Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Tis the Season..... On a lighter note

Soooooooo....I definitely don't want this blog to be all "Debbie Downer-ish". I've tried to make it clear that this is a no guilt sort of small information blog. Just trying to get the good green word out there. However, I am fully aware that sometimes it might feel like you wanna just say, "Oh that's just TOO much. I can't save the world and I'm tired and stressed and I've got my own issues". Oh, wait, that was me today. Eh-hem... Anyhow, I fully realize there are countless shades of green and I would love for everyone to pick just one shade and live by it. I can't even buy pencils for my son's first grade school supply list without making sure they are FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified (which ensures forest conservation while managing the environmental impact of logging among other things) Ok, so most people don't stand in Staples looking for the 'right' pencils to buy, but that's ok...they might just not know. That's where I come in, in a sort of "did you know?" sort of way.

I also am realizing location is huge too. My husband likes to say California made me who I am today. That just makes me laugh. But he has a point, and I think most of that has to do with access. I have 3 natural food stores within 2 square miles. I'm not kidding. I haven't stepped food in a regular grocery store in a very, very long time. My best friend Jody can attest to that. She's lived on both coasts for many years as an adult. We've talked about it simply being more difficult for her on the east coast to live the way she believes in.

So to keep this post light and since fall is my favorite season (oh how I MISS the leaves on the east coast) as we gear up for the holidays, I'm going to have something for everyone here. (Even for my friend Donna who just informed me she's not really on board with me :) ) Many of these ideas you can just browse, some you will be able to implement right away and others you can go all out, expend some energy and, WOW- will you feel damn good.

Lets start with a couple small ideas-- lots of these ideas have been used and shared among my friends.

* Purging and Donating- Thanksgiving Day weekend I go through my kids toys (with my kids) and tell them we need to give away 10 items each. I tell them since we are fortunate enough to have Santa come to our house we should give away some things to kids less fortunate. Kids who don't have as much during the rest of the year. Last year I brought them with me when we went to a woman's and children's shelter and donated them. To see where their old toys were going and know other children will love them and use them helped them to enjoy donating them.

* Halloween- As my kids get older and come home with more and more and more candy I have learned to strike a deal with them. First off I try to keep the house stocked with good treats that are less crappy during this time of year. Then I tell them they can pick out their favorite 10 or 15 pieces of candy and the rest they can trade in for a small toy of their choice. Now you may think I'm bribing my kids to not eat candy-- well, I am-- BUT-- they get to choose. They have autonomy here. They know they will only be allowed to eat 1 or maybe 2 pieces per day. Last year my son went with the toy and my daughter looked at me like I was crazy and kept her candy. By Thanksgiving the uneaten went in the trash, because she forgot all about it. I just can't stand having pounds of crap candy in the house, so we play lets make a deal.

* Holiday presents- Seriously, how many people do you buy for and have no idea what to get them, realize there is nothing they need, and just end up settling for some less than great gift just so they have something to open. I get it. I like presents too. I'm not saying stop completely, but there are better ways to spend your money if you're just going to buy to buy for someone who really doesn't need a thing.
Consider www.heifer.org. In short, these are gifts of livestock and training that help families all over the world improve their nutrition and generate income in sustainable ways. They have been around since 1974 and are truly a wonderful organization. One year we gave flocks of chicks to everyone for $20. Last year my great friend Catherine and her daughter, Simone, gave my kids a share in a llama and the book Beatrice's Goat (a great kids read explaining this charity). My kids got such a hoot of the printout of this llama that was given in their name to a family on the other side of the world to help their family!! This is a great idea for office gifts too-- get the whole office to create a theme and give charitable gifts this season. Do you really need another candle, body lotion or coffee mug?!?!
Consider kiva.org The basis of this charitable organization is microfinance. Donate money for part of a loan for a woman to create a business. She pays the loan back and Kiva repays lenders. At that point you can donate it back to Kiva directly, re-lend it, or have it paid back via PayPal. I've watched my $25 be relent several times. It's also fun to see who and for what business your money is supporting.
For people searching for higher end gifts to give with a charitable undertone consider www.apeacetreaty.com which supports Afghan, Kurdish and Pakistani women who have been widowed or disabled following decades of war in these countries. A gorgeous scarf made by an Afghan woman will cost about $125.

