Keep Americans in the DARK – What???

Deny Americans the Right to Know Act (“DARK Act”)

The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act… Whatever you want to call it, it’s terrifying to me.  This bill would “…create a mandatory premarket safety review of all crops containing Generically Modified Organisms destined for the food supply and preserve the FDA’s 100-year management of food labeling by preventing a disruptive state-by-state patchwork of labeling requirements.”
http://pompeo.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=398327

Tom Dempsey, the CEO of the Snack Food Association has this to say… “Absent a federal GMO solution, manufacturers will have essentially three options in order to comply with state labeling law[s]: order new packaging for products, reformulate products so that no labeling is required, or halt sales to that state.  Each option is difficult, costly, time-intensive, and at worst, could eliminate jobs and consumer choice in the marketplace.”

  1. Order new packaging for products… I don’t know about you, but I see new packaging for the same products I eat all the time.  There’s always some new exciting claim for health or even an entirely new flavor of the same old product.  Take triscuits and wheat thins for example, this cracker has so many new flavors by the week!  That must be costly and time-intensive to the company but the difference is that it drives profit.  They don’t seem to worry about the cost and time for that.  But if your box of crackers says, “Genetically Modified”, then people might not actually buy the product.  If the box says “All Natural” or “May Lower Cholesterol”, the box will be sold. The difference is in what the label says.  They don’t want to take the time or spend the money to put a label on the box that might deter people from buying the product.  Is that not obvious to these senators?
  2. Reformulate products so that no labeling is required.  I choose not to eat foods that have been genetically modified.  The safety claims just aren’t convincing enough for me, so I’d rather choose to eat real food.
  3. Halt sales to the state.  I’m still okay not eating the Genetically Modified foods.

Each option is only difficult to the food manufacturer and their bottom line.  Mr. Dempsey works for a snack association, not the FDA or EPA, and we’re listening to his advice on the subject when his motivation is most likely profit-driven.

Think about signing the petition or contacting your state legislature on this matter.  It would be illegal for states to label genetically modified food if this law is actually passed.  As Americans, lets not let this one slide under the radar.  Let’s act on this one!  It’s incredibly immoral to sign a bill into LAW to protect the governments right shield us from the truth.  It makes no sense to me.  Please feel free to comment on this.  What do you think about this proposed bill?  And post on fb, twitter, anywhere… just get the word out.  We do have the right to know what we’re eating.  We have the right to know anything that affects our health and the food we put in our bodies every day is one of the most important things that should be transparent!

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Miracle Clay

Last year, I attended the Fresh Expo here in Charlotte. I picked up a lot of samples that day, put them all in my little shopping bag, and went through all my goodies when I got home that evening. One that I found really interesting was my little packet of Redmond Clay. It came with a brochure explaining the origins of the clay and what it was and is still used for today. You’re supposed to mix it with water and use it on burns, stings, etc. So I tucked it away in my little medicine cabinet in the kitchen.

redmondClayLogo
redmondClay
One evening, while I was clumsily cooking dinner, I burned my finger on a really hot sauté pan. Running it under cold water wasn’t making the pain go away. I remembered that clay and how it is supposed to heal burns. I moistened the clay, applied it to the burn, and covered it with a Band-Aid. Almost immediately the pain went away and I forgot all about it. The next morning, I took off the Band-Aid and there was nothing on my finger. No blister, no red mark. There was a slight white mark… I poked the burn with my nail and no pain at all… It was like it never happened, like the clay was some kind of magic eraser that just erased the burn completely. How exciting is that?!

On another occasion, my husband grabbed a burning hot cookie sheet with his bare hand. I wasn’t really paying attention, I figured he was okay, but soon after he had his hand in a bowl of ice water… I knew this was bad, so I suggested the clay and he decided to try it. Since this was a much larger area, we made more clay and also needed a bandage to keep it sealed. We wrapped up his burn and he said he felt relief, but still felt the burn. Definitely a bad one… The next morning, he removed the wrap, and the burn was gone. No blisters, only that slight white mark left behind. It was a miracle!! You could see the blisters forming when we put the clay on his hand!

Since those two experiences, I experimented more. I’ve used it on my son’s cuts and scrapes. We say, “let’s get the clay”… My poor son, Jacob has had quite a harrowing history with cuts and scrapes. For years, we didn’t know that he was allergic to Neosporin and bacitracin, two common ingredients found in ointments meant to heal cuts and scrapes. The allergy caused the cut to spread and blister, which then required a steroid for healing. It was such a minor reaction at first, that I didn’t think it was the ointment, I figured it was just the cut taking a while to heal. Little did I know, that I was doing harm to his poor skin. The antibacterial ointments used for cuts and scrapes aren’t ideal. They expose our little ones (again) to antibiotics. They are already exposed to them daily through our food, and then through rounds of antibiotics when they get sick. If you need to do an ointment, try using regular Vaseline. But before doing that, remember to “get the clay”. Putting the clay on the cut will speed the healing process and you might not feel the need for ointments at all.

