Verda Vivo

Verda Vivo means “Green Life” in the universal language of Esperanto.

The Big Bread Lie June 22, 2009

Filed under: food,health — Daryl Laux @ 6:00 am
Tags: , , , , , ,
Oats, barley, and some products made from cereal
Image via Wikipedia

I just looked at the bread I have in my pantry and realize I have white bread in disguise. Try as hard as I might, I still get tricked.

After watching the video The Big Bread Lie, The Whole Truth, Nutrition by Natalie, I discovered how I’d been duped.

Natalie’s Bread buzzwords:

  1. Whole grain white – White bread that’s been dyed brown or contains a small percentage of wheat flour. This is white bread in disguise.
  2. 7-grain, 9-grain, 12-grain – This can mean the grains you see sprinkled on top of the loaf of bread, not the flour the bread is made with.
  3. Made with whole grain – The majority is white flour, the rest is whole grain flour. The percentage of white flour may be 95%. Unless the label says 100%, it’s not worth choosing.
  4. Good source of whole grain – This claim is meaningless.
  5. Wheat flour - This means the bread is made from 75% white flour, 25% wheat flour.

Regardless of the marketing claims on the bread packaging, the first ingredient list should be 100% whole grain, such as wheat, rye, oat.

I’m no bread baker but if i get ambitious, I’ll try the Amazingly easy, incredible bread on Cheap Like Me. I think she’s got a winner!


Enjoy this post? Get more like it. Subscribe in a reader or by Email.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]
 

What’s in Your Shampoo? April 14, 2009

A bottle of TRESemmé shampoo.
Image via Wikipedia

Ever shampoo your hair and then get a skin rash or hives? How about pimples, dry scalp, dandruff or contact dermatitis? Maybe you’re allergic to the chemicals in your shampoo. In addition to an allergic reaction, you may be exposing yourself, unnecessarily, to chemicals that can do far more damage.

Preservatives (Parabens)

One of the most common cause of negative reactions are the preservatives used to protect against product contamination and bacterial growth. In addition to allergic reactions, parabens can disrupt the hormone (endocrine) system and were found in the breast cancer tumors of 19 of 20 women studied. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) tested urine from 100 adults and found parabens in nearly all.  (Environmental Working Group – Parabens)

While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration continues to believe that at the present time there is no reason for consumers to be concerned about the use of cosmetics containing parabens, they in fact, do NOT regulate parabens in cosmetics. In the meantime, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently funded a case study on the toxicity of parabens in wastewater to fish. Considering the FDA’s glorious record in safeguarding our food supply, I’m not convinced they’re guarding our best interests as far as the cosmetics industry is concerned.

Parabens can be listed as:

  • benzylparaben
  • butylparaben
  • ethylparaben
  • isobutylparaben
  • isopropylparaben
  • methylparaben
  • parabens
  • propylparaben
  • sodium methylparaben
  • sodium propylparaben

Organic products may use the natural form of preservatives such as citric acid or a derivative.

For more information, see Healthy Child, Healthy World – Use Precaution with Parabens.

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate

One of the most common ingredients in shampoo is a common detergent: sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS). SLS is used in shampoo because it strips out oils and, despite its name, has a low sodium content. However, SLS can cause contact dermatitis by irritating the skin. Some companies have tried to link SLS and cancer but TreeHugger did their own research in this article: Common Eco-Myth: Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) Causes Cancer. So, while, you can dry your hair and scalp to a fare-thee-well, there is no hard evidence linking SLS to cancer. Depending on how greasy your hair is, choose your surfactant accordingly.

Gentle Surfactants

This list of surfactants are gentle but don’t cleanse as well.

  • cocamidopropyl betaine
  • cocamphocarboxyglycinate-propionate
  • sodium lauraminodipropionate
  • disodium monococamido sulfosuccinate
  • disodium cocamphodipropionate
  • disodium capryloamhodiacetate
  • cocoyl sarcosine
  • sodium lauryl sarcosinate

Harsh Surfactants

The following list could cause an irritated scalp or be drying to hair.

  • sodium lauryl sulfate
  • TEA-lauryl sulfate
  • sodium C14-16 olefin sulfonate
  • TEA-dodecylbenzene

For more information, see Healthy Child, Healthy World

Diethanolamine

Diethanolamine, more commonly called DEA, is not only a suspected carcinogen, it has been shown to negatively affect the development of memory cells, making it a particularly dangerous ingredient for pregnant women to use. One of its derivatives, triethanolamine (TEA) has also been shown to be carcinogenic.