Other random ideas:

~ If you have paper grocery bags on hand (if you're not using reusable canvas ones yet!!), use them to wrap gifts!!! Don't buy wrapping paper! When we have them in the house we use them for all kids birthday party presents. Then my kids get to color, draw, and decorate the gifts and make them really personal and original. It's a great art and craft for 15 minutes of peace and quiet too.

~ Air freshener-- chemical free. Put 30 drops of pure lavender oil mixed with a few ounces of water in a spray bottle. Spray anywhere for a non toxic fresh smell. Spray on sheets for a calming affect for babies and kids too.

~ Game exchange or book exchange. If your child is having a large birthday party and if you're like me and don't think any child needs 20+ presents to open in one sitting consider doing a book exchange or game exchange. Each child brings a book or board game wrapped. You can do the whole sit in a circle, play music and pass them around and around until the music stops. Every child leaves with a "gift" and you don't need to make or spend money on goody bags. I just remind my son that the party is his present. (He still gets a couple presents from us and close family)

~ Go to freerice.com This is fun and addicting!! Test your vocabulary-- for every answer you get right rice is donated through the World Food Program to end world hunger. You may just get smarter doing it.

~ For anyone who wants to go green by going blue visit www.oceana.org
Save our big blue and be sure to check out the sustainable fish lists. A must
for sushi lovers too.

~ And for my east coast peeps check out www.elevationburger.com Free range, grass fed, humanely treated cows to give you a great burger. Coming soon to CA!!

~ Finally-- to just peruse and learn and shop. Check out www.theultimategreenstore.com


If you can't find a way (or 10 ways) to be green here....
then stop reading my blog.
:)
Enjoy.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Franken-Fish -- G.E. Salmon for dinner?

Genetically engineered food: It's becoming a heated debate and a dividing issue. Ok, maybe not to the masses, but for anyone interested in their health and the state of food production, it is. I fully plan on tackling this issue in a detailed post, but due to a lack of time on my part to write and the short time line we have to act on this most recent issue I'm just posting some information.

http://action.foodandwaterwatch.org/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=4693

Here's some information from the non-profit, Food and Water Watch:

We Have 15 Days to Stop GE Salmon From Being Approved
Tell President Obama to Stop GE Salmon.


My stomach turns at the thought of eating something that's considered an animal drug, but that's exactly what could end up on my plate if genetically engineered (GE) salmon are approved. We've got 15 days to stop the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) from approving GE salmon. Can you ask President Obama to stop FDA's approval of genetically engineered salmon?

Franken-Fish have won the race to be the first genetically engineered animal approved for human consumption. The aquaculture industry has genetically engineered a fish that grows at twice the normal rate, so they can get it to market sooner and make more money.

The scary thing is, the FDA doesn't do its own testing of genetically engineered animals, it relies on information provided by the company that wants approval. And because GE salmon are being considered as a new animal drug, the process isn't focused on what happens to people who eat genetically engineered animals. So on top of the health concerns posed by raising salmon in crowded factory fish farms that rely on antibiotics and other chemicals, the FDA could be adding the unknown risks of GE salmon to the mix.

The FDA is the same agency that's in charge of overseeing the egg industry, and we see how well they've done that job. The FDA does not have the capacity to ensure the safety of food that is not genetically engineered, they certainly should not be in charge of allowing the first GE animal into our food supply.

We've got just 15 days until the FDA takes formal steps to approve GE salmon, so it's up to us to demand that President Obama direct the FDA to reject this request.

Take action to stop this mutant fish from reaching your plate:
http://action.foodandwaterwatch.org/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=4693

Thanks for taking action,
Sarah Alexander
Outreach Director
Food & Water Watch
fish(at)fwwatch(dot)org

Monday, August 30, 2010

Back to School

As if there's not enough to think about when it's back to school time...I'm about to mention lunch boxes!!! Yes, lunch boxes. This is one of those topics that may be too green for some. I realize some people don't want to go there- to the extreme green, to the bottomless pit of green living. Every time you turn around there's something new to worry about or think about, and at times you wish for the uninformed you.

Hear me out here...

Those vinyl lunch boxes you get at any Target or Walmart are made of vinyl or PVC. Some manufactures use lead as a color stabilizer on these lunch boxes.
I'll stick to two topics here. Vinyl and lead.
I'm going to try to be brief here. Those who know me, understand how difficult this can be for me.

