Green Buckeye RN

Newsletter: Vol. 1, No. 3: September 2008



When you think of eating healthy, do you have images of a flavorful, seasonal and colorful meal made with whole food ingredients from local and sustainable farms?

… A delicious salad made with freshly picked lettuce greens, organic strawberries, walnuts and cheese from a nearby farmer who doesn’t use synthetic growth hormones or antibiotics in her cows; a dish of lightly sautéed red, orange and green vegetables picked that morning by a farmer who uses integrated pest management practices rather than pesticides and herbicides; savory roasted chicken from a farm where the animals run free on pasture; or baked Atlantic mackerel, a seafood from the northeast which is low in heavy metals and caught in a sustainable manner.    

Women are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of eating whole foods that are more nutritious and knowing more about how our food has been grown or produced. We are realizing that the chemicals used in agriculture are winding up in our rivers, our drinking water, and in our bodies. Foods grown in an environmentally-sound manner, without toxic chemicals, have the benefits of improving our health, keeping unwanted chemicals out of our bodies, and reducing our risk of disease. Through our purchasing power, we can influence how our foods are produced, decrease our health risks, and take care of the environment we live in.

To help us with our decision-making, there are a few easy guides that have been developed. The Environmental Working Group (EWG), a DC-based non-profit organization, has created a list called the Dirty Dozen that is comprised of the 12 fruits and vegetables that typically have the highest amount of pesticide residues, unless they are labeled “certified organic”. They have also created the corollary list called the “Cleanest Twelve,” that contains the fruits and vegetables with the lowest pesticide residues. By eating the 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables, a person will be exposed to about 14 pesticides per day, on average. Alternatively, by eating the Cleanest Twelve, a person’s exposure is limited to less than 2 pesticides per day.  

Buy These Organic:  Peaches, Apples, Sweet Bell Peppers, Celery, Nectarines, Strawberries, Cherries, Lettuce, Grapes (Imported) Pears, Spinach, Potatoes

Lowest in Pesticides: Onions, Avocado, Sweet Corn (Frozen) Pineapples, Mango,
Sweet Peas (Frozen) Asparagus, Kiwi, Bananas, Cabbage, Broccoli, Eggplant

According to EWG (, people can lower their pesticide exposure by almost 90 percent by avoiding the Dirty Dozen and choosing the Cleanest Twelve. Pesticides, by definition, are chemicals that do one of the following: repel a pest, kill a pest, or prevent its reproduction. Long-term, low-level exposure to pesticides has been linked to an array of chronic health problems, including cancer, birth defects, neurological, reproductive and behavioral effects, and impaired immune function.

A tractor field sprayer spreading pesticide.

A tractor field sprayer spreading pesticide.

Pesticides are just one type of the unnecessary chemicals that are used in our food production. Two others are recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH) and the routine use of antibiotics in animal food production. Synthetic bovine growth hormones (rBGH or rBST) are used on 10 – 15% of the nation’s dairy farms. They are given to dairy cows so that they will produce more milk.  There have been enough concerns raised regarding the use of this drug that all 27countries of the European Union have banned its use. Dairy products produced from cows that are given rBGH have been found to have higher levels of another hormone, insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1), and while there are no studies which show that people who drink milk produced with rBGH have an increased incidence of cancer, there are studies indicating that people who have colon, breast and prostate cancer have higher levels of this naturally occurring hormone, IGF-1. To reduce potential exposure, purchase milk, yogurt and other dairy products from dairies that are rBGH-free or certified organic. Sustainable Table, a website hosted by the non-profit organization GRACE, has a list of dairy products that are rBGH-free (see Food Resources below).

A significant amount of animal food production is now being done on very large scale “industrialized” farms. Where we once had family farms, we now find concentrated feedlots. Animals raised under these conditions are often given antibiotics in their feed to increase their rate of growth and to compensate for the unhealthy, confined conditions. In fact, 70% of all antibiotics used in the U.S. are used in animal agriculture. This routine use of antibiotics increases the chance for antibiotic resistant bacteria to develop in the animals, in the soil and water that surrounds them, and in our food. You can limit your exposure to these foods and the potential exposure to antibiotic resistant bacteria by purchasing foods from farmers who do not routinely use antibiotics and allow their animals to graze on pasture. See the Food Resources section below for online directories of farms with sustainably produced poultry and meat products.

