Wednesday, February 28, 2007
From the Evangelical Ecologist:
"Low-wattage fluorescent bulbs are being pushed heavily now that their prices have come down. However, there is a catch: They contain small amounts of mercury."
Read on here.
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
Now the bee story has even hit the front page of the New York Times . Isn't it lovely to know we are feeding the SAD (Standard American Diet): sugar, corn syrup, processed protein --yechhhhhh!--to the poor bees? (and calling it "bee food"!!) And they're wondering why the queen bees ain't so fertile anymore?
Here's a snippet:
In 24 states throughout the country, beekeepers have gone through similar shocks as their bees have been disappearing inexplicably at an alarming rate...
...Beekeeping has become increasingly commercial and consolidated.
... And beekeepers are losing out to suburban sprawl in their quest for spots where bees can forage for nectar to stay healthy and strong during the pollination season....They are also studying a group of pesticides that were banned in some European countries to see if they are somehow affecting bees’ innate ability to find their way back home.
...the insecticides used to try to kill mites are harming the ability of queen bees to spawn as many worker bees. The queens are living half as long as they did just a few years ago....Dennis van Engelsdorp, a bee specialist with the state of Pennsylvania who is part of the team studying the bee colony collapses, said the “strong immune suppression” investigators have observed “could be the AIDS of the bee industry,” making bees more susceptible to other diseases that eventually kill them off.
Read more here (if you want to, like the dumb mechanical solutions people are trying to use to "replace" bees--eeek!). As always, use GREENFERTILITY for username/password.
And previous posts:
OnEarth Magazine (thank you, reader Ian)
Need any MORE reason to buy organic???? They say,
The sudden mysterious losses are highlighting the critical link that honeybees play in the long chain that gets fruit and vegetables to supermarkets and dinner tables across the country.Hello, pesticides are neurotoxins. Is it any wonder that we while the kiddies are getting all autistic and ADHD and epileptic on one hand, one the other end of the age spectrum we have this:
Neurological disorders affect 1 billion people
"The burden of neurological disorders is reaching a significant proportion in countries with a growing percentage of the population over 65 years old," Nobel medicine laureate Rita Levi-Montalcini said in a foreword to the [World Health Organization] report.
Monday, February 26, 2007
* No fishy burps
* Easy to use
* Nitrogen-flushed bottle for freshness
* They use Norwegian cod, up there where it's less polluted
* The oil is separated from the liver tissues without the use of chemicals
* Glass, not plastic bottle
CONTAMINANT PROFILE: regularly tested using AOAC international protocols for potency and purity by an independent, FDA registered laboratory and found to be free of detectable levels of mercury, cadmium, lead, PCB's and 28 other contaminants.
The taste is really not so bad--you can use it on salad if you want. Very different from the stuff our parents used to get us to take off the dropper (p.s. it used to be PRESCRIBED by pediatricians, interesting! I guess they stopped 'cause they didn't get free pens or something) .
Friday, February 23, 2007
Getting a lot of mail on what to do about Omega 3s? Why is the FDA telling pregnant women to eat more fish (hello, tuna lobby!) while the EPA says all fish contain at least some mercury and women of childbearing age should limit their intake of fish.
You do need Omega 3s. Good news is the fish oil doesn't seem to be contaminated (yet!). I have heard that the liver oil is not a particularly notorious place for heavy metals to be stored--tends to get more into the meat, and don't for get that FARMED FISH has NO omega 3s at all. So check this out:
ConsumerLab.com announced today that tests of 41 omega-3 fish oil supplements (including 3 marketed for pets) showed safe levels of mercury and PCBs. However, three products did not contain their claimed amounts of EPA and DHA – key omega-3 fatty acids – or were spoiled. EPA and DHA are associated with a reduced risk of heart disease, are of potential benefit in treating diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, and may reduce the risk of prostate cancer. DHA may also be useful to infants and mothers due to its role in the functioning of the brain and retina in the fetus and infants and possibly reducing the risk of premature delivery.Read more here: Dietary Fish Oil Supplement - Omega 3 Fish Oil Safer Than Fish
Vegans can look to flax for their Omega 3s.
