Monday, November 14, 2011

Johnson & Johnson Is Poisoning Our Children

Johnson & Johnson, a household name when it comes to baby products has been putting known carcinogens into its shampoos, body washes and creams for years. Its only now, that people are becoming more aware of it and finally taking action.  I have blogged before about the dangers of using big "brand" consumer products and finally these dangers are being uncovered by the general public.

Activists such as Breast Cancer Fund, Environmental Working Group, Friends of the Earth, American Nurses Association, Physicians for Social Responsibility and Green America are calling for a boycott of J&J's baby products because of the harmful chemicals that they use in their shampoos, body washes and lotions.

J&J can get away with this crime because it has such deep pockets and can keep the FDA and any other government agency off its back by greasing the hands of the politicians. Big Pharma is controlling our lives. 

Here are some of the chemicals in the baby products manufactured by J&J and their known and scientifically proven health effects: Mineral oil (skin cancer), methylisothiazolinone (neurotoxin), phthalate esters (asthma, allergies, eczema), 1,4-dioxane (carcinogen, neurotoxin), formaldehyde (cancer, breathing problems).

Do you want to expose your children to this? I can't even believe that formaldehyde would be considered as an ingredient in a baby product. Shame on this country for allowing it!! Many other countries outside of the united states have banned these type of chemicals from being used in personal care products. J&J feels there is no danger to humans because they are using these chemicals in such small doses. However, the human body doesn't work that way. Overtime these chemicals build up in our bodies and can have a toxic cumulative effect on our organs. 

Here is a link to an article about J&J's toxic chemicals as well as other links to recent news about this:

In recent news, formaldehyde has been cited as the cause for sickness in many hair salons across the country that use the Brazilian Blow Out hair straightening treatment. Because of the fumes from the hair creams, hair stylists have been getting nose bleeds and headaches among other illnesses. The Brazilian Blow Out is expected to be banned from most salons until they remove the formaldehyde from the ingredient list. The company denies that it contains this chemical, but independent studies have confirmed that formaldehyde is present when the cream is being applied to the hair and is being inhaled by anyone in close proximity.

Since YOU are the only one that can control what goes into or onto your body, take heed and read all the ingredients. If you can't pronounce it, don't buy it. If you can pronounce it but don't know what it is, look it up and then decide.   

I have been using California Baby Products since my children were born. These products are chemical free and fragrance free. They are more expensive but I personally think its something I don't want to gamble with. Method baby products also claim to be chemical free but I have been sticking with California Baby. If you really want to be sure, just buy all your baby products at a health food store or a place like Whole foods. I certainly think your little one is worth it!

Here is a link to the post about chemicals that I wrote back in 2009: http://caraendriss.blogspot.com/2009/08/chemicals-chemicals-everywhere.html

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

9.11 Ten Years Later: An Ordinary Story

Every year around this time, I get the blues. James Hurst said it best in the Scarlett Ibis (one of the most painfully sad short stories I have ever read). "It was in the clove of seasons, summer was dead but autumn had not yet been born". This is the particular time I am referring to. I never know at the time why I get the blues until it just creeps up on me like a small child standing at the side of my bed in the middle of the night. Then, ah! of course, its my subconscious at work once again. It seems to be able to absorb these feelings and understand them way before I get the chance to process it all. Every year, the same thing and every year I am still surprised by it. I'm surprised at how raw these feelings still are. How fresh the pain still is. After ten years you'd think my emotions would dull. But no, my wounds are still at the surface and can open up and bleed at anytime. Especially this time of year.

I try not to watch the TV specials that run rampant this time of year or relive that day over. My memories still serve me well enough. But this year is the 10th anniversary. Bin Laden is dead and the new towers are rising, like phoenixes from the ashes of destruction. We are moving on and rebuilding and finally there will be a place to come to reflect and honor those that lost their lives on that dreadful day.  The memorial fountains that now stand in the footprints of the old Twin Towers look beautiful and massive and  forlorn. Just writing about it here makes me well up and sob. So close to the surface are all these feelings. That is why I am compelled to tell my story. Maybe it will help me deal with some of these emotions a little better. Help me to keep a stiff upper lip and not cry at the image of the Towers that once stood or the pictures of friends that once lived.

Its a very ordinary story and one that you may have heard before. There are thousands of stories just like it. I share this story with every person that was on the island of Manhattan on 9.11.01:

It was a glorious Tuesday morning. One of those "post hurricane days" although no hurricane had blown through.  The sky was bright blue, the air was crisp and cool but so comfortable. Not a cloud in the sky. Sound familiar? I woke up feeling great because that night was supposed to be my promotion party at a bar aptly named "Boom" down in the village. My old buddies from the 14th floor at the Colgate-Palmolive
Company were throwing it for me as I had been promoted to the operations side of the business. It was a new beginning for me and all very exciting.

I did the usual, took the 6 train down to 51st street and climbed the stairs up to the street level. The bright sunlight warmed my skin and I walked west to Park Avenue. I heard an airplane cross the patch of sky overhead. It sounded way too close. A very low flying plane that startled me but I quickly dismissed the event and entered my building to start my work day. Thinking back now, I am unable to escape the sound that the plane made that morning. It has been recorded permanently in my brain, easily triggered by similar sounds.

I made my way to my new office on the 10th floor (it was the 2nd day in my new position) and turned on my computer. Quickly (within seconds) an IM from a friend popped up on my screen: "check out the plane that just hit one of the Twin Towers". By then, I had forgotten about the low flying plane I just witnessed and did not make the connection till later. I clicked on CNN.com and with a slow connection (due to cyber traffic) was able to pull up a live picture. I thought, "Wow, that is crazy! Some little plane really went off course." I was continuing to IM with my friend and we discussed how it must have been a Cessna or small private plane that hit. I learned that the plane's impact was just below the famous restaurant Windows On The World and immediately called my colleague Sharon that was getting married at that very restaurant in a month's time (10.28.01). She was just as shocked and I said encouraging things like, "I am sure they will get it all fixed by the time of your wedding." She agreed and after a brief discussion we went back to our jobs. 

Another colleague in the office next to me was listening to her radio and softly I could make out what they were saying. No new updates or details about the plane, but firefighters and first responders were already down there trying to evacuate the Tower. I think by that time I had opened a spreadsheet and was working on budgets for a while. Then a phone call from my IM friend, "Another plane hit Tower 2, its terrorism". After about 30 seconds I was able to process the gravity of the situation. Then I heard it on the radio next to me. These were not small planes, these were jet liners, giant, gas and passenger filled jetliners that were hijacked and driven into these buildings intent on causing mass destruction. All of this was happening less than 2 miles from where I sat.

