Monday, July 31, 2006

Dangerous Amounts of Lead in Vinyl Lunchboxes

(Did you know this girl is packing lead? The Center for Environmental Health, a non partisan organization, tested this Angela Anaconda box made by Targus International to have a whopping neuron-killing 56,400 parts per million of lead, more than 90 times the 600 ppm legal limit for lead in paint in children’s products**).

** Why do they allow lead paint in children's products at all, may I ask?

Inklings of this problem came out in the beginning of the year, and of course it sounded unthinkable--lead in products children USE FOR THEIR FOOD EVERY DAY? But for the 110% skeptical FertilityBitch and her cohorts this not only sounded plausible, but likely (e.g., there's tons o' lead in Christmas lights, by the way, for the same reason--helps keep the plastic on--ho ho ho). But we DO practice evidence-based paranoia and got ourselves a passle of lead check kits (you can get these swabs at the hardware store) and on the count of three swiped our lunchbags. Mine came out inconclusively smeary, but we DID get some hits (a Spiderman bag from Wal-Mart--ugh!), which was enough for me to chuck out anything remotely vinyl in the house (lead is often added to PVC to make it more durable).

I tried telling my family, but most thought I was nuts (okay, the flouride thing!) maligning their super convenient and economical lunchbags, so we mostly just quietly replaced ours with cloth ones (okay, they do leak) that I made, see below.

But the FDA, under pressure from groups like the CEH, is finally coming out with a public warning that I can legitimately wave in people's faces, but, just so's it won't make the FertilityBitch look any smarter or less paranoid to her vinyl and flouride loving extended family, the government has to make sure to muddy the issues (hello, Global Warming?) and save Wal-mart by talking out of both sides of their butt, self-rebutting the FDA warning by having the Consumer Products Safety Commission's Patty Davis stating the lunch boxes are "safe" and that children would have to rub their hands on the lunch box and then lick their hands more than 600 times a day for 15 to 30 days in order to be exposed to a dangerous amount of lead. I still don't know how they determine that, with such officious, blustery, for-sure empiricism. Some secret factory in Guantanamo where they're making the inmates lick their leady hands 600 times a day and then testing serum lead levels after? Really, people.

And why they just don't "get the lead out" and err on the side of SAFETY especially for CHILDREN who are going to EAT THINGS (e.g., fruit) that repeatedly rub against the leady surface, not to mention the vinyl could degrade and get on their hands...

So....ladies and gentlemen who are hoping to be/stay fertile or just healthy in general, please avoid lead, it's not doing you any fertility favors.

Here's the link to a pattern and intructions to make your own fabric lunchbags. Lazy peeps: old t-shirts sewn in a bag shape (i.e., just sew the armholes and neckhole shut, then thread string through the bottom seam to make a drawstring bag) work great and takes less than a half hour! Worsted Witch, any other good sewing tips?

Hemp Shakes!

Wow, who doesn't like the ease and fun of a shake? Even better, one that's full of hemp, which contains a perfect balance omega-3, omega-6 and gamma-linoleic acids as well as some fertility friendly foods like maca, and remember our calcium-uptake-helping friend, inulin?

Check it out:
: Organic hemp protein, superfood Amazon blend (organic mesquite pods, organic Sambazon® açai, organic maca, organic Brazil nut protein, organic tropical fruit flavor), organic guar gum, inulin from chicory root. Contains tree nuts.

I used rice milk, and found the chocolate shake to be particularly indulgent, although they were all delicious. I did, however, carry some to the office in a clear glass bottle and it looked like I was carrying a bottle of cement (hey, no articifial dyes to make it look pretty?). I also spoke with the CEO and founder, John Roulac, who assures me these products for all their creamy yumminess are also gluten and dairy-free.

Even more, Nutiva, which makes the shake, is a socially responsible company that (their words)
provides income for indigenous people by sourcing its Sambazon® açai berries and Brazil nuts from the Amazon rain forest, while its ramon nuts are wild-harvested in the Maya Biosphere Reserve.

Plus, I think it's also socially responsible to consume hemp, as it is a nutritious food and versatile fiber-giving plant that grows well w/o pesticides and fertilizer, which is why our founding Father George (as in Washington) and all his buddies grew it...and yet today it's illegal to grow it in the US (but not Canada) because of all the (spurious) association with ooooooh mary-juana. And of course the stupidity of outlawing marijuana (my mother-in-law died of cancer, I can attest to some very real benefits) in the first place while pushing Vioxx and hormone replacement on people still astounds me, but...Nutiva has some more good hemp facts on their website, and with better spelling than some of the other hemp sites, if that's important to you.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Recommended Fish Oils

In the previous post on fish oils I wrote about why, in today's dietary world where we don't eat much stuff like flax biscuits or as much fish, taking some kind of omega-3 supplement may be helpful, especially if you are trying to get pregnant. For me, taking fish oils also helped me to get rid of my seasonal allergies.

Again, I ain't no doctor, but I can tell you what I myself take, and why. One is cod liver oil, the other is fish oil. The big difference is cod liver oil is high in vitamin D, which many people are deficient in, so this form may be a good one to take in the winter. Also, cod liver oil has vitamin A, an important nutrient, but one that can be toxic as high doses.

Carlson's lemon flavored cod liver oil is great because:
* 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.

And Nordic Naturals Complete Omega 3-6-9 is great because:
* No fishy burps
* Capsules keep it fresh
* Borage oil to add gamma linoleic acid (great for PMS) (I wrote about growing borage here)
* From anchovies and sardines, fish low on foodchain and therefore less contaminated
* Uses rosemary extract (neat idea!) to preserve freshness.
* Obviously, Norwegian
CONTAMINANT PROFILE: (from company literature) Every batch of Nordic Naturals Omega-3 oils is tested for purity and freshness at NILU in Oslo, Norway. Our finished product is third-party tested by laboratories in the United States and in Canada, verifying purity and freshness levels.

NN DOES have a bit of soy; I have been told by the company that it's "fractionated" and therefore easy to digest. Just a tip.

