Independent Women's Forum RSS feedhttp://www.iwf.orgThe RSS feed for the IWF. News, Commentary and Blog posts from the Independent Women's Foundation.(...)IWF RSS Leftovers + Soda Taxes • Cam & Company GunlockTue, 29 Nov 2016 15:11:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumNanny Mike Bloomberg and Soda Taxes • Cam & Company GunlockTue, 22 Nov 2016 07:11:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumNanny Bloomberg Strikes Again<p> Former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg hasn&rsquo;t held political office for three years. Yet he&rsquo;s still pushing people around and increasing Americans&rsquo; taxes.</p> <p> On Election Day, four cities passed new taxes on soda after Bloomberg spent millions pushing for anti-soda ballot initiatives. In Boulder, Colorado, voters said yes to a 2-cent-per-ounce excise tax on distributors of sugary drinks, which includes sodas, sports beverages and sweetened iced tea. In California, the cities of San Francisco, Oakland and Albany&nbsp;each added a 1-cent-per-ounce excise tax on sugar-added drinks, increasing the price of a two-liter bottle of soda by 67 cents.&nbsp;</p> <p> One thing&rsquo;s very clear: Bloomberg is still smarting from his soda tax humiliation in New York City in 2012, when the New York Supreme Court overturned his absurdly unconstitutional and just plain silly soda-size restriction. He learned from his mistake there, and turned to ballot initiatives that don&rsquo;t outright ban people from purchasing soda, but instead just make it harder for them to do so by raising their price.&nbsp;</p> <p> After funding soda tax ballot initiatives in both Berkley, CA and Philadelphia, PA, Bloomberg pledged to bring soda taxes to a city near you, saying: &ldquo;I will continue working to ensure that cities and nations pursuing these anti-obesity strategies get the support they need to level the playing field with the soda industry.&rdquo; He&rsquo;s kept his promise&nbsp;<a href="">donating a whopping $18 million</a>&nbsp;to organizations that pushed soda taxes in San Francisco and Oakland. Bloomberg&nbsp;also <a href="">donated $200,000</a>&nbsp;to a Boulder-based organization called Healthier Colorado, which spearheaded the soda tax campaign in that city.</p> <p> Those pushing for these taxes always use the same talking points: soda taxes will reduce soda consumption, which will then reduce obesity. But is it really that easy? Is increasing a two-liter bottle of soda by 67-cents really going to make a dent in America&rsquo;s obesity rates?&nbsp;</p> <p> Sadly, the research suggestions the answer is a resounding no.&nbsp;&nbsp;The causes of obesity are complex and soda certainly isn&rsquo;t the only thing making people fat. The leading medical experts on obesity agree that people gain and maintain a higher weight for several reasons, including genetics, food choices, activity levels, gender, and socio-economic level.&nbsp;&nbsp;As for obese consumers&mdash;ostensibly the target of these soda taxes&mdash;<a href="">research suggests</a>&nbsp;most aren&rsquo;t drinking full-sugar drinks at all, choosing sugar- and calorie-free beverages instead. So who is drinking full-sugar beverages? According an&nbsp;<a href="">NIH study</a>&nbsp;on soda consumption, teenage boys are the biggest consumers of sugary drinks and sodas, not obese people.</p> <p> And in fact, these taxes create a whole new set of problems that policy makers ignore. For instance, soda taxes on grocery items like&nbsp;beverages&nbsp;<a href="">are regressive</a>,&nbsp;meaning they hit lower-income families the hardest. In Mexico, where a one-peso-per-liter tax on sugar-sweetened beverages was implemented in 2014,&nbsp;<a href="">63.7% of the revenue raised</a> came from lower-income families. Soda taxes can also lead to job losses as businesses lose customers unwilling to pay the higher price. Again, in Mexico,&nbsp;due to the soda tax,&nbsp;<a href="">more than 30,000 small mom and pop stores closed, resulting in the loss of 50,000 jobs</a>. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p> Americans understand we have an obesity problem in this country. This accounts for the popularity of these measures. People want to help and support solutions. But voters need to understand that these taxes have real, quite serious consequences for businesses and consumers and that these taxes will do nothing to help reduce obesity.&nbsp;</p> <p> Soda taxes today mostly seem like nothing more than a cause celeb for an out-of-touch, bored billionaire. It&rsquo;s time voters realized this and started saying no to both these expensive initiatives and to Nanny Bloomberg.</p> GunlockWed, 16 Nov 2016 08:11:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumParents: Stop Scaring Your Kids About the Election • Cam & Company GunlockTue, 15 Nov 2016 08:11:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumMartha Stewart Snoops to A New Low<p> Moments into the new VH1 <a href="">Martha and Snoop Dogg cooking/freak show,</a> viewers are treated to jokes about pot, porn and profanity. What fun!</p> <p> The show hardly mirrors the much-talked-about trailer, which went viral almost immediately after VH1 released it last month. In that trailer, Martha and Snoop look relaxed as they dance and flirt. They look like they&rsquo;re genuinely having fun. Yet in the series opener, the cohosts look stiff and scripted and totally uncomfortable. Of course, that&rsquo;s what tends to happen when fun is forced.