April 1st, 2014

Woman Gets Fed Up With Marriage Pressure & Buys a Fake Family

Suzanne Heintz has enjoyed a lovely, admirable relationship with her husband of 14 years and their 9-year-old daughter. They take vacations regularly to the mountains and recently returned from a picturesque trip to France. And they’ll be renewing their wedding vows in an upcoming wedding ceremony. However, communication is one sided, since her husband, Chauncey, and their daughter, Mary Margaret are very, very quiet. They are, well… mannequins.

Suzanne bought her family from a retail liquidation center in Colorado in 1999. She was fed up with everyone asking her when she was going to get married and have children, so she decided to take matters into her own hands. While “Life Once Removed” originated as an answer to society (and her mother’s) constant question about marriage, Suzanne is very pleased that  her story is empowering women worldwide.

It started with yearly pictures of beautiful family winter scenes that she’d send out as Christmas cards. Every year, she tried to elaborate and portray even more of a “perfect family,” an idea that came from the Christmas cards that she was receiving. Suzanne is a talented photographer, and her Familyquins gradually turned into a mix of comedy, art, social criticism and fun.

Then the travels startedyearly summer vacations to the mountains within driving distance of Denver, CO, and last summer they all went abroad for a trip to Paris. After all, it’s known to be one of the most romantic cities in the world. But, don’t let her perfect pictures fool you. Traveling around France with Familyquins was no easy task. And the rain didn’t help.

View her video above to see what it was like walking around Paris with her husband on her shoulders and how the French responded.

In a recent, delightful conversation, Suzanne told me, “I’m paying attention to what my life means to me without all of the rules. I want to decide myself what is meaningful and what it means for my life to feel successful. I want to make my own choices. I’m not married. So what? I didn’t die. That’s the important thing. I have companionship and human value. I just don’t need to be married to be OK. I don’t need the label.”

What’s next for Suzanne? After her wedding ceremony with renewal vows, she’ll enjoy some quiet time at home with Chauncey before her movie and book, Playing House, are released. In the last chapter of the book, Mary Margaret goes to school. It explores the effect of our expectations on the next generation.

Suzanne shared, “I love to travel to foreign countries. I’ve noticed that people in Nepal, India and Vietnam feel like they belong wherever they are.  They aren’t trying to be elsewhere. But, in our culture, we have all the trappings of success in this world and none of the happiness. In the third world, they have all the happiness and none of the trappings. I’m just focused on being wherever I am that brings me happiness.”

What do you think about Suzanne’s answer to society’s never-ending question of single women “of a certain age”? Thanks for sharing your thoughts in a comment below and for sharing on Facebook.

Lisa Spector March 31, 2014 5:03 pm Care2 Greenliving March 31, 2014

Should a Mother Be Arrested for Drinking and Breastfeeding?

Having a new baby is hard. Often it feels like you are constantly being bombarded by advice from family, friends and even strangers, all of whom insist they can help make it easier even when the tips they provide are confusing, wrong or just not applicable. Usually, it’s easy to dismiss that “help” as well meaning. Often, it comes across more as meddling.

Other times, it can get you arrested.

According to ThinkProgress, Arkansas mother Tasha Adams was arrested last year for child endangerment. The charge was levied at her by a waitress in a restaurant who claims she saw her with “multiple glasses in front of her” at a restaurant. Adams, on the other hand, said she had two beers over the course of an hour and a half.

The charges were dropped against Adams last week because police said they didn’t have enough evidence for a case. Of course, there was no less evidence than there was when the police arrested her in the first place, demanding that Adams hand over her child to other family so they could take her in to jail.

There isn’t any law against drinking and breastfeeding, of course, and many lactation experts actually say a beer can potentially increase milk supply or help with let down (usually due to relaxation) although they warn mothers to avoid heavy drinking and consider waiting after a drink before feeding or pumping just to play it safe. The police did not give Adams a breathalyzer to see if she was in fact drunk before arresting her, instead making a “judgement call,” a call neither Adams’ family or the restaurant management seemed to believe should be made by anyone other than Adams, judging by the fact that the waitress couldn’t get anyone else to intervene.