NOTE: a recent report by ConsumberLabs, an independent supplement testing lab, showed that of all the fish oils they tested, things like mercury and PCBs weren't a huge problem, even with the cheapest brands (it may be because fish don't regularly store these things in their liver--it goes into the meat) BUT a few of them didn't have the level of Omega-3s they said they did and one was spoiled. As this is a pay-for-subscription service, I'll tell you that the one spoiled brand they found was Garden of Life.

Be careful of any fish oil that smells/tastes rancid and it goes bad very fast and then produces free radicals up the wazoo, which is very counterproductive if you're taking these things for your health! Use it up fast and keep it in the fridge, for starters!

Friday, July 28, 2006

In California, Heat Is Blamed for 100 Deaths - New York Times

New York Times: "Larry Collar, the quality assurance manager for California Dairies states,

“In 25 years in Southern California, this is the most extreme temperatures we have ever seen and the most extreme length of time we have seen.”

These poor, plotzing cows! (No sweat glands, btw). How can the NYT run this article and NOT mention global warming??????

More than a 100 people have died, by the way.

The toll of such casualties has no recent precedent in California.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Fish Oil & Fertility

(Yes, this is a cod)

When I was little, I remember my mother used to make us kids take cod liver oil. I also remember the taste was totally disgusting. Either I'd have to take it all at once and want to throw up, or, the teaspoon of it would ruin a full glass of orange juice. It was the bane of my childhood. Now, I'm realizing how smart it was. In fact, until the 70s, that was standard practice for pediatricians to recommend it, but they don't do it anymore I guess because you can't patent it and slap some big pharma label on it.

Unfortunately, as industrial production makes our food less nutritious, we need Omega-3s now more than ever, as things that are grain fed, like SALMON, BEEF don't get the Omega-3s from algae and grass that pastured cows or wildcaught salmon do, and fish, which used to be such a good source, is almost too contaminated to eat now, anyway.

Omega-3 fatty acids are incredibly important for fertility and health, and, some studies show, it can even work better than Prozac for depression. My late, great fertility guy, Dr. Beer, recognized that many inflammary conditions (including repeat miscarriages) could be helped with fish oils.

Here's an article from Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Malmo University Hospital, University of Lund, Sweden on why omega-3s are particularly important. It's little technical, but basically gives good reasons for why basically all women (and men) should take some form of fish oil:
* An increased prostacyclin/thromboxane ratio induced by omega-3 FA can facilitate pregnancy in women with infertility problems by increasing uterine blood flow.

* Lowers the risk of premature birth and can increase the length of pregnancy and birth weight by altering the balance of eicosanoids involved in labor and promote fetal growth by improving placental blood flow.

* There is also some evidence that supplementation with omega-3 FA might help to prevent preeclampsia, postpartum depression, menopausal problems, postmenopausal osteoporosis, and breast cancer.
(Entire article is here.)

The problem with the article is that they tell you to make sure to get uncontaminated fish oils but don't tell you how. Next column, I'll look into fish oil brands that are actually tested and/or distilled for things like heavy metals and PCBs.

N.B. The FertilityBitch makes no pretenses of being Dr. FertilityBitch or any other kind of health authority, but likes to provide evidence-based into as a public service.

That said, as with anything, overuse can be harmful. Fish oils also work by thinning your blood, so watch out before you have any surgeries and make sure you let your doctor know what you're taking. I've found that when my level is right, my hair looks nice and shiny and my contacts aren't as dry (yes, in your eyes it's the OIL that determines whether you feel dry or not, NOT the water part, as much); when I've gone a bit over, I notice I bruise too easily.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Stem Cell Hypocrisy Part II

Jon Stewart had it right when he poked fun at Bush administration's portrayal of the stem-cell debate as saintly pro-lifers versus the no-regard-for-life hippies quaffing their "baby-smoothies."

A new study by the RAND Corporation found that fertility clinics in the United States have nearly 400,000 frozen human embryos in storage—twice the highest previous estimate. And where do these "surplus" embryos go? From the San Francisco Chronicle:
...they are flushed down the drain in a metal sink. At another [fertility clinic], a technician drops them into a medical waste bin, to be picked up and incinerated by hospital staff.

Christianity Today cited (through the RAND study) that an estimated "9,000 of those frozen embryos will be thawed and destroyed." And don't tell me there's not a single Christian/Conservative/Pro-life/Republican-created embryo in that 9,000 that are going to be trashed. I think, au contraire, there's many many Republican embryos in there...But hey, what's a little embryo death when in pursuit of embryo is just a bunch of cells, oh, wait, oops! That's what we're saying the OTHER side thinks.

Why oh why does no one see the idiocy of the so-called Snowflake Children (because no two are alike, and they are all white, my hero Jon Stewart quips) Bush photo op representing not pro-life values but instead the 9,000-"person" (as the "pro-life" side defines it) massacre of the wee embryos basically flushed down the toilet?

FertilityBitch says, if you're going to do the flush-flush thing, at least, RECYCLE and REUSE and help someone with Alzheimer's or spinal cord injury or diabetes. (And don't forget to look at Stem Cell Hypocrisy Part I for her rant on why no one complains that the big pharma is in the market for ABORTED FETAL TISSUE as a raw material for producing vaccines, and Bush, the Vatican, etc. doesn't seem to mind THAT--a process that is infinitely more disturbing.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Blackspot's Unswoosher Shit-kickers

(photo: Blackspot boots at the San Carlos Apache Reservation)

I sent MAN FERTILITY off on his research trip in these environmentally sound, all-vegetarian, organic hemp and a recycled tire sole boots brought to us courtesy of the cool folks at Adbusters. I thought they not only would be great for meetings and hiking alike, but their low metal content would make it a veritable breeze (well, it's still a pain in the ass) through airportsecurity.

Well, MAN FERTILITY reported that they indeed did make his feet feel fine (especially for sweaty man feet--a major detox pathway--something breathable and preferably organic is ideal) but unexpectedly they aroused more than a bit of suspicion at the airport security due to their non-mass-produced look. I.e., it made the nice folks at TSA wonder if he wasn't the next shoe-bomber or something, what with his non-branded, cloth, handcrafted shoes--at the very least, Communist! Oh well.