</p> <p> First, Martha announces that she and Snoop are going to be making fried chicken and then tries, unconvincingly, to appear conversational while reading her teleprompter and saying, &ldquo;There exists around one million Instagrams hashtagged with &lsquo;fried chicken,&rsquo;&rdquo; though no one really thinks Martha has any idea what Instagram or hashtags really are. Nor does she care. But this is a vehicle to entertain the show&rsquo;s intended demographic&mdash;young people, who tend to be big consumers of social media platforms like Instagram.</p> <p> Snoop then makes an awkward joke about how there&rsquo;s more of those hashtags if you include the word &ldquo;thighs.&rdquo; Get it? Thighs . . . like a woman&rsquo;s thighs. Even their Ed-McMahon-like sidekick announcer looked like he hurt himself trying to smile (actually, watching this guy continually try to fake smiles and belly laughs is maybe the best part of this pretty awful show).</p> <p> Next, Snoop stares into his own teleprompter and says, unconvincingly, that he has a &ldquo;beef&rdquo; with Martha. Martha then pivots, robot-like, to look into one of the side cameras, feigns concern and with her typical flat tone, perfect annunciation and hard T&rsquo;s, explains: &ldquo;I simply said I make fried chicken a wee bit beTTer than Snoop.&rdquo; This is met with feigned shock by the audience and also by Snoop (who also covers his mouth in a strange girlish affectation).</p> <p> But perhaps the weirdest part of the show occurs when a guest, the rapper and songwriter Wiz Khalifa, is introduced and brings Martha a hostess gift. What could it be? Well, if Khalifa had referenced Martha Stewart&rsquo;s own magazine, he would have found a wealth of ideas. In &ldquo;36 Unique Hostess Gift Ideas From Our Editors&rdquo; Martha suggests personalized coasters, tapered candles, fruit-infused vinegars, tea sachets, or a rosemary tree. How lovely.</p> <p> Yet, on the Pot Luck show, Khalifa brought Martha a big bag of marijuana (his own special blend called Khalifa Kush or KK). As he hands it to her, Martha giggles much like my mother does when someone gifts her with one of those DIY mason jar hot cocoa craft projects that are filled with dry cocoa and sugar and come with a taped-on chocolate dipped plastic spoon. Martha then tries to pretend she doesn&rsquo;t get what&rsquo;s happening and lamely plays it off like she just received some garden herbs (with a hard H, that is). But this was too contrived even for the groupies in the audience. One wonders if they actually have to pipe in laughter during the editing process. The other special guest, actor Seth Rogan, stood watching this bizarre display and then interjected with a reality check, saying, &ldquo;This is the weirdest group of people on a stage today.&rdquo;</p> <p> Indeed. And it was sort of sad, but only for Martha. Once the grand dame of home entertaining, a paragon of proper manners, good taste and high standards, now Martha is desperately trying, like so many stars who were big in the 1980s and 1990s, to stay relevant in a world that moves quickly and has also become increasingly vulgar.</p> <p> Her new show this isn&rsquo;t just a betrayal of Martha&rsquo;s own high standards; it&rsquo;s a betrayal of her loyal fans who for years have aspired to the sort of homemaking and entertaining that Martha created in her own (much bigger and more expensive) home as a guide for other women. Martha was always supposed to be aspirational and inspirational.</p> <p> But Hollywood loves a train wreck, even though viewers have grown weary of the kind of show setup that tears down traditions and standards in the name of shock and laughs. As for Martha, it&rsquo;s a bit baffling that she sees nothing wrong with dismantling the decades of hard work she put in to make us all a bit more civilized and to make the world a bit more beautiful.</p> <p> That&rsquo;s not a good thing.</p> <p> <iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560"></iframe></p> GunlockMon, 14 Nov 2016 15:11:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumAmerica Rejected Policies Of Past 8 Years On Tuesday • Garrison GunlockThu, 10 Nov 2016 14:11:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumParents: Stop Scaring Your Kids About The Election<p> The morning after the election, I vowed not to go on Facebook . . . and then promptly logged on. As I predicted, my feed was filled with emotional posts from my liberal friends, who were somewhere along the five stages of grief. I saw denial (Vermont hasn&rsquo;t reported yet! There&rsquo;s still a chance!), anger (I&rsquo;ve never been so ashamed of my country!), bargaining (God, if you give this to Hillary, I&rsquo;ll never . . .), depression (I need medication, now!) and acceptance (The sun will rise, folks! Let&rsquo;s move on!).</p> <p> This reminded me of posts I saw after the 2012 election, when Obama won his second term. My conservative friends were in a frenzy; taking to Facebook to post some overly-emotional opinions on the election. I recall seeing a range of questions, from the reasonable &ldquo;How did this happen?&rdquo; to the more agitated &ldquo;Great! Four more years of destroying the country!&rdquo; and, of course, the many posts critical of Obama voters who just wanted a handout&mdash;free food, free education, free this and that.