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4 myths debunked about outdoor play and children’s health

by Katherine Martinko (@feistyredhair)

baby in sled

© K Martinko

Enough with the old wives’ tales that have kept kids indoors long enough! It’s time to fight back with facts.

There are all sorts of strange old wives’ tales surrounding outdoor play and children. We shout things at our little ones, warning them of terrible health issues that could arise if they dare go outside with wet hair, with full bellies, with coats unzipped and hats off. These warning phrases have been repeated for generations, and are so ingrained in our minds that many of us younger parents reiterate them, without stopping to question whether or not they actually make sense.

The time has come to debunk these myths, because North American kids and their parents need every bit encouragement to spend time outside — not outdated and unfounded beliefs that make them think it’s not safe.

1. Colds

Kids do not catch colds from the cold. The common cold is a “viral upper respiratory tract infection,” which means it comes from a virus, caught through contact with other humans. If there are no viruses around, you will not catch a cold, no matter how cold you get.

There is truth, however, in the fact that cold weather can impede the body’s ability to fight off a cold and make it more susceptible to catching a cold when the child comes into contact with the virus.

Ironically, staying indoors usually means more contact with other people, which creates more opportunities for the pathogens to spread, as does decreased humidity (which dried out protective mucus in the nose) and reduced vitamin D.

If your kid does catch a cold, then don’t make him to stay in bed. Even the National Center for Biotechnology Information states, “In winter, children with colds can still play outside.”

2. Fever

If your child has a low-grade fever, it won’t make the fever worse to let him or her play outside. As long as a kid isn’t too sick to get out of bed, they should be allowed to burn off some restless energy in fresh air for short periods of time. Pediatrician Andrew Adesman, author of Babyfacts, writes:

“People sometimes get a little nutty around fever; we go out of our way to suppress it. But fever is our friend; it’s helping fight infection. And children can have a fever as high as 105 degrees without serious risk of harm. Parents also keep kids inside with fever, but those with a low-grade fever can go outside and play if they feel like it.”

If outdoor play and fresh air helps a child to sleep better, then exposure could be beneficial. You could even let your feverish child sleep outdoors.

3. Cramps & Drowning

I first discovered this myth when I moved to Sardinia, Italy. My host parents insisted that it was unsafe to swim, shower, or bathe for one hour after eating because I might get terrible cramps and drown or collapse on the shower floor. I’d never heard of such a thing before. It turns out, they’re wrong.

While cramping after eating is indeed a possibility, there don’t seem to be any links to drowning, nor do the American Academy of Pediatrics or the Red Cross acknowledge such a connection. From MedicineNet:

“While it’s true that the digestive process does divert the circulation of the blood toward the gut and to a certain extent, away from the muscles, the fact is that an episode of drowning caused by swimming on a full stomach has never been documented.”

4. Ear Infections

If your child goes outside with their head uncovered, they will not develop an ear infection. They might just have a cold head. According to Dr. William Mesibov, who specializes in debunking old wives’ tales about medical issues, ear infections are caused exclusively by germs. They occur in the middle ear, which is completely protected from the outside world, and are not the result of exposure to cold or windy environments.

“Germs invade the middle ear cavity only when mucus or swollen adenoids block the Eustachian tube. And that happens only as a result of a cold or allergies, not because of exposure to dampness or inclement weather.”

So, parents, you have nothing to fear, nor excuses to use! Send those kids outside to play all winter long.

Tags: Diseases | Health | Health Care | Healthy Home | Kids


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Cary in the Sky with Diamonds – Acid before Owsley and Kesey


Before Timothy Leary and the Beatles, LSD was largely unknown and unregulated. But in the 1950s, as many as 100 Hollywood luminaries—Cary Grant and Esther Williams among them—began taking the drug as part of psychotherapy. With LSD research beginning a comeback, the authors recount how two Beverly Hills doctors promoted a new “wonder drug,” at $100 a session, profoundly altering the lives of their glamorous patients, Balaban included.
Cary Grant and third wife Betsy Drake on location for their 1952 movie, Room for One More. Opposite, at home in the 1950s. Her experiences with LSD therapy led him to try it. Photographs: Left, from The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences; Right, from The Everett Collection.

Our story is set in the years before Mad Men, when Eisenhower was in the White House and America had only 48 states. Our stage is Beverly Hills, still a small town in 1958, where movie stars and other entertainment-industry leaders led active but traditional, even somewhat constrained social lives.

There was a zone of privacy in that time and place we can’t begin to imagine today. Money, emotional traumas, and personal doubts were simply not discussed, even by the closest of friends. Appearances were accepted as reality, so people kept very busy making sure every aspect of their lives looked correct. That didn’t mean having the most lavish house, the heftiest jewels, or the largest private plane, as it came to in later decades. It did mean dressing, behaving, and speaking appropriately; appearing to be happily married, in love, or looking for love en route to marriage; not complaining about one’s career or annual income; and being enormously ambitious without evidencing any ambition whatsoever.

Social lives were just as circumspect. Dinners were small A-list gatherings at Chasen’s, Romanoff’s, Don the Beachcomber, or poolside barbecues at private homes. The most visible scandals arose when dancing partners who were married—but not to each other—indulged in excessive caresses or when someone (almost always a man) drank too much, though boozy belligerence and even outright drunkenness were rare to invisible.

Almost everyone smoked carton-loads of regular cigarettes, but a “joint” was a body part or a lower-class dive. If people were “doing lines,” you’d have guessed they were writing screenplay dialogue or song lyrics. And if you mentioned “acid,” you’d mean citrus juice or a stomach problem. Nobody in Hollywood—or almost anywhere else in the United States—had ever heard of LSD, lysergic acid diethylamide. Timothy Leary wouldn’t even pop his first mushroom until 1960. So it was very out of character that against this background a group of more than 100 Hollywood-establishment types began ingesting little azure pills that resembled cake decorations as an adjunct to psychotherapy.

“When I’d say I was in therapy with a doctor using LSD, people thought I was talking about World War II landing ships”—L.S.T.’s—remembers Judy Balaban, the daughter of longtime Paramount Pictures president Barney Balaban. She didn’t know much about LSD when she started taking it, in the late 50s, but, she laughingly says, “I figured if it was good enough for Cary Grant, it was good enough for me!”

If appearances were important to those behind the camera, they were crucial to stars of the big screen. And as far as the public of 1958 was concerned, Betsy Drake and Cary Grant had “perfected the ideal living pattern” after eight years of wedded bliss. According to the fan magazines, theirs had been a fairy-tale romance: Cary had seen Betsy on the London stage in 1947, and then, when they both serendipitously found themselves on the Queen Mary returning to the States, he begged a friend, the movie star Merle Oberon, to arrange an introduction. After an intense several days on shipboard, Betsy bolted into New York City, but Cary sought her out. Within months he had persuaded her to move to Los Angeles, where she signed with RKO and David O. Selznick and then burst to screen stardom opposite Grant in Every Girl Should Be Married. The Los Angeles Timesproclaimed her “the freshest, most distinctive personality since [Jean] Arthur,” and Hollywood columnist Hedda Hopper declared her to be “at the threshold of a brilliant career.”