Seafood is a great source of nutrition. Unfortunately, some fish are so contaminated with mercury that the risks outweigh the benefits. So it’s important to choose fish that are likely to have the least amount of mercury.   As a very general rule the largest fish, like tuna and swordfish, are more likely to contain higher levels of mercury. This is because the mercury in the water and the plant food bioaccumulates in the smaller fish and then builds up in higher concentrations as one moves up the marine food chain. For this reason, avoid King Mackerel, Swordfish, Tilefish and Bluefin Tuna.   When buying canned tuna, choose ‘light’ skipjack over ‘white’ albacore. For most other varieties of tuna, adults should eat no more than 1 serving per week and children no more than 2-3 servings per month, if at all.  Here’s some guidance on seafood selection from Environmental Defense (, a New York-based non-profit organization.

Seafood PlateBETTER SEAFOOD CHOICES: Anchovies, Clams, Crab (King, U.S.), Crab (Snow/Tanner), Crawfish (U.S.), Haddock (Trawl), Herring (Atlantic), Lobster (American/Maine), Mackerel (Atlantic), Mussels (Blue), Oysters (Farmed), Salmon (Wild/Alaska), Sardines, Scallops (Bay/Farmed), Shrimp (Pink/Oregon), Squid, Tilapia (Latin America/U.S.), Trout (Rainbow/Farmed)

Finally, consider becoming a member of a nearby organic farmer’s Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program, which allows you to purchase an annual share of the farm’s harvest at the beginning of the year and then pick up your food from a weekly delivery location.  Buying food grown in your region increases your food’s freshness, decreases your carbon footprint from food travel miles, and supports your local farmers and the local economy.

Here is a summary of 6 food choices that will improve your health and the health of the environment.


“Certified Organic” foods, when possible
More of the “Cleanest Twelve” fruits and vegetables
and less of the “Dirty Dozen” (see boxes)
Dairy products produced without the use of synthetic hormones
Poultry and meat produced without the routine use of antibiotics
Fish with the lowest risks for containing mercury
Local and seasonal foods

Definition of Organic Food

“Organic food is produced by farmers who emphasize the use of renewable resources and the conservation of soil and water to enhance environmental quality for future generations.  Organic meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products come from animals that are given no antibiotics or growth hormones.  Organic food is produced without using most conventional pesticides; fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge; bioengineering; or ionizing radiation.  Before a product can be labeled ‘organic,’ a Government-approved certifier inspects the farm where the food is grown to make sure the farmer is following all the rules necessary to meet USDA organic standards.  Companies that handle or process organic food before it gets to your local supermarket or restaurant must be certified, too.”

Food Resources

Environmental Working Group

For fruits and vegetables with the highest and lowest pesticide residues, click on “Health” and then on “Food” (wallet-sized cards available).

Sustainable Table

For rBGH-free dairy products, click on “The Issues” and then “rBGH.”

To locate farmers, caterers, restaurants and more in your zip code, click on the “Eat Well Guide.”

To find farms with “no antibiotic use” or “no routine antibiotic use”, type this exact phrase with your zip code in the “Advanced Search” on the Eat Well Guide.

Environmental Defense Fund

For levels of contamination in different types of seafood, type in “Health Alerts” in the search box.

For best and worst eco-friendly (sustainably caught) seafood, click on “Seafood Selector.”

Local Harvest

To locate local and organic farms, CSAs, farmers’ markets, restaurants, grocery stores, and farm products.  

Authors:  Louise Mitchell is the Sustainable Foods Coordinator for Maryland Hospitals for a Healthy Environment, promoting healthy foods in Maryland’s hospitals. or Barbara Sattler, PhD, RN, FAAN is a Professor and Director of the Environmental Health Education Center at the University of Maryland School of Nursing.  For more information, email or call (410) 706-1924.

