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Cindy is a Certified Raw Food Educator through the "Living Light Culinary Arts Institute," with an emphasis on the science of whole, raw food.  Cindy has over 25 years experience as an educator, including 15 years as a high school teacher and 12 years as the director of instruction for a high school district.   Using a combination of her own health challenges and experiences, plus the knowledge she has obtained through her coursework, her goal is to help others understand the power of food.  Her experience as an educator enables her to provide peer-reviewed, scientific information in a fascinating, understandable, and user-friendly format!  Her goal is to educate through the science of nutrition, and to illustrate how easy it is to incorporate the simple most powerful foods on earth that promote optimal health!

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Harvard researchers say canned soup could lead to spikes in BPA, a chemical found linked to obesity and increased cancer risk.

Hungry for a warm delicious bowl of BPA? Then grab yourself some canned soup, because it’s loaded with the stuff, according to a new study from the Harvard School of Public Health. Participants were given either canned vegetable soup, or a similar soup that hadn’t been canned, then tested for BPA levels. The result? Within a couple hours the canned crowd had BPA levels a whopping 12 times higher than their counterparts. The levels were still within those considered safe by the government, but “we were surprised by the magnitude of the elevation,” the paper’s senior author tells NPR. BPA is a chemical found in can linings, plastic bottles, and other packages. It has been shown to act like estrogen, possibly causing health problems and generating lots of public trepidation.


Sugar is so sneaky . . . it even has undercover names that allow it to sneak into your diet where you least expect it!  Unfortunately, we kinda have a “thing” for it!  But since 1970, the amount of sugar in processed foods has nearly doubled, largely because sugar is cheap and readily available.  During the fat-free craze of the early ‘80s and ‘90s, manufacturers removed fat from packaged foods and replaced it with sugar to make up for the lack of taste.  Since then, fat has come back, but the sugar has remained.  But finding the sugar isn’t always easy.  As a result, the average American consumes 43,800 more calories from added sugar per year than we did in 1977!  Unfortunately, our body isn’t equipped to handle this much.  For example, if a woman’s intake of sugar increases by more than 20 percent, her body-mass index rises 2 to 3 points, which is enough to shift from the normal weight to the overweight category, or from overweight  to obese.  (Based on a 27 year study from the University of Minnesota Twin Cities.)  And as we know, increased sugar consumption is also linked to higher rates of diabetes, heart disease, and metabolic syndrome.

Unfortunately, nutrition labels list only total grams of sugar, lumping together those that were added with those that occur naturally in the ingredients.  To discover what’s really in there, look for the word sugar, but also look for its aliases.  Most common are high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, juice (evaporated cane juice) and words ending in –ose (dextrose, fructose, glucose, sucrose.)

Surprising to many, the number one source of added sugar in our diet is beverages.  And even when we think we’re having a healthy choice, like smoothies, they are often loaded with sugar.  Jamba Juice’s 24-ounce classic smoothie, for instance, has 70 grams or more of total sugar, most of which is added sugar from juice, sherbet, and frozen yogurt.  Consider asking at the counter for whole fruit, little or no juice, or plain yogurt and ice.

Another sneaky sugar fiend is yogurt.  Many brands have more than 25 grams of sugar per 6 ounce serving.  About 12 of those grams is from lactose, and anything above that amount is added for flavor.  The addition is typically from preserves, which is basically fruit marinated in sugar, or straight table sugar.  Consider buying plain lowfat yogurt and stirring in chopped fruit or fresh berries.  (Remember to limit your overall intake of yogurt, however, to avoid the effect of casein.  More on the dangers of casein in a later article!)

Another surprising source of sugar is pasta sauce.  Commercial varieties may contain 8 grams or more of sugar per half cup!  Be sure to check the ingredients lists and skip varieties that include extra sugar.  (One tomato has 3.2 grams sugar, so most sauces will naturally contain some.  Two no-sugar added options:  Classico Tomato & Basil and Lucini Italia Tuscan Marinara Sauce with Roasted Garlic.)

Also, be on the look-out for the surprisingly heavy sugar content in baked beans, baked potato chips, barbecue sauce, canned soup, cereal, cornbread, croutons, frozen meals, pretzels, and snack bars!