There was actually a funny article in the Times today about the comedy group, The Capitol Steps, who do a skit on how a sweet nun gets stopped by the TSA while a Viking with an ax, Michael Jackson, Darth Vader, etc. blithely breeze onto the plane--BUT, here's the rub, when the Capitol Steps ACTUALLY FLY somewhere, with their silly props, THEY get pulled into the scary back room and are not allowed to move to even go to the can while they're waiting for the FBI, all for carrying a piece of cardboard that says Acme A-bomb on it.

So the upside is, these shoes are really cool. Also, with each purchase you receive a single share of their anti-corporation, which includes entree to members-only forums.

The downside, they make you look (to the TSA people, at least) like the next shoe bomber. He's wearing them again tomorrow, as he likes these shoes very much, but he's also taking the bus.

By the way, MAN FERTILITY is an environmental historian and major source of much of the FertiltyBitch's enviro news. His next book, Shadows at Dawn, will be about an Indian Massacre that occurred at Camp Grant, in Arizona. His last book (which shares a title with RFK's book--I will note MAN FERTILITY's book came out first) was Crimes Against Nature: Squatters, Poachers, Thieves and the Hidden History of American Conservation.

And, as always, if you want to access the NYT's website on my virtual privacy dime:

USERNAME: GreenFertility
PASSWORD: GreenFertility
Answer to secret question: soylent green

Monday, July 24, 2006

Fertility Facts: Does Going to a Doctor Really Help?

This is a companion piece to WIN FREE SEX. No one short of God can tell you if reproductive technology will be any better than merely going on with a healthy sex life for your purposes of procreation. But it is increasingly being found that while artificial reproductive technology does often work, it does not necessarily improve you chances.

Think of the Rube Goldberg stamp licking machine, the one where they spill a container of ants and have them run down a chute, across some stamps and an anteater, positioned just so, tries to catch them with his tongue, thereby moistening the stamps. Just because you have all those expensive bells and whistles doesn't mean it'll necessarily get the job done any better than the simple way.

Of course, a baseline physical or visit to your midwife is never a bad place to start to look at things like blocked fallopian tubes, low sperm count, etc. But once you start talking about washing sperm, intrauterine insemination, Microsort (where they actually paint sperm with some kind of phosphorescent dye--eek), IVf, etc., that's up to you.

How to decide?

Fertility Facts

* About 84% of couples conceive within a year with regular intercourse and no contraception

* Of those who do not conceive in the first year, about half will do so in the second year

* Female fertility declines with age

Source: National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (an independent U.K. organization responsible for providing national guidance on promoting good health and preventing and treating ill health)

Sunday, July 23, 2006

DVD Review: The Future of Food

Run out now and rent/Netflix/buy this: The Future of Food directed by Deborah Koons Garcia.

I thought I knew how genetically modified foods, Frankenfoods, are made, but this really opened my eyes.

To put it bluntly, genetically modifying an organism = CELL RAPE.

Each cell has its own integrity and its own defenses to keep it that way. Genetic engineering involves boring holes through the cellular membrane and forcing foreign genetic materials inside--and then compelling the cell to continue reproducing this new, altered way.

If there's any issue that should alarm Darwinists and Christian Intelligent Design types equally, this is it. Genetic "engineering" sounds so clean and precise, but it's the opposite. It's basically fugging (as normal Mailer would say) with the delicate insides of a cell, and messing with the organism until it is no longer the way our creator intended. Not to mention that a single gene can be EXPRESSED in many different ways, not just in the unilateral way the scientists are using them for. Seeds also get out in nature, fall off trucks, etc., and cross-pollinate. What happens when something like the "suicide seed" (made by Monsanto so that farmers have to buy new seeds every year) crosses with some normal food seeds? This is just one such question this excellent film raises.

So think about it: that bag o' chips made of the GMO corn looks perfectly fine--on the outside. You can't see the screwed up DNA, or have any idea what it's going to do when metabolized by your body's own enzymes. More info:

Helpful site: How to buy non-GM (genetically modified) foods.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Do-It-Yourself Cropped Jeans

So I had these great Loomstate jeans that didn't quite look the way I wanted (picky, picky). To save $, I always hem my own. Loomstates have these cool deconstructed hems that are easy to move, but I was just feeling laaaazy, so I hacked them off, made a quick seam, and now I have a pair of cropped jeans that I wear all the time.

I do have two legs worth of organic cotton fabric left over...maybe I'll send it to the Worsted Witch, who writes an excellent green crafty organic blog, and see what she does with it.

p.s. don't these go great with my Splaff recycled tire/hemp sandals?

Friday, July 21, 2006

Coffee and fertility? You be the judge

Anyone remember that Woody Allen movie Sleeper? Where Allen is a health food store owner transported Rip Van Winkle-like into the future and he finds out that everything he thought was healthy was bad for him, and vice versa?

Early in my fertility research, coffee (and caffeine) kept coming up as one of the first things to eliminate in a fertility-friendly diet especially because it may be linked to early miscarriage as well. On one site, a doctor even joked that coffee is so bad for fertility, you can drink it for birth control. For some reason, I didn't buy that. Part of my writing ritual for years has been to make a fresh-ground, french-pressed (no dioxin-y filters) organic cuppa. Plus, it's soooo good, half a cup and I'm good (the rest goes into a glass tray for ice coffee cubes for later).

FertilityBitch conceived ON THE VERY FIRST TRY with her son in her mid-thirties as a daily coffee drinker. More recently, another friend who is in her late thirties just became pregnant--oops!--while guzzling coffee and on the pill and then drank even more (and still does) through her first trimester because she couldn't figure out why she was so tired.

I'm not saying, "Try this at home." I am saying, that I've always felt that personally small amounts of coffee (less than a cup a day) have very beneficial effects on my body and, er, elimination system, and is an awful nice way to start the day. And, with my friend on the pill (who's also an organic girl) as Exhibit A, you can see coffee does not always prevent fertility or necessarily always cause first-trimester miscarriage.

I can't help noting that in the 1950 edition of my physician father's Merck Manual, coffee enemas are listed as a valid medical treatment (perhaps along with things like cod liver oil, also ubiquitous back then, that have real benefits but have fallen by the wayside as irrelevant in our pharma-medico-industrialized medical culture).

One needs to keep in mind that studies almost always have flaws in the controls, as you can't control for everything. I remember the coffee = pancreatic cancer scare. But now they think certain plant-based chemicals in coffee cleanse the liver AND help prevent diabetes--that sounds like coffee, in some situations, can be very good to the pancreas.

I think one of the unknown variables is that they don't control for organic/not. Coffee that does not grow naturally under the canopy of trees (i.e., shade grown) needs tons and tons of fertilizer and pesticides, and without the complementary help of the trees, the soil poops out and you need MORE fertilizer, etc., which is why the concept of "shade grown," leaving the trees where they are instead of detroying them to grow the coffee with chemicals, is so beloved by us green types).

So if you like coffee try this: Himalayan Tea & Coffee Co. » Riverblends Coffee. Yes, it the world’s Northern-most grown coffee, and the product is a blend of Nepalese coffee with organic/fair trade Arabicas from Indonesia, Brazil, Columbia, Peru and Mexico. I tried Daurandi River Maoist blend (gotta love it), a nice dark roast with distinct chocolate and spice undertones.

Cool beans: the coffee from Nepal is fairly traded from small farming families and grown using ancient methods, which of course means without pesticides or herbicides.

Himalayan Tea and Coffee Co. is also developing community reforestation programs with these small farm families.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Merrell Hemp Clogs--foot power!

Want to save gas? GET THESE. In 2 days, here's what I did:

1. walked to my office (20 minutes)
2. walked to the courthouse (20 mins--watching a trial for my novel)
3. walked home (25 mins)
4. walked to the store and back (30 mins)
5. next day walked to a garden party (60 minutes roundtrip)

No blisters, they felt great, and went from work, halls of justice, store, garden party, all looking stylishly appropriate with khakis and capris. Supposedly these shoes have a sole designed specifically for women. I just found it plain comfy, felt like sneakers but with slip-on ease and a sleek look.

So happy that a great shoe company has come out with something in sustainable hemp!

Flouride, A Bummer part II--the EPA wants "comments"

This just in from the Environmental Working Group, one of the sound, sane nonprofit places to get your health info, about our friend flouride:

• The National Academy of Sciences found that when fluoride is consumed in high doses--such as through food and water--it can interfere with brain functioning, cause bone fractures, dental fluorosis (weakening of the teeth), thyroid and pineal gland disorders, and worsen diabetes. Fluoride's connection to cancer, IQ deficits, dementia, immune system disorders, and other serious health risks are still being researched.

• A new Harvard University study found that boys who drink water with levels of fluoride considered safe by federal guidelines are five times more likely to have a rare bone cancer than boys who drink unfluoridated water. Fluoride has been banned from drinking water throughout Europe.

Because of action by EWG and other watchdog groups, the Environmental Protection (hah!) Agency is inviting comments on the issue icky pesticide sulfuryl fluoride thatleaves FURTHER flouride in our non organic food, in run off, etc.

Sepcifically, The motion argues in considerable detail that the EPA has failed in its statutory duty under the Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA) to ensure that total combined exposure to fluoride in food and tap water is safe for infants and children. In urging an immediate stay of all food tolerances the groups cite the March 2006 National Academy of Sciences report on fluoride safety which found that fluoride limits in tap water are not safe, particularly for children and people who drink large amounts of water, such as diabetics, and should be lowered.

The report goes on: "To date, the EPA has not adequately considered how the addition of chemical fluoride residue on food would raise the already unacceptable levels of fluoride that adults and children drink out of their kitchen faucets. It's up to us to bring this concern to the forefront." Send a letter to the EPA here.

Hm, not unlike the folks who didn't add up all the mercury kids were getting in vaccines (they--duh--averaged "safe" amounts out over a year, instead of allowing for the normal practice of the kids getting---eek!--5 shots at a time in one visit, i.e, taking 60 Tylenol a year vs. taking 60 in one day...)

Okay, NOW I'm feeling a little less like the crazy guy in Dr. Strangelove (remember him? You knew he was craaazy because he was against flouridation of water). Check out the earlier posts.

So if you think someone, some government agency or something MUST be out there, making sure we don't get more than X amount of X toxin a day, and making sure X toxin and Y toxin don't interact, or that the food we eat won't CAUSE heart disease (think transfats), forget it! Obviously the EPA is working hard to keep you safe (not!) YOU are the one who needs to keep a eye on what's going into you, and that's where the buck stops.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Korea’s Taste of Summer Is a Long, Cool Slurp - New York Times

(photo: New York Times)

There's a pretty good description of naeng-myun (cold gluten-free buckwheat noodles as blogged by the FertilityBitch here. "Noodles nested in cold, mild beef broth topped with slices of tender beef brisket, sweet Asian pear, lightly pickled white radish, cucumber and half a hard-boiled egg" plus some places where you can treat yourself (and cool down) in NYC.

However, in all my naeng-myung eating in the States, I've never seen yet it topped with shaved ice, you know, the Sno-cone stuff, like they do in Korea, which makes it extra sublime. But I've actually been to all these restaurants listed in the article, and I will attest they are all good.

And despite what they say about North Korean naeng-myung topped w/beef brisket (my parents are North Korean), the traditional way to eat it is topped with skate, which tastes like a chewy prickly eraser.

(N.B. GLUTEN FREE peeps, sometimes when made from scratch, the restaurants throw in a little wheat flour maybe to make it last longer(?). "Real" naeng-myun is just buckwheat and sometimes a little potato starch, and it's usually sold that way in the Korean stores).

Read the rest of the article here.

And, as always, if you need my account:

USERNAME: GreenFertility
PASSWORD: GreenFertility

Answer to secret question: soylent green

Monday, July 17, 2006

Urban Fertility: Nasturtiums

Nasturtiums are a one of the nicest flowers:
1. easy to grow
2. smell great
3. cheerful flowers and pretty leaves
4. everything on 'em is edible

They grow easily from seed in any kind of container (chopped off milk carton? old plastic food constainer), just make sure there's good drainage AND they do better in poorer soil so you don't have to fertilize. Too-rich soil produces lots of foliage but no flowers.