I called my parents. I told them I was OK and that I would remain safe and check in with them periodically. Since they live on the south shore of Long Island, a clear shot of the Twin Towers is possible on a clear day. If I remember correctly, the Towers were about the size of your pinkie if you held it up in front of your face. Since that day was exceptionally clear, they told me they could see the smoke from their house. A small plume off in the distance but growing in size and getting darker. The nightmare was becoming more real every second.

Then the Pentagon. Then panic. We all ran into our VP's office. He had a TV with the Today Show on. We all huddled in there staring in disbelief at what we saw. I can't really describe the panic, fear and violation that we all felt but it was so palpable in that room. Words were uttered, "we are all going to die, aren't we?". We did not know the answer, all we did know was that NY was a target and that there was another plane still in the air that had been hijacked. We watched. We listened to Katie Couric and Matt Lauer. They were as clueless as we were. We all lived through this together in real time.

I saw the top of Tower 2 start to tilt to the side. I couldn't imagine the impact of the plane could bring it down but before my very eyes, it happened. A structure so prominent in my early and young adult life, an icon to the city of NY and a symbol of strength and power to the country and the world was crumbling to the ground in an almost "tidy vertical drop". Fifteen seconds it took, maybe, and then gone. An open space filled with thick smoke covering most of downtown took its place. Shock overcame me. I think in times like this, when its too much for the brain to process, adrenaline takes over. Life saving impulses that humans have been born with since the dawn of time kind of kick in. Well, at least they did for me. What I had just witnessed on TV was the most unimaginable thing I could have ever seen in ten thousand lives. One of the Twin Towers just came down. Boom. Gone.

I ran back to my office and on my computer screen was another IM from my friend Tom. He was working from home on 40th street and told me to come there. His three brothers were meeting him and we could all be together and safe. I thought about what it would take to get there and then told him I would. I was so scared that I was going to die right there in that office and would have rather been with friends in that moment. So I went back into the VP's office to see more of the Today Show and tell the others what my plan was. Then I saw it. The top of Tower 1 rocking and burning and then falling in the same perfectly neat way as its sister. It imploded in an instant and I prayed to God right there. A God that I did not fully believe in at the time. I prayed for this to be a dream and to wake me up to a reality I could accept. I prayed for him to keep me alive and to save the people in that building. The core of my existence had been rocked so hard in that moment that no thoughts could have helped me to understand what was going on. All I knew was that I was getting the hell out of there, right that moment. My boss tried to stop me, but I kept running.

I took the stairs down to the street and ran out onto Park Ave. People were everywhere. Their faces were painted with a look of panic and shock. They were all frantically trying to get answers from one another. Everyone was talking at hyper speeds, to each other and to their cell phones. Strangers were talking to each other, some running and some crossing the street aimlessly, not knowing where to go. There was no public transportation and shortly all communication (such as cell phones) would be cut off as well. I ran down 49th street towards 3rd avenue. Looking back, I wish I had a tape recorder to capture the sounds I witnessed on that 10 block trip. My words can not do them justice. As I turned onto 3rd avenue and began to jog south, I could see the giant cloud of smoke making its way uptown. I knew that lives were going to be lost at that point but to what degree, I had no idea. I kept up my brisk pace and made it to Tom's apartment where he and his 3 brothers had made it as well. Tom's apartment was a studio high up on floor 20 or so overlooking the UN. When I realized this, I had second thoughts about my decision. If these terrorists were planning on other plane attacks, wouldn't the UN be on the list? They convinced me to stay and we all sat and watched the event continue to unfold for hours to come. I remember one of the brothers went out on a beer run and came back with a case and we all drank because there was nothing else we could do. We sat and cataloged a list of friends that we knew worked down there and prayed that their would be survivors.

My phone was out and I had no way of contacting anyone for most of that day. We were cutoff and left alone to watch the biggest tragedy of our young lives. As I watched the images on TV (images so familiar to us all now) I kept trying to see the towers behind all the smoke. My mind was not letting me accept that they were gone. But as the wind blew the plume of smoke, it bended and twisted and where the top of the towers should have been was nothing. A void.

Around 6pm that night (things get hazy at this point due to mind exhaustion) my cell service finally came back on. I called my parents to tell them I was still alive and OK. Then I called my friend Kristen that worked downtown next to Trinity Church. Her husband was a commodities trader at the Mercantile building down there as well. They were on a wild and frantic search for each other through the cloud of smoke, mayhem and confusion that engulfed downtown that morning. Thankfully they were reunited and ran all the way up to 86th street, deeply affected by the sights they witnessed. I was elated to know they were safe and back in their apartment.

That night I walked home 37 blocks back to my apartment on 77th street and tried to sleep.

The day that followed was one of groggy disengagement. I woke after a rather restless sleep and made my way down the stairs of my 5th floor walk-up to the sidewalk outside. What would have been a bustling, bright and sunny Wednesday morning looked more like a strange ghost town in a foreign land. There were a small number of people scattered about, sitting on steps or meandering slowly past my door but not one of them made a noise. The city was void of noise or sound of any kind. It was that scene from Devil's Advocate when Al Pacino creates that utter nothingness on the streets of midtown for Keanu Reeves. No cars, no buses, no people, no sound. The busiest city in the world was suddenly and abruptly turned off. No one had any words to speak. The aftermath of this horror was quickly becoming clear. The city was changed forever.

I made my calls for the day and quickly learned that two men I had known were missing in the rubble. Michael E. Brennan Ladder #4 and Thomas (Tommy) Foley Rescue #3 in the Bronx. Mike was last heard from in the Marriott Hotel just next to the twin towers and Tommy was one of the very first responders to the south tower, tower 2. They both saved lives. At that point in time, I still had hope we would find them. However, as the days following 9.11 passed on without any survivors, we all knew the fate of these men.

These men did not know each other  but shared so many similarities. Both Irish Americans with an incredible sense of humor and fun loving disposition. They were caring and concerned and most of all, very loved. They gave so much for their profession, dedicated firefighters until the end.

September 12th marked the beginning of new sounds that would be heard over the next 4 months in my beloved city.  Sounds of big, heavy metal dump trucks barreling up 1st avenue carrying rubble and disintegrated steel  from the burning "pit". It was an endless parade of these trucks. They just kept coming uptown and going back downtown, up and down, completing the basic but seemingly impossible task of digging out.  The sounds of F-16s flying over head non-stop. To this day I shudder if I hear one too close.

There were smells too. At the time I was going for my MBA at NYU at night and when I was below 14th street, I would smell it. A burnt rubber sort of smell. I tried hard not to imagine what I was smelling and I am sure it did no good for me to inhale those particles. I had no choice. Life had to go on and I had to study and take tests. I had to go to work and plan the budget for the upcoming year.