Most people are familiar with the term, “gluten sensitivity,” but many people are unsure exactly what it means or what the symptoms include.  Gluten sensitivity is a digestive health issue, like celiac disease, in that people who ingest wheat, rye, or barley suffer stomachaches, bloating, and diarrhea. But someone who is “gluten sensitive” doesn’t test positive for celiac disease, nor do they have the characteristic intestinal damage. "For whatever reason, people have symptoms that mimic celiac disease, but they test negative to the screenings. And they clearly get better with a gluten-free diet," says Alessio Fasano, MD, medical director of the Center for Celiac Research at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and a leading researcher on celiac disease and related disorders. Based on the number of people who've visited his clinic over the past four to five years, he estimates that anywhere from 6 to 7 percent of the population suffers from gluten sensitivity, compared to about 1 percent of the population that's likely to have celiac disease.

Unfortunately, very little is known about non-celiac gluten sensitivity.  In fact, a 2009 study in out of the University of Maryland even dubbed it the "no-man's-land" of gastrointestinal problems. "We are with gluten sensitivity where we were with celiac disease 10 years ago," says Dr. Fasano. "There's still a lot of skepticism of it in the medical community and lack of information and confusion about the condition." Much of the difficulty has to do with the simple fact that gluten-sensitivity symptoms are so vague, and so easily confused with other disorders. The three most frequent symptoms of the disorder are stomachaches and irregular bowel movements, which often get confused with irritable bowel syndrome, joint pain that's diagnosed as arthritis, and a "foggy mind" or headaches that, coupled with fatigue, are mistaken for chronic fatigue syndrome or fibromyalgia, says Dr. Fasano.

Another mystery around gluten sensitivity is whether it can be cured or eliminated. Unlike celiac disease, a lifelong disorder that can be controlled but never disappears, gluten sensitivity seems to go away in some people. But in others, it doesn’t. "There's a tremendous variability among people who have it," Dr. Fasano says, likening it to allergies. Sometimes people grow out of their allergies as they get older, but others suffer for their entire lives.

The good news is that gluten sensitivity doesn't come with the same chronic health problems as celiac disease, which has been linked to higher instances of cancers of the digestive tract, and in women, to miscarriages. Dr. Fasano has found that people with gluten sensitivity are at no greater risk than the general population for these disorders.

Because gluten sensitivity isn't widely recognized by doctors, you have to be your own advocate if you think you might suffer from it.  Consider:

• Does a gluten-free diet alleviate your symptoms? As noted earlier, with celiac disease, doctors can conduct blood tests and biopsies of a person's small intestine to come up with a concrete diagnosis. But the gluten sensitive don't have the same blood markers or damaged intestines that celiac sufferers do.   If you suffer from symptoms that you believe may be related to gluten, try giving up products that contain gluten.  If it helps, report your own “exclusionary findings” to your primary physician.

• Could it be wheat allergy? There are actually three types of gluten intolerance: celiac disease, which can be diagnosed with tests; gluten sensitivity, which is hard to diagnose; and an allergy to wheat. This last one will elicit symptoms just like any other allergy you might have, and can be diagnosed by your allergist. And an allergic reaction to wheat usually appears within minutes of eating wheat, while it can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days for signs of gluten sensitivity to show up, says Dr. Fasano (symptoms of celiac disease can take months to surface).

• Are you relying on labels? The Food and Drug Administration is working on labeling definitions for identifying gluten-free foods, but at the moment, there's no regulation of the term. Avoiding gluten entirely takes dedication and careful reading of labels. Watch out for ingredients made with or derived from wheat, rye, or barley, and keep in mind that naturally gluten-free foods, such as buckwheat and quinoa, can be packaged or processed in facilities that also process wheat, which can expose the grains to gluten contamination. However, Dr. Fasano notes that people with gluten sensitivity have varying thresholds for how much gluten it takes to make them ill, so you may not need complete gluten elimination to see relief. "For some people, the threshold is as high as those suffering from celiac disease," he says. "For other people the threshold is not that high, and they have a little more wiggle room around how much gluten they can tolerate."


As we continue our discussion on the healing power of food, nothing illustrates this concept more effectively than Conni’s Story.

Conni and Chris have been married for seven-and-a-half years. At their wedding, Conni was morbidly obese.  She knew something about the abuse endured by obese people in our society. By then, she had lost track of the number of times she had been humiliated in public, called ugly names by strangers, and been physically hurt by people who felt entitled to treat her as less than human because of her weight.  People constantly told Conni she was lucky that Chris had fallen in love with her, and that he must be amazing to be able to look past her weight.

A week after the wedding, she was diagnosed with severe diabetes. Her blood had become so acidic that her organs were shutting down, and doctors seriously doubted whether she would survive. She was 25-years-old.

Five years later, Conni was taking up to 13 different medications and as much as 200 units of insulin a day. She ate what many people would call a healthy diet -- lots of animal protein, and almost no carbohydrates. She had been told that a diet high in animal protein was the only way she could control her diabetes, but it wasn't working. She was working out at a gym for two to three hours a day, but at 5'2" tall, she weighed close to 400 pounds.

When Conni developed an infection in her right calf, doctors told her that part of her lower right leg might need to be amputated. But then a friend, who Conni described  as "a vegan and into yoga," suggested that she consider a natural approach to her diabetes, and that she start to think of food as medicine. "I wanted to smash her," Conni admits. "How dare she suggest something so simple! Didn't she know that I had been to the best doctors, that I was on the best diet, and that I was working out?"

But Conni did take her friend's advice to heart, and decided to go on what she calls a "100-percent healthy plant-strong diet."  "For the first three weeks," she says, "I felt as though I was ridding myself of much more than animal products. Food had a hold on me that I could not even conceptualize prior to those three weeks. I would sit in my car and cry outside of sub shops, just wanting a tuna melt."  It was very rough, but Conni stayed with it and the results were nothing short of miraculous. In 30 days, she was off all insulin.

The physicians she was seeing for her diabetes took a look at her numbers, were amazed, and wanted to know how she did it. "I told them I had adopted a completely plant-based diet. They didn't seem surprised at all, and told me that plant-based diets were helping to reverse diabetes. When I asked why they had not suggested it, they told me because it isn't practical."

Frustrated, she asked her doctor, "Do you think it's practical to be 30 years old and lose a leg?"

She walked out of that doctor's office and never went back. "Everything changed from that moment," she recalls. "I slowly decreased all the other diabetes medicines I was on. I lowered my blood cholesterol without drugs. I lowered my blood pressure without drugs. I corrected my hormonal problems without drugs. Many diabetics go blind, but I reversed the nerve damage in my eyes. And that infection in my leg? It completely healed. The arthritis in my feet? It went away."   Today, Conni has lost almost 200 pounds, is medicine-free, and continues to make great strides toward her ideal weight. Her diabetes is in complete remission.

To view food as one of the most powerful tools for health and well-being is to recognize that we have, indeed, a tremendous amount of control over our physical destiny!



Looking For The Best Medicine?  Look in Your Refrigerator!

Did you know that honey has a compound that kills bacteria , making it an ideal topical wound treatment?  Or that a study in 2007 found that darker honey (such as buckwheat) works just as well as over-the-counter medicine for coughs and sore throats?  Were you aware that four ounces of legumes a week reduces cancer rates 22 percent --- better than any drug?  Or that bananas, extremely high in potassium yet low in salt, create the perfect defense against high blood pressure?  These and other facts about nutrition may not be in the headlines under the health care debate, but those who are making their foods their medicine are moving health care from the medicine cabinet to the refrigerator!

Good nutrition is perhaps the most powerful medicine we have against chronic disease.  People in the U.S. alone spend a reported $147 billion annually to treat obesity, $116 billion to treat diabetes, and hundreds of billions more to treat cardio-vascular disease and the multiple types of cancer that have been linked to the “Standard American Diet.”  One recent study showed that 30 percent of the increase in health care spending over the last 20 years could be attributed directly to the steep increase in obesity, which is directly related to processed carbohydrates and other high glycemic, sugared foods and beverages.