What becomes clear from this incident is that we’ve gone beyond society figuratively policing mothers to society really, truly and literally policing them. Unable to get anyone else to agree with her personal opinion that a nursing mother shouldn’t drink, the waitress in question literally brought in authority figures not to enforce a law, since none was broken, but to enforce a judgement on whether or not Adams was being a good mother. Now, apparently, that is a crime and can fall under the blanket charge of “endangering a child.”

Former Care2 author Annie Urban writing at her own blog noticed this increase in policing last year when the story first broke, calling feminist blog Jezebel to the carpet for failing to acknowledge the harm they perpetuated by jumping on the “bad mother” bandwagon and supporting police action against Adams. “By judging alcohol and breastfeeding as ‘dangerous’, they may cause women to wean early if they want to be able to enjoy an occasional drink or they may make them feel so judged that they simply drink at home instead of going out and socializing,” Urban argued. “So we judge, judge, judge (of course the alcohol and breastfeeding thing isn’t all that is being judged)…because ‘who is thinking of the children?’, but we don’t provide support.”

“Everyone is happy to step in and judge moms, but who is going to step in and help?” asked Urban.

We already have politicians demanding free pregnancy tests in bar bathrooms but not subsidized birth control, making it clear that a woman’s most important goal should be ensuring she is not endangering any potential child, rather than helping her prevent a pregnancy she doesn’t want. Now, we see this scrutiny of her continuing once she gives birth, literally calling it “endangerment” and putting her in jail if someone believes her parenting isn’t good enough.

At what point is it finally too much?

Robin Marty Care 2 Causes March 29, 2014 5:30 pm

5 Green Foods You Should Be Eating

Yes, yes, we all know we should eat more greens. But, the regular rounds of broccoli, green beans, and lettuce can get rather tiresome. Instead, try these nutrient-dense green foods that are often overlooked.

Seaweed. Often overlooked because it is not a land-dweller, seaweed is insanely good for you. While providing a whopping amount of vitamins and minerals, seaweed’s golden ticket is iodine. Iodine is found in very few foods and is essential to a healthy thyroid. With more people avoiding iodized salt for a slew of reasons, mild iodine deficiency is growing more common. When deficient, a person may have difficulty losing weight, feel fatigued, perhaps depressed — experiencing general thyroid malfunction. Whip up a tasty seaweed salad for lunch to keep your thyroid chugging along.

Microgreens. Move over regular arugula! Microgreens are simply mini versions of your favorite produce, and man do they pack a punch! As “toddler plants,” they contain more vitamins and flavor than their mature counterparts. There is an endless variety of microgreens from which to choose, from mustard and watercress, to turnip and sunflower — each with a unique, tantalizing flavor. As an added bonus, microgreens are crazy easy to grow in your kitchen, and will supply your meals with some tasty, uber healthy green nutrition.

The Surprising Reason Chocolate Is SO Darn Healthy…

8 “Staple” Foods to Avoid at the Grocery Store

A Beginner’s Guide to Green Smoothies

Lacinato kale. (aka Tuscan/Dinosaur kale) This is your grocery-store-kale’s dark, jurassic-looking cousin. With 100 percent of you recommended daily allowance of vitamins A and K, and 88 percent of your vitamin C requirement, the rich compounds of kale have been linked to cancer prevention. It is a little sweeter and nuttier than your regular kale, so go ahead and experiment!

Moringa. Recently growing in popularity, moringa is a leaf that is chock full of goodies. It assists with blood sugar stabilization, lowers blood pressure and cholesterol, is loaded with energizing and depression-fighting B vitamins, and containing 90 nutrients that benefit the human body. It is antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant-rich. Cook with the oil, or flavor meals with the leaves. Never heard of it? Discover all of the wonders of moringa here.

Avocados. OK, so you may be pretty familiar with avocados, but they are so delicious and nutrient-dense that they deserve a mention. They are full of monounsaturated fats, which increase satiety and can assist with weight loss. Avocados are anti-inflammatory, blood sugar regulators, and may even prevent strokes. Buy them once for the high amount of potassium, fiber, B vitamins, and vitamins K and C; keep buying them for their glorious, creamy texture and your newfound obsession with guacamole.

