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Dollar Stores Feed More Americans Than Whole Foods

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Dollar stores such as Dollar General and Dollar Tree (which also owns Family Dollar) are becoming a primary source of food for many families. The chains feed more Americans than Whole Foods,1 which isn’t surprising when you consider there are 30,000 Dollar General and Dollar Tree stores across the U.S. — outnumbering Walmart’s and McDonald’s’ combined — compared to 446 Whole Foods locations.

The dollar store chains also claim to have their sights on yet another 20,000 locations. The problem with this trend is that dollar stores typically do not carry fresh food; it’s primarily ultra-processed packaged foods and canned foods, which we know is a recipe for ill health in the long term.

Sadly, dollar stores specifically target urban neighborhoods and small towns where economic struggles are commonplace,2 turning these areas into food deserts as they push out smaller, already struggling grocers. As reported by Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR):3

“Although dollar stores sometimes fill a need in places that lack basic retail services, there’s growing evidence that these stores are not merely a byproduct of economic distress. They’re a cause of it.

In small towns and urban neighborhoods alike, dollar stores are leading full-service grocery stores to close. And their strategy of saturating communities with multiple outlets is making it impossible for new grocers and other local businesses to take root and grow.”

Driving this trend is the U.S. government’s subsidy of processed food, both through the Farm Bill and through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). This sets the stage for discount stores to monopolize the food market, which subsequently leads to poorer diets, higher disease rates and associated health care costs.

In truth, food subsidies and health care really cannot be separated, as the nation’s diet is a primary contributor to chronic disease and therefore drives our health care expenditures. The idea that big box stores and dollar stores are doing Americans a favor by making inexpensive food more available is a twisted one, as it’s really just making people sicker.

Racial Discrepancies

ILSR also notes that dollar stores tend to target areas based on race rather than income. Using Tulsa, Oklahoma, as an example, ILSR shows how these stores are congregated in census tracts with more African-American residents, even though there are low-income Caucasian areas as well.

“One reason for this link might be that dollar stores see an easier revenue stream in places that lack competing grocery stores,” ILSR writes. “In the case of Family Dollar, for example, ‘Food deserts’ are its sweet spot,” notes Ann Natunewicz, an analyst at Colliers International.

The absence of grocery stores is, in turn, a direct result of a history of racial discrimination by banks that have been less likely to lend to African American entrepreneurs and by supermarket chains that have tended to bypass black neighborhoods.”

How a near-total diet of ultra-processed food affects health and longevity can be seen in the city’s mortality statistics. Life expectancy in north Tulsa, which is predominantly black, is a staggering 14 years lower than that of the south. In an effort to address this disparity, Tulsa’s city council has enacted a dollar store ordinance that limits dollar stores in the northern part of Tulsa and provides incentives for full-service grocers instead. As reported by ILSR:4

“This is the first ordinance in the country to specifically target dollar stores, and its passage is being felt both locally and nationally. It’s marked a new era of political inclusion and grassroots power for the city’s African American residents. It’s also focused national attention on the growth of dollar stores and inspired other cities and towns to take steps to check their spread.

Who Benefits From Government Food Subsidizes?

In the U.S., 12.4 percent of the population, some 40 million in all as of 2017,5 live at or below the poverty line and rely on a monthly allotment of food stamps through SNAP to cover their food bill. Today, these monies are doled out once a month via electronic benefit transfer (EBT) cards.

Disturbingly, the fastest-growing group of people on food stamps are people who have jobs and work year-round. Ironically, many of them work in the very same big box stores and discount outlets that profit from the SNAP benefits their employees are forced to use due to low wages.

In 2017, the program distributed $76 billion worth of EBT transfers, and across the country there are about 240,000 retailers approved by the federal government to accept EBT cards (i.e., food stamps).

A 2014 article6 in Slate Magazine addressed a little-discussed facet of the food stamp subsidy — which stores actually profit from this program, funded by tax dollars, and how much. As it turns out, this data is actually kept confidential.