Lead, I don't think I need to go on too long about this. We all know lead consumption is dangerous, especially for babies and kids. High lead levels and lead poisoning can manifest anywhere from vague learning disabilities to kidney failure to death in it's extreme form. Lead was detected in lunch boxes over the last few years and in 2007 many states recalled lunch boxes because levels were so high. I understand it seems a bit panicky to think your child will get lead poisoning from this, but it was detected on the hands of people after handling the lunch boxes. Hands to face while eating lunch, right? Again, this may not be enough to be physically dangerous, but do we really want to take that chance with our spongy, developing child's brain?? I certainly don't.

Polyvinylchloride (PVC or 'vinyl') is used in tons of household products from pipes, and flooring to baby toys, electronics and shower curtains. You know that smell of a new vinyl shower curtain?- yeah, not so good for you. I seriously could create a short separate post just about the 14 dangerous toxins released after opening up that new shower curtain package! (Toluene- a developmental toxin is one!) Several hazardous chemicals (lead, mercury, phthalates, vinyl chloride, dioxins, ethylene dichloride, among others) are released in the manufacturing of PVC. These chemical plants, mostly located in low income, small communities, pollute the air and water and create numerous dangerous conditions for their workers as well. Mossville, Louisiana, surrounded by four vinyl production plants, was noted in a CNN special as having polluted air, water and citizens. People there have dioxin levels found in their bodies that correspond with the dioxins released from the production facilities. Most of the chemicals mentioned here are carcinogens and workers at these plants have been diagnosed with rare liver cancers, brain cancer, lung cancer and lymphomas at a high rate. The bottom line is you don't want to be inhaling the scent of your new plastic shower curtain, you don't want your 2 year old to be mouthing PVC made toys and you shouldn't want your kids carrying a PVC made lunch box.

I get that your child probably won't be licking the inside of his lunch box daily. (However, I wouldn't put it past my daughter to lick a bit of jelly that oozed out of her sandwich onto her lunch box!) But when we speak of healthy kids and a healthy planet...doesn't it make sense not to support these toxic chemical makers? For the sake of the children in Mossville that are breathing and drinking that water. We all have to take responsibility. So lets be sure our kids are protected from dangerous chemicals at least by our choices in lunch boxes!! At the same time we won't be supporting dangerous chemical makers when there are safer alternatives to PVC that are cost effective and available.

If you're wondering if a container or product is made of PVC look for a #3 inside the product or a "V" underneath the recycle symbol.

Here are some places to look for better lunch containers and lunch boxes.

Affordable and easy--
www.citizenpip.com
www.laptoplunches.com
www.easylunchboxes.com
www.crocodilecreek.com

The gold standard--
www.planetbox.com
www.lunchbots.com
www.mimithesardine.com

I love Citizenpip.

Happy back to school!!!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Triclosan- You and your hand soap don't need it.

Triclosan, an antibacterial and antifungal agent, is the most common ingredient in antibacterial hand soaps. It is used under the name Microban when used in plastics and clothing, and the name Biofresh when used in acrylic fibers. I am so fed up with everything becoming antibacterial and most people thinking this is a good thing!

We are washing our kids with it, brushing their teeth with it, then marching into the doctors office and demanding more antibiotics to stop Johnny's runny nose and cough! Why do bacteria get such a bad rap??? There are millions of good bacteria. All over our skin, in our nostrils, lining our gut....everywhere. These good guys keep the bad bacteria from proliferating. You wash your hands fifteen times a day with Softsoap (containing triclosan) and you've gotten rid of both good and bad bacteria. The next thing you touch is Johnny's runny nose and WHAMMO-- the bad bacteria are running rampant.

Let me break it down-- the actual dangers of triclosan.

Triclosan is an endocrine disruptor. We've heard a lot about this in recent
years with BPA and other components of plastics. Endocrine disruptors are substances from outside the body that act like hormones and disrupt the internal hormone production and balance. Triclosan mimics the thyroid hormone and attaches to receptor sites so that the body's own thyroid hormone cannot be used. Not so great, huh?

Triclosan reacts with chlorine in water creating toxic compounds like
dioxins and chloroform gas- a human carcinogen.

Antibiotic resistance. I've visited this topic before. Creating superbugs that
have evolved to outlast our antibiotic excess. This is a really big deal. As a
nurse I get all worked up about this....you should too. Being in a situation
where you can't find a strong enough antibiotic to fight a really tough bug is S-C-A-R-Y.

