Monday, March 8, 2010


It was a beautiful weekend in my neck of the woods. People in our neighborhood, including us, were outside working in the yard. Between of the rain we’ve had recently and some sunny, warmer weather, that means that weed season is starting. We had some pretty good sized weeds already taking root in planting beds and the lawn. So, what to do? Take out the weed killer and zap them in no time. What’s in that stuff anyway? Is it really such a good idea?

We just assume that something that is widely available in stores and used by so many people on a regular basis must be safe. As I looked into this, I found that although the makers of these products claim the safety of their active ingredients, there are many other undisclosed ingredients that aren’t listed due to “trade secrets.” I looked at a couple of websites that were very enlightening to me. I will let you draw your own conclusions from these sites.
I’ll tell you what we will be doing at my house - pulling weeds the old fashioned way. It’s a good activity to do as a family, its good exercise, and I don’t have to worry about what may or may not be in those spray weed killers.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Eating Seasonally

There are certain fresh fruits and vegetables that I always have in my house. Apples, bananas, grapes, carrots, onion, garlic. I think I am doing pretty good providing my family with the fruits and veggies that they need to be healthy. But, I’ve been thinking, I haven’t seen a banana tree anywhere near me. And, I’m pretty sure that apples are in abundance in the Fall, and this is the end of Winter. So, where do these come from and how do they get to my grocery store?

Once again, off to do some research. Produce that is picked at the peak of ripeness is always the healthiest, not to mention the tastiest. In order to get out-of-season produce to us, it must be grown somewhere else and shipped. This means a couple of things. It must be picked before it is ripe and it must be shipped a long way. Of course, they lose nutritional value during long trips and they don’t taste too good because they are not picked ripe. In fact, many growers have developed varieties of fruits and vegetables that are sturdy and shippable, but not necessarily nutritious or tasty.

So, in order to have healthy fruits and vegetables that aren’t shipped all over the world, it is important to eat both locally and seasonally. Right now in California, every citrus tree is loaded with fruit, including those in my backyard. Right now, I am eating more citrus because it is both in season and local. I wondered what else is in season right now. Because my local farmers market doesn’t start until May, it’s hard to know. I did find a good website that tells which fruits and vegetables are in season. Then you can decide if you want the benefits of eating locally.

Of course, if you want to eat really locally, you could always plant a garden.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Artificial What in My Child's Vitamins?

I have written before about being a label reader when it comes to cleaners. Many of us read the label on our food. Have you ever read the label on your kid’s vitamins? I switched almost a year ago to a kid’s vitamin that I like for lots of reasons. The other day, I took out my old grocery store vitamins my son used to take and read the label. I was expecting to see artificial sweeteners. Here’s what I was not expecting: Blue 2 Lake, Red 40 Lake, and Yellow 6 Lake. What? I did some looking into this. Here’s what I found. In 2008, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) petitioned the Food and Drug Administration to ban many food dyes from being used, something already being done in the UK. In fact, many food companies are already selling food in the UK that contain no artificial colors. The British versions of Starburst Chews, Skittles, and M&M candies contain the full spectrum of artificial colors in the U.S., but not in the U.K., where the company uses natural colorings. In Britain, the color in McDonald's strawberry sauce for sundaes actually comes from strawberries; in the U.S. it comes from Red 40.
So, why is this important? Synthetic food dyes have been suspected of disrupting children's behavior since the 1970s, when Dr. Ben Feingold, a San Francisco allergist, reported that his patients improved when their diets were changed. Numerous controlled studies conducted over the next three decades in the United States, Europe, and Australia proved that some children’s behavior is worsened by artificial dyes.
Aside from the fact that many foods contain artificial colors, why would you want them in the vitamins we give our kids, supposedly to improve their health?
After all of this, it is good to know that the vitamins I have been giving my son for almost a year have no artificial colors. They are colored with vegetable juice, such as beet juice concentrate and red cabbage extract, annatto and turmeric extract. No mysterious names including numbers. No worries of possible chemical side effects. One less thing to worry about.

