Tuesday, January 31, 2012

EPA's Dioxin Reassessment Suppressed by Food Giants

Did you know that one serving of a non organic animal product can exceed your daily intake of dioxin?  As if there should be any allowable amount as it's one of the most toxic substances on the planet.  Up 10% in 2010, Dioxin pollution is a man made problem and we are all impacted, mostly through food.  The FDA says, "Although dioxins are environmental contaminants, most dioxin exposure occurs through the diet, with over 95% coming through dietary intake of animal fats."

As the EPA gears up to release part of a 26 year long risk assessment study, corporate food lobbyists are attempting to avoid responsibility by suppressing the information so they don't have to comply with food safety regulations. Check out this important video for a quick look at how serious this problem has become.  Head over to the OCA website to send an email declaring that we have a right to know what is in our food and encouraging the EPA to take action (it's a 10 second form).

Friday, January 27, 2012

JUST LABEL IT! Video Message to FDA

Consumer based organization, JUST LABEL IT, releases new video by FOOD, INC. Filmaker, Robert Kenner as part of their Just Label It campaign to get some regulation from the FDA enforcing the labeling of GMO foods.  “Labels Matter captures my conviction that consumers have the right to know what is in their food,” says Kenner.  This is such a pressing matter, and already over a half a million consumers have asked for labeling.  You can view the video HERE and also sign a petition to the FDA.  Who doesn't want to know what's in their food, especially when it's genetically modified?!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Still Using Mainstream Fabric Softeners?

Here is a laundry list for you, some of the many toxic chemicals in fabric softeners and laundry sheets:

A-TERPINEOL: Causes respiratory issues, edema, and damages the central nervous system.
BENZYL ACETATE: Linked to pancreatic cancer, causes respiratory problems.
BENZYL ALCOHOL: Damages upper respiratory tract.
CAMPHOR:  Damages central nervous system.
CHLOROFORM: Carcinogen and neurotoxin.
ETHANOL: Damages central nervous system, listed by EPA as Hazardous Waste.
ETHYL ACETATE: Also on EPA's list as Hazardous Waste list, narcotic.
LINALOOL:  Damages central nervous system, narcotic.
LIMONENE: Carcinogen.
PENTANE: Causes respiratory damage.
PHALATE: Common in fragrance and scented products, phalates are linked to various cancers, birth defects, and reduced sperm count.

Does that sound like a fresh summer breeze to you?  I don't know why this is legal, especially since the Environmental Protection Agency recognizes most of it as hazmat.  Children are particularly vulnerable to this chemical exposure and if you are using these products, they and you are getting it pumped into your bloodstream via skin and lungs constantly.  Health issues involving the central nervous system include MS, ADHD, Parkinson's Disease, SIDS, Stroke, Alzheimer's, Fibromyalgia, Arthritis, and many many more.

I remember once cutting short a visit to friends of mine because I couldn't sleep on their sheets.  I never told them the real reason why I had to leave because I didn't want to hurt their feelings, but I left with a raging migraine and it's interesting to note that one of them is a physician.  For those of us who do not use chemical fragrance, we can smell it the same way a non smoker smells smoke.  It gets on our clothes if we hug someone who's used it, it can trigger asthma attacks, migraines, nausea, and more.  It's just as bad if you are exposed to it via someone's dryer duct.  The EPA has called it air pollution!

Fragrances are masking the smells of harsh chemicals and they are marketing that as fresh and clean.  Whether the smell bothers you or not, you are being exposed to some bad stuff that damages your health.  Isn't it counter intuitive to wash your clothes in dangerous chemicals in an effort to get them clean and fresh?

So.  What would be a good alternative?  If you want bottled fabric softener, you can get non toxic varieties at your local co-op and stores like Whole Foods, and even delivered right to your door via Amazon.  I love their subscribe and save programs which are convenient and save me money.  I also really love soap nuts which naturally soften clothes while they wash.  If you want your laundry to have a scent, lavender and other essential oils are ideal and there are many recipes online for making your own non toxic fabric softeners.

Image Credit:  Photochiel

Friday, January 20, 2012

Organic Fair Trade Valentines

"Iguana tell you something..." Need some cute and cheeky Valentine's for the kiddos?  Check out these organic Fair Trade Valentine sets from Equal Exchange.  Each one comes with chocolates and Valentine cards and includes a bookmark explaining where Fairly Traded chocolate comes from.  This is a limited edition set, so sign up HERE to be the first to know when they become available.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Giveaway: Eco Strip

The Eco Strip Power Strip:
The Eco Strip is a power strip that allows you to conserve energy and save money by putting an end to Vampire energy drainage.  You just plug your computer into the powerstrip, plug the usb cable into the port on your computer, plug in your peripheral electronics such as printers, scanners, etc.  When it's time to power down, the Eco Strip cuts off power to those devices, no more fumbling around on the floor amidst a tangle of cords.  This is said to save you up to $150 per year, in addition to reducing your carbon footprint and doubling as a surge protector.

In their words:
"For some the motivation to adopt changes like this is their concern about doing the right thing for the environment, while others may be focused on the money they save. Even if you're primarily interested in saving money, EcoStrip is still a great option. "EcoStrip has created a revolutionary product that I am recommending to all of my green real estate investor clients," said Jim Simcoe, President of Simcoe Consulting. "This ingenious product saves money and energy while delivering optimal performance.
This is the kind of low-hanging fruit most green teams dream of, just plug it in and it goes. If only getting people to recycle was that easy."

The Giveaway:
 To enter for your own ECO STRIP, head over to Greenwala and just leave a comment.
Please note: Greenwala Master Contest Rules apply.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Anamalz: Must Have Eco Toys

When my son was little, I was a huge fan of Holtztiger--cute wooden non toxic animals from Germany.  I'm still a fan and I've saved them for my son to hopefully pass down to his children.  Back then, Anamalz didn't exist, or he'd have a box of those to pass down as well.  If you have kids, you have to see these adorable little animals.

Anamalz are non toxic wooden toys made from sustainable maple.  These are super cute and I think will appeal to children for a little longer because they are posable and more interesting to older kids.  The soft velvety fabric is great for little ones who might be teething.  Each animal is hand panted with nontoxic water based paint.  They come in four categories--Farm, Wild, Australian and Prehistoric.  The dinosaurs are so cute!  Anamalz has an interactive website for kids with anamalz--they can enter their password and enjoy animations, play games, and get environmental preservation tips.  Find them HERE.

Friday, January 13, 2012


Have you seen Enlightened?  I caught it on HBO over the weekend and while I was happy to find a show that is not about doctors, lawyers, and cops and forensics (which seems to be the majority of entertainment options these days), I'm not sure if I like Enlightened or not.  Laura Dern is always wonderful to watch, she's such a good actor.  I also really like Luke Wilson who plays her drug addicted ex-husband.  Actually, all the performances in this show are well done.  But the characters--not that likable.

In fact the protagonist is at times so annoying, if it weren't for Dern's sensitive portrayal, I don't know if I would have continued to watch.  She plays a corporate exec who has a breakdown and heads off for a retreat to get better. She comes back refreshed and focused on healing herself and everyone around her.  It makes for some humor, but it's black humor--this stuff is dark, almost depressing.  I like black comedy, but this often veers too far into drama territory for me.  Enlightened seems to really be taking jabs at environmentalists by playing on the outdated stereotype that environmentalists are hippies and newagers.

There is a particularly annoying episode where she is visited by a friend from the treatment center played by Robin Wright.  Her character also tries to fix everyone around her and makes a mockery of healthy living.  These women are portrayed as irrational and self centered, even their focus on helping others comes off as self serving and manic.

While I do appreciate flawed layered characters, I am weary of this cliche of the healthy food eating environmentalist as whackadoo.   I was really hoping for a more "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore" situation as opposed to the perpetuation of that old stereotype.  There is a scene where Dern's character is giving a presentation to the corporate heads, attempting to educate them on what is happening behind the scenes, informing them that their company is responsible for toxic waste and that their products contain carcinogens, she's trying to rally and come up with solutions.  She's doing this, by the way, against a backdrop of a bee mural (colony collapse disorder?) in a room and building where the decor is deceptively green with photographs of nature and all the appearances of being safe and clean.