“Even basic facts such as how many food stamp dollars go to a particular store in a particular location are not publicly available,” Slate notes. “In what stores and neighborhoods are the most food stamp dollars spent? What kinds of foods do those stores promote and sell? What are the store’s business and labor practices?

The answers to those questions might help you see how food stamp subsidies are serving a community — if they’re doing what they were meant to do.”

Discount Stores Likely Gain the Most From SNAP

The confidentiality of SNAP sales information is in sharp contrast to other government programs, where you can find out how much a participating business is getting paid. What is known, however, is that sales of staple items typically spike on days when SNAP benefits are distributed, both at grocers and discount stores.

Walmart’s annual report for 2014 listed cuts in SNAP payments as a potential risk factor for declining sales, as that same year the U.S. government cut SNAP by $8 billion over the next decade.

And, according to Slate, Walmart likely receives about 18 percent of all food stamp spending in the U.S., based on the company’s own estimates, making it “the biggest single corporate beneficiary of SNAP.”7 Other players include Target, Costco, 7-Eleven and, of course, dollar stores. Slate notes:

“It’s a paradox that the more people are struggling to get by, the more valuable food stamps become for business. In 2009, the CEO of Family Dollar told shareholders that expanding in to the multibillion-dollar food stamp market represented a ‘significant opportunity’ that would help the company weather the bad economy.”

By Encouraging Junk Food, Government Subsidies Drive Rising Health Care Costs

As mentioned at the beginning, by encouraging dollar stores and other discount stores to accept EBT, the food stamp program has become a driving force of ill health. Poor people receive money to buy food, but if all that’s available in their neighborhood is dollar stores, the food they buy will be limited to ultra-processed foods that cannot support optimal health.

As a result, they get sick, and must rely on more government aid to receive health care, which then drives up those costs. The U.S. government also subsidizes junk food ingredients — commodity crops such as corn, soy and wheat — over healthy foods via the Farm Bill, despite dietary guidelines calling for healthy portions of fresh fruits and vegetables on a daily basis.

Considering this is what farmers get paid to grow, it’s no wonder that processed corn, soy and wheat products such as bread, soda, pizza, pasta, cookies and doughnuts account for a majority of calories in the U.S. diet.

Considering these foods are a primary driver of weight gain, it’s also not surprising that people who consume the most subsidized foods have a far greater risk of obesity — 37 percent greater, according to research published in 2016.8

As noted by Integrative Nutrition,9 “While the subsidies were initially implemented to support struggling farmers and to secure America’s food supply, the subsidies program has unintentionally supported the creation of a health epidemic.”

Food Subsidies Cannot Be Separated From Health Care

A September 2017 article10 in The Conversation by Dariush Mozaffarian, professor of nutrition at Tufts University, hit the nail on the head, pointing out that in order to fix America’s health care, we must make food a priority.

Cost is one of the primary challenges of most health care related issues, be it access or the expansion of Medicaid. But changing how care is delivered is never going to solve the problem of how we’re going to afford to care for everyone. We really have to shift our focus to food, as poor diet is the primary driver of chronic ill health, both in children and adults.

Research11 has shown as much as 40 percent of American health care expenditures are for diseases directly related to the overconsumption of sugar (a key staple in processed and ultra-processed food). Time magazine12 cites data13 showing food insecurity incurs $77.5 billion in added health care expenditures.

Children in food-insecure homes are also less likely to perform well academically, thereby perpetuating the cycle of poverty. Adding insult to injury, once you have a chronic disease such as diabetes, you’re less likely to be able to manage your condition well if you cannot afford real food. 

According to Mozaffarian, his research suggests poor diet is the cause of nearly half of all deaths from heart disease, stroke and diabetes in the U.S. “To put this in perspective, about twice as many Americans are estimated to die each year from eating hot dogs and other processed meats (~58,000 deaths/year) than from car accidents (~35,000 deaths/year),” Mozaffarian writes, adding:  

“It’s hard to fathom how much our country actually spends on health care: currently $3.2 trillion per year, or nearly 1 in 5 dollars in the entire U.S. economy. That’s almost $1,000 each month for every man, woman and child in the country, exceeding most people’s budgets for food, gas, housing or other common necessities …

Yet, remarkably, nutrition is virtually ignored by our health care system and in the health care debates … Traveling around the country, I find that dietary habits are not included in the electronic medical record, and doctors receive scant training on healthy eating and other lifestyle priorities.

