;Cultivating Failure&rdquo;:&nbsp;&ldquo;The suicidal dietary choices of so many poor people are the result of a problem, not the problem itself. The solution lies in an education that will propel students into a higher economic class, where they will live better and therefore eat better.&rdquo;</p> <p> In other words, rather than invest so much time on these outdoor fantasies, shouldn&rsquo;t schools focus on improving children&rsquo;s true educational outcomes? After all, it isn&rsquo;t as though schools are doing such a bang-up job on their core responsibility that they&rsquo;ve earned the right to take on more and more responsibility. In fact, our national test scores&nbsp;<a href="http://www.iwf.org/blog/2794030/High-School-Seniors-Stagnate-on-Nation%E2%80%99s-Report-Card">confirm</a>&nbsp;that schools fail to teach a frightening portion of the next generation even the most basic skills. According to the&nbsp;<a href="http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2014087">2013 National Assessment of Educational Progress</a>, known as the &ldquo;Nation&rsquo;s Report Card,&rdquo; only a third of eighth-grade schoolchildren attending public schools can read and do math at grade level. High-school students fared even worse &mdash;&nbsp;<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/05/07/naep-2013-high-school_n_5276767.html">scoring an average of 153 out of 500, and only 288 in reading</a>. In spite of these grim numbers, public schools spend, on average, more than $12,000 per child.</p> <p> <strong>AND IT&rsquo;S ABOUT TO START EVEN EARLIER</strong><br /> The president&rsquo;s&nbsp;<a href="http://www.ed.gov/early-learning">fiscal-year 2015 budget</a>&nbsp;includes a $75 billion Preschool and Early Head Start Child Care Initiative to create universal government-run child care for all three- and four-year-olds. Stressed parents might applaud the idea of getting more help with their preschoolers, but, once again, there are major costs to government taking over the duties of raising children.</p> <p> When homeschooling became popular in the mid &rsquo;90s, critics often suggested that homeschooled kids would miss out on the socialization aspect of school. In response, many parents created private sports leagues, clubs, and other activities for homeschooled kids. Today, studies show that&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nheri.org/research/research-facts-on-homeschooling.html">homeschoolers are thriving</a>&nbsp;compared with their peers.</p> <p> Parent involvement matters. When schools take the place of parents in many areas, as they are doing increasingly, it pulls focus from their primary job of educating kids. Even more alarmingly, it marginalizes parents.</p> <p> <em>&mdash; Julie Gunlock writes for the Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum.</em></p> http://iwf.org/news/2795252/Julie GunlockThu, 9 Oct 2014 08:10:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumKiller Swings and Other Playground Myths<p> A school in Washington State is banning...wait for it...swings.</p> <p> Ummm, huh?</p> <p> Yeah, swings. You know what swings are, right? Those small, flat seats typically supported by chains, on which a child sits and is pushed or bends their knees to make the device move through the air.</p> <p> They are also known to Washington State school officials as CHILD KILLERS.</p> <p> Because...obviously.</p> <p> <a href="http://www.keprtv.com/Richland-School-District-is-Saying-Goodbye-to-Swings-277833231.html?tab=video&amp;c=y">A local news station reports</a>:&nbsp;</p> <blockquote> <p> Swings are being phased out of Richland schools.</p> <p> The district says pressure from insurance companies over the liability is part of the issue.</p> <p> Swings are blamed for the most injuries of any play equipment.</p> <p> Richland School District already removed them from some campuses and will phase them out of the rest.??</p> </blockquote> <p> A scardy-cat school official helped the reporter paint the terrifying picture for readers, <a href="http://www.keprtv.com/Richland-School-District-is-Saying-Goodbye-to-Swings-277833231.html?tab=video&amp;c=y">saying</a>:</p> <blockquote> <p> &quot;As schools get modernized or renovated or as we&#39;re doing work on the playground equipment, we&#39;ll take out the swings, it&#39;s just really a safety issue, swings have been determined to be the most unsafe of all the playground equipment on a playground&quot;</p> </blockquote> <p> And predictably, the reporter added this ominous statistic: &quot;Each year, about 200,000 children go to the emergency room for injuries that happened on a playground.