I realize they are also taking a jab at corporate corruption, but the execs come off as reasonable and sane while the lead is potentially on the verge of another breakdown.  Which, while maybe that's accurate, it sure isn't inspiring.  This show is up for an Emmy and is returning for another season.  You can't help but root for someone with such good intentions as this protagonist, but I really hope she returns with more self awareness and potency.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Jazz up your Salads with the Rosle Grater

Want to add some variety to your salads?  Add some grated vegetables.  The colors and textures turn a plain salad into a rainbow of flavor and sensations.  My six year old son may not be in the mood for a salad, but if I show him a bowl full of bright green lettuce, orange shredded carrot, ruby red shredded beets and some sunflower seeds, that gets his attention!  Sometimes pulling out a box grater and then having to clean it up seems like too much work.  But a simple grater like this new Coarse Grater from Rosle fits the bill for fast and easy salad prep.

You can find cheaper graters, but they are not such a pleasure to use and will need to be replaced from time to time.  The Rosle will probably never need to be replaced.  It's made of quality 18/10 stainless steel and is dishwasher safe.  I love that you can prop it right over a bowl and grate your veggies right in, or, because of the rubber foot, it remains stable on a cutting board.  You could also use this grater for fruit, cheese, and chocolate.  Find it HERE.                                                                  

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Kate Bush: 50 Words for SNOW

Kate Bush is one of my favorite musical artists ever and I've been waiting with for her latest effort, 50 WORDS FOR SNOW.  We haven't heard from Bush since 2005's Ariel and many of us have been eager to see what she would do next.  Just in time for the season, 50 Words does not disappoint, in fact, I haven't been this excited about new music in a long time.

Available on iTunes, be sure to purchase the whole album as one of the best songs (Misty) is not available separately and it's layered and lush and brilliant.

With songs about the mythical snow monster, aka Yeti, a love affair with a snowman, and the wonderment of snow,  Bush is up to her usual magic and I can't get enough, highly recommended.

Monday, January 2, 2012

The One Resolution I Wish Everyone Would Make

I say it every year, the one resolution I wish everyone would make is to go organic.  This is a step that doesn't just enhance your own life, but changes the quality of life for your community and your planet.  Harsh farming has damaged our soil which is much more valuable than gold.  Our crops suffer and the folks working the farms are exposed to carcinogens and pay the price.  Pesticides are linked to cancer and more maladies than I can count.

Outlawed in other companies, GMOs are gaining ground and the only way to know you are not getting frankenfood is to look for that organic seal.  GMOs are implicated in health issues, further soil erosion, and some think waning of our bee populations.

Organic food can cost more, but not always, especially if you buy seasonally.  Organic farms are not subsidized and farming is more labor intensive and involved.  I have the highest respect for organic farmers and think they should be at the very top of our social status stratosphere, way above doctors and lawyers.  They are creating what will go in our bodies and create us--literally!  We have not been recognizing or paying the actual cost of quality food.  Factor in health care costs in the long term, organic food is cheap.

If I had to move to an efficiency apartment to afford organic food, I would, that's how important it is to me.  Food without the poison--seriously.  It never ceases to amaze me this is still a choice.  For those living in areas where organic food is hard or impossible to find, consider growing it or forming a community co-op.   We are what we eat, on a cellular level, is there anything more important for your heath than to make sure that food is pure?

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Holiday Excess? Try Coconut Water

Have you been indulging during the holidays?  Well who hasn't!?  Whether it's salty foods or alcohol, coconut water can help.  Coconut water is full of potassium and electrolytes and is perfect for dehydration.  Too much caffiene, cocktails and salty snacks can take a toll and this is a great natural way to soothe and repair.

Though you can't beat the taste right out of the coconut, some of us don't have access to fresh coconuts.  I'm leery of the Thai coconuts you find at the store as I've heard formaldehyde is sometimes used as a preservative.   There are several brands out so we have the luxury of coconut water without having to track down the whole coconut.  My favorite brand is ONE coconut water and they recently became certified organic.  I buy it by the case on Amazon using their subscribe and save program.   You can get it flavored with fruit juice, but I love it plain and find it deeply satisfying.  It's wonderful to have when kids are sick as it is so hydrating and a little goes a long way.  You can find it locally and online and I recommend keeping a liter or two on hand.