Digital Dharma

The Middle Path, One Day At A Time


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Health vs. Pork: The Farm Bill

The Farm Bill, a massive piece of federal legislation making its way through Congress, governs what children are fed in schools and what food assistance programs can distribute to recipients. The bill provides billions of dollars in subsidies, much of which goes to huge agribusinesses producing feed crops, such as corn and soy, which are then fed to animals. By funding these crops, the government supports the production of meat and dairy products—the same products that contribute to our growing rates of obesity and chronic disease. Fruit and vegetable farmers, on the other hand, receive less than 1 percent of government subsidies.

The government also purchases surplus foods like cheese, milk, pork, and beef for distribution to food assistance programs—including school lunches. The government is not required to purchase nutritious foods.

This article was written in 2007, but nothing has changed yet.  Lots more, including diagrams showing how subsidies are spent…


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Food Stamps, School Lunches and Poor Nutrition

Food Stamps, School Lunches and Poor Nutrition | Smart Journalism. Real Solutions. | Miller-McCune Online Magazine

During the health care summit last week, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) suggested that America needs to restructure some of the systemic culture that leads to poor health in the first place, and not just invest in costly treatment of people once they’re sick. In particular, he mentioned a pair of intriguing culprits….


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Fallujah doctors report rise in birth defects

BBC News – Fallujah doctors report rise in birth defects

A spokesman for the US military, Michael Kilpatrick, said it always took public health concerns “very seriously”.

“No studies to date have indicated environmental issues resulting in specific health issues,” he said.

“Unexploded ordinance, including improvised explosive devises, are a recognised hazard,” he added.

Depleted Uranium comes to mind, although the military assures us there’s no hazard.


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The Happiest People

Op-Ed Columnist – The Happiest People – NYTimes.com

What sets Costa Rica apart is its remarkable decision in 1949 to dissolve its armed forces and invest instead in education. Increased schooling created a more stable society, less prone to the conflicts that have raged elsewhere in Central America. Education also boosted the economy, enabling the country to become a major exporter of computer chips and improving English-language skills so as to attract American eco-tourists.


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In binge-tolerant Japan, alcoholism not seen as disease

In binge-tolerant Japan, alcoholism not seen as disease | Reuters

Alcoholic beverages are readily available at convenience stores and vending machines, liquor ads are often on evening television and building work ties by going drinking is common.

Katsuya Maruyama of Kurihama Alcoholism Center, a leading hospital for treating alcohol dependency, said Japan is too tolerant when it comes to drinking too much, which makes it hard for both society and alcoholics to realise they have a problem.

“There is no proper teaching on how alcohol can be dangerous, so no one knows alcoholism as a disease,” he said.


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Wasting Away: The Squandering of D.C.’s AIDS Dollars

Wasting Away: The Squandering of D.C.’s AIDS Dollars – washingtonpost.com

While the sick languished in alleyways and on park benches in the city with the nation’s highest AIDS rate, D.C. government allowed widespread waste and mismanagement to overwhelm the city’s AIDS services. A three-part documentary explores some of these groups and the lives impacted by a lack of care.


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What is Alcoholic Cirrhosis – Liver Disease?

Habitual drinking of alcohol can damage the liver. There are 3 types of damage: alcoholic fatty liver, alcoholic hepatitis, and alcoholic cirrhosis. The amount of damage depends on the amount of alcohol used and how long the drinking continues. The type of alcohol is not important.

What is going on in the body?…

24Medica – What is Alcoholic Cirrhosis – Liver Disease?


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Gaza’s Underground Water Supplies on the Verge of Collapse

The report, “Environmental Assessment of the Gaza Strip: following the escalation of hostilities in December 2008-January 2009,” was requested in February by the UNEP Governing Council, made up of environment ministers from 58 countries, including Israel and the United States.

“The international community has indicated its willingness to assist with providing technical, financial and diplomatic assistance in order to turn environmental restoration into an opportunity for cooperation and restoration,” said UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner.

The report finds that strikes on buildings and other infrastructure have generated 600,000 metric tonnes of demolition debris, some of which is contaminated with asbestos. The removal and safe disposal of rubble is calculated at over US$7 million.

An estimated 17 percent of cultivated land, including orchards and greenhouses, was severely affected. The report estimates the costs in terms of damage to farmers’ livelihoods alongside clean-up measures at around US$11 million.

Other impacts include sewage spills as a result of power cuts to treatment facilities. Some of the sewage is likely to have percolated through the Gaza Strip’s porous soils into the groundwater, the report finds.

Gaza’s Underground Water Supplies on the Verge of Collapse


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The Obama Plan: Stability & Security for all Americans

The Obama Plan: Stability & Security for all Americans | The White House

“It will provide more security and stability to those who have health insurance. It will provide insurance to those who don’t. And it will lower the cost of health care for our families, our businesses, and our government.”

– President Barack Obama


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Narrative Medicine Heals Bodies and Souls

Narrative Medicine Heals Bodies and Souls

As a doctor, Mehl-Madrona helps patients discover their own stories of illness and create ones of healing that pull them forward toward recovery. These stories help create hope and a path to wellness—features often lacking in the “story” that patients get from mainstream medicine based on statistics and life ­expectancy tables.

Mehl-Madrona’s efforts to bring narrative medicine into mainstream practice seem to be making headway. This fall, Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons began offering a master’s degree in narrative medicine. Mehl-Madrona is currently an associate professor of psychology at Argosy University in Hawaii.


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Exercise Can Be Addicting; Moderate Exercise May Help Recovering Drug Addicts

…The scientists who conducted the study reason that if excessive exercise is addicting, then maybe addicts could take moderate exercise instead of drugs to feel good. The findings also shed light on the potentially fatal eating disorder called anorexia athletica, in which exercise undertaken to shed pounds becomes as compulsive as taking drugs, resulting in even greater weight loss….

Exercise Can Be Addicting; Moderate Exercise May Help Recovering Drug Addicts


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Why I love Britain’s socialized healthcare system

Why I love Britain’s socialized healthcare system | Salon

My first glimpse of our prospective hospital was not promising. It seemed crowded, aging and apparently devoid of the gleaming, beeping equipment I associated with modern medicine. But our neo-natal class actually helped me prepare for the upcoming birth, and the scans we received afforded the same miraculous fetal glimpses we would have gotten back in New Jersey. Come delivery day, an impressive team of midwives, nurses and anesthesiologists attended my wife’s long labor, all of them respecting her request not to opt for a cesarean section. When things got sticky at the end, a senior obstetrician appeared and the monitoring equipment beeped reassuringly…. Read More…