♡ Brought to you by Darling Niki! ♡
May your world be surrounded in peace, your heart filled with love, and your thoughts a fountain of wisdom.


I've only had two colds in over a year because of a healthy diet and my use of natural remedies to prevent and cure sickness rather than all of that over-the-counter crap. Since I'm all about helping others, I thought I'd share the most useful natural remedies with you so that you can feel better, too!


Apple Cider Vinegar - Controls appetite and reduces blood sugar.
Tea – Tea tannins are antioxidants and can aid in the prevention of cancer.
Fish Oil – Beneficial for the skin, brain and heart health.
Cinnamon – Helps to strengthen the immune system, lower cholesterol, regulates blood sugar, inhibits bacterial growth, boosts cognitive function and memory.
Ginseng – Increases blood flow and energy.
Niacin – Reduces cholesterol better than some prescription medications.
Salt – Reduces inflammation and kills bacteria.
Lemon – Potent anti-oxidant, and full of collagen-forming Vitamin C.
Aloe Vera - Useful for the healing of burns and digestion.
Calendula - Relieves cramps.
Echinacea - Reduces the duration and severity of the common cold.
Ginger - Decreases nausea or vomiting.
Green Tea - Slows the development of breast cancer, energy.
Chamomile Tea - Reduces smooth muscle spasms and reduces inflammation in the stomach and intestines.
Black Walnut - Removes parasites and aids in toxin elimination.
Chlorophyll - Improves and maintains a healthy colon.
Flaxseed - Contain Omega-9 and Omega-3 essential fatty acids  and are a great source of fiber and protein with manganese, folate, Vitamin B6, magnesium, phosphorous, lecithin, zinc, and copper. It aids in curing colon and breast cancer, skin problems, asthma, diabetes, arthritis, sprains and bruises, obesity, as well as lowering high blood pressure and cholesterol.
Rasbery Leaf Tea and Black Tea - Relieves menstrual cramps or pain from ovulation.
Garlic - Kills viruses and prevents them from replicating in the body.
Vitamin C - Enhances and boosts the immune system.
Magnesium - Helps reverse osteoporosis, prevents cardiovascular disease, regulates high blood pressure, treats diabetes, treats migraines and insomnia, regulates body temperature, and helps form healthy bones and teeth.

Water, massage, aromatherapy (sandlewood, peppermind, eucalyptus, lavender and natural oils), icing, sleep, exercise (increases circulation).

Besides getting plenty of rest and drinking lots of fluids, another remedy to stop a fever is strange, but has been proven to work: Cut up an onion and put two or three rings on the sole of each foot, then put on socks. This will get rid of a fever by the time the onion turns brown.

Peppermint, basil, ginger, cinnamon and chamomile, or boiled water with lemon helps to aid in relief from bloating. A few drops of clove or eucalyptus oils added to a glass of water is helpful as well. It is very important that you eat slowly and chew your food thoroughly as well.

The common cold is a viral infection that affects your upper respiratory tract, also known as the nose and throat. In spite of what doctors may say and the fact that those emergency z-pac antibiotics may knock it out faster, there is no official cure for the cold.

Drink: My old CrossFit trainer swears by this drink, and it almost always works for me: Boil a cup of water and add cayenne pepper, red pepper flakes, lemon and honey. The peppers open your sinuses while the honey soothes your throat right away!

Steam: Boil a few cups of water, pour it into a metal mixing bowl, add a chamomile tea bag or fresh eucalyptus, cover your head with a towel, and breathe in. Its like a mini at-home steam session for your skin and sinuses, mmmmm!

Take: Besides drinking loads of water, getting lots of rest and eating more fruits and vegetables, there is plenty that you can do to feel better without going to the pharmacy. Avoiding over-the-counter medication is absolutely necessary, because those products are bad for your body and those companies just make money off of keeping you sick! When the body becomes "sick" with a cold, flu, etc., most people tend to rush to the pharmacy and take as much medicine as they can to get rid of it. What they don't understand is that the body must be allowed to do what it needs to do, because if you keep blocking the cold from leaving your body naturally, it'll just keep coming back!

