Getting Connected 2: Producers

Producers are at the very bottom of the food chain. They produce their own food, hence the word producer, by processing sunlight, carbon dioxide and water into sugar/glucose. The process is called photosynthesis. For this reason, they are the most essential thing on the planet. Without these humble life sustainers, there would be no other living thing on Earth. Everything we put in our mouth, in some form, came from a plant. Even totally carnivorous animals, such as lions, need plants because their prey are plant eaters.

Food isn’t the only reason why plants are vital. They act as filters for our soil, water and air. They give us air by converting the carbon dioxide that we breathe out into oxygen so we can breathe it back in. We couldn’t even breath with these things. They give us shelter. About 90 percent of homes today are made from wood whether for just the structure or the whole thing. Trees, even dead ones, can be homes for up to 1,000 different insect species. Small animals also make their homes in these trees.

Around one-fourth of our prescription medicine has some kind of plant origin. Native Americans used up to 2,000 plants species for medicine.

Ingredients for cosmetics often come from plants. As we also know corn has become an ingredient for everything. Aloe vera and jojaba are common ingredients in cosmetics as well.

Anytime humans are involved in any part of nature bad things happen.  Exotic species is a good example of this. Sometimes the species are introduced on purpose to help balance out the overpopulation of something else. This always ends badly. Sometimes they’re brought over by people who are traveling by boat or something. The rats that traveled by way of ship and brought the black plague with them is an example of this. Sometimes they’re introduced by idiots. Like the people who buy those exotic snakes and then they realize, like all living things, that snakes grow and then they release them into the wild. Even exotic species of plants are an overwhelming problem. Native species often don’t have the necessary strengths needed to compete with the exotic species so they’re overrun by them.

Habitat loss is the main problem. Animals and insects who mostly depend on plants for habitat, so if we cut it all down where are they supposed to go? It drives me nuts when people complain about animals in their yards or in their house because it’s like where else are they supposed to go? We’ve ruined just about every place they could go.

Recreational hobbies are a destructive force when it comes plant life. Bulldozing down the trees, digging up the grass to build a structure, even a small one, demolishes some kind of plant life. There is no way around it. Even something as insignificant as a blade of grass is important. Everything from football stadiums to a tennis court to the extra roads needed to get to that place will have an effect on the environment.

Why is grass so important? You’d be surprise. I know that I was when I learned that on a hot day a lawn of grass is 30 degrees cooler than asphalt and 14 degrees cooler than bare soil. Like other plants, it filters drain off, reduces erosion, absorbs noise, traps allergens and 2,500 square feet of lawn absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and releases enough oxygen daily for a family of four to survive.

It is also the main component of the diet for grazing animals, which we tend to like to eat. We may want to keep something around to feed them.

The bottom line is producers are essential. We should do more to protect them. Our survival depends on it.

Animal Testing: Part one

Animal testing. This is my last animal cruelty topic for now. I was a little apprehensive about this one because I really don’t know that much about it. The last few I was still apprehensive, but because I knew a little about it and I was thinking, ‘Gosh, how much worse am I going to find?!’ There was some tough moments in there, but I am glad that there are ways to fix it. So. On to animal testing.

Most everyone that things like cosmetics, detergents and chemicals should be tested—for the safety of people, animals, and the environment. This is where animal testing comes in. The usual approach is to pump a substance into an animal’s stomach or airways, or apply it to their eyes (Why they would do this, I have no idea. Anytime I get soap in my eyes there is a serious price. What are they going to learn by doing this? Of course it’s going to burn!) or on their skin. Most of these tests are crude, decades-old procedures.