Diethanolamine appears as:

  • Cocamide DEA
  • Cocamide MEA
  • DEA-Cetyl Phosphate
  • DEA Oleth-3 Phosphate
  • Lauramide DEA
  • Linoleamide MEA
  • Myristamide DEA
  • Oleamide DEA
  • Stearamide MEA
  • TEA-Lauryl Sulfate
  • Triethanolamine

For more information, see Healthy Child, Healthy World – Diethanolamine and U.S Food and Drug Administration: Diethanolamine and Cosmetic Products.

Methylisothiazoline

Methylisothiazoline, or MIT, limits the potential for microbial contamination in water based solutions. It has been shown to cause neurological damage, potentially putting a fetus at risk for brain damage. The chemical might also be a factor in the development of Alzheimer’s and other nervous system disorders.

For more information see Medical News Today: Shampoos with Methylisothiazoline May Pose Risk for Unborn Babies.

Fragrance

Most hair care products have some form of added fragrance. Fragrance is considered a trade secret and does not have to be revealed. Fragrances are considered to be among the top five known allergens and are known to both cause and trigger asthma attacks. All I have to do is walk by a perfume counter to trigger a reaction.

Natural Shampoos

You can find “organic” or “natural shampoos” on the market. Bypass the marketing on the label and go straight to the list of ingredients to make sure you’re getting a product without synthetic chemicals. They are likely to be more expensive than the drugstore brands that contain potentially harmful chemicals. However, what many people don’t know is that you don’t have to wash your hair more than once or twice a week. In fact, it’s healthier for your hair to wash it less frequently, as it gives the natural oils (which is what really creates shine) a chance to replenish themselves. I know, I know. When I was much younger, I washed and dried my hair every day thinking I needed to. These days, I usually skip the shampoo and wash my hair with conditioner. Then I let my hair dry naturally. My hair has never been in better shape.

If you have dandruff, give yourself a natural hot oil or deep conditioning treatment, which is far better for your scalp than dandruff shampoos.

You can also make your own shampoo:

Resources:

signature

Enjoy this post? Get more like it. Subscribe in a reader or by Email.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]
 

Daylight Saving Time Saves Lives, Not Energy March 9, 2009

Filed under: energy,health,home,politics — Daryl Laux @ 8:57 am
Tags: , , ,
An illustration of the beginning of Daylight S...
Image via Wikipedia

Now that Daylight Saving Time has “sprung ahead”, I don’t have to worry about the hour difference when calling family members in other time zones. Arizona (with the exception of the Navajo Indian Reservation) and Hawaii are the two states that do have honor Daylight Saving Time and thank goodness. We have enough sunlight thank you. As it is, in the summer, you have to get up pretty early if you want to do anything outdoors. And be done by 8:00 AM. The evening doesn’t cool off until an hour after sunset so having an extra hour of sunlight is not a bonus.

Lawmakers have been tinkering with the clock for decades. For a timeline of tinkering, see NPR’s A Time-Change Timeline. Notably missing is William Willet, English architect and avid golfer, who conceived of DST in 1905, during an early morning horseback ride. He proposed DST to create opportunities for outdoor leisure activities during afternoon sunlight hours and lobbied for its adoption until his death in 1915. See William Willet’s Waste of Daylight.

Daylight Saving Time has been reputed to save energy, reduce crime, lower traffic fatalities, and increase economic activity:

  1. Energy: The truth is, you can find studies to support the stance that Daylight Saving Time saves energy (Impact of Extended Daylight Saving Time on National Energy Consumption, October 2008) or wastes energy (Does Daylight Saving Time save energy? Evidence from a natural experiment in Indiana, October 2008).
  2. Crime reduction: No study exists that clearly links DST and a reduction in crime. A 1970 study, conducted in Washington D.C. is not conclusive evidence that daylight-saving time reduced crime, given both the limited time and limited sample area. Some would argue that more evening daylight equals less opportunity for criminals. If true, is the reduction in crime when the clocks “spring ahead” accompanied by an increase in crime when the clocks “fall back” in the winter?
  3. Traffic fatalities: A study published in 2007, The Short and Long Run Effects of Daylight Saving Time on Fatal Automobile Crashes, indicates that over the course of 28 years, Daylight Saving Time significantly reduces automobile crashes in the long run with a 8-11% fall in crashes involving pedestrians, and a 6-10% fall in crashes for vehicular occupants in the weeks after the spring shift to Daylight Saving Time.
  4. Economics: In 2005, the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association and the National Association of Convenience Stores successfully lobbied for the 2007 extension of U.S. Daylight Saving Time. At the same time, the Air Transport Association (which estimated $147 million worth of revenue at risk due to scheduling conflicts for the 8-week extension), Calendaring and Scheduling Consortium (whose members include software giants Oracle and Yahoo!, as well as universities like MIT, Stanford, and Berkeley), the Edison Electric Institute (representing 200 private utilities), the US Conference of Catholic Bishops and the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism opposed the proposed 8-week extension of Daylight Saving Time. The compromise bill that was adopted extended Daylight Saving Time by 4 weeks.

Then there studies that find impacts to male suicide rates and heart attacks when changing the clocks seasonally. Never mind the disruption to sleeping patterns that can affect some folks for weeks.

All in all, the sole substantiated benefit of Daylight Savings Time appears to be reduced traffic fatalities over a long period of time.

Resources:


Enjoy this post? Get more like it. Subscribe in a reader or by Email.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]
 

New American Farmers Need New American Consumers March 6, 2009

Filed under: food,health — Daryl Laux @ 6:00 am
Tags: ,
An agricultural scientist records corn (maize)...
Image via Wikipedia

My family was in the potato farming business as long as I could remember as a child. In order to create an outlet for our potatoes, our family built their own potato chip factory on the farm. It was a family business that grew; big enough to merge with another company and change the name from Warner Potato Chips to Treat by Warner. Finally Beatrice Foods, with brands like Butterball, Dannon, and Hunt’s, bought the factory and contracted to buy our potatoes. Within a year, the plant was shut down and the contracts were gone. The land could have easily been converted to housing during the housing boom, considering the location (Suffolk County, Long Island, New York). However, one of the brothers reinvented the farm as a wholesale nursery, more than doubling the size of the original farm. While my uncle doesn’t grow food, it’s still a family farm.

Other farmers are not so fortunate. Thousands of farmers have gone out of business; many sold their land to pay their debts. We’ve all seen housing developments spring up on fertile farm land. The number of farms in the United States dropped from more than six million in the 1930s to about two million by end of the century.

“…the largest 10% of U.S. farms now account for more than two-thirds of the total value of production and more than 40% of total U.S. production sold under contract arrangements with the agribusiness corporations that control agricultural processing and distribution (MacDonald and Korb 2008). Non-farm corporations own only a small portion of U.S. farms and farmland, but their span of control, achieved through various contractual arrangements, is quickly approaching one-half of U.S. agriculture.” (John E. Ikerd,  Professor Emeritus of Agricultural Economics, University of Missouri)

The food in your supermarket or fast-food “restaurant” is food that is the most profitable, not necessarily food that is the safest or highest in quality. The market provides food in relation to ability to pay, not nutritional value. Hence the paradox of poor people who are over-fed but under-nourished. The industrialization of agriculture has created a system where corporations make the decisions and the profit. Farm laborers and food industry workers are among the lowest paid workers in the U.S. And when corporations deem U.S. labor costs too high, they rely on cheap imports from low-wage countries such as Mexico, India, and China. Are we now a nation which can no longer feed itself?

“Food is not a commodity like others. We should go back to a policy of maximum food self-sufficiency. It is crazy for us to think we can develop countries around the world without increasing their ability to feed themselves.” - Former US President Bill Clinton, Speech at United Nations World Food Day, October 16, 2008

That, in my opinion includes us. So, what can you do? Support local farmers and farming, farmers markets and CSA’s. Support farmers who grow grass-fed beef. Local Harvest is an excellent resource. Prepare your own food from scratch rather than buying highly processed, prepared foods. Organizations such as Slow Food, chefs collaborative, help to promote the “locavore” movement. Try 100 Mile Diet for tips and resources. And if you’re fortunate to have enough to share, do that too.

Resources:


Enjoy this post? Get more like it. Subscribe in a reader or by Email.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]
 

7 Reasons Not to Drink Bottled Water March 3, 2009

bottled.waterStill drinking bottled water? Here are 7 reasons not to:

  1. Money - For the $2 you spend on a liter of bottled water you can get about 1,000 gallons of tap water. (EPA – Drinking Water Costs and Federal Funding)
  2. Contaminants - Testing of 10 brands of bottled water revealed a wide range of pollutants, including not only disinfection byproducts, but also common urban wastewater pollutants like caffeine and pharmaceuticals (Tylenol); heavy metals and minerals including arsenic and radioactive isotopes; fertilizer residue (nitrate and ammonia); and a broad range of other, tentatively identified industrial chemicals used as solvents, plasticizers, viscosity decreasing agents, and propellants. (Environmental Working Group – Bottled Water contains disinfection byproducts, fertilizer residue, and pain medication)
  3. Regulation and Safety – The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates bottled water and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates tap water.  The EPA’s Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water has issued extensive regulations on the production, distribution and quality of drinking water, including regulations on source water protection, operation of drinking water systems, contaminant levels and reporting requirements. The FDA regulates bottled water as a food. Under current FDA regulations, consumers are not receiving uniform quality and purity from bottled water. (Environmental Working Group – FDA should adopt EPA tap water health goals as enforceable limits for bottled water)
  4. Garbage - Where do all those empty plastic bottles go? About 86 percent of empty plastic water bottles in the United States land in the garbage instead of being recycled. That amounts to about two million tons of PET plastic bottles piling up in U.S. landfills each year. (TakeBacktheTap.org – Bottled Water)
  5. Oil - Making bottles to meet Americans’ demand for bottled water required the equivalent of more than 17 million barrels of oil last year – enough fuel for more than 1 million U.S. cars for a year – and generated more than 2.5 million tons of carbon dioxide. (Think Outside the Bottle)
  6. Taste - People say they drink bottled water because it tastes better than tap. However, in blind taste tests, people can’t tell the difference. In fact, one taster in a 20/20 taste test said Evian “…tasted like toilet water”. That sounds pretty dee-lish. (ABC News – Is Bottled Water Better than Tap?)
  7. Water privatization - In the United States, 24 percent of bottled water sold is either Pepsi’s Aquafina (13 percent of the market) or Coke’s Dasani (11 percent of the market). Both brands are bottled, purified municipal water. Water bottlers deplete aquifers and other groundwater sources, and harm local economies by paying too little for the water it takes. Contracts often also give preference to water bottlers over the town’s ratepayers because the company can draw the maximum amount of water it wants, regardless of drought or water shortage. We need to address the question, is water a basic human right or a commodity to be bought, sold, and traded in a global marketplace? How much do you think your food is going to cost when farmers have to pay private corporations for water to grow crops? (Sierra Club – Corporate Water Privatization)

Watch: A World Without Water

Related Posts:


Enjoy this post? Get more like it. Subscribe in a reader or by Email.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]
 

Reason #15 Not to Drink Soda February 26, 2009

Filed under: food,health — Daryl Laux @ 6:12 am
Mountain dew can
Image via Wikipedia

Last week I wrote a post called 14 Reasons Not to Drink Soda. If that didn’t convince you to give up your soda habit, here’s a link to an article about Mountain Dew Soda that might convince you – Mountain Dew Addiction Helps Rot Central Appalachins’ Teeth.

Enjoy this post? Get more like it. Subscribe in a reader or by Email.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]
 

Happier Valentine’s Day Without Food Dyes February 12, 2009

Food coloring spreading on a thin water film.
Image via Wikipedia

New Consumer Web Tool Helps You Find Children’s Foods & Candies Without Synthetic Dyes

Approaching Valentine’s Day, consumers are surrounded with candies and processed foods containing synthetic food dyes. Increasingly, these dyes have been found to increase hyperactivity and other disturbed behavior in children. Two new consumer tools from the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) help parents make smart choices about foods not containing brain toxins.

“The latest science indicates that even modest amounts of synthetic food dyes can affect learning in children,” said David Wallinga, M.D., Director of IATP’s Food and Health program. “Parents shouldn’t have to be chemists to find healthy food that helps growing brains. We can do better.”

IATP’s web-based Brain Food SelectorTM is a database that helps parents easily find which foods contain synthetic dyes. Parents can search by brand, product type or food dye. IATP’s Smart Guide to Food Dyes describes why synthetic food dyes are used, associated children’s health concerns and things parents can do to avoid them.

Synthetic food dyes, mostly petroleum-derived, are unnecessary. FDA-approved uses for synthetic food dyes include: making foods more fun (e.g., Valentine’s sprinkles or brightly colored candies); coloring for otherwise colorless foods (e.g., lime sherbet); and enhancing natural color. Synthetic food dyes are used in a number of foods such as Fruit Loops and popsicles, but also butter, the skins of fruit and the casings of hot dogs. Synthetic dyes are especially common in foods marketed to children, including candies as well as many foods, dressings, treats, and dipping sauces at fast food outlets.

The industrialization of the food system helps account for the increase in food additives such as food dyes, preservatives and sweeteners. The high degree of food processing, which exposes foods to high temperatures, light, air and moisture, leads to an increased loss of natural color. Post-processing, synthetic dyes are often added to offset the color loss.

During the last three decades, repeated studies have concluded that modest doses of synthetic dyes added to foods can provoke hyperactivity and other disturbed behavior in children. In April 2008, Britain’s Food Standards Agency advised the food industry to voluntarily ban the use of six common synthetic food dyes by 2009.  Some companies now sell two versions of their products: one without synthetic food dyes for the UK, and a U.S. version that includes such dyes.

“The good news is that there are safer alternatives to synthetic food dyes and many food companies are already making the switch,” said Dr. Wallinga. “We need the food industry and U.S. government agencies to catch up with the latest science and start protecting our children. Until then, parents need to be armed with information when they go to the supermarket.”

Resource: Brain Food Selector and the Smart Guide to Food Dyes at: www.iatp.org

Related Post: Food Additives Cause Hyperactive Behavior

Enjoy this post? Get more like it. Subscribe in a reader or by Email.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]
 

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 26 other followers

%d bloggers like this: