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Unacceptable Levels examines the results of the chemical revolution of the 1940s through the eyes of affable filmmaker Ed Brown, a father seeking to understand the world in which he and his wife are raising their children. To create this debut documentary, one man and his camera traveled extensively to find and interview top minds in the fields of science, advocacy, and law. Weaving their testimonies into a compelling narrative, Brown presents us with the story of how the chemical revolution brought us to where we are, and of where, if we’re not vigilant, it may take us.
Sunday, January 31, 2010
Saturday, January 30, 2010
Friday, January 29, 2010
"Is he a good baby? Is he sleeping through the night?"
Why is it that people equate "good" with "sleeping through the night?" This is one of the most common questions new moms hear, and it's usually followed by some really bad advice about mixing cereal in with the baby's milk at a way-too-young age.
According to Marianne Niefert, M.D., author of Great Expectations: The Essential Guide to Breastfeeding, feeding a baby solid food to make them sleep through the night is just a myth. And it's not a healthy solution.
Introducing solid foods too early can lead to a lifetime of allergies for your child. If you are breastfeeding, there's rarely a need to introduce cereal before six months, although babies can be ready between four and six months. Prior to that, it's just foolishness. If your baby is formula-fed, you can start solids closer to the four-month mark, but not before!!
Some babies are sleepers and some are not. If you're blessed with a baby who sleeps through the night, good for you. If not, try to catch a nap during the day when he or she does.
Babies will give you clues they're ready to eat something from a spoon. Does she watch you intently while you're eating? Can he hold his head steady while sitting up? Does she accept the food, or does she push it out of her mouth with her tongue? If your baby is refusing the food, wait a few days and try again.
Save your little one from the lifelong difficulties that accompany food allergies. Ignore Aunt Cecilia, ignore Grandma Jones, ignore well-meaning friends who all tell you to slip some cereal into the bottle. It's not a good idea, period. And that is that.
Keeping it healthy,
Thursday, January 28, 2010
If you had a rough time of it when you were growing up, I'm sorry. Children should be cherished and protected from pain. But the reality is they often are not.
Are you bitter? Are you being held back due to painful memories? Do you feel justified holding on to your anger? Too bad. There's not one thing you can do about what happened to you or your family years ago. The only thing you can do now is choose a different path.
Forgiveness, whether it's undeserved or not, brings freedom and peace. The late Dr. Richard Carlson wrote in his wonderful little book, Don't Sweat the Small Stuff, "Is it more important to be right or to be happy?"
That's my challenge for you today. Get unstuck. Choose to let go of the pain, disappointment, anger, bitterness, and whatever else is eating you alive. Happiness is up to you.
"But I just can't," I hear you saying. Well, the first step is to be willing to let it go. The second step just might be to seek some professional help.
Years ago, when I found myself stuck in unforgiveness, I eventually came to the point where I prayed, "Please Lord, make me willing to forgive." That's all it took for me. As the days passed and I continued to pray, the willingness came, followed by the forgiveness.
Forgiveness sets us free! If you don't see the need to do it for yourself, please think about the effect your attitude is having on your family. Set them free, too! You're the only one with the power to do just that.
Keeping it emotionally healthy,
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
The reason they are the most dangerous pesticides to our health? Because they are designed to effect the nervous and reproductive systems of the insects that are a threat to the crop; as a result, humans experience a plethora of both chronic and acute conditions, changes in behavior and, of course, an increased risk of cancer. There have even been deaths reported as a direct result of exposure to the pesticides.
Which insecticides are the worst culprits?
Not only are the pesticides hazardous to people and to animals, but the nitrogen synthetic fertilizers used cause the most damage to the environment because of the leaching and runoff that pollutes our freshwater habitats and wells. While it's not my intention to add stress to your life, but I'd be very concerned if I were you if you have well water and live close to a cotton farm.
Another problem that exists with products crafted from conventional cotton farms, is the way the cotton is converted into articles of clothing. The hazardous materials involved in this process include:
- silicone waxes
- harsh petroleum scours
- heavy metals
- flame and soil retardants
These manufacturing poisons produce huge amounts of toxic wastewater as the residues from chemical cleaning, dyeing and finishing are carried away. The result is a depletion of oxygen in the water which ultimately kills the aquatic animals and disrupts the aquatic ecosystems.
The picture just keeps getting worse, doesn't it?
The alternative is to buy organic cottons and other natural fibers, and here's why:
- The use of synthetic chemicals to control insects and pests is strictly forbidden, except in extreme cases. What organic farmers use to ward off pests are natural predators and intercropping. They also have special machinery and use fire for weed control.
- Natural fertilizers are part of organic farming. Compost and animal manure recycle the nitrogen already present in the soil rather than adding more. This results in a reduction of both pollution and N2O emissions.
- Zero health risk is imposed by organic farming because there are no agrochemicals used or produced.
Keeping it green and healthy,
1. They don't know any better.
2. They don't realize the toxic results of tossing that TV/computer screen/microwave into the trash.
3. They just don't know what else to do.
That's why I'm addressing this issue yet again.
Your first step is to contact your local Best Buy and check to see if they'll take any of the electronics you no longer want. If they do not take them, there are other options you can explore:
1. http://www.mygreenelectronics.org/ Just enter your zip code to see if there's a program in your area.
2. http://www.eiae.org/ Click on your state on the Ecycling Central website.
3. http://www.1800recycling.com/ or call 1-800-RECYCLING
Best Buy also has a trade-in program where they will take gently used electronics in exchange for a Best Buy gift card. So if you're an electronic junkie who upgrades every year or so, this could be the perfect solution for you! Visit www.bestbuy.com/tradein for details.
Speaking of Best Buy gift cards, did you know you can deposit them in the kiosk in the front of the store for recycling once you've used up their worth? In addition to recycling rechargable batteries, cell phones, etc., you can also recycle your CDs and DVDs once they become scratched or damaged or you're simply tired of them. Ashamedly, I must admit, I've always just tossed them in the trash. No more. I'm thrilled that Best Buy offers so many green solutions -- which is why I'm awarding them the Green Company of the Week award. Visit their website for more information on how this company is going green!
Keeping it green,
Sunday, January 24, 2010
Saturday, January 23, 2010
Friday, January 22, 2010
Thank God for people like William Wilberforce who tirelessly worked to abolish slave trade in Great Britian. If you haven't seen the movie Amazing Grace, rent it and learn about this hero.
What Wilberforce did for the slaves, we need to stand up and do for the unborn. The common rationale is that they're not fully human (unless they're wanted), so we can kill them at leisure...it doesn't really matter. Or does it?
We love to twist truth to satisfy our wants and supposed needs.
So on this anniversary of a Supreme Court decision that rocked our nation and cost us the lives of over 50 million human beings, we need to stop and reflect on the reasons why. Why do we feel we have the right to take innocent life? Why does our government assume we, as taxpayers, want to pay for abortions? Why do we not get it?
The situation is no different than the slave trade. It was all about people's self-centered thinking and need to satisfy their own desires.
Is an unplanned pregnancy difficult? Of course it is! Does it change a person's life? Yes, it does. But it's not just about the pregnant mother. A new life has been created and who has the right to decide to end that life?
Mother Teresa said, "But I feel that the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a war against the child - a direct killing of the innocent child - murder by the mother herself. And if we accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another?...Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching the people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want. That is why the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion."
Indeed. The dehumanization of black people led to hideous crimes against them. In the same way, the dehumanization of the unborn leads to our accepting and advocating the killing of innocent lives. The blood stains on our nation for both atrocities makes me wonder how it is we're still standing. God forgive us.
Thursday, January 21, 2010
So I thought it would be nice to pass along some hints for naturally freshening your home.
As I've said before, houseplants are an essential. I recently read that every tree releases enough oxygen into the air for two people. In the same way, there are many plants that can seriously improve your indoor air quality. Formaldehyde is one of the worst household culprits, linked to severe headaches and problems with breathing.
According to NASA, an average home should have 15 houseplants dispersed throughout the rooms to combat the most common indoor culprits: trichloroethylene, formaldehyde and benzene. Plants produce oxygen, add moisture in the air and suck up the harmful chemicals residing in your home.
I've listed the best plants in a previous post, but here's another list for you:
Dwarf date palm
Okay, you may be thinking, plants serve a purpose, but they don't smell as good as a Glade air freshener.
Fair enough. When you're looking for a quick fix, try soaking some cotton balls in vanilla extract (go with the imitation vanilla for an economical solution), or an essential oil. Arrange the cotton in the bottom of a decorative vase of a pretty bowl.
While this next suggestion does involve the use of electricity or gas, simmering some cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and or other herbs in a pot of water does wonders. Add some essential oils for an extra kick.
