Posts Tagged ‘organic’

Today’s lunch box

I am going to start sharing my kids lunch boxes in hopes that it may give parents other ideas about healthy lunches. What got me going was a few weeks ago having lunch with my daughter and seeing some of the lunches other kids brought. My friend and I are health food eaters and feed our family this way. Our daughters both have the PlanetBox lunch system and we pack it full of lots of fruit, beans, proteins, and veggies. Everything is fresh, homemade, healthy and delicious!

One mom who was having lunch with her son, made him hide his lunch after seeing my daughters and our other little friend’s lunches. It was funny, but it occurred to us while she was asking all kinds of questions about the lunch box and food, that most parents don’t know how to pack a healthy lunch.

Aim for color: fresh fruits and veggies, a protein, a grain. Actually, the PlanetBox has 4 compartments and each holds about the correct portion size as what the USDA recommends for these basic food groups. I hate to break it to you, but a healthy lunch does not include pre packaged food, white bread, Fritos, etc.

So, that’s what’s getting my started on sharing my lunches. I hope it will inspire some healthier lunch box choices!

Today’s lunch was a egg sandwich on a whole wheat tortilla, pear slices, raspberries, sliced carrots with homemade ranch dip, and a few chocolate covered almonds for a treat. And as always, we had water in our stainless steel water bottle. She is thankfully not a big juice drinker and prefers water!

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Use whole wheat bread, tortillas, etc. They offer more nutrients and have more fiber than white bread and flour tortillas. Tortillas are also a great way to make sandwiches more interesting.

I soaked the pear slices in a lemon juice and water mixture then rinsed well to keep them from browning.

I made the ranch dip using this recipe from weelicious. Its healthy and amazingly good!

See other lunch box ideas.

Lead found in kids juice and packaged fruit

The Environmental Law Foundation (ELF) recently tested a variety of kids’ juices and packages fruits. They found more than 85% exceeded California’s Proposition 65 right to know law for lead levels, meaning the lead levels in these products are high enough to warrant a warning label to consumers.

What’s disheartening is that lead was found in conventional and organic selections tested, and no one brand seemed to be safer across the board. For the products below the Prop 65 max level, it would be interesting to know where the manufacturers source their produce from for these products.

Lead is naturally occurring in soil and is possibly the reason why lead is being found in juice. However, more research is needed to determine if these are coming from isolated orchards or if this is some by product of the manufacturing process.

It’s important to note that there are NO SAFE amounts of lead. Lead is known to cause irreversible brain damage.

ELF has contacted the manufactures and they all have been warned to come into compliance within 60 days or a suit will be filed.

What can you do?
Juice is not needed in your child’s diet. It’s best if they get their nutrition from fresh fruits and vegetables. Offer plenty of water. I totally understand that sometimes you just want a little flavor, so squeeze your own juice, or choose a product that did not exceed the exceed Prop 65’s levels and be sure to dilute it with water.

We only have juice in our house as a special treat, and then the kids get it watered down. Juice is very sugary, yes natural sugar in the 100% juices, but still very sugary. And sugar leads to cavities which is the main reason we avoid juice, not to mention it’s expensive and offers little nutritional value. Your kids will live without a daily jolt of juice. My kids typically prefer ice water over even sweet tea, they also get milk.

See who made the cut and who didn’t 

Press release

Is Sodium Lauryl Sulfate safe?

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate is a very common ingredient in nearly all shampoos, soaps, and even many toothpastes. You can even find it in Angel Food cake mixes. This is the ingredient responsible for the foaming action of the product. But, is it safe?

Until about a year ago, I thought the answer to this was yes. I had not yet done research on this chemical, but just in reading a few comments online, it seemed some people were OK with it and others were not.

When I finally had time to research SLS, I was surprised to learn it was contaminated with 1,4 dioxane.  This is a cancer causing by-product of the ethoxylation process, a process that makes otherwise harsh ingredient gentle. However, because it is not an original ingredient, this by-product is not listed on the ingredient list.

In this article by Dr. Mercola, he further explains the health risk with using SLS, and its cousins Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES, and Ammonium Laurel Sulfate (ALS), citing some of the over 16,000 studies showing toxicity. The Environmental Working Group gives SLS a moderate hazard rating for cancer, organ system toxicity and others. So it’s not the worst, but not the best.

Should you avoid SLS?
Anything you put on your skin is absorbed directly into your bloodstream and goes directly to your organs. It’s also important to note that 1 incidence of using SLS is likely OK, but the cumulative effect is what is worry-some.  While the amount in your shampoo, toothpaste, body wash, hand soap, etc. may be ‘safe’ amounts when used alone, using them all at one time could cause your exposure to jump into the unsafe level zone. But the cumulative effect has never been studied.