The fun stuff: Blossoms have a sweet, peppery flavor similar to watercress--I often eat them as a snack while outside waiting for the school bus. Other ideas: stuff whole flowers with savory raw nut pate. Leaves add peppery tang to salads. Pickled seed pods are FertilityBitch cheap, raw, wild capers. Use entire flowers for garnishes at your fancy-schmancy dinner parties.

Since you should be drinking lots o' antioxidant-rich tea, here's a recipe for a yummy tea sandwich:

* handful of nasturtium flowers, washed, plus leaves if desired

* cashew cheese (see raw delicious recipe here)
or cream cheese (organic, please!)

* slice o' bread (many gluten-free breads available, usually in the freezer/fridge section)

Spread the cheese on the bread, gently press flowers on top, cut diagonally, finger-sandwich-wise, and you'll have a treat fancy enough for the Waldorf! The peppery + creamy flavor is really wonderful.

PREGNANCY NOTE: seed pods are used in herbal medicine as a weak menstruation stimulant. It's thus ingesting a few seed-pods isn't likely to cause any harm, but it's probably advisable not to eat handfuls...

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Win Free Sex!


"Win Free Sex" was the result of figuring out the top words likeliest to catch people 's attention [for those who read this earlier unedited post, I stand corrected!]. Apparently FREE, WIN, and SEX were the three top "eye-catching" words, so someone cheekily put it together as the irresistible WIN FREE SEX headline, but it could easily have been SEX WIN FREE in a less skilled hand.

But my point is:

Could this
triumph over THIS?

No one less than Doctor Richard Kennedy, spokesperson for the British Fertility Society, says that for

"couples experiencing [fertility] difficulties...the 'do nothing' option can produce results."

The FertilityBitch's modest (hah!) suggestion is that in the fertility arms race, cheap raw natural sex actually might be the best fertility "treatment" for some. Believe me, at 42, I understand that it's hard not to freak out as the biological clock ticks loudly in one or both ears. But at the same time, one needs to also consider the distinct possibility that technology could be waste of time and money AND give you cancer or other distinct side effects.

Dr. Kennedy goes on to say, "We should be giving this advice to patients." And "It's further evidence to confirm what we know."

So why aren't more doctors doing this?

...Maybe 'cause they need the bidness?

Ahhhh, capitalism--it's all about getting you to pay for something that should be free. WIN FREE SEX!~ may become the blog's new motto.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

No-oil-needed Sun Tea

So oil prices have his a new high, plus it's BOILING hot out here and we purposely haven't installed air conditioning (call us sweaty greens).

However, it's great weather for making sun tea. (I also saw an article on the BBC I think, on how black tea increases fertility...need to find it...).

Just chuck whatever tea bags or infusers into your (hopefully flouride-free) water and let it sit in the sun (or, just let it sit, but it won't be as fast) untili you get the color you want. I like to put in stalks of organic mint (pictured) from my urban garden (i.e., several clay pots on our patio) and let that infuse as well. Then put it in the fridge and drink tons to cool off.

I also read somewhere (PLEASE, I'm too hot to track down the citation right this minute) that cold brewing does NOT decrease the healthy antioxidants in tea at all versus heatin' up a pot of water for your cuppa.

More summer tea fun: There is also some suggestion that drinking black tea (or wearing it) acts like a sunscreen because of all the protective polyphenols. Check it out.

Friday, July 14, 2006

George Bush also Avoids Flouride..and Arsenic...and etc.

(Monkey See, Monkey Do image credit:

I'm sorry I can't cite a source for this, but MAN FERTILITY doth confirm my memories, and I guess we heard it on NPR (?) or on one of our enviro lists that Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas (n.b., which he moved into only in 1999, just prior to the elections) has a super-duper reverse-osmosis filtration system for HIS house. None of that flouride, arsenic, bacteria and other toxic municipal water crap in his and Laura's water...even though the water in neighboring Waco is apparently disgusting as a result of lax environmental policies when a certain, ahem, person was governor.

Read all about in the Waco Tribune.

And yes, I AM telling you: be like Bush and get some form of filtered water (this can include spring water)! (You can often buy RO--reverse osmosis--water economically at health food stores or sometimes at freestanding water places. They had these when we lived in Oberlin, Ohio, 25 cents for a 1/2 gallon! And not: a wimpy little Britta ain't gonna do it. A RO filter usually takes a 1/2 hour or more to filer water through 3 stages...)

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Flouride: A Bummer

I think I'm going to start a series on "things we are told that are safe that are actually really, really, really bad for you." Rachel Carson called it the sham of the "safety of the familiar," i.e., things like smoking, transfats, Dandelion-B-Gone, sunscreen or whatever become so ubiquitous and encouraged through marketing that you conclude by default that the stuff therefore HAS to be safe, or "someone" would have done something.

(Despite what Ann Coulter says) There have been more than a few catastrophic public health boo-boos where a trusting public has been sickened while the government whistles and looks away. To name only a few: hormone replacement therapy causing cancer, DES, Vioxx, faulty heart debrillators, nuclear testing, Fosamax (an osteoporosis drug) causing irreversibly osteonecrosis of the mandible (i.e., the bones in your jaw decay and crumble away).

I received this book to review, but the ever-alert Mary Shomon of's Thyroid site already enlisted some expert reviewers, and here's what they had to say:
"Christopher Bryson managed to obtain recently declassified documents that revealed why a hazardous and feared contaminant became deliberately added to our water and toothpaste. [for more, click here.]
I will stick my neck out (and--eeek!--risk Ann Coulter's wrath) by saying I pretty much agree with all these arguments against flouride (see also its deadening effect on your thyroid) myself. There was a bad case of hyperflouridosis in our town (hm, maybe I should check Bob Dylan's teeth), where they put too much flouride in the municipal water system and lots of kids got those ugly brown splotches on their teeth and actually got MORE cavities because the flouride (Fl) displaced the calcium (Ca)--remember chemistry class?. I have one hyperflouridosis speck that looks like I have a little decal applied to my left canine tooth. My little family has been flouride-free (reverse osmosis filter on the sink) for about 8 years and we continue to exist okay.