You can still use a air freshener spray by making your own green concoction. Try mixing equal parts of lemon juice and water in a spray bottle and spritz it around as needed.
Those who know me, know that I'm a candle fanatic. While that might not be the greenest solution, I love the soft glow of candlelight. Lightly scented ones are my favorite, as stronger scents tend to send me into a good asthma attack.
Nicely scented homes are important to us -- emotionally and physically.
If you have any other suggestions for green alternatives to commercial air fresheners, please post a comment. I look forward to discovering more ways to make my home more inviting to my family and friends.
Keeping it green,
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
If you're expecting a baby and have an unquenchable desire to be creative, decorate the nursery! Don't saddle your precious little one with a name he'll resent you for.
We wear our names with pride. While I hated being called 'Hana Banana' as a child, I love my name now, especially with its unique spelling. But it is spelling that makes sense. Sometimes parents, in an effort to be different, come up with unusual spellings, adding excess letters just for sake of...of what?
And then there are those who think rhyming shouldn't be restricted to the pages of a good Dr. Seuss book. Betty Getty, Jodi Fodi, etc. These girls will be ready to shed their maiden names as soon as they can! But the poor boys are stuck with them for life: Phil Hill, Alan Fallon...you get the picture.
Also not cute are names like: Ben Gay, Cotton Candy (sounds like a stripper), or Autumn Lief. Why not stick to naming your children something respectable (think of future presidential material here) and reserving your more creative monikers to nicknames, which they can shed on the first day of college?
My husband used the nickname 'Wheat' for his first baby because she was so small she reminded him of a loaf of bread. Notice, I said nickname. He didn't burden her with that name for the rest of the world to use. While it may still sound endearing when he calls her that, I'm sure she's happy to not to have to write it on job applications.
Waiting until you first see your baby may not be the best time to come up with a name. Henrietta probably won't be too thrilled when you tell everybody about how you just had to name her that because she came out looking like a scrawny barnyard hen!
Names are important. They mean something to us. And their meanings are often important as well.
Those of you who are familiar with the Old Testament book of Ruth will remember how, after losing her husband and sons, Naomi changed her name to Mara, which means 'bitter.' She wanted a name that reflected who she was at the time.
So, if you're paging through the Baby Names books, don't just think about the sweet little infant that will be curled up in your arms like a loaf of wheat bread...think about the elementary school child on the playground, the Junior Higher trying to fit in, the High School senior on the Homecoming Court, the college graduate applying to law school... That's a lot to consider. But guess what? Naming a child is one of the first loving acts a parent can do. Do it well, my friend. Give your child a name of honor.
Keeping it emotionally healthy,
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
No matter what number graces the bottom of your plastic containers, you should avoid not only putting them in the microwave, but in the dishwasher as well!
I guess it's time to go back to Pyrex and other glass containers that have been safe all along. A little broken glass from time-to-time is far better than exposing your family to the cancer risks associated with BPA.
If only our government would step in here and eliminate BPA completely. But that won't help all of us who already have cupboards full of plastic containers, sippy cups and children's dinnerware.
On the plus-side of things: there is some hope on the horizon. Korean researchers have been working on a less expensive way to make polylactic acid (PLA), which is a non-oil based plastic that is not only safe for food packaging, but is also biodegradable and made from renewable materials! This is good news for both the environment and consumers. Keep your eyes and ears open for developments in this arena.
Keeping it healthy and green,
Monday, January 18, 2010
While your doctor might offer other suggestions, such as prescription drugs (which may be necessary), here are some natural remedies that just might work to help you and your baby enjoy some quiet time.
Rock-a-bye baby. The motion of rocking can calm a gassy belly and cause your little one to actually pass the gas. Settling into a rocking chair with mommy might do the trick. A swing can work wonders as well; just make sure your baby is at least 3 weeks old before placing him or her in a swing.
The sounds of silence...NOT! Oddly enough, a colicky baby isn't looking for some peace and quiet. The gentle roar of the vacuum cleaner or the swishing of your dishwasher is somehow soothing to little ones with upset tummies.
Warm and cozy. Throw a towel or fuzzy blanket into the dryer to warm it up. Then place it across your infant's abdomen. The heat is soothing and might be all that's needed.
On the road again. If all else fails, get out the carseat, strap in your little one and hit the road. This used to be a tried and true remedy for the average folk, but with the escalating gas prices, it seems to be reserved for those who either have fat bank accounts or hybrid cars!
If you have any other ideas for home remedies for colic, please post a comment. I love to share readers' comments with other parents out there searching for answers to common issues.
Keeping it green and healthy,
Friday, January 15, 2010
However, we do have alternatives. According to Slow Food USA organic honey, as cultivated by companies such as Savannah Bee (http://www.savannahbee.com/) offers diverse flavors, bee colonies and old-fashioned beekeeping practices.
So the next time you're about to reach for the cute little plastic bear full of honey on your grocery store shelf, reconsider. Visit Savannah Bee's website and order some of their honey and other products. There's even a handy Find a Store link to direct you to a retail outlet that carries their honey. It's time we support companies that value the same things we do.
A word of caution: Babies should not be given honey (or corn syrup) due to the risk of botulism from bacteria spores which can multiply in the intestines because infants have not yet developed intestinal flora to battle this potentially fatal disease. So if Aunt Ginny offers you some honey to put on the tip of your baby's pacifier, politely decline. This is not something you want to take a chance with!
Keeping it green...and healthy,
Thursday, January 14, 2010
- Planting the Trees of Kenya (Farrar, Straus & Giroux Books for Young Readers) by Claire A. Nivola. The story of Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai's mission to save Kenya by teaching the women there to plant trees...one at a time.
- Monarch & Milkweed (Antheneum) by Helen Frost. This is a good summer read about butterflies.
- 50 Ways to Save the Earth (Abrams Books for Young Readers) by Anne Jankeliowitch. Photos by Phillippe Bourseiller. A handy guide to help you teach your children (and grandchildren) how to better care for the planet.
- Face to Face -- National Geographics encounters with ten animals including: lions, whales, frogs and wolves.
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
You may not think keeping certain things plugged in uses much energy, but I was surprised to find out differently. Cell phone chargers, curling irons, hair dryers, toasters, coffee makers, etc. all suck up electricity when plugged in...even when not in use! The answer to not having to pay for vampire power -- UNPLUG!! It's a bit inconvenient, but we now unplug everything in our kitchen (except the refrigerator, stove and dishwasher). We also started unplugging our clothes washer when we're not using it.
But if you're not a fan of unplugging, buy power strips with off buttons and turn the whole strip off when you're not using the appliances. Or invest in the Belkin "Conserve" strip and just click it off with the remote. Of course, the remote requires batteries, so there is a small trade-off there.
Other things to think about: hibernate your computer/laptop when you walk away for awhile. Turn it off when you won't need it for a longer period of time. Unplug it when you're done for the day, or night.
Unplug clock radios located in guest rooms. Why suck up electricity in rooms where visitors are sporatic?
Everything in the bathroom should be unplugged when not in use -- hair appliances, heaters, electric razors, etc.
Stereos and radios don't need electricity feeding into them when no one's listening to them.
Charging stations. Vampire power loss that's often overlooked.
Teach your children to turn off power strips...but do not encourage them to unplug things, as their little fingers could touch prongs and they could get shocked or burned.
Slay the vampires in your home...and watch your electric bills go down.
Keeping it green,
Monday, January 11, 2010
A woman from my church loaned us a children's picture book on wind turbines. Wind Story by MLS is an educational overview with a pro-turbine lean. But I have discovered that many people, some of which are environmental enthusiasts, are against wind farms.
One of the biggest concerns I hear and read about concerns the deaths of birds as they fly into the turbines. However, the fact is twice as many birds die by flying into cell phone towers...any chance we're ready to give up our cell phones for the sake of the environment? I'm doubting many people are ready to do that. Birds also die by flying into tall buildings and entire flocks are wiped out as they head into the paths of airplanes.
Am I anti-birds? Of course not! I have feeders and houses all over my yard and take great pleasure in watching the wide variety of species flitting around my property. I would sorely miss this simple joy if they were to vanish.
Wind energy, like all energy sources, has its benefits and its downside. At this point, wind energy is costly, but as it develops, the cost will even out and will be competitive with other energy sources. Eventually, it is estimated that it will become the most economically renewable energy technology. And if you look at the environmental cost of other sources of energy, you'll see that wind turbines are actually a cost-efficient solution.
Studies show that by supplying just 5 percent of the country's electricity with wind power by the beginning of the next decade, this would add a whopping $60 billion in capital investment in rural America. Plus, this will create approximately 80,000 new jobs and generate over one billion dollars in new income for farmers and rural landowners across the country.
Farmers will be able to lease out their land for turbines, with each turbine taking up less than a quarter of an acre and crops can be planted right up to the base of the turbines.
This clean energy option needs the support of green-minded people. Educate yourself and share what you know. If each of us gets involved in this endeavor, we might see some real changes in the next 10 years...changes that will have a positive impact on the lives of our children and grandchildren. This is an opportunity we simply can't blow off.
Keeping it green,
Saturday, January 9, 2010
Friday, January 8, 2010
When reading labels, always start at the top! The first five ingredients are the most important, as they are listed in the order of content. For instance, if the first ingredient is high fructose corn syrup (or honey or sugar, for that matter), be aware that the sugar content is most likely beyond what you want to be putting in your, or your child's, body!
Something you want to see in the first couple of ingredients listed on bread or pasta is 100% whole grain. If the word 'enriched' is there, it means the grain has been stripped of fiber and will be processed in your body as sugar. That's bad news for people like me who are diabetic.
You also want to avoid any trans fats and anything that includes the word hydrogenated. And pay attention to serving size. If you generally eat three times the serving size listed, multiply all the calories, grams of fat, carbs, etc. by three.
So, with that said, head off to the grocery store...and good luck! Healthy eating eliminates some of the most popular products on the shelves.
An occasional indulgence in less-than-healthy foods is fine. However, when they are included in your steady diet, trouble ensues. Don't let your kids or grandkids become part of the disturbing statistic of the rise in Type 2 Diabetes that used to be called Adult Onset Diabetes. Unfortunately, it's not limited to adults any longer.
Keeping it healthy,
Thursday, January 7, 2010
I admit it, there are times I still tear a paper towel from the holder and use it. Times when, perhaps, my cat throws up on the kitchen floor. That actually happens more times than I'd like to admit. But when it does, I no longer feel guilty grabbing a paper towel and cleaning up the mess with it because I only buy Small Steps™ paper towels.
http://www.marcalsmallsteps.com/), by buying their products we can help save one million trees!
It's not just about the paper towels, either, although they are my personal favorite. Small Steps™ also has facial tissue, bath tissue and napkins that are all made of 100% recycled paper. And I love their tagline -- "...because trees have a bigger job to do."
If your local retailer doesn't carry Marcal products, put in a request for them to do so. Remember, every little thing we can do helps make this world a bit better for our children and grandchildren.
Post a comment to make a nomination for Green product of the week.
Keeping it green,
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
Well, apparently organic does not necessarily mean free of chemicals/pesticides, regardless of what I thought.
According to Kerry H. Richards, director of Penn State University's Pest Management Information Center, "[Consumers] think 'organic' means not using any pesticides or chemicals. Indeed, that's not really the truth."
The bottom line is a multitude of pesticides, chemicals and other synthetic materials are allowed to be present in organic food production as far as current national standards allow.
To me, this is disturbing news. I, too, was seduced by labels that read Organic.
The prohibited substances are monitored...sort of. As much as they can be by the mere 16 people hired by the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture to keep things in check. If a product is labeled USDA Organic it may legally contain up to 5% of non-organic ingredients.Copper sulfate and tetracycline are just 2 of the 245 substances legally permitted in foods labeled organic. Disturbing.
Equally disturbing is the game some of the manufacturers are playing. Since many consumers confuse natural with organic, companies are keeping the same packaging but switching the word organic with natural and fooling customers into buying products they assume are healthier for their families.
Have you been buying Horizon brand yogurt for your toddlers. Look closely. Dean Foods kept the same red and white packaging but switched over to the natural wording. What exactly does that mean? An awful lot of things are natural out there...that doesn't mean they're healthy!
I'm not sure what to advise you here. I'm not sure what I, myself, am going to do. We pay premium prices for organic products. Is it worth it?
Buying local does have its advantages. If you're fortunate enough to have a relationship with a local farmer, you have an in with monitoring what is actually organic. In Pennsylvania, where I live, local farms aren't producing fruits and vegetables at this time of the year. But you can bet I'll be visiting local farm markets come summer.
In the meantime, groups of lobbying congress for changes in the system. Maybe they'll succeed. I've posted lists of foods that are worth the extra cost for organic before, and which ones aren't. Here's another listing of them; glean what you can from it: