Tag Archives | Slow Death By Rubber Duck

Finding Food In Glass Jars

I had a great question arrive from Dan who wrote: “I am having a harder and harder time finding foods in glass jars (mayo, vinegar, ketchup, etc.). Can you help with a source?” Thanks for the awesome topic to write about Dan! It instantly reminded me of ‘The Ketchup Riddle’ Rick Smith, co-author of Slow Death By Rubber Duck, writes about. Here is the quote from Slow Death by Rubber Duck that is promoted by a late-night run to the supermarket by Rick:

I stood blinking – staring – at the ketchup selection, honestly perplexed.

~ The organic ketchup came in a plastic bottle.
~ Alymer ketchup, an old Canadian brand made from locally grown tomatoes, also came in plastic.
~ The only option in a glass bottle was the non-organic, non-local Heinz ketchup.

Rick summarized his ketchup paralysis and although I found it entertaining to read, imagine putting this much thought into every product we purchase at the grocery store or mall. It does create a type of paralysis for consumers…even eco-savvy ones. I completely agree with Rick in his summary of this situation that only government action can solve the problem of having to choose between limiting packaging containing plasticizing chemicals or pesticide use, or production of local food. Decisions like this creates huge challenges for consumers that want to make better choices, but run up against all of these questions when purchasing something supposedly easy like ketchup.

Some of you might be wondering why Dan is trying to find food that is packaged in glass. The plastic packaging that surrounds our food can contain plasticizers and other chemicals. Food packaging and chemicals like BPA and Phthalates have been very newsworthy lately. This article isn’t aimed to scare you, but we need to be aware that although chemicals like phthalates are starting to be regulated in toys, there isn’t regulation for food packaging because government and large companies don’t think the trace amounts found in packaging is enough to warrant concern. But savvy green consumers are looking for better options. We know that those squeezable plastic bottles that we purchase our condiments contain plasticizers. We know that you cannot find a tin can in your traditional grocery store that doesn’t contains an epoxy liner – containing BPA – that separates the food or liquid from the aluminum can. Lead in juice boxes, produce and meat counters that place our food on styrofoam and wrap in PVC wrap to ensure ‘freshness’ …the list goes on and on. It seems that plastic is most often the material that touches our food and for numerous reasons regularity discussed at Mommy Footprint, we are trying to avoid this – for human health improvement and for the environment. So after saying all this, the easiest way to avoid food that is packaged in plastic is to avoid heavily packaged foods. Don’t worry, this isn’t my only suggestion for Dan, but when you start shopping with a heightened awareness of packaging, little lightbulbs start going off in your heads and even better if you drop a few hints at your local grocer. They have the power to order our favorite condiments in glass jars – it might be the first time they are asked. Take a closer look at what you purchase. I love the example of cheese strings and yogurt tubes. They are a favorite snack item brought out at preschools and lunches in schools all across America. Cheese strings are sold in completely plasticized packaging…right up against the cheese! Once it’s pulled away, you can tell the outside of the cheese string has been effected…it’s rubbery. You are telling me that packaging hasn’t effected the quality of this product? Another is yogurt tubes that are again packaged in plasticized plastic, but then as a treat, many parents pop them in the freezer to serve the yogurt frozen! So we are taking another product containing plasticizers and then weakening the packaging by placing them in the freezer before given them to children to eat. Gross. And yes, I did used to buy and love the convenience of yogurt tubes, but haven’t purchased them in years because of the issue of packaging. I would hope the power of my consumerism helps to drive change even with a basic item such as yogurt.

On to better choices with food and packaging. It does seem to be hit and miss in large grocers with items like ketchup, mayo, etc. and glass containers. I’ve purchased them before but it’s not a guaranteed offering. Visiting a store like Whole Foods will open up many options to you, but here are two that I’ve found online that offer not only better options with the packaging of products they sell, but improving the quality of the food.

Tropical Traditions
Leading the way with their vast line of coconut oil (my new favorite product) this company has a big commitment to understanding how the products they carry are produced and manufactured. I found many organic vinegars, oils, etc. on this site and many are packaged in glass. I thought the products listed under Organic Food category might be helpful for the everyday consumer. This site’s knowledge of coconut oil benefits is amazing and I recently started following their Fan page on Facebook. Lots of great information there!

Eden Organic
We’ve talked about Eden Organic before, we love their commitment to packaging their beans in tin cans, without using BPA in the can lining. The food, not surprising, is sourced with supporting organic farmers and providing consumers options that are wheat-free, gluten-free, low in sodium, etc. Funny the parallel in healthy food and better packaging options?! Going through the Eden site, I found juices, sauces, butter, oils, vinegars, tomato products that are packaged in amber glass rather than plastic.

We do seem to have options. They are not endless like the contemporary brands found at traditional grocery stores. Voice your concerns regarding packaging and your food. We are continually talking about making better choices with the food we buy: local, organic, GMO-free, etc. Let’s think about how those products are stored and packaged because trace amounts of chemicals leaching into my food is something I’m concerned about. Stop purchasing food that is packaged in soft plastic and cans and tell your grocery manager why you’ve made this decision. You’ve left the decision in their hands where you’ve decided to spend your money – hopefully these decisions will help inspire change.