&quot;</p> <p> Well, I looked at the <a href="http://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/playground-injuries/playgroundinjuries-factsheet.htm">CDC numbers and according to the agency</a>, the majority of injuries on public playgrounds occur climbing equipment while it&rsquo;s on home playgrounds that swings are responsible for most injuries. So, when the school bans the things on which kids can climb&mdash;rock walls, stairs, slides, bridges, ropes, etc.&mdash;what&rsquo;s left to play with?&nbsp;</p> <p> Oh, I know&hellip;balls, they can play with balls the type of games that use balls like Dodgeball&hellip;<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/28/school-dodgeball-ban-windham-new-hampshire_n_2973792.html">oh wait</a>.</p> <p> And, of course, the reporter managed to find that nervous mom who is more than willing to back the school for this insane move:</p> <blockquote> <p> Muge Kaineoz&#39;s daughter will be starting school next year. She&#39;s in favor of the decision to remove swings. &quot;When she starts elementary school, those swings can get crazy!&quot;</p> </blockquote> <p> CRAZY! Just crazy. I mean swings go back and forth and high in the air. There are no straps keeping the kids on the seat. There isn&rsquo;t a net to catch the kids if they go flying into the air and for goodness sake, they do this swinging thing in the open--there&#39;s no fence placed around the swingers to protect kids who might walk by and not notice the human wrecking ball flying through the air! &nbsp;OF COURSE THESE KILLERS SHOULD BE BANNED. So really, everything should be banned because everything is potentially dangerous, right? EVERYTHING CAN KILL.</p> <p> Well sure, but as for keeping kids from killing themselves on the playground, this used to be the job of parents or paid members of the school staff. Yet, today, we&#39;re all too dumb to protect our children and so we should simply remove any potential risks. Fortunately some parents are still doing it. And it doesn&rsquo;t appear to be that hard. In fact, I witnessed it &nbsp;just a few days ago. My friend Lauren and I were at a playground with our (6 in total) kids and while we probably would have preferred swapping chicken recipes, discussing where to get cheap snow boots, and debating who&rsquo;s the better lover&mdash;Quinn from Homeland or Don Draper from Mad Men (it&rsquo;s Quinn, by the way), we had to take a break from our conversation now and then to caution our kids from doing something dumb or slightly dangerous.</p> <p> Shockingly, my friend even got up and ran to her four year old son who was walking too closely to a DANGEROUS swings. She dealt with this terrifying situation by simply kneeling down beside her son to remind him of the last time he&#39;d come in contact with a child&rsquo;s violently swinging rear end. And then she told me he&rsquo;d been hit pretty hard last time (and she chuckled because she&rsquo;s awesome and she didn&rsquo;t see this as a near death moment). My friend simply viewed this as a normal part of her job to remind amnesiatic children of their past bad judgments.</p> <p> One wonders what other things this school will ban. My boys don&#39;t play on the swings anymore. They play in an adjacent field of tall grass where they find sticks to use as swords. It&#39;s a nail biter watching them sometimes and we&#39;ve come away with some bumps, bruises, cuts and hurt egos but that&#39;s the way my boys play and nothing I say or do changes that.</p> <p> Should the school ban sticks?</p> <p> My boys have learned to navigate the school playground area well now and I trust them to know their limits when they &nbsp;climb trees or go so far I can no longer see them from my seat on the playground. &nbsp;</p> <p> Should the school do away with wandering? Tree climbing? Should the say the grassy areas are off limits because of tics? &nbsp;</p> <p> There&rsquo;s another, less often discussed, problem with these sorts of policies--it discourages healthy and fun exercise. &nbsp;I recently sat on a swing next to my son to show him how to pump his legs. After about 30 seconds, I was huffing and puffing like I&#39;d just ran a marathon. It was tough and a pretty good 30-second workout (which was enough for me that day!). By taking away these joyful types of exercise, we are increasingly teaching kids that exercise is something different and not part of the normal part of a day. Rather, it&#39;s a chore, a thing one does in Physical Education class, a thing mommy goes to after dinner or early in the morning. It&#39;s something Dad does on the weekend when he runs around the block a few times.</p> <p> The best way to help kids stay active and get exercise is to let them run and have fun and do entertaining things that burn calories. As we make safety a priority over fun, we&#39;re harming kids by robbing them of important life lessons while making it harder for them to be active and to develop good exercise habits.</p> http://iwf.org/blog/2795230/Julie GunlockTue, 7 Oct 2014 12:10:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumBreast Cancer Month Should Bring Awareness of Wasted Federal Grants<p> October is breast cancer awareness month where various organizations work to raise money for and awareness of breast cancer. Yet, if the American people really wanted to do something to help breast cancer research, they should do more than just pin a pink ribbon on their lapel. Gestures mean little when Congress refuses to stop funding anti-chemical activists and radical environmentalists instead of the needed research into breast and other cancers.</p> <p> Mattie Duppler of the <a href="http://costofgovernment.org">Cost of Government Center</a> made this point in a recent post for <a href="http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/economy-budget/217487-millions-for-pointless-research">The Hill newspaper</a>, where she explains that &ldquo;since 2000, nearly $170 million in grants has been doled out to focus on researching one chemical &ndash; bisphenol A (BPA) &hellip; despite regulators around the world insisting BPA is safe.&rdquo; Duppler also points out the paradox that exists in these funding streams--while the agency declares a product safe, it simultaneously funds anti-chemical activists groups that are trying to ban BPA and release dubious studies that claim it&#39;s unsafe for human contact.</p> <p> Duppler <a href="http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/economy-budget/217487-millions-for-pointless-research">goes on to say</a>:</p> <blockquote> <p> To be sure, the U.S. agency in charge of regulating BPA has asserted for years that the compound is safe. On its own website, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) conclusively answers the question of whether BPA is safe with one word: &ldquo;Yes.&rdquo; This is consistent with the positions of FDA&rsquo;s counterparts around the world, including regulatory agencies in Canada, Japan, Germany, and the European Union.</p> <p> Given this unequivocal determination, why are American taxpayers underwriting efforts to actively undermine matters that have been settled by FDA itself? Why is one executive branch agency spending millions of dollars to attack the findings of another agency?</p> </blockquote> <p> All good questions. <a href="http://franklincenterhq.org">The Franklin Center&rsquo;s </a>Erik Telford agrees with Duppler&rsquo;s point <a href="http://www.nationalreview.com/article/389313/bogus-anti-bpa-research-erik-telford">writing for National Review Online</a>:</p> <blockquote> <p> The recent surge in anti-BPA sentiment becomes even more apparent when we examine where that $170 million went. From fiscal year 2000 to FY 2009, the government spent $51 million on BPA research, but that rate more than quadrupled in the following five years, when agencies spent $120 million. Incredibly, the increase in spending comes on the heels of a 2009 report from the National Toxicology Program, which found, in no uncertain terms that &ldquo;there is no direct evidence that exposure of people to bisphenol-A adversely affects reproduction or development.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p> So, if you want to do something this Breast Cancer Awareness Month, educate yourself on the billions of dollars that are shifted from breast cancer research to anti-chemical and environmental groups, who use taxpayer dollars to keep these non-issues alive while they willfully ignore the real killer--cancer.</p> http://iwf.org/blog/2795231/Julie GunlockTue, 7 Oct 2014 12:10:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumEbola, and Beheadings, and ISIS…Oh My!<p> Boy, it&#39;s getting hard not to wring your hands and clutch your pearls nowadays. It seems the world just gets scarier and scarier. But, as <a href="http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2014/09/30/ebola-isis-beheadings-war-is-world-more-dangerous-than-ever/">John Stossel reminds us in his new column</a>, the world is safer now than ever before and we&#39;re all living much longer, healthier lives.</p> <p> But it makes sense that people would feel frightened. Ebola&#39;s no laughing matter and now that it&rsquo;s arrived in the U.S., people are naturally on edge. But Americans also need to remember that our tracking and health care systems are far better than that which exists in Liberia and other parts of west Africa (where the virus continues to spread). And as for ISIS, the terrorist organization is indeed terrifying and it must be eradicated but we cannot start living our lives as though a knife wielding maniac is lurking behind every corner. Crime is down and as Stossel points out, so are terrorist-related deaths and injuries.</p> <p> Look, sometimes I want to crawl under my bed and sit there for a few years until these problems pass but it&#39;s important to keep the good news in mind and try hard to put these warnings of doom, gloom and bodily injury for what they are--fearmongering.&nbsp;</p> <p> As <a href="http://reason.com/blog/2014/10/01/moms-fed-up-with-school-stranger-danger">Lenore Skenazy points out at Reason</a>, the warnings don&#39;t just center on the truly terrifying (like Ebola and ISIS) but on rather mundane things like the horror of &quot;a man&quot; hanging out near a bus stop.</p> <blockquote> <p> A reader, Kate, sent me a message about the note her son&#39;s school sent home with him. Kate lives in Canada, but the trend is strong in the U.S., too:</p> </blockquote> <blockquote> <p> &quot;Today&#39;s alert was to let us know that the police were contacted &quot;regarding a suspicious motor vehicle seen between&nbsp;8:15 and 8:30 AM&quot; near one of the schools this morning, a &quot;white work van with an orange flashing style light on top that was not operative&quot; operated by &quot;a male approx. 50-60 years of age with a full white beard and wearing an orange construction style shirt and ball style hat.&quot; Of course, there isn&#39;t enough detail included to explain what on earth is so suspicious about a work van driven by a workman in a small Canadian town on a Wednesday&nbsp;morning. Instead there are tips about setting up &#39;code words&#39; with parents and kids and never going into strange places out of public view.&quot;</p> </blockquote> <blockquote> <p> These notes are not benign. By adding to the belief that our kids are in constant danger the minute they leave the house, they make it seem too risky to send kids outside unsupervised. That&#39;s how we end up with cops collaring moms who let their kids&nbsp;<a href="http://reason.com/blog/2014/07/29/no-child-left-outside-another-mom-arrest">walk to the park</a>&nbsp;or<a href="http://reason.com/blog/2014/09/15/child-services-to-mom-who-did-nothing-wr">&nbsp;play outside</a>. It is equated with negligence.</p> </blockquote> <p> This actually happened recently at my school. A few kids reported that a man spoke to them while they were walking home. The man said nothing bad or inappropriate but only said a few pleasantries and asked a few basic questions. Nothing too personal or intrusive. Upon being told that a man spoke to them, some of the parents of these children reported the incident to the school and a full police investigation was launched to ascertain the identity of this &quot;talking man.&quot;</p> <p> It turned out, the &quot;talking man&quot; was an elderly substitute teacher who clearly hadn&#39;t gotten the note that he&#39;s assumed to be a child predator and would be better off keeping his mouth shut. The school eventually informed all parents that the &quot;talking man&quot; had been identified and that the mix-up had been resolved.</p> <p> It was quickly swept aside as a misunderstanding but one can&#39;t help but contemplate the atmosphere we live in where a nice man can&#39;t have a simple, friendly conversation with a group of kids without raising the &quot;child molester&quot; alarms of parents and school officials.</p> <p> The best thing people can do at a time like this is be prepared to be freaked out. The media likes a scary story and clearly there&rsquo;s a lot of material to spread around. But Americans need to remember that we are living in the best of times and must resist the urge to be crippled by fear.</p> http://iwf.org/blog/2795192/Julie GunlockThu, 2 Oct 2014 10:10:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumTaxpayers Fund Farmers Markets<p> Today, the <a href="http://mobile.nytimes.com/2014/09/29/business/usda-to-start-program-to-support-local-and-organic-farming.html?referrer=&amp;_r=1">New York Times reports</a> that the US Department of Agriculture &quot;will spend $52 million to support local and regional food systems like farmers&rsquo; markets and food hubs and to spur research on organic farming.&quot;</p> <p> Uh huh...because, why not! We&rsquo;re already $17 Trillion (<a href="http://www.iwf.org/blog/2791835/Super-sized-$90-Trillion-Government-Debt-Underreported">or is that $90 Trillion</a>) in debt. What&rsquo;s a measly $52 million for yet another food program!</p> <p> Need a review of those <a href="http://www.nutrition.gov/food-assistance-programs">other programs</a>? Let&rsquo;s see&hellip;taxpayers already provide 47 million Americans with food stamps. Taxpayers also fund the Women Infant and Children program, the Elderly Nutrition Program, the Head Start and Summer Food Service Programs, the Indian reservation food assistance program, the Emergency Food Assistance Program, the Child and Adult Care Nutrition Program, and of course, the School Breakfast and Lunch Program.&nbsp; Got all that?</p> <p> But, according to <a href="http://www.wcpo.com/news/local-news/millions-wasted-in-federal-school-lunch-program">multiple reports</a>, as spending has increased on these programs, so has the food waste. For example, take the school lunch program: According to a Harvard study, 60 percent of fresh vegetables and 40 percent of fresh fruit are being thrown in the trash. Both GAO and a study by the National School Nutrition Association found an increase food waste due to kids not eating the &ldquo;new and improved&rdquo; meals and according to a study from Cornel and Brigham Young Universities, <a href="http://www.westernjournalism.com/4-million-food-thrown-away-every-day-michelles-school-lunch-program/">$4 million a day (yes, A DAY!)</a><a href="http://www.westernjournalism.com/4-million-food-thrown-away-every-day-michelles-school-lunch-program/">&nbsp;is being wasted</a>.</p> <p> So, with all this spending and record breaking waste in mind, why not create a whole new food program designed to help people eat like those sanctimonious food snobs you avoid at school pickup. Hooray!</p> <p> Not surprisingly, the New York Times &ndash; yes, the same newspaper <a href="http://iwf.org/blog/2794833/New-York-Times-Hosts-Panel-on-Farming,-Forgets-to-Invite-Farmers">that&rsquo;s hosting a panel discussion of farming, yet forgot to invite farmers</a> -- offers this <a href="http://mobile.nytimes.com/2014/09/29/business/usda-to-start-program-to-support-local-and-organic-farming.html?referrer=&amp;_r=1">excuse for the program</a>:</p> <blockquote> <p> &hellip; local farmers still struggle to market their food. Distribution systems are intended to accommodate the needs of large-scale commercial farms and growers. Grocery stores and restaurants largely rely on big distribution centers and are only beginning to figure out how to incorporate small batches of produce into their overall merchandise mixes.</p> </blockquote> <p> Yes, it&rsquo;s true, food distribution systems currently in use benefit large-scale farmers but as demand for organic food increases (which it is thanks to <a href="http://www.blogher.com/cult-organics">alarmists who tell moms that conventionally grown food is dangerous</a>), the distribution systems will be upgraded to deliver organic products in a more efficient manner.</p> <p> And organic companies have already invested in their own distribution systems to make getting organic products to consumers easier. For instance, by 2011, one of the largest organic companies -- Organic Valley &ndash; <a href="http://www.cias.wisc.edu/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/rb80organicvalleyfinal041813.pdf">had 43 regional milk pools across the&nbsp;country and employed more than 500 people</a>.</p> <p> Considering that many organic companies are already designing these distribution centers, perhaps the better solution is for these companies&mdash;not taxpayers&mdash;to spend a little money in building these logistical systems. After all, organic companies are rolling in it. That&rsquo;s right&mdash;organic&rsquo;s going BIG FOOD!</p> <p> Just consider the fact that Whole Foods (hmmm&hellip;is it me or do you get the impression that Whole Foods supports the organic industry and organic farmers) <a href="http://tacit.livejournal.com/596800.html">makes about the same profits as (gasp) Monsanto</a> (h/t <a href="http://www.nurselovesfarmer.com">Nurse Loves Farmer</a>). Maybe Whole Foods should start investing in these systems instead of relying on taxpayers like me who don&rsquo;t even purchase organic food. Or maybe, The Hain Celestial Group, which sells organic products and was <a href="http://www.thestreet.com/topic/21481/top-rated-equity-food-products.html">ranked one 2014&#39;s best food stocks</a>, could help organic farmers with this distribution problem.</p> <p> The point is, the U.S. government should get out of picking winners (pushing farmers markets, helping develop distribution systems, and pushing organic on consumers) and losers (grocery stores and conventional and large-scale farmers).</p> <p> Let the market work and let private industry take a load of the American taxpayer.