Monday, April 30, 2012

Use reusable grocery bags safely

If you want to use reusable grocery bags, here’s information which will help protect you and your loved ones from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics:  wash them frequently using hot water and soap (either by hand or in your washing machine).  Dry the reusable grocery bags thoroughly before storing.  Moist grocery bags provide a haven for mold and fungi.  Lastly, don’t leave used totes in your car trunk where germs can multiply rapidly.  Whatever kind of grocery bags you use, the experts recommend you wipe off your counter tops/kitchen table with soap and water after grocery bags set on them. 
For more tips on reducing your risk of foodborne illness, visit
A video about cleaning reusable bags can be found at

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Food Safety Tips

So what’s a consumer supposed to do to avoid contaminating our food?  The Minnesota Department of Health gives these good tips about separating food during shopping:  “Separate raw meat, poultry and seafood from other foods in your grocery-shopping cart.  Place these foods in plastic bags to prevent their juices from dripping onto other foods.  It is also best to separate these foods from other foods at check out and in your grocery bags.”  This information can be found at

If we like using the reusable grocery sacks, we can continue with this practice.  Suggestions from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics staff tomorrow.   

Saturday, April 28, 2012

2nd danger of reusable grocery sacks

The second danger of reusable grocery sacks is bacterial contamination.  If the food you purchase and place in your reusable grocery bag has germs on it (and it quite likely does), you carry those germs into your house.  The first time the germ level probably isn’t bad.  If you put your reusable grocery bag back into your car (ready for the next trip to the store which we have been doing), those germs will multiply in a hot car, possibly to a level of 300 times the safe level .  What germs/organisms did the researchers find during the testing of reuseable grocery bags? Intestinal germs called coliforms which may include E. Coli, plus yeast and molds.

If you want to read more information on this topic, research from Environment and Plastics Industry Council can be found at May20_09.pdf

Friday, April 27, 2012

Are you going green and using reusable grocery bags?

Have you gone ‘green’?  Do you use reusable grocery bags to bring your food home from the store?  Many of us are trying to be more aware of our environment.  The ‘green’ grocery bags have become popular.  A reader recently educated me to the potential dangers of reusable grocery bags.  (This reader introduced herself and pointed out that she works for a plastic bag recycling company in Washington D.C.  I appreciate her honesty.  When you check out the research, you will find similar recommendations from the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.)  It was one of those ‘hit my forehead duh moments’ for me so I am sharing this information with you.  

Reusable grocery bags have two potential dangers:  high levels of lead.  High levels of lead in bags made in China of nonwoven polypropylene can cause harm.  Children, especially can suffer from high levels of lead.  For more information about which bags have toxic lead levels, see this Consumer Freedom report at

Tomorrow I talk about the second danger in the reusable grocery bags.  

Thursday, April 26, 2012

In the News--4th case of E. Coli in Boone County

This headline from April 20, 2012 highlights a continuing concern for all of us:  will our food make us ill?  In this case, the Missouri Department of Health staff reporting to the public that 15 people have become ill from E. Coli infection.  At least 7 of the 15 people consumed raw dairy products from the same farm.  The farm milk samples tested have been negative but they have also stopped selling raw milk.  More details can be found at this newspaper website:

Now I’m giving my opinion.  I understand there’s a trend for organic (raw) milk (and other products).  It’s not for me; I grew up on a farm and watched cattle.  (Their milk anatomy is lower on the body than other basic bodily functions.)  During those days I would not drink milk and found it distasteful to think about drinking milk.  As an adult, I drink milk and like it.  Give me a glass of pasteurized milk any day.   My hat’s off to Louie Pasteur who in the 1860s recognized that heating liquids will kill germs and make our food safer.  Now you know my opinion.  What’s your opinion about drinking organic (raw) milk? 

Tomorrow we talk about another food safety issue:  reusable grocery bags.  Do you use them?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

2012 Missouri Writers Guild conference

I attended this year’s Missouri Writers Guild conference and walked away inspired to write.  We had great speakers this year.  Several agents and editors were there and I could have ‘pitched’ a book idea to them but I chose not to pitch.  However, there were several speakers that inspired me and touched my heart with their talks:   Pat Lorenz, inspirational writer, speaker and author of 13 books, inspired me to work at becoming a public speaker.  Christie Craig (just made the New York Times best seller list) reminded me how much I enjoy writing magazine articles for publication.  

I had the privilege of being shepherd for Claire Cook, author of Must Love Dogs, (yes, she wrote the book which became the movie with John Cusack and Diane Lane.)  A shepherd is a friendly face committed to helping the seminar speakers if they need anything.  (Claire didn’t need any help).  I found Claire to be a savvy writer, a wise business woman and a genuinely nice person.  I told her Sunday as we said good-bye, I am now her fan for life.  Claire is finishing her 9th book.  If you haven’t read any books by Claire Cook, you are missing a treat.  Please check out Claire and her books at

A huge benefit of attending the conference is visiting with old friends and meeting new.  As always, I enjoyed visiting with writers I’ve met at previous meetings and I made some new friends.  I found this year’s meeting a huge success.  

