Friday, July 25, 2014

IOTUS: The 6 Ingredients Most Likely to be Genetically Modified

On this week's Instead of This Use This, we're talking GMOs.

Trying to avoid GMOs, but not sure which ingredients to look out for? Well, since the US is keeping us in the dark with their Monsanto-in-the-back-pocket labeling laws, or lack thereof, I thought I'd help you out. Here's a list of the worst offenders:

Public Domain Image by Amedee Masclef

1.  95% -- Sugar Beets. Check the ingredients. If non-organic foods list sugar, but it is not specified as "pure cane sugar," most likely, this is sugar made from GM sugar beets.

2.  93% -- Soy. Look out. In addition to the obvious -- soybean oil, soy milk, tofu, and tempeh, soy is lurking in many products you might not be aware of like vitamin E, lecithin, and more.

3.  90% -- Corn. Wow... what doesn't contain corn?! Look for corn oil, corn starch, and high-fructose corn syrup, just for starters.

4.  90% -- Cottonseed. Of course, you want to stay away from non-organic cottonseed oil. But you also want to look for it in salad dressings, margarines, and fried snack foods, like potato chips.

5.  90% -- Canola Oil. This is simply not a good choice when shopping for oils.

6.  80% -- Papaya. Does that one surprise you? It did me. According to the USDA, all US-grown papaya is most likely GM or contaminated with GMOs. Yummy. Think I'll steer clear.

Photo by Mark Yang

One more thing to keep in mind when shopping for dairy products. Cows on non-organic farms are generally fed alfalfa. The problem with that is that a large portion of the alfalfa crop in the US is genetically modified from cross-contamination. Does that mean your non-organic milks and cheeses are affected? That's a matter of opinion and I guess it just depends on who you believe.

Naturally, the only option we have if we want to avoid genetically modified foods that have any of the above ingredients is to shop for organic or Non GMO Project Verified foods. As I've said in the past, just because something is Non GMO Project Verified does not mean it's organic. However, all organic foods are free of GMOs. Also, don't trust the word "natural," as many products labeled as such are full of genetically engineered ingredients. 

So, instead of GM foods, opt for organic. You may pay more initially, but think of all the doctor bills you just may avoid! After all, keeping our families safe and healthy is our #1 priority, right?

Keeping it healthy with alternatives,

Thursday, July 24, 2014

It's time to think about fall planting. Where will you get your non-GMO seeds?

It's time to order your seeds for fall planting and I just discovered the perfect place to do so. Seed Savers Exchange is known by some as "the anti-Monsanto." I'm already interested in learning more. What about you? According to an ad I read, they got their nickname because they have a public domain seed bank housing over 20,000 varieties of heirloom and open-pollinated seeds. These seeds can be saved and grown again, a process that goes back thousands of years. Take that Monsanto!

A grass-roots organization, Seed Savers Exchange understands the importance of the biodiversity of life and food. This charitable organization believes that caring for seeds is the same as caring for the earth -- it is for the benefit of future generations.

You can order a free catalog by clicking here. All of their seeds are untreated, non-GMO varieties.

Check out this short 3 1/2 minute video to learn more about this non-profit, earth-loving organization:

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Petbrosia Customized Pet Food Review and Giveaway!

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. I received product and/or compensation in exchange for the possibility of a review. All opinions are my own.

Theo and Vincent Van Gogh
We learned quite awhile ago that clay cat litter is really, really bad for cats. As a matter of fact, through our research, we concluded that several of our cats probably died due to our poor choice of litter. So we're committed to only using safe litters for Vincent and Theo, the unrelated Van Gogh brothers. 

That got me thinking... if I cared about their litter, shouldn't I care about their food, too? We've never fed them cheap food, but it seems that whenever we'd try expensive, supposedly healthier foods, they simply stopped eating and nearly meowed us to death in their attempts to get us to buy something edible.

Along comes an opportunity to review some cat food from a company called Petbrosia. Now don't go scouring the shelves for Petbrosia pet food. You won't find it. Petbrosia is a unique company that customizing dog and cat food according to your pet's nutritional needs. 

What does that mean? Well, after you've filled out an online survey, they customize a diet that is perfect for your dog's or cat's breed, age, weight, food allergies, activity level, and any other specific needs you want addressed. They do this using all-natural meats, fruits, and vegetables. The food is technically, not grain-free, but they do not use corn, soy, or wheat. Additionally, you won't find any artificial flavors, preservatives, colors, or unnecessary fillers in the mix. This made-to-order pet food is also free of antibiotics and hormones. Try to find that combination on the store shelves.

I filled out the survey for my beloved cat, Theo. He's a Siberian Forest Cat who is 10 years old, weighs 15 pounds, and is moderately active. I was anxious to see what he'd think of his new diet.