</p> http://iwf.org/blog/2795155/Julie GunlockMon, 29 Sep 2014 12:09:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumNew Federal Dietary Guidelines could be harmful to your children & Regulations on food industry hurts small, local restaurants • WIBC Garrisonhttp://iwf.org/media/2795140/Julie GunlockThu, 25 Sep 2014 16:09:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumZero Tolerance Rules: Have they gone too far? • WIBC Garrison Show http://iwf.org/media/2795139/Julie GunlockThu, 25 Sep 2014 16:09:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumFood Industry Making Foods Healthier • Cam & Company http://iwf.org/media/2795135/Julie GunlockThu, 25 Sep 2014 13:09:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumPunishing Big Food Really Harms the Little Guy<p> IWF writers have been following the Big Union-orchestrated fast food walkouts for months and how the demand to increase the minimum wage would largely hurt low skilled workers. <a href="http://dailysignal.com/2014/09/20/higher-fast-food-wages-could-leave-some-workers-behind/?utm_source=facebook&amp;utm_medium=social">Salim Furth at the Daily Signal</a> explains just how this would play out. He writes:</p> <blockquote> <p> &hellip; in the short run, prices would rise 38 percent, production and hours worked would fall 36 percent, and wages would decrease to 1 percent of revenue from 3 percent in 2013. In the long run, some restaurants would close, and the survivors would shift to fewer, higher-skilled workers and more <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dRyscGaXM_0">labor-saving technology</a>.</p> <p> Some workers would come out ahead from a $15 fast-food wage: those with the most experience and the highest efficiency. Sadly, marginal workers&ndash;including those with the worst alternatives and the fewest marketable skills&ndash;would be left behind.</p> </blockquote> <p> Higher wagers isn&rsquo;t the only demand. <a href="http://dailysignal.com/2014/09/21/white-house-unions-attack-small-business/?utm_source=facebook&amp;utm_medium=social">According to Stephen Moore</a>, also writing for Heritage&rsquo;s Daily Signal, transforming (maybe destroying?) the very way fast food restaurants operate is the ultimate goal:</p> <blockquote> <p> If the Obama Administration has its way, Ronald McDonald may soon have to wipe that grin off his face as he stands beneath the Golden Arches. One of the most successful models for expanding small-business ownership in America is under full-scale attack from unions and the White House.</p> <p> The political strategy is to fundamentally change the legal relationship between locally owned stores like McDonald&rsquo;s (NYSE:<a href="http://research.investors.com/quotes/nyse-mcdonalds-corp-mcd.htm">MCD</a>), Popeyes (NASDAQ:<a href="http://research.investors.com/quotes/nasdaq-popeyes-louisiana-kitchn-plki.htm">PLKI</a>), Taco Bell (NYSE:<a href="http://research.investors.com/quotes/nyse-yum-brands-inc-yum.htm">YUM</a>) and their multibillion-dollar parent companies.</p> <p> No longer would franchisees be legally classified as independent contractors to the parent company. The left wants the employees of each of the hundreds of thousands of independently owned franchise restaurants, hotels, retail stores and others to be considered jointly employed by both the independent franchisee and parent.</p> <p> This change would overturn a 30-year legal precedent for how the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) deals with franchisees.</p> </blockquote> <p> We&rsquo;re seeing regulations kill businesses. From <a href="http://thegazette.com/subject/news/kalona-cheese-factory-to-stop-churning-20140911">small cheese makers</a>, to <a href="http://www.ncpa.org/sub/dpd/index.php?Article_ID=24761">onion growers</a> to both large scale and small family owned restaurants that can no longer comply with FSMA, Obamacare and other crushing regulations, these businesses and teh workers they employ are in deep trouble.</p> <p> True lovers of food need to understand that by taking down the big guys, you often hurt the little guys much worse. And that&rsquo;s what we&rsquo;re seeing with these attacks on fast food. Lefty politicians and food scolds who approve of hurting the fast food industry need to understand the real consequents of these actions: killing jobs for low skilled workers and shattering small businesses and small-scale farmers.</p> http://iwf.org/blog/2795103/Julie GunlockTue, 23 Sep 2014 10:09:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumEvent: Hear How Big Food Companies Are Helping You Lose Weight<p> This week, the <a href="http://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sn-sci-us-households-with-kids-bought-less-junk-food-in-2012-than-in-2007-report-says-20140916-story.html#page=1">Los Angeles Times reported some good news</a>:</p> <blockquote> <p> American families with kids bought 101 fewer calories per person per day in packaged foods in 2012 than they did in 2007, according to an analysis of a pledge by big food companies to reduce calories in the marketplace. It&rsquo;s an &ldquo;impressive&rdquo; accomplishment but not sufficient to reverse childhood obesity, experts say.