Posts Tagged ‘Environmental Working Group’

The Dirty Dozen and the Clean Fifteen

The only way to insure that your food is safer – no pesticides, artificial colorants, preservatives, or GMO’s – is to eat organically. (Organic produce may contain more natural antioxidants and nutrients, and taste better too! ) The biggest obstacle to eating organically however, is the cost. And while I still maintain eating organically is cheaper than the doctor, I understand. That’s where the Dirty Dozen and the Clean Fifteen guidelines from the Environmental Working Group come in.

The Dirty Dozen

The Dirty Dozen are the 12 fruits and vegetables most heavily sprayed with pesticides – they contain 47 to 67 pesticides per serving – and the ones you should always buy organic. These foods are most susceptible because they have soft skin that tends to absorb more pesticides.  They are, starting with the worst first:

  • Apples
  • Peaches
  • Nectarines
  • Grapes
  • Celery
  • Spinach
  • Sweet bell peppers
  • Cucumbers
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Snap Peas – Imported
  • Potatoes

     + 2 more

  • Hot Peppers
  • Kale/Collard Greens

The Clean Fifteen

The Clean 15 are the fifteen fruits and vegetables lowest in pesticides and not necessary to buy organic.  They are, starting with the best:

  • Avocados
  • Sweet corn*
  • Pineapples
  • Cabbage
  • Sweet peas – frozen
  • Onions
  • Asparagus
  • Mangoes
  • Papaya*
  • Kiwi
  • Eggplant
  • Grapefruit
  • Cantaloupe
  • Cauliflower
  • Sweet Potatoes

*A small amount of sweet corn, papaya and summer squash sold in the United States is produced from GE seedstock. Buy organic varieties of these crops if you want to avoid GE produce.

It’s easier than ever to buy organic produce, which are now found in conventional grocery store chains as well as natural food markets.  To be sure the produce you choose is organic, check the sticker on the fruit or vegetable. The code number should start with a 9.

Visit the Environmental Working Group to download the EWG Shoppers Guide to Pesticides in Produce and to see their full list of all 48 fruits and vegetables with pesticide residue data. Their website also contains shopper’s guides to safe cleaning products, safe cosmetics, safe sunscreen and a variety of other important topics.

 

For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

 

Safe Cosmetics

You might not realize that the make up we put on our faces or the hair and body products, sunscreens, and nail polish we use on a daily basis have a host of dangerous chemicals, endocrine disruptors and allergens like mercury, lead, parabans, pthalates, and others.   According to watchdog organization, Environmental Working Group, “On average, a woman puts 168 chemicals on her body each day.” In addition to the many known hazardous chemicals, there are many other synthetic compounds, like fragrances, without enough information to know whether they are safe or not because federal legislation regarding product safety hasn’t been updated in 75 years. The Environmental Working Group estimates that of the more than 10,000 chemical ingredients in personal care products, 89 percent have not undergone safety testing.

Are these chemicals necessary?

Given the known and unknown dangers of all these chemical additives, I think not! Who needs cherry-scented rubbing alcohol? Some American cosmetic companies sell the same products in Europe without the chemical additives. That’s because the European Union strictly regulates the extremely hazardous chemicals found in everyday products in the United States and has banned about 1,100 chemicals, while the FDA has banned only ten!

Safe Alternatives? Of course!

The average woman “eats” more than 6 pounds of lipstick over a lifetime, just one of many cosmetics used.  Fortunately now there are many lines of organic personal care products. Whole Foods Markets and independent natural food stores carry several, like Dr. Hauschka, Mychelle, Badger, Burt’s Bees.  Local farmer’s markets often sell homemade and all natural insect repellant, body scrubs and soaps.  CVS also carries Burt’s Bees.

Be sure to read the labels however, some products are “cleaner” than others and be wary of names too long to pronounce.  A knowledgeable sales person will be able to help you find the safest products.