It’s not a coincidence that while chronic disease rates have risen drastically over the last 50 years, the USDA reports a 30 – 50 percent decline in the consumed nutrients in our diet.  But, consider that humans evolved eating whole, fresh organic food over thousands of years and then suddenly, over a mere 100 years, adjusted to a convenient diet of premade, processed, prepared and junk foods that had half the nutritional value --- and was laden with pesticides, sugars, and adulterated polyunsaturated oils.

The good news, however, is that as destructive to health as poor diets are, the curative power of good food is even more remarkable!  In one study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, patients treated for cancer had a 50 percent reduction in relapse if they ate 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day.  Other research, for example, shows that consuming too little dietary potassium is linked to high blood pressure.  Easy sources of potassium include avocados, sweet potatoes, winter squash, and bananas.  Yet, many blood pressure medications actually cause the loss of potassium!

Undeniable, the Standard American Diet is high in calories and low in nutrients, causing people to be paradoxically overweight and undernourished!  Chronic disease prevention will come not from a chemist’s lab, but from our kitchen tables . . . our body, with the help of the right nutrition, has the natural ability to defend, repair, and restore health!

“If we eat wrongly, no doctor can cure us; if we eat rightly, no doctor is needed.” - Victor Rocine circa 1930


Do you know that most French fries and potato chips contain insane levels of acrylamide? OK, wait . . .  what is acrylamide?

Acrylamide (ACR) is formed naturally when starch-rich foods are fried, baked, grilled, toasted or microwaved at high temperatures (ie: chips, french fires, and bread.)  The result is a chemical substance and known carcinogen.  Studies have already confirmed that it causes cancer in laboratory animals, and human tests are currently in progress.

According to some studies, French fries and potato chips contain about 300 times more acrylamide than the safe limits recommended by WHO (World Health Organization). Unfortunately, this nutritional fact does not appear in the dietary nutritional information that goes with the packaging!

So, if the amount of saturated and trans fat aren’t enough to dissuade you from your next side order of fries or bag of chips for snacking, perhaps the acrylamide data will capture your attention.  (By the way, a medium order of McDonald’s French fries contains 22 g of fat!)

Based on information from the Center for Science in Public Interest, the chart below indicates the typical levels of acrylamide in certain foods. (Note:  The first entry represents the safe limit of acrylamide intake through water as set by the US  Environmental Protection Agency):


As you can see, the amount of acrylamide in a large order of fast-food French fries is at least 300 times more than what the EPA allows in a glass of water. (Acrylamide is sometimes used in water-treatment facilities.)

Why hasn’t this fact been more openly discussed?  There are some who fear that avoidance of foods containing ACR (acrylamide) would result in worse health issues from an unbalanced diet or pathogens from under cooked foods. There is also some consensus that low levels of ACR in the diet are not a concern for neurotoxicity or reproductive toxicity in humans, although further research is needed to study the long-term, low-level cumulative effects on the nervous system.

So, while the FDA (as well as labs in Europe and Canada) continue to research the effects of acrylamide on humans, you have 2 choices:

1.  Continue eating products that contain acrylamide and wait and see what the final results will be on the carcinogenic effects on humans . . . and hope for the best!   (OR)

2.  Stop eating products that contain high levels of acrylamide. Occasional indulgence may be alright, but at least attempt to avoid eating them on a regular basis!


Ever gotten into a discussion and wished you had access to the multitude of reasons why dairy is probably the worst food on the planet? Well if so, you are in luck.

Joseph Keon PhD has just written one of the most important books documenting the massive problems associated with cow's milk.  A wellness consultant, nutrition and fitness expert for over 25 years, Dr. Keon holds a doctorate in nutrition, is considered a leading authority on public health and is the author of three books, including Whole Health: The Guide to Wellness of Body and Mind and The Truth about Breast Cancer: A Seven-Step Prevention Plan.

In this new work, entitled Whitewash: The Disturbing Truth about Cow's Milk and Your Health, Dr. Keon exposes the biggest nutritional myth of our time, and shows that our obsession with dairy is not only unnecessary but highly dangerous.



Many cultures use coconuts regularly in meal preparation, but unfortunately, the standard American diet has not embraced the use of coconuts as other cultures have.  And, it’s really too bad! As others have long recognized, coconuts are definitely superfoods packed with vitamins, minerals and fiber.  Coconuts are also rich in lauric acid, which is known for being antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, and boosts the immune system.