No Nasal Sprays! They're worse for your nose than any drug (obviously anything you put up your nose is deadly), I'm not kidding. The last time I went to an ear/nose/throat doctor, he told me that the inside of my nose would get more torn-up if I kept using nasal sprays every time I had a runny nose or full-blown cold (which happened often in the past due to allergies). This freaked me out, because I had been using prescription and over-the-counter nasal sprays for years! 

Whether you are on birth control or not, hormone imbalances happen to women even before menopause. Certain allergic reactions can make you feel the same way, especially when it comes to your skin. I've been using the same at-home remedy for years, because it works every time! On a clean face, take yogurt (preferably Greek yogurt) and coat your skin anywhere that seems to be irritated (I've only done this on my face). Leave it on for an hour or more, rinse thoroughly, and voila! The cooling yogurt not only soothes your skin, but you are left with a smooth, well-balanced complexion. Fabulous!

I must have this!


As if I need to be more paranoid! Reading this freaked me out because there were a couple that I hadn't thought of before, yikes!

The 7 Germiest Public Places
Excerpt from The List Maker’s Get-Healthy Guide, By the Editors of Prevention

An average adult can touch as many as 30 objects within a minute, including germ-harboring, high-traffic surfaces such as light switches, doorknobs, phone receivers, and remote controls. At home, you do all that you can to keep the germs at bay. But what happens when you step out the door to go to dinner, do some grocery shopping, or visit the doctor’s office? Know where germs are most likely to lurk, as you’ll find out here.

1. Restaurant menus
Have you ever seen anyone wash off a menu? Probably not. A recent study in the Journal of Medical Virology reported that cold and flu viruses can survive for 18 hours on hard surfaces. If it’s a popular restaurant, hundreds of people could be handling the menus–and passing their germs on to you. Never let a menu touch your plate or silverware, and wash your hands after you place your order. Or use antibacterial wipes.
2. Lemon wedges
According to a 2007 study in the Journal of Environmental Health, nearly 70% of the lemon wedges perched on the rims of restaurant glasses contain disease-causing microbes. When the researchers ordered drinks at 21 different restaurants, they found 25 different microorganisms lingering on the 76 lemons that they secured, including E. coli and other fecal bacteria. Tell your server that you’d prefer your beverage sans fruit. Why risk it? Drinking lemon water instead of soda is a good weight loss strategy, but you don’t have to ditch your diet just because you’re eating out.
3. Condiment dispensers
It’s the rare eatery that regularly bleaches its condiment containers. And the reality is that many people don’t wash their hands before eating, says Kelly Reynolds, PhD. So while you may be diligent, the guy who poured the ketchup before you may not have been, which means his germs are now on your fries.  Squirt hand sanitizer on the outside of the condiment bottle or use a disinfectant wipe before you grab it.  Holding the bottle with a napkin won’t help; napkins are porous, so microorganisms can pass right through, Reynolds says.
 4. Restroom door handles
Don’t think you can escape the restroom without touching the door handle? Palm a spare paper towel after you wash up and use it to grasp the handle. Yes, other patrons may think you’re a germophobe–but you’ll never see them again, and you’re the one who won’t get sick. 
5. Soap dispensers
About 25% of public restroom dispensers are contaminated with fecal bacteria. Soap that harbors bacteria may seem ironic, but that’s exactly what a recent study found. “Most of these containers are never cleaned, so bacteria grow as the soap scum builds up,” says Charles Gerba, PhD. “And the bottoms are touched by dirty hands, so there’s a continuous culture feeding millions of bacteria.” Be sure to scrub hands thoroughly with plenty of hot water for 15 to 20 seconds–and if you happen to have an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, use that, too. 
6. Grocery carts
 The handles of almost two-thirds of the shopping carts tested in a 2007 study at the University of Arizona were contaminated with fecal bacteria. In fact, the bacterial counts of the carts exceeded those of the average public restroom. Swab the handle with a disinfectant wipe before grabbing hold (stores are starting to provide them, so look around for a dispenser). And while you’re wheeling around the supermarket, skip the free food samples, which are nothing more than communal hand-to-germ-to-mouth zones.
7. Airplane bathrooms
When Gerba tested for microbes in the bathrooms of commercial jets, he found surfaces from faucets to doorknobs to be contaminated with E. coli. It’s not surprising, then, that you’re 100 times more likely to catch a cold when you’re airborne, according to a recent study in the Journal of Environmental Health Research. To protect yourself, try taking green tea supplements. In a 2007 study from the University of Florida, people who took a 450-milligram green tea supplement twice a day for 3 months had one-third fewer days of cold symptoms. The supplement brand used in the study was Immune Guard ($30 for 60 pills; immune-guard.us).
 8. Doctor’s office
A doctor’s office is not the place to be if you’re trying to avoid germs. These tips can help limit your exposure:
1. Take your own books and magazines (and kid’s toys, if you have your children or grandchildren with you).
2. Also pack your own tissues and hand sanitizers, which should be at least 60% alcohol content.
3. In the waiting room, leave at least two chairs between you and the other patients to reduce your chances of picking up their bugs. Germ droplets from coughing and sneezing can travel about 3 feet before falling to the floor.