Grant and Drake made headlines when they flew to Arizona to elope on Christmas Day 1949 with their pilot and Cary’s best man, Howard Hughes. Betsy made a few more films before she decided to put her marriage ahead of her career. Determined to be a successful wife, she sought ways to become indispensable to a man who already had a secretary and valet. She developed into a great cook and became his trusted sounding board. She studied hypnosis and, at Cary’s urging, helped both of them to stop smoking, but when he asked her to do the same for his drinking, she agreed to banish only hard liquor and not the wine and beer she enjoyed.

Betsy was beseeched for her advice on how to have a happy marriage, and newspapers and magazines praised the couple’s simple yet complete lives, at their homes in Palm Springs and Beverly Hills or on location. She was at his side in Cannes in 1954 while he made To Catch a Thief with Alfred Hitchcock, and then she went to Spain to join him on the set of The Pride and the Passion. But it was there she realized her husband was falling in love with his co-star Sophia Loren. When Loren came to America not long afterward to star with Grant in Houseboat, it was clear to Betsy that her marriage was over.

Behind the smiling pictures, Betsy was miserable. Though still in love with Grant, she tried to find the strength to leave him, but her shattered childhood had given her no psychic grounding to weather this rejection. She had been born in Paris in 1923 to wealthy parents—her grandfather had built Chicago’s Drake and Blackstone hotels—and the family was living the good life in France alongside the Hemingways and other American expatriates. But following the crash of 1929 the Drakes returned to Chicago, where Betsy was ensconced at the Drake with a nanny while her parents lived at the Blackstone and worked at writing a play. They soon divorced and Betsy’s mother suffered a nervous breakdown; Betsy spent the rest of her childhood being shuttled among relatives in Washington, D.C., Virginia, and Connecticut.

Without realizing it, Betsy found solace in acting; when she answered the phone pretending to be someone else, the stutter that plagued her miraculously vanished. But it wasn’t until she appeared in a school play and the audience burst out in “this wonderful laughter” that she felt an approval she had never known before.

Dropping out of high school, she made the rounds of New York agents and auditions, modeling and understudying on Broadway until she was cast by Elia Kazan for a production of Deep Are the Roots, opposite Gordon Heath, opening in London. It was there that Cary had seen her, but taken as she was with him, she was also afraid. Betsy had had lovers before, but she resisted marriage, in large part because of what she had witnessed at home. Yet Cary was so persistent in his courting that she became convinced he was the anchor she had been seeking all her life. Twenty years her senior, he became “my lover, my husband, my everything.”

With her marriage now in tatters, Betsy knew she had to talk to someone and, swearing her friend Sallie Brophy to secrecy, poured out her heart. Sallie, a stage and television actress who had suffered from depression since childhood, told Betsy that she was trying a new kind of therapy with a wonder drug that had the power to break through to the subconscious. She insisted that Betsy meet her therapist, but when they arrived at his Beverly Hills office, Betsy refused to get out of the car. So Sallie went inside and brought the doctor out. He talked to Betsy through the open car window:

“You are desperate, right?”

Betsy nodded.

“Well, then why not give this a try?”

Hardly the most persuasive argument—or the most thorough intake interview—but Betsy saw the logic and agreed to come back the next morning. She was feeling somewhat more hopeful that night when she joined Cary, Clifford Odets, and Jascha Heifetz for dinner at Chasen’s. She told them, “Tomorrow I am going to take LSD.” But the men looked at her blankly and then went on with their conversation. “They didn’t know what I was talking about,” she says. “No one had heard of it.”

“I Had a Strange Feeling…”

Twenty years earlier, in 1938, a 32-year-old Swiss chemist named Albert Hofmann had synthesized the concoction while experimenting with fungus in search of a stimulant for the central nervous system. “I had a strange feeling that it would be worthwhile to carry out more profound studies,” Hofmann later said. After trying the drug himself, first by mistake and then intentionally, he added, “I became aware of the wonder of creation, the magnificence of nature.”

He labeled the chemical LSD-25, because it had been the 25th variation in his experiments. His employer, Sandoz laboratories (now a subsidiary of Novartis), began providing the substance to researchers in hopes of finding profitable applications. By the mid-1950s, the C.I.A., the U.S. Army, the Canadian government, and Britain’s M.I.6 had all jumped in, hoping LSD would serve as a truth serum or a new method of chemical warfare. Prisons and the military provided fertile and secret testing grounds. Other practitioners, varying widely in their legitimacy, experimented on derelicts, terminal cancer patients, residents of veterans’ hospitals, and college students. Within the psychiatric profession word spread that LSD held the potential to cure alcoholism, schizophrenia, shell shock (now known as post-traumatic stress disorder), and a wide range of other problems. Between 1950 and 1965, a reported 40,000 people worldwide would be tested or “treated” with LSD.

Sandoz was so loose with its requirements for obtaining the drug that when Oscar Janiger, a Los Angeles psychiatrist, wrote the company in the mid-1950s asking for a supply to give to consenting patients, on whose experiences he would then report, he was sent his own private stock of LSD. Artists told other artists, ministers told other ministers, and the good doctor was soon spending most of his time hosting experiments. Along with Dr. Sidney Cohen, Janiger expanded his efforts into a “creativity” study through U.C.L.A., where writers, painters, and musicians such as André Previn experimented with the drug.

Aldous Huxley, the renowned author of Brave New World and The Doors of Perception,was one of the first in Los Angeles to take LSD and was soon joined by others including the writer Anaïs Nin. The screenwriter Charles Brackett discovered “infinitely more pleasure” from music on LSD than he ever had before, and the director Sidney Lumet tried it under the supervision of a former chief of psychiatry for the U.S. Navy. Lumet says his three sessions were “wonderful,” especially the one where he relived his birth and, after checking with his father, learned that the experience was factually accurate, not simply symbolic. Another early experimenter was Clare Boothe Luce, the playwright and former American ambassador to Italy, who in turn encouraged her husband, Time publisher Henry Luce, to try LSD. He was impressed and several very positive articles about the drug’s potential ran in his magazine in the late 50s and early 60s, praising Sandoz’s “spotless” laboratories, “meticulous” scientists, and LSD itself as “an invaluable weapon to psychiatrists.”

It was in the mid-1950s that Sallie Brophy’s therapist, Mortimer Hartman, began experimenting with LSD. A radiologist, he had undergone five years of Freudian analysis and was thrilled to find a drug that seemed to let the unconscious burst to the forefront, instantaneously dissolving the ego instead of slowly peeling it away layer by layer. Claiming LSD “intensifies emotion and memory a hundred times,” as Hartman told Look magazine in 1959, he became so enamored with the drug that he shifted away from radiology and joined forces with the psychiatrist Arthur Chandler to create the sedate yet pretentiously named Psychiatric Institute of Beverly Hills. Their next step was to secure a direct source of the drug from Sandoz for what they said would be a five-year study of LSD as a catalyst in the treatment of—as they affectionately named this new class of patients—“garden-variety neurotics.”