Your kids immune systems are WEAK in a sterile world! There are studies showing links with kids living in extremely microbial protective environments with asthma, allergies and eczema. (1) Their immune systems are in a sense immature, having never been exposed to a range of bacteria. Another study showed rural community kids living on farms had fewer allergies than kids not living on farms. (2)

And let's not forget that while people are scrubbing their kids, ridding them of
all bacteria that most illnesses are from VIRUSES! H1N1- Virus. Common Cold- Virus.

Plain ol' soap and water, a good 15 second scrub often throughout the day is BETTER than antimicrobial soaps!!!!!

The Center for Disease Control and the American Medical Association both agree that "no data exists to support their (antimicrobial agents)efficacy...and it may be prudent to avoid the use of them in common household products".
The FDA is currently reviewing it's safety.



Now for the the list. This is only a small portion of products containing triclosan.

* Dial and Softsoap hand soap (many others as well)
* Ajax and Dawn Dish soap (wow!!! even washing our dishes with it!)
* Deodorants (Right Guard, Old Spice)
* Too many skin care products to name
* childrens toys, cosmetics, kitchenware....
IT'S EVERYWHERE.



1 Rook GAW, Stanford JL. Give us this day our daily germs. Immunol Today 1998;19:113-6.

2 Braun-Fahrländer CH, Gassner M, Grize L, Neu U, Sennhauser FH, Varonier HS, et al. Prevalence of hay fever and allergic sensitization in farmer's children and their peers living in the same rural community. Clin Exp Allergy 1999;29:28-34.

Friday, August 6, 2010

You do your best.....


For all the wanna be "perfect parents" out there, take my advice- stop wanting to be.
I have to tell myself this often. I joke about having a rare "Martha Stewart moment" here and there and my friend Liane usually shakes her head at me and responds with, "Yeah...not me. Don't feel the need to have that moment." In fact, most people don't.
And there's lots about Martha Stewart I don't necessarily want to emulate!!!!!

However, what I've learned thus far --understanding that I am always learning and changing --- is with kids there a few non negotiable things and most everything else is fluid, negotiable, and ever changing.

So my basic rules?

~ Modeling, modeling, modeling.....if
you want kids to eat healthy,you have to eat healthy. If you want kids to speak nicely and have manners, you have to model that. It goes for everything. When you are interacting out in the world, your kids are learning how to do the same from you.

~ Sit down family dinner as often as possible-- sounds very 1950-Esq, but it is proven to have positive effects on kids and their relationships with their parents through the tumultuous teen years.

~ Get veggies in them when they are starving-- during 5 o'clock happy hour my kids consume lots of carrots, green beans, cucumbers etc with ranch and hummus. Start this young. It'll be harder if they are used to Cheetos before dinner, but with effort this can change. Muster up the energy, and make the effort.

~ Get kids involved--
bake with them, let them watch and help you make dinner, grow something-
anything! One pot, one strawberry plant in May....you'll be surprised how
exciting this is.

~ Limit TV, computer and video games!
JUST DO IT!!!!!

Do not ignore all the studies and literature that has proven this UNHEALTHY.
We all use TV for a break sometimes, and special movie time is great.
But blank stares and glazed over eyes for hours, is NOT healthy.
And you know that.

I never would have thought when I started a little container garden a couple years ago, I would see my daughter in her nightgown at 8:30am on a Saturday morning sharing green beans for breakfast with my dog, Lucy.
These are the moments I breath deep and have confidence I'm doing something right.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Ultra Pasteurization-- Why "Ultra"?

Pasteurization is the process of heating something to a certain temperature to kill micro-organisms and extend shelf life. Louis Pasteur, the French chemist and microbiologist, was responsible for developing this method in the late 1800's. This was an important breakthrough because it was the beginning of understanding bacteria and disease. At this time, there was a need for decreasing these harmful organisms, as food borne illness was rampant. One of the biggest reasons contributing to this widespread illness was filthy dairies. The idea of sanitation and germs being linked with disease was just beginning to be understood. Populations and food production were increasing and food was traveling farther to reach people. Pasteurization decreased the food borne illness and extended shelf life for food en route, but did nothing to motivate dairies to clean up and operate under more sanitary conditions. With the public feeling safe with their new "sterile" milk there was no push for changing farming practices. Bigger, faster production was the theme, and that continues today.

I could make a case for raw milk here and discuss eliminating the entire pasteurization process, but the pasteurization campaign has been so strong, raw milk is illegal in most states. The fact is that clean raw milk from disease free cows, processed in clean dairies is perfectly safe and very healthy. However, since most of the population buys pasteurized milk that's the topic I'll stick to.