</p> <p> I understood then, and I understand today that people simply need to vent and find solidarity with others feeling similarly confused or outraged. That&rsquo;s entirely appropriate.</p> <p> What isn&rsquo;t appropriate is the many posts I saw from parents both then and today that were so unhinged and distraught that they were unable to conceal their stress and grief from their kids. In fact, many parents invited their kids to share in a family freak out.</p> <p> For instance, on my own Facebook feed, one mom admitted she &ldquo;wept&rdquo; in her daughter&rsquo;s arms, leading her elementary-aged daughter to reassured her, not the other way around. Another mom admitted it was hard to break the &ldquo;distressing news&rdquo; to her children, adding that her children burst into tears when she explained Trump had won (one can only imagine how she broke the news). Another friend said her child was scared of what Trump might do to her and her family&mdash;as if he&rsquo;s watching them. One more explained that her child worried about her brown skin, only to have that fear confirmed by her mother. Many posted a Huffington Post article ,&ldquo;<a href="">What Do We Tell The Children</a>,&rdquo; as if they were preparing to tell their kids &ldquo;daddy has cancer&rdquo; or &ldquo;mommy and daddy weren&rsquo;t going to live together anymore.&rdquo;</p> <p> Of course, there were more thoughtful posts. One mom explained to her daughter that while their family is fortunate to have a nice home and a mommy and daddy with good jobs, not all families enjoy such security and comfort. She went on to gently explain to her daughter that these people are &ldquo;hurting and they voted for change and for the hope that a new president will make things better for them.&rdquo; Sadly, this wasn&rsquo;t the norm. Most people posted overwrought statements filled with the type of hysteria usually reserved for actual tragedy&mdash;like sudden death or job loss.</p> <p> It was clear to me that many parents were forgetting they were parents first, partisans second.</p> <p> Along with the other parenting basics&mdash;providing a stable environment, keeping kids fed, clothed, sheltered&mdash;parents need to keep and make their children feel safe. Safety means more than just locking the doors at night and making sure they don&rsquo;t run into the street. Safety means not freaking them out the day after an election by sobbing in their arms and making statements like, &ldquo;Your future is doomed&rdquo; (yes, that was on my feed too).</p> <p> In addition to talking calmly to your children about the election, parents can also use it as an opportunity to teach kids a little about American history. First, try putting Trump&rsquo;s victory (or if Hillary had won, Hillary&rsquo;s victory) into perspective by telling them the many challenges the American people have faced and survived. Here are just a few good examples: Our fight for independence from a powerful adversary, the Civil War, slavery, institutional racism, denying women and blacks the right to vote, the Great Depression, Woodrow Wilson, two world wars, Japanese internment camps or American Indian reservations, Vietnam, market crashes, terrorism . . . When one considers these tragedies, it makes sobbing about Trump seem a bit of an overreaction, no?</p> <p> Second, Presidential elections are always a good time to explain the phrase &ldquo;loyal opposition.&rdquo; <a href="">According to Wikipedia</a>, the phrase originated in 1826 from a British politician named John Hobhouse during a fight in the British Parliament. Today, the phrase indicates that the political party out of political power (today, that&rsquo;s the Democrats, who also failed to win control of the House and Senate) can oppose the actions of the sitting President and his cabinet while remaining loyal to the source of the government&rsquo;s power&mdash;the constitution. It also ensures that those who are critical of the President or political party leaders aren&rsquo;t accused of treason.</p> <p> As Michael Ignatieff, a member of Canada&rsquo;s House of Commons, <a href="">said in a 2012 speech at Stanford University</a>:</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> <em>&ldquo;The opposition performs an adversarial function critical to democracy itself . . . Governments have no right to question the loyalty of those who oppose them. Adversaries remain citizens of the same state, common subjects of the same sovereign, servants of the same law.&rdquo;</em></p> <p> This is a concept naturally fit for kids. Kids live in authoritarian regimes run by their parents. They have very little control over their own lives and they aren&rsquo;t allowed to oppose their overlords (or they&rsquo;ll get sent to their rooms). Telling a child that in our form of government, people are allowed to argue and disagree without fear of reprisal or punishment is a great way to explain how our democracy works and why the election of a president doesn&rsquo;t spell doom and gloom for those who oppose the winning candidate.</p> <p> Do your kids a favor now that Election Day is over: Be a parent and choose history over hysterics.</p> GunlockThu, 10 Nov 2016 09:11:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumPodcast #59 Finding Common Ground With Adversaries: A Conversation On Parenting Styles<p> IWF&#39;s Julie Gunlock is joined by Paige Wolf, a publicist, author, and green-living expert who promotes manageable eco chic living. She is author of the book Spit that Out!: The Overly Informed Parent&rsquo;s Guide to Raising Healthy Kids in the Age of Environmental Guilt. Julie and Paige discuss their different parenting styles and finding common ground.