Thursday, February 22, 2007
This year there was nary a person, possibly because it was a toasty globally warm 60 degrees in January when we went? The poor sales guy was so desperate, he kept complimenting us on how well behaved our son was--yeeesh (if we'd won PowerBall, believe me, we'd have bought 5 more stove just to hear that again--sure beats being called a Refrigerator Mother.).
So why did we decide to turn our fireplace into a wood stove? Many reasons. Check this nicely organized item from Downsizer:
Downsizer: for a sustainable & ethical future - Installing a wood burner: "Why a woodburner?
The reasons for installing a woodburner can be divided into four main groups:
Aesthetic: they look nice, particularly modern large-windowed designs, which give a generous view of the fire.
Functional: they heat up your house with phenomenal efficiency. An open fire in a draughty house can actually make the room it's in colder; with a stove the vast majority of the heat is channelled into the house, rather than up the chimney. To give a personal example, we have a fairly small 5kW stove which we almost never run flat out. During the winter the only radiator turned on in our house (Victorian terrace, 4 beds, 3 recep to give an idea of size) is the one in the bathroom.
Larger stoves can provide domestic hot water and central heating (which you may find unnecessary). Modern designs allow for retro-fitting of a boiler if your circumstances change.
Environmental: burning wood is good for the environment. Contemporary stove designs operate at 70-80% efficiency, and can be used in smoke control areas. Most can be fitted with a catalytic cleaner, and some, such as Clearview, burn so efficiently that even this is unnecessary.
Most importantly, burning wood for domestic fuel is, at worst estimate carbon dioxide neutral, and in all likelihood"
And look at all the stuff we can burn. I even dry out my old coffee grounds and put them in a paper bag and into the fire they go. There's always the dramatic touch of burning manuscripts, too (anyone read Hedda Gabler?)
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Natural Family Online requested a reprint of one of my acupuncture posts. Check it out, nice site, and reread why you might want to try Traditional Chinese Medicine:
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
We were doing this because the Consumer Products Safety Commission was saying how dumb we were to believe THEIR OWN REPORTS, that it was only a miniscule amount (big deal, we're just talking about little kids and their brain health, here), but now check out this out (Associated Press via CNN.com):
(AP) In 2005, when government scientists tested 60 soft, vinyl lunchboxes, they found that one in five contained amounts of lead that medical experts consider unsafe -- and several had more than 10 times hazardous levels.
But that's not what they told the public.
Instead, the Consumer Product Safety Commission released a statement that they found 'no instances of hazardous levels.' And they refused to release their actual test results, citing regulations that protect manufacturers from having their information released to the public.
That data was not made public until The Associated Press received a box of about 1,500 pages of lab reports, in-house e-mails and other records in response to a Freedom of Information Act request filed a year ago.
The documents describe two types of tests. One involves cutting a chunk of vinyl off the bag, dissolving it and then analyzing how much lead is in the solution; the second test involves swiping the surface of a bag and then determining how much lead has rubbed off.
The results of the first type of test, looking for the actual lead content of the vinyl, showed that 20 percent of the bags had more than 600 parts per million of lead -- the federal safe level for paint and other products. The highest level was 9,600 ppm, more than 16 times the federal standard.
But the CPSC did not use those results.
Read more here.
Sunday, February 18, 2007
The shots cost $360 and were recently made mandatory for girls (why only girls when boys also carry the virus?) In Texas where, not coincidentally, the ex-chief-of-staff to the governor is--surprise!--now a lobbyist for Merck. No surprise Merck is lobbying other states to make the vaccine mandatory (# of girls x $360 = big profits). If something's mandatory, why do we allow drug companies to make profits? Serious conflict of interest here.
I don't really know about long-term side effects, partly because they haven't done any long-term studies and I don't know if they plan to. Bottom line, here's are article from the NY Times' BUSINESS section on how desperate they are to sell this vaccine. All I know is I don't want lobbyists, advertisers, and politicians making MY healthcare decisions. Eeeek!