Number of Animals Used

  • There are approximately 56 to 100 million cats and 54 million dogs in the US.
  • It is estimated that every hour 2,000 cats and 3,500 dogs are born.
  • Between 10.1 and 16. 7 million dogs and cats are put to death in pounds and shelters annually.
  • Approximately 5 billion are consumed for food annually.
  • Approximately 1.1% of dogs and cats from pounds and shelters, that would otherwise be euthanized, are used in research.
  • Only 1 to 1.5% of research animals are dogs and cats.
  • Only 0.5% are non-human primates.
  • There has been a 40% decrease in the numbers of animals used in biomedical research and testing in the US since 1968

According to the USDA, approximately:

  • 61% of animals used suffer no pain
  • 31% have pain relieved with anesthesia (Why don’t farm animals get this same treatment? I have no idea.)
  • 6% experience pain, as alleviation would compromise the validity of the data. Much of this work is directed at an understanding of pain.

  1. It’s impossible to know exactly how many animals are being used in research because U.S. laws do not require scientists to report how many mice, rats, or birds they use, but it’s estimated that 90% of lab animals are mice and rats.
  2. Since more than 1.4 million mammals other than rats and mice were used in research, and since mice and rats probably make up 90% of the animals in labs, we can guess that about 14 million rats and mice were used in research in 2002.
  3. In labs, small animals, like hamsters, rats and mice, are usually kept in clear or white plastic boxes about the size of a shoebox. Animals a bit bigger, such as guinea pigs, live in larger boxes about twice the size of a shoebox. Usually, more than one animal lives in a box.
  4. Larger animals like dogs, cats, and primates usually live in wire cages. Most animals stay in their cages all the time except when they are being used in experiments.
  5. Living in cages can be a big problem for intelligent animals like dogs, cats, pigs, and primates who become tremendously lonely and bored unless they have things to play with or ways to get more exercise.
  6. 489,262 animals that were used in research in 2002 (not including mice, rats, and birds—no one knows how many of these animals are used in research) were used in research that was either painful, distressful, or both. Most of these animals were given something that either helped take the pain away or helped them get over the pain quickly.
  7. 103,764 of the animals made to feel pain were not given anything to reduce their pain and suffering. Although some of this pain was slight—like getting an injection with a needle—some of it was extremely severe.
  8. Most of these animals are only used in one experiment, but sometimes the same animal will be used in more than one experiment. Most are euthanized shortly after being used in an experiment.

There are several routine tests that the scientists use to test each product and ingredient. These include:

Repeated dose toxicity

This test assesses whether long-term repeated use of a substance is poisonous. Rabbits or rats are forced to eat or inhale a cosmetics ingredient or have it rubbed onto their shaved skin every day for 28 or 90 days,

Reproductive toxicity

To test use of a substance and its effect on fertility, sexual behavior, birth and growth of the young, pregnant female rabbits or rats are force-fed a cosmetics ingredient and then killed along with their unborn babies. Such tests take a long time and use thousands of animals.


This test assesses how a substance is absorbed, distributed, metabolized and excreted by the body. Rabbits or rats are forced to consume a cosmetics ingredient before being killed and their organs examined to see how the ingredient was distributed in their bodies.

Skin sensitization

This test assesses whether a substance will make the skin increasingly inflamed and itchy each time it is used. A cosmetics ingredient is rubbed onto the shaved skin of guinea pigs and ears of mice to see if they have an allergic reaction.


A carcinogen is a substance that causes cancer or increases the likelihood that someone will develop cancer. To assess this, rats are force-fed a cosmetics ingredient for two years to see if they get cancer.

After every one of these tests, the animals are killed.

There are two sides to every story. This site paints an entirely different story. Both sides seem to be biased and they seem to claim that every testing facility is one way or the other. While I don’t believe that every single case in a testing facility is a horror show, I think that most of them are. How could they not be? They said that the negatives that most anti-cruelty programs exaggerate the cruelty, which I don’t doubt, but do they think this is exaggerated?


Or this:


Rabbit being held in stocks during testing.

Or even this:

Animal Testing Cages

Animal Testing Cages

Tests for different things cause different levels of pain. Ironically, the one we ‘need’ the most is the one that causes the most pain. Medication.