Reimbursement standards and quality metrics rarely cover nutrition. Meanwhile, total federal spending for nutrition research across all agencies is only about $1.5 billion per year. Compare that with more than $60 billion spent per year for industry research on drugs, biotechnology and medical devices.”

Ultra-Processed Junk Food — A Sick Idea That’s Making People Ill

About 90 percent of the money Americans spend on food goes to buy processed food,14,15,16 which matches up nicely with data17 from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which suggests 90 percent of Americans don’t eat enough fresh fruits and vegetables to maintain good health.

While that’s bad enough, research18 reveals nearly 60 percent of the food Americans eat is not just processed but ultra-processed, defined as:

  • Food products containing several ingredients that are not traditionally used in cooking
  • Besides salt, sugar, oils and fats, they can include artificial flavors, colors, sweeteners and other additives “used to imitate sensorial qualities of unprocessed or minimally processed foods”
  • These ingredients may also be added “to disguise undesirable qualities of the final product”
  • Products containing preservatives and chemicals that give them an unnaturally long shelf-life

Less than 1 percent of daily calories comes from vegetables. Those ultra-processed foods account for 90 percent of the added sugar consumption in the U.S., and the dangers of eating too much added sugar have been well-established.

Research has even suggested refined non-vegetable fiber carbs such as potatoes, bagels and breakfast cereal are as risky as smoking, increasing your risk for lung cancer by as much as 49 percent.19

The 2015-2020 U.S. dietary guidelines20 even recommend limiting your sugar intake to a maximum of 10 percent of your daily calories.21 (No sugar limit was ever included in earlier guidelines.)

The difference between processed foods and ultra-processed foods in terms of sugar content is quite dramatic. The researchers found that about 2 percent of the calories in processed foods came from added sugars. By definition, unprocessed or minimally processed contained none. Ultra-processed foods, meanwhile, got 21 percent of their calories from added sugars!

Protect Your Health by Eating Real Food

There’s no doubt we have serious health epidemics on our hands — and that a majority, if not all of them, are linked to our government’s subsidy of junk food over real food, and a system that encourages the use of SNAP benefits in discount stores selling nothing but ultra-processed food.

There are no quick and easy answers here. All you can do is remember that your diet really is the foundation upon which your health is built, and that eating a processed food diet is a recipe for long-term disaster. Studies have repeatedly shown that real food is more expensive than processed fare, and there’s no denying the fact that there are areas where the only food retailers available are dollar stores and gas stations.

Still, if you have access to real food, I encourage you to take the time to learn how to cook from scratch and make the most of any leftovers. Also consider growing some of your own. To learn more, see my previous article on creating edible gardens in small spaces. I’ve also written about how you can garden during the winter. This clearly requires a bit more dedication and planning, but it can be done if you have the will.

One of the easiest foods to grow at home, even if you’re new to gardening and have limited space, is sprouts. A highly-concentrated source of enzymes, vitamins, minerals and other phytochemicals, sprouted seeds are a true superfood that many overlook. In fact, the protein, vitamin and mineral content of many sprouted seeds far surpass that of organic homegrown vegetables.

Also emphasize foods high in healthy fats, such as avocados, coconut oil, butter and nuts. The high fat content will provide you the calories you need despite smaller portions and keep you satiated longer (opposed to high-sugar, low-fat meals which will have you craving more food in a matter of hours). Healthy fats will also promote efficient fat burning and support mitochondrial health, which is essential for cellular functioning.

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Health

Bill Gates: Third Shot May Be Needed to Combat Coronavirus Variants

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With more than 40 million Americans having received at least the first dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, a third dose may be needed to prevent the spread of new variants of the disease, Bill Gates told CBS News Tuesday.