Green foods are good for you, but they don’t have to be boring. Trying a new green every week can keep your meals interesting and your body healthy.

Jordyn Cormier Care 2 Greenliving March 29, 2014 5:02 pm  

This Underwear Could Revolutionize Eldercare

When you think about paradigm-changing products, underwear typically isn’t top-of-mind, yet these under-appreciated undergarments may soon play a vital role in enhancing the health and safety of seniors living on their own.

Two top technology honorees at the recently-held 2014 SXSW (South By Southwest) Conference in Austin, Texas aim to elevate underwear beyond the mundane and into the medical care arena.

Briefs with built-in airbags

Falls are the primary culprit behind death-inducing injuries in people age 65 and older, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Proper medication management, balance exercises for seniors and the removal of environmental hazards (e.g. loose carpets, inadequate lighting, bulky furniture, etc.) can cut down on an elder’s chances of falling, but unavoidable tumbles are almost guaranteed to occur, especially when an aging adult lives by themselves.

What can be done to protect elders who wish to remain independent against this dangerous reality?

That is the question retired combat surgeon, Dr. Robert Buckman aimed to answer when he created ActiveProtective, a company that develops wearable technology systems to guard against injury. “We will change the way we care for our independent elderly,” says the organization’s website. “And make hip fractures a preventable condition.”

While serving as Head of Trauma for two hospitals in Philadelphia, PA, Buckman witnessed, firsthand, the devastation that can occur when a senior is hospitalized after a fall. The experience was the driving force behind the creation of a “smart garment”—resembling a pair of technology-laced briefs—that uses motion sensors to detect when a person is falling, then deploys strategically placed micro-airbags to lessen the damage done to their hips and pelvis when they hit the ground.

Dubbed the “fall disambiguation” technique, the sensors monitor a senior’s regular daily routine. When the elder wearing the briefs makes an uncharacteristic movement that the system recognizes as a fall, a series of tiny airbags will inflate, right before their body hits the ground. The garment also acts as an alert device, capable of calling for help when a severe falling incident is detected.

Undergarments with shock-absorbing hip pads have been around for years, but this is one of the first forays into exploring the use of airbag-type technology for fall injury prevention.

A recent round of the fall disambiguation technique at the Veterans Administration Gait Lab showed it to be capable of slashing fall impact force by 90 percent, enough to eliminate the majority of hip fracture risk.

Panties provide practical health tracking

Adult diapers are often unavoidable for seniors dealing with incontinence, but a new pair of high-tech panties can help caregivers and seniors track two common health concerns: urinary tract infections (UTIs) and dehydration.

Developed by Pixie Scientific, a company specializing in health monitoring technology, the “Pixie Brief” is an adult diaper infused with chemicals that interact with certain substances (nitrites and leukocytes) present in an individual’s urine.

The senior dons the diaper once a day. Once it gets wet, seniors (or their caregivers) scan the QR code (a special barcode that contains encoded information) on the front of the diaper with a smartphone or tablet. The QR code contains information gathered from the interaction between the chemicals in the underwear and the senior’s urine. An app then runs a specially-designed algorithm that will track an elder’s urinary health, and can determine whether they need to drink more, or have developed a UTI.

UTIs are a common occurrence in the elderly, but can be difficult to diagnose, due to the fact that the symptoms are typically not the same as they are for younger individuals. Seniors with UTIs primarily exhibit dementia-like episodes of mental decline, memory issues, excessive sleepiness, agitation and confusion, as opposed to the more traditionally recognized symptom of urine that itches, burns or smells odd.

Dehydration is also a concern for aging adults, especially those who live by themselves. Not having enough water in the body can exacerbate preexisting health conditions, and may cause dizziness, fatigue and confusion, which can lead to increased risk for falls.

The ability to diagnose a UTI or spot dangerous dehydration in an elder before their cognition and health start to go downhill will allow for faster access to treatment, and could prevent an unnecessarily dangerous hospitalization.

Both garments are still works-in-progress. ActiveProtective hopes to have their hip-protection technology available for purchase by consumers in the next year, or so. Pixie Scientific has applied for FDA-approval of their underwear for seniors.

