May 312010

We’re back from Tofino, B.C. and a stimulating Congress of the International Society of Ethnobiologists. Despite the focus of this congress being on botany, in which neither of us are scholars, we learned much and met some impressive people. But more about that later.

Today, we’re absorbing the findings of a Harvard study that separated unprocessed meats from processed forms in exploring their connection to heart disease and diabetes. This news was in The Peoples Pharmacy column of Sunday’s Seattle Times.

The study showed that eating processed meat led to a 42 percent higher risk of developing heart disease and a 19 percent higher risk of developing diabetes, according to Renata Micha, the lead author of the study and research fellow in the Department of Epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health.

The good news here is that eating unprocessed beef, pork or lamb showed no increased risk of either condition. Eating just one serving of processed meat per week does not significantly increase the risk, says the study.

A more detailed discussion is on the Harvard Science Web site at


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