I had to go to my friend's wedding on October 28th that was now being held at the Waldorf Astoria instead of Windows on the World. I had to attend the funeral and memorial of my two friends that perished down there saving lives. I had to pass by hundreds of funerals being held every single weekend in every church on every corner in NYC. Bagpipers were in attendance at many of them and we would just stand and listen. Absorbing it all and mourning ourselves.

I went to happy hours and saw firefighters that lived but were beyond depressed, drinking and crying at the local bars. It was a dark time that fall and there was no light at the end of the tunnel.

But eventually we emerged. We survived. We went on with our lives and our day to day got easier. Except when I was was downtown. Down there was an empty hole in the sky. It loomed large and if I squinted hard enough, I could see them standing there. Two huge silver legos towering over their city. Keeping watch.

Someone painted a mural of them on a brick wall somewhere in the East Village. When I saw it, I started crying uncontrollably. The loss of those buildings scarred me more than I can explain. I had a deep connection with those towers from when I was very little. My aunt worked in Tower 1 on the 55th floor and would take me to work with her in the summers of 80 and 81. The Towers were so young back then, new and shiny. Everyone that worked down there felt so lucky to be a part of it all. You could see the Statue of Liberty from the "board room" on the 55th floor and I was beyond thrilled to get a glimpse. Cars looked like ants from below and there was a "moon rock" in the lobby that moved mysteriously on its own. Those memories are etched in my mind. As my Aunt is now gone so are those towers. All three of them left me in a horrific and  tragic manner. (I won't go into the loss of my aunt). As an adult, I worked in those towers from time to time when I was a CPA at Ernst & Young LLP. Some of my financial clients resided there. I would also go salsa dancing at the Greatest Bar on Earth on Thursday nights and be very afraid to walk to the windows because it was on the top floor. I am terrified of heights.

But this ordinary story has to end right? There needs to be an ending somewhere. So I guess I will tell you that  on the 1st anniversary of 9.11 I opened  all the windows in my apartment and the wind filled up my rooms and swirled, twisted and turned. It haunted as well as invigorated me with all the souls that perished. I know it sounds crazy but it did happen. A wind that came from almost no where because it was not a windy day at all, whipped its way into my living room, blowing my drapes high to the ceiling and put a knowing smile on my face...through the tears. NYC and I shared a secret that day. The day I will never forget.

I now live 1 thousand miles away from NYC and have a beautiful family of my own. Time gets away from me each year. But my trusty subconscious never fails to remind me of the upcoming anniversary. Now I greet these feelings with acceptance and appreciation for what has been given to me. I thank God for all my blessings.

If you read this story, I thank you. Writing it and re-reading it has helped me to heal just a little bit more. I look forward to visiting the memorial next summer and getting the chance to experience the re building of ground zero first hand. I long for the day when "Ground Zero" becomes renamed the "World Trade Center" once again.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Crock Pot Girls Goes Viral....Hmmmm

Over the past couple of weeks I have been noticing a lot of my Facebook friends "liking" a certain page called Crock Pot Girls. At first it was one or two, then I noticed my friends were liking this page in droves. It piqued my curiosity as I own a crock pot but never use it and thought of all the amazing dishes I could be cooking up while I write blog posts such as these. However, I didn't give it a second thought until today when another friend of mine posted a link to a blog about this fan page being a "crock". Apparently, these three moms from Texas started an innocent little Facebook page intended to share crock pot recipes. Within two weeks they now have over 1 million fans. That's right, 1 million! To put this in perspective, they have more fans than the Today Show, most celebrities and all other legit cooking pages including Rachel Ray. She has only 400K or so. It takes A LOT of work to get a million fans and that sort of traffic does not happen overnight. But for some reason Crock Pot Girls have gotten tens of thousands of fans during the wee hours when most of America is sleeping! Now I REALLY wanted to know what all the fuss was about so I "liked" the page myself to check it all out.

What I found was an ongoing stream of posts from overly enthusiastic crockpotters sharing pieces of recipes or gushing about how delicious these crock pot creations were. I also found many confused posters looking for recipes and a website that did not exist. As I refreshed my page I noticed the incessant amount of manic posters that just seemed way too into this crock pot thing. I mean its nice to have a meal cook itself but I would never choose to do all my cooking via slow cooker. I also noticed that their fan base was increasing by the hundreds every time I refreshed. It all seemed so odd. So contrived.

I didn't see any posts from the Crock Pot Girls themselves and when I looked in the photos and discussion sections, I found a very disorganized mish mosh of recipes, none of which were posted by said Crock Pot Girls. So where is all the content? Nothing on the facebook page is user friendly. Its more like watching a live chat room where you can't keep up because too many people are posting. As for the website? Well, right now there isn't one. Everyone (it seems they all know these ladies personally and feel the uncontrollable desire to defend them at all costs) says it will be up shortly because they are switching web hosts due to all the unplanned traffic overloading the site. Riiiiiiight.

So you may be wondering why I am "wasting my time" writing about all of this and why don't I have "anything better to do". Well, let me tell you. There are thousands of legitimate businesses that advertise on Facebook everyday. They pay good money to get their ads out there and acquire a fan base. I am sure that they would be stark raving mad if they found out that someone was acquiring a fan base without paying for it. I don't buy the claim that this site went viral. There is no legitimate content on it for it to go viral. The rate at which this page gained "likes" is completely suspect.  Plus, there is evidence that cyber bots were used to acquire the fans.

When I looked into this a little further, I found my friends (the ones that supposedly showed up in my news feed as liking the Crock Pot Girls) had not actually liked them at all. How is this possible? Its possible through a program that can make your friends appear to like something in hopes that you will join the bandwagon and like it too. So in essence, these Crack Pot Girls (oops) gained a million fans (many who are made up profiles) to make it seem that the site went viral. Then they assumed so many people would want to know what its all about and then the "real" people would join in.

When it comes down to it, its not legit or fair and I hope the truth comes out soon. Social media advertising is still relatively new and the kinks still need to be worked out. There are people out there looking to take advantage of "loop holes" every chance they can get.

If you have bothered to read this far, then you are probably wondering what any of this has to do with being green. Well, just look at some of the recipes that people are sharing. The most unhealthy stuff I have ever seen. Too much salt, too much dairy, processed foods, nasty ingredients, all dumped together and slow cooked until all the nutrients are gone. One recipe called for cheese whiz!! Seriously, I do not make this up.