Aging Care.com Care2 Greenliving March 27, 2014 5:00 pm

What the Dairy Industry is NOT Telling You

Why are so many people convinced that dairy is the best source of calcium? A strategic marketing campaign from the dairy industry would have us believe that by drinking milk, we will be protected from bone crippling osteoporosis, but the opposite may be true.

Starting them young: the dairy industry supplies school curriculum that teaches children about the “nutrition” in cow’s milk. Also, most western doctors carry the “3 glasses of a milk a day for strong bones” message to their patients. So how has the dairy industry been so successful in spreading this misinformation campaign? It might have something to do with the fact that over $8 million dollars was spent in lobbying efforts in 2013 alone. Additionally, dairy program subsidies in the United States totaled $5.3 billion from 1995-2012, including $171,578,059 in “milk marketing fees.” That’s right, we’re paying to be misled, and the hidden cost may be our impaired health.

So what is the misinformation in these campaigns? While dairy products from cows’ milk does contain calcium, we don’t absorb all of it. In order to absorb calcium, the body needs comparable amounts of another mineral element, magnesium. Milk and dairy products contain only small amounts of magnesium. Without the presence of magnesium, the body absorbs only 25 percent of the available dairy calcium content. Without magnesium, this excess calcium is utilized by the body in injurious ways.

Additionally, consumption of high protein dairy products like milk creates an acidic environment in the body, which triggers a release of calcium from the bones to bring the blood PH back into balance, and can cause a 50 percent loss of calcium in the urine. In other words, drinking milk leaches calcium from our bones and thereby creates a deficiency in calcium, the exact opposite of the the claims of the dairy industry. This may explain why, as found in The China Study, the countries that are known to consume the highest levels of dairy also tend to have the highest incidence of osteoporosis. Dr. T. Colin Campbell, the world’s leading epidemiological researcher in the field of diet and health, who happened to be raised on a dairy farm, says, “The dairy folks, ever since the 1920s, have been enormously successful in cultivating an environment within virtually all segments of our society–from research and education to public relations and politics–to have us believing that cow’s milk and its products are manna from heaven. … Make no mistake about it; the dairy industry has been virtually in total control of any and all public health information that ever rises to the level of public scrutiny.” He goes on to say, “The association between the intake of animal protein and fracture rates appears to be as strong as the association between cigarette smoking and lung cancer.”

Contrary to the dairy industry’s clever marketing, there are some other reasons why dairy may not be the healthiest source of calcium. High saturated fat content of many dairy products is a risk factor for heart disease. According to Harvard, milk may also lead to an increased risk of ovarian cancer in women and a probable increased risk in prostate cancer in men. As stated on their website, “Clearly, although more research is needed, we cannot be confident that high milk or calcium intake is safe.” Another issue with milk for a lot of people, particularly those of non-Northern European descent, is lactose intolerance. For them, eating or drinking dairy products causes problems like cramping, bloating, gas, and diarrhea.

Cows’ milk is intended for baby cows, not humans. We are the only species that habitually drinks milk from other species, and into adulthood, no less. Dairy cows are kept continually pregnant, and their calves are separated from them upon birth, so the milk intended for them can be sold to us. In the ’40s the average dairy cow produced less than 5,000 pounds of milk in its lifetime. Now, the average cow produces over 21,000 pounds of milk. That’s with an increase of 15% in just the last 10 years. Cows are often genetically manipulated, artificially inseminated, and drugged in order to force them to produce about four and a half times as much milk as they naturally would to feed their calves. Factory farming  has proven to be very profitable for the dairy industry, while harming air, land and water and causing needless suffering to millions of animals. Cows can live up to 25 years, but in the dairy industry cows are typically slaughtered for low-grade beef around their fifth birthday. Most male calves are slaughtered for veal, while most female calves are doomed to the same fate as their mothers.

Adequate, lifelong dietary calcium intake is necessary to reduce the risk of osteoporosis. Consuming adequate calcium and vitamin D and performing regular, weight-bearing exercise are also important to build maximum bone density and strength. With all the delicious substitutes for dairy products these days, one can easily omit dairy from their diet. According to the recommended guidelines for calcium, children 4-8 need 1000 mg and children 9-13 need 1,300 mg and adults, including lactating mothers, need 1,000 mg. There is a long list of plant foods that supply plenty of calcium that is easily absorbed by the body: legumes, green leafy vegetables like kale , collards, mustard greens, turnip greens, bok choy, parsley, and broccoli, cabbage, oats, beans, sesame seeds, almonds, asparagus, as well as fortified plant milks, fortified juices, and firm tofu made with calcium-sulfate.