Organic cosmetics and personal care products are not only better for your health, but better for the earth too!  When discarding them, fewer chemicals will go down the drain or in the trash, seeping into our valuable water supply and landfills.

For more information or to rate the toxicity of your personal care products, visit www.safecosmetics.org, which does an online safety assessment of 75,223 products.

 

Information from ewg.org and ecosalon.com.  

For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

 

 

 

 

 

Safely Protect Your Baby’s Soft, Sweet Skin

All new parents want the best for their baby, including the skin care products they use on their baby’s soft tender skin.  Skin is our largest organ and it’s important to choose the safest and most non-irritating products.

Small, developing bodies are more susceptible to the dangers of toxins than adult bodies; their young organs are less capable of processing chemical additives, which can potentially cause damage or disease in the future.    Because they are so small, they are more exposed to chemical contaminants in the air, water, food and personal care products than adults.  Below are a few tips on how to choose the right products.

  • Read the labels and avoid hard-to-pronounce ingredients like Bronopol, DMDM hyhantoin and fragrances found in baby wipes, or BHA, boric acid and fragrances found in diaper creams. There are several safer and non-toxic or organic baby care products available, as well as lots of easy recipes online for making your own, like baby wipes for example.
  • Save your baby the exposure to so many ingredients (and yourself some money) by using fewer products. The fewer the better. Do you really need baby lotion, baby oil, baby powder (see the next tip on powder), baby bubble bath, baby shampoo, baby soap, baby wipes and diaper cream? It’s just marketing and cute packaging that makes us think we have to have a different product for each application.
  • According to the consumer watchdog organization, Environmental Working Group, when it comes to baby powder, “skip it! Just like auto exhaust or secondhand smoke, tiny airborne particles can damage baby’s delicate, developing lungs.”

Those same tips are true for skin care products for all ages!  To check the toxicity level of the products you use for you and your baby, click here.

Feel good about giving your baby the best possible start to life!

Information compiled from ewg.org.

For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

 

 

Clean, Fresh Babies

Lucie's baby JeanThere is no more special time in life than the anticipation of your first baby – pouring through baby development books, choosing a name, decorating the nursery, researching the best stroller and car seat, buying those adorable baby clothes, and finding the right laundry detergent that won’t irritate your baby’s soft newborn skin.  Many new parents wonder if it is really necessary to buy a specific, costly detergent like Dreft, just for baby clothes?

The answer lies in what kind of detergent you usually use.   If your detergent is loaded with dyes, fragrances, phosphates and optical brighteners, then yes.  But if you use a ”clean” laundry soap, or one without toxic additives, you don’t have to spend the extra money and run a separate load for baby clothes. 

Most conventional detergents now make a non-toxic product.  You can check out the toxicity level of your favorite brand or find the safest ones by going to the Environmental Working Group website, a well-respected consumer watchdog organization.  They analyzed over 2000 products and rated them according to concern for general ecotoxicity, biodegradation, and general systemic/organ effects.

Here are a few laundry soaps I recommend.

Seventh Generation products are fantastic– they contain plant-derived cleaning agents, soil disperants and non-animal derived enzymes; they are naturally biodegradable, phosphate-free and hypoallergenic. Seventh Generation products consistently score the safest rating and they are a genuinely eco-responsible company.

http://www.seventhgeneration.com/learn/video/brighter-way-care-baby

I like supporting local companies and cottage industries.  The Optimist Co, based on Cape Cod and run by a mother of two small children, makes fabulous laundry soap with 100% soap oil flakes and no chemical detergent. You can’t get much purer than the laundry soap she makes right in her own kitchen!  Shaklee, another eco-responsible company, offers a highly effective, chemical-free laundry soap as well, and for a non-toxic soap that does it all – clothes, dishes, body, hair – there is nothing better than Dr. Bonner’s Pure Castille soap.

One other thing, forget fabric softener which is highly toxic and full of harmful chemicals.  It also breaks down the fire retardancy in infant clothing.  Instead use dryer balls or add ¼ cup white vinegar to the rinse cycle.