The tall and gangly Hartman opened his institute on Beverly Hills’ exclusive Lasky Drive. The rooms were furnished with sofas and decorated in what one patient remembers as “inexpensive and undistinguished browns and beiges,” with wood paneling halfway up the walls. Hartman and Chandler were partners, but Chandler, whom another patient describes as looking like “an unfunny Walter Matthau,” continued to work out of his house off Coldwater Canyon. In the words of a doctor who knew them both, Chandler served as a “drag” on the potentially “grandiose and messianic” Hartman, who was, after all, a doctor, but not a trained psychiatrist.

At most universities and hospitals, students and volunteers were paid for their willingness to test LSD, but Hartman and Chandler reversed the equation, and even though they saw only a few patients a day, the doctors were paid very well for their time. Aldous Huxley wrote to a friend that he found it “profoundly disturbing” to meet “two Beverly Hills psychiatrists … who specialize in LSD therapy at $100 a shot—really, I have seldom met people of lower sensitivity, more vulgar mind!”

Yet the two treatment rooms at the Psychiatric Institute were soon booked five days a week after patients such as Sallie Brophy began recommending the therapy to friends such as Betsy Drake. Shown into one of the small rooms and told to lie on the couch in the corner, Betsy was given a pair of blinders to wear to block out any distractions. Assured that the tiny blue dots in the little white paper cup came straight from the Sandoz laboratories, she was soon feeling a “horrible crushing,” and, in very real physical pain, she realized she was re-experiencing her own birth. The session lasted several hours and she was given a Seconal to “bring me down” slowly. Enthused by what she considered an incredible experience, Betsy went home and called her mother, with whom she hadn’t spoken in more than a decade. “I told her, ‘I love you,’ and after all that time, she just said, ‘Of course you do, darling,’ and hung up.”

The failure to reconnect in a meaningful way with her mother didn’t dampen Betsy’s optimism about the therapy. Fifty years later, sitting in her cozy London home with her bobbed hair now gray but her high cheekbones and radiant smile evidence of her long-ago stardom, she says her memories of her experiences under LSD are still crystal-clear, the revelations still vivid. The unconscious, she says, “is like a vast ocean. You don’t know where you are going to go. There is no past, present, and future—all time is now. The amazing thing about the drug is the things you see. The palm trees look different. Everything looks different, and it teaches you so much.”

Once a week for several months, Drake returned to Hartman’s office for her sessions and her LSD, arriving at eight A.M. and staying until as late as seven at night. Like a dentist leaving a patient after administering novocaine, Hartman was in and out of the room, sometimes putting on music to enhance the atmosphere. Because it was mandated that patients not drive themselves home, friends such as Judy Balaban picked her up.

Judy was only 26, but she had been married for six years to Jay Kanter, agent to stars such as Marlon Brando, Gregory Peck, Marilyn Monroe, and Grace Kelly, who were also close friends. (Judy had served as a bridesmaid at Kelly’s royal wedding, in Monaco.) Judy and Jay had two young daughters, and friends assumed her family was as perfect as it looked, but she was troubled by the sense that her life had become perfunctory, and she felt unconnected to her children. This hidden dissatisfaction with outwardly happy lives was a common theme among Betsy and Judy’s circle of friends, which also included the actress Polly Bergen (recently seen on Desperate Housewives as Felicity Huffman’s mother), who was married to agent Freddie Fields, founder of the precursor to ICM; Linda Lawson, a rising ingenue who was dating and would eventually marry the agent and future producer John Foreman (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid); and Marion Marshall, an actress who had recently divorced the director Stanley Donen and would go on to marry the actor Robert Wagner.

In some sense, all these women were living the lives they had been raised to think they wanted. John Foreman later summarized the classic conundrum of marriages in the 1950s: “The guy rides up on a white horse, sweeps the girl off her feet, and says, ‘Marry me and I’ll give you everything you want.’ Years pass and the wife comes to the painful conclusion that she is miserable. ‘Why are you unhappy?’ asks the husband. ‘What do you want?’ ‘I don’t know,’ the wife responds helplessly. ‘I thought you knew and were going to give it to me.’ ”

A few of these women had tried analysis, but none had ever been given prescriptions from their psychiatrists. Yet LSD was seen as a powerful tool to break through confusion and inhibition. As Bergen says, “I wanted to be the person, not the persona,” and what attracted her to LSD therapy was “this possibility of a magic wand” that would force her to open up. Marshall, who went to Hartman’s office once a week for about a year, is quick to point out that she never thought of the regimen as “taking a drug. It was therapy. It was what my doctor told me to do, so I did it.”

Their descriptions of their experiences on LSD can sound today like a rehash of New Age clichés, but at the time—before the Beatles and the Jefferson Airplane were literally singing the praises of psychedelic drugs, before every college student was reading Carlos Castaneda—their perceptions were fresh and revelatory. Like Sidney Lumet and Betsy Drake, Judy relived her birth and often felt during therapy as if she had left her body and “fused” with the universe. “You experienced this otherworld consciousness and became part of what I imagined was ‘the infinite mind of man.’ ”

Linda Lawson was unprepared when she took the little blue dots, put on her blinders, and was soon suffering “a burst of rage and sobbing.” She was once again a 13-year-old girl, reliving the death of her father, “who had never raised his voice and was always so loving” but had left her to live with a mother who she felt didn’t know how to love her. In grappling with her issues of abandonment, Linda grew so trusting of Hartman (she found him “sweet, if a bit skeletal”) that when he urged her to move in with John Foreman she did so. And when the doctor added Ritalin—a stimulant that can affect brain chemistry—to her regimen, she didn’t question him.

“My Wise Mahatma”

Cary Grant’s initial impetus for visiting Dr. Hartman was a concern about what his wife might be saying about him. Grant methodically cultivated his debonair image and had been a leading man for more than 25 years. It was an unparalleled achievement, all the more remarkable because he had accomplished it by creating his persona out of whole cloth. He was a poor and emotionally abused boy of 14 named Archie Leach when he left his Bristol, England, home several years after his mother had simply disappeared; it would be decades before he discovered she had been institutionalized, possibly by his father, who had another family on the side. Grant came to America as an acrobat, soon began acting on the stage, and was famously “discovered” in 1932 by Mae West, who gave him his first featured film role, in She Done Him Wrong. He had transformed himself with a new accent and educated himself about art, clothes, and etiquette, in the process becoming the proverbial man of the world whom every woman wants and every man wants to be. He had perfected his exterior beyond his wildest dreams, but the inside was something else again. His self-deprecating remark “Everyone wants to be Cary Grant—even I want to be Cary Grant” had more than a ring of truth to it.