</p> <p> The assessments, published Wednesday in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, follow on an earlier report on the work of the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation -- 16 big food companies that agreed to reduce by 1.5 trillion the total calories they sold by 2015.</p> <p> That mark has been exceeded significantly: The companies -- which together account for about a third of all the calories in the marketplace -- reduced calories sold from 2007 through 2012 by an average of 78 per person, or 6.4 trillion total.</p> </blockquote> <p> That&rsquo;s an impressive accomplishment especially for an industry that so often is wrongly accused of causing the obesity crisis.</p> <p> If you&rsquo;re in the D.C. region and you&#39;re interested in learning more about this coalition of food manufacturers and the pledge to reduce calories in processed food, don&#39;t miss this panel discussion on Wednedsay hosted by The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation (HWCF). The panel will feature two amazing women--Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, MD, President and CEO of The Robert Wood Jounson Foundation and Indra Nooyi, Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo. Each will discuss the commitment these companies have made and plans to continue healthy initiatives in the future. The panel will be moderated by another impressive women--Judy Woodruff of the PBS NewsHour.</p> <p> It looks like an interesting event. To RSVP, go <a href="https://events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/eventReg?oeidk=a07e9sergu8eb60e8cc&amp;oseq=&amp;c=&amp;ch=">here</a>.</p> http://iwf.org/blog/2795098/Julie GunlockMon, 22 Sep 2014 20:09:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumSalt's Not the Bad Guy<p> I&#39;m glad to see the newer studies on sodium and diet getting coverage in the mainstream news media. <a href="http://time.com/3313332/salt-and-blood-pressure/">Time reports</a> on this stunning new research, which suggests (along with many other new studies) salt isn&#39;t the bad actor it&#39;s been made out to be when it comes to hypertension:</p> <blockquote> <p> Sodium has long been labeled the blood-pressure bogeyman. But are we giving salt a fair shake?</p> <p> A new study published in the American Journal of Hypertension analyzed data from 8,670 French adults and found that salt consumption wasn&rsquo;t associated with systolic blood pressure in either men or women after controlling for factors like age.</p> <p> Why not? One explanation, the authors write, is that the link we all assume between salt and blood pressure is &ldquo;overstated&rdquo; and &ldquo;more complex than once believed.&rdquo; It should be noted, however, that even though the study found no statistically significant association between blood pressure and sodium in the diet, those patients who were hypertensive consumed significantly more salt than those without hypertension&mdash;suggesting, as other research has, that salt affects people differently.</p> </blockquote> <p> The last line is important because it points to a trend we&#39;ve seen in the newer research on sodium&#39;s impact on human health: the science isn&#39;t settled on this topic. More research is warranted. Yet, the FDA is continuing to pursue regulations on the food industry--creating &quot;voluntary&quot; guidelines for the industry to reduce the sodium content in processed foods. <a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/realspin/2014/08/22/the-fdas-new-food-regulations-are-a-recipe-for-high-food-prices/">I wrote about this last month in Forbes</a> and I warned consumers that obedience to these &ldquo;voluntary&rdquo; guidelines will come at a cost &mdash; specifically higher prices at the grocery store and in restaurants as companies are forced to invest more in research, testing and product development. The regulations will hit local and mom-and-pop brands particularly hard, as smaller manufactures simply don&#39;t have the resources to comply.</p> <p> I also noted in my<a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/realspin/2014/08/22/the-fdas-new-food-regulations-are-a-recipe-for-high-food-prices/"> Forbes piece</a> that one industry executive speculated that food companies would face &ldquo;tens of millions of dollars&rdquo; in added costs.</p> <p> So, who do you think pays these costs? The manufacturer? Sure, up front, but manufactures will simply charge consumers more at the back end. That means, ultimately, you and I pay the price for unnecessary regulations&mdash;which won&rsquo;t lead to healthier Americans. Thanks for nothing FDA.</p> http://iwf.org/blog/2795044/Julie GunlockTue, 16 Sep 2014 10:09:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's Forum