Make the switch today to non-toxic laundry soap and protect everyone’s skin, especially your baby’s!

For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com

Information compiled from : http://babyclothes.about.com/, http://www.mnn.com/lifestyle/responsible-living/stories/7-least-toxic-laundry-detergents

 

Summer’s Extreme Weather

Whether the weather be fine,
Whether the weather be not,
Whether the weather be cold,
Whether the weather be hot,
We’ll weather the weather,
Whatever the whether,
Whether we like it or not
~Author Unknown

Here in the Northeast and in the Mid-west, we’ve been experiencing more than our fair share of cloudy days and rain, intense thunderstorms, flood and tornado watches and high humidity.  Since there really is nothing you can do about the weather (other than lead a greener lifestyle and hope other people will too), try not to let it get you down.  Eating certain foods can relieve weather-related depression.

Omega 3 fats found in fish oil, salmon (and other fatty fish), walnuts (and other nuts), flax seeds, olive oil, chia seeds and avocados, are essential for proper brain function.  When the brain functions properly, it’s hard to get depressed for long.  Studies have shown that just a gram of fish oil a day can decrease symptoms such as anxiety, sleep disorders, unexplained periods of sadness, etc.  Omega 3 fats also lower cholesterol and improve cardiovascular function.

Fruits like dates, papaya, bananas, strawberries*, mangoes, pineapple, grapefruit, peaches and apple* also help fight depression!  They contain the best natural sugars your body can process, as well as essential nutrients.  They hydrate too!

Out west, the weather is unusually hot and dry and they are experiencing less than normal rainfall!  Protecting your skin is essential, not only with sunscreen but with food too.  The following three summer fruits are cooling and may protect your skin from sun damage during the hot dry summer weather.

  • Cherries contain inflammation-fighting anthocyanins and melatonin, which may boost UV protection and encourage cell growth, both great ways to fight wrinkles.
  • Nectarines* contain nutrients that help correct sun damage from the inside out.  They contain vitamins and minerals that help control inflammation and free radical damage.
  • Watermelon has high water and lycopene content, which helps protect and preserve skin cells so the skin is tighter, smoother and better able to retain moisture.  Lycopene, also found in tomatoes, is a powerful antioxidant and may help ward off sunburn too.

Extreme weather conditions are hard on the body and the spirit, but eating whole, nutritious and seasonal foods can help.

Have a happy and safe 4th of July!  Stay cool!!!

* Foods that you should always eat organic!

Information compiled from:

http://www.sharecare.com/health/diet-nutrition/article/eat-these-3-fruits-for-great-summer-skin; http://voices.yahoo.com/foods-fight-depression-eat-way-happiness-2710221.html and http://www.naturalnews.com/020611_depression_nutrition.html#ixzz2XtsDD1aP

 

Our Tainted Meat Supply

Environmental Working Group

I want to share with you this important article about our meat supply published by the Environmental Working Group.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Environmental Working Group, or EWG, they are the leading environmental health research and watchdog organization.   Their mission is to “see that Americans get straight facts, unfiltered and unspun, so they can make healthier choices and enjoy a cleaner environment.”  They offer extensive consumer guides to safe cosmetics, healthy cleaning products, pesticides in produce and safe sunscreens, to name a few.

Below is a portion of their report.

Superbugs Invade American Supermarkets

For the PDF version of this report, click here.

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria are now common in the meat aisles of American supermarkets. These so-called superbugs can trigger foodborne illness and infections that are hard to treat.

An analysis by the Environmental Working Group has determined that government tests of raw supermarket meat published last February 5 detected antibiotic-resistant bacteria in:

These little-noticed tests, the most recent in a series conducted by the National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System, a joint project of the federal Food and Drug Administration, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and U.S. Department of Agriculture, found that supermarket meat samples collected in 2011 harbored significant amounts of the superbug versions of salmonella and Campylobacter, which together cause 3.6 million cases of food poisoning a year.