With all of this said, maybe you don't care at all about how these ladies got their fans. That's fine, I respect your opinion. But for all the legitimate sites, blogs, fan pages out there, I know you will relate to what I am saying. If it were that easy to get a million fans, we all would have them by now!








Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Debate Over Fluoridated Water - My Side

 From my research and real life experience, I have come to believe that fluoridated water is of no use to the human population. You won't really hear this from a dentist but if you dig deeper and get to the bottom of it all, you will see there is no need to ingest this chemical. However, if you are drinking municipal tap water then most likely you are ingesting plenty of fluoride. In the US almost all 50 states have adopted the practice of adding fluoride to the water supply.  In Europe, 97% of all municipal water is fluoride FREE. I wonder why? Oh and don't say that Europeans teeth are all terrible because of a lack of fluoride, because that is not true. It may be a lack of good dental hygiene but certainly not fluoride. Plus, that is a blanket stereotype which I consider unjustified.

Anyway, I found this great list of reasons as to why fluoride is not only useless to us through ingestion but is also a toxic substance that could cause health problems.

Fluoride Action Network - 10 Facts about Fluoride

  1. 97% of Western Europe has chosen fluoride-free water - Thus, rather than mandating fluoride treatment for the whole population, Western Europe allows individuals the right to choose, or refuse, fluoride. 
  2. Fluoride is the only chemical added to drinking water for the purpose of medication (to prevent tooth decay) - All other treatment chemicals are added to treat the water (to improve the water's quality and safety - which fluoride does not do). 
  3. Fluoride has minimal benefit when swallowed - Benefits that accrue from the use of fluoride, come from the direct application of fluoride to the outside of teeth and not from ingestion. There is no need, therefore, to expose all other tissues to fluoride by swallowing it.
  4. Fluoridated water is no longer recommended for babies - In November of 2006, the American Dental Association advised that parents should avoid giving babies fluoridated water. Babies exposed to fluoride are at high risk of developing dental fluorosis - a permanent tooth defect caused by fluoride damaging the cells which form the teeth. Other tissues in the body may also be affected by early-life exposures to fluoride. According to a recent review published in the medical journal The Lancet, fluoride may damage the developing brain, causing learning deficits and other problems.
  5. There are better ways of delivering fluoride than adding it to waterfor those people who actually want it such as toothpaste and mouth rinses.
  6. Ingestion of fluoride has little benefit, but many risks - Whereas fluoride's benefits come from topical contact with teeth, its risks to health result from being swallowed.
  7. The industrial chemicals used to fluoridate water may present unique health risks not found with naturally-occurring fluoride complexes - The chemicals used to fluoridate drinking water are industrial waste products from the phosphate fertilizer industry. Of these chemicals, fluorosilicic acid (FSA) is the most widely used. FSA is a corrosive acid which has been linked to higher blood lead levels in children.
  8. Water fluoridation's benefits to teeth have been exaggerated - While proponents still believe in its effectiveness, a growing number of studies strongly question this assessment. According to a systematic review published by the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term Care, "The magnitude of [fluoridation's] effect is not large in absolute terms, is often not statistically significant and may not be of clinical significance."
  9. Fluoridation poses added burden and risk to low-income communities - Low-income families are least able to avoid fluoridated water. Due to the high costs of buying bottled water or expensive water filters, low-income households will be least able to avoid fluoride once it's added to the water. As a result, low-income families will be least capable of following ADA's recommendation that infants should not receive fluoridated water. 
  10. Due to other fluoride sources, many people are being over-exposed to fluoride - Unlike when water fluoridation first began, Americans are now receiving fluoride from many other sources besides the water supply.
Based on these 10 facts, I will stick to spot fluoride treatment at my dentist's office. I also do not use fluoridated toothpaste either. Some of the brands I currently use are: Nature's Gate & Kiss My Face. They both do not contain any fluoride. I have not had any more cavities than the average person and the ones I do have are most likely because I slacked on my dental cleanings and not because I wasn't drinking the tap water. For my kids right now I use only non-fluoridated toothpaste. I wonder though, why all the training toothpastes are non-fluoridated? If they dont' want kids to swallow the fluoride then it MUST NOT be healthy for you in high concentrations! I also believe in the cumulative effect toxins can have on our bodies even when we ingest small amounts over time. Fluoridated water is such a threat. The fluoride levels are low but over time (such as a lifetime) the effects can be credible.

Go take this list to your dentist next time you go and have a frank discussion with him about all of this. I bet he/she will either dismiss the list entirely or give you a dissertation on the reasons why they think its so necessary. Remember, they are dentists and not scientists. I don't believe they really know the long term health effects of fluoride when ingested.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Who Knew Chia Pets Could Be So Good For You?

Have you ever owned a Chia pet? Have you ever gifted a Chia pet? Come on admit it. Those warm fuzzy little pets that sprout afros are just too cute to pass up! I personally love my Obama Chia pet, given to me by a close friend with a great sense of humor.

What I never realized is that the seeds that grow the flowering herb are very high in nutritional value. In fact, Chia is grown specifically for its seed and not just for our cute little Chia pets! Its grown to supplement our diets and give back those ever import Omega-3 fatty acids.

Wikipedia: "Salvia hispanica, commonly known as Chia, is a species of flowering plant in the mint family, Lamiaceae, native to central and southern Mexico and Guatemala. Folklore attests it was cultivated by the Aztec in pre-Columbian times, and was so valued that it was given as an annual tribute by the people to the rulers. It is still used in Mexico and Guatemala, with the seeds sometimes ground, while whole seed is used for nutritious drinks and as a food source."

The Latin American population has known about this seed for centuries and now we can tap into its health benefits as well. There is a new product that was just introduced to me called Mila. It was given to my husband as a trial and he has been taking a tablespoonful of it religiously every day for the past 6 months with the hopes of reducing his cholesterol levels and getting off his medication.

This is a comparison between Mila and some of the superfoods that are an essential part of our diet:

Mila has:
8X more Omega-3 than Wild Atlantic Salmon
6x more calcium than milk
3x more iron than a serving of spinach
2x more potassium than a banana
15x more magnesium than a stalk of broccoli
2x more fiber than bran flakes
6x more protein than kidney beans
4x more selenium than flax seeds
Higher level of antioxidants than what's found in blueberries

Now I am not asking you to replace any of these amazing foods with Mila, however adding a tablespoonful to your juice will enhance your diet significantly.

Here are some of the health benefits of Mila:
Heart Health - Omega-3's can help to lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure, stabilize arrhythmias, increase HDL's and is a natural blood thinner.

Weight Loss - tryptophan can reduce appetite naturally.

Lowering Blood Pressure - vasodilatory effect on arteries.

