Friday, July 31, 2009

Is 'BPA Free' Really Living Up to its Name?

When my twins were born I had already gotten a boat load of bottles from my baby shower. I actually registered for the Avent infant starter kit and received two of them plus additional packs of 3 and 6! I had enough bottles to last them till they were in kindergarten. I was able to avoid using these bottles for 2 months as I breast fed and pumped milk into Medela BPA free containers. I had never heard of BPA (Bisephenol A) and didn't know it was found in any of the bottles I had until I read the reports, studies and stories on the news. Apparently BPA (found in hard plastics) mimics hormones in the human body and in even very small amounts over time can cause chronic toxicity. The funny thing is we have suspected that BPA is harmful since the 1930's and nothing has stopped the plastics industry from using it. By the time I found out, my boys were 6 months old and I had been using the bottles for 4 months. I immediately threw them all out. Garbage. I then went back to glass bottles and what we now see advertised as "BPA Free" bottles. In fact, Avent makes a BPA free bottle and it turned out that one of my twins really liked this bottle so I stuck with it. My other twin uses Born Free which is not made with BPA. Its interesting how quickly the industry responded to all these studies and threats. It was like over night, the BPA was mysteriously removed and all the bottles were now deemed safe. Too good to be true? I bet.

Here is an article that was just passed on to me from a good friend. It substantiates the fears I have that we are again being duped by the big corporations that have deep pockets and lobby our federal government. Don't think the FDA isn't in on this because they are. The FDA is not out to protect us and that is the major point of my post.

Please read below: Taken from the Journal Sentinel

Canadian regulators have found that baby bottles marketed to parents as "BPA free" may actually contain the chemical bisphenol A. Two of nine bottle brands tested by Health Canada, Canada's public health agency, showed "high readings" while "traces" were found in the others. The test results were released to the Canwest News Service under the country's Access to Information Act. The results have been published in Food Additives & Contaminants, a scientific journal. The report did not specify which brands had the higher levels. The names of the companies were blacked out of the report, the news service reported.

Hundreds of studies in recent years have linked the chemical to medical problems, including breast cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Canada has banned the sale and advertising of BPA in baby bottles. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, however, has ruled that BPA is safe for use. That finding was based on two studies, both of which were paid for by the chemical-makers. Last year, the FDA's own science advisory board found that the ruling improperly ignored hundreds of studies that found that the chemical caused harm, even at low doses. It recommended that the FDA reconsider the ruling. A new opinion is expected in the next few weeks.

The Journal Sentinel has reported extensively on the U.S. government's safety assessments of BPA. The newspaper has found that government regulators allowed chemical industry lobbyists to write sections of the government assessment draft. Last year, the Journal Sentinel paid for 10 items, marked as "microwave safe," to be tested for the presence of BPA. Toxic levels of the chemical were found to leach from all 10 items when they were heated. BPA, used to make hard, clear plastic, has been found in the urine of 93% of Americans tested. According to the news service, documents indicated that government scientists were surprised at the findings.

Health Canada spokesman Gary Scott Holub said Thursday that the agency could not distribute the study. According to the news service reports, the bottles were tested last year, soon after Canada announced a proposed ban on polycarbonate baby bottles. Canada has since banned the sale and advertisement of baby bottles made with BPA. In the United States, bans have been passed in Chicago, Long Island, Connecticut and Minnesota. Federal lawmakers are considering a ban, too. Sonya Lunder, senior scientist at the Environmental Working Group, called results of the Health Canada tests "curious." She said parents should still feel comfortable buying BPA-free bottles for their children because the levels are so low compared with bottles made with BPA. "Parents can make a dramatic and immediate reduction of BPA in their child's blood levels by switching from polycarbonate bottles" to bottles labeled as "BPA free." "This is still a huge relief," she said.

The American Chemistry Council, the lobbying group for the plastics industry, declined to comment on the Health Canada results. According to Canwest, the Canadian news service, bottle manufacturers are concerned that something was wrong with the analysis conducted.

