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How to Minimize Exposure to Mercury from Eating Fish

How to Minimize Exposure to Mercury from Eating Fish

Mercury poisoning is a global health threat that is not given the attention it deserves.  Part of the problem is that it is tasteless, colorless, odorless, and symptoms may appear long after exposure.  Unfortunately, eating fish is the most common way that people become exposed to dangerous levels of mercury, and a lot of people don’t know they are at risk until it’s too late.

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Why this is a Problem

The reason that mercury in fish is a problem is that it accumulates in tissues and stays there.  When we eat contaminated fish, the mercury is transferred into our bodies where it also stays there and accumulates over time.  While we can resist the effects of mercury exposure if it occurs in small doses, the risk is that over time, we will become sick as those amounts increase in our bodies.  This is why it is so important to be aware of sources of contamination and to minimize the intake of certain species of fish. 

It’s also important to remember that not all fish are contaminated, and there are many species that are perfectly healthy to eat.  The following list provides a basic outline that can help you to maintain safe levels of mercury and avoid over-exposure.

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Tuna

Tuna is considered to be at the top of the list when it comes to mercury poisoning.  The fats and oils in Tuna provide the perfect environment for mercury to be transferred into people.  The reason tuna is so risky is that it is readily available, cheap and a very popular food item.  As a general rule of thumb, adults should limit their consumption of albacore tuna to one can per 9 days, and chunk white tuna shouldn’t be eaten more than once every 3 days per government recommendations.  The government also recommends that we avoid eating ahi or bigeye tuna altogether.  For small children and infants, replace days with weeks in order to keep the risk of exposure to a minimum.

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Safe Species

Whitefish and crustaceans are considered to be the safest to eat, and there are a lot of species to choose from.  Examples include Flounder, tilapia, ocean perch, sole, squid, shrimp, crayfish and catfish.  Other species such as anchovies, sardines, oysters, scallops, crab and clam are also considered to be the safest.  This is by no means an exhaustive list, so consider doing some research to explore your options in order to benefit from the diversity of species out there that are deemed safe. The good news is that you can eat these species to your heart’s content without worrying about exposure to mercury.

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Moderately-Safe Species

Trout, bass, carp, halibut, lobster, snapper, freshwater perch, cod, sea trout, skate and jacksmelt are considered to be moderately-safe.  The government recommends that we try and eat less than six servings per month, and again, this is not an exhaustive list.

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Dangerous Species

The consumption of bluefish, grouper and sea bass should be limited to about 3 servings per month.  Marlin, king mackerel, orange roughy, shark and dolphin should be consumed in very small amounts or avoided altogether. 

The dangers of high mercury exposure are so numerous that it is impossible to list all of the health risks here.  However, it can contribute to birth defects, a wide-range of organ and neurological problems.  It’s also important to remember that we can be exposed to high levels of mercury in our environment as well.  This is why keeping the consumption of foods that contain mercury to a minimum is so important.  However, you shouldn’t let this scare you from eating fish.  Just be judicious and do your research so that you can enjoy their fantastic health benefits without the associated risks.   

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How to Make Soda from All Natural Ingredients

How to Make Soda from All Natural Ingredients

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Did you know that you can make sodas out of your favorite flavors without the need for a carbon dioxide dispenser?  In fact, you probably have most of the things that you need for this project in your kitchen right now.  Take a look at the following steps, and see how easy it is to start making sodas that provide a healthier alternative to what you find on store shelves.

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Preparing the Soda

The first step is to choose your ingredients or flavors.  Some people make medicinal sodas by using a blend of medicinal herbs such as oregano, sage and anise.  Others prefer to make sweet sodas with pieces of citrus, strawberries or grapes.  The possibilities are endless, and experimentation is key to unlocking all kinds of flavor choices that your family will love. 

Basically you just add a handful of your ingredients into a gallon of water in a pot.  Bring to a boil and then turn off the heat.  This will allow the water to cool slightly as you add about 1 ½ cups of sugar and stir into the mixture.  Stir slowly and continually until all of the sugar has dissolved.  Allow the liquid to cool before adding any citrus or mint to the flavor. 

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Yeast

The secret to this recipe is that you are using yeast to produce carbon dioxide which will carbonate the drinks.  For this project, we get this by adding ¼ teaspoon of yeast to the liquid.  Look for ale yeast, but bread yeast will work fine also.  You can also make your own starter culture by using some juice from sauerkraut and whey and pour that into the mix as well.  Having a starter culture established over time will give you an unlimited supply of yeast that is optimized for your sodas, but it comes with experience and through some trial and error as well. 

Once you’ve added the yeast or cultures, mix the liquid thoroughly so that everything is evenly distributed. 

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Bottling

Take a funnel and start pouring your liquid into the respective and appropriate bottles through a strainer.  The best bottles to use are the glass ones with manual pressure or flip-top locks.  They look like beer bottles with a cork on top that is connected by two brackets on either side.  These should give you adequate protection against caps or corks popping off as pressure builds inside the bottles.  These bottles will also maximize shelf life and the retention of pressure.  However, you can also use standard soda bottles as long as they are in good condition and the cap can be screwed tight.

Keep in mind that the yeast will ferment in the bottles and give off carbon dioxide which will give the soda its fizz.  This also creates pressure that can damage inferior bottles as mentioned before.  This is why it’s so important to chose the right containers for this project. 

All you need to do now is seal the caps or lids and let the bottles rest for about 24-36 hours at room temperature.  Test one or two of them for carbonation and pressure levels.  Be prepared to tweak the amount of yeast that you use for successive batches in order to find the right balance.  At the end of the day, this is a great way to produce some tasty and healthy drinks, and they will make a wonderful addition to any long-term food storage stockpile. 

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