And, in all my intellectual sorting of urban legend?/real health threat?/hypochondria? I try to ask: who benefits? When you read this book you will find there was some real $$$$$ incentive to offload flouride, and there was the convenient WAR excuse to do it (does this sound familiar?). On the other hand, WHAT is the profit for us liberal weenies going on and on about flouride, global warming, gunk in cosmetics etc.--let me tell ya, it SUCKS being the one kooky mom who won't let her kid drink tap water and sending in his own soap, so you can be assured I'm not doing it for fun & profit.

FertilityBitch's shopping tip: I try not to diss products, but perhaps like to be more of a Cassandra and issue friendly warnings, as even with "natural" products, it's a jungle out there (oops, mixed metaphors much?). But here's a recap on why I've always been a little annoyed at Tom's of Maine for talking the natural talk but then putting sodium laurel sulfate in their toothpastes (more industrial chemicals you have in your shampooo OR sticking in your mouth) aaaaaand flouride. Save yourself some dough to buy more organic food by using baking soda and a toothbrush (or your finger), ey???

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Man Fertility: LOOMSTATE JEANS rock!

My MAN FERTILITY model is very eco and green, but very bread-n-butter when it comes to jeans: plain old Levis all the time.

He was a little dubious about some newfangled fashion jeans, yeah, and when he first tried on these Loomstate Methos jeans (Man + Ethos?) he thought they felt "weird." But fifteen minutes later, he realized it was weird because he'd never worn such nicely cut jeans before. Now he can't wait to wear 'em everywhere.

Loomstate is the 19th century term for "right off the loom." It's reflected in their design, material, and craftmanship.

Check out those antiqued buttons.

Here's Loomstate's mission:
Loomstate takes inspiration from American manufacturing methods used at the turn of the 19th century, in an age where craftsmanship, function and quality were standard. Our fabric is woven with raw organic cotton yarn, paying homage to processes used before the advent of industrialized farming. We embrace the beauty of the flaws this process yields because it reflects the character of the natural cycle.

Put another way, these jeans are mad cute...and mad comfortable. Man Fertility said they are also the softest jeans he's ever had right out of the box and you don't have to run around for a year riding your motorcycle to get them this broken in.

Not to mention the "Nature Calls" fly, with the image of a whimsical leaf on the other side. Who says organic and sustainable can't be fashionable, humorous, and sexy all at the same time?

Loomstate grew out of the success of the modernistRogan jeans, which have a cult-like status (with fans like Madonna), and they admirably used their power for good not evil and formed their new jean brand, Loomstate. Plenty o' homespun wisdom on the their tag: "Organic is good for everyone." And "cold wash and hang dry in the sun."

(Picture credit: Florence Low, Sacramento Bee)

FertilityBitch's suggestion: go to their website and watch the video, where you will learn a lot about how cotton grows (it makes a squishy fruit, howaboutit?) and see the world's cutest dairy farmer.

Neat extra: the tag says The black specks on this paper stock are seeds. To grow, plant and water. I shall. We'll see!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

More Malaria Stuff: DDT

Anyway, after writing my previous malaria entries, I looked into donating money for mosquito nets, but when I noticed in the literature that the nets were all treated with insecticide, my little feelers went up. When I questioned what the insecticide was, I was told it was something the FDA cleared as "totally safe," so I even pulled out my cyber wallet, but then, being natur(e)ally skeptical, decided to verify first, trust later. I was horrified to find these humanitarian relief effort nets are all impregnated with neurotoxic chemicals...I did subtly (or not so) make this point to the organizations, but after a few polite email exchanges (one of the organizations was nice enough to actually look up the industrial name of the chemical--Deltamethrin--for me) didn't hear any replies back. This particularly aggrieved me because these organization were focused on getting the nets to pregnant women, the population MOST VULNERABLE to the effects of pesticides. Sure, malaria's no picnic, but there's got to be a better way.

Even worse, there's a movement afoot saying we MUST bring back DDT because of malaria, but these people would never say we MUST stop global warming that is causing the upsurge in malaria in the first place! [also, contrary to the screaming pundits, the enviros did not "force a ban" on DDT--it is still allowed for "public health" purposes]

Anyway, the crabby, inflexible reception I received from these aid groups made me a bit cranky, as does the current cultural trend that anyone who's not man enough to poo-poo global warming and not be afraid of few little chemicals is a liberal weenie. Here's (M)Ann coulter declaring Rachel Carson the antichrist:
"Our book is Genesis. Their book is Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, the original environmental hoax. Carson brainwashed an entire generation into imagining a world without birds, killed by DDT. Because of liberals’ druidical religious beliefs, they won’t allow us to save Africans dying in droves of malaria with DDT because DDT might hurt the birds."
I think I'm just going to have to close my wallet to the malaria relief efforts that rely on pesticides--why save the moms from malaria only to ruin the health of their unborn children? Thanks, Dave, of, for sending this BBC article: DDT 'link' to slow child progress.

Still unsure about the safety of DDT?

Here are some more stories from the same page (in the SEE ALSO box):

DDT pregnancy warning
Premature puberty link to DDT
DDT link to premature births

Plus here's a funny story (and picture) in US Magazine on how Ann Coulter's hands are, if anything, proof of the Theory of Evolution. Don't forget: laughter is good for the immune system!!

Monday, July 10, 2006

Yummy Noodles without gluten and cool for summer: Korean nengmyun

This is 냉면, Korean cold buckwheat noodles, that I would anglicize as neng myun or naeng myun. It just means "cold noodles" in Korean. You can find these in any Korean grocery store and many Asian groceries. I love them because I am IMPATIENT and they cook in one and a half minutes, three minutes max. Hey, that's better than ramen! Just make sure to rinse them immediately with cold water or they'll turn into a globby mess. Traditional way to eat is in a cold soup--cold chicken or beef broth, or mixed with hot pepper paste, gochuchang.

Buckwheat is also very good for you and has tons of fiber. Although you may see buckwheat pancakes and such marketed as "whole grain", that's a misnomer: buckwheat is more like a grass (ergo, no gluten) than a grain, but you'll still get a buttload of fiber, so to speak.

Here's a great guide on eating naeng myun at a Korean restaurant.

Here's a neat picture of buckwheat field all aflower - 메밀꽃

Here's a passage from my novel about eating naeng myun during the summer in Korea.