We do our best to avoid it in our house due to the cancer link. If you can’t avoid it entirely, limit your exposure by using less of the product containing it. Most people use twice as much soap product as needed.

How to avoid SLS
Read labels! Know what to avoid, as SLS can have other names, including Sodium dodecyl sulfate, Sulfuric acid, Sodium salt sulfuric acid. I use Dr. Bronner’s  bar soap in the shower and make my own foaming hand soap, which also makes a great foaming body wash. For shampoo I am currently using Kiss My Face, Frequent Use which is SLS and paraben free and I love it.

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Make your own non-toxic foaming hand wash

Dr. Bronner's pure castile soap is made of organic essential oils

It’s next to impossible to find a non-toxic, triclosan-free foaming hand wash. Triclosan is the main ingredient in nearly all antibacterial hand soaps but it is toxic.

BabyGanics has a great foaming hand wash that is triclosan-free, but it is very pricy at almost $1 per ounce. You can find BabyGanics at Babies R Us.

The good news is you can use your current foaming hand soap containers and make your own for practically pennies!

You will need:

A foaming hand soap container (empty of course)

Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castile Liquid Soap (your favorite scent)

Distilled or purified water

Tea tree oil (optional)

1. Find the “fill to this line” mark on the empty hand soap container so you can be sure not to overfill. You will use 4 or 5 parts water and 1 part Dr. Bronner’s. So if you have a 6 ounce container, you will use 5 ounces water to 1 ounce soap.

2. Fill your the container with the appropriate amount of the distilled or purified water.

3. Add the appropriate amount of Dr. Bronner’s soap up to the line.

4. You may choose add 1 drop of tea tree oil for antibacterial properties. Many do not like the strong smell, so do not add more than a drop or 2 if you choose to add it at all.

5. Screw on the top, give a gentle shake or swirl, and wash your hands!

If you find it is too soapy, or not soapy enough, you can add more or less soap the next time you make it.

Try different scents throughout the year. Peppermint would be nice in the winter (though it is tingly and may make your hands feel a little cool).

Making your own also ensures it’s free of parabens, formaldehyde and dioxanes.

CleanWell Hand Sanitizer: Product Review

I had been looking for an alcohol-free hand sanitizer for some time now that I could use on the go when I would not have access to soap and water, like at the playground, or after changing a diaper in the car (not while in motion) when we are out and about. I knew the alcohol-based ones were not safe for kids. If a child ingested it, they could get alcohol poisoning, so I didn’t even want alcohol-based sanitizers in the house knowing I can’t use it without my toddler begging for some as well. I prefer to avoid the ER.

Also, Triclosan is toxic, so that was out as well. As well as parabens, phthalates, PEG compounds, etc.

So a few weeks ago I stumbled upon CleanWell Hand Sanitizer. It claimed to be all natural, alcohol and triclosan free and kills 99.99% of germs, including MRSA, staph, E. coli, and Salmonella. It is botanically based, and no pesticides or chemicals are used. Plants are also a renewable resource. No petrochemicals or harmful byproducts are created during harvesting or manufacturing.

cleanwell6oz

OK, I gotta be honest here, I LOVE this stuff. It smells great – a nice herbal smell. One or two sprays is all you need. One 1 ounce bottle will yield 225+ sprays, so you get 4 times as many uses as the gel sanitizers.

CleanWell Hand Sanitizer is safe, no parabens, phthalates, alcohol or other ickies. Thymus Vulgaris Oil is the active ingredient (hence the herbal scent). EWG’s cosmetic’s database does not list Clean Well Hand Sanitizer, but I entered the individual ingredients and everything was in the safe (0-2) category except citric acid which was a 4 (it seems mostly for skin sensitivities).

It’s important to note that there are good bacteria and bad bacteria, so using antibacterial products on a regular basis is not good or recommended. In fact, the over use of antibiotics and antibacterial products cases viruses to mutate creating superbugs and strains that are resistant to medication. So while CleanWell is a great product, it, along with other hand sanitizers and antibacterial products, should never be used on a regular basis. It should only be used when hand washing with regular soap and water is not an option (think port-a-potty, wiping noses in the car, etc.)

CleanWell Hand Sanitizer is available in purse/travel size (1 oz) and regular size (6 oz). I’d recommend several to keep in various places – your purse, the diaper bag(s), at work – so you will have it when needed. I have one in each diaper bag (we have 3), in my purse and on the changing table (easy for between kids when I am changing both).

