Labels, labels, everywhere! What do they all mean?

Organic. Natural. Hormone-free. Gluten free. Today’s consumers are assaulted with a variety of labels that companies are using to promote their products. However, a study by extension specialists at Texas A&M AgriLife shows that most consumers don’t have a clue what some of those labels mean, and some may make ill-informed choices based on the labels. They have created a new program called Path to the Plate to help debunk some myths and demystify labels for the curious shopper.

Most people who read labels do so to make the best choices for their own health or the health of their families. Many consumer lobby groups have taken their charge to the Internet or to social media to laud or vilify certain types of production practices. “Organic,” for instance, is praised, while “GMO” is criticized. As a result, many consumers concerned about their health look for organic, non-GMO products. Continue reading

The cascade effect of invasive species: how one exotic species led to a disease risk in Florida

in the New York Times

Sometime in the 1980s, it became cool to own a pet reptile in Florida. Cooler still was owning one from far away, like from Madagascar, Egypt or Burma. The more exotic, the better. Thousands of cold-blooded creatures moved through Miami’s international airport to their new glass-box homes.

The Burmese python — which can be draped around a neck — was especially popular. A baby python is just 10 inches in length. Much to the surprise of some of their owners, those babies could grow up to 20 times that size. Continue reading