</p> GunlockWed, 9 Nov 2016 14:11:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumKids Don’t Like Veggies. So What?<p> As a toddler, my oldest child was an infuriatingly picky eater. Although I envied his carb-heavy diet of bread, rice, potatoes, and pasta, I worried that he wasn&rsquo;t eating nutritiously. Each time I took him to the pediatrician, I braced for the diagnosis: scurvy or rickets or some other nearly obsolete condition last seen in sailors in the seventeenth century, all because of the dearth of vitamins and nutrients in his diet.</p> <p> Of course, my pediatrician delivered no such news and instead suggested I relax and do my best. That was good advice<strong>&mdash;</strong>advice that sadly too few parents hear these days. Instead, parents are told that kids must eat their veggies, or else! This overwrought and entirely unnecessary stress about eating is making parenting harder and turning mealtime into an unpleasant ordeal.</p> <p> Consider <a href="">this story</a> in the New York Times, which starts out with the not-so-surprising statistic that &ldquo;nine out of ten American kids aren&rsquo;t eating enough vegetables, and six out of ten don&rsquo;t get enough fruit.&rdquo; The article then highlights the thriving cottage industry that has sprung up from this &ldquo;eat your veggies!&rdquo; obsession.</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> <em>A California company, Oh Yes Foods, is betting that parents will embrace pizza that&rsquo;s loaded up with hidden fruits and vegetables. (Pizza is the second highest source of calories in our kids&rsquo; diets) The product is available in some Western states at Whole Foods and Target.</em></p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> <em>Amy Goldsmith, the chief executive of Oh Yes, said two of the company&rsquo;s founders, both medical doctors, struggled for years with their picky daughter. &ldquo;They tried everything to get her to eat healthy food but she just wouldn&rsquo;t do it,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;It was all about hot dogs and cheese pizza.&rdquo; In desperation, they dried fruits and vegetables in an old food dehydrator they had, then used their coffee grinder to powder the produce and slip it into their daughter&rsquo;s pizza crust and sauce.</em></p> <p> Oh Yes Foods has created a savvy solution to help fool many kids into getting their recommended daily allowance of healthy stuff. But what I find confusing is why the founders of this company, who say they &ldquo;struggled for years&rdquo; with their picky eaters, didn&rsquo;t ever take a moment to think back to their own eating habits when they were children. One suspects they were like most children&mdash;picky. Yet, over time, they likely expanded their food choices, eventually becoming adults who understood the importance of fruits and vegetables and began eating them.</p> <p> That&rsquo;s certainly what happened to me. As a child, I was a pill at mealtime. My poor mom had to strictly segregate everything on the plate. Nothing could touch and I liked foods prepared as blandly and tastelessly as possible. Plain noodles (no sauce, no butter), plain rice, buttered bread&mdash;these were my staples. Of course, my mom made me eat meat and vegetables. She&rsquo;d place the spaghetti sauce in a small bowl and I ate it with a spoon, while pinching my nose. Meat was placed on the plate&mdash;very far away from the starch<strong>&mdash;</strong>and I ate it without chewing, chasing chunks of meat with big gulps of milk. Mostly, I did this forced eating while crying. My mom didn&rsquo;t care.</p> <p> And yet, today, I&rsquo;m nothing like that picky eater. I seek out the strongest flavors, regularly eat a variety of ethnic cuisines, and love to cook lesser known cuts of meat. I love Asian markets where the produce sections offer unique and exotic items not found in the neighborhood Safeway or Giant. When my husband and I eat at fine restaurants, I always order things I don&rsquo;t prepare at home: like lamb brains, sweetbreads, shad roe, and eel.</p> <p> The point is, kids grow up and expand their palates. Very few adults maintain their toddler food demands and preferences. Of course, some do, but those few adults are now recognized as having a medical condition called &ldquo;selective eating disorder.&rdquo; These people feel incapable of eating anything but a few select items. This condition is extremely rare and affects only a very small subset of the population. Yet, it seems most parents react to their child&rsquo;s pickiness as though they&rsquo;re raising someone who will eventually have this disorder.</p> <p> Instead, parents need to gain a little perspective. In Western culture, it&rsquo;s actually quite difficult for kids to miss out on vital nutrients. Today, food sold in the grocery store is packed with vitamins and nutrients. Common foods that even picky eaters enjoy&mdash;like orange juice, milk, cereals, breads, certain snacks, and other beverages&mdash;are often fortified with certain essential micronutrients in order to improve the nutritional quality of the final product.