Moreover, the researchers found that some 53 percent of raw chicken samples collected in 2011 were tainted with an antibiotic-resistant form of Escherichia coli, or E. coli, a microbe that normally inhabits feces. Certain strains of E. coli can cause diarrhea, urinary tract infections and pneumonia. The extent of antibiotic-resistant E. coli on chicken is alarming because bacteria readily share antibiotic-resistance genes.

Not surprisingly, superbugs spawned by antibiotic misuse — and now pervasive in the meat Americans buy — have become a direct source of foodborne illness. Even more ominously, antibiotic misuse threatens to make important antibiotics ineffective in treating human disease. In the past, people who became ill because of contact with harmful microbes on raw meat usually recovered quickly when treated with antibiotics. But today, the chances are increasing that a person can suffer serious illness, complications or death because of a bacterial infection that doctors must struggle to control.

The proliferation of antibiotic-resistant bacteria poses special dangers to young children, pregnant women, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems.

This is scary stuff!  I’m not suggesting you have to become vegetarian to avoid these foodborne illnesses – after all vegetables can be contaminated too, especially when coming from long distances. (It is a good idea to go meatless a couple of days a week at least!)  Instead, be a smart meat consumer and opt for organic or grass-fed, grass- finished meats.  They are usually raised without unnecessary antibiotics and in a more humane and sanitary environment.  Ask your butcher or supermarket how the meat was raised and buy local meat when you can.  And always make sure you meat is cooked thoroughly.

Information compiled from ewg.org.

 

 

 

 

 

What Are We Doing To Our Food Supply?

Today it seems that we have gone beyond the discussion about which foods are good for you and which aren’t, to which foods are poisonous, contaminated, or tainted!  Recently “Fish is not a Health Food” popped up in my email from one of my favorite (and reputable!) daily blogs, the gist of which was though the benefits of Omega-3 in fish are well-known, fish can no longer be considered a healthy food option due to the large amounts of mercury and other pollutants such as PCBs in them.  Mercury and PCBs cause damage to the heart and brain and in pregnant women can compromise their babies’ brain development.  If you eat fish regularly, your body most likely contains high amounts of mercury.  That’s a scary thought, especially when you think you are doing the right thing for your heart, brain and skin! Now recommendations are to avoid fish altogether or eat it no more than once a week. (When you do eat fish, choose the lowest mercury types like flounder, scallops, trout, sole, squid, wild salmon or sardines.)  Yet, factory-farmed chicken and beef raised in filthy, overcrowded, inhumane environments, injected with growth hormones and antibiotics, aren’t safe alternatives either.

fish baked with vegetables and herbs

fish baked with vegetables and herbs (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So, maybe it’s safer to eat more grains, but not rice! Two major reports from the US Food and Drug Administration and Consumer Reports magazine just came out that “focused on the worrisome amounts of arsenic in rice and popular rice-based processed foods”.  According to the Environmental Working Group, there is reason to be concerned.  They state that many rice-based foods and some fruit juices have arsenic levels much higher than is allowed in drinking water, and that the contamination does include the form of arsenic, a naturally occurring mineral, that poses a serious risk to our health.  Their recommendations are: to limit your rice consumption and try alternative grains such as quinoa, couscous, barley or bulgur; to rinse rice thoroughly before cooking and cook with a lot of water; and to limit buying products that list rice syrup as a sweetener.

Throw in GMO foods (over 80% of all processed foods contain GMOs) and pesticide-grown vegetables and fruits, and our choices for safe food are severely limited! We have a serious problem when we can’t eat the basics; food safety should be one of our inalienable rights.  Fortunately, locally grown and organic foods are a healthy and safe option, but it’s time for action greater than just switching to organic foods, which many people cannot afford, or eliminating the latest poisonous food from our diet. It’s time to clean up our water and demand change from our food growers and manufacturers.  Our future depends on it.

Some information compiled from www.enviroblog.org and http://www.peacefuldaily.com.