Fresh coconut water (or juice) is one of the highest sources of electrolytes known to man, and can even be used to prevent dehydration in cases of diarrhea or strenuous exercise . . . a much better choice than a sports drink.

Some of the areas that are most misunderstood, however, include the difference between young and mature coconuts, as well as the different types of coconut extractions.

Young coconuts, for example, have more water and soft, gel-like coconut meat, while mature coconuts have less water and firmer coconut meat. While both young and mature coconuts are good for you, the mature coconut may have slightly higher healthy fatty acid content, while young coconut may have a bit of an advantage water-wise. This is because young coconut water is high in B vitamins, minerals (especially calcium, magnesium and potassium), contains the highest form of electrolytes in nature, is completely sterile and so close to the structure of human blood that it can even be transfused directly!

Most people think that coconut milk is the liquid inside the coconut, but this is not the case. The liquid inside the coconut is known as coconut water or juice. Coconut cream, on the other hand, is made from pressing the coconut meat, and coconut milk is made from the expressed juice of grated coconut meat and water.

Coconut oil is the fatty oil that comes from the coconut meat. It’s important to note that coconut oils on the market vary dramatically in terms of quality. Low-quality coconut oils, which should be avoided, are processed by chemical extraction, using solvent extracts, which produces higher yields and is quicker and less expensive. However, the oils contain chemical residues and many are also hydrogenated, bleached and deodorized.

High-quality coconut oil is a completely different product and is truly the healthiest oil you can consume. It is a much safer alternative to other popular oils such as canola oil, where most of its omega-3s are transformed into trans-fats during the deodorization process, which increases the dangers of chronic diseases.

In summary, coconuts can add flavor, variety and--best of all--healthy nutrients to your diet. Coconuts are amazing in assisting the body to:

   Lose weight, or maintain good weight
   Reduce the risk of heart disease
   Lower cholesterol
   Improve conditions involving diabetes and chronic fatigue
   Improve Crohn’s, IBS, and other digestive disorders
   Prevent other disease with its powerful antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal agents
   Increase metabolism and promotes healthy thyroid function
   Boost daily energy
   Rejuvenate skin and prevent wrinkles

Based on requests, we will devote one of our upcoming classes to opening, using, and preparing recipes with coconuts!  Stay tuned!!  Smile


RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA—Considering that over 90% of US strawberries are grown in California, this is a potentially serious national health risk.  Strawberries grown in fields gassed with a carcinogenic fumigant will be the norm on supermarket shelves, unless new California governer Jerry Brown reverses the approval of methyl iodide, a highly reactive chemical, pushed through during the last moments of the Schwarzenegger administration. Giving Brown a strong nudge, a group of farm worker and environmental advocacy groups filed a lawsuit Monday against the state of California to challenge the state's approval of the toxic strawberry pesticide. "Everyone agrees, without exception, that methyl iodide is a very toxic compound. It's very reactive. That means it interacts with living tissue in very toxic ways, causing cell damage and damage to cell structures, DNA, or chromosomes," explains Ted Schettler, MD, MPH, science director at Science and Environmental Health Network. "The upshot is it can cause a lot of health effects, including cancer and damage to tissues that are developing. In animal studies, it killed the fetuses of developing animals exposed by inhalation; fetuses were killed at relatively low doses. Nobody doubts it's a nasty chemical."

Dr. Schettler was among 53 doctors and researchers—including National Academy of Sciences and Nobel laureate researchers—who wrote an open letter to the EPA in 2007 urging them to deny federal approval of methyl iodide, the proposed replacement for methyl bromide, a known ozone depleter. In 2007, the scientists warned: "Alkylating agents like methyl iodide are extraordinarily well-known cancer hazards in the chemical community because of their ability to modify the chemist’s own DNA, as well as the target molecule in the flask, leading to mutations that are potentially very harmful." The warning notes that because of this potential toxicity, chemists who work with this material use the smallest amounts possible, and take great precautions to avoid exposure, and adds, "Because of methyl iodide’s high volatility and water solubility, broad use of this chemical in agriculture will guarantee substantial releases to air, surface waters, and groundwater, and will result in exposures for many people."