Menopause - can help reduce symptoms such as hot flashes.

Prostate Health - fiber and Omega-3's.

Gastro-Intestinal Health - its a hydrophillic colloid which aids in digestion by lining the stomach
Bone Health - ladies, this will be the only calcium supplement you need

Mental Health - Omega-3 can reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease and other neurodegenerative brain complications (I have been giving my children Cod Liver Oil which is high in Omega-3 since they were 6 months old and I truly believe it has helped with their brain development. My 3 year old has an intelligence level of an 8 year old in some subjects).

Blood sugar - can help to control diabetes.

Prenatal Health - can be taken as a supplement to your pre natal vitamin. As I mentioned above, Omega-3's are essential for baby's brain development and I took fish oil when I was pregnant with them.

Breast Health - Omega-3's contribute to healthy breast tissue.


So all these benefits and nutrients are packed into this little ground up seed and are at your disposal everyday. Mila uses the highest quality Chia seeds which are essentially taken from the farm to your table. They use independent lab analysis to ensure that their product is as pure and high quality as they say it is.

If you are interested in learning more about this wonderful seed, please visit : www.lifemax.net/susanstuart

Who knew a funny little plant could do such great things for your health? You'll never look at a Chia Pet in the same way, I promise.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Health Benefits of Alkaline Foods

When I was up in NY this past winter I noticed a gallon of alkaline water in my parent's refrigerator. I decided to drink some. It tasted really 'wet' but other than that it was just water. I asked my mother why she had this and her answer was quite simple, "Because its really healthy". Interesting. Apparently the water helps to make your blood more alkaline because many of the processed junk foods we include in our diet are very acidifying and can cause something called acidosis (where the pH of the blood is less than 7). Acidosis, if left untreated can be very serious and can deplete the immune system, leaving us vulnerable to all types of sickness, fatigue and even cancer. Acidic blood also contributes to osteoporosis and for women this is a big deal. I had no idea how the pH balance in our blood could be the root cause of health vs. sickness and I wanted to know more. Exactly how does one's blood really become acidic?

"Acidification in the body comes as a result of three primary things.

1. Eating too many acidifying foods, which create an acid ash in your body. This is where proper diet comes in. By eating a diet of 80% alkalizing foods, you'll eliminate the production of excess acid in your body.

2. Microforms like bacteria, yeast and fungi create acidic toxins in your body. Not only do they "show-up" in an acidic body, they also pollute and further acidify your body. For this reason, it is important to cleanse and detoxify your body in order to jumpstart the process of balancing your pH.

3. Being depleted of the necessary alkaline buffers such as minerals that neutralize acids, and ions that help to conduct energy and regulate fluid pH. By increasing your intake of alkaline supplements and alkaline, ionic water you will replenish your body's capacity to neutralize excess acids." - David Whelan, Christopher Vassey, author of The Acid - Aklaline Diet For Optimal Health 

Now, how do you know if your blood is acidic or alkaline? Its pretty simple to find out. There are pH strips that you can get at your local drugstore. Just urinate on them and you'll know if your are acidic or not. Blood tests are even more accurate but you would need your doctor to have one ordered for you.

Other ways of telling if you have acidosis are by the symptoms:

Overweight
It is known that acid gets stored in fat cells. As a defense mechanism, your body may actually produce fat cells to protect you from your overly acidic condition. To protect itself from potentially serious damage, the body creates these fat cells to store the acids and carry them away from vital organs. Those fat cells and cellulite deposits may actually keep acid wastes at a safe distance from your vital organs. Many people have found that a return to a healthy alkaline inner biological terrain helps them losing excess fat.

Joint Pain and Arthritis
All substances left by the metabolizing process are acidic and toxic; therefore these have to be neutralized by alkalizing elements, e.g. calcium ions, sodium ions, and lithium ions, among which calcium is the most important. Calcium ions are positively charged ions which are constantly looking for acid, to form calcium carbonate in our body. Calcium carbonate is harmless and will be moved out of the body, providing our body fluid pH is alkaline. Otherwise, it is being deposited around body joints. If the calcium ion level is low in the blood and body, excess acid will remain in our body and will lead to numerous health problems, like Join Pain or Arthritis.

Osteoporosis
Many people think they can eliminate osteoporosis by increasing their consumption of milk and dairy products. But in fact the instances of osteoporosis are rare in countries where the consumption of dairy products is very low. So osteoporosis is an acidosis problem. As the body becomes more acidic, our body tries to remain healthy to protect us against heart attacks, illness, strokes or even cancer. In doing so, it takes calcium from the teeth, bones and tissues, making them weak and brittle.

Underweight
Yeast and fungus produced in an acidic environment can feed on our nutrients and thus reduce the absorption of everything we eat by as much as 50%. Without protein the body can’t produce enzymes, hormones or other chemical components necessary for cell energy and organ activity. This causes people to become very thin, which is not healthier than being overweight. As alkalizing and oxygenating takes place, the body naturally begins to seek its own ideal weight.

Low Energy and Chronic Fatigue
When having our cells constantly exposed to an overly acidic environment our biological terrain's oxygen level drops, leaving us tired and fatigued. This will allow parasites, fungus, bacteria, mold and viral infections to flourish and gain a hold throughout the body.

Heart attack
If our internal biological terrain is exposed to excessive acidity, bacteria and/or fungi and/or viruses can attach themselves to the inner walls of arteries. This can attract white blood cells, causing proteins and cells to clot. In this way a plaque forms in the artery, thus narrowing the artery and restricting the flow of blood, nutrients and oxygen to the tissues supplied by that artery. Should that happen to the coronary artery, a heart attack can occur.

Allergies
The toxins produced within an acidic, oxygen deprived environment as well as the absorption of undigested proteins is major cause of allergy conditions. When the digestive system is weakened, a wide range of allergic reactions can occur, e.g. food allergies, and the overall susceptibility to allergens is increased.

Acne
There are many different forms of acne, and not few are linked to an unhealthy diet. Especially foods that are highly acidic tend to cause acne.

Frequent Colds, Bronchitis, Infections, Headaches
Only when our pH level is fairly balanced, the binding of oxygen to the hemoglobin protein of our red blood cells in the lungs operates. If the pH is too acidic, microbes in our respiratory systems can grow much more easily, and in that way cause bronchitis, pneumonia and sinusitis, and invade our cell system. This can result in cough, bronchial spasms (asthma), colds, infections and headaches.

We can help our bodies overcome this state of acidification by changing our diets. Here is a list of foods that are alkaline and help to balance out the pH of the blood. Make note of this list and try to incorporate these foods into your diet.