When I originally began writing this post I decided to do more research on the clay. So I got on their website to get more information and also reached out to the company. They sent me more of their products to try and we were so excited! We received their Earthpaste toothpaste, Facial Mud Mask, Bath Salts, and a variety of other salts to use for cooking. We were so excited to try all the products they sent us.

redmondProducts

I used the face mask and bath salts. The face mask went on smooth and I only applied a thin layer. The minute it dried though I had to get it off my face immediately, because it became super itchy. I didn’t see much of a difference on my face, other than my skin was a bit smoother. I’ve only used it a few times now.

My son has been trying out the Earthpaste toothpaste and will be writing his own blog post about that, coming soon!
earthpaste

The bath salts were fine, but left a sediment in my bathtub, which took some rinsing to get off. I’m not sure of the physical benefit because I only used them the one time. And I rarely get to take a bath these days. I would like to try the clay for digestive health. You drink it with water every day.

I also received their Real Salt product. I love the salts. We received a plain, onion, seasoned, and garlic salt. I use the garlic salt when I’m cooking veggies in my cast iron. I don’t feel so guilt using salt on food now, knowing that it has minerals that are good for our health! I’m planning to do a post on salts, so will write more on the subject later.

Thank you Redmond Clay for mining and selling this amazing natural product! More people should know about this! I love being able to use a natural product for medicinal purposes.

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The Incredible Shrinking Woman Teaching Us a Thing or Two

The other night I caught an old movie on TV called the Incredible Shrinking Woman, starring the awesome and funny Lily Tomlin. Growing up, I was a huge Lily Tomlin fan. I loved her in this movie, and I remember watching it with my dad and hearing him laugh through it all. (He has the best laugh!) Watching it, I found it so ironic that the plot line is about a woman exposed to too many chemicals in her everyday products. When trying to alert the public, she’s faced with obstacles from the corporation that created the products… who her husband happens to do advertising for. I thought some of the lines were just hilarious, and also very insightful.This movie was made in 1981. It was like a warning sign to the direction this country was going. But at the time it was made, it didn’t seem likely that anyone would be affected or harmed by the chemicals in our products. Now unfortunately, that’s become a reality to us and this movie has some interesting truths to it. Check out these hilarious (or frighteningly profound) quotes from the Incredible Shrinking Woman.
The Diagnosis

“What I’m saying Mrs. Kramer, is that you are shrinking from a combination of tap water, the flu shot, the perfume, the glue, the solvent, your bubble bath, talcum powder, shampoo, hair conditioner, setting lotion, hand lotion, mouthwash, hairspray, breath spray, feminine hygiene spray, deodorant, toothpaste, detergent, eye drops, nose drops, hair coloring, diet soda, birth control pills, and smog, set off by an imbalance already present in your system.”
doctorISW

The Supermarket incident

supermarketISW

Pat: “Judith, I don’t think this is such a good idea, not to mention my legs have fallen asleep.”
Judith: “I understand Pat, but you just bear with me. This is chemical warfare and I want to show people what they’re up against. Look at this, we have Mike’s Macho Meal. Let’s see here, fortified food flavoring, eco booster, synthetic spermatizoa, testosterone, inert sugar syrup, tumicient tissue of bull scrotum. Well… I never. Here we have Cousin Bud Speedy Spuds, Well this has everything but the kitchen sink. TBHQ…”
Pat: “Judith I don’t think this is working, please get me out of here.”
Judith: “Just ignore them Pat. Of all the rudeness, don’t you all have something you want to shop for… a little poison maybe?”
Pat feels the public should be warned, so she decides to go on a late night talk show. Her husband’s boss is worried for the future of his company…

Vance: “What if these products are dangerous?”
bossISW1
Dan: “Dangerous! I’ll tell you what’s dangerous. If your wife goes out there and creates a crisis in confidence in American consumerism, that’s dangerous! Now maybe some of our products do attack a few blood cells, but you’re talking about a television show where millions of people, millions of people are tuning in. Now do you want to look in there and tell them they can’t trust American products?”

