Imperfect Jelly Babies

Jelly babies have been handed the 2005 “Imperfect World Award” by the Vegetarian Society.

Why, because even though there are alternative ingredients available, jelly babies contain gelatine, a slaughterhouse by-product.

The use of gelatine for such sweeties is so unnecessary as Biona show the world with their vegan range of gummy sweets.

Vegan Confectionary

Take a look at these vegan Cola Bottles, vegan Jelly Bears , and these organic vegan Wine Gums.

The Vegetarian Society have had success with their Imperfect World Awards in the past, Walkers removed animal rennet from their Cheese & Onion crisps, so great – strength to their right arm I say.

Organic – what does it mean

My grandad always insisted that all matter was organic and he just didn’t get the whole organic concept. Pedantic though he was, I still do get asked what is organic. So here are the basics with thanks to the Soil Association.

  • Organic Systems recognise that our health is directly connected to the health of the food we eat and, ultimately, the health of the soil.
  • Organic farmers aim to produce good food from a balanced living soil. Strict regulation, standards, define what they can and can’t do. They place strong emphasis on protecting the environment.
  • They use crop rotations to make the soil more fertile. For example, a farmer might graze sheep on a field one year, making he soil more fertile, then plant wheat the next and so on.
  • They can’t grow genetically modified crops and can only use – as a last resort- seven of the hundreds of pesticides available to farmers.
  • Parasite problems in farm animals are controlled through regularly moving the animals to fresh pasture an other preventative methods, rather than routinely dosing the animals with drugs.
  • Organic farming severely restricts the use of artificial chemical fertilizers and pesticides.
  • Instead, organic farmers rely on developing a healthy, fertile soil and growing a mixture of crops.
  • animals are reared without the routine use of drugs, antibiotics and wormers common in intensive livestock farming.

The word organic is defined by law (sorry grandad). Any food labeled organic must meet a strict set of standards, so always look for the symbols.

Global warming action starts at home

I’ve just read Prince Charles’ interview with the BBC on global warming and farming, so yes, I turn to blogging to register my sentiments. Entirely agreeing with the Prince in that it is a majorly serious issue, and so relieved that someone of note and profile yet again puts it into the media spot light.

My conscience is gnawing at me a little though, because we can point the finger at the US, at China and the rest, and there is massive work to be done in so many areas, but I must put my own house in order. What can I do?

  • Buy local organic produce
  • Switch all appliances off at the mains when not in use – even those with a standby button, like the office printers of which I have 3, and often forget to switch them off.
  • Walk and cycle when I can, even in the rain?

There must be loads of simple everyday things we could do, if we were aware of them making a difference, so if any of you have a list of what things we can do in our everyday lives to make a difference please let me know.

Fluid Assets

Dr John Briffa’s healthy eating and drinking plan to keep your kidneys clean.

10 tips for healthy kidneys and how to avoid stones.

1. Drink water

Drinking water helps dilute the urine, reducing the risk of stones crystallising in it. Drink enough to ensure that urine remains pale yellow.

2. Drink coffee and tea

Drinking coffee and tea has also been associated with reduced kidney stone risk. It seems it’s not only water, but other fluids too, that confer some protection for those with a history of kidney stones.

3. Reduce oxalate in the diet

The vast majority of kidney stones are made of calcium oxalate. Reducing oxalate intake from the diet reduces the level of this substance in the urine, thereby reducing risk of stone formation. Oxalate-rich foods to avoid include spinach, rhubarb, chocolate, nuts and strawberries.

4. Increase calcium in the diet

Individuals with a history of kidney stones are often advised to cut down on calcium. However, calcium can bind to oxalate in the gut, and this appears to reduce the risk of stone formation. Calcium-rich foods include plain yoghurt, tinned fish, sesame seeds, figs and beans.

5. Keep the diet plant-based

Animal protein can increase calcium levels in the urine, which appears to be associated with an increase in kidney stone risk. For the best protection from kidney stones, the diet should be rich in plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, beans, lentils, nuts and seeds.

6. Eat plenty of fruit and veg

Fruit and vegetables are believed to be particularly beneficial: these are rich in potassium which has been linked with reduced kidney stone risk.

7. Cut back on salt

Salt increases calcium excretion in the urine, which can increase the risk of stone formation. In general, most of the salt we consume is not added during cooking or at the table, but comes from processed foods such as bread, cheese, savoury snacks, breakfast cereals and ready-meals.

8. Supplement with magnesium

Magnesium helps transform oxalate into other substances in the body, and is believed to help reduce the risk of stone formation. Take 300mg per day.

9. Supplement with vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 also participates in the metabolism of oxalate, and may also help to keep kidney stones at bay. This should be taken at a dose of 25-50mg per day, preferably as part of a general B-complex supplement.

10. Take quebra pedra

This South American herb is traditionally used to dissolve kidney stones. In practice, I have found it helpful for individuals who have stones lodged around their kidneys or in the bladder. Quebra pedra is available in tea form from Goodness Direct.

Dr John Briffa © The Observer Magazine, Sunday October 9, 2005