I'm stoked to go to Hawaii tomorrow to meet up with my Mom for Dr. George Pratt's "Power of Energy" retreat! Pratt is still one of the best that I've ever worked with, and I'm so excited to do therapy with dolphins, yoga, energy psychology, the works! Check out Dr. Pratt at http://drgeorgepratt.com.

Here's a better explanation about what I'll be doing:

The power of the brain:


I quit drinking soda almost three years ago, and I don't miss it one bit. The number of reasons that soda is bad for you and the list of chemicals that it contains are too much to name, and that ought to be scary enough! You can argue all you want about diet drinks, but those are actually even worse for you! Right after you finish that first soda, one hundred percent of your daily sugar intake as well as caffeine hits you within minutes, then your blood sugar skyrockets and your internal organs work in overdrive to break down the sugar and store it as fat. 

We all know what caffeine does to our bodies and how that dreadful crash creeps up on you, but did you know that the sugar and caffeine in soda stimulates the dopamine levels in your brain? That's right, its basically like a drug! This lovely beverage also leaches calcium from your bones as well as causing tooth decay from the acid, gingivitis, bladder problems, asthma, eczema, rashes, damage to the female reproductive organs and even cancer!


Some of you may not be aware of my previous athletic career and what I'm all about, so here's a little background on how I got to be where I am now:

My Mom playing in the waves with my sister Kelly and I. Nice floaties!

My Dad and I at Imperial Palace in Japan for the Emperor's birthday. I stood out a bit...

My Mom, "Hot Kathy". She still looks this good, so I'd better age as well as she has!

My favorite old horse Incento and I after winning one of our championships together. He was one of the most renowned Grand Prix horses before he became my baby. I miss this guy so much, it hurts!

Well, here goes...

I was born and raised in Tokyo, Japan and moved to San Diego, California during my childhood. This was a tough move for me because Japanese was my first language and I also spoke some German and American Sign Language. When I was improving my English in school, my teachers were mostly British, so I developed a bit of an accent that has gone away, but I still talk kind of "funny" sometimes since I'm a California girl with that background. My father was born and raised in Tokyo as well, and my Mom was a big model in the 70's and early 80's, which is how they were brought together. Though my parents are no longer together, I feel that it is important to give a bit of a background on my family so that you can get a better understanding of how I got into the Entertainment industry and athletics.

As a blonde-haired, blue-eyed American girl from Wisconsin, the Japanese loved my mother and she did very well in her career until quitting after I was born. She was actually the first aerobics instructor in Japan - ever! My father was a basketball and volleyball star all the way through college and didn't come to the states until attending USC (University of Southern California) along with six out of seven of his siblings. He was about to be drafted into the NBA when he tore his achilles tendon, but that didn't slow him down. My father got involved in triathlons and even competed in an Iron Man in Saipan when I was a child - what an athlete!

I have a younger sister who is two years my junior and my best friend in the entire world. We have both grown to appreciate Japan and it's culture even more every time we go back to visit, and miss it very much. My father started a chain of gyms in San Diego called 'Frog's', which later on expanded to become 'Frog's Club One' when he moved on. I followed in his footsteps and started going to the gym and getting involve with sports at a very young age. I played softball, basketball, track and field, and was one of the top equestrians in the United States before age eighteen. I was privately schooled during the last two years of high school and didn't have much of a social life going into college since I was traveling to horse shows all the time, but it was so worth it! Horses have always been a big part of my life, and it breaks my heart that I had to part with the sport professionally. Check out my Dad's company 'Life Gear' http://lifegear.com.

I have always had a very deep connection with animals and volunteered at Helen Woodward Animal Center and worked at their summer camp teaching children how to interact with animals safely as well as assisting the handicapped. Volunteer work is something that I am very passionate about, and hope to do more work here in New York now that I'm an "East Coast Girl". I've been involved with Kids Korps USA, a family friend's charity that works one-on-one with underprivileged children for many years, and was also in National Charity League, an organization for young women that enabled us to work with teen mothers, the homeless, disabled children, etc. I graduated from NCL along with the rest of my group right before my Debutante Ball, and those experiences were extremely fulfilling.

That's right, I was a Debutante in San Diego, which known to be more common in the South an Europe. My past experience in five years of cotillion sure helped me get through the ballroom dancing at the end, that's for sure! Alright, my ADHD is kicking in and I ought to stay on subject here! Once I graduated form NCL, The La Jolla Debutante Committee and High School, I began college at the USD (University of San Diego). Though I had been accepted into USC, I wanted to wait a year to attend a smaller school first (hence the ADHD). I don't want to get into it, but I was in a very destructive relationship and made some poor choices that basically ruined that entire first year of college for me. I was quite the rebellious "bad girl" growing up, but this was much worse, so I made it a priority to change my life for the better. 

I moved to Los Angeles a year later to finally transfer into USC and well, that didn't go as planned, because I caught the acting and modeling bug and dropped out of school altogether. I have no regrets, enrolling in intense theater classes and performing improv did wonders for me, because I went from being the shy tree in the background in the school plays to taking the stage with confidence. I was always a great public speaker growing up, but being completely vulnerable in front of an audience is a completely different experience. I was continuously told that I was going to be "the next so-and-so", even Carol Burnett told me that I was very funny and would "make it", but I just wasn't ready! Besides some previous work here and there, I was officially "discovered" by a renowned Guess and Vogue photographer in Los Angeles who believed that I had a chance in modeling. Once I shot with her and was sent to the agency of her choice, they didn't know what to do with me because there were just "too many blondes in LA" and I don't look good with dark hair. I'm about 5'11" and was often considered "too voluptuous for runway" unless it was for swimsuit or lingerie, and amidst being so tall and lanky, my measurements aren't easy to fit! I knew that I could have just gone to a different city like Miami and pursued a commercial and swimsuit career, but I had stopped taking modeling seriously during that time and needed to do some soul-searching. 

My friend Niki Ghazian had played in the original Lingerie Football League's 'Lingerie Bowl' when it was a Super Bowl half-time show on Pay-per-view, and suggested that I train with her to try out for the real league. The LFL had decided to change its direction and created a National league that consisted of models who were also required to be real athletes and could play full-tackle football. Crazy, right? You bet it was! I learned how to play full-tackle football within a couple of months and somehow beat over a hundred girls to make a spot on the number one team of about fourteen players! Being a part of the Los Angeles Temptation was a wonderful experience, though it had quite a bit of drama, which is expected when you have a large group of girls hitting each other on the field all the time while being controlled by an organization with little experience.

I've always been very against violence and can't even watch fight scenes in movies, so being able to legally smash people in football took some time to learn. Whenever I had to hit someone in practice or a game, I'd apologize afterwards because I felt bad for hurting them. I ended up getting bored playing Right Guard, because using my height to block wasn't enough for me, so I moved onto my favorite position: Defensive End - the killing machine! Everyone has that "Inner Rocky", but most of us keep it hidden, especially young ladies like myself. During tryouts, I was told to think of something that really irritated me, and I ended up blacking out like a boxer and taking down not only the tackle bag, but the male football player holding it! I'm glad that this has only ever happened on a football field, because I am known by friends as being a "control freak" (of myself) and would rather talk than fight any day.