Vegetables:
Asparagus
Beets
Broccoli
Brussel Sprouts
Cabbage
Carrot
Celery
Cauliflower
Cucumber
Dulce
Eggplant
Garlic
Green Olives
Kale
Kelp
Lettuce
Spinach

All types of grasses that can be juiced - Wheatgrass is especially great

Most fruits. Although if you are acidic already, stay away from fruits until you can get your body back to an alkaline pH. This is due to the excess sugar that is contained in fruits.

Grains:
Quinoa
Brown Rice
Buckwheat

Dairy:
All RAW dairy is alkalizing, once its pasteurized it becomes acidifying

Sweetners:
Agave
Raw sugarcane
Molasses
Raw Honey
Stevia

Beverages:
Alkaline Water
Fresh Juices (just squeezed not pasteurized)
Green, Herbal Tea

Acidic Foods - foods to stay away from or eat in moderation:
Black Olives
Corn
Mushrooms
Squash
Pickles

Oat
Wheat
Pasta
Barley
White Rice
All processed cookies and crackers

All Meat
All cakes and muffins
All artificial sweetners
Coffee
Soda
Black Tea
Alcohol
Everything Pasteurized

So keep an eye on your blood pH. If you are acidic and can return your body to a natural alkaline state, you may just see many of your ailments go away. I had no idea about any of this and am thankful to my mother for uncovering such important knowledge!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

More "Junk" Food Going Natural

Frito Lay. I've got to give it to them. They know when there's a hot button in the market place and they aren't too big to press it. According to this WSJ article, many processed snacks made by the PepsiCo. subsidiary are getting stripped down to only natural ingredients that can be found in anyones kitchen. Some of the brands getting the makeover are Lay's flavored potato chips, Tostitos tortilla chips, multigrain SunChips and Rold Gold pretzels. So instead of Red dye #40, we will start to see beet juice on the ingredient list. No more MSG either. Apparently their target is looking for healthier processed foods, which is an oxymoron to me but what the hell. If it 'feels' better than it must be better, right?

I actually commend the company for making this move. Synthetic chemicals have no place in our foods and really should be avoided at all costs. So if natural juices are replacing these nasty chemicals then great. However, the snacks are still loaded with fats and oils and should not be considered to replace healthy options in ones diet.  I am sure they will not replace any soy based oils that they use to cook these chips in. Please read some of my older posts on soy and how when its processed it can act like an estrogen in our bodies. This is very unhealthy for growing children, the ones who unfortunately, will be eating the snacks.

So, what does all this boil down to? I see it as a baby step towards our ultimate goal - truly healthy food. Americans are not about to give up their salty processed goodness just yet so steps like this are good ones. Ones to be promoted and applauded. However, we should not be fooled. These snacks are really no healthier than they were before. They just won't be contributing to the development of cancer in our bodies anymore.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Plastic Domination

If you are like me, you have an entire cabinet in your kitchen dedicated to plastic food containers. Most without lids and some starting to cloud from overuse. I had every size and shape according to the types of things I was going to store in them. And on occasion (well, more than I'd like to admit) I would heat the leftovers in the microwave while still in these containers. That was until I had kids. For some reason we don't care what poisons we put into our bodies until we have our beautiful children and then all bets are off. We suddenly become very aware of all the dangers around us and want to protect our offspring from any remote chance of cancer or disease that could possibly plague them 40 years down the road. The problem is that we don't really know how long it will take for plastics to cause disease in our bodies. Not enough studies have been done. But one thing is for sure: some of these plastics ARE toxic.

So if you want to be sure that you are not harming your body or your family's, throw out all your plastic containers and start using glass or ceramic. Its great because they are indefinitely reusable which is good for your pocketbook and good for the environment too. Also, never put any plastic in the microwave, EVER. The heat can cause leaching into the food that you are heating and will contaminate it. I don't know the ultimate affects on the body, but it just sounds so unnatural to me that common sense tells me to avoid it. Last, plastic is notorious for getting microscopic scratches and nicks during use and washing. These crevices are the perfect place for bacteria to hide and grow. Over time, even if you think your plastic cups are clean, they are most likely harboring nasty bacteria that could make you sick. Throw them all out and buy new (if you must use plastic) or buy glass.

Now, to make sense of all those numbers on the bottom of your plastic containers. I took the following from a friend and I think it defines each type of plastic nicely as well as gives 12 tips on safer plastic use. Its a little long, but worth the read. Throw out all the numbers they deem as toxic. The companies that produce this stuff won't tell you and apparently neither will our government. No one is looking out for us so we need to be our own health advocates.

"Although the apron-wearing, martini-bearing, housewife-in-heels with her rainbow of Tupperware may be a thing of the past, the quest for a well-organized kitchen persists. To see tidy stacks of food-filled plastic containers in the fridge and freezer is comforting in a primal kind of way. But then comes the procession of warnings about storing and cooking food in plastic, and leaching chemicals, and hormone disruption, and ACK!"

"So here it is: The lowdown on plastic food containers. Flip over your favorite plastic food storage container and check the recycling code number. If you spy a number 3 or 7, well, those containers should probably go to the craft room or garage to store buttons or screws rather than food. If there is no number listed, contact the manufacturer. (And to be fair to Tupperware, they do manufacture products that are not made of these plastic types.) Number 3 is polyvinyl chloride (PVC), also known as vinyl. PVC has garnered the moniker "the toxic plastic" for the presence of DEHA -- one of several plasticizers (softeners) used in its production. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, long-term DEHA exposure has the potential to cause: Reduced body weight and bone mass, damage to liver and testes, and cancer. The manufacture and incineration of PVC also releases carcinogenic dioxins into the environment and food chain. Although PVC is not the most common plastic used for food storage containers, some are made from it and it is often used in plastic wrap to improve performance. Recycling code number 7 includes several plastic types (it's the catchall "other" category -- see tips below) but it is predominantly polycarbonate. The problem with polycarbonate is that it harbors bisphenol A (BPA). Studies have shown that BPA damages the reproductive systems of lab animals by interfering with the effects of reproductive hormones and has other serious health effects. BPA's capacity to cause these stems from its ability to mimic the human hormone estrogen -- it has been linked to prostate and mammary gland cancers, early onset of puberty and reproductive-organ defects."

"As might be expected, given the strength of the plastic industry, there is controversy. Although there have been more than 100 studies showing BPA to be a concern, the plastics industry says it is harmless. The FDA admits that "substances used to make plastics can leach into food," but they maintain that the levels are safe. Safe? Yes, leaching petroleum by-products and toxic chemicals in your food are safe -- don't worry! Now why doesn't that sound right? If, like me, you find the FDA a rather lackadaisical regulator, why not follow these tips for safer plastic use? (Don't forget, there is also that little environmental issue with plastic to keep in mind.) And while some may want to skip the plastic-food relationship altogether, it is a hard habit to break. Many of these tips don't exclude the use of plastic, but rather offer the safest options."