So when you next hear a dairy advertisement tell you that you need calcium for healthy bones, think about what they aren’t telling you. There are alternatives that may not only be healthier for you, but also kinder to cows, calves and the environment.

Magda Rod Care 2 Greenliving March 26, 2014 5:30 pm  

5 Surprising Facts About Anger

What makes you angry? The injustices of the world? The jerk who stole your parking space? The spouse who won’t get off the couch? Whatever brings out the ire, it’s safe to say that you’re not the only one who gets a little angry from time to time. As common of an emotion as anger is, though, it is certainly very misunderstood. Read on for some of the most surprising facts about anger.

1. Your Anger Can Be Caused by the Strangest Things.

Many people like to describe their anger as something that happens to them; the tailgater and the line-cutters caused their outburst, not their reaction to other people’s rude behavior. But the truth is often way more complicated than that. Traumatic events can cause people to develop a short fuse. But even the most patient people in the world, when placed in uncomfortable circumstances, can be prone to angry outbursts. Hunger, hot weather, aches and pains, dehydration, and even being left-handed, can increase your chances of getting angry.

2. Anger Is Totally, Completely Normal — To a Point.

Anger is one of the most basic human emotions. Taken at face value, anger is merely a response to abnormal or dangerous situations, and there’s really nothing good or bad about it. What makes it good or bad, however, is how you respond to anger.

3. “Letting It Out” Isn’t Such a Great Strategy.

It’s obviously better to punch a pillow over another person, and will probably spare your loved ones’ feelings if you vent in the shower. But is it really doing you any good? Well, probably not. In fact, it can actually make your anger worse, because it can, “foster aggression by giving people permission to relax their self-control.”

4. Gender Plays a Huge Role.

It’s no stretch to say that, at least in Western culture, anger is a masculine emotion. And, as a result, boys and girls are are taught different things when it comes to managing their anger. Boys are socialized to be more aggressive, and girls, more passive. As adults, men are more likely to express their anger physically and impulsively; women, on the other hand, tend to have a harder time expressing their anger, and tend to be resentful and angrier for longer than men. In the end, though, neither of these coping mechanisms are healthy ways to deal with anger.

5. Anger Affects Your Health.

People with a short fuse, according to several scientific studies, can increase your likelihood of suffering from heart disease and strokes.

Katie Waldeck Care 2 Greenliving  March 24, 2014 6:03 pm

7 Recycling Mistakes You’re Probably Making

It took a long, long time, but curbside recycling has finally become commonplace in most U.S. communities. According to the EPA, Americans create 251 million tons of waste every year.

We say that we “throw away” much of this waste, but of course, there is no away. Most of it (around 135 million tons) ends up buried in a landfill somewhere, where it takes centuries if not thousands of years to degrade, potentially leaching nasty chemicals into our soil and water supply.

Here’s the sad part: According to Keep America Beautiful, the recyclable materials in the U.S. waste stream would generate over $7 billion if they were recycled. That’s equivalent to Donald Trump’s net worth. In order to stop the flow of valuable materials to the landfill, we have to recycle.

If you’re a regular participant in your community’s recycling program, you’re probably feeling pretty pleased with yourself right now. Not so fast. In order to get the most out of these reuseable waste materials, we not only have to recycle, we have to recycle properly. That’s right, there are rules to this recycling game, and unfortunately, many of us aren’t following them. Below is a list of common recycling mistakes, along with information about why it’s so important to get it right–for your recycler, your community, and your world.

7 Recycling Mistakes You’re Probably Making

woman recycling

1. Separating (or not) – Is your recycling program single stream or dual-stream? Do you know the difference? Single stream recycling which allows paper, cardboard, plastic, glass and metal to be mixed together for pickup. Dual stream recycling is also referred to as source separated recycling. This means keeping the fiber component –– paper and cardboard –– separate from containers, including glass and plastic containers and cans. There are pros and cons to both methods. But separating (if you don’t have to) or not separating (if you’re supposed to) just makes things more difficult for those on the other end of your recycling bin.