So, have you ever thought about what is in your pet's food? What exactly is by-product meal? Quite simply it's meal made up of leftover animal parts that aren't suitable for human consumption. Things like feathers, entrails, beaks, feet, necks, hooves, hair, horns, and teeth. Yummy.

But what about foods that are labeled "Natural," "Holistic," or "Organic"?

The law states that pet foods labeled "Natural" must consist only of natural ingredients that are free from chemical alterations. This does not include the addition of vitamins, minerals, or nutrients.

Holistic foods come with no legal definition, which means these foods are completely unregulated when it comes to the labeling. Bottom line, any pet food made up of any type of ingredients could be labeled "Holistic." Hmmm.

Of course, if you're buying "Organic" pet food, you can trust that the ingredients truly are organic and GMO-free. Pet food manufacturers must follow the same USDA guidelines as human food when it comes to using the "Organic" label.

Theo with his winter coat

While it can be confusing to read the pet food labels, here are some things to look for:
  • "Complete and balanced." This means it will contain the right amount of nutrition for your pet. 
  • Choose a blend that is made for your pet's size and age.
  • Avoid by-product meal.
  • Opt for "Natural" over "Holistic" labels.
When in doubt, call the telephone number listed on the bag, or talk to your vet about your pet's specific needs.

The customized Petbrosia pet foods are put together right before they're shipped out to consumers, thus insuring that the freshest possible food is being delivered. And, once your pet is hooked, you can set up an Auto-Replenishment schedule so you'll never run out of healthy, fresh food for your kitty or pup.

And there's no need to be concerned about switching your pet food. You can find step-by-step instructions on Petbrosia's website

So... the real question is: how does Theo like his new food?

He loves it. Seriously. And he eats far less than he used to. He's satisfied quickly and no longer begs for canned food. He's just content with eating what he's given.

And what about Vincent. He's eating Theo's food, too. I didn't realize that I could have entered both cats' info and received a bag of food with the ideal nutrition for both of them. Next time. Vincent is smaller (almost 12 lbs.) and doesn't eat much of the food. But he, too, is satisfied quickly, and he isn't begging for more food anymore, either. 

The fact that they're not eating as much (way less than they were with the cheaper brand), means Petbrosia pet food would actually save us money, despite its higher ticket price -- $34.90/10 lbs. plus $4.95 s/h. 

Rather than taking the time to compare on your own, here is a handy comparison chart with Petbrosia and some popular brands.

 Yes, it's pricier. Only you can decide if it's worth it for your furry family members. For us, we've determined it is. 

And now, you can get $10 off of your first order by using the promo code: BRL10.

Or you can wait and see if you're the lucky winner of a FREE 3 lb. bag of dog or cat food. If you live in the 48 contiguous states and are 18 or older, you are eligle to win. Entries will be verified. Winner will be announced here and on FB and Twitter. Winner will have 48 hours to claim their prize.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Say NO to antibacterial soaps and other products containing triclosan

Vintage Soap Advert
Back when soap was safe

Last week, I touted the value of SoapBox soaps. There are still some of you, however, who believe that unless a soap boasts antibacterial properties, it's not good enough. Folks, listen up! Triclosan, the active ingredient in most antibacterial soaps, is a suspected endocrine disruptor. What does that mean? It might cause early-onset puberty and infertility. Yes, I said "might." But doesn't the word might scare you enough to protect your children from this substance? Besides, scientific studies reveal that soaps containing triclosan are no more effective than regular soap. So, again I ask, is it worth the risk?

The truth is that the FDA hasn't ever approved triclosan for use in antibacterial soaps. Surprising, isn't it? Of course, there is a loophole. They also have never banned it. That loophole is the reason triclosan was permitted to be added to soaps way back in 1978. Of course, the widespread use of it back then wasn't common as it is today. Go into nearly any public restroom and wash your hands. Most likely, you've just been exposed to triclosan and its toxic effects. 

The good news is that, due to pressure from groups like the NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council), triclosan-laced soaps are likely to be off the market within the next two years. Unfortunately, however, that doesn't mean we'll be safe from triclosan, as it's in countless products, including many children's toys, kitchen products, cosmetics, deodorant, toothpaste, shoes, towels, and clothing. If you find a product labeled "antibacterial" or "antimicrobial," chances are good it either contains triclosan or triclocarban, both equally disruptive to your health and the environment.
There are exceptions, of course, as silver and some essential oils, such as tea tree oil, are also known to have antibacterial and/or antimicrobial properties. Read the labels. Know the facts. Keep your kiddos safe and healthy.

Keeping you informed,

Click here for an informative pdf about triclosan from a scientific viewpoint.

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