THE toughest girl on television isn’t on a show or in a music video. She’s in a drug advertisement. Dressed in an indie-rocker T-shirt, furrowing her fierce, Kahloesque brows and scowling, she says, “I want to be one less woman who will battle cervical cancer.” Cut to a garage, or maybe a basement, where she’s whacking the drums like Tommy Ramone. Then to a shot of her leaning back, nonchalantly flipping a drumstick: “One less,” she says levelly, as if you’re going to argue with her. She’s the coolest girl in the room, whatever room she’s in.
This vision of do-it-yourself authenticity is flogging Gardasil, a vaccine intended to protect women against some strains of the human papillomavirus, a sexually transmitted disease that has been linked to 70 percent of cervical cancer cases. Manufactured by Merck, Gardasil was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in June. The vaccine is available as a series of three shots, costing a total of $360.
A vaccine against cancer: it sounds like the easiest sell in the world. But Gardasil, which can be administered only to girls and women ages 9 to 26, has an audience problem. It has to sell itself to young women"
The mothers appear about halfway through, and they’ve got bad news. In loving tones they break it to their daughters: “Gardasil may not fully protect everyone.” they say. Tenderly they list the side effects.
This is an ingenious ploy: The cool girls want to be “one less”; the moms are the ones putting on the brakes. Having mothers voice the downside of Gardasil reinforces the message that if you get this vaccination, you’re a rebellious, independent thinker:
“Forget the side effects. Forget Mom. I’m gettin’ vaccinated.”
Let my Eeeeeeeeeek cascade down the canyons and to the rivers...
As always, you can use mine:
Answer to secret question: Soylent Green
Thursday, February 15, 2007
Reducing caffeine consumption during pregnancy from three cups of coffee a day to one has no effect on the baby’s birth weight, Danish researchers report.
Some studies have suggested that cutting caffeine consumption could raise average birth weight, but this randomized placebo-controlled analysis of more than 1,200 healthy women showed no effect on either birth weight or length of pregnancy. The study was published online in The British Medical Journal on Jan. 26.
I have seen studies from about 1980 where when rats were fed tons of coffee/caffeine, they tended to produce damaged offspring; however, they were fed the equivalent of 50-70 cups.
It's a personal choice, and one that I don't think is entirely clearcut, like, say, smoking. Coffee has antioxidants in it, and if it's organic (and fair trade, of course) like this delightful "PBS" Mexican coffee from Green Mountain (the label calls it "sweetly balanced and smooth," and indeed it's a great, complicated brew for people who enjoy medium roasts--although I'm more of a dark roast girl). This is one consumer tie-in I can support.
For a previous post on coffee and fertility, check it out here.
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Haha, I've actually been spending a lot of time in the hospital doing research for my next novel, so I've been feeling quite at home in the OR and in fact did NOT drop my notebook into any open incisions.
And watching old reruns of ER is also on my "research" list--por supuesto.
And if you feel like doing something nice for someone on this St. Valentine's day, check out my friend Susan's blog ReadingWritingLiving about the Camel Bookmobile (below).
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
Sadly, it appears the weakened, inbred, drugged (!) bee population is also falling prey to some weird disease. I can't help wondering, too, because more people have lawns, that the poor bees don't have anything to eat? We have native plants (including bee balm!) in a sea of pesticidey lawns, and get lots of busy bees all the time...but we realize how weird it looks. Our lawn almost looks infested (buzzing, etc.) everyone else's lawn is quiet...tranquil. Please plant something this year for bees to eat...and don't use pesticides, this goes without saying.
I originally saw this in the New York Times, but here is it from CNN/Reuters.
"PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania (Reuters) -- A mysterious disease is killing off U.S. honeybees, threatening to disrupt pollination of a range of crops and costing beekeepers hundreds of thousands of dollars, industry experts said on Monday.
Beekeepers in 22 states have reported losses of up to 80 percent of their colonies in recent weeks, leaving many unable to rent the bees to farmers of crops such as almonds and, later in the year, apples and blueberries.
'It's unusual in terms of the widespread distribution and severity,' said Jerry Bromenshenk, a professor at the University of Montana at Missoula and chief executive of Bee Alert Technology, a company monitoring the problem."
Read more here.
Monday, February 12, 2007
Heavenly smell, very soothing for face and spirit. I always feel reassured, took, when a company takes the trouble to package their stuff in glass, let's skip the pthlates, etc., please!