Related Articles:

A Plastic Rant


PVC Items In Your Everyday Life

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Polyester PJs and Flame Retardants

A debate that has bothered me for years is about to come to an end with this article. I’ve always been turned off by polyester PJs for my kids. It’s something my mom always re-enforced with using cotton at bedtime, but it’s always bothered me and now I know why. It’s not the fact that polyester PJs don’t breath well or provide the same level of softness that cotton or bamboo material does. It’s the fact that polyester sleepwear is infused with ‘natural’ flame retardants – bonded right into the fabric. So a company can state that their sleepwear doesn’t contain flame retardants (they have been banned since the late 70’s because they were found to be so carcinogenic) but since polyester is ‘naturally’ fire resistant, this labeling doesn’t need to be added to the tag.

Confused?  Don’t know anything about flame retardants?  They aren’t something we are not familiar with as parents today, because the year I was born (1973) the US Department of Commerce declared mandatory fire-resistance standards for kid’s sleepwear.  So flame retardants were brushed onto children’s PJs, chemically treating them (without any testing) and were later found to be a mutagen and a carcinogen. How potent was this ‘coating’ of flame retardants?  The National Cancer Institute testing Tris-BP showed that it was one hundred times more powerful than the carcinogens in cigarette smoke. (!!)  Four years later this chemical was banned from children’s products which is pretty quick turn-around time for a ban proving just how dangerous Tris-PB (type of flame retardant) was.  

So after absorbing all this information from the chapter in Slow Death By Rubber Duck I felt quite safe that the problem of the government sticking flame retardants in children’s sleepwear is an issue I don’t have to concern myself with.  Only something Rick mentioned in the chapter has been bugging me for months since I read it ~ the fact that polyester has naturally ‘built in’ flame retardants and because of this is a popular fabric choice for large manufacturers of sleepwear.  I’m in no way suggesting that the flame retardants that are found ‘naturally’ in polyester are as dangerous as the ones that were banned in the 70’s, but the author of Slow Death By Rubber Duck tried to get answers from one of the largest kid’s sleepwear retailers (Carters) asking what type of flame retardants are mixed into the polyester they use and couldn’t get his question answered.  If one of the leading Environmentalists in Canada couldn’t get answers – I won’t even attempt. And rather than frustrate myself with trying to investigate further, I’m opting to remove any sleepwear from my kids PJ drawer that are made from polyester. And this isn’t a slag on Carters – every big name that produces sleepwear for children uses either polyester or cotton.

Your children spend close to 10-12 hours a night sleeping in their PJs – that is the longest stretch of time they spend in clothing throughout the day. I went through my boy’s PJs drawer this weekend and couldn’t believe how many PJs were 100% polyester.  Before you think this doesn’t apply to you…go check. You’ll be surprised at how many soft fabrics are actually polyester – not cotton. I’ve removed the polyester PJs from my sons’ PJ drawer and with Christmas on the near horizon – a new item on everyone’s Santa list will be either 100% cotton or bamboo PJs.  And while we are talking about it – watch for decals, plastic, sparkles, etc. that are decorating your child’s sleepwear….these appliques are made from PVC. This is the ‘poison plastic’ that has no business being near your child while they are sleeping.  I know the Superman and Disney Cars decals are fun on PJs but really, night-time sleepwear is the perfect place to reduce toxic materials.  The sand man is easily impressed and children don’t have any pressure to wear commercialism laced products to bed.

Related Articles:

Little Inkers – Growing PVC & Phthalate Free Kids

Toxic Experiment With Everyday Products ~ Slow Death By Rubber Duck

PVC Items In Your Every-Day Life

PVC Plastic ~ The Poison Plastic In Your Home

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Toxic Experiment With Everyday Products ~ Slow Death By Rubber Duck

Have you heard the buzz about the book called Slow Death By Rubber Duck?  The two authors are leading environmentalists in Canada, Rick Smith and Bruce Lourie, and by using their own bodies conduct a 4 day experiment to document how using everyday products known to contain BPA, Phthalates, Teflon, (to name only a few!) and what the effects in their system will be. The experiment could be compared to the Supersize Me documentary, but these results are more shocking because most people know that eating nothing but McDonald’s food is really bad for you.  The results from Slow Death By Rubber Duck might shock you, but because so many of these products are used in the food and products we are in direct contact with, it’s better to learn how to eliminate these chemicals that enter your children and family’s bodies. For example, did you know that newspaper ink contains high enough levels of BPA that can absorb through your skin?  I was surprised by this and many more sources the authors uncover.

Rick and Bruce tested the levels of these 7 chemicals from their experiment: Phthalates, Teflon, Flame Retardants, Mercury, Triclosan (antibacterial), Pesticides, and BPA.  First they attempt to detox their bodies fully from these chemicals, test/document the levels in their blood and urine, then expose themselves to these chemicals through everyday products and food that are known to have high content.  Then they re-test their blood and urine and publish the results. The most shocking part of the experiment for me was not only the high levels in specific chemicals, but also the realization that trying to eliminate levels of chemicals like BPA and Phthalates is impossible. Rick would know better than anyone else (he’s the Executive Director of Environmental Defense for Canada) what to avoid and he consulted with scientists that have been studying these chemicals for years. He could only get the levels of these chemicals low but not at zero because he realized for example if he’s trying to avoid all phthalates though personal care products, the chemical might wind up in milk he drinks because a farmer might use soft tubing containing this chemical to remove milk from a cow. Tracking this and proving it back to the dairy supplier would be impossible. Thinking that your coffee is okay to drink but then realizing the coffee shop selling it has parts of their coffee machine made with polycarbonate plastic – now the coffee contains BPA.  Really, until our Government steps in and bans and controls these chemicals we are faced with a long road with our health chemically polluted. 

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