CleanWell has a whole family of products including CleanWell Sanitizing Wipes, CleanWell Foaming Hand Wash and the CleanWell Hand Sanitizer.

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Organic Milk vs Hormone Free Milk

Alison asked if hormone-free milk was as good as organic.

As for as Organic milk vs hormone free, neither will have the hormone added, but the hormone “free”-only will still have pesticide residue. Organic milk comes from cows fed an organic diet – grain or grass. In most cases, organic cows are treated better (more room per cow, most organic cows graze in an open pasture), while conventional cows don’t have much room to move around. So that to me even means healthier milk since cows treated better tend to be healthier anyway, thus not needing antibiotics, etc.

art_rbst_free_milk_cnn

Hormone free vs organic – cows naturally produce hormones, so the milk is not entirely hormone free, however no synthetic hormones are added (which to me is still better than conventional milk). However, it seems as though “hormone-free” is more of a marketing term.

CNN also reported on this topic pointing out research has shown there is no difference in milk from cows treated with rbST and cows that were not. However, the author echos many who feel “science” and the FDA has let us down before and consumers are questioning the safety of, well everything.

But then again, Natural News debunks that and gives a glowing review of why adding hormones is not good, including pus getting into the milk from these cows who often get mastitis due to the overproduction of milk and these cows are then given antibiotics to treat the mastitis infection. Now, who wants all that in their milk?

Benefits of Organic Milk
Here is another very good article showing the benefits of organic milk vs conventional milk. Such benefits include less pesticide contamination, more vitamins and antioxidants, improves the quality of breastmilk and helps prevent asthma and eczema in children. Read the entire article for more benefits.

SFMilk-FamilyAs for as choosing a good organic milk, first things first – Horizon milk is not really organic, which is really sad considering it is the best selling brand of organic milk. There are several links on there, one of which is a link to thorough research of many organic brands of milk rated on how “organic” they really are. So if you choose to stay/go organic, you can choose a good brand. Also, you can usually sign up on the manufacturer’s website and get coupons — for example, Stonyfield Farm or Organic Valley may send out coupons in a newsletter.

We eat the “dirty dozen” fruits and veggies (mostly these are the ones where the outer skin is exposed like peaches, grapes, strawberries, potatoes, apples…) these are the ones that will have the most pesticides and bananas for example, do not have near as many pesticides since it is protected by a thick peel. So I get organic apples, but not bananas. I say that to give you an example that there are tradeoffs. You don’t have to go 100% organic on everything. To me, milk is one of those areas where the benefit definitely shows organic to be better.

Certainly cost is a factor. I get our milk from Whole Foods. If you drink a lot of milk or you have room in your freezer, Whole Foods gives you 10% off if you purchase a case of milk (4 gallons). We go through that in about 10-14 days, so I do this sometimes, but it’s a little hard to drink that much milk when we still give our 3 year old whole milk. And I am not sure about freezing milk, have not tried it, but know people who have with great success. And as mentioned, you can usually sign up to get newsletters which may contain coupons.

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Food Manufacturers Confess They Have No Idea if Their Food is Safe

By Janelle Sorensen
(Thanks to Janelle for her permission to re-post this article.)

I, like many others, have lost track of all the food recalls that have happened in the last 18 months. Pot pies, pizzas, peanuts, tomatoes, egg rolls, spices, flour, and more. The number of illnesses and the amount of food thrown away is staggering.

Fortunately, none of the tainted foods have impacted my kitchen. Our culinary choices thus far have been safe. But, my faith in the FDA, who I once relied on as an invisible guardian watching over my plate, has been shattered. My optimistically naïve belief that food, of all things, should be safe, has gone the way of childhood beliefs in Santa and the Easter Bunny. And, I’m not just being dramatic – here’s why:

According to an article in the New York Times, “increasingly, the corporations that supply Americans with processed foods are unable to guarantee the safety of their ingredients…companies do not even know who is supplying their ingredients, let alone if those suppliers are screening the items for microbes and other potential dangers…”

They don’t know where the ingredients are coming from? Seriously??

Commence paranoia.

Not only are many major manufacturers openly admitting that they’re pretty clueless about what’s in their food, instead of owning up to their mistakes, they’re placing the burden for safety on the consumer. We are now responsible for what’s called “the kill step,” and it’s not clear what that entails. Some companies are resorting to detailed diagrams and “food safety” guides outlining how to heat foods in a microwave and then check the temperature in several locations with a food thermometer. Others advise against using a microwave altogether. Frozen convenience foods suddenly seem very inconvenient.