THE DETAILS: To the dismay of many of the nation's leading chemists, doctors, and toxicology experts, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved methyl iodide for use in agriculture in 2007 during the 11th hour of the Bush administration, in effect trading an ozone destroyer for a cancer causer. The approval made it legal for farmers to inject the gaseous pesticide into fields in most states prior to planting crops like strawberries, tomatoes, peppers, and grapes. However, Florida, New York, Washington, and California operate under state-based pesticide registration laws. New York and Washington refused to allow the highly reactive chemical in farming, Florida approved it with the stipulation that the manufacturer must monitor air and water quality, and now California is also allowing the chemical. That's significant because the Golden Gate State produces about 90 percent of the strawberries sold in the United States, and many of its strawberry fields border highly populated areas. "It's not uncommon for people's backyards to be up against fields," explains Tracey Brieger, spokeswoman for Californians for Pesticide Reform. She notes that farm workers applying the fumigant, or working near those fields, face the highest exposure risk, along with neighbors' groundwater.

"The danger here, and what we're worried about is, like any other number of chemicals over the last few years, once there's contamination, even if it's possible to clean up, the cost is immense," says Brieger, who notes that taxpayers will be on the hook to foot the bill. "It's astounding that we're considering poisoning the water that we drink. We're saying, 'Why are we even going down this path?'"


Whole Raw Food Now is dedicated to providing the latest information on the benefits of a whole, plant-based nutritional diet.  The foundational components of this type of diet include raw and living foods such as uncooked fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, and sprouted grains.  If you are seeking to improve your health or to lose weight, learning more about the amazing power of plant based foods will start you on an incredible journey!  Please join us for the . . .  

Introduction to Whole Raw Food, pt I
Saturday, July 2, 1:00 - 3:00 in Alpine ($15.00)

This class is designed for anyone who wants to learn more about the health benefits of consuming a diet that includes whole, plant-based foods.  The  workshop provides information on the latest scientific research regarding food and its critical impact on the body.  Two nutritious and delicious smoothies are created at the end with discussion on why certain ingredients are included based on their nutritional and antioxidant value.  Conversation throughout the workshop also includes fascinating topics that can be factors in everyone's health and well being. For example . . . Are you aware that when you boil spinach, you lose 51% of the B vitamin in 5 minutes of cooking? . . . Are you aware that our body creates fat cells, including cellulite, to store excess acid in order to protect it from reaching our organs?

If these types of issues are intriguing to you, then our "Introduction to Whole Raw Food, pt I" workshop should be on your "to do" list! Come join us for 2 hours of engaging, interactive discussion around the fascinating science of whole, raw food on Sunday, July 3!

Please register by clicking on the "Workshop" tab.  If you have any questions, please contact me at 619-726-0408!  See you soon!   






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I have a testimony about the smoothies and I'll try to make it short.  I started walking in Lakeside this past Monday.  I'm not an exerciser at all so this is as new to my body as all the good smoothies I've been drinking!  There's a pretty big hill where we live and I like to challenge myself to walk down and then back up the hill.  Today was my fourth day walking about three miles.  I've done pretty good each day except for today.  When I got home I was in so much pain I could barely stand up, I was hurting all over.  So much that I took ibuprofin and lay on the bed in tears.  I was laying there for a while wondering why today was so much different than the other three days where I'd had some muscle aches but nothing too unbearable.  Then it hit me.  The ONLY thing I did differently today was I DID NOT have my smoothie.  I usually make a good amount and drink 1/2 during the day before my walk and then I drink the other 1/2 after my walk.  The more I thought about it, I felt like if I would just get off of the bed and make the smoothie I would feel better.  I don't think I'm crazy or that it's all in my head.  Of course the pain reliever helped but I honestly feel like my body was craving the "good stuff"!

Thanks for letting me share this with you.  My family and friends all think I'm crazy for drinking my smoothies and even my husband is complaining because I'd rather drink the smoothie than eat the SO-bad-for-you sloppy joes and macaroni & cheese that I made him for dinner.

Thanks for taking the time to tell people the TRUTH about food, SAD and the science behind WHY we need to change our diets.  If you ever wonder if what you're doing is making a difference, it is.  :)


Rebecca B.
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