</p> <p> No one is suggesting you stop trying to get your kid to love green beans and broccoli. But stressing out about your child&rsquo;s diet to the point that you&rsquo;re buying pricey foods designed to fool them into healthy eating is an unnecessary and expensive parent trap. Don&rsquo;t fall for it.</p> GunlockWed, 2 Nov 2016 09:11:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumGenetically Modified Ingredients in School Lunches + Activist Scientists • Cam & Company GunlockTue, 25 Oct 2016 16:10:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumNew York State PTA’s Inane Panic Over GMOs in School Lunches<p> The New York State Parent Teacher Association (PTA) has <a href="">proposed</a> a measure that will require all New York state schools to serve meals free of genetically modified ingredients (or GMOs).</p> <p> While I applaud parents for taking more interest in their children&rsquo;s nutritional development and becoming more aware of the types of meals being served at school, the bad information being promoted by these parents and endorsed by the state&rsquo;s PTA is staggering and potentially harmful to families&mdash;particularly those with modest incomes.</p> <p> The resolution being pushed in New York State is riddled with inaccurate and unscientific statements. For instance, the resolution boldly states that GMO technology &ldquo;creates unstable combinations of plant, animal, bacteria, and viral genes that do not occur in nature or through traditional crossbreeding methods.&rdquo; Yet, zero scientific evidence exists to show any &ldquo;instability&rdquo; in GM foods. As for traditional cross breeding methods, well, those methods have resulted in quite a few&mdash;to use the resolution&rsquo;s phrase&mdash; &ldquo;combinations&rdquo; that also &ldquo;don&rsquo;t occur in nature.&rdquo; In fact, without the manipulation of traditional breeding, school kids wouldn&rsquo;t be eating such lunchroom staples as <a href="">watermelon, corn, cauliflower, bananas and cabbage</a>, just to name a few. Thanks to traditional breeding, kids all over the country can enjoy healthy and quite &ldquo;unnatural&rdquo; fruits and vegetables. Does the New York State PTA want to ban these foods as well?</p> <p> Next, the resolution states that &ldquo;some laboratory research is demonstrating a link between pesticide dependent GMOs and GE foods to negative health consequences.&rdquo; That might sound convincing, except for the tiny fact that no such reputable study exists. Of course, there are (to use the term extremely charitably) &ldquo;studies&rdquo; that claim to show a link between GMOs and certain terrifying diseases, but those studies have been widely discredited, either because the study was produced by an anti-GMO activist organization, it was distributed by a <a href="">predatory publisher</a> (fake scientific journals that publish for a fee&mdash;in other words, they&rsquo;ll publish anything&mdash;even a <a href="">script from a television show</a>&mdash;for enough money), or because the study used questionable methods or can&rsquo;t be replicated, which is one of the principles of the scientific method.</p> <p> The resolution next suggests &ldquo;more transparent and conclusive studies need to be conducted before GMOs are assumed to be safe for human and animal consumption.&rdquo; This claim is particularly galling considering that over two thousand studies have been conducted on GM technology, the <a href="">latest of which reviewed 29 years of livestock data</a> on roughly 100 billion animals that were fed GM corn and other crops. What did this landmark study find? No harm or uncommon health trends have ever emerged from feeding animals GM feed. In addition to this study, the New York PTA might be interested to know that a few organizations support GM technology and have certified that&rsquo;s it&rsquo;s safe for human and animal consumption. Those organizations include:</p> <p style="margin-left:.5in;"> &bull;&nbsp; the U.S. Food and Drug Administration</p> <p style="margin-left:.5in;"> &bull;&nbsp; the U.S. Department of Agriculture</p> <p style="margin-left:.5in;"> &bull;&nbsp; the American Association for the Advancement of Science</p> <p style="margin-left:.5in;"> &bull;&nbsp; the American Medical Association</p> <p style="margin-left:.5in;"> &bull;&nbsp; the National Academy of Sciences</p> <p style="margin-left:.5in;"> &bull;&nbsp; the World Health Organization</p> <p style="margin-left:.5in;"> &bull;&nbsp; the French Academy of Science</p> <p style="margin-left:.5in;"> &bull;&nbsp; the Food Standards Agency of Australia/New Zealand</p> <p style="margin-left:.5in;"> &bull;&nbsp; the Union of German Academics of Sciences and Humanities</p> <p style="margin-left:.5in;"> &bull;&nbsp; the European Commission</p> <p style="margin-left:.5in;"> &bull;&nbsp; the Royal Society of Medicine</p> <p style="margin-left:.5in;"> &bull;&nbsp; the academies of science in Brazil, China, India, and Mexico.</p> <p> Now, I know those organizations listed above don&rsquo;t match the scientific heft of the New York PTA, but hopefully this information will reassure one or two moms out there.</p> <p> The PTA&rsquo;s real hubris appears when they say that school lunches should use &ldquo;science based nutrition standards&rdquo; while failing, yet again, to mention that the U.S. government&rsquo;s own nutrition standards say nothing about banning GMOs. Nor does Michelle Obama&rsquo;s own school lunch reform bill, passed by Congress in 2009, vilify GM ingredients. The PTA resolution ends by weakly pointing out that a &ldquo;growing number of major food companies [are] voluntarily labeling their food products containing GMOs.