As micro-organisms began to survive the pasteurization process and an even longer shelf life was desirable for farmers, the ultra pasteurization process (also known as UHT- ultra high temperatures) became commonplace. The process heats milk to a whopping 280 degrees at least. We must first understand that although killing harmful bacteria can be beneficial, pasteurizing in this way kills every micro-organism, even the helpful ones. As we saw in the early 1900's and today, with organisms surviving stronger antibiotics, the pasteurization process etc, the bugs continue to win. We continue to find ways to kill them instead of addressing the underlying problems and this viscous cycle continues.

Ultra pasteurized milk does not curdle, you can't make cheese or yogurt from it. It tastes....well...blah- sort of flat, cooked, almost stale. Go ahead, have a milk challenge (I dare you to add in raw milk to that taste test)!! Ultra pasteurization destroys more nutrients than the regular pasteurization process.

Here's the nitty-gritty health reasons--

~ Calcium: Phosphates are needed for calcium absorption in the body.
UHT destroys all phosphates.

~ UHT destroys lipase, an important enzyme used to help the body
break down and absorb fat soluble vitamins like A & D. (this is why
milk is fortified with Vit D)

~ Vitamins B6 and B12 are destroyed in this pasteurization process

~ UHT alters delicate animo acid configurations and changes the
balanced proteins making them react differently in the body.

~ Along with making absorption of vitamins and minerals difficult, UHT
milk is also deficient in vitamins. The process diminishes vitamins
A, D and C by upwards of 50%.

~ Destroying all bacteria disrupts the natural balance. The good
bacteria are there to help keep the bad bacteria in check. Small
amounts of "bad" bacteria are good for us. Destroying all bacteria
weakens our immunity and creates stronger next generation bugs--
because they do evolve.

~ When packaged under aseptic techniques UHT milk is stable at room
temperature for up to 6 months!!!! That doesn't seem right.
Are we creating milk Twinkies?

Ultra pasteurized milk is less healthy than pasteurized milk which is less healthy than raw milk.
This process give false security of "clean" milk allowing dirty farming practices to continue.

I say drink less milk and get your calcium from dark leafy greens!!!
But when choosing pasteurized milk, don't reach for the UHT/ultra pasteurized labeled milk!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Locavore Challenge

I admit... when I first heard the term "Locavore" years ago I thought, "Really? Do we need another name?" If you don't live in California you're probably still rolling your eyes at this term. We've had some time to adapt to it here, and I like it. I believe in it, and I am trying everyday to live it more and more. in 2006 a group of people in San Francisco decided to try to eat within 100 miles of the Bay Area and they called themselves 'Locavores'. http://locavores.com/

To eat and buy local is just plain smart.
*It means you keep money in your local community and support your local farmers.
*It means you care about the environment and would rather forgo grapes in January than contribute to all the fossil fuel used to bring them to you. Fuel from trucks, planes and ships. Energy used to refrigerate products for up to 2 weeks in transit. The environmental reason list goes on and on.
*It means you generally don't want to eat your produce with a side of chemicals . More local and small farms will grow organically. However, even if you aren't eating organic local food you are still decreasing your chemical intake since most fruit is picked unripe and chemical ripening agents are added later.
*It means your probably pretty healthy, eating foods with more nutrients, and eating what you're supposed to be eating in that particular season.
*It means you're thrifty since food at the peak of it's season is also less expensive.
*It means you savor food and appreciate flavor- conventional food can be stored for weeks in refrigerators before even reaching your store! All I have to say here is...tomatoes. If you've never eaten a freshly picked tomato, you must.
*It means you value open land spaces. Keeping farms open keeps land, pastures and farms in your local area from being developed. Take your kids to an operating farm....get back in touch with food and create this relationship for your children.

We have lost touch with food as a whole in this country. People are so accustomed to having any food they want at any given time many of us don't even know what is normally in season! Most people would associate watermelon and tomatoes with summer... but how many people know asparagus is April (with a very short harvest) or kale is sweetest in winter. Some of you do...most of the population does not. It makes sense that in autumn/winter the body needs more vitamins and nutrients for cold stress and illness that foods like root vegetables and squashes rich in vitamin A and C are at their peak. There is a reason for this! Shopping at your local farmers market and eating with the season benefits everyone.