2. Including plastic bags – It is very rare for a local recycler to accept plastic bags. Plastic bag markets require that these materials be clean, dry and empty. Once they go in a recycling bin, they definitely do not meet the first two criteria. Solving this problem is easy: a) don’t use plastic bags, and b) keep bags separate and return them to a local grocery store that accepts them for recycling (look for a bin near the front door).

3. Leaving lids on plastic containers – While an increasing number of plastics are now recyclable (you should still check the number on the bottom against your local program rules), plastic caps are often NOT recyclable and are a significant contaminant, both on and off the bottle. Left on, they often trap liquid, which is a contaminant. Separate them and throw them away. Always make sure bottles and glasses are empty and rinsed.

4. Including non-recyclable glassAll glass (or glasslike materials) are not created equal. Translucent bottles and jars are good to go. Ceramic dishes, china plates or cups, mirrors, laboratory glassware, light bulbs, Pyrex, porcelain and window glass are NOT. These materials have a different melting point and chemical composition from container glass. Seeing just one of these items in a load of container class can cause it to be rejected.

5. Food-soaked cartons/packages – “Leave the grease-soaked pizza box and oily Chinese takeout carton (and anything similar) out of the recycling bin,” explains the Fairport-East Rochester Post. “Ditto for dirty paper napkins. You can, however, tear off and recycle the unsoiled top of a pizza box.” When it comes to recycling, any type of contamination is a no no. That’s why it’s so important to clean the things that can be cleaned (aluminum, plastic, and glass containers).

6. Removing the labels from bottles and cans – Check with your local recycler, but in most cases this is an unnecessary step. Ha! I bet you didn’t expect that one. Save yourself some time, and toss ‘em in the bin, labels and all. Same thing goes for staples or other metal fasteners in paper and cardboard.

7. Shredded paper – “Shredded paper is too small to sort — the pieces literally fall through the cracks of the sorting machines and end up all over the floor of the facility, or worse, in with the glass,” explains Go Green Woolridge. Some recycling centers will accept shredded paper if it is contained in a paper bag and labeled “shredded paper.” And while we’re on the topic of paper, be sure to consult your recycler’s preferences when it comes to where paper should be placed. As this blogger found out, sometimes placing it in the bin with the other recyclables is a no-no.

What other common recycling mistakes do you know of? Share them in a comment so we can all get better at this essential process!

Beth Buczynski Care 2 Greenliving March 23, 2014 5:25 pm

No, Buddhism Is Not “Stupid,” Judge Tells Louisiana Teacher

Excellent news! The parents of a sixth grade student in Louisiana whose teacher made fun of him because he is Buddhist have won their lawsuit against the school district.

In the past, Rita Roark had told her students that the universe was created by God about 6,000 years ago and informed them that both the Big Bang theory and evolution are false. She told her students that, “If evolution was real, it would still be happening: Apes would be turning into humans today.”

This level of ignorance makes me wonder if this woman is actually a credentialed teacher.

One test she gave to students asked: “ISN’T IT AMAZING WHAT THE _____________ HAS MADE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” The correct answer was “Lord,” but one child, known simply as “C.C.,” wrote in something else.

When informed that C.C. was a Buddhist and therefore didn’t believe in God, Roark allegedly responded, “you’re stupid if you don’t believe in God.”

When Scott and Sharon Lane, C.C.’s parents, confronted Sabine Parish Superintendent Sara Ebarb about the incidents, she allegedly told them “this is the Bible belt” and that they “shouldn’t be offended” to “see God here.” Ebarb advised that C.C. should either change his faith or be transferred to another district school where “there are more Asians.”

The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Louisiana filed a federal lawsuit in January against Negreet High School in Sabine Parish on behalf of the Lanes and their son.

Thankfully, Judge Elizabeth Foote of the U.S. District Court, Western District of Louisiana sided with C.C. and his parents, citing that both Roark’s behavior and the school’s decision to defend it clearly violated “the Free Exercise and Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.”