This article is being reprinted with permission of the University of Maryland School of Nursing Environmental Health Education Center.  It originally was published by Koman Maryland (


According to Health Care Without Harm ( ), 127 hospitals in 21 states have taken the nutritional needs of their patients to new levels…integrating sustainable, organic, and local foods into their food service plans in an effort to promote health, prevent illness, and to eliminate the facility as a potential source of harm to its patients and staff or the larger environment. 

Simply eliminating fast food franchises in hospitals and selecting healthier choices for vending machines are wonderful first steps.  The Healthy Food in Health Care Pledge ( provides a number of actions that a facility food service may consider and adopt in their quest for greener eating including increasing the numbers of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and unprocessed food options. 

Health Care Without Harm’s 2008 report, Menu for Change: Health Food in Health Care ( provides a sampling of changes 12 of their pledge-members have made to their nutritional services, challenges encountered, and benefits reaped.  I was happy to see several mid-west hospitals in the mix, although only one, Drake Center ( in Ohio. 

I know there must be more Ohio hospitals out there transforming their nutritional services.  If you have a story to share on the Green Buckeye RN website, please contact me at

Save the Date!


Women’s Health and the Environment: New Science, New Solutions
Thursday, September 25, 2008 at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center

A free event sponsored by the Heinz Endowments, this, the second of what I hope will be an annual conference in Pittsburgh, PA., provides a day stuffed with information from well-versed and learned speakers.  Nancy Nichols, author of Lake Effect, is the morning keynote.  Go to to register. 

Keep an eye out for the parent of the Pittsburgh conference, the 12th Annual Women’s Health and the Environment: New Science, New Solutions scheduled for Friday, October 31st in Boston, MA.

Join other nurses for the Health Care Without Harm, Nurses Workgroup Conference Call on the second Tuesday of every month from 1:00-2:00 pm ET.  1-800-351-4871.  Passcode 8920-0990#.

Flow: For Love of Water
This award-winning documentary investigates the global water crisis—what experts call the most important political and environmental issue of the 21st century.  Filmmaker, Irena Salina, addresses the water privatization, dwindling freshwater supplies, and the emergence of a domineering world water cartel.  Yet Flow goes beyond identifying the problem and looks at people and institutions providing practical solutions to the water crisis (From the American Rivers e-newsletter, the Current: a steady Stream of River News).  This film will be shown on Friday, October 3, 2008 at the Gateway Theatre in Columbus, Ohio.  For a look at the tour schedule, go to

The Pollution Prevention (P2) University for a select group of Ohio nurse leaders is scheduled for Wednesday, December 3, 2008 at The Christ Hospital in Cincinnati ( ).  This one-day train-the-trainer program will equip ten nurse leaders to initiate greener healthcare practices within their own facilities and to educate fellow nurses about the need for healthcare systems that are not sources of harm to patients or the environment.  This project has been funded by a mini-grant from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency ( to Nursing 2015 (  Contact hours will be provided.  Stay Tuned! Further information to follow.

Check the Green Buckeye RN website at for other opportunities.


The Lake Effect: Two Sisters and a Town’s Toxic Legacy, by Nancy Nichols, 2008.

I just received this slim volume and am itching to read it.  I was prompted to order this book when I read that the author will be speaking at Women’s Health & the Environment
Conference in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on September 25th.  Here is the product description from :

“On her deathbed, Sue asked her sister for one thing: to write about the connection between the industrial pollution in their hometown and the rare cancer that was killing her.  Fulfilling that promise has been Nancy Nichol’s mission for more than a decade.

Lake Effect is the story of her investigation.  It reaches back to their childhood in Waukegan, Illinois, an industrial town on Lake Michigan once known for good factory jobs and great fishing.  Now Waukegan is famous for its Superfund sites: as one resident puts it, asbestos to the north, PCBs to the south.

Drawing on her experiences as a journalist, Nichols interviewed dozens of scientists, doctors, and environmentalists to determine if these pollutants could have played a role in her sister’s death.  While researching Sue’s cancer, she discovered her own: a vicious though treatable form of pancreatic cancer.  Doctors and even family urged her to forget causes and concentrate on cures, but Nichols knew that it was relentless questioning that had led to her diagnosis.  And that it is questioning – by government as well as individuals – that could save other lives. 