Wait, there's more! All their boxes are ZERO WASTE, plus, like the cool Loomstate Jeans tags, you can even plant them and grew the same kind of medicinal herbs that are in their products. What's not to like?
Purified Water; Organic Lavender Alcohol; Vegetable Glycerin. Organic Essential Oils of: Rosmarinus Officinalis Var. Verbenon (Organic Rosemary Verbenon); Sweet Citrus Aurantium (Organic Sweet Orange); Boswellia Carter ( Organic Frankincense); Rosa Canica (Organic Rosehip Seed). Organic Herbal Extracts: Calendula Officinalis (Organic Calendula Flower);
Symphytum Officinale (Organic Comfrey Leaf); Foeniculum Vulgare (Organic Fennel Seed);
Equisetum Arvense (Organic Horsetail Herb); Althaea Officinalis (Organic Marsmallow Root);
Rosa Centifolia (Organic Rose).
Saturday, February 10, 2007
This excellent piece of prose is from our friends at Idealbite.com, and I think Jen shares my fixation with George Clooney (go Jen and Heather!):
As if bad hair days weren’t enough, we can now add weight gain, hormone disruption, and breast cancer to the list of possible side effects associated with parabens – a chemical preservative and common ingredient found in shampoo and other personal care products.
Say what? If you’ve ever read the back of your shampoo bottle, you’ve no doubt seen parabens listed among the ingredients. Butylparaben, ethylparaben, methylparaben and propylparaben are found in everything from makeup remover to shaving cream. These chemicals act as preservatives, extending a product’s shelf life by inhibiting bacterial growth. They’re used in tens of thousands of products, and are found in many items-- even some processed foods--that claim to be “natural” or “hypoallergenic” (terms that aren’t governed by federal standards or definitions).
What causes parabens to be potentially harmful? Their chemical structure is strikingly similar to the hormone estrogen. When paraben-laced products are applied to your skin, they're absorbed into your body and may be mistaken for estrogen, disrupting the hormonal system. Too much estrogen can cause big problems, including weight gain, fluid retention and depression. Parabens have been linked to several hormone-related diseases, including breast cancer, abnormal fetal development in pregnant women, and abnormal development of male reproductive systems. In 2004, researchers in the detected parabens in 18 of 20 breast cancer tumors they studied, suggesting a link between parabens and breast cancer. Estrogen also helps to regulate the activity of fat cells, meaning that yes, it’s possible your shampoo is making you fat.
Besides being risky to your health, parabens pose environmental risks. Washed off in the shower or at the beach, they can accumulate in waterways or soil and disrupt the hormones in animals. Scientists have documented hundreds of animals with genetic defects, such as frogs with extra legs, which they say could be the result of paraben pollution.
Fortunately, more and more products are wearing the “paraben-free” tagline on their sleeve (or bottle). The gurus over at leading eco-living email tip company, Ideal Bite, have been pushing the paraben issue for awhile now. We got co-founders Jen Boulden and Heather Stephenson to divulge their favorite paraben-free personal care options:
Hair: John Masters Organics Honey & Hibiscus Reconstructing Shampoo; Max Green Alchemy Scalp Rescue Condition and Styling Gel.
Nails: Peacekeeper Nail Paint.
Lips: Peacekeeper Lip Paint.
Eyes: Alima Pearluster Eyeshadow; Dr. Hauschka Kajal Eyeliners; Lavera Mascara.
Face (Wash): Jason Apricot Scrubble.
Face Cream: Aveda Tourmaline Charged Hydrating Crème.
Face Makeup: Burt’s Bees Vanishing Facial Powder.
Body Lotion: Blooming Lotus Massage Lotion Bliss Blend.
Shower: Collective Wellbeing Charcoal Body .
Sunscreen: Lavera Sun Spray.
Deodorants: Alba Clear Enzyme Deodorant; The Crystal Stick Deodorant.
Shaving: Aubrey Organics Shaving Cream.
Friday, February 09, 2007
Another reason to not shop at Walmart! Not only are they cheapening labor standards, importing all sorts of cheap crap from China, now they're trying to pass off foods that ain't organic as organic. And aren't they sneaky? They do this all my UPC codes, so I can't imagine it's an innocent error. MAN FERTILITY always picks this Rice Dream up and I send him back for the organic one--there's something about the packaging.
(Of course I looked at this picture and went....hm....pretty cheap prices! But then I slapped myself out of it). Read it in the UK Guardian here.
Thursday, February 08, 2007
MAN FERTILITY luckily has a high tolerance for my various projects, most recently growing organic shitake mushrooms in an old bathtub.
Fungi Perfecti has these great growing kits that are particularly satisfying now, when even my little herbs in the window have gone dormant. These babies spring up fast as, well, fungi! The kits come in a plastic bag with everything you need to start your own mini mushroom farm. Great project to do with the kiddies, too.
And don't forget, shitakes (like reishi--they sell those kits, too) are not only deeeeelicious, but medicinal as well.
Fun fact from WHfoods.com:
L-ergothioneine, a powerful antioxidant, has been discovered in mushrooms, thanks to a new analytical method capable of identifying this antioxidant in plant material. In research presented at the 2005 American Chemical Society meeting in Washington, D.C., an American research team revealed that mushrooms contain higher concentrations L-ergothioneine than either of the two dietary sources previously believed to contain the most: chicken liver and wheat germ.
Testing mushrooms consumed in the U.S., the team found that shiitake, oyster, king oyster and maitake mushrooms contain the highest amounts of ergothioneine, with up to 13 mg in a 3-ounce serving. This equals forty times as much as is found in wheat germ.
...And more good news, L-ergothioneine is not destroyed when mushrooms are cooked.
Tuesday, February 06, 2007
Take our fun flag quiz!!!
[n.b. this is an old post I wrote when I was blogging for Adoption.com--thank ya to the Worsted Witch for reminding me to repost this]
Okay, for those souls too busy watching the Olympics to be obsessed with Celebrity Fertility, I will update you: the actress Meg Ryan has adopted a baby girl from China. Get it here, from none other than the BBC: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/4653752.stm
I find this exceedingly ironic given the flap that I was privy to while in Korea. East Asia, as you may or may not know, is a big repository for celebrity shills, people who are above "tainting" themselves with overexposure here, but gladly push all sorts of bizarre products in Asia because 1. they get paid a lot and 2. no one's going to see the ads. This was sort of the bummed out, lower-than-low situation Bill Murray found himself in the movie Lost in Translation as a former star now sunk to touting some whiskey he doesn't even drink and in the meantime loathing himself for falling this low, loathing the Japanese people who were now providing his living.
The people I saw most regularly in ads were Sly Stallone, Brooke Shields, and Meg Ryan. Koreans loooooooove Meg Ryan because she is "cute." And the strange product she endorsed and most likely never used was a soap called Sexy-Mild. The ads, print and TV, were everywhere. I can't remember the exact details of the imbrogilio as it was over ten years ago, but I think she was on Letterman or some other TV talk show back in the good ol' US of A, and the host, justifiably, was needling her a little for being such an overseas shill, and she said something to the effect of (and I paraphrase), "Well, if the people in China or Japan or whatever are so dumb they buy the products just because my face is on it, that's their problem. Plus, it smells bad in China." At least, this is how my Korean colleagues (many of whom have excellent English comprehension skills) recounted it to me.
She obviously must have forgotten that there's AFKN (Armed Forces Korea Network) in Korea, which pipes in American TV for the GIs, but is accessible by anyone. Soon the entire Korean nation was in an uproar over her words. Everyone was hopping mad! She might have made the smelly comment after that; I can't remember, but I do remember it took a few combative news cycles before she realized her advertising image was at stake and she eventually released an apologetic video.
The last celebrity flap like this that I can remember (much milder, actually) was when Kathie Lee Gifford was so upset when she was denied a baby from China because she and her husband's ages added together exceeded 100 (you do the math!)
Anyway, I wish Meg Ryan luck and she could still redeem herself in my Korean American eyes by taking the flag quiz, at the top.
Monday, February 05, 2007
Well, I grew up im the north woods of Minnesota, where there aren't any Koreans (or other people of color in general), so it was a bit difficult for my parents to get kimchi until the late 70s when a tiny market opened in St. Paul (4 1/2 hours away...). But once they got it, they stockpiled a bunch of it, always being careful to hide it if anyone came over, etc. But they ate it religiously with meals, and after a meal out, my dad would rush home (esp if it was a typical, fatty, northern Minnesota meal--what other kinds are there?) and eat a bunch of kimchi, declaring he hadn't eaten unless he'd had kimchi.
So of course I've had this "kimchi helps digestion" thing drilled into me, and it wasn't until recently that I found out it actually DOES have enzymes in it that help you digest food, wouldn't you know? And nappa cabbage is a natural source of lactobacillus probiotics, including the unusually hardy strain, l. plantarum. You can read all about the scientific validity here at this Cornell website, or you can just take my word for it.
So get 1-2 heads nappa cabbage (also called Chinese cabbage) and please try to get organic because cabbage can be very pesticidey.
(thank you to Jason
who takes much better pictures than
I do and loaned me some)
Next assemble the following
- 4-6 cloves of garlic
- 2-3 thumbs of ginger
- green onion and/or garlic chives ("buchu")
- sea salt NOT iodized (kosher is ok, too)
- red pepper flakes ("Gochukaro")
- daikon (optional but very healthy)
- carrots (optional)
- dab of raw honey
Wash and cut up the cabbage into bite sized pieces. Then sprinkle it in a large pot, adding salt between the layers, kind of like you're salting a roast or something.
Then put something heavy on top of it: clean plate, I have a clean stone from our sauerkraut maker.
Leave it overnight to squish out the water. Cabbage should be limp in the morning.
Taste the cabbage--it should be pleasantly salty. It's it's too-too salty, give it a quick rinse.
Stick it all in a bowl and add matchstick veggies . Mash the cloves of garlic and ginger (to taste) through a garlic press, food processor, or mince (I think mashing makes for better taste), add hot pepper.
My aunt uses sugar to get the cultures going, I use a dab of honey. You don't need to use anything at all. Mixing it with the hands is supposed to add a nice "vibe" to the whole thing. I always mix by hand.
Put the finished product in clean glass jars (the beauty of it, you don't need to sterilize, like you do for canning--the garlic and hot pepper keeps everything nice and clean). The color will depend on how much hot pepper you put in. The kimchi here is what it normally looks like (yum!). The picture of my cabbage in the bowl (previous picture) looks "weak" because I put in less pepper because I was making it for my son and didn't want the school calling DCYF on me for torturing my child (believe me, they already talk about the weird mommy who doesn't let her kid have ice cream).
Make sure you press all the air bubbles while you are packing it, so the cabbage will be immersed in juice. Swish about 1/4- 1/2 cu water around the bowl you made the kimchi in to get all the spices and stuff from the sides (recycling! reclamation!) and pour the mixture into the jars so that you have enough fluid. Leave about an inch, but no more, at the top, the close the lids. I put the jars on a tray because--if you did it right--in the fermentation, liquid might be pushed out the top of the jar.
Leave the whole thing out like a science project for 3-4 days and taste it. It should not be moldy or putrid, it should just taste pleasantly fermented--if tastes off (I've only had this happen once) it's because the stuff wasn't packed/immersed tightly enough or not enough salt/garlic. I know leaving food out can seem "unclean," but clever peoples learned to survive before Sub-zero refrigerators were invented**. Refrigerating it too soon will kill or slow the probiotics, so...chill out.
Some previous posts:
Friday, February 02, 2007
Sam is 21 years old. He was diagnosed with Acute Myelogenous Leukemia
over the winter break; a good match for a bone marrow donor could
greatly increase his chances for survival. He is a hard bone marrow
match because he is biracial (Korean/western European). Potential
donors (18-60 years old) with similar Asian and/or European
backgrounds are his best chance.
There are currently only 10 potential matches for Sam in the bone
marrow database throughout the world -- and they may or may not
ultimately match or be available.
More info on how to register as a bone marrow donor andif you specifically want to be test to help Sam Cross: www.helpsamiam.com.
There is also national Asian American donor registry, btw, and the test doesn't hurt a bit.