The average conventional food item travels 1500 miles before reaching you. WHAT?
Here are two important facts:
***The average US wheat farmer receives about 6 cents of each dollar spent on the loaf of bread.
***Farmers markets enable farmers to keep 80-90 cents of each dollar spent by the consumer. 1

Find a farmers market:
http://www.localharvest.org/

Stop buying heavily processed food. OK, if that's too much...reduce your consumption of these expensive, unhealthy convenience foods.

At the very least. Look to see where your food is coming from. Read the little stickers and signs "Product of..." In January I bet those grapes say "Chile". Cha-ching!!!!
You probably won't run out and declare yourself a Locavore today. That's ok-- just begin to become aware of where your food is coming from, the choices will follow. Trust me.



1. Pretty, Jules. "Some Benefits and Drawbacks of Local Food Systems." Briefing Note for TVU/Sustain AgriFood Network, November 2, 2001.

Monday, July 19, 2010

I don't care what they say--- A juice box is NOT a serving of fruit!!!!!

And neither are those fruit gummies, or fruit leather things!

Fruit juice is really just a concentrated form of sugar- fructose- that is metabolized by the liver. What most people fail to understand is that whole fruits and their desirable qualities, such as phytochemicals, flavonoids, carotenoids etc., need to be in the form of the whole fruit to produce these desirable effects in the body. The skin of the apple works synergistically with the apple flesh. The skin with all it's antioxidants and fiber content actually stabilizes blood sugar levels. Apple juice without it's peel is virtually a high sugar, high caloric drink with a bit of vitamin C. A whole apple is "health food", a glass of apple juice is not.
The pulp in an orange(the white fleshy part in between the sections of the orange) is where flavonoids are found. Studies are showing flavonoids to be anti-inflammatory, anti-carcinogenic, anti-allergic and anti-microbial. Eat an orange...leave the stringy white part on.
I don't want to sound redundant so understand that this "fruit with skin benefit" theme continues for all fruit.

Some of the most beneficial skins??-- strawberries, apples, raisins, blueberries, apricots, raspberries, figs, grapes, pears, plums, prunes....you're getting the picture right?

For kids, juice should be a treat! Making it the sole source of hydration is a detriment to their health. This should be a super easy decision for adults to make- for themselves and their children. It's pretty easy to get kids to eat whole fruit, especially in summer. If you make it available, a perfectly ripe juicy nectarine will not be shunned. If water is what's available from an early age, water is what they will drink. It really is that easy.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Prioritizing....

You can go nuts trying to live an ultra green life. Depending on where you live, your desires, your knowledge (along with your quest for knowledge) it can simply get the best of you. It can become a full time job if you apply it to all areas of your life! It can be hard to speak about specific changes to someone who has no clue....it's like green kindergarten. If you overwhelm these people you either get blank stares or excuses such as "we don't have access to 'those stores' and my favorite, "I can't afford that type of food"-- spoken by the upper middle class citizen driving their Lexus.

So yes...you can go nuts greening up every little area of your life. We need to prioritize. That happens to be the answer to the "I can't afford it" excuse. Don't get me wrong-- it makes me angry that it generally costs more to eat wholesome, healthy food over McDonald's. It's sad. Truely poverty stricken families are just trying to meet their basic human needs of food and shelter- this is another conversation that gets my blood boiling...we'll save that for another time. The fact remains that most of you reading this are reading it on your laptop in front of your flat screen LCD TV. Eating chemical, hormone, antibiotic free food would just take re-prioritizing what is important to you and finding a way to afford it. We all did that in order to buy our flat screens, didn't we!?!? Here are some suggestions... skip a hair highlight or two, stop buying your kids so many toys, scale down your clothing budget, stop buying so many 'convenience foods' and processed crap your kids don't need and put the money toward hormone free meat! It can be done easily if it's something that is important to you. The more you do, the more you learn the more important it becomes. It's a vicious natural living cycle!
In keeping it simple here, I'll just address a few important food choices. This is pretty basic and easy to do....