&rdquo; Yes, that would be convincing if major food companies didn&rsquo;t have a habit of caving to even the mildest of wacky food demands by anti-science activist front groups.</p> <p> Some people might dismiss this story as just the silliness of a bunch of privileged moms with too much time on their hands. Certainly, for people of my generation, many of whom remember (fondly) surviving on school meals that consisted mainly of generic-brand cheese curls and mystery meat sandwiches, these stories elicit little more than an eye roll.</p> <p> But these resolutions, if adopted, will have significant costs. First, it will mean higher costs to New York&rsquo;s school lunch program, which will face fewer food choices and force school lunch directors to source items that are much more expensive. Second, it will send a strong and thoroughly false message to poor parents that non-GMO food is healthier, which will likely result in them spending their scarce resources to help the organic and &ldquo;natural&rdquo; foods sector without any nutritional payoff for their children.</p> <p> In fact, a <a href="">new study</a> by the Illinois Institute of Technology&rsquo;s Center for Nutrition Research showed this precise situation is happening with consumers who live at or under the poverty line. According to the research, fear-based food tactics used by food and nutrition activists and some organic food companies create so much worry about affordable produce that some consumers&mdash;specifically, the poor&mdash;are actually choosing not to buy these healthier items. One of the lead researchers, Britt Burton-Freeman, expressed shock at the results in an interview with <a href="">Food Safety News</a>, saying, &ldquo;The concern is that depending on the structure of the communication about pesticides and fruits and vegetables this could turn people away from wanting to purchase any fresh produce.&rdquo;</p> <p> <a href="">Food Safety News also reported</a> on a similar study conducted by John Hopkins University, which found consumers often face conflicting health and safety messages about fresh produce, which ends up having a negative impact on consumers.</p> <p> The New York State PTA should do better. As a respected community organization, the PTA owes it to all parents to provide and follow science- and evidence-based information, and to resist efforts by a small yet vocal and very privileged group of parents to promote dubious science about nutritious food.</p> <p> We need not complicate child nutrition or require people to shop only at Whole Foods and MOM&rsquo;s Organic Market. The National PTA Organization should take note of this state-level chapter&rsquo;s rogue behavior and correct it immediately. And, perhaps more importantly, the national PTA should take steps to prevent this nonsense from spreading nationwide by reminding all state chapters that they don&rsquo;t just represent the interests of the privileged and wealthy (and scientifically-illiterate) few, but parents of all economic levels.</p> GunlockMon, 24 Oct 2016 13:10:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's Forum‘Hormone-Disrupting Chemicals’ Are Not A Global Health Scourge<p> Yesterday, the Drudge Report featured an alarming story about endocrine-disrupting chemicals that are in nearly every product we use. <a href="">Yahoo News&rsquo; story</a> &ldquo;<a href="">Massive US health tab for hormone-disrupting chemicals</a>&ldquo; was just the sort of article that sends people into a panic and will cause many to toss out perfectly harmless and affordable everyday products.</p> <p> In summary: a new study alleges &ldquo;endocrine-disrupting chemicals&rdquo; cause ADHD, autism spectrum disorder, fertility problems, diabetes, and obesity. Holy cow! All that and cancer, too. &ldquo;So-called endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) are found in thousands of everyday products, ranging from plastic and metal food containers, to detergents, flame retardants, toys and cosmetics.&rdquo;</p> <p> Yet if you go to the leading experts on autism, ADHD disorders, and other neurological problems, those experts actually <em>don&rsquo;t know</em> the cause of many of these conditions (although most tend to think genetics plays a major role). As for diabetes and fertility problems, there&rsquo;s lots of chatter (and very bad studies) associating these conditions with chemicals in plastics, but no actual connections have ever been found.</p> <p> People who suffer from diabetes and fertility problems aren&rsquo;t told to live in a&nbsp;shack in the forest, far away from modern conveniences that might include plastics that contain chemicals. Doctors recommend a host of other treatments and lifestyle changes, but avoiding plastics doesn&rsquo;t make the list</p> <p> Likewise, the <a href="">American Cancer Society</a> lists several factors that increase the risk of cancer: genetics, tobacco use, diet and lack of physical activity, sun and UV exposure, radiation exposure, certain infectious diseases, and some pollutants (like diesel exhaust, secondhand smoke, lead, and radon). Want to know what&rsquo;s amazing? Endocrine disruptors are <em>not</em> on the list.