Of course our products don’t make us shrink, but they can make us sick. And knowing about the possible dangers is the first way to fight back and regain control of what goes in our bodies.
Posted in GMO, Personal Products | 1 Comment

Take the stink out of your bathmat

A few weeks ago, my 9 year old and I were looking for a new bathmat for his tub. We went to Target and I grabbed a mat, naturally motivated by look and price. The one I picked was really cute but had a really strong stinky smell to it. Then it dawned on me, I’ve always just bought these things without thinking about what they are made of. What is a bathmat made of… and what about my fun bath rugs, shower curtains, towels and washclothes? You know… those things we sit on, step on, rub on our skin to dry off, something that has close contact with our skin every day.

Because my internet connection is worthless at stores, I couldn’t use my trusty apps and do any research right there. And there really wasn’t any information or labels on the mats to tell us what these things are made of, or a way to understand what was good or bad for you. So we relied on our trusty noses and picked a bathmat that was the least smelly, not the prettiest or cheapest, but one that didn’t make us go “ewww!”. It was a funny task to do with my son and it was probably a good lesson for him as well. The one we ended up with looked like something I would see at my grandmother’s house, but at least it wasn’t stinky. And it’s starting to grow on me.

We needed a new mat that day, so we grabbed one that was maybe the “less evil mat”, but I still wanted to find out if there is a better option for our bathroom products. Like I’ve been doing with everything around my house and kitchen, I did my due diligence on my bathroom. Below is a list of the products that I found to be some good options.

Next time you need to replace your mats, rugs, shower curtains, towels, switch out to something with less chemicals, that is made with more natural products, like organic cotton or bamboo. Sounds nicer than PVC or polyethylene for a bathroom anyway. And smells nicer too!
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Organic Milk in School Cafeteria

organic-valley-chocolate-milk-ssORmeadow-gold-trumoo-milk-164071
Below is the email thread from my attempt at getting an organic milk option for my son’s school cafeteria. Currently, the cafeteria offers TruMoo, which I don’t consider milk. It’s more of a sugary drink with added antibiotics and hormones. The response I received was quite interesting, the Director of Child Nutrition, “is not familiar with the particular flavored milk products” I enjoy. This quote is my personal favorite: “While the science on the benefits of organic products to individual health is still inconclusive, I do know they offer delicious products.” Wow… makes you wonder who is charge of feeding our children.

–email to Director of Child Nutrition–
Hi *********,
My son and I were talking about how nice it would be if his cafeteria … offered an organic milk alternative to the trumoo milk that is sold now. TruMoo milk is not organic, high in sugar, and contains artifical flavors and other nasty chemicals. Here are some interesting facts on the Fooducate website: http://www.fooducate.com/app#page=product&id=226F4984-0F63-11E1-8977-1231380C180E
I usually purchase Organic Valley and Horizon organic milk in different flavors for my son. We both feel that while it would be more convenient for us to have that option at the cafeteria, it would also be more healthy for the rest of the students and that would be a wonderful thing! He asked if there was anything I could do, and I said I can always ASK. You could say no, but you could also say YES and that would be great!
Thank you so much for you time!

Mrs. Stadler,
Thank you for your interest in our program and offering your feedback. You may not be aware but Tru Moo Milk recently reformulated their product to have lower sugar and they now use natural flavors instead of artificial flavors. While I’m not familiar with the particular flavored milk products you enjoy, I do know many organic, flavored milks do add sugar to their products.
As you know from purchasing organic milk at the grocery store, the cost is much higher than traditionally processed milk. We provide meals at a low cost to our students and adding organic milk would add a significant increase to student’s meal prices. While the science on the benefits of organic products to individual health is still inconclusive, I do know they offer delicious products. Unfortunately, the current cost of those type products is too high for us to integrate in to our menu.
Since I have the opportunity, I would like to ask you, Our milk price is currently .60 , how much above that price would you be willing to pay for an eight ounce portion of organic milk?

Thank you again,
**********************
Director
Child Nutrition Department


(My response)
Thank you so much for writing me back. To answer your question, I would be willing to pay what I pay now for organic milk. … It comes out to be about a dollar for a carton. Maybe by purchasing a product in bulk you might be able to get more savings? Is it possible to do a trial and see what the response is?
I wasn’t suggesting at all to replace the current option because I understand that would increase the cost of lunch or the cost to the district for the free and reduced program. This would just be another product, next to the many products you currently offer our children. My son would be able to buy the organic option even if it means spending a little more. This is a personal choice, but one that I would like to have. I believe that other parents feel the same way and would be thrilled with an organic milk in the cafeteria. I hope you can consider it some more.
Again, I don’t mind sending my son in with his own milk. We thought it wouldn’t hurt to ask and see if it was possible.
Thanks again for your time.
Cathy
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Fooducate Yourself!!!