I do believe that its a matter of time before BPA is banned nationwide but why are we still hearing about BPA in plastic bottles? Why are we still at risk? All I can say is that if you are still using bottles made of hard plastic, stop. Move to glass or stainless steel so that you know what you are getting. Make sure the stainless steel is not lined with any plastic either. BPA finds it way into so much product packaging and it leeches into the foods that its supposed to be protecting. Another reason not to eat processed foods!! If you must use plastic make sure its a BPA free manufacturer - not one that suddenly went "BPA Free". Here is a partial list of some of the companies I know to be BPA free:

Born Free
Kleen Kanteen
Dr. Browns

This article was scary and yet not surprising to me. Once the media flurry was over, I am sure these plastics companies went right back to cutting corners and knew that the FDA was there to protect them!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Buyer Beware!

The organic movement is under attack by the big corporations. I am not going to name names because I used to work for one of these corporations. However, I have much respect for this company and the knowledge I gained from working there but I do not agree with the tactics that are being employed to "get a piece of the organic pie". We all know that organic food is not cheap but there are reasons for this. Usually the farms are smaller scale and it costs more to protect the food from animals when not using pesticides. Many of these organic farms use manual labor to uproot weeds and keep out the critters. But its all worth it for our health.

Big companies are now using "marketing terminology" to fool the consumer into believing they are getting healthy organic food and are charging a premium for these products too!! You will see how your neighborhood grocery store may now have a "green aisle" that for the most part will have only true organic products stocked there. Names like Amy's, Applegate Farms, Ians, Horizon Organic, Dr. Praegger's and more. But mixed into the regular aisles you will find processed food with names like "all natural" or even "organic" on the labels. This is diluting the organic message and putting our health at risk. Don't be fooled. These products have high fructose corn syrup, GMO's, pesticides and many other synthetic and toxic chemicals in them. They think that just because they deiced to use 'natural flavoring' instead of 'artificial flavoring' they have the right to call it all natural. Well news flash people!! Natural flavoring is nothing but synthetic chemicals engineered to taste like fruits or vegetables that are naturally occurring (ie. orange flavor). Artificial flavors are synthetic chemicals engineered to taste like something that does NOT occur in nature (ie. BBQ flavor). I know it must make you feel good to know that Cheetos has now gone "natural" but don't buy it!! It was and still is a garbage processed food made almost entirely out of corn and chemicals. And let me tell you, its not by chance that the word natural is the biggest word on the package. These marketers know that while you are rapidly scanning the aisle for healthy alternatives, words like these will pop out at you and lure you in to buy. We put this word on a pedestal and would never think that the product labeled with this name is anything but!

Other words are being abused as well. Misleading corporate strategies now include redefining the term “local” to mean not locally owned, grown or produced, but just something “close by,” or worse yet, local through association with something else. This is just wrong and unsuspecting consumers will fall prey to tactics like these. This is why I suggest supporting a local farmers market. There you can actually speak to the people growing the food and understand how their farming practices affect the food you eat.

Now is the time that we must get vigilant. The reason why health care costs are out of control is because we are not HEALTHY. We are obese, we have diabetes, cancer, autoimmune and chronic diseases and its mainly due to our DIET. We need to read the ingredients of everything we buy. High fructose corn syrup should not be an ingredient in anything that is deemed to be "organic". If it is then you know you are being duped. If the product has ingredients with more than 4 syllables you can raise your eyebrow as well because 9 out of 10 times it a corn derivative. Words like maltodextrin, dextrose, lecithin, xanthan gun, gum arabic, high oleic safflower oil, etc. Most processed foods contain these and organic impostors will as well.

Staying away from GMOs (genetically modified foods) is harder to do because the ingredients will not tell you if it has been genetically altered. GMOs have only been around since the 1990's and are causing many health problems and unforeseen illnesses and the government is not doing anything about it. The FDA actually supports this type of farming. There are environmental risks too. Scientists are concerned that GMOs will reduce biodiversity which is essential to our long term sustainability on this planet. So check the PLU code on your food to see if it is a GMO.
Here’s what you should look for:
• A four-digit number means the produce is conventionally grown
• A five-digit number beginning with 9 means it's organic
• A five-digit number beginning with 8 means it's GM
Check out this website for a list of GMO free foods

Please don't be fooled by the sneaky marketing tactics of these big companies that are trying to reap the rewards of "being organic". They are still cutting corners and putting our health at risk. Its up to you to take charge of your health and your lifestyle. Taking the time to buy truly local and organic is a form of activism in itself!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Eating Local = Eating Seasonal

I have a post that touches on this topic already but I wanted to dive a little deeper. We have become a culture of convenience. There isn't a second thought about getting strawberries or tomatoes in the winter or pears in the summer. The American population demanded this type of selection so big business supplied it. But is it right? Do those strawberries in the winter look or taste as good? I highly doubt it and even if they did, where do you think they came from? Somewhere in South America I suppose where our winters are their summers. The amount of fossil fuel it takes to get that produce into our grocery store is unimaginable. Its definitely more than the cost we pay for the fruit itself. So if the price doesn't reflect the actual cost of getting it into our hands off season then who is paying? The environment. Every time we waste fossil fuels we are depleting a finite natural resource and adding to climate change. These fruits and veggies coming from South America are shipped in special cooling units to keep them as fresh as possible and this way of air travel is extremely energy intensive and expensive.

In California they grow a lot of "out-of season" produce but they do so in heated greenhouses which deplete a lot of energy. They also use much more water to irrigate than would be necessary if it were just grown in season. This not only depletes energy but also depletes water which as you must know is also become a scarce resource - especially in the west. We live in a new world. We must conserve if we expect to live without some detrimental impact on our future. Eating in season is just one of the many ways to make this change. Its not about us as individuals anymore.

If summer fruits and vegetables are so important to your diet that you can't live without, there are more "ethical" ways around this. Simply freezing what you want to eat in the winter can suffice. Frozen fruits and veggies keep really well. There are winter varieties of the same fruits and veggies that seem to grow better in colder climates. Long keeping tomatoes are one type. You can grow them at home or look for them at your farmers market. Most likely your farmers market will offer only whats in season but you can ask about winter varieties of summer produce.

Eating a seasonal diet means different things, depending on which part of the world you live in. By adding seasonal foods to your plate, you ensure that you are getting essential vitamins and minerals including important antioxidants that protect the body from disease. This is the way our ancestors ate for thousands of years. Its only been recent (last 40 years) that advanced industrialization has allowed us to eat whatever we want whenever we want. Besides being unhealthy, its also boring. We tend to eat whatever our favorite is and never waver. Eating seasonally forces us to get the variety we need in our bodies.

The best way to incorporate seasonal eating into your life is to join a community supported agriculture group (CSA). These local groups purchase a portion of a small farm's produce before the season begins. By becoming a member and paying a fee you get fresh produce right off the farm delivered to a local pick up spot once a week! The variety of fruits and vegetables you get depends on where you live and what the farm grows. An added bonus is not knowing what you will receive and simply getting an opportunity to try something new. The only guarantee with becoming part of a CSA is that you will have a steady supply of fresh, nutrient dense produce from late spring until early winter. You also get the opportunity to meet other people in your community who have the same interest in creating a happier and healthier planet and lifestyle through supporting local farmers and organic farming. The Weston A. Price Foundation, can help you find a farm that offers this in your area.

Please see the attached annual harvest calendar for information on whats in season throughout the year. This calendar is specific for Georgia (where I live) but I can help you find a local one for your area if you email me. I don't think it will change significantly for areas like New York but there may be some variations in duration of specific fruits or veggies.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

An Old Friend is Pioneering the Way to Healthy Eating

Back in Highschool Dave Caldiero was a popular guy. He was quarterback of the football team, involved in the student council, talented in the arts and dated the prettiest girls. He was also a cool guy to hang out with and friendly to all. It seemed as if he didn't have a superficial bone in his body. Wiser than his years? Maybe. Many people looked up to Dave and wanted to be like him. I am glad that his type of role model was preferred over the "bad boy" or "drop out" model that many try to embrace. I look back to those days and can only assume that Dave has done something exceptional with his life. Well, I am more than right and very happy to say so!

Dave focused his talent in the arts and went to culinary school. His Italian roots only benefited his abilities, I suppose. I remember when he landed a trendy job in Manhattan's SoHo district at a che-che lounge called Moomba. I was excited to know someone that worked at such a hip spot and was hoping he could pull some strings and get me past the long lines!! No such luck but I am sure that Dave's vision didn't include him staying at some cliche restaurant for long.

A couple of years later Dave's name popped up randomly and I learned that he had moved to Hawaii and opened up his own restaurant. I was excited to hear about this. Its always nice when someone you admire succeeds in living his dream. Hawaii is far away from his roots, but if you know Dave you can understand why Hawaii suits him so well. I imagine that he grows his own food and lives a minimalistic lifestyle. Surfing, maybe.. meditation... his old pottery wheel? Who knows. I am guessing as I haven't spoken to Dave in many years but his sister just posted a link to a magazine that featured his restaurant and spoke of his ideals. I wasn't surprised to see what they were focusing on. The title says it all, "Local first, organic whenever possible, with aloha always". Check out the article below:

More restaurants need to adopt this mantra and support local farming. The more people that are exposed to and get comfortable with this idea the more it will be demanded. Dave to me, is a pioneer as there are so few of these types of restaurants. However, they are catching on and becoming more popular. If anyone can set a good example and be "the" role model for a sustainable restaurant business its Dave. But I think Dave's message goes beyond his restaurant, he is making a statement about health and a new way of living. He is lucky that he can channel his beliefs into something he loves and make an impact on everyone that chooses to eat at his establishment.

When eating out, I try to search for restaurants like Dave's that use local produce, wild game or pastured meat. It's not only supporting the restaurant but its helping out the community, local agriculture and your health. We all need to be role models for our children, why not add this to our "green" list??

Monday, July 20, 2009

My Almost Totally Organic/Local Dinner

This will be a fun post because I will be giving out a recipe as well. The weather here in Atlanta has been absolutely glorious for the past couple of days. Very "San Diego like" weather with cool mornings and nights and days not hotter than 80 degrees with very low humidity. The weather has me feeling very upbeat and energized. I was able to run many errands with the boys today when usually one errand plus the park is enough for me. We made it to the toy store for some sand to put in their sand and water table as well the food store. I bought some of the remaining ingredients that I needed for tonight's dinner. I had decided to make a homemade pesto to serve over pasta and some meatballs on the side. I had never attempted a homemade pesto but when I read how easy it was, I couldn't resist. I really love pesto with all the basil and pie nuts that comprise it. Plus, making it in my food processor was truly a breeze! Here is the Pesto Recipe:

2 cups of fresh organic Basil leaves (packed)
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup extra virgin cold pressed Olive oil
3 tbls of Pie nuts
3 Cloves of garlic (chopped)

Put 2/3 of the basil into food processor with 2/3 of the cheese, garlic, oil and nuts. Blend until liquid. Slowly add in the rest of the ingredients and blend until thick and sauce-like. You can refrigerate for a week or freeze for months.

A little about the health benefits of Basil. Basil, like garlic has many antibacterial properties. Its essential oil has been found to inhibit growth of the widespread staphylococcus, enterococcus, pseudomonas, and e. coli bacteria, among others. Eugenol, which is found in essential oil of basil, provides an anti-inflammatory effect, by blocking an enzyme called cyclooxygenase. Aspirin and Ibuprofen work by blocking this same enzyme. So, basil can have healing benefits, and provide relief from the symptoms of inflammatory problems, like rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel conditions. Magnesium is also present in basil. This essential mineral helps the heart and blood vessels to relax, improving blood flow. Other nutrients found in basil include iron, calcium, potassium, and vitamin C.

And the Meatballs:

1lb of grass fed ground beef
1 free range pastured egg
1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese
3/4 cup of organic bread crumbs
1 tbls of parsley

Combine all ingredients in a glass bowl. Mash the mixture with your hands until fully blended. Round out little balls in your hand and place on a glass baking dish lightly dusted with olive oil. Bake on 375 for 30 minutes.

I cooked up some whole wheat pasta but not everyone loves whole wheat so use whatever kind of pasta suits your taste. Remember however that refined wheat is completely stripped of all its natural nutrients, even if its enriched! I topped off the meal with a fresh salad and some Pinot Noir. It was delicious!

I usually make meatballs with a marinara or bolognese sauce but these meatballs tasted great on their own. The meat was particularly tasty and I can't wait to tell Chad (Carlton Farms) when I see him on Wednesday. More Recipes to come in future posts, especially ones from Nourishing Traditions the Sally Fallon cookbook.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

A Quickie on the Health Benefits of Garlic

Most of us are familiar with garlic as a culinary herb, but did you know that garlic is one of the single best herbs for the cold and flu season? Garlic stimulates the immune system. It helps activate phagocytes to "eat foreign invaders in the body as well as stimulating B and T cell production. Garlic's antimicrobial activity works on viruses, bacteria, parasites, fungi, yeasts and molds. Allicin- an active constituent in fresh garlic & onions, is a broad spectrum antibiotic. Garlic's anti-viral activity works well on influenza, herpes, and cold sores. It doesn't produce resistant strains of microorganisms and has actually been found to work very well on them.
For the digestive system, Garlic is useful for parasites & fungi. Use it for amoebic dysentery, intestinal parasites, roundworm, and hookworm. Garlic supports healthy bacteria in the GI tract.
The essential oil of garlic comes out through the lungs, urine and blood, making it good for the respiratory system and urinary tract infections. Use Garlic for bronchitis, colds, ear infections, or UTIs.
Garlic is a wonderful tonic for the cardiovascular system. It aids in lowering cholesterol and reducing high blood pressure.

I personally use garlic on my children at the first sign of sickness. Here's how I do it: I take about 2-3 cloves and dice them up finely. I mix the diced garlic in extra virgin, cold pressed olive oil and let it oxidize for about 10 minutes. Now it really smells stinky!! I then take the mixture and put it on my kid's feet, in between their toes and on their soles. I put socks on to cover it and make sure the mixture doesn't come off on anything. Then their PJ's go on over it. I do this right before bed so they don't' mind so much. Of course in the morning their room smells like a pasta factory and they need their feet washed, but the symptoms of their cold have diminished greatly and usually I can avoid a major sickness from even happening. Its truly a wonder herb. For us adults, it doesn't hurt to eat garlic daily. Fresh is best so put it on foods that you love or just eat it raw. It will really help build your immune system and also support healthy bacteria in your digestive system. For those out there with high blood pressure and high cholesterol, a garlic tonic can help decrease both. Just dilute fresh squeezed garlic juice with water 1:10 and drink. I know it sounds horrible but the effects are noticeable.

I suggest trying it out now in preparation for the flu season this fall and winter.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Most Anticipated Post.... Vaccines

My story is not unlike many of you I am sure. I have read the studies that say there is no link between vaccines and autism and I have read the books written by mothers who swear that vaccines caused their child to turn autistic. Who is to believe? Well recently there has been information from the NAA (National Autism Association) that claims the CDC's study of the MMR vaccine and autism was flawed. I will not go into specifics, you can read the article yourself at . The debate will go back and forth for some time I am sure. There probably isn't a "hard" link but rather a soft link stemming from toxins in the body. I mention in my previous post about our toxic burden and how we can reach a tipping point in our body where an overload can cause neurological and autoimmune damage, especially in boys who have a tougher time detoxing their bodies. We know that vaccines contain toxins (formaldehyde, heavy metals, aborted fetal tissue, etc)I took all this information and made my future decisions based on it. I decided that I was going to protect my children from some of the more harmful diseases out there as well as protect the society at large but I was going to do it on my schedule. A delayed schedule. I did not let them vaccinate my children in the hospital at birth. I refused the Hep B shot to the chagrin of the nurses. They tried their hardest to put the fear of God in me that something bad was going to happen to me or my children or even their jobs if I didn't agree to give the boys the shot. I refused and stuck to my guns. They had no right to make me feel the way they did. They can not force you to do anything you don't want to do. They were MY children.

After 2 weeks, I let my pediatrician give the boys the Hep B shot and that was it. Over time, I allowed only 2 shots per visit. I rejected the Rota virus because its only 2 years old and hasn't been tested for very long. I rejected the Polio vaccines because it has essentially been eradicated from society. I allowed the Dtap, the HIB and the Prevnar but only in a very spread out manner (2 shots per visit). They tried to sneak a 5 in 1 shot on me once and I literally flipped out on them. 5 in 1?? That is such an overload of toxins to the body, I can't even believe that they make it. I think the 5 in 1 was a Dtap plus 2 others. The Dtap vaccine is for Diphtheria, Tetanus and Pertussis its a 3 in 1 that can't be broken up.

For my own personal reasons the boys have only had their 6 month shots and then I stopped vaccinating to give their bodies a break. At 12 months I felt they were not meeting milestones appropriately. This could be because they are boys and they are twins or it could be for other unknown reasons. At that point I decided to postpone all vaccines until they were over 2 years of age. Probably closer to 3. I discussed this with my pediatrician who was supportive. Its just too bad that I had to go through 3 pediatricians to find one that was supportive. I think its important to find a homeopathic pediatrician from the beginning and save yourself from all those uncomfortable experiences where the the doctor is assuming they know more than you do. In this case, I don't believe that they really do.

Now my kids are doing fine and I am happy with my choice. I do plan to catch them up before they are 3 and all should be OK. They have been immunized from some viruses just not all. They will start preschool in September and ofcourse the preschool has asked for an immunization record. Instead of explaining myself and the course that I have chosen I am just going to fill out a form that states that my religious beliefs forbid me from vaccinating my children. Its a non denominational form that doesn't even state the religion. Many states still accept this type of form and will let your child attend the school. I am sure that many of you will strongly disagree with my choices but I am not looking to be judged. I am just passing on information that may be helpful to some of you who share my views. All I did to find the form was go to Google and type in Vaccination Exemption Form and Georgia. You can do this for your state and a site with the various official forms will pop up. I plan to send mine in this week.

I feel very good about the decisions I have made for my boys. They are really catching up and are even advanced in some areas! The talking is taking some time but they now have an 8 word vocabulary and are working on articulation. I am very proud of my little guys and want nothing but the best for them. I would never forgive myself if something happened to them that could have been prevented.

If anyone is interested in finding a similar form for your state, just send me an email and I will help you.

As an addendum; I was reading some information on vaccines from Dr. Mercola's website and he summarized a user friendly schedule for vaccines. I want to post this here for anyone who may be interested.

Vaccination schedule that Dr. Mercola recommends:
No vaccinations until a child is two years old.
No vaccines that contain thimerosal (mercury).
No live virus vaccines (except for smallpox, should it recur).
These vaccines should be given one at a time, every six months, beginning at age 2:
A) Pertussis (acellular, not whole cell)
B) Diphtheria
C) Tetanus
D) Polio (the Salk vaccine, cultured in human cells)

Monday, July 13, 2009

"Dyeing" From Our Food

Ever wonder how they make purple ketchup? Do you think its because they are somehow able to grow purple carrots? Ever wonder WHY they would make purple ketchup? Well I have pondered these questions myself and did a little research to find out. Food dye is a big component to processed food. Without it, most of the processed food would look very bland and unappetizing. It would be discolored, multicolored and turn different colors after a while just sitting on a shelf. Even more importantly, without food dye a big segment of our population wouldn't even think of touching processed foods. The segment is kids. Yes, that is right, kids. Kids are a big part of why food dyes are added in the first place and food dyes are found in most processed food intended for and marketed to children. There is truly no nutritional reason or benefit for adding food dye to what we eat. Its purely for aesthetic reasons. Ok, so we have colorful looking food that may or may not be more appetizing. It certainly does not affect the taste but it can affect how we behave.

There are natural dyes which are made from plant based colors such as beet juice and saffron and there are synthetic dyes like FD&C Blues No. 1&2 and FD&C Green No. 3. Both of these food colors are water soluble which means they dissolve in water. A different type of dye is called lakes. They are not water soluble and are found in products containing fats and oils. I am not so concerned with the natural food coloring as it is derived from plants and not made with any synthetic chemicals. However, the majority of processed food that is marketed for children contains synthetic food dye and for no reason other than its pleasing to the eye.

Recent studies are finding that children consuming high amounts of food dye are more hyperactive than children who don't. They are trying to make a link to food dye and ADHD but nothing has been proven so far. However, where there is smoke, there is fire. At least that is my belief. Synthetic chemicals are not "proven" to cause any bodily harm in isolation but we do not know the synergistic effect they may have on the body when combined. I explained in a previous post how it is nearly impossible to test all the combinations and permutations of the 100,000 synthetic chemicals on the market and their effect on the human body so its up to us to be the best judges when it comes to our health. Why consume extra "stuff" when we don't have to? We really don't know if these food dyes cause ADHD but we do have evidence that once kids are taken off of all foods containing these colorings their behavior improves.

I now look for foods that are free of all colorings and dyes. But if there is something that my kids absolutely have to have then I make sure its colored with natural vegetable coloring. The less synthetic chemicals in our food the better. In fact, I just found a perfect substitute for Ritz Bitz. My kids tasted Ritz Bitz a while back and fell in love. I was devastated because of all the junk that goes into making them and the food dye Yellow No. 4 to make the cheese look tasty. Well, I just found the brand Late July sold in various health food stores. They make round unrefined wheat crackers with real cheese or peanut butter in between. No synthetic food dyes to be found! I was very excited to try them out on the boys and they love them just as much as the Ritz Bitz. Whew! I am so glad that there are alternative offerings out there on the market. You just have to look and make sure to read the ingredients of everything you buy. Nothing should have to be purple in order for it to taste good!!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Is Whole Foods Keeping True to its Original Intent?

The Whole Foods shoppping experience is definitely a pleasure (if you don't look at the receipt when you checkout). You just feel good knowing that their selection of produce is organically grown free of pesticides and toxic chemicals. Its worth it for me to pay the extra amount to ensure that the food I am getting is healthy. Plus, the selection of organic brands is not comparable to any other health food store. But has Whole Foods remained true to its original purpose? Well, lets examine what its original purpose was. From what I know, Whole Foods intended to support local organic farmers by stocking their fruits, veggies and meat in their aisles. Conventional produce was the exception to the rule. When I say conventional, I mean big agra, pesticides and fertilizer. Recently I have been seeing more and more conventionally grown produce and the organic selections they do offer are not local. You really need to read the labels before purchasing to make sure what you are getting supports local agriculture. My research has led me to believe that its not profitable for Whole Foods to buy from many different small farms when they can get better deals from the bigger farms and make more money on the markup. This is a disservice to the people who want to support sustainable organic farming. Within a few years Whole Foods will look no different then your neighborhood Publix, Kroger or Waldbaums. Where do we go then?

My message is simple. Seek out your local farmer's markets. You can rest assure that most of what they offer is local and organic. Plus, the prices are way cheaper than Whole Foods. You will be supporting many initiatives on many levels: your family's health, local agriculture, organic agriculture and the betterment of the environment. At some of the bigger farmer's markets they even have pastured meat. This is a great opportunity to try it out before contacting a local farm and buying it directly.

Its sad to see that profit margins are driving big businesses to cut corners and lose focus but its our fault for supporting it. We have a choice and we can easily choose to seek out local food that is in season and doesn't have to travel far to get to our tables. Just remember, all that conventionally grown produce from far across the world costs money to ship and uses oil to get it there.