Euphoria’s Blog for Green Mamas

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A Priority List for Switching to Organic Foods September 3, 2009

Filed under: Healthy Living — Rachel @ 9:52 am
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It’s overwhelming, isn’t it?  Organic food is expensive and there are choices to make everyday.  Maybe you know in your heart that choosing organic is best, but you just can’t see how to do it. 

It doesn’t have to be all or nothing.  And, really, it never is.  All of us on this road of natural living are pushing along, changing one more thing and one more thing to make our world and our families healthier.  So, if you need somewhere to start, consider this priority list from pediatrician Dr. Alan Greene, author of Raising Baby Green.  His list answers the question, “What are the most important foods to buy organic?” considering more than just pesticides.  So, in order of first priority, here goes:

  1. Milk
  2. Potatoes
  3. Peanut Butter
  4. Baby Food
  5. Ketchup
  6. Cotton
  7. Apples
  8. Beef
  9. Soy
  10. Corn

Dr. Greene gives a thorough, well-written account of how he created this list, and what is gained by choosing organic for each product.  For more details read through Dr. Green’s Organic Rx.  I can’t say I agree with his reasoning on potatoes.  He mentions that kids eat more potatoes than any other vegetable – but in French fries.  Given that fact, I don’t see how buying organic potatoes for the home is going to translate, unless you’ll be making fries at home…

Also, I can’t recommend eating any conventional soy products, organic or not.  From what I’ve read, only traditional fermented soy products are actually healthy.  But that’s another story.

I noticed that Dr. Green listed cotton as product number 6.  For those of you as confused as I was, he’s talking about products that contain cottonseed oil or an unidentified vegetable oil (like salad dressing, peanut butter, etc).  Sure, it would also be great (and hugely beneficial to the health of our world) to buy all of our cotton fabrics, organic too.  But, unfortunately, that’s probably the most expensive realm of organic living. 

This list helped me to realize that the peanut butter we buy is not organic.  Oops.  Time to change that.

 

Local vs. Organic Produce – What to Buy? July 16, 2009

Filed under: Healthy Living — Rachel @ 8:19 pm
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When it comes to food, buying organic is buying the best for our families and our world.  Pesticides are clearly a problem, and poison-free fruits and vegetables are definitely the way to go when you’re feeding young children.  But what do you do when the summer’s bounty offers you the choice of buying organic or picking your own at a local blueberry farm?  After all, buying local reduces so much waste in the form of dollars and fossil fuels.  It also supports farmers near you, possibly reducing pollution, crime and destruction of natural habitats.  To top it off, the food will certainly be fresh – which means more nutrients in every bite.  If the idea of eating locally interests you, be sure to read Animal Vegetable Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver.  It’s a gem of a book!

I was talking with my girlfriends about this quandary: local or organic?  Of course, we all wish we could have our cake and eat it too.  And, sometimes you can.  With CSA’s (Community Supported Agriculture) becoming more and more popular, it’s not too hard to get local, organic vegetables on a regular bases.  I think it’s the fruit that presents a real problem.  Have you ever gone to the store, hoping to indulge in some organic berries or peaches only to discover that the extremely limited organic options are quite uninviting?  Moldy berries or rock-hard peaches won’t win my money, organic or not.  That’s when I may head over to the conventional fruit stands, and none too pleased. 

But, with a little planning, you can buy local fruit with ease during the summer.  Search for local farms that offer pick-your-0wn.  Harvesting is a fun, education outing for young children!  It makes kids appreciate good fruit and it’s value so much more!  Plus, you’ll save a few dollars by picking.  PickYourOwn.org seems to be the largest database of farms that offer this service.  It’s organized by state, but doesn’t have a very nice layout.  Often there are better farm databases on a state-by-state basis, so do some searching online.

If you don’t have time to pick your own, buy locally at roadside stands in the country or farmer’s markets in the city.  Again, you can scout out farmer’s markets online at Local Harvest.  When you buy, don’t assume it’s local.  Go ahead and ask where things you are interested in were grown.  It’s not unusual to find food imported from across the country at a roadside stand.  And, just by asking, you can share your preference to buy local.  That’s how business is changed – one voice at a time. 

However you eat locally, you interact closely with people that grow your food.  This presents a unique opportunity to influence their growing methods.  Maybe they don’t garden organically, but maybe they would… if they knew that was so important to you.  Maybe they do garden organically, but they aren’t certified.  Encourage them to keep it up the good work!  And that’s why it’s a toss up when you consider eating organically or eating locally.  Both options are exponentially easier on the earth than eating conventional produce from the grocery store.  Both choices, eating local and eating organic, are a vote for a safer, healthier tomorrow.  When you can’t find organic in the store – go out and find a farm near you!

 

Enter to Win a FREE Week of Organic Babyfood! June 15, 2009

Filed under: Giveaways — Rachel @ 7:59 pm
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Ideally, you make your own baby food out of organic, local produce… but maybe not every week or maybe never!  If you’re like most parents you certainly buy some baby food.  But, what do you buy?  Choosing organic baby food means you keep pesticides, heavy metals and solvents out of your baby’s diets.  That’s a great start!  But, if you think about it, freshness matters too.  Fresher, just cooked foods have more nutritional value than other foods.  Also, fresh foods are the least likely to contain dangerous levels of bacteria.  

Question:  How to get fresh baby food (i.e. not canned food that can sit on the shelves in your local grocery store for weeks), without making it at home?

Answer:  Buy frozen, organic baby food online, with a regular weekly delivery to your house! 

My favorite source is Yummy Spoonfuls, a company out of Georgia who manufactures certified organic baby food.  Unlike other organic baby food companies, Yummy Spoonfuls does NOT heat treat their product.  Heat treatments damage the nutritional integrity of foods.  As such, their food is perishable.  And, folks, that’s a good thing!  Here’s a few words from Yummy Spoonfuls:

Why Yummy Spoonfuls?

Because our children’s bodies are in a state of growth and development, they need a constant supply of highly nutritional building blocks not only free of chemicals but equally high in protein, essential fats, complex carbohydrates, and a full complement of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients, which are all necessary to support healthy growth. A pure organic diet can be more beneficial during the first few months of life than at any other time but most IMPORTANTLY it is imperative we provide the freshest meals ever. Babies have immature systems and need the very purest and safest foods. Yummy Spoonfuls Baby Food PROVIDES JUST THAT.

Because given our hectic lifestyles with trying to balance work and parenthood or just trying to handle being a parent, it is not often easy to make all the delicious foods that we so lovingly want to provide to our offspring. Yummy Spoonfuls Baby Food is that invisible hand we all wished we had to make foods with the same loving touch we all would if only we had the time.

Because (we are very proud to say) our foods are perishable! Though it can stay fresh frozen for up to two months, there is really no need to keep it that long. Yummy Spoonfuls IS produced WEEKLY IN SMALL BATCHES and immediately frozen to lock in freshness. Order weekly or bi-weekly so that there is always fresh, homemade food available for your baby

You can buy directly from Yummy Spoonfuls here. Admittedly, frozen baby food is more costly than jarred organic food at the grocery store.  Fortunately, we’re giving it away! 

Enter to win!  One lucky reader will receive a week’s worth of delicious, organic baby food – that’s 12 containers of either stage one or stage two Yummy Spoonfuls baby food.  Enter now through June 30th by adding your comment to this blog post.  We’ll choose one random winner!  Shipping not included. 

EXTRA ENTRIES!
You can do any of these things for an extra entry. Make sure to leave a separate comment on this blog post for EACH thing you do.

1- For TWO extra entries, blog about this giveaway and link it back to my blog AND to Yummy Spoonfuls. 

2- Follow me (euphoriatweets) on twitter AND tweet about this giveaway. Please leave me the link in your comment to your tweet. Just following me does not count-you MUST tweet about this giveaway. You can copy and paste: Win a Week of Organic Baby Food @Euphoria for the Green Mama http://tinyurl.com/n5hbbf

 

Organic: A Choice for our Children April 6, 2009

Filed under: Eco-Friendly Living,Healthy Living — Rachel @ 7:54 pm
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What parent would turn down the chance to give a child delicious, healthy food that is convenient, a good money value, that the child loves – and then responds with a, “Thank you, Mommy, that was great! May I help clean up?”

In practice, though, many powerful forces determine our food choices. Our children have tasted artificially flavored, partially hydrogenated, day-glow snack foods and clamor for more. Our kids tell us that their friends’ “parents let them eat” the latest processed food fashion. Huge sums of money pay for artists, musicians, toy manufacturers, psychologists, and marketers to work together to carefully manipulate your child’s food preferences.

We’re busy and want something simple, quick, and preferably inexpensive. We return to the ruts of the unhealthy foods we ate ourselves as kids or that we know our own kids will like. We feel guilty because of our busy lifestyles and don’t want to say “no” to our kids – especially if it means yet another battle.

And the last straw – we hear conflicting information about what is healthy. High carb or low carb? Low fat is good for kids. Low fat is bad for kids. Sugar doesn’t affect behavior. Sugar causes ADHD . Aspartame is totally safe. Airplane pilots aren’t allowed to eat foods containing aspartame because it affects their judgment.

Phew! What’s a parent to do? Thankfully, making healthier food choices is simple and clear. Increasing fruits, vegetables, and whole grains in the diet makes the diet healthier. Especially in our antibiotic-flooded age, eating foods that contain live active cultures of beneficial bacteria makes our diet healthier. Decreasing artificial chemicals in the diet and the environment, makes us all healthier.

Nutrition is not an all-or-none activity. The goal is to keep making choices that make the diet a little better.

A Stitch in Time
DDT used in the United States before 1966 may have caused an epidemic of premature births that has only now been detected! According to a fascinating study published in the July 14, 2001 issue of The Lancet, scientists who studied stored cord blood samples from mothers who had delivered at that time found elevated levels of DDT breakdown products among the group who had premature deliveries or low birth weight infants. This would make DDT responsible for a host of medical problems and the deaths of many children – but the link wasn’t proven until more than 30 years later! DDT use in the United States was stopped in 1972 because it caused reproductive damage to birds (the bald eagle and brown pelican were nearly extinct), but DDT is still widely used in developing countries for insect control. I’m certain that the dangers of some chemicals in common use in the United States today will be proven in the future. I believe that toxic chemicals are one of the biggest health threats to our children. We may not prove the links until they are grown, but we must not wait until then to provide them with safe food, water, air, homes, and schools.

On a personal note, my wife has now recovered from a very malignant form of breast cancer. She has no family history of the disease, but toxic chemicals were used on her farm when she was a child.

What we now call ‘conventional farming’ is actually something very new. In the 20th century, our naïve optimism about science led to the over-exuberant use of antibiotics, infant formulas, surgery, pesticides, hormones, and fossil fuels. It’s time to bring this back into balance.

Organic food has long been the standard for human nutrition. In contrast, many chemicals and hormones introduced post World War II do not have proven long-term safety. Some of them may be fine. Time will tell. I prefer organic for children where there is a good choice.

An excerpt of an article written by Alan Greene, MD, Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at Stanford University School of Medicine, Attending Pediatrician at Packard Children’s Hospital, and Senior Fellow at the University California San Francisco Center for the Health Professions. He is also founder of DrGreene.com and author of Raising Baby Green: The Earth-Friendly Guide to Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Baby Care.

Courtesy of Healthy Child Healthy World: a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit inspiring parents to protect young children from harmful chemicals.

 

How to Eat Organic and Not Go Broke July 31, 2008

Filed under: Healthy Living — Rachel @ 3:14 pm
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There’s no question that organic foods are healthier for your family, especially during vulnerable times such as pregnancy and childhood.  If you have yet to make the switch to shopping organic, cost is probably the main deterrent.  Can eating organically really be affordable enough for the average family?  I think the answer is “yes”, but it’s not easy to see why. 

First off, making the choice to eat organically means more than just buying organic produce.  It should also include taking steps to reduce the amount of processed foods in your diet.  If you don’t recognize the ingredients, don’t buy it.  Processed foods are even more expensive than organic foods!  For example, my husband loves to snack on popcorn.  We used to buy bagged microwave popcorn that was loaded with junk.  Now we buy organic popping corn and he pops it on the stove, which is far cheaper, though more time-intensive.  Other quick snacks include: fruit, cream cheese on whole wheat crackers, organic granola in plain yogurt, etc.  All these options are far cheaper than granola bars and other packaged snacks. 

Besides avoiding processed foods, here are some tricks to saving money on buying organic foods:  

  • Avoid the grocery store!  Really, the grocery store is the most expensive way to shop.  At the farmer’s market, organic produce costs the same as pesticide-laden produce at the grocery store.  Cutting out the middle-man makes a big difference.  To find a market near you visit this site.  You can also buy direct from farmers by joining a local CSA (a program where a variety of in-season produce is delivered each week for shareholders).  
  • Buy in bulk!  When it comes to meats, organic gets pretty pricey.  Besides limiting your meat intake to make more room for those desperately needed fruits and veggies, you can buy organic meat in bulk directly from farmers for the most reasonable price.  This practice also allows you to support local farmers, which helps keep those rolling pastures in your area, rather than another new subdivision.  Buying “half a cow” will typically save you $2+ a pound!  For produce buy in bulk at Costco (if you have one), which has an extensive organics section.
  • Drink better!  Your body needs water, what do you drink?  Juice, soda and milk quickly bulk-up your grocery bill.  Fruit is healthier than juice, because fruit provides fiber.  Soda is definitely a no-no.  Milk is great, but drinking it all day (like my husband does) at the exclusion of water is not healthy or affordable.  Replacing some beverages with water is free!
  • Grow your own food!  Well, we’re not there yet, but next year I intend to plant a least a few easy growers like tomatoes, potatoes and corn.  Even if you have a tiny backyard, a garden can be compact and fruitful.  Plus, home-grown food tastes so much better than super-market fare.
  • As a last resort, shop selective!  If you’re worried about your budget, start by buying the most pesticide-laden produce organic.  You can download and print a free wallet guide produced by the EWG (Environmental Working Group), which details which fruits and veggies are loaded with pesticides or relatively low on pesticides.  The same link includes a full list of 43 fruits and veggies ranked by pesticide danger.  It takes into account washing and peeling too. 
 

Purify Your Breastmilk June 16, 2008

Fit Pregnancy’s current issue has a great article on how mindful mamas can keep their breastmilk pure.   Since scientists can easily test milk for contaminents, we know of quite a few toxins that do find there way to baby through mother’s milk.   Some toxins, like alcohol, clear out from the body rather quickly.  Unfortunately, many more toxins linger in the body for years because they are stored in body fat.  When you breastfeed, your body taps into those fats to make breastmilk.  Experts say that despite these toxins, breastmilk is definitely best for baby.  Still, I know that your goal, like mine, will be to produce the purest milk possible for baby.  Here are some tips from Fit Pregnancy:

  1. Alcohol (consumed): an occasional drink is OK, but do so immediately after nursing to give your body time to clear before the next feeding.
  2. Biphenal A/BPA (consumed/absorbed): Don’t eat or drink from plastics with recylcing code no. 7; avoid canned foods.
  3. Flame Retardants (consumed/inhaled/absorbed): Choose curtains, furniture, and mattresses without brominated flame retardents.
  4. Mercury (consumed): Don’t eat tilefish, shark, swordfish, or king mackeral.   Fit Pregnancy says to “limit tuna”, but from my research, I’d stay clear.
  5. Pesticides (consumed/inhaled/absorbed):  Don’t use flea treatments or insecticides in your home or office.  Eat organic food.
  6. Plastic Softeners/Phthalates (consumed/inhaled/absorbed): Avoid vinyl of any kind (shower curtains, packaging and plastic toys are common culprits),  “cling” wrap, plastics with recycling code no. 3.
  7. Solvents (inhaled/absorbed): Avoid conventional nail polish, nail polish remover, cleaning solvents, paints, dry cleaners and pumping gas.
  8. Synthetic Fragrances (inhaled/absorbed): Choose fragrance-free cosmetics, detergents and deodorants or those fragranced with “essential oils” only. 
  9. Unnecessary Medications (consumed/inhaled/absorbed): Ask your doctor before taking any over-the-counter or prescription drug.  For info on risks, visit motherisk.org. 

Although these recommendations are designed for breastfeeding moms, they really pertain to us all.  If you’re pregnant, your lifestyle protects baby during his or her most critical times.  If your baby is weaned, your child is directly interacting with plastics, cosmetics, mattresses, etc. so you’ll want to purify your lifestyle to support your child’s personal development.  Every step you take to a cleaner, toxin-free life is a step in the right direction for us all!

 

 

 

Three “Perfect” Winners June 2, 2008

Filed under: Giveaways — Rachel @ 4:07 pm
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Our winners of “Perfect Prenatals” (the whole-foods, organic prenatal vitamin) are Chihiro, Miranda, and Bethany.  Congratulations, mamas!  I’ll be popping your pills into the mail sometime this week.  

If you’ve ever wondered just how I select the winners, I use a handy little random number generator at www.random.org.  Sometimes the results are shocking – but they’re always random!  So, if you didn’t win this time, check out next month’s prize(s)!