12 tips for safer plastic use:
1. Know your plastics. Plastic items are marked with a resin identification coding system (the number surrounded by arrows), which stand for: 1 polyethyelene terephthalate (PETE) 2 high-density polyethylene (HDPE) 3 vinyl, polyvinyl chloride (PVC) 4 low-density polyethylene (LDPE) 5 polypropylene (PP) 6 polystyrene (PS) 7 other (includes polycarbonate, acrylic, polylactic acid, fiberglass)

2. When you need to use plastic, these are the safer choices to use with food: 1, 2, 4, and 5.

3. Learn to recognize, and then avoid, polycarbonate (number 7) for food usage. Polycarbonate plastics are hard and clear. Common items made from this BPA-containing plastic are food storage containers, baby bottles, water bottles, bowls, and tableware (and the lining inside food and drink cans, by the way).

4. If you don't get rid of all of your plastic, at least retire old plastic containers, especially those that are heavily worn or scratched. Older plastics tend to leach increasing amounts of toxins as they age. Use them to organize and store non-food items.

5. Be careful of serving and storing hot foods or foods made with fats or oils in plastic containers. These foods more readily facilitate the transfer of plastic toxins.

6. Never microwave foods in plastic containers. "Microwave safe" means the container won't melt or warp, but doesn't mean it won't leach. Heating plastics increases the potential for leaching of chemicals into your food.

7. Never microwave food in yogurt tubs, take-out bowls, or other one-time use containers. These containers can warp or melt, possibly causing harmful chemicals to migrate into the food.

8. Avoid using plastic sandwich bags or plastic wrap products.

9. If you must use plastic wrap, make sure it is a brand free of both BPA and PVC. Ziploc, Glad, and Saran are promoted as being free of BPA and PVC -- but remember that these plastics live for 1,000 years in our landfills.

10. Avoid deli-wrap and similar generic packaging since you can't ascertain the plastic type used. When sliced cheese and meats are sold in plastic bags and/or plastic deli-wrap, transfer them as soon as possible to unbleached wax paper or a safe container.

11. Remember that if you are pregnant or nursing, BPA chemicals are passed through your bloodstream directly to your baby.

12. Instead of mixing petroleum (i.e., plastic) with your food, use inert alternatives such as glass and ceramic rather than plastic food storage containers. Reusing jars is a win-win; and you can often find glass storage containers at flea markets and thrift shops. Or simply store food in bowls covered with a plate. Try alternatives like these: Pyrex Food Storage containers Crate and Barrel's Refrigerator Dish Related

I hope this was helpful, if you need any more info, feel free to shoot me an email.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Diet of a Picky Kid

I have come to the conclusion that my picky toddlers will eventually eat healthy.....eventually. I try my best to get nutrient dense food inside of their bodies but they really make it hard for me. I am going to go out on a limb and disclose their full diets right here - right now - on my Blog. Some of the food that I am going to list may not seem healthy. I battle this with myself constantly. When they were little and without opinions, I could try to sneak in the healthiest foods I could find. Organic baby food, homemade organic baby food - those were easy. But once we moved on, options were exhausted and food limits were set - by my kids. One of my twins won't TOUCH a fruit or veggie. I am not making this up, he freaks if its even on his plate. I continue to offer them but also puree them and pass it off as "apple sauce". He buys it most of the time. I have come to realize that my past militant ways about food were not going to fly with my picky eaters. I was going to have to make concessions and get rid of the guilt. I write this disclosure so that you understand I am not some amazing supermom that manages to get her kids to eat grass fed beef stew with organic veggies picked straight from my garden. Although I have tried this! But in reality, I am a mom who knows what a healthy diet looks like and strives to get there but in the end moderation is key. No one is perfect and frankly its expensive to eat the way we should. So we do our very best. That is all anyone can ask for.

Breakfast at picky eater central: (one of my kids has a mild egg allergy so no eggs here)
Sweet potato pancakes with farm butter and maple syrup
Eggo mini waffles with farm butter and maple syrup
Toast with farm butter and farm jam
Oatmeal with banana/strawberry puree and wheat germ
Maple and brown sugar Oatmeal (organic)
Yo-baby yogurts
Orange Juice
Cheeriosb
Fruit - bananas, apples, strawberries

Lunch in starvation nation:
Veggie burgers with raw milk cheese
Amy's margarita or spinach pizza's (or homemade pizza)
Amy's organic Mac n cheese
Organic no additive hot dogs
Almond butter and farm strawberry jam on whole wheat
Grilled raw milk cheese on whole wheat (if I can sneak tomatoes in there I will)
Grass finished hamburgers
Apple sauce - all kinds
Bolthouse farms organic juice OR
V-8 Splash juice/veggie blends (yes I have decided that they need to get veggies some way)

Dinner at the "No Way!" Diner:
Applegate farm chicken nuggets
Free range chicken parm
Alexia mozzarella sticks (organic)
Pasta and grass finished meatballs
Steamed carrots
Steamed Broccoli
Re fried beans and rice
Ian's letter potatoes
Mashed potatoes
Raw milk

Snacks:
Fruits
Pirates Booty
Veggie straws
Whole grain goldfish (does it even matter?)
Cashews
Watermelon
Earth's Best Letter Cookies - Vanilla (their favorite)
Cut up Muenster cheese
Amy's fruit bunnies

Candy:
We do not keep candy in the house. Only during potty training did I use M&Ms as a reward. Other than that, we make homemade cookies, muffins and cake. My kids take 2 bites and are done. Even ice cream is an occasional treat. They usually reject it. I rarely offer it at home so they never really got the taste for it. However, I don't forbid them from trying it. I believe that if its off limits, it will become a delicacy for them when they can freely obtain it. By forbidding something, you are guaranteeing that it will become a coveted item. Instead, I let them try as a treat but I dont' keep it in the house. This way they are not deprived of the sugary goodness but its kept to a bare minimum.

I think that's it, at least its all I can recall for the moment. Its not a perfect diet and I do give them vitamins. They also get Cod Liver Oil and a pro biotic as I have mentioned in prior posts. From time to time I sneak in some NingXia Red to their juice. Its an amazing supplement and detox.

My plan for the future is to get my non fruit and veggie eater to drink more smoothies. This way I can add all the fruit and veggies I want and he won't even know what hit him.