I'm grateful to have been able to represent my team and the league by doing interviews with Fox Sports Radio, Sports Central and several online publications. My team as well as the San Diego Seduction even did an episode of C.S.I. New York because they couldn't find any stunt actors to play football as well as we could! I was very thankful to have been a part of those shows, because many were not aware of how seriously we took the sport since we appeared to be "just a bunch of hot women". Our practices usually lasted over four hours and we were in ridiculous shape, which was my favorite part...until I got a little too buff for my liking. The military style of training was absolutely incredible, and not only was I practicing with the team, but I was spending all of my free time doing CrossFit with our team's amazing personal trainer, Max Shippee of CrossFit Thrive.

Since we had to look hot in our uniforms, we were required to always look our best, girls who weren't up-to-par by game day got a "fat letter" and were benched until they appeared more lean and toned. Luckily, I never had to worry about that, but I felt terrible for the girls who had busted their butts to lose weight to play in the league in the first place. As far as games went, it got extremely dangerous and there were many injuries that you'd usually expect in the NFL, but we got through it with very little clothing and protective gear. The most minor injury for our league was when a Dallas player's teeth got knocked out with her mouth guard - yikes! I had my dentist make me a custom mouth guard after that, because I went through braces for these pearly whites and wouldn't lose them for anything! Once my team won the 'Lingerie Bowl' for the 2009/2010 season, I decided that the time had come for me to leave the LFL and move on with my life. I'm not bitter about all of the drama that occurred during that time and would rather not talk about it, because it was an unforgettable experience that I'm very lucky to have been a part of. Once that period of my life had come to a close, I was involved in other fields of work until moving to Manhattan, New York. I'd been coming to New York all my life and my sister went to NYU (New York University), so I was already quite familiar with the city, but hadn't experienced the brutal winter yet!

Last winter did me in, I never worked out and though I had learned so much about my body and finally accepted my food allergies, I was extremely depressed and going through tough times. My emotional eating went into overdrive, and though I only went up one size than "my best", I still felt like crap and wanted to make some serious lifestyle changes. I'm sure you were all aware that New York received the most blizzards in over a hundred years last winter and we got snowed-in, right? It was rough! I've always been very passionate about health and fitness, so I decided to kiss a Real Estate career that was practically handed to me goodbye and go with my gut. I'm currently attending one of the best nutrition schools in the world and having a blast learning as much as I can about health and wellness.

I'm glad that I made the right decision, because this is motivating me to get myself back to looking and feeling "my best" again. I hope that you will enjoy my journey as I build my business and continue to read my posts, and I sincerely appreciate the support that I have received so far!

Here are some links from the LFL:

I copied and pasted JerseyChaser.com's post on yours truly:

BYD x 2: LFL’s Niki Connor Is A Thoroughbred

At damn near 6-feet tall Niki Connor of Lingerie Football’s L.A. Temptation is what we like to call a thoroughbred. Connor is so dime that it might be a crime, but don’t be fooled by her amazing looks (which AREN’T artificially enhanced), because she is a beast on the gridiron. The Temptation have one game left on the schedule, a matchup with the San Diego Seduction on January 29 at the LA Sports Arena, so if you’re in the Greater Los Angeles area around then you should definitely see what’s cracking. As for Niki, make sure you follow her on Twitter as she will consistently brighten your day.
A few more pics that will get you from 6 to Noon in a hurry after the jump…
local fun


Temptation Nation!
Supporting the LA Clippers:
The commercial for our C.S.I. NY episode:
This was my first time being interviewed on LIVE TV, and its obvious that I was very nervous, because I was pretty embarrassing! I don't understand why the league had us wear eye black for a TV interview, but go ahead and make fun of us:
TMZ. I'm on the far left refusing to speak because they were obviously making fun of us:
"Media Day" at the Los Angeles Coliseum:
This song get me pumped-up and I love it!

I love this song, it always relaxes me.


"Approximately 2/3 of the products sold by Whole Foods Market and their main distributor, United Natural Foods (UNFI) are not certified organic, but rather are conventional (chemical-intensive and GMO-tainted) foods and products disguised as 'natural.'" -Ronnie Cummins, Organic Consumers Association

Whole Foods Admits Its Organic Foods Contain GMOs, Tries to Play Victim – Hayden’s Note
Source: Tara Green – Natural News

Genetically modified foods have become so ubiquitous in the US that even the grocery store ‘Whole Foods’ now admits it cannot keep biotech foods off its shelves. A representative for the corporation acknowledged in May of 2011 that the realities of the marketplace have forced a shift in the company’s previous no-GMO’s policy.