Lake Effect challenges us to ask why.  It is the fulfillment of a sister’s promise. And it is a call to stop the pollution that is endangering the health of all our families.”

The Body Toxic: How the Hazardous Chemistry of Everyday Things Threatens Our Health and Well-being, by Nena Baker, 2008.

A newspaper article concerning the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention report on the chemical body burden of Americans prompted author Nena Baker to explore the toxic chemicals found in everyday products such as our food, cookware, cosmetics, and cleaning products. 

This book is replete with discussions of the poisons found in everyday products, the inadequacies of U. S. chemical policy, lifestyle changes you can make to lessen your exposure to chemicals, and loads of references for future learning. 

An absorbing and fun read…and you don’t need to be a scientist to appreciate the content.


Get the Lead…and Phthalates…Out!

After a year of toy recalls and scary tales of lead poisoning, the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 ( ) was signed into law by President Bush on August 14, 2008.  Some of the changes stipulated in the act include:

• Lead will be essentially eliminated from all children’s products
• Toys and other children’s products will be required to be tested for safety before they are sold
• Three toxic phthalates will be banned from children’s products: di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), dibutyl phthalate (DBP), or benzyl butyl phthalate (BBP).
• A Chronic Hazard Advisory Panel will be appointed to study the effects on children’s health of all phthalates and phthalate alternatives as used in children’s toys and child care articles.

Comment on Pharmaceutical Waste Disposal

The EPA is seeking public comment on an Information Collection Request (ICR) that will be used in a study of unused pharmaceutical disposal methods by hospitals, long-term care facilities, hospices and veterinary hospitals.  The purpose of the study is to seek more information on the practices of the health care industry, thereby informing future potential regulatory actions and identifying best management and proper disposal practices.  This is one of several actions the agency is taking to strengthen its understanding of disposal practices and potential risks from pharmaceuticals in water.  EPA will accept public comments through November 9th.  To read more, go to

Great Lakes Legacy Act of 2008

The Great Lakes Legacy Act would fund the clean-up of contaminated sediments in Great Lakes harbors and tributaries.  Designated “Areas of Concern” by the U.S. and Canadian governments, the polluted sites pose threats to human health and to fish and wildlife populations. 

Of the 31 sites in the United States or shared with Canada, only one site-Oswego River-has been de-listed since 1987.  The Great Lakes Legacy Act of 2008 reauthorizes the Great Lakes Legacy Act for five years and increases the authorization of funds from $54 million to $150 million per year.

Ohio Rivers awaiting cleanup that could be impacted by the passage of this act include the Ashtabula, Black, Cuyahoga, and Maumee.  Urge your legislators to approve this act in September.

Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact

The eight-state water management agreement will protect the nation’s largest fresh surface water resource from depletion.  The Great Lakes contain over 90 percent of the fresh surface water of the United States.  Although seemingly abundant, less than 1 percent of the Great lakes water is renewed each year, leaving the lakes vulnerable to depletion.

The U. S. Senate passed the Compact by unanimous consent on July 31, 2008, following the passage of the compact in all eight Great lakes states – Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

The Compact must now pass the U.S. House of Representatives before heading to President Bush’s desk for signature ( ).

To follow the bill, go to


Is there anything you can’t find on the web?  Check out these sites for fun and education.

• Calculate your carbon and eco footprints at

• Channel the power of the purse.  Go to

• Got shoes?  Recycle those outgrown athletic shoes at
Unfortunately, Ohio has no drop-off centers, so mail those shoes to
Nike Recycling Center, c/o Reuse-A-Shoe, 26755 SW 95th Ave.,Wilsonville, OR 97070.  All brands of athletic shoes are accepted.

• If you want to find a Farmer’s Market near you, eat healthier or find a new recipe, check out Culinate at  Everything looks delicious!

• View the short film, The History of Stuff with Annie Leonard, at the Ecology Center website at   It may prompt you to clean out those closets at last. 

• Visit The EarthRose Institute, a non-profit organization that provides education and research collaboration on the environmental links to women’s and children’s health.


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