</p> <p> I&rsquo;m the Only Doctor in the World Who Knows The Truth</p> <p> Sadly, while the media tends to hype these flawed studies, they rarely provide information on the safety record of these chemicals. Nor do they mention that the leading international health and safety regulatory agencies, drawing on thousands of studies, have concluded that chemicals used in manufacturing and as food preservatives are safe.</p> <p> For instance, the chemical Bisphenol-A (BPA) has been the subject of hundreds of safety studies over decades and it has been found (over and over again) to be safe. Those agencies include: The World Health Organization, the Food and Drug Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, the European Union&rsquo;s Food Safety Authority, Japan&rsquo;s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, Norway&rsquo;s Scienti?c Committee for Food Safety, France&rsquo;s Food Safety Agency, Germany&rsquo;s Federal Institute for Risk Assessment, Canada&rsquo;s Health Agency, Australia and New Zealand&rsquo;s Joint Food Standards Council.</p> <p> Yet apparently, in opposition to all the work done by these agencies and many independent toxicologists who have studied these issues, &ldquo;lead investigator&rdquo; Dr. Leonardo Trasande knows exactly what causes all these ailments: It&rsquo;s all plastics&rsquo; fault.</p> <p> Given Trasende&rsquo;s supposed command of nearly every medical field, I decided to take a closer look at him and his background. His biography reveals a great interest in both public policy and environmental issues. He has a master&rsquo;s degree in public policy, worked in the office of Sen. Hillary Clinton (where have I heard that name?) and has testified before the Senate&rsquo;s Environment and Public Works committee.</p> <p> Wait for the Kicker</p> <p> In what&rsquo;s left of Trasende&rsquo;s free time, <a href="">he&rsquo;s also an activist for environmental causes and is listed as an advisor to the Environmental Working Group</a> (EWG). Not familiar with the EWG? The EWG is a very influential and quite radical environmental organization that makes a ton of money scaring people with their yearly &ldquo;Dirty Dozen List.&rdquo;</p> <p> This list tells moms that conventionally grown fruits and vegetables sold in grocery stores (conventional simply means farmers can use synthetic pesticides on their crops&mdash;you know, so they&rsquo;ll grow) have dangerous levels of pesticide residue on them and that, to be a good mom, they should buy the much more expensive organic produce (organic crops are also <a href="">grown with the use of pesticides</a>&mdash;a inconvenient fact the EWG always fails to disclose).</p> <p> While promoting this list, the EWG often leaves out some pretty important details, such as that there&rsquo;s <a href="">zero nutritional difference</a> between organic and conventionally grown food and that a child would have to eat 1,500 servings of, say, strawberries in a single sitting to&nbsp;<a href="">reach the safe level of exposure&nbsp;</a>of pesticide residue. That&rsquo;s right: my kid could gorge himself to the point of making himself sick on strawberries and he still wouldn&rsquo;t hit a dangerous level of exposure. Now tell me again why it&rsquo;s harmful for my child to eat three or four conventionally grown strawberries (that are far cheaper than the organic brand)?</p> <p> If Trasende is really concerned about public health, <a href="">here&rsquo;s another study he might want to read</a>:</p> <p> New&nbsp;<a href=";id=6fc3de165c&amp;e=36e1818900">peer reviewed research&nbsp;</a>published in&nbsp;Nutrition Today&nbsp;shows fear-based messaging tactics used by activist groups and some organic marketers that invoke safety concerns about non-organic produce may be having a negative impact on consumption of fruits and veggies among low-income consumers&hellip;</p> <p> &lsquo;We were surprised to see how informational content that named specific fruits and vegetables as having the highest pesticide residues increased the percentage of shoppers who said they would be unlikely to purchase any type of fruits and vegetables,&rsquo; says Britt Burton-Freeman, associate professor of food science and nutrition at ITT&rsquo;s Center for Nutrition Research.&nbsp;&lsquo;The concern is that depending on the structure of the communication about pesticides and fruits and vegetables this could turn people away from wanting to purchase any fresh produce.&rsquo;</p> <p> That&rsquo;s great work, EWG: making people who live at or under the poverty line (ya know, the folks with the <em>highest rates</em> of obesity) pass on healthy fruits and vegetables at the grocery store. Well done!</p> <p> Ever Heard of &lsquo;Correlation, Not Causation&rsquo;?</p> <p> Trasende and his colleagues relied on computer models&mdash;a questionable and often flawed way to do scientific studies. Trasende also likes to draw correlations between a substance or environmental cause and a disease. A firm rule in scientific research is that correlations, while sometimes interesting and instructive, do not mean causation. In other words, just because two things are related, it does not mean A caused B.&nbsp;To see why correlation is not a good measure of causation, take a look at this graph.</p> <p> HERE</p> <p> The graph shows that as organic food consumption has gone up, so has the rate of autism diagnosis. Wow. That must mean organic food causes autism, right? Of course not.