At the time he began treatment with Dr. Hartman he was 55 and separated from Betsy, his third wife. His first marriage, to the actress Virginia Cherrill, had lasted only a year, and his marriage to the Woolworth heiress Barbara Hutton ended after three years. (He was the only one of her eventual seven husbands not to take money from her.) Cary remained friends with Betsy, sometimes even staying with her for weekends, but Betsy was busy trying to reclaim her own life. He may not have been aware of how devastated she was by their breakup, but he did know there was a very real void in his own life.

Leery of doctors, in part because he believed Barbara Hutton’s hypochondria had led to unnecessary operations and pain, Cary was not ready to be impressed with Hartman. Yet he quickly became intrigued, started calling the doctor “my wise Mahatma,” and began what would be some 100 therapy sessions over several years.

There is no question that, at least for a period of time, LSD truly transformed Cary Grant. “When I first started under LSD, I found myself turning and turning on the couch,” he later told a friendly reporter. “I said to the doctor, ‘Why am I turning around on this sofa?’ and he said ‘Don’t you know why?’ and I said I didn’t have the vaguest idea, but I wondered when it was going to stop. ‘When you stop it,’ he answered. Well, it was like a revelation to me, taking complete responsibility for one’s own actions. I thought ‘I’m unscrewing myself.’ That’s why people use the phrase, ‘all screwed up.’ ”

Few of the participants mentioned their drug therapy to friends who weren’t also in therapy. They did, however, talk with one another; as Judy Balaban says, “What I had with Cary and Betsy was a kind of soul-baringness that the culture didn’t start to deal with until years later. We continued to have that even when our lives went off in different directions.” When the actor Patrick O’Neal asked Judy about LSD during a dinner party at Oscar Levant’s house, she started to explain, but Oscar interrupted with his own pithy summation: “Patrick, you don’t get it. Judy was taking LSD for exactly the opposite reason you and I take stuff. She is trying to find out about things. You and I are trying to obliterate them.”

Yet that was a conversation among a small group of close friends. Beyond scientific journals and mentions in Time magazine, there was still little information about LSD available to the public. Then, much to his friends’ surprise, Cary Grant began talking about his therapy in public, lamenting, “Oh those wasted years, why didn’t I do this sooner?”

This kind of sharing, as we might now call it, was very out of character for a man to whom his carefully cultivated image was so important that he had maintained more than 20 scrapbooks of the international coverage he had received. When he started taking LSD he stopped saving articles, even though there were dozens of interesting new ones he could have cut and pasted into those blank pages.

“The Curious Story Behind the New Cary Grant” headlined the September 1, 1959, issue of Look magazine, and inside was a glowing account of how, because of LSD therapy, “at last, I am close to happiness.” He later explained that “I wanted to rid myself of all my hypocrisies. I wanted to work through the events of my childhood, my relationship with my parents and my former wives. I did not want to spend years in analysis.” More articles followed, and LSD even received a variation of the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval when that magazine declared in its September 1960 issue that it was one of the secrets of Grant’s “second youth.” The magazine went on to praise him for “courageously permitting himself to be one of the subjects of a psychiatric experiment with a drug that eventually may become an important tool in psychotherapy.”

Many reading those articles had to be intrigued, but MGM’s great aqua diva, Esther Williams, was one of the few who could pick up the phone, call Cary, and have him invite her over to discuss it. Williams had captivated audiences with her dazzling smile, her synchronized swimming, and her perfect athletic body in films such as Million Dollar Mermaid and Dangerous When Wet,but now she was in her late 30s and had just been through a wrenching divorce, only to discover that her now ex-husband had spent all her earnings and left her with a huge debt to the I.R.S. As she put it in her autobiography, “At that point, I really didn’t know who I was. Was I that glamorous femme fatale?… Was I just another broken-down divorcée whose husband left her with all the bills and three kids?”

Now here was Cary Grant saying, “I know that, all my life, I’ve been going around in a fog. You’re just a bunch of molecules until you know who you are.” In a fog. That was exactly how Esther was feeling, and she was desperate to break through it. Cary warned her, “It takes a lot of courage to take this drug,” because “it’s a tremendous jolt to your mind, to your ego.” After Williams assured him she had “to find some answers, fast,” Grant agreed to introduce her to Dr. Hartman.

Esther, who has lived for years in Beverly Hills with her longtime husband, Ed Bell, still has a swimming pool and still remembers her experience with LSD vividly. She eagerly took her little blue pills and was thrilled to discover that “with my eyes closed, I felt my tension and resistance ease away as the hallucinogen swept through me. Then, without warning, I went right to the place where the pain lay in my psyche.” She returned to the day when she was 8 years old and her beloved 16-year-old brother, Stanton, died. The family had moved from Kansas to Los Angeles, convinced Stanton was destined for stardom, and his death devastated each family member in different ways. Under LSD, Esther saw “my father’s face as a ceramic plate. Almost instantly, it splintered into a million tiny pieces, like a windshield when a rock goes through it.” Then she saw her mother’s face on that terrible day, and “all the emotion had drained out of her, and her soft, kindly features had hardened.”

During the session Esther realized—“observing it from a distance as if I were acting in or watching a movie”—that ever since the day her brother had died her life had been consumed by the necessity to replace him in every sense of the word, and “suddenly this little girl was in a race against time to be an adult.”

Exhausted but calm, Esther left the doctor’s office and returned to her Mandeville Canyon home, where her parents, still emotionally broken by Stanton’s death, were waiting to have dinner with her. She “understood them that night in a profound way, and while I sympathized, I was also sickened by their weakness and their resignation. I saw that they both simply had given up, which, no matter what life had in store for me, was something I could never and would never do.”

But the evening wasn’t over for Esther. After she had said good night to her parents, she went to her bedroom, undressed, and washed. When she looked in the mirror, “I was startled by a split image: One half of my face, the right half, was me; the other half was the face of a sixteen-year-old boy. The left side of my upper body was flat and muscular.… I reached up with my boy’s large, clumsy hand to touch my right breast and felt my penis stirring. It was a hermaphroditic phantasm.” Esther has no recollection of how long she stood there, but there was no question that now “I understood perfectly: when Stanton had died, I had taken him into my life so completely that he became a part of me.”

“Well, Let’s Just End This”

For Esther Williams, Cary Grant, Betsy Drake, and many others, the experience of taking LSD had a profound effect on them. Over and over in interviews, former patients recounted how it changed their perception of the universe and of their place in it. Most agreed with Sidney Lumet, who says LSD provided “remarkable revelations” he continues to consider very useful to this day. Yet, in many cases, their experiences were not all positive, sometimes because of unexpected reactions to the drug, sometimes because of odd, even irresponsible actions by the therapists, who were in uncharted waters, way beyond normal medical protocols.

Marion Marshall had a frightening session where she was convinced a huge black-widow spider was going to attack her. She pulled off her mask to talk to Hartman, and when she told him what was happening, he said, “Well, let’s just end this.” But Marion insisted, “No, I am going to go back and face it.” She put her blinders back on, and “it turned into the best session I ever had. I faced my fears, whatever they were. It was like the death experience that people describe; all of a sudden everything was white and wonderful.”