Even if simply educating people to warm food to an adequate temperature was a reasonable solution, which it’s not, it wouldn’t address non-pathogenic contaminants like the arsenic found in a huge variety of processed foods around the globe a few months back.

What’s a mother to do? I’ve been a loud proponent for whole foods, local and organic when possible, for many years now, but I still have some processed foods in my pantry. I mean, who really makes things like crackers and cereal from scratch? I also buy a lot of frozen veggies – and I’ve never checked to see if I’ve warmed them to 165 degrees.

Clearly, we have problem on our hands. What do you think should be done? Do you think food safety is up to the consumer? Do you think it’s up to the government? What if safer food meant it cost a bit more? Are you willing to pay?

Find more from Janelle Sorensen at Healthy Child Healthy World, WebMD, MomsRising, and on Twitter (@greenandhealthy).

Follow me on Twitter!

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Stonyfield Farm recalls plain fat free yogurt

stonyfield_yog_plain1Stonyfield Farm is voluntarilly recalling some of its 32 oz Plain Fat Free Yogurt. After receiving reports of a “funny taste” they determined that the food grade sanitizer used to clean the equipment was not properly rinsed away. No illnesses have been reported, however, Stonyfield decided to take immediate action.

Look at the time stamp on your Stonyfield 32 oz Plain Fat Free yogurt container and take it back to the store for a full refund if your yogurt has:
May 06 09 22 timestamp 22:17 through 23:59
May 07 09 all time stamps

Visit their website for more information. The recall info is on the homepage.

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Would you feed your baby rocket fuel?

You may be feeding your baby rocket fuel and not know it. baby-bottle
 
The CDC has tested several samples of infant formula and found traces of perchlorate, a chemical used in rocket fuel.  If the powdered formula was also mixed with water also contaminated with perchlorate, it could exceed levels considered safe for adults.
 
“No tests have ever shown the chemical caused health problems, but scientists have said significant amounts of perchlorate can affect thyroid function. The thyroid helps set the body’s metabolism. Thyroid problems can impact fetal and infant brain development.”
 
The brands of formula tested were not released.
 
Earlier this year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said it was considering setting new limits on the amount of perchlorate that would be acceptable in drinking water. A few states have already set their own limits.

The EPA has checked nearly 4,000 public water supplies serving 10,000 people or more. About 160 of the water systems had detectable levels of perchlorate, and 31 had levels high enough to exceed a new safety level the EPA is considering.

This is just really sad. I breastfeed, so I don’t have to worry about the formula contamination, but I have friends who formula feed, and this is a stress they don’t need on their plate. I do worry about the water contamination. I don’t really want to be drinking rocket fuel, even if at a “safe” level. Just like I
 
What can you do?
– Don’t freak out and don’t stop giving your baby formula
– Breastfeed if you can
– Since the brands tested were not disclosed, choosing a different formula is not helpful (and you should consult your pediatrician before doing so in any case).
– Install a water filtration system capable of removing perchlorate for use of mixing with formula (and drinking of course!)
– If you do a little homework, you can probably find bottled water that has used one of the above methods. But note: Not all bottled water is the same! Several manufacturers simply bottle filtered tap water. Know what you are buying.
– Since the food we eat could be irrigated with water contaminated with perchlorate, buy produce from areas that do not use contaminated water to irrigate.
Check this table for areas contaminated with perchlorate 
And a map from the EPA
And sites known to manufacturer or use perchlorate
– And write letters – write letters to your congressmen, formula manufacturers, the FDA, the president – anyone who could have influence. Let them know rocket fuel in formula and in drinking water is not acceptable.

Source: FoxNews

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Kashi products added to peanut butter recall

Kashi has added some products to the peanut butter recall. They have set up a website dedicated to this. Click here.

The products affected by the recall are:

  • Kashi™ TLC™ Chewy Granola Bars in Trail Mix and Honey Almond Flax varieties, 7.4 ounce box with a “Best If Used Before” date prior to September 19, 2009 and followed by the letters CD (SEP 19 2009 CD)

    Kashi™ TLC™ Chewy Granola Bars Peanut Peanut Butter, 7.4 ounce box with a “Best If Used Before” date prior to August 8, 2009 and followed by the letters CD (AUG 08 2009 CD)

    Kashi ™ TLC™ Chewy Cookies in Oatmeal Dark Chocolate, Happy Trail Mix and Oatmeal Raisin Flax varieties, 8.5 ounce box with a “Best If Used Before” date prior to July 30, 2009.

    These products were also included in some Club assortment and variety packs of Kashi™ TLC™ products.

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