This site has tons of information on it and it talks about just about every aspect and question that you could have. It was an interesting read and answered most of my questions. The only problem I think it downplayed the problem.

The last thing I’ll say about this is that this crap isn’t necessary. If we wouldn’t try to pump everything full of toxins and chemicals, instead natural organic stuff that had worked for the years before we started trying to alter everything.  Even the medication testing could be lessened if we would grow up and start eating like we’re supposed to. And I say grow up because I feel like anytime I try to talk about eating better people act like they’re a bunch of children. “I don’t like that,” they’ll say.  Food can be our medication or it can be our poison. You get to choose and the animals have to suffer for it. Solutions for this will next time.


Chickens. Over 8 million of them are born and raised on a factory farm. They’re called Broiler chickens and they are what line our store shelves and mostly stock our refrigerator shelves. From the time they are born till the last second they die, they are just treated with such cruelty that it’s sickening. Like with the other farm animals, there is not a day that goes by that they are actually treated with any type of kindness. Everything that they go through from the crowding to the food they eat, to the lack of lighting goes against everything in their nature.

Because male chicks can’t lay eggs they have no value in the chicken industry. As soon as they hatch they are thrown away without even being killed. They often suffocate as other chicks are thrown on top of them.

They have all kinds of diseases, skin lesions and health complications. It’s awful. This breed is genetically predisposed for fast growth, lameness and heart disease. If they were fed an unrestricted diet only 20 percent would reach full growth. Instead, they are fed one-fourth of the food they would otherwise eat which causes malnutrition and frustration.

Chickens are seen inside cages on a truck near a poultry market in Dengzhou

In the 1950’s it took 84 days to grow a five pound chicken. How long does it take now? 45 days. What’s the difference? Today we rely on selective breeding, antibiotics and hormones to get us these diseased, health problem infested chickens. As a result of the speedy growth spurt, the chickens go through a number of problems such as, disorders and heart disease. One study said that , 90% had visible leg deformities and around 26% were suffering from chronic pain due to bone disease.  Leg deformities are fatal for 1% because they can no longer stand to reach food or water. Tibial dyschondroplasia (TD), an abnormal mass of cartilage at the growth plate of a bone, usually the tibia, is the cause of some leg problems. The end of the tibia may become enlarged and weakened, and the bone may bend backward as it grows. Lesions can become necrotic and may lead to spontaneous fracture, severe lameness, and, in some cases, the complete inability to stand.  Studies show that 45-57% of the chickens raised for meat consumption have this, but the disease is rare in other types of birds.  The chickens are now growing so fast that the heart and lungs aren’t developing fast enough to support the body, so they’re dying of congestive heart failure.

One study found that 92 percent of male breeders had pelvic limb lesions, 85 percent had total or partial rupture of ligaments or tendons, 54 percent had total ligament or tendon failure at one or more skeletal sites, and 16 percent had total detachment of the femoral head.

Broiler chickens are confined in grower houses which are usually long warehouses which house up to 20,000 chickens in a single shed. A five pound chicken is usually given a generous space the size of one piece of paper. As with the pigs, this causes a great amount of stress and makes it easier for diseases to run rampant. Because they are all packed together in such confined spaces and creates stress, each bird has a portion of their toes cut off and males have their combs and leg spurs removed, so they can’t harm each other as much. Their beaks are also cut off. Sometimes it’s so the chickens won’t peck each other to death and sometimes it’s so a feeding tube can shoved down their throat.  This of course is done without anesthetic.

After those 45 days, the chicken are transported to a slaughterhouse without food, water, or shelter from extreme temperatures.

In the U.S. there is no law that requires chickens to be unconscious during slaughter, so as soon as they arrive at the slaughterhouse, the chicken are dumped onto a conveyor belt, hung upside down in shackles by their legs. Then their throats are slit by either a hand or a machine.  An upwards of 8,400 chickens go through this in one hour. Mistakes are made and many chickens are still alive when they enter the tanks of scalding water.

These current standards insure that every single chicken experiences some kind of pain. If anti-cruelty laws applied to farm animals, but there is no such discretion

Click here for some solutions.

HEK 293

I recently stumbled upon some…there is no word in the dictionary to describe it, information.

It came up in conversation when I was talking to the lady who does my hair. I’ve known her for a while, but since I only see her every 6 weeks, I’m just now starting to be comfortable enough around her to talk to her. Somehow it came up that she had heard that Pepsi was reported to have been researching how well people will respond to their food by using flavor enhancer testers. These supposed testers are made from HEK 293 cells. After this it gets a little tricky because I’m not totally sure I understand how this works and I’m not sure I’m understanding the scientific terms and process and what nots because I’m not one of those super smart nerd types. I’m going to tell you what sense I’m making of it because I can’t just sit on this type of information and to make up for my lack of whatever, I’ll give you the links so you can see the same information that I have and draw your own conclusion.

HEK stand for Human embryonic kidney. They have supposedly taken the HEK cells from an aborted baby from the 1970’s. I’m guessing they also started doing this in the 1970s and no one knew I find that almost as disgusting as the rest of the information. They took the cell or part of it or however it works and started growing more which I think is similar to the cloning and stem-cell research processes.

Then they take their product, Pepsi, and run it through the ‘testers’ and measure the response. This is where I get even more lost because I wonder how developed is this thing, if it doesn’t have a brain or even a heart then how are they measuring the response? What kind of response are they talking about?

The way the rumor was initially worded, it seemed as if these companies were using the kidneys in the food which is why it was such a big deal. Once people realized that we weren’t quite the cannibals we were being made out to be then things settled down a little. The argument on whether this ethical or not doesn’t seem to be much different than that of abortion, cloning or stem cell research.

The company mainly responsible for distributing this atrocious idea is Senomyx. The company is using isolated human taste receptors in the form of proteins to identify flavors and enhance them. According to their website, “Senomyx is discovering and developing innovative flavor ingredients for the food, beverage, and ingredient supply industries using our unique proprietary technologies.”

I got this portion from

“Gwen Rosenberg, vice president of investor relations and corporate communications for Senomyx, described the process as “basically a robotic tasting system.” She depicted rows of little plastic square dishes with hundreds of tiny indentations in each dish. A protein is placed in each indentation, then a flavor. If the protein reacts to the flavor, the results are charted. If the new flavor (of which the company has more than 800,000) is successful with the protein test, the company then conducts taste tests with (live) adult humans.

Asked about the action alert, Rosenberg said, “We don’t discuss details of our research, but you won’t find anything on our website about HEK293.” (Which is true because I checked.) I asked Rosenberg if Senomyx had a position on stem cell research. “We’ve never been asked that,” she replied, “We don’t have a position on anything. We’re dedicated to finding new flavors to reduce sugars and reduce salt. Our focus is to help consumers with diabetes or high blood pressure have a better quality of life.” (The way people can help others with high blood pressure or diabetes is to stop feeding them the stuff that gets that reaction and not to sugar coat some other form of poison.)
Though Rosenberg states there is nothing on the company website linking Senomyx with HEK293, a little Googling turned up a patent issued in 2008 for “Recombinant Methods for Expressing a Functional Sweet Taste Receptor,” in which a line item mentions HEK293.”

Interesting, right? Well more like disturbing. If we can’t even trust them to tell us if they’re even using the stuff then how can we trust anything else they say about it?

Several big food and beverage companies are looking at a new ingredient in the battle for ‘health-conscious consumers’(I don’t which consumers they’re talking about because I’m an environmentally conscious and therefore a health conscious consumer and I wouldn’t touch with a thousand foot pole): a chemical that tricks the taste buds into sensing sugar or salt even when it is not there. These companies include Pepsi, Kraft, Campbell, Nestle, Solae, etc which control a lot more of the food market then we probably realize.

Unlike artificial sweeteners, Senomyx’s chemical compounds will not be listed separately on ingredient labels. Instead, they will be lumped into a broad category – “artificial flavors” – already found on most packaged food labels. From what I’ve read the first product to come out with it is Pepsi in 2013.

Critics of artificial sweeteners say that they cause a variety of health problems, including cancer. That’s largely because of studies dating to the 1970s that linked saccharin to bladder cancer in laboratory rats. Because of those studies, saccharin once carried a warning label that it may be hazardous to your health, but Senomyx maintains that its new products are safe because they will be used in tiny quantities. So what does that mean for sugar addicts like myself, who would probably eat it like it’ll be gone tomorrow?

The problem, to me, besides the fact that they seem to be exploiting dead babies to make money and the fact that they won’t even tell us anything about this crap, is the fact that what they’re making is a bunch of chemicals. Anything man made or refined usually wreaks havoc on our bodies and the environment. If you have ever researched artificial flavors then you know that it’s full of chemicals. And what do synthetic chemicals do? Wreak havoc on our bodies and the environment. When I looked up how these ‘artificial sweeteners’ (not HEK, but the old stuff) are actually made or what it is, I found nothing. Maybe I didn’t know enough about what I was looking for to look in the right places. I read about how people don’t know what health risks it possess. If we don’t know what happens when you eat then why are we eating it?

You can’t fool the body. Eventually our lies will catch up with us and when it does, it won’t be pretty. Just as with trying to outdo Mother Nature by giving your body something that it can’t process just to keep from changing your habits is probably a recipe for failure.

The healthiest thing one can do if they’re not willing to cut back at all is to use sea salt rather than iodized salt and organic sugar rather than refined sugar.

The truth of the matter is that iodized salt has the same qualities and sodium levels as sea salt and most will tell you that they’re exactly the same, but they’re not.

Refined salt is iodized salt sold ready for use at the table. It has been heated over 1,200 degrees which alters its composition and has anti-caking agents to prevent it from clumping together.

This type of salt is refined and during the refining process, 82 of the 84 minerals contained in salt are removed. Natural unprocessed, uncleaned and unrefined sea salt has many trace minerals, is beneficial and provides many nutrients that the human body needs.

Natural sea salt is usually obtained by simply drying sea water in air and sunlight. Look out for such information on the packaging.

The negative side of products that are marketed as “sea salt” is that many of these are no better than regular salt. To ensure that you are getting the best raw, natural salt, buy the coarse crystals, take a salt grinder and grind them yourself. For your body’s sake and your raw diet, find a natural, unprocessed salt product and enjoy.

There are several types of sugar that organic sugar can be referred to as and they all are extracted from raw sugar cane, but the meaning of sugar being organic can differ depending on the region you live in. The most common definition for organic sugar would be something like when sugar beets or sugar cane does not have to go through various synthetic processes such as application of pesticides and etc.

Organic sugar is a form of sugar that is extracted from raw sugar cane. The only difference between organic sugar and normal sugar is that organic sugar is extracted from raw sugar cane without the application of any additives or synthetic chemicals.

Many misconceptions are out there when it comes to organic sugar. Learn about them here:

There is nothing else that is farther from organic, natural or raw  than this new HEK business. I’ve made my decision, but mine isn’t the only one out there so before deciding check out a different point of view. This is a link to a blog that has a different point of view.

This article gives you more and different details. The other articles I found to be pretty confusing, but those other places also say that the miscommunication started not at this particular article, but at this site, so click if you dare

Here is the only, therefore best, list I have found on products to avoid if you decide that HEK products are not for you.

This article also does a pretty good job at explaining, but it says that Pepsi might actually be using the cells, so who knows what else they said that isn’t true.

Snopes is where I got the information concluding whether it was real or not. They’re supposed to be reliable in there searches and unbiased. You may be a little confused if you go here because of the way they word things. They say that Pepsi doesn’t use HEK IN their food, but they don’t deny that the use them as a way to test their food.

So there you go. This is all the information that I could find. Do with it what you will.