She had won her revelation in spite of Hartman, who was even less helpful during what turned out to be Judy Balaban’s last experience with LSD. “It started out like all my sessions,” she recalls. “I went into the fusion [with the universe] state and got all the way out there, no longer connected to my body. But suddenly I hit the dysphoric side rather than the euphoric side I’d always gone to, and I was scared for the first time in eight months. I wanted to return to my body, but couldn’t. I was so disconnected I couldn’t even make my mouth work. Usually when you were fused, you could speak if you needed to. Not this time. After a couple of minutes of silence that felt like a year, Hartman said, ‘I don’t know where you are, kid …you’re on your own!’

“You’re on your own! Now I was really terrified! I’m stuck in this abstract universe, disconnected from my body, and no one knows how I can get back to myself! He gave me a shiny yellow pill—Compazine, I think—but it took several more hours for me to reconnect my body and my mind. I didn’t blame Hartman for putting me there, but I did blame him for abandoning me verbally. For months afterward, usually at night, I would return to that fused state and be afraid I couldn’t get back into myself. Finally, another doctor taught me how to breathe properly when an incident began, and then I was able to stop it before it took hold of me. I never had even a hint of another one again.”

Polly Bergen had been going to Dr. Chandler’s house once a week for several months, but when the little blue pills didn’t seem to work anymore, he gave her injections of Ritalin. “Because I don’t seem to have available veins elsewhere, he shot it into my hand, and when it didn’t go into my veins, I watched as my hand started to swell with fluid. All the while he kept talking on and on about his own experiences. I had to tell him it wasn’t working, and he took the needle out, but that’s when I realized I was being treated by someone who was high, stoned, completely gone.”

Having lost all confidence in Chandler, Polly stopped seeing him, but periodically she “started disappearing into this dreamlike state, not actually leaving my body, but reliving these experiences: being born, being a child in a crib.” The flashbacks scared her, and they didn’t stop until she and her husband sat down with another psychiatrist, who explained the drug and its effects, something Chandler had never done.

Linda Lawson kept trying to see the positive side of her treatments until, during one of her sessions, she heard the tinkling of glass. She lifted her blinders to see where the noise was coming from and saw Chandler “playing with these pieces of glass, making a mosaic. He was stoned and just somewhere else entirely.” That did it for Linda, but occasionally she would visit him “just to sit up and talk,” concluding that “he was probably a very good therapist before he started getting so stoned himself.”

“Too Much of a Good Thing”

Betsy Drake credits LSD therapy with “giving me the courage to leave my husband” and, for the first time, to truly speak her mind. “After an LSD session, one morning in bed while we were both having breakfast, Cary asked me a question and I said, ‘Go fuck yourself.’ He jumped out of bed, buttoning the top of his pajamas, his bare bottom showing, and slammed the bathroom door. That was the true beginning of the end.”

She and Cary were divorced in 1962 after 13 years of marriage—his longest—but they remained friendly for the rest of his life. The therapy had intensified her interest in the mental-health field; she began volunteering, then studying, at U.C.LA.’s Neuropsychiatric Institute and other Los Angeles hospitals. In the early 70s she published a novel and enrolled at Harvard, earning a master’s of education in psychology, specializing in psychodrama therapy, where patients act out problems instead of discussing them.

Cary continued to sing the praises of LSD, and his belief in it was evidenced by the fact he left Dr. Hartman $10,000 in his will. But when the actress Dyan Cannon divorced Grant in 1968, after less than three years of marriage, LSD was used against him. In seeking custody of their daughter, Jennifer, Cannon’s lawyers claimed that he was “an unfit father” because of his use of the drug and his resulting “instability.” However, when the respected psychiatrist Judd Marmor testified that Grant had told him LSD had deepened the actor’s “sense of compassion for people, deepened his understanding of himself, and helped cure his shyness and anxiety in dealing with other people,” Grant was given two months a year with his daughter and the right to overnight visits.

Grant’s defensive posture regarding LSD during his last divorce reflected the dramatic shift in public opinion. Beginning in 1962, the Food and Drug Administration began demanding to see the records of doctors such as Hartman and Chandler and appeared at their offices to confiscate their LSD supply. The doors of the Psychiatric Institute of Beverly Hills closed suddenly that same year. Linda Lawson remembers being deep into her drug-induced state when Hartman informed her, without giving any reason, that he was leaving California and this would be her last session with him. The proliferation of LSD as a street drug and reports of suicides and other tragic consequences of LSD abuse led to national legislation criminalizing its possession in 1968. There wasn’t much resistance from its earliest adherents. Clare Boothe Luce was said to have cautioned, “We wouldn’t want everyone doing too much of a good thing.”

Nevertheless, one of the common threads among the interviews we conducted with past patients was that, no matter how they felt about their personal experience with LSD, they resented that Timothy Leary’s much-publicized campaign to “turn on, tune in, drop out” had sparked a backlash against a drug they still believe to be a potentially beneficial telescope into the subconscious. Their time might have finally come, for today, after 50 years of its being demonized, LSD is beginning to make a comeback in the laboratory. No breakthroughs are expected soon, but researchers from around the world gathered in California this past April to compare notes, and scientists at Harvard and the University of California at San Francisco have received permission from the F.D.A. to experiment with LSD once again.


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Here are the dates you can get into any U.S. national park for free in 2017

Hiking in Yosemite National Park

Which U.S. national parks will you visit in 2017? (Photo: sp.VVK/Shutterstock)

Are you ready to take on some adventures in 2017? As you plan your travel wish list, keep in mind the National Park Service offers a number of fee-free days each year during which entrance fees to all 413 U.S. national parks are waived. So instead of paying $3 to $30 to get in, you can “Find Your Park” for free.

In 2017, there will be 10 days when you can enjoy a fee-free vacation to a national park:

  • Jan. 16: Martin Luther King Jr. Day
  • Feb. 20: Presidents Day
  • April 15-16 and April 22-23: National Park Week Weekends
  • Aug. 25: National Park Service Birthday
  • Sept. 30: National Public Lands Day
  • Nov. 11-12: Veterans Day Weekend

And don’t forget, the National Park Service is in charge of natural gems such as Yosemite National park in California, Acadia National Park in Maine and Zion National Park in Utah, as well as many national historical parks, national monuments, national recreation areas, national battlefields and national seashores.

“National parks are known for their priceless beauty,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. “They are a bargain anytime but on these 10 days in 2017, they really will be priceless. We want everyone to visit their national parks, and the fee-free days provide extra incentive to experience these amazing places.”

If you’re looking for more fee-free fun beyond these dates, you’ll be glad to know that 289 of the agency’s 413 sites actually have free admission every day of the year. But do your research before you go because while the entrance fees may be free, there may be charges for parking or programs — even on those fee-free days.

Now get out there and Find Your Park — for free — in 2017.


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Can Dogs Eat Bones – Are Bones Safe For Your Lab?

By Pippa  –

A dog gnawing happily on a bone is a traditional and internationally recognised image.

Why can’t people agree over giving dogs bones to eat?

Feeding bones is a very contentious topic.

Some people think that you should never give any bones to a dog.

Others think that raw bones are okay. But that cooked bones are dangerous.

Some people think that some types of raw bone are safe and other types of raw bone are not.

Bones themselves can be divided up depending on the animal they came from.

For example, you will often hear that dogs shouldn’t eat chicken bones, or pork bones.

Bones can also be divided up depending on what part of the animal they come from. So you might hear that it’s okay for your Lab to eat rib bones, but not for him to eat big leg bones.

We’ll help you sort through this jumble of conflicting advice and information.You can also use the green menu to skip to the specific question that is worrying you.

One of the problems with bones and raw diets for dogs generally is the lack of evidence as to safety and benefits, compared with commercially prepared pelleted dog food (kibble).

As a result, it isn’t just pet owners that disagree.

You’ll find vets arguing over this too.

Though of course dog food manufacturers all tend to come down on one side of the argument

Information about bones

We have lots of information on feeding a raw diet to your dog, the pros and cons, the risks and benefits, so we won’t go into that in too much detail here.

This is specifically about bones

What I’d like to do in this article is work our way down the different types of categories of bone, getting rid of those that are likely to be more risky, until we are left with what (if anything) is safe for your dog to eat.

Can dogs eat raw bones?

Most experts, even those who don’t like dogs to have bones of any kind, agree that raw bones are likely to be safer than cooked bones.

You probably know someone that feeds cooked bones to dogs, and whose dogs are fine. I do too.

But the overwhelming view, at the current time, is that cooked bones are more dangerous than raw bones because the cooking process makes bones more brittle.

This means that they are much more likely to splinter.

Bearing in mind the lack of evidence to the contrary, my own view therefore, is that it is best not to feed cooked bones to your dog.

So the steak bone left over on your plate, or the bone left after carving the Sunday roast, is out.

You can however buy giant cooked marrow bones – those big knuckle ends – from pet stores.

“What about those? Surely those aren’t going to splinter?”

Well there is actually a different problem with larger bones, whether or not they are cooked, and we’ll look at that in a moment.

But for now, let’s look at the way in which dogs eat bones and see if that affects safety.

Different ways to feed bones to dogs

There are two broad ways in which dogs eat bones

  • Recreational bones
  • Bones as part of a meal

And opinions are deeply divided over both of theses options.

Recreational bones are the bones that dogs are given to gnaw on when he is relaxing at home.

Both to keep the dog happy, and to keep him out of mischief for a while. They are usually large marrow bones.

Can dogs eat marrow bones?

You can buy big marrow bones from butchers and pet stores.

People often think that these are safe because they are too big to choke on, and don’t splinter easily. Even though the ones you get from a pet store are often cooked.

But there is a problem with big bones that all vet seem to agree on.

They break dogs’ teeth.

Vets regularly see slab fractures in dogs that have been given large, hard, bones to gnaw on. And even vets that support raw feeding, and giving bones to dogs, will warn people not to feed large, weight-bearing bones to their dogs.

But eating bones is natural!

Eating bones is natural.  So are broken teeth.

And while gnawing on large bones may be a way for modern dogs to pass the time, it may not be quite the natural behavior we think it is.

Wild dogs usually leave the more challenging bones on a carcass unless food resources are short, in which case they will consume a carcass more fully.

Historical records show higher levels of broken teeth in carnivores when competition for food is intense.

So what we have so far is

  • Cooked bones are out
  • Raw bones are still in – but not all of them

Bones that break dogs teeth

As a rule of thumb, if a bone is a weight-bearing bone (ie a leg bone) of an animal that is as big or bigger than your dog, it is probably safest to give that bone a miss.

These bones are likely to be hard and strong, and have the greatest risk of fracturing your dog’s teeth.

Weight bearing bones of smaller animals, rabbits, chickens etc, are not as hard and are less likely to fracture your dog’s teeth

So we need to avoid

  • All cooked bones
  • All weight bearing bones

Can dogs digest bones?

A dog’s digestive tract is much shorter than a humans and is designed specifically to process meat and bone together.

Your dog will usually digest all the bone he eats almost completely without any problems provided it is fed in the right proportions to muscle meat and organs, as a part of his diet

Dogs fed recreational bones without meat attached and/or not given sufficient access to water after eating bone, may end up constipated.  So that is a third category of bone for us to avoid.  We now have:

  • Cooked bones
  • Weight bearing bones
  • Recreational bones

Is there going to be anything left?  Yes, of course there is.  Let’s look at some more types of bone

Can dogs eat rib bones

A much better choice for your dog to eat, when it comes to larger animals like cows, and sheep, is a rib bone.

Rib bones tend to be pliable and softer than leg bones, and dogs are able to consume them more easily.

And yes, you may see some splinters when your dog crunches up a nice raw rib bone – does that matter?

Will splinters from bones harm my dog?

It is impossible for anyone to promise you that a splinter from a bone won’t harm your dog

And if your dog eats raw bones, he will certainly break them up  into small, sharp looking bits and swallow them.

All we can tell you is that many people nowadays feed their dogs on raw bones, such as rib bones, without their dogs coming to harm.

We have already touched on the importance of feeding bones as part of a meal. Let’s look a bit closer at that

Bones as part of a meal – raw feeding

There is a growing enthusiasm now for feeding dogs on a totally raw diet. I’ll come right out and disclose that my dogs are largely fed this way.

I’ll also add, that I don’t think this is in some way a morally superior thing to do, or even that it is the right thing to do for all dogs, or in all families.

Why is it that thousands of dogs are now raw fed and swallow splintered bone each day without coming to harm?

One argument is that dogs are simply able to digest splintered bone without ill-effects.

What most experts do agree on, is that raw fed dogs may be protected by the meat they eat along with their bones.

In other words raw bones are likely to be a good deal safer when fed as part of a meal.

So, while raw bones are not risk free (nor is any food source) it is clear that they are not the dire threat to dogs that was once thought.

But what about different animals. Surely dogs can’t eat chicken bones?  They are really sharp. And what about pork – dogs can’t eat that can they?

Can dogs eat pork bones (or chicken bones, or lamb bones…)

Many people have heard that dogs can’t eat pork, but it is not entirely true. Though in some regions, parasites can be an issue (see below), and some dogs may be allergic to the protein found in pork.

Allergies to other meats can occur to, but they are not the norm.

Most dogs can eat pork without ill effects.  Pig’s feet (trotters) are a popular source of nutritious food for raw fed dogs.

Nor is there any truth in the myth that dogs can’t eat chicken bones.

Cooked chicken bones may well be dangerous, for the reasons given above.  But raw chicken, or turkey, on the bone, is a staple part of the diet of most raw fed dogs.

What about parasites?

In some parts of the world, meat from some animals carries parasites that can be passed on to dogs. This is not just a problem with pork.  It may apply to fish and other meats too.

In most cases these parasites can be killed by freezing the meat for a while before thawing it out for a dog to eat.