Gates’ comments come amid growing concern that the current vaccines are not effective against the more contagious Brazilian and South African variants.

Pfizer and Moderna have stated that their vaccines are 95% and 99% effective, respectively, against the initial strain of COVID. However, some scientists have questioned those statements. Additionally, the World Health Organization and vaccine companies have conceded that the vaccines do not prevent people from being infected with COVID or from transmitting it, but are only effective at reducing symptoms.

Gates told CBS Evening News:

“The discussion now is do we just need to get a super high coverage of the current vaccine, or do we need a third dose that’s just the same, or do we need a modified vaccine?”

U.S. vaccine companies are looking at making modifications, which Gates refers to as “tuning.”

People who have had two shots may need to get a third shot and people who have not yet been vaccinated would need the modified vaccine, explained Gates. When asked whether the coronavirus vaccine would be similar to the flu vaccine, which requires yearly boosters, Gates couldn’t rule that out. Until the virus is eradicated from all humans, Gates said, additional shots may be needed in the future.

AstraZeneca in particular has a challenge with the variant,” Gates explained. “And the other two, Johnson & Johnson and Novavax, are slightly less effective, but still effective enough that we absolutely should get them out as fast as we can while we study this idea of tuning the vaccine.”

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is funding the studies being conducted in Brazil and South Africa, CBS News said. The foundation has also invested in the AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson and the Novavax vaccines, which are being tested against new variants. Once the AstraZeneca vaccine is approved, the Global Alliance for Vaccine Initiative or GAVI, founded by Gates, will distribute it globally.

“Gates continues to move the goalposts,” said Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., chairman and chief legal counsel of Children’s Health Defense. “Meanwhile the strategies he and others have promoted are obliterating the global economy, demolishing the middle class, making the rich richer and censoring vaccine safety advocates, like me.”

Kennedy said that the exclusive focus on vaccines has prevented the kind of progress required to actually address and recover from the pandemic:

“From the pandemic’s outset, clear-headed people familiar with the challenges inherent in the vaccine model have understood that the path out of crisis would require multiple steps. Those steps would need to include the development and/or identification of therapeutic drugs, the sharing of information among doctors to hone improved treatment models that reduce infection mortality rates below those for flu, and the kind of broad-spectrum long-term herd immunity that protects against mutant strains and that only derives from natural infection.”

Instead, Gates and vaccine makers are proposing a lifetime of boosters, supporting insufficient testing to determine safety and failing to address the inadequate monitoring of vaccine injuries, Kennedy said.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Children’s Health Defense.

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Young nurse suffers from hemorrhage and brain swelling after second dose of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine

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(Natural News) A 28-year-old healthcare worker from the Swedish American Hospital, in Beloit, Wisconsin was recently admitted to the ICU just five days after receiving a second dose of Pfizer’s experimental mRNA vaccine. The previously healthy young woman was pronounced brain dead after cerebral angiography confirmed a severe hemorrhage stroke in her brain stem.

Her family members confirmed that she was “breaking out in rashes” after the vaccine. She also suffered from sudden migraine headaches, and got “sick” after taking the second dose of the vaccine. At the very end, she lost the ability to speak and went unconscious. The migraines, nausea, and loss of speech were all symptoms of a brain bleed and brain swelling, something her family did not understand at the time, and something nobody would expect after vaccination.

While on life support, neurologists used angiography to image the damage inside the brain. They found a subarachnoid hemorrhage, whereas a bulging blood vessel burst in the brain, bleeding out in the space between the brain and the tissue covering the brain. The ensuing swelling cut off oxygen to the brain and caused brain death. On February 10, 2021, Sarah reportedly had “no brain activity.” Some of the woman’s organs are now being procured, so they can be donated to other people around the world.