Judge Foote wrote that “[t]he District and School Board are permanently enjoined from permitting School Officials at any school within the School District to promote their personal religious beliefs to students in class or during or in conjunction with a School Event.” Furthermore, “School Officials shall not denigrate any particular faith, or lack thereof, or single out any student for disfavor or criticism because of his or her particular faith or religious belief, or lack thereof.”

Too bad that Rita Roark did not lose her job over this incident. Clearly, some people who call themselves teachers should not be allowed anywhere near young people.

As a teacher with many years of experience, I am ashamed but also angry when I read of fellow teachers behaving in such a narrow-minded and cruel way. Teaching should be about helping kids fulfill themselves, not about putting them down and making them feel bad.

As Heather L. Weaver, senior staff attorney for the ACLU Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief, put it: “The treatment this child and his family have endured is not only disgraceful, it’s unconstitutional.”

“Public schools should be welcoming places for students of all backgrounds,” said Marjorie Esman, executive director of the ACLU of Louisiana. “No child should be harassed and made to feel like an outsider in his own classroom, and students should not have to endure school officials constantly imposing their religious beliefs on them while they are trying to learn.”

In case you’re wondering how a public school, funded by tax dollars can be pushing one religion, you should know that this situation is not unusual in Louisiana. Last year, the state decided to fix its failing public education system by offering parents vouchers to nearby private schools instead. Many of these schools are private religious institutions, meaning that other non-Christian students may find themselves having to sit through classes that criticize homosexuality and evolution, classes that are funded by tax dollars.

Perhaps Louisiana should take a look at schools in Ireland: a major change to the primary curriculum will occur in September 2014. Beginning at age 4, children will receive instruction in atheism, agnosticism and humanism as part of their ethics and belief systems alongside studies of other religions. The courses will be offered as part of the curriculum in non-denominational schools and will also be available online and via apps for those who attend other schools.

Meanwhile, Rita Roark will keep spouting her creationist beliefs as the truth. Too bad for those poor sixth graders, who may take quite some time to discover they have been lied to.

Judy Molland Care 2 Causes March 22, 2014 5:30 pm

The Surprising Reason Chocolate is SO Darn Healthy

Chocolate is something of a miracle food — it can ease depression, boost circulation, lower blood pressure, and even help you lose weight. In a strange correlation, it could even make you more likely to win a Nobel Prize! To think, all of this bang in one, tiny, delectable package. But, why? How do the compounds in chocolate react in our bodies to produce such dramatic results? The answer lies within you.

In keeping with the wave of interest in our microbiomes and their effect on our health, recent research shows that the good bacteria in our stomachs, like Bifidobacterium, actually thrive on chocolate. That’s right, your good bacteria love chocolate just as much as you do. Within these bacteria, the chocolate gets fermented and converted into various, anti-inflammatory compounds. These anti-inflammatories then travel throughout the body, spreading their good cheer, so to speak, to the heart, brain, blood, and beyond.

These findings, unveiled at a recent meeting of the American Chemical Society, come from research associated with the cocoa solids — cocoa powder — so no sugar was present (which feeds less desirable gut dwellers). The powder is known to contain several antioxidants, known as polyphenols, and a bit of fiber — which keeps it moving along when digested. All of this makes bitter cocoa an ideal fuel for the hungry, friendly bacteria in your digestive system — and you can be sure they will pass on the benefits to you. Their feast can result in higher endorphins, less depression, and enhanced heart health, among countless other benefits, for you. A couple of teaspoons of cocoa powder in your smoothie might be just the trick to balance out health and deliciousness for a perfect breakfast!

Remember, not all chocolate is created equal. If you opt for a chocolate bar, be sure it is dark, as in 85% or greater. Too much sugar could negate the benefits. If that’s too bitter for your taste, add a small dollop of raw honey to very dark chocolate for a double-whammy of health benefits and palatable sweetness.

Without your microcosm of gut bacteria, chocolate might not pose nearly as many benefits to your health. Keep your gut balanced with probiotics and a balanced diet — and make sure to give your micro-critter friends a big thank-you with a health-boosting treat of dark chocolate once in a while.

Jordyn Cormier Care 2 Greenliving  March 22, 2014 4:30 pm