fooducate

About a month ago, I downloaded this really cool free app called Fooducate and became addicted immediately. The app has a scanner and a search. The scanner is my favorite. I spent one evening going through my entire kitchen scanning every food item that had a barcode and learned all about what we have been eating. It works on a grading scale and provides all the nutrition facts on each product. Overall, we scored about a C due to the fact that we eat way too much sugar and not enough WHOLE grains.
There was a lot of eye-opening information and things I never knew that were possible in our food industry. Here are the most important items I learned using this app:
    • L-Cysteine, found in my Yummy brand Dino Bites chicken nuggets, is an ingredient that acts as a dough conditioner and can extend shelf life. It is derived from human hair or duck feathers. When there’s not enough hair found on the floors of the Chinese barber shops, they use the duck feathers. I had just bought a box of these and just couldn’t give them to my son, so I returned them promptly and bought the package right next to them that did NOT contain L-cysteine. Easy as that!
    • Turbinato sugar, or Sugar in the Raw, is no different from granulated white sugar. It is only darker because it’s packaged in an earlier stage in processing. I spend at least 3x the money on this sugar to find that granulated is the same. I need to consider using less sugar or a natural sweetener instead.
    • Animal rennet, found in some block cheeses, “…is made from rennin, an enzyme that is secreted in the fourth stomach of calves, lambs, and goats. It is most often derived from the dried and ground stomachs of unweaned calves and is used in making cheese.” For you koshers, vegans, or simply those that don’t want to eat part of an animals stomach, you can buy cheese that uses a vegetable-derived rennet instead.
    • Update to this post… new information found with my sister while she was eating Dannon (fruit on the bottom) Blueberry Yogurt
      Carmine or cochineal extract is an ingredient used as a natural red food dye. It is made from ground up cochineal insects. The process of boiling them, letting them dry out in the sun, then grounding them up produces a red dye that was used more frequently 100 years ago. The artificial red dye replaced it for many years, but it has since been making a comeback. The FDA requires this ingredient to be labeled on food packages. One positive is that this a real ingredient and not a chemical dye, but the ick factor is pretty huge on this one.
    • Carrageenan is in so many dairy products, almost all of the ones I buy for my family. It can be found in individual milk cartons, yogurt squeezies and smoothies, and creamer. It is used as a thickening agent and is extracted from seaweed or moss, so it’s considered a dietary fiber. Degraded carrageenan is recognized as a possible human carcinogen. Degraded carrageenan is carrageenan subjected to high temperatures and acidity. What products have this degraded carrageenan is a big question, but I wonder if products that are ultra pasteurized are since they are flash heated at really high temperatures? This is just a guess, but since there are some options without the carrageenan, I will avoid any ultra pasteurized dairy products with this ingredient. One example, Horizon Organic Milk cartons have this ingredient and is ultra pasteurized. It seems that in small amounts this ingredient is okay. However, when you eat them everyday and sometimes in multiple products…any small amount can still add up.
Fooducate is awesome. It provides so much information. The app works great, the website is filled with even more great information. You can use it to learn about key ingredients to embrace or avoid. I wouldn’t say it’s the absolute source for your food information, but it’s a great tool and will help you to avoid ingredients like human hair in your chicken nuggets.
Go Fooducate yourself today!

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Organic on a Budget

Making the choice to buy safer products squeezes a monthly budget. Most organics are about 20-30% more expensive than their conventional counterpart. Here’s a great example, it’s so tempting to just grab the cheaper one at the more than 50% less. What’s the deal with this!?
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I’ve always been a savvy shopper. When we moved to Charlotte 8 years ago, we were living on one income with a baby and new house. Keeping the grocery and house bill to a minimum was challenging. I picked up tricks along the way. Once I went back to work, I slacked on my diligent saving, only because I was exhausted and was now forced to shop with the masses on the weekends and evenings. (The evenings were soon eliminated after a horrifying meltdown at the entrance of Target by my son who was 3 at the time and tired from a long day of daycare. I spent 20 minutes trying to get him to stop screaming and rolling all over the floor. It was mortifying. I vowed NEVER AGAIN after a long day of daycare.)It wasn’t easy managing the house, a toddler, a new job and find the time to clip coupons! But now with the new baby, the new expenses, and the new awareness of the bad stuff in everything we buy, I’ve had to challenge myself once again… turn on those SAVVY wheels and start saving! Saving will only bring me back down to the normal NOT saving, but hey I wouldn’t be able to afford organic healthy living without it. This lifestyle change comes with the added legwork for saving money, only because most people don’t or can’t stretch their budgets, without having to sacrifice something else… and who isn’t maxed out these days.