</p> <p> Yet, clearly, Trasende and his colleagues don&rsquo;t think it&rsquo;s important to inform people about the limits of his latest study. In fact, earlier this year, Trasende found a correlation between pre-term births and air pollution. His system is pretty simple. He looked at the number of pre-term births in a particular area and then looked to see if that area had a higher level of air pollution. And VIOLA! A connection!</p> <p> But in a well-designed scientific study, researchers consider other factors that could cause pre-term birth&mdash;like the health of the mother, her health during pregnancy, the mother&rsquo;s economic situation, her diet, and educational levels. Trasende doesn&rsquo;t bother to consider how these factors come into play. In fact, reporting on this study, the journal <a href=""><em>Nature</em></a> said the researchers tried to control for these factors:</p> <p> The authors of the latest study made efforts to control for socioeconomic and lifestyle factors that might skew the results. However, some of those adjustments had limitations. Not all centres included information about whether the mother smoked during pregnancy; maternal education and address were used as proxy measurements to give an idea of socioeconomic status; and the mothers&rsquo; exposure to air pollution during pregnancy was estimated rather than measured directly.</p> <p> So, basically, they made up data and succeeded in showing a connection between pollution and bad health outcomes. This isn&rsquo;t useful if you want to know if pollution actually causes the problem, or how to prevent such problems, but it serves its purpose if the real goal is to create frightening headlines that make air pollution seem like a huge and very costly problem.</p> <p> Trasende repeats this pattern with his latest study on endocrine disruption: suggesting these chemicals (and the diseases they cause) are responsible for $340 billion in health-related costs each year. Never mind that the study lacks actual evidence that the chemicals in question are actually contributing to these health problems.</p> <p> Trasende is an activist scientist, trotting out junk science at rapid speed to further his political, policy, and regulatory goals. That&rsquo;s not good science. It&rsquo;s a troubling trend that will create onerous, burdensome, and wholly unnecessary regulations. Systems are in place to protect consumers from coming into contact with harmful chemicals, and a great body of scientific work has already been done to confirm the safety of these chemicals in everyday products and food packaging.</p> <p> The scientific community must do more to reign in activist scientists and dubious scientific studies that create fear and alarm where no documented danger exists.</p> <p> <em>Julie Gunlock is a senior fellow at the Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum and directs the organization&rsquo;s Culture of Alarmism Project. She is the author of &quot;From Cupcakes to Chemicals: How the Culture of Alarmism Makes Us Afraid of Everything and How to Fight Back.&quot;</em></p> GunlockThu, 20 Oct 2016 08:10:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumFact Sheet: Food Dyes<p> Today, moms pay close attention to what their kids eat. There&rsquo;s a lot of information out there, yet some information about food is misleading and unnecessarily frightening to shoppers.</p> <p> <a href=""><strong><span style="font-size:16px;">GET THE FACTS (PDF/DOWNLOAD) &gt;&gt;&gt;</span></strong></a></p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p style=" margin: 12px auto 6px auto; font-family: Helvetica,Arial,Sans-serif; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; font-size: 14px; line-height: normal; font-size-adjust: none; font-stretch: normal; -x-system-font: none; display: block;"> <a href="" style="text-decoration: underline;" title="View Reasonable Mom: Fact Sheet Food Dyes on Scribd">Reasonable Mom: Fact Sheet Food Dyes</a></p> <p> <iframe class="scribd_iframe_embed" data-aspect-ratio="0.7729220222793488" data-auto-height="false" frameborder="0" height="600" id="doc_53363" scrolling="no" src=";view_mode=scroll&amp;access_key=key-TfF8YWo4uEOg3753URAJ&amp;show_recommendations=true" width="100%"></iframe></p> <p> &nbsp;</p> GunlockTue, 18 Oct 2016 10:10:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumPodcast #56 Reasonable Mom's Pushing Back On Food Alarmism<p> IWF&#39;s Julie Gunlock is joined by Kavin Senapathy in this week&#39;s podcast to discuss IWF&#39;s event Reasonable Mom&#39;s Unite. Kavin and Julie talked about the pressure moms are under to feed their kids in a certain way. Moms do not need to spend extra at the grocery store in order to feed their children nutritionally. The mom shaming and guilt tripping does nothing to help families but it does help the organic and boutique food companies that charge more for nutritionally equal food. Reasonable moms need to push back on this narrative and reassure moms that keeping a budget at the grocery store doesn&#39;t make you a bad mom. RSVP for the event here:&nbsp;<a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank" title="">;ets-27995983741</a></p> GunlockMon, 17 Oct 2016 15:10:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumThe Pressures of Parenting • Good Morning Washington GunlockMon, 17 Oct 2016 13:10:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's Forum