Joe Dickson, quality standards coordinator for Whole Foods Markets, notes that GMO’s dominate the market, especially for corn, soy and canola crops from which ingredients in most processed foods are derived. “Until there’s federal government mandated labeling of GMO ingredients, there’s no way to tell if packaged products contain GMO ingredients,” Dickson said. “Our approach is to work in the spirit of partnership with our suppliers … to encourage them to take active steps to avoid GMO ingredients.”

In spite of public skepticism about GMO foods, the FDA has backed Monsanto and other corporations, declaring that modified foods do not require special labeling letting consumers know they are eating Frankenfoods. This is in contrast to the European Union, where public concern over health issues resulted in a moratorium on GMO’s. Many European countries, including France, Germany, Greece, Austria and Luxembourg have banned genetically modified foods, while other countries in the EU permit their sale only when products include clear labels of GMO ingredients.

The problem, you see, is that Whole Foods does not do a “Whole” lot to encourage and demand GMO labeling.  One would think that a business model such as Whole Foods would be leading the fight.  But… by paying lip-service to the organic-minded consumer and saying, “We just can’t do anything… we’re at Monsanto’s mercy, woe is us!  Until the Federal Govt does something… we have to stock GMOs,” while doing little (mediocre, at best) at lobbying for health and food liberty, they can appear to be on the consumer’s side while still sleeping with the BioTech Terrorists and staying in their good fortune, reaping the financial benefits of “organic foods” that really aren’t.

I recommend checking out the Non-GMO Project.  I will say, that Whole Foods is a participating retailer with the project, but with such a namesake and deep pockets, I would expect them to be at the forefront of this GMO labeling battle and they clearly are not.  Such is the free market.  C’est le vie, eh?

Whole Foods’ recent admission proves how successful the biotech companies have been in their efforts to replace foods unadulterated by hormones with Frankenfoods. The fact that one of the best-known purveyors of natural foods has decided to throw in the towel rather than holding the line against biotech foods means consumers will have fewer places to go in their quest to buy non-genetically engineered foods.

Jeffrey Smith points out in his book Seeds of Deception, the biotech industry has co-opted the watchdog agencies of the federal government and sought to silence critics in the media and the scientific community who question sloppy science which they use to “prove” the safety of Frankenfoods. Natural News readers should read Smith’s book to understand the efforts Monsanto and others have gone to — including smear campaigns and threats against those who seek to present other points of views and the theft of research materials contradicting their biotech claims that Frankenfoods are completely safe.

Even the long-standing EU “zero-tolerance” policy on biotech foods has shown signs of cracking in the past few months, as the Union considers lifting import restrictions which formerly kept US-grown GMO’s from being sold in Europe. As reported on Natural News late last year (http://www.naturalnews.com/030828_G…), the forbidden information which surfaced through Wikileaks included documents revealing that the US government has conspired with the biotech companies to pressure European countries on the issue of genetically engineered foods.

Move past the propaganda put forth by Monsanto and their government lapdog agencies by educating yourself on the dangers of GMO’s both on this website and in Jeffrey Smith’s books and website. Try to keep your diet Frankenfood-free by finding a local food coop whose “quality standards” do not involve caving in to the biotech companies.

Check out this internal document from Whole Foods: http://fitmontclair.files.wordpress.com/2010/04/iteamwholefoodslist052108.pdf

Here are a couple of other must-reads regarding the Whole Foods case:



This is what you need to know about GMO's: http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/genetically-modified-foods.html

The Organic Consumers Association has shared their most recent attacks on organic standards:
Cal-Maine Foods (the nation's largest egg producer) wants to keep so-called organic chickens in intensive-confinement factory farms and feed them synthetic supplements like methionine.
General Mills (the world's sixth-largest food company) wants to introduce dangerous, untested, unlabeled products of nanotechnology in organic products and packaging.
Coleman Organic (part of the ConAgra conglomerate, the 3rd largest U.S. beef and pork processor) wants to use non-organic animal ingredients (pork intestines) in "USDA Organic" products (sausage).
Renpure Organics (subsidiary of Bristol-Myers Squibb, owner of Clairol) wants to use the word "organic" on products that aren't certified to USDA organic standards (shampoo).
Organic Vintners wants to use synthetic ingredients (sulfite preservatives) in organic products (wine).