If you decide to feed your dog a raw diet, you need to arm yourself with information on the potential issues in your area before you start.

Can puppies have bones?

Yes, puppies can indeed have bones, and my own puppies eat whole chicken wings (raw of course) from a very early age.

But, and it is a big but, you must arm yourself with information on raw feeding before trying to raise a puppy on raw food.

He needs a wide variety of meat and bone to provide the right nutrients for growth as well as for day to day energy and activities

Summary – what are the best bones for dogs?

To minimise risk of sharp splinters harming your dog’s digestive tract, or of tiny chips of bone clogging up his gut, dogs should not be given cooked bones.

The best bones for dogs are raw meaty bones, with plenty of muscle meat still attached to them.Whole chickens or chicken portions, whole rabbits, and meaty beef or lamb ribs are popular ways to feed bones to dogs.

To reduce the risk your dog breaking his teeth on bones, he should not be fed weight-bearing bones from larger animals

Eating bones is not without risk, but it is likely that these risks have been overstated in the past. And there are benefits to feeding a dog on a diet of raw meaty bones.

Bone safety does not depend on the species of animal that the bone comes from but on the bone being raw, pliable, and fed as part of a meal.

Many thousands of dogs are currently thriving on a natural raw diet, and have lived long and healthy lives on raw food, if this appeals to you, read as much as you can on raw feedingbefore you start.


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Hey progressives, Liberals, socialists, and communists! Gun control won’t work!

wpid-gregaryidiotBy Robert Sollars –

After I get verbally pounded and threatened by those groups in the title and they have stopped reading this because after all I’m the one who is misinformed and not them… It simply won’t work, no-where near as quickly, efficiently, or effectively as they would have you believe.

Every time a crime utilizing a firearm is committed, usually workplace or school violence, there is a feeding frenzy about gun control, as the only viable alternative. It’s reminiscent of sharks at the sinking of the USS Indianapolis. And unfortunately it is the politicians looking for votes, progressive, socialistic, communistic and other groups as well as celebrities, who begin pushing for better and more regulatory control.

In roughly 90% of all incidents that are perpetrated using a firearm, they were purchased legally, and then borrowed, or stolen, from the legal owner. And you need an example… Sandy Hook Elementary. In any of those cases gun control would not have prevented them.

We can’t stop illegal immigration, drug smuggling, ISIS, or states breaking federal law (marijuana, discounting the benefits of medical use). They are all illegal so how do we expect stricter laws to prevent violence from firearms? It won’t. No matter what we do, the criminals will always have access to firearms. If felons, or illegal immigrants, aren’t supposed to have firearms, strict laws against it, then how do we arrest so many with a firearm?

And if we regulate them out of private ownership, what other items will we ban when they start causing crime? All of the following can cause serious injury, death, & trauma to a person and their families; Knives, vehicles, pencils, screwdrivers, pipe wrenches…?These items take many more lives than firearms in our country just not reported on as such because it’s not sensational and falling in line with the liberal agenda of control.

A firearm is not dangerous unless used improperly.  Much like a pencil, knife, pipe wrench, and so on. They can’t do any harm to anyone unless used improperly. If used improperly cars, alcohol, and drugs (both illegal and legal) cause more death & destruction than firearms, except during war. So why don’t we ban war as well, it would be better for the environment and our health would it not?

Overturning parts of the Constitution is easy if you have enough people on your side, prohibition for example. Several 2016 Presidential candidates stated they want to overturn parts of the 1st Amendment and make it harder to exercise our fundamental right of free speech, because it can be inflammatory and libelous… to certain groups of people i.e. Hispanics, Muslims, blacks, and etc. We need to grow up and stop whining about being offended.

Remember that then President Clinton signed a United Nations agreement in 1996 that stated that all personally owned firearms should be confiscated and banned. And current President Obama has stated that he wants the Senate to ratify that Small Arms Treaty.

There is no such thing as gun control anywhere in the United States. The cities with the strictest firearm laws have some of the worst murder rates in the United States. An example is Chicago. 2012-June 2015 has seen more than 6,000 murders and countless other crimes with firearms, (Kinda ironic that President Obama is from there and says virtually nothing about that huh?). The entire state of Illinois and California now has some of the most restrictive firearm laws in the country.

Look at the statistics of open carry states. Those with open carry laws have lower violent crime rates than those with strict laws. Oklahoma, Arizona, Alabama, Alaska, & Texas. Compare their violent crime rates, per capita, with California, New York, Michigan, and Illinois. They have the most population, but also have, per capita, the highest rates of violent crime.

I don’t like more government control and regulation on us. The Constitution is not a malleable instrument and unless we are ready for another Constitutional Convention and throw out the old and in with a new one… ‘If you ban guns the only ones to have guns will be criminals’. Again, if we regulate lawful and responsible gun ownership out of existence, do you really think that gun violence will end? And then where do the social progressives go from there? Can you say slippery slope?

And just as an added factoid, do you know why we have so much violence in this country with firearms compared to most European and Asian countries? It’s very simple and a basic fact that is carefully avoided by most firearm hating groups and news organizations. Look at the differences in population sizes. We have more than 345 million, including illegals, in the America. That’s nearly 10 times the populations of many of those countries.

Take off your ideological hats and think clearly for a second to look at the facts. You don’t live on Fantasy Island; you live in the United States of America. Founded on God, country, family, and protecting our God given rights to protect ourselves.


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I survived because I was warming somebody else…

jewIn Crown Heights, there was a Jew, Yankel, who owned a bakery. He survived the camps. He once said, “You know why it is that I’m alive today? I was a kid, just a teenager at the time. We were on the train, in a boxcar, being taken to Auschwitz. Night came and it was freezing, deathly cold, in that boxcar. The Germans would leave the cars on the side of the tracks overnight, sometimes for days on end without any food, and of course, no blankets to keep us warm,” he said. “Sitting next to me was an older Jew – this beloved elderly Jew – from my hometown I recognized, but I had never seen him like this. He was shivering from head to toe, and looked terrible. So I wrapped my arms around him and began rubbing him, to warm him up. I rubbed his arms, his legs, his face, his neck. I begged him to hang on. All night long; I kept the man warm this way. I was tired, I was freezing cold myself, my fingers were numb, but I didn’t stop rubbing the heat on to this man’s body. Hours and hours went by this way. Finally, night passed, morning came, and the sun began to shine. There was some warmth in the cabin, and then I looked around the car to see some of the other Jews in the car. To my horror, all I could see were frozen bodies, and all I could hear was a deathly silence.

Nobody else in that cabin made it through the night – they died from the frost. Only two people survived: the old man and me… The old man survived because somebody kept him
warm; I survived because I was warming somebody else…”

Let me tell you the secret of Judaism. When you warm other people’s hearts, you remain warm yourself. When you seek to support, encourage and inspire others; then you discover support, encouragement and inspiration in your own life as well. That, my friends, is “Judaism 101”.