* Start with organic dairy and meat.
Almost all industrial farmed cattle are injected with hormones and antibiotics (most of which are banned in Europe). Bottom line is you don't want carcinogens in your food. These hormones are stored in the fat of animals and providing a nicely concentrated hormone disrupting effect in your growing, developing child. The USDA says the residue in meat should be "less than one percent of the daily hormone production of children", but this same USDA has no testing in place to enforce this. These are the same hormones that many studies are now liking to breast cancer, ovarian cysts, early puberty, infertility among other concerns. Logic here...why would we think these added hormones are safe? Why would we think they have no affect? All hormones have an affect!!! It's a very balanced system, our endocrine system, why are we messing with it?
On an ethical note, dairy cows are some of the most inhumanely treated, tortured animals of the industrial farming community. Organic meat and dairy is an absolute for my family.

*Choose Organic for fruit and veggies most susceptible to high levels of chemical residue:
Strawberries, raspberries, grapes, apples, pears, tomatoes, peaches, nectarines, apricots, cherries, bell peppers, spinach, salad greens, rice, potatoes, green beans, cucumbers.

*Read ingredients!!!! Just say no to Red #3!
There are studies linking coloring additives to ADD/ADHD. They are in everything...even Yellow #5 is in Johnson and Johnson Baby Shampoo! Most are made from coal tar. What??? (Norway has banned these)
Look for these additives and stay away.
* Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA) and Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT)
* Propyl Gallate
* Sodium nitrate/nitrate
* Sulfites
* FD&C Blue #1
* FD&C Blue #2
* FD&C Green #3
* FD&C Red #3 (Erythrosine)
* FD&C Yellow #5 (Tartrazine)
* FD&C Yellow #6
* Monosodium glutamate (MSG)
* Acesulfame-K

* As hard as it is....get as much (if not all) high fructose corn syrup out of your diet! Just because it says "fructose" in the name does not mean it is (or even similar to) the naturally occurring fructose sugar in fruit. It is a highly refined liquid made from corn starch. It has a long shelf life and it's cheap to make. The problem lies with the fact that it does not cause the pancreas to produce insulin which helps to signal the brain that you're full. It goes straight to the liver to be stored as fat and increase the production of triglycerides! You eat HFCS's, never feel full and increase your fat/triglycerides.... Wow, here you are big pharma- your silver platter- numerous chronic illnesses that HFCS have have a part in exacerbating!

Make these few steps a priority.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Basics

The fundamentals. Lets start there. Martha Stewart of natural, green living I am not.
A wife and mother of two with with a job, house, dog and a serious lack of time...well, that's me. It's just like I learned in nursing school forever ago-- prioritize. Each of us do it everyday with every task. At work, for me, it's airway, breathing, circulation. At home it goes something like this- mindful parenting, healthy food choices and respecting each other and our earth. Of course shoes are somewhere at the top of the list and wine, lets not forget wine. Some days wine supersedes everything.

I'll start by saying choosing to live naturally or green or however you want to phrase it takes work. I think the choice to do so becomes much easier when you decide to have kids. You look at this relatively "blank slate" and you don't want to damage that perfect little being in anyway. My personal motivation started earlier than that but kids definitely brought it to another level. Over the years I have read countless books and spent crazy hours researching topics because I like to. I am in a continual state of trying to live the most natural life that is realistic for me and my family.
And what it comes down to is to be open to making small changes. I'm not going to lie....when you start learning why you should make these choices, it can leave you feeling depressed or even hopeless at times. The other side of things is that when you do start living greener you will feel better physically and mentally and your kids will be learning invaluable lessons and will be part of a generation that will actually be the collective effort.

To keep it simple we can just use our own logic. Really, I don't need a ton of studies trying to prove that hormones given to cows to fatten up quicker or produce more milk are safe. I'll just go with logic and say it's probably not good, so I'll pass, thanks. Quick example to leave you with- the hormone DES (an estrogen drug thought to help prevent miscarriages) used in the 1960's was withdrawn after women and daughters of women who took it during pregnancy were inflicted with rare cervical cancers and reproductive abnormalities among other ailments. (This topic has many more layers that are too involved for my simple point) It was finally proven to be a human carcinogen but for over a decade it was prescribed like candy. It's a fact that lifetime exposure to estrogen is associated with an increased risk of breast cancer.
So why-oh-why would we be part of yet another experimental group? Sadly, any one of us growing up in the 80's and 90's and even now pretty much are. Bovine growth hormone (to help increase a cow's milk supply) began widespread use in the early nineties. Has anyone else taken note of more and more young women with breast cancer?
Again, I'll go with logic here and say that hormone free milk is superior to hormone laden milk. I'll pay slightly more for hormone free milk for my daughter (and son) if it means piece of mind that I'm doing something proactive for their health.