What inspires you?  

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Protect yourself and your family from mosquitos and ticks--revisited

A reader posted this information about protecting yourself and your family from mosquitos and ticks.  I’ve not tried these, but I want to pass on Fran’s suggestion (with her permission).  She said, “As a preventative, taking a garlic tablet daily works for some people to keep the ticks away entirely. Also, rubbing fresh peppermint leaves or peppermint essential oil around ankles, wrists and back of neck will help keep away various insects.”  Fran wants to remind us that our body chemistries vary and results may vary but she has seen great success in people who use these prevention methods.   Thanks to Fran Kirkpatrick Anderssen for this suggestion.  

I feel I should make one comment about taking garlic supplement daily.   Before you begin taking daily over-the-counter herbal remedies, please check with your doctor.  According to eMedicine by WebMD, garlic can cause problems for people who are taking certain medications including medicines for diabetes, blood thinners, protease inhibitors, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications.  More information and a full list of medications which interact badly with garlic can be found at


Monday, April 23, 2012

In the News--Will one third of American hospitals be gone by 2020?

A thought provoking blog post about our health care system and the future can be found at  

I found this interesting.  In this time of major upheaval and change in our healthcare system, no one knows where we are going.  Most importantly, will the changes be an improvement or not?  There will be sick people needing medical care.  Will our healthcare system be excellent and accessible?

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Don't you hate technical difficulties

Oops!!  My blog did not change (to the post I had scheduled) for the last three days.   I have been attending the Missouri Writers Guild conference in St Louis and could not fix the problem.  (That made me sad.) I think I know the solution to the problem; we will see tomorrow.

I apologize for any inconvenience this caused you.  I value you, my readers, and thank you for following my blog.  I invite you to check in tomorrow for a new blog post.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

In the News--People visiting hospital ERs for dental treatment

Between 2006 and 2009, nationwide the number of ER visits for dental treatment increased 16%.  Generally, emergency room staffs do not include dentists.  Routine dental care available at dentist’s offices is not available through emergency rooms.  The options of ER care involve pain medication and antibiotics for gum and teeth infections.  When people go to the emergency room, they receive costly care which may not be exactly what they need. 
According to a CBS News Healthwatch article (February 28, 2012) increasing numbers of people have sought dental care at the emergency rooms during the recent economic recession years.  “ In 2009 alone, 56% of Medicaid-enrolled children nationwide received no dental care.  South Carolina ER visits for dental-related problems increased nearly 60 percent from four years earlier.  Tennessee hospitals had more than 55,000 dental-related ER visits—five times as many as for burns.”  CBS News, More Americans seeking dental treatment at the ER,

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Protect yourself and your family from tick-borne diseases

How can we prevent tick-borne disease for ourselves and our loved ones? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) gives these recommendations to protect yourself from ticks:  “  know where to expect ticks (in humid, grassy, wooded places)…use a repellent with DEET (on skin or clothes) or permethrin (on clothing and gear)…and perform daily tick checks”  If you’ve been working outside, walking, camping,etc., look yourself over for ticks, taking special care to look “under the arms, in and around the ears, inside belly button, back of the knees, in and around all head and body hair, between the legs and around the waist.”  More details can be found at  Remember that baby ticks (larvae and nymph stages) can be really small so we need to look closely for ticks.
What can we do to make our home environment safe from tick infestation?  Keep our pets tick free (tick and flea collars are recommended by CDC).  They also recommend a ‘tick-safe zone’ which we can achieve by treating our yard with a tick-repellent such as acaricide, discourage the deer population from entering our yard by planting shrubs and flowers that deer do not like, and keep tall grasses, shrubs and vegetation away from patios and play areas.

What do you do if you find a tick?  The CDC recommends “remove an attached tick using fine-tipped tweezers as soon as you notice it.  If a tick is attached to your skin for less than 24 hours, your chance of getting Lyme disease is extremely small.  But to be safe, watch for signs or symptoms of Lyme disease”  Find these at

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Tick bites and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, (RMSF) another tick-borne disease, infects people with a bacterium called Rickettsia rickettsia.  This infection isn’t especially common (it affects 8 persons per one million persons) but its incidence has doubled over the last decade.  Readers should note that according to Centers for Disease Control (CDC), five states account for 60% of the cases:  Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, North Carolina and Tennessee.  These are not the Rocky Mountain states we might expect from the name. 
Typical symptoms include headache, fever, abdominal pain, vomiting and muscle pain.  A rash may or may not be present.
Treatment of Rocky Mountain spotted Fever is the antibiotic, doxycycline as first choice.  Early treatment of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever is best.  In fact, beginning the antibiotic by the 5th day of symptoms is recommended.  More information about RMSF can be found at

Monday, April 16, 2012

Tick-borne Lyme disease

Lyme Disease was first recognized in 1975 when a group of young people from Lyme, Connecticut developed symptoms of arthritis after being bitten by ticks.  These ticks (found on the deer) were infected with a bacterium called Borrelia burgdorferi.  Lyme disease-carrying ticks can be found especially in the Northeastern and upper Midwest areas of the country.  Moore, P., The Little Book of Pandemics,(New York:  Fall River Press, 2007),118-120.