Doctors warn FDA about COVID vaccines causing autoimmune attacks in the heart and brain

Experimental COVID-19 vaccines may cause inflammation along the cardiovascular system, leading to heart attack and/or stroke. This serious issue was brought forth to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) by Dr. J. Patrick Whelan, M.D., Ph.D. and further confirmed by cardiothoracic surgeon, Dr. Hooman Noorchashm, M.D., Ph.D. The two doctors warned that a recently-infected patient who is subject to COVID-19 vaccination is likely to suffer from autoimmune attacks along the ACE-2 receptors present in the heart, and in the microvasculature of the brain, liver and kidney. If viral antigens are present in the tissues of recipients at the time of vaccination, the vaccine-augmented immune response will turn the immune system against those tissues, causing inflammation that can lead to blood clot formation.

This severe adverse event is likely cause of death for the elderly who are vaccinated despite recently being infected. There is no adequate screening process to ensure that this autoimmune attack doesn’t occur. The elderly are not the only people vulnerable to vaccine injury and death. Pfizer’s experimental COVID-19 vaccine could be the main cause behind the sudden death of Sarah Sickles, a 28-year-old nurse from Wisconsin. The Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System has captured five permanent disabilities in Wisconsin, 58 ER visits, and eleven deaths in just one month. This is the first case in Wisconsin of someone under 44 years of age suffering from severe COVID-19 vaccine side effects and death. There are now more than 1,170 deaths recorded in the U.S. related to the experimental mRNA vaccines, a reality that the FDA and CDC continue to ignore.

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Powering hypersonic weapons: US armed forces eyeing dangerous 5G tech

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(Natural News) Much of the conversation surrounding the benefits of 5G is geared toward the consumer side of the technology. People will be able to download videos at lightning speed and will be more connected than ever, proponents claim, although there are serious questions regarding its safety. However, some of the most important 5G applications are not civil at all – the technology will be used extensively in the military domain.

Some of its military uses are outlined in the Defense Applications of 5G Network Technology report, which was published by the Defense Science Board. This federal committee gives scientific advice to the Pentagon. Their report states: “The emergence of 5G technology, now commercially available, offers the Department of Defense the opportunity to take advantage, at minimal cost, of the benefits of this system for its own operational requirements.”

The 5G commercial network that is being built by private companies right now can be used by the American military for a much lower cost than if the network had been set up exclusively for military purposes.

Military experts expect the 5G system to play a pivotal role in using hypersonic weapons. For example, it can be used for new missiles that bear nuclear warheads and travel at speeds superior to Mach 5. These hypersonic weapons, which travel at five times the speed of sound and move a mile per second, will be flying at high altitudes on unpredictable flight paths, making them as hard to guide as they will be to intercept.

Huge quantities of data need to be gathered and transmitted in a very short period in order to maneuver these warheads on variable trajectories and allow them to change direction in milliseconds to avoid interceptor missiles.

5G for defense

This type of technology is also needed to activate defenses should we be attacked by a weapon of this type; 5G automatic systems could theoretically handle decisions that humans won’t have enough time to make on their own. Military bases and even cities will have less than a minute to react to incoming hypersonic missiles, and 5G will make it easier to process real time data on trajectories for decision-making.

There are also important uses of this technology in combat. 5G’s ability to simultaneously link millions of transceivers will undoubtedly facilitate communication among military personnel and allow them to transmit photos, maps and other vital information about operations in progress at dizzying speeds to improve situational awareness.

The military can also take advantage of the high-frequency and short-wavelength millimeter wave spectrum used by 5G. Its short range means that it is well suited for smart military bases and command posts because the signal will not propagate too far, making it less likely that enemies will be able to detect it.

When it comes to special forces and secret services, the benefits of 5G are numerous. Its speed and connectivity will allow espionage systems to reach unprecedented levels of efficiency. It will also make drones more dangerous by allowing them to identify and target people using facial recognition and other methods.

Like all technology, 5G will also make us highly vulnerable. The network itself could become an attractive target for cyber-attacks and other acts of war being carried out with cutting-edge weaponry. In fact, the 5G network is already viewed as critical infrastructure and is being carefully protected before it is even fully built.

While the focus on 5G’s dangers to human health and the environment is absolutely warranted, it is also important not to lose sight of the military implications of 5G. After all, it is not just the United States that is developing this technology for military purposes; our enemies, like China and other countries, are also making great strides in this realm.

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