Visit http://nongmoproject.org


People love to use the "I was drunk and don't remember what I said/did" excuse. I find that to be immature and just plain pathetic. Grow up and take accountability for your words and actions!

Read: http://nikiconnor.blogspot.com/2011/07/incoherent-hook-ups-are-not-cute.html


I love Chilean Sea Bass, so I was very disappointed when I started my Monday morning with this article from Healthland. "Organic" and "eco-friendly" are used far too leniently these days, so pay attention to what you're eating and where its from!

Fish Labeled as Eco-Friendly Chilean Sea Bass May Not Be

Think you're buying eco-friendly Chilean sea bass at your local supermarket? Think again, say researchers, who found that 1 in 5 certified sustainable Chilean sea bass may not be as environmentally responsible as the labels claim.

The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), an international organization that recognizes eco-friendly fishing practices, has certified about 8,000 seafood products. These are confirmed to have been harvested from sustainable fisheries, where strict protocols protect species against overfishing and ensure that the fish can continue to propagate in healthy numbers. (See here for more on overfishing from my colleague Bryan Walsh.)

As far as Chilean sea bass goes, only one fishery, located near South Georgia Island in the sub-Antarctic, is MSC certified. But according to DNA analysis by Clemson University researchers, 15% of Chilean sea bass labeled as sustainable and sold at U.S. grocers did not come from the certified fishery. What's more, 8% of sustainable Chilean sea bass were of a different species entirely.

Taken together, that means more than 20% of fish that's sold as sustainable Chilean sea bass isn't what it claims to be. "I was surprised that so many of the MSC-labeled fish were not what they were supposed to be, but I guess I'm not shocked," says Peter Marko, a professor of biological sciences at Clemson, who led the study.

Marko notes that many cases of fish mislabeling are driven by economic incentives, in which less desirable (and inexpensive) species are substituted for more desirable and valuable ones. But he and his group decided to track how faithful the supply chain was in bringing sustainable fish to market.

The Chilean sea bass fishery off South Georgia Island provided a perfect setting for the experiment. Because of its remote location, fish stocks in those waters are relatively isolated from other species; the currents provide a geographic barrier to genetic mixing and therefore keep the sea bass relatively DNA-pure. (It's also why fish from these waters tend to have lower levels of mercury than those harvested farther north.) Adult sea bass don't tend to migrate much, which also helps to keep the stocks relatively contained.

The fact that so many different genetic signatures appeared in the MSC-certified sea bass that reached retailers suggests that other species are being introduced somewhere in the supply chain, between when the certified fish are harvested and when they are sold. "There are lots of sub-hypotheses about where that happens," says Marko. "It could happen anywhere from the time the fish is caught to the time the consumer buys the fish at the grocery store. It could be that retailers are swapping uncertified fish and other species for MSC certified Chilean sea bass when they don't have MSC certified fish on hand. We don't know where it's happening."

It's also possible that other fish are migrating into the waters where the MSC-certified Chilean sea bass are living and mating, and therefore changing the genetic makeup of the species. Marko's team took their samples from the fishery in 2008, and compared them to reference samples taken in 2001, an eight-year gap. But such genetic alterations are unlikely to have occurred in such a relatively short period of time, he says, since Chilean sea bass have long larval stages which would mean any introduction of new DNA would take several more years to show up in the fish.

The most likely explanation is that uncertified sea bass or other species of fish are being substituted for MSC-certified Chilean sea bass. Marko hopes that the genetic testing method he used to test these fish will become more widespread, so that MSC-certified fish from specific fisheries can be tracked more accurately all the way to market.

In the meantime, he says, "it's fairly difficult to promise that every fish that is labeled Chilean sea bass is going to only come from the MSC fishery." Which, for the consumer, means that when it comes to buying sustainable fish, it's caveat emptor.

The new study was published in Current Biology.