What I'm Reading (Dec. 21)

By Chuck Dinerstein, MD, MBA — Dec 21, 2023
Just in time for Christmas – Toxic Christmas Trees? Vanilla A child’s view of factory farms What is nuclear power worth to you?
Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay

I’ve written in the past about the ecological impact of natural vs. artificial Christmas trees. But this year, the chemophobia crowd did me one better.

“Artificial trees have drawn criticism for the chemicals used in their manufacturing, as well as their carbon footprint. But live trees have drawbacks too. One in particular—the agricultural chemicals and insecticides, fungicides, and herbicides used in tree farming—has drawn remarkably little attention, partly owing to a lack of research on the risk to consumers or farmworkers.”

Could it be that we are bringing toxins into the home? The article mentions a few anecdotes, but as any good attorney says, “Mighty class actions grow from tiny anecdotes.” From Wired, The Toxic Truth About Your Christmas Tree


“But how did one island come to dominate the vanilla industry? And why is one kilogram of “plain vanilla” now more valuable than one kilogram of silver?”

Great question and it is answered by our friends at Gastro Obscura: Why One Island Grows 80% of the World’s Vanilla


“The 2000 children’s movie Chicken Run is one of the darker and more subversive films made for kids: The story follows a flock of lovable, though quite miserable, chickens who conspire to escape a farm before their impending slaughter. … Next week, Netflix is releasing a sequel — Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget — with the same theme but updated to reflect our increasingly dystopian animal farming system.”

I remember Chicken Run, and to be honest, with the title Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget, I will tune into the sequel. That said, Vox spends a few words talking about what to tell our children about the source of those nuggets. It may be more complicated than explaining Santa Claus. From Vox, What should kids know about factory farming?


Here is a simple multiple-choice question.

“Would the planet be better off with

a) 2 cent/kWh nuclear power and a Three Mile Island(TMI) or larger release every 2500 reactor years, or

b) 4 cent/kWh nuclear power and a TMI or larger release every 17,000 reactor years, or

c) 8 cent/kWh nuclear power and a TMI or larger release every 50,000 reactor years, or

d) 16 cent/kWh nuclear power and a TMI or larger release every 100,000 reactor years?”

In an interesting piece entitled There are no solutions, only tradeoffs [Thomas Sowell], the Gordian Knot discusses the tradeoffs in switching to nuclear power to generate all that electricity we will need. The second part of the article is here.

Chuck Dinerstein, MD, MBA

Director of Medicine

Dr. Charles Dinerstein, M.D., MBA, FACS is Director of Medicine at the American Council on Science and Health. He has over 25 years of experience as a vascular surgeon.

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