Here is a link to the vitamins my son takes.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Healthy Home

I just finished doing the dishes and cleaning the counters. Later, I need to do some laundry. I know, its nothing earth-shattering or even very interesting. I mean, don't we all have to do these mundane tasks several times a week? Well, I am telling you this because about 2 1/2 years ago I switched to nontoxic, earth friendly, and family friendly cleaners. Right away I noticed they had almost no smell. But, I wouldn't keep using them just because of that. I still use them because they work great! I can use them to clean everything. I can even enlist the help of my 9 year old son because there is nothing in them that will hurt him. Who doesn't want their kids helping to clean the house? They are also super concentrated. I like this for 2 reasons: First, went I run out of something, I just mix up some more instead of heading to the store, and second, it saves me a lot of money. Now, last week my husband sprayed some other cleaner in the shower. God bless him for helping, but I could smell that stuff for days! I can't believe I used to use that kind of stuff on a regular basis.
But, this post is called Healthy Home and not just Clean Home for a reason. Since I switched to these cleaners, we have been much healthier. Now, we were pretty healthy before this, but when I look back, my son has only been to the doctor for a check-up and flu shots in the last 2 years. He's had a cold here and there and he had a fever for a day and a half this Fall. I know that I talk to lots of moms about how their kids are always sick. I'm thankful that mine is not one of them. My husband and I have been to the doctor for this and that (we're older, you see) but not for any sicknesses. Is this just a coincidence? Could be, but I don't think so. I'll keep using these wonderful cleaners and enjoy my healthy home.
Want to find out about these cleaners for yourself? Click here.

Thursday, March 19, 2009


So, tomorrow is the first day of Spring. We can now look forward to longer, warmer days, trees coming back to life, and Spring cleaning.(Look for more on Spring cleaning in a future post.) There are 2 things around the house that I really look forward to in the Spring. One is opening up windows and letting the fresh air in. I know that the air inside my house gets a little stale, especially as the winter wears on. Not to mention the bad stuff coming from carpets, paint, and other off-gassing in the average house. So, I enjoy a nice warm day when I can open windows and air out the house. Out with the bad, in with the good.
The other thing I look forward to in Spring is hanging my laundry out to dry. I just came in from hanging my first load. First, I am saving energy by not using my dryer. Second, my clothes will last longer from not spinning around in the dryer. Third, I just like being outside, getting a little fresh air myself. Now, I don't have a big yard and have had to be creative with where I've put my clothesline, but it can be done. I can hang up one load at a time with the space I have.
So, give it a try. Get some fresh air and save a little money, too.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Shocking Statistic

I read a shocking statistic the other day. Now, we all know that Americans don't always lead the healthiest of lifestyles. We are over stressed, we don't exercise like we should, we don't eat like we should, we don't always take our vitamins. And we know that many diseases are preventable with lifestyle changes. We, as adults, get that, but don't always act on it. Okay, here is what I read the other day:
Children born in 2000 or later represent the 1st generation in American history that are not likely to outlive their parents due to poor diet, too little exercise, and future likely lifestyle choices.
What?! I have a son born in 2000. He and his friends are part of that statistic. For many generations we have seen the quality and length of life keep increasing. Now, it seems it is decreasing. Why? Because we are feeding our kids too much junk and they are not exercising like they should. As parents, we should be outraged at this. We should do whatever we can to change this dismal statistic and get our kids back on track.
So, what are you willing to do? Stop driving through for fast food? Make more home-cooked wholesome meals? Use more whole grains? Serve more fruits and vegetables? Look into high quality nutritional supplements? Look into organics? Look at ourselves and our own dietary and exercise habits? We all need to do something. Today. This needs to be a priority in our family's lives.

What are you willing to do?

Friday, February 27, 2009

Be a Label Reader

I want to encourage you all to be label readers. For food, well yes, but that's not what I mean. You should be a label reader with your cleaning products. Yes, really. Have you ever done that? I read the labels on some of the cleaning products in my house. Here's what I found:

Sanitizing Wipes "Hazards to Humans and Domestic Animals" and "Wash hands after use"

Tile Cleaner "Causes substantial but temporary eye injury and can irritate skin" , "Do not get in eyes or clothing" and "If on skin or clothing: Take off contaminated clothing. Rinse skin immediately with plenty of water for 15-20 minutes."

Automatic Dishwasher Detergent "May cause burns to skin and eyes. Harmful if swallowed"

Liquid Lemon Oil Furniture Polish "Harmful or Fatal if Swallowed. Keep out of reach of Children."

Now, I have been using safe, green, nontoxic cleaners for almost 2 years. But, I still have not gotten rid of some of my old cleaners. But, if you still use these grocery store cleaners, make sure you read the labels. Make sure you have a good supply of rubber gloves and breathing masks. Make sure you have adequate ventilation. And, don't clean while your kids are around. It just seems too dangerous. Or, you could do what I did and switch to safe alternatives. Then we can take all those other cleaners to the toxic waste section of our local dump.