Archive | January, 2013

Real Food Tips

I’m on a mission. It’s a slow one but I’m determined to get my family on track with clean, whole foods. That doesn’t always mean shopping organic; even though this is is the easiest way to avoid GMO (genetically modified) food. If you talk to enough people at farmer’s markets and in your community, you can find clean food that is grown locally. . . you just need to ask. Once you find farmers that are proud to share their farming practices and open the door of communication of what seeds are used to grow food and if they are no-spray, etc. you can shop with produce that is ‘in season’ rather than buying really expensive organic food that is being shipped thousands of miles from where you live. This is how I purchase food for our family. If my husband goes to the traditional grocery store, he’s buying packaged food or organic produce. Where I shop, and this is the food that is slowly becoming the ‘majority’ in our house, it’s with small, local farmers or stores.  I learned a great tip when I was researching honey and syrup that I wanted to share. Actually two tips:

Raw and Unpasteurized: for many products like honey much of the nutrition is lost when it’s pasteurized to sell in stores.  Omega 3 fish oil is another nutritional supplement that has increased value in the fermented rather than processed fish oil that is heated.  The honey you find in the supermarket has been ‘cooked’ and the beneficial enzymes have disappeared during this process. Raw or unpasteurized honey can actually sit in your pantry without being refrigerated because it acts as it’s own preservative. Did you know raw honey can be used for healing wounds because of it’s antibacterial properties? Just add a dash of honey to your next scrape and see all of the benefits!

Less than 5 Ingredients: Best tip for real food newbies like me! When looking at ingredients on packaged food, stick to two rules – you have to understand all of the ingredients and be able to pronounce them and keep ingredients to less than 5. The best example of the under 5 ingredient list was when I was researching syrup for our weekend pancakes. I snapped this photo of Aunt Jemima syrup and there are 11 ingredients listed. Very few that the average person could explain…nothing that actually looks like real food. I checked the bottle of syrup that I purchased at my local Farmer’s Market and found only one ingredient ‘maple syrup’. It’s the perfect example and also highlights the scary fact how cheap corn products (corn syrup), preservatives and dye ingredients are compared to real food. Here is the visual to confirm these ingredients..would you have guessed syrup if I showed you this label and not said what food it is?

I had a great talk with a very green mama today and she made a great point “the food that fills our kitchens and cupboards isn’t actually real food!” It’s truly sad the amount of time it takes to investigate the food in your home…but step by step it’s worth knowing. If it feels like an overwhelming task or just one more thing you don’t have time for – think about the long term health benefits. You do the research once, find people you trust to shop for food, and feel like a new chapter has started in your life.
Related Articles:

What are GMOs?



Genetically Modified Tampons?

There have been very few things in my journey that I’ve recommended to ditch immediately after researching. I normally say save the cleaners, personal care products, processed food, etc. because you’ll always be in a pinch and can take the opportunity to use them up. The one product I would say dispose of right away are traditional tampons. A few days ago, I turned into a sleuth at a local store and snapped a photo of the materials listed on the back of a tampon box. Why? I really thought the materials listed would have changed since I first researched tampons 4 years ago. When I first wrote this article, I was horrified to find out polyester was an ingredient in tampons. I was just starting to remove materials like polyester from being close to my family because one daughter has eczema and natural fibers were less irritating for her skin. The other part of researching polyester was finding out that flame retardant properties are naturally occurring in this material. So if this is true, I still have to ask tampon manufacturers where polyester is used in the make-up of a tampon and why this petroleum based plastic is doing in a menstrual product? Researching the exact materials and chemical components of tampons is difficult because this information is kept proprietary. Unlike personal care products, makeup, etc. tampons adhere to a different criteria of labeling because they are a medical device. Kind of the same thing as sex toys labelled as gag gifts so you don’t need to discover that plastic dildos are made from PVC – the most toxic form of plastic on the market. It’s beyond disgusting and because these products are used in such an intimate part of the body that is highly porous, absorbent and toxins thrive in tissue.

With spending so much of my life thinking about genetically modified food and how to avoid it, I had another really scary thought about traditional tampons. How do we know if they are made from genetically modified cotton – otherwise known as BT cotton? This form of cotton is grown from GM seed and grows resistance to antibiotics. It adds a whole new layer to the cotton industry and for woman that use non-organic tampons. Even conventional cotton is grown using heavy pesticides and we know toxins released into our body from pesticides like to live in fat cells.

The only positive difference I can find 4 years later with tampons is the industry changed their bleaching standards for the rayon (wood pulp) that is mixed with cotton for absorbancy. But the fact is trace amounts of dioxin can still exist from whitening and the heavy processing that occurs to make wood pulp a soft and fluffy form of rayon.  So here we have the 3 active materials used in a tampon: polyester, cotton, and rayon. Nothing but pesticides, petroleum, chemicals, and possibly trace amounts of dioxin or flame retardants. We give our teenagers these products to use because they are straight forward, inexpensive, disposable, and easy for them to manage. We need to think about teenage girls and their long term health. Could tampon use over a 20 year period contribute to infertility problems, inflammatory disease and Endometriosis?

Since writing that first article about tampons four years ago, I really only made one permanent change to my routine. No tampons. If I have to go swimming in the summer with the kids, I buy organic cotton tampons. I always meant to try a Mooncup or Diva Cup but I’m not a huge fan of silicone. For the most part I use reusable pads (Lunapads) and disposable pads for heavy days.

I encourage you to tell 3 people that might still be using traditional tampons. I think teenagers and young adults are the highest users. Use the graphic below to think about the three main ingredients of traditional tampons and their level of toxicity. Make the switch, tell 3 friends, make an impact.



DIY Camping Firestarters

Making use of discarded items makes you feel good and less wasteful. For those that love camping or have fire pits in their backyard during the Spring and Summer months, here is a DIY project that uses up two things that are otherwise headed for the compost and recycling bin. This is an easy way to showcase up-cycling for kids and getting them excited about summer months with DIY camping fire-starters. Save you dryer lint (that can be otherwise composted) and toilet or wrapping paper rolls (recyclable item). Stuff the empty rolls with dryer lint and store in a dry, safe place. These are highly flammable which is why lint should be regularly removed from your dryer, but makes them an excellent tool for quick starting fires when camping. This is a quick and easy upcycle for a sustainable school project for kids or DIY craft! Use pens to decorate the rolls and plan for exciting summer nights filled with camp fires and stories.

If cooking over the camp fire and you want cleaner burning fire for cooking – make sure your lint is free from petrochemicals of traditional clothes detergent or toxic dryer sheets. Wool dryer balls are the way to go if you need to eliminate static cling in the dryer with clothes. Hmmmm – I’m thinking these fire starters would make a really cute Father’s Day or Spring birthday gift for the camper in your life. Write special messages on the rolls in anticipation for camping and accessorize with camping gear.

Related Articles:

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