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8 foods you’d never guess were artificially colored

Bottles of food coloring

Plenty of foods that appear naturally colored are actually hue-enhanced using synthetic dyes or chemical processing. (Photo: Scott Bolster/Shutterstock)

It’s probably no surprise that those unnaturally bright-colored soft drinks, candies, cake mixes and breakfast cereals on store shelves are artificially colored. They simply don’t look like anything found in nature. That makes it’s easier to bypass them if you don’t want to eat potentially health-harming red, orange, yellow, green and blue food dyes.

Now for the bad news. These products are the easy ones to spot. Plenty of other foods may look natural but are actually color-enhanced or altered through artificial dyes and chemical processing. You just don’t suspect them because either they don’t look unrealistic or because you’ve always seen them that color.

The following list of artificially colored foods may surprise you for many reasons, not least of which is that most are usually considered fresh and unaltered just as Mother Nature made them. Before you decide to strike them from your diet, read on. In some cases, the coloring used is natural, and for the rest, non-colored versions are typically available if you know where to look.

Here are some facts about eight foods that aren’t the color they appear to be.


cheddar cheese is often artificially coloredChances are that orange cheddar you love is artificially colored. (Photo: george ruiz/flickr)

Cheese comes in orange and white, right? Well, not exactly. The truth is cheese, especially cheddar, is naturally white or light yellowish. The yellow pigment comes from beta carotene, a colorful plant nutrient that’s transferred from the grass cows eat into their milk. In the 17th century, English cheesemakers realized they could skim off the cream, which contains most of the beta carotene, and sell it separately for more profit. To keep the yellow-orange color that people expected, they started adding coloring from saffron, carrot juice and currently annatto (a natural coloring made from the seeds of the achiote tree, though some is synthetically made). The tradition carried on in America, except for places like Vermont where anti-coloring cheesemakers — and white cheddar — continue to reign.


tuna is often gassed with carbon monoxideGassing fresh tuna with carbon monoxide helps keep it bright red and eye-pleasing to fish lovers. (Photo: Nick Richards/flickr)

That bright red tuna steak you’re fixing for dinner might look fresh from the sea, but chances are it was “gassed” with carbon monoxide, an odorless, colorless toxic gas that prevents flesh from discoloring to an unappealing brown. In fact, many meats undergo this treatment because they don’t arrive in supermarkets before the natural browning process begins. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says gassing meat is safe, but the European Union, Japan and Canada have banned the practice. Their main concern is that it can be used to camouflage potentially dangerous tuna and other meats that are past their sell-by dates. Ask your supermarket whether meat is color-enhanced or consider buying local meats fresh from the farm.


Pickles in a jarTo keep cucumber skins from fading during their stint on supermarket shelves, manufacturers often add yellow coloring to amplify their natural color. (Photo: Marie C Fields/Shutterstock)

Sure, pickles are naturally green, just not the vibrant green you often see in jars. To keep cucumber skins from fading during their stint on supermarket shelves, manufacturers often add yellow coloring to amplify their natural color. Some food companies use turmeric (a yellow spice added to curry) and some use tartrazine, an artificial lemon-yellow dye derived from coal tar that may cause mutations in cell DNA. Tartrazine also goes by the names FD&C Yellow #5 and Yellow 5. Read labels and choose pickle brands without added synthetic color. A few, like Trader Joe’s brand pickles, are dye-free. If you can’t give up your neon green dills, sours and sweets, opt for those containing natural coloring.


Orange juice - vitamin CBuy oranges in season or stick to organic brands to avoid artificial dyes sprayed on the peels. (Photo: MaKo-studio/Shutterstock)

They’re called oranges for a reason. It’s just that oranges aren’t orange all the time. Early in the growing season before the nights start turning cool, orange skins are green or at least not quite orange enough to have visual appeal in the produce aisle. That’s why some growers looking for year-round sales spray the skins with Citrus Red #2, an artificial dye certified by the FDA to give oranges a consumer-pleasing pop of their namesake color. Unfortunately, like many synthetic food dyes, this one is potentially harmful to human health. To avoid getting too much orange in your oranges, buy organic brands (which don’t allow dyes) or select those grown in California or Arizona (two states that prohibit Citrus Red #2).


Wasabi and chopsticksIs this real wasabi? Maybe not, if you bought it in the store. (Photo: kungverylucky/Shutterstock)

Here’s a small dose of color reality for sushi-lovers. That ball of green hot wasabi next to your sushi rolls isn’t really green. In fact, it’s not even really wasabi. The genuine stuff is made by grating the root of the Wasabia japonica plant, which is hard to grow and cultivate — and therefore extremely rare and expensive to serve. The cheaper alternative — what most of us think of as wasabi — is actually a concoction of horseradish, mustard, synthetic green food coloring and other chemicals that often comes powdered and is mixed with water into a paste.

Dried apricots

dried apricots often treated with sulfur dioxideSulfur dioxide is often used to keep dried apricots bright orange and visually appetizing. (Photo: miheco/flickr)

Bright orange and delicious, dried apricots seem like a healthy way to satisfy your sweet tooth. Except that their orange brightness is probably a sign they were treated with sulfur dioxide prior to drying to keep them from turning brown. This foul-smelling gas also boosts shelf life and preserves taste. If you’re sensitive to sulfites or just want to avoid potentially toxic chemicals in your food, opt for less colorful organic brands and always read the label. What you give up in vibrancy, you’ll likely gain in health and nutrition.

Pickled ginger

Pickled gingerTraditionally, pickled ginger is white or slightly pink. However, most commercially produced pickled ginger is artificially colored with FD&C Red #40. (Photo: mama_mia/Shutterstock)

Fake green wasabi isn’t the only sushi-related color deception. That pickled pink ginger served to cleanse your palate isn’t naturally quite that pink. Traditionally, pickled ginger (gari) is white or slightly pink, due to the pickling process. However, most commercially produced gari today is artificially colored with FD&C Red #40 (also called Red 40 or Allura Red), which is made from synthetic coal tar. There’s some evidence it can cause ADHD-like behavior in certain children, but it has yet to be banned by the FDA.


farm-raised salmon given nutrients to enhance color.Farm-raised salmon are given nutrient additives in their feed to make them look more like their orangey-pink wild cousins. (Photo: Boca Dorada/flickr)

Wild salmon swim the oceans foraging for crustaceans, plankton and algae that contain naturally occurring colorful carotenoid plant pigments like canthaxanthin and astaxanthin. These micronutrients give salmon flesh (as well as lobster and shrimp shells) their naturally orangey-pink color. Farmed salmon, though, are fed an artificial soy- and corn-based diet devoid of these natural pigments, which leaves them pretty devoid of color. To prevent consumers from turning up their noses at the pallid flesh, salmon farmers add synthetic canthaxanthin and astaxanthin to their fish feed to boost color appeal. The health impact of these additives is still being studied, but you may want to forgo farmed salmon in favor of wild-caught whenever you can — and not just for that reason. Experts say farmed salmon is also less nutritious because fish are fed unnatural diets and because their overcrowded conditions are a breeding ground for pollutants and disease.


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