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Sunday, July 09, 2006

The Rise of Cooperation: Little Green Blogs Unite!

(Sorry, I couldn't resist).

This post is about making a better world (#1, clone George Clooney).

It's actually about how the collective spirit, altruism, and green fertility can yet exist in our "greed is good" world.

In a study here at Brown, researchers tried to figure out how cooperative green-types have somehow managed to survive and not turn all mean even in a dog-eat-dog world. First they constructed a theoretical model, which came up with this conclusion: if you keep the altruists in small groups, away from the "swindling hordes," they can "multiply and migrate."

Gives hope to the idea of many of us with our multitudinous little, green blogs can still redeem and reclaim the world:

Multiply and migrate = post early and often + link.

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Saturday, July 08, 2006

Tea 'reduces ovarian cancer risk'--which may come from Clomid

Fresh off the BBC: Tea 'reduces ovarian cancer risk'

It's pretty well known that "ovulation inducing" drugs like Clomid are highly suspected of causing ovarian cancer. The ovary is by nature a cyst/tumor producing organ, therefore the more tumors, the higher the chances of something going awry. Ovarian cancer is the 6th most frequent type of malignancy occurring in women.

Here is what had to say about Clomid (and, one must assume they're putting the best spin on it possible): "It is not a natural compound, and is a relative of tamoxifen and DES." Ugh--remember what a mess DES was? (It was the drug that supposedly would help prevent miscarriage, so they gave it willy nilly to pregnant women from 1937-1971 (eeeek!)--it was proven ineffective AND produced a generation of "DES daughters" [ugh, note the happy faces the CDC puts on this] with deformed or missing uterii, cancer, etc.)

They go on to talk about the "theoretical possibility" that any medication that would increase ovarian activity could result in an increased risk of ovarian cancer. Oops, but # 2 and # 3 kinda bring it out of the "theoretical":
* Isolated case reports of individual women who have taken ovulation inducing medications and were found to have developed ovarian cancer.

* Retrospective case controlled studies...noted that more of these women [with ovarian cancer]had taken “fertility medications” than would have been expected when compared to a “control group” of women who had not taken these medications.
In my previous incarnation as the Fertility columnist for, I heard from a LOT of women whose docs (sometimes just their primary care physicians) would put them on Clomid for no real reason, just because they'd been trying to get pregnant for over six months or something, and many of them reported awful (and sometimes lasting) side effects (migraines, a big one) AND continued infertility.

But (fair and balanced?) I do know someone who was put on Clomid, stopped it because it made her crazy, and then went on to conceive naturally--twice. She believes the Clomid kickstarted her repro system. The Don't-piss-off-Mother-Nature in me focuses on the fact she conceived once she STOPPED the Clomid.

FertilityBitch's suggestion? Drink organic black tea (in a non-dioxin-y bag, please) if you are or have taken Clomid (hello, Barry Bonds?). Two cups a day'll reduce your risk almost FIFTY percent according to the study. And drink black tea anyways--never can have to many anti-oxidants in today's polluted world.

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Friday, July 07, 2006

AP story: Tylenol linked to liver woes in Healthy subjects

(photo: AP)
There has been some buzz in the autistic community that the standard pediatric practice of giving Tylenol (acetaminophen) to babies before their vaccines (ugh, we were instructed to give it before AND after) may set the poor kids up for additional vaccine damage because Tylenol screws up Phase II liver detox (it says this in the fine print, which we did not bother to read, because, as the child of a physician, I was told never to question anything the doc told us to do and second guessing would be rude-rude-rude, after all, who is the expert here?)

And when our son was hospitalized for his cancer, he got loads and loads of Tylenol III, the super duper strength, after all, he's had surgery on his spinal cord.

But interestingly, this is when a lot of his troubles began. Almost everyone who knew him as a baby saw that he was never the same kid after he went into the hospital--we went from smiley, sweet boy to cranky screamy guy, the crankiness and screaminess only getting worse with each round of vaccination. Of course, we are just crazy vaccine wackos. However, this AP story shows that at least part of our story seems to be clinically true...hmmmm?
Healthy adults taking maximum doses of Tylenol for two weeks had abnormal liver test results in a small study, researchers found, raising concerns that even recommended amounts of the popular painkiller might lead to liver damage...[Read the rest of the story here].
So maybe you might try some meditation, acupuncture, feverfew (an herb) for that headache; epsom salt baths for achy muscles before you damage your liver and without the fun of slugging back Mojitos (n.b. drinkers with already beleaguered livers need to be especially careful about Tylenol, need I add the obvious!)

There is also some suggestion that fever has evolved as nature's way of fighting infection and thus shouldn't be suppressed at all. It's not nice to mess with mother nature! Here's an interesting essay on fever suppression and the immune system that's a compilation of several different views.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Smoking Shortens Man Fertility

It's pretty obvious that smoking isn't great for sperm, as if can cause breaks in the DNA, but did you know that (from the current issue of Men's Health):

"Smoking can shorten your penis by as much as a centimeter. Erections are all about good bloodflow, and lighting up calcifies blood vessels, stifling erectile circulation. So even if you don't care all that much about your lungs or dying young, spare the li'l guy."

Some MAN FERTILITY readers may object to the characterization of the "li'l guy" (at least they put the apostrophe in the right place, not like Lil' Kim), but there's more helpful "member" tips in the article.

And, relatedly, from the Smoking Gun, if anyone remembers that weird case of the judge who came up with this home-made device that he'd wear under his flowy robes so that he could multi-task with some self-recreation while deciding IMPORTANT LAW CASES (whatever!) Verdict Coming For "Penis Pump" Judge - June 29, 2006: "charged with indecent exposure for using a penis pump (among other really gross acts) while on the bench."

Maybe he was a smoker just trying to get some of his length back?

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Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Speaking of Africa, Why is the U.S. Media 2 months Behind on the Malaria Scandal?

(photo: The New York Times)
From the New York Times last week:

The World Bank, after pledging to halve malaria deaths in Africa six years ago, had let its staff working on the disease dwindle to zero.

And the United States Agency for International Development admitted to outraged senators last year that it spent more on high-priced consultants than on life-saving commodities, like mosquito nets that cost $5.75 apiece and last up to five years**.
Back in April I blogged on this from a story in the BBC.

**p.s. there are many well-meaning organizations that are soliciting donations for mosquito nets; some of these nets are pre-treated with insecticides that are not good, especially for pregnant woman and children *and* aquatic organisms. Some names of bad insecticides include Deltamethrin, and of course our good old friend DDT. You have to consider that if a chemical is strong enough to kill, it's not going to be great for humans or the envronment, either. Most pesticides are well known (and this is often cited as a plus) for their non-reactivity, i.e., that they never break down and stay inside us and the earth forever!

I don't see why these nets HAVE to be treated with insecticide, as mosquito nets were around long before insecticide was invented.

Also, sadly, one of the things I learned from An Inconvenient Truth was that a lot of African cities, e.g., Nairobi, were intentionally established at altitudes above "mosquito level" for this exact reason, but as global warming occurs, these cities are no longer naturally free of mosquitos. Maybe instead of $5 for mosquito nets we need to be focusing on cutting down carbon emissions and publicly ostracizing people who drive Hummers!

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Tuesday, July 04, 2006

A Poem to Ponder on Independence Day

Grace Paley

(reprinted by permission of the author--thanks, GP)

It is the responsibility of society to let the poet be a poet.

It is the responsibility of the poet to be a woman

It is the responsibility of the poet to stand on street corners
giving out poems and beautifully written leaflets
also leaflets they can hardly bear to look at
because of the screaming rhetoric

It is the responsibility of the poet to be lazy to hang out and prophesy

It is the responsibility of the poet not to pay war taxes

It is the responsibility of the poet to go in and out of ivory
towers and two-room apartments on Avenue C
and buckwheat fields and army camps

It is the responsibility of the male poet to be a woman

It is the responsibility of the female poet to be a woman

It is the poet's responsibility to speak truth to power as the
Quakers say

It is the poet's responsibility to learn the truth from the

It is the responsibility of the poet to say many times: there is no
freedom without justice and this means economic
justice and love justice

It is the responsibility of the poet to sing this in all the original
and traditional tunes of singing and telling poems

There is no freedom without fear and bravery there is no
freedom unless
earth and air and water continue and children
also continue

It is the responsibility of the poet to be a woman to keep an eye on
this world and cry out like Cassandra, but be
listened to this time


Monday, July 03, 2006

Kimora Lee Simmons: Half Masai Half Geisha???

(photo: New York Times)

...Kimora Lee Simmons, a flamboyant ex-model with the proud carriage of a Masai warrior and the flirtatious charm of a geisha...

(from the Sunday New York Times Magazine)

I guess this will be filed under MISCELLANEOUS RANTS when I figure out how to do categories.

Does ANYONE find it odd to describe Kimora Lee Simmons, who is half black and half Korean(? see **), by such racially and sexually charged and stereotyped and intellectually sloppy images?

Dark continent of Africa + exotic Asia = hot ex-model and makeup guru!

Maybe I'm overly sensitive? Take my race/sex in the media test: try plugging in a man + caucasian into the above formula. I dunno, George Clooney has the nice straight carriage of a Nazi? (the problem with this exercise is that there aren't enough white stereotypes!)

** Wikipedia says her mother is Japanese, but her story is a bit "weird": Heres a story in NY Metro for the eternally curious: "Her mom’s story is very Joy Luck Club, Kimora says. Joanne Perkins was born into the chaos of the Korean War and later adopted by an American serviceman who had spotted her mother filling sandbags in Inchon. Joanne maintains that her “full-blooded Japanese” mother went to Korea from Kyoto as a refugee during World War II, though this would make her a historical anomaly. There were few, if any, refugees from Kyoto, since it was never bombed, and those who left for Korea at the war’s end were invariably ethnic Koreans who were repatriating." I.e., something's weeeeiiiiiirddd about that story. It would be like birds migrating north for the winter (with global warming, who knows?) for a Japanese to painfully wend her way into a country full of Koreans extremely angry at the long and cruel colonizations by the Japanese

Full text: She's Like a Rainbow - New York Times

As always, you can use mine:

USERNAME: Greenfertility
PASSWORD: Greenfertility

secret word: soylent green

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Sunday, July 02, 2006

Urban Fertility: Borage

There's something nurturing and calming about growing things. When I lived in NYC I was so starved for nature in my miniscule apt whose lone window faced the Chinese Consulate that I spent probably $20 and untold hours over my dwarf tomato plant for maybe 2 cherry tomatoes--but they were were quite delish and provided plenty of Walden-esque mental satisfaction. Studies show that just LOOKING at green, living things can make you feel more peaceful and that it's a good idea to do this everyday.

I still live in the middle of a city and therefore remain big on container gardening. This summer (it's not too late) why not try BORAGE? It is sometimes considered a weed, which means EASY TO GROW. Moreover, it looks pretty and has tonic, herby qualities. Mine grew from in a small plastic tub I got for 99 cents at the Ocean State Job Lot in plain old organic potting soil that was purchased from said job lot for an additional 99 cents for 5 lbs.

Borage basically raises itself. In the summer it will produce clusters of edible purple flowers for you, which look ultra-fancy on birthday cakes, in salads, and floating in summer gin-drinks--PLUS they contain anti-inflammatory fatty acids. In the winter, just bring the plant inside and keep it up for leaves.

The young leaves taste like cucumber (I know--the botanical equivalent of "tastes like chicken"), and are rich in minerals, plus, it's an excellent low-key tonic for the adrenal glands. I.e., before you take Paxil for your stressed-out lifestyle, try the leaves slightly steamed, in soups, or lightly cooked in pasta sauce and peace out!
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Saturday, July 01, 2006

Cross-Fertilization: Fertilityb*tch on The (paraben-free) Lipstick Chronicles

Author Susan McBride invited me to guest blog at The Lipstick Chronicles, which is five amazing authors ("the Book Tarts," as they cheekily call themselves) who blog on whatever tickles their collective fancies, including putting eyedrops in their cats' eyes, the writing life, and inviting weirdos like me.

Here's the permalink to my piece about how writing has permanently damaged my teeth.