The significant early symptom of Lyme disease is a bull’s-eye rash (present in 80% of Lyme disease patients.)  This bull’s-eye rash can show up from 3 days to 30 days after the tick bite.  Other symptoms a person can experience includes chills, fever, exhaustion, headache, muscle and joint pain, sore throat, sinus infection and swollen lymph nodes. 

Treatment for Lyme disease is appropriate antibiotics—as soon as possible.  The longer Lyme disease is untreated, the worse the symptoms become and the more damage the infection can do. 

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Protect yourself and your family from West Nile Virus

What can we do to protect ourselves and our family from West Nile Virus?  According to the CDC, “here’s the best reason to go ahead and use (insect) repellents—to avoid getting sick from West Nile Virus, this is a part of the equation you can help to control.” What Insect repellent does the CDC recommend?  The list of recommended repellents includes DEET, picaridin, IR3535 and a plant-based oil of lemon eucalyptus.  A full list of repellents can be found at  A couple other details you need to know:  while mosquitos can bite anytime, the experts believe the West Nile Virus mosquito (carriers) bite from sundown to sun-up so night time mosquito protection is critically important. 
Take care of your yard and get rid of standing water where mosquitos lay eggs and a new generation of mosquitos flourishes.  Many towns use mosquito-control efforts during the nice weather months to protect their citizens.  Be pro-active:  prevent those pesky mosquitos from feasting on you and your loved ones.   

Saturday, April 14, 2012

West Nile Virus--what is it and what does it cause?

West Nile disease was first recognized back in 1937 in the African country of Uganda (the West Nile district).  The experts believe that this virus is carried on migrating birds, but passed onto to people by mosquitos.  (Moore, P., The Little Book of Pandemics,(New York:  Fall River Press, 2007),130-131.  The West Nile virus has been identified as causing illness in the United States since 1999.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “More than 30,000 people in the US have been reported with West Nile virus disease since 1999, and of those almost 13,000 have been seriously ill and over 1200 have died.”  (CDC, West Nile Virus, 
What are symptoms of West Nile Virus?  Vague symptoms such as mild fever, body aches, headache, nausea and vomiting, swollen lymph glands or a skin rash over the torso (chest, stomach and/or back) bother some people while other people don’t show symptoms at all.  Treatment is medical support (no specific treatment).  Older people and people with compromised immune systems are at higher risk of becoming ill with symptoms.  Tomorrow we look at protecting ourselves from West Nile Virus illness.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Spring time awakens dangerous insects

Spring arrived early in Missouri; in fact, our winter was mild.  We had a couple episodes of snow-dusting and a few cold days, but overall, a mild winter.  Everyone is predicting the insects will be bad this year.  What can we do to protect ourselves and our children from bug (especially mosquito and tick) bites?  

Bug (mosquito and tick) bites can make us sick with illnesses such as West Nile virus (mosquitos spread it) and Lyme disease (ticks spread it).  The next few days I will discuss what these illnesses are and how to protect yourself and your loved ones.  Check back tomorrow and learn about West Nile virus disease.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Poster contest for 5th and 6th graders

Check out a cool poster contest for 5th and 6th graders.  

For artistic 5th and 6th graders, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) “Fight the Bite” Poster Contest is going on now.  The deadline for this contest is April 18, 2012.  To enter this contest, read the rules and get an entry form at  Two national winners (one 5th grader and one 6th grader) will win $1000 and their school wins $250.  Two winners from each state will win $50 each.     

Go kids.  Why am I posting about "Fight the Bite" Contest?  Check back tomorrow and see. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

In the News--Hospitals Demand Payment Upfront from ER patient with Routine Problems"

Some hospitals have begun charging an upfront fee (up to $350) for people who come to their ER (emergency room) wanting treatment for routine (nonemergency) problems.   The hospitals say they began this policy to reduce the ‘bad debt’ (some of those people do not have insurance and will not pay their bills) and to free up their emergency room resources for people who fit the criteria of “emergency,” such as car crashes, violent assaults, heart attacks and strokes, appendicitis and other situations that a clinic setting could not meet.  Kaiser Health News, Hospitals Demand Payment Upfront from ER Patients with Routine Problems,

Until this change of practice, a person could go to a hospital and be seen and treated for anything.  During the cold and flu season, emergency rooms around the country find many people coming for illnesses that their doctor’s office/clinic could easily care for.  
I recognize some people have lost their jobs and insurance.  It is not my intent to debate healthcare policy in this blog.  However, I found this change interesting. Watch this situation.