A few of my money saving tips…
Harris Teeter accepts competitor coupons, so collect store coupons wherever you can find them. Buy a few CitiPass (GoPlaySave) coupon books. In there, you’ll find Earth Fare and Healthy Home Market coupons. The clipper magazine sometimes have them. You will usually get $5-$10 off your bill.
HT

Sign up on RecycleBank.com. Each week you recycle, you get points in your account. 100 points will get you a $10 coupon for Harris Teeter. This is a totally free program. You will be compelled to recycle more in the meantime, win win.
recyclebank
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Shop your farmers markets for produce, veggies, local honey and jellies, and just about anything else they’ll sell you. I LOVE my market, located at a gas station of all places. Providence Produce has some great stuff and I don’t think I’ve ever spend more than $15 a week for my week’s worth of produce. A must to save money.
When most of the markets are closed during the winter, it hurts the wallet, so more reason to stock up on those coupons. Harris Teeter has been offering a lot more organics these days, but you have to use the store coupon to offset the increase in price. I don’t clip coupons for GMO food anymore, but still do for the household and baby products. Be choosy about what products you clip coupons for.

Check your weekly flyers for specials, you can get some awesome deals. You have to look at your receipt too. They’re long for a reason… on the bottom, they list all these great sneaky sales that are not in the flyers. You have to use your loyalty card for them to work. For weeks, my local Harris Teeter had $3 off smart chicken.

There are also CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture) . A CSA is a great way to easily get your weekly, in-season produce. You sign up to become a member and each week, the farm will drop off your box of goodies. I’ve been looking into the Poplar Farms CSA because they also sell eggs, dairy products, breads, chicken, and coffee.
poplar
Remember the produce is in-season, so you may not know what to do with it. Edible Charlotte has a seasonal magazine that has helpful recipes for those types of produce. But this is where I like the control of buying my own. There are some indoor markets, like the 7th Street Market and the Hillbilly Produce Market , but they aren’t on my way home from work, so it’s not as convenient as Providence Produce. But if you have the time and are in the area, it’s a great alternative to the grocery store.

For all things non-GMO like snacks, meats, and other goodies, like wine and beer, I shop at Trader Joes. Everything is comparable in price if not cheaper than many stores. And shopping at Trader Joes is really fun. I love discovering new products. I love asking the cashiers what they like to buy and I also find it funny how they comment on what I buy! Great store… I go in and let my older son run around desperately trying to find those weird stuffed animals they put on the shelves, while my little one eats all the samples they have out. You do have to watch out for some of what you buy there, sugar content seems to be a problem in our house.
traderjoes

A quick note about the e-VICs… these are great for those of us who have husbands that blow our shopping budget on one trip to the store to pick up milk. They come home with crazy stuff, like $8 bag of cashews or $20 garbage bags or $6 ice cream (that’s not on sale, argh!!!) The eVICs are nice because you might get lucky and save the same product they go and buy when not instructed. The coupon comes right off the bill… so long as they use their VIC card! e-VICs = protection from husbands at the grocery store!
eVic

I used to shop regularly at Costco and Target. But I find those places black holes for buying unnecessary items. I’ll go in there to save a total of $5 on toiletries, only to walk out with a new book or toy for my son. Abstinence from both those stores is best for me and my wallet! Just walking through the red doors at Target is a budget killer! For little things, I’ll go to my CVS, at least there I’ll occasionally get CVS “bucks” for my next purchase. I’m still in Target way too much because hey, when you have kids, you have an additional birthday party budget along with the food budget. But that’s a totally different budget that I unfortunately DO NOT have any good tips or tricks for, so sad… it’s costly!

A few rules of thumb, buy organic when you can, stay away from processed food unless you know it’s not genetically modified, and also try to use less. When you get home, split your meats into two meals, freeze one. You don’t have to cook everything then throw away leftovers. Be mindful of how much you actually need for each meal. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself or set unrealistic goals. We still need the government agencies that regulate our food to step up and start protecting our food supply. We can’t know everything that is in everything we bring home. And who has time for that? And there will be those days when you forget your coupons or can’t get to trader joes and need snacks for your kids’ lunches. Don’t let that “green guilt” creep in. Set reasonable goals and know that each day you make even a small change, it’s better than no change at all!

Quick update: My awesome friend Angie at SimplyYogini just sent me links to these great sites to find coupons and deals on organic products. I just used one to buy body wash, $6 off! Thank you Angie!!!
Organic Deals
Organic Coupons

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