I feel better getting this all out there. If I were better in the kitchen, I could eliminate ALL the processed foods on this list. Unfortunately, its hard work. Like I said before, I do my best. I try to make it as balanced as possible and as nutritious as possible for the entire family. At least my husband will eat some of the other healthy options I put before him. I hope that one day my picky eaters will decide to do so as well.....

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Antibiotic Resistant Superbug - Truth or Fallacy?

I was watching HD Net last night with Dan Rather. I don't know how many of you have watched his mini documentaries but he has made his way back into journalism and I must say that I'm interested in almost everything he reports on. He travels the world to give us an international perspective on some issues that plague us here in the US. Last night it was about antibiotics and their prolific use here in the US.

I remember back in the day when I worked for a large CPG manufacturer that made hand sanitizer containing antibacterial chemicals and people became fearful that products as such could create a "superbug". And ofcourse, the powers that be, shrugged off such none sense and tried to debunk all the theories. Americans went on to happily purchase antibacterial soaps, band-aids, kitchen cleaners and even mattresses that contained chemicals like Triclosan touted to rid them of any and all microbes. God forbid we get infected by these germs!! But in reality, we have been creating antibiotic resistant super bugs all along. Its not very frightening until you find yourself inside a hospital sick from MRSA and there is nothing anyone can do about it!

Who is at fault here? Well, we can't completely blame the doctors because they are at least aware of what is going on. We must take responsibility for ourselves because a lot of the doctors are just trying to make us happy. You bring a kid in with fever, sore throat and a runny nose and you pray that you leave with a prescription because you don't want to have to deal with a sick little child. But what you don't know is that you may be contributing to a larger ecological problem for society.

Traditional antibiotics like penicillin rarely work anymore. There are a few in this family that can work but are very targeted such as amoxicillan and if its necessary, they are the best 1st line of attack for such illnesses like strep throat. However, if given enough time infections like strep can and will clear up on their own. Your child will not die from strep. Especially if they are monitored consistently by their pediatrician.

We as a society have taken more to the broad spectrum antibiotics like Z-pack and Cipro. What was once a drug used only for Anthrax infections is now given out like candy. These broad spectrum antibiotics are what create the resistant bacteria and put our entire society at risk. Z-paks aren't even considered effective anymore due to their widespread overuse. Just ask your doctor and see what answer you get!

More people are dying of MRSA in the US than AIDS/HIV. See Web MD article citing the CDC This is a very scary fact and one we need to take action on. In Norway, 95% of doctors refer to a "redbook" which directs their use of antibiotics in almost every case of illness they see. Antibiotics are highly regulated even at the pharmacy level. Abuse is considered to be an international problem. Because of this militant, protectionist view on antibiotics they have seen only 2 cases of MRSA and both were in people who had traveled abroad. Interesting right? The pediatricians also give "wait and see" prescriptions that don't activate for 3 days. In many cases the infections begin to clear on their own and most of these prescriptions go unfilled. Maybe if we gave some of our illnesses a chance, the same thing would happen to us!

Antibiotics aren't just found at our doctor's office or in products we use, they are also in our food supply. Antibiotics are given REGULARLY to cattle, swine and poultry. They are needed to fight infections that can arise due to the unsanitary living conditions these animals must endure. Antibiotics are also given to farmed fish as well. Its almost impossible to avoid antibiotics unless you make a vigilant effort to find food that does not use them.

The first place to start would be your local sustainable farm. Other sources would be food delivery services like Blue Ribbon Foods Go to Website  . They sell meat with no hormones, no antibiotics, free range and no artificial chemicals. Its a start.

We really do not want to find ourselves in a place where we can't fight deadly infections. Germs in small doses are good for us and help build up our immunity. Get rid of all your antibacterial products. You don't need them. They are just adding to the bigger problem. The WHO (World Health Organization) has prioritized the top 3 health concerns for our globe. They are as follows: AIDS, Tuberculosis and Antibiotic resistant bacteria. Think about this the next time you beg your doctor for a broad spectrum/big guns antibiotic and he gives in.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Farm to Table

Its been a while and I'm sorry for that but the holidays were extra busy and extra frantic this year. There was travel, parties, cooking, hosting and attending all within a mere 31 days. That did not leave me much time for blogging. However, throughout all the madness I was fervently thinking of my next topic. 

Since its the new year, I bet many of you have renewed interest in your health and well being. Maybe some resolutions to remove processed food from your diet? What about fake sugars? Or refined sugars? Its easier said than done especially when these types of foods are an integral part of your diet. But now is the time to make the changes. If not now, when?

When making food choices at home, its easier to control what goes on your table. You know where you get your meat from (at least I do), your eggs and produce. But what about when you eat out? Are you making conscious choices in your restaurants? Do you ask the chef where they procured their meat? I would bet no. And that is because I never did either. I always put eating out in a separate category from my "green" lifestyle. I felt that it was a treat and who really cares where the food comes from or how its cooked. As long as it tastes good, right? Well, not really.....

All the E.coli and salmonella outbreaks of 2010 have me pretty weary of any large scale operation, even restaurants. I have never been one for fast food so we are not even talking Micky D's or Taco Bell. I'm speaking more about sit down restaurants from the cheap eats to the upscale reservations only type. Many of these establishments use less than acceptable quality meat, poultry and produce. Its pretty rare that you would even think to ask where this food came from. I once asked the waiter at Chops if they served grass fed beef and he looked at me like I just landed here from Pluto. Why bother, I thought and just ordered the lobster.

Well there are solutions to this diet dilemma and if you really care about what you eat and want to keep your cheating to a minimum then start looking into farm to table restaurants. They are gaining in popularity as the desire for locally grown has increased. What's even better is that these restaurants are keeping the small local farmer in business. I know this first hand as I wait in line at my farmers market to buy my milk and eggs. Chad sells dozens and dozens of eggs to these small entrepreneurs who value his commitment to organic sustainable farming. Its great to see and makes me want to eat at these restaurants.

For those who are interested in such places, I have put together a small list of some farm to table restaurants here in the Atlanta area (ITP). I will add more as I find them. Its worth checking one out the next time you decide to make reservations. You will be doing your body good as well as the environment and we all know how fabulous that is!

ATLANTA
Dynamic Dish - Edgewood
Radial Cafe - Candler Park
The Shed at Glenwood
Miller Union
Farmburger - Decatur (grass fed burgers)
Cakes and Ale - Decatur
Parish - Inman Park


NYC AREA
The Farm on Adderley - Flatbush Brooklyn
Blue Hill - Greenwich Village
The Green Table - Meatpacking/Chelsea
Back Forty - East Village
ABC Kitchen - Flatiron
MAS Farmhouse - West Village

Happy Eating for the New Year!