Friday, September 28, 2012

Video-Why Chocolate Makes You Happy

The cacao bean (what chocolate is made from) is one of the most amazing superfoods in the world. This really cool short video lists a huge number of awesome benefits of this little nut - from antioxidants to "feel good" chemicals, and more, this one little nut packs quite a punch! It's helpful in relieving depression, and some say it can even help you fall in love - no wonder the chocolate heart is the major candy of Valentine's Day!  But just be aware that much of the chocolate you buy at the supermarket doesn't have much left of the real thing....

Learn more here:

Dark Chocolate Now The Super Food Part 2 "2.Heart Diseases -- Cocoa is a rich source of anti-oxidants which helps in fighting heart diseases and also prevents blood clots, which is one of the major reasos of weak heart. It promot...

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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Importance Of Water For A Healthy & Non-Toxic Body

The human body can last weeks without food, but only days without water. The body is made up of approximately 55 to75 per cent water. Water forms the basis of blood, digestive juices, urine and perspiration and is contained in lean muscle, fat and bones.

English: U.S. Army Sergeant Kornelia Rachwal g...
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
As the body can’t store water, we need fresh supplies every day to make up for losses from lungs, skin, urine and feces. Water is needed to maintain the health and integrity of every cell in the body, keep the bloodstream liquid enough to flow through blood vessels, help eliminate the by products of the body’s metabolism, helps to flush out toxins, regulate body temperature through sweating, lubricate and cushion joints and carry nutrients and oxygen to the body’s cells, just to name a few. Drinking refreshing, clean water plays a major role in reducing the risk of certain diseases.

The loss of body water through urination is greatly increased by the ingestion of caffeinated and alcoholic beverages. These drinks have a diuretic effect, meaning they stimulate the kidneys to excrete more urine. Not only do we lose water, we also lose water-soluble vitamins, such as vitamin C, vitamin B (thiamine) and other B complex vitamins. Some people think that drinking a Coke counts as water, but the truth is, for every caffeinated or alcoholic beverage you drink, you need to add an additional glass of pure water to your daily intake.

A diet containing lots of fruits and vegetables will supply about 4 cups of water per day. But even with a diet high in fruits and vegetables, it is still necessary to drink at least an additional 4 to 6 cups of water per day to supply enough water to meet the body’s daily needs (depending on daily activity levels and temperature).
English: Fingerprints on a glass of water made...
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Dehydration occurs when the water content of the body is too low. This is easily fixed by increasing fluid intake. Symptoms of dehydration include headaches, lethargy, mood changes and slow responses, dry nasal passages, dry or cracked lips, dark-colored urine, weakness, tiredness, confusion and hallucinations. Eventually urination stops, the kidneys fail and the body can’t remove toxic waste products. In extreme cases, this may result in death.

Approximately six to eight glasses of a variety of fluids can be consumed each day. More than eight glasses may be needed for physically active people, children, people in hot or humid environments, and breastfeeding women. Less water may be needed for sedentary people, older people, people in a cold environment or people who eat a lot of high water content foods. But either way, we can't get by without water, and there is no substitute!
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Monday, September 24, 2012

Superfoods That Fight Depression & Improve Mood

We’ve all had the blues once in while. But when they happen on a more frequent basis, it becomes cause for concern. But there are ways to adjust your diet to help stabilize your mood. It’s imperative to eat meals at regular intervals in order to keep your serotonin levels in check, a chemical in the brain that has a calming effect. Good nutrition is your best defense for managing depression, without resorting to potentially toxic drugs.

Salade de jambon cru et saumon fumé. (salad of...
 Healthy foods for your brain & mood. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Carbohydrates are linked to serotonin production and lack of carbohydrates may cause changes in your mood. Here are more food ideas to help you combat depression and kick those blues.

Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, salmon and mackerel are always a great choice for dinner. Omega-3 fatty acids also help prevent heart disease and stroke and may help prevent some cancers. Plus, salmon contains selenium, an important antioxidant mineral. Be sure to choose wild salmon at the grocery store or local fish market, since it contains more omegas than farmed, or Atlantic, salmon.

A recent study indicated that people who suffer from depression also have lower levels of the antioxidant vitamin E. Olive oil, walnut oil, and other healthy fats and oils tend to have high vitamin E content.

Dark green vegetables like spinach and peas are high in folate, a key player in the production of serotonin. They’re also an excellent source of vitamin C and fiber. Fresh is always the best option, as canned versions tend to have lower nutritional value. Legumes are also high in folate and protein and low in fat, and are an excellent option for those who are vegetarian or on meat-restricted diets.

The Ancient Egyptians knew that feeding a pati...
More good mood foods. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Chickpeas are rich in fiber, iron, and vitamin E. For a simple snack, combine a can of drained and rinsed chickpeas with some minced garlic, fresh lemon juice, and olive or canola oil in your blender or food processor. Add salt, pepper and other spices as you wish. The resulting hummus makes a healthy and hearty vegetable dip.

Chicken and turkey are both rich in vitamin B6, which plays a role in serotonin production in the body. They are both a good source of selenium and other vitamins and minerals, too. You should always eat free-range, pasture-raised poultry to support the health of the planet, and minimize antibiotics and other toxins in your diet.

And please, if you’ve been dealing with the symptoms of depression for a while, contact your doctor to discuss available treatment options and find a natural and healthy solution that works for you.
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Friday, September 21, 2012

Video - The Future Of Food

Who owns your food? This eye-opening video will surprise and maybe even shock you. Did you know that until the 1970's, patenting living things was not allowed on moral grounds? Once those flood gates were opened, anything is game, and the repercussions are potentially catastrophic. In this brief introduction, you will learn how our food supply got to where it is now, and why this is a very scary thing. (Grab the full video below.)

The Future of Food - Introduction
There is a revolution going on in the farm fields and on the dinner tables of America, a revolution that is transforming the very nature of the food we eat. THE FUTURE OF FOOD offers an in-depth investigation into the disturbing truth behind the unla...

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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

10 Reasons To Buy Organic Meat

We all know that buying organic meat is better for our health.  Eating organic meat means we’re not ingesting harmful antibiotics, hormones or herbicides and pesticides.  However buying organic isn’t just good for your immediate health, it’s also better for the environment.  Here are 10 green and healthy reasons to buy organic meat.
#1  Better Manure Handling:
Okay so it may seem odd or perhaps distasteful to begin by talking about waste, however, manure on large industrial farms is nothing more than pollution.  It’s a health risk that runs into our water supply and contaminates the land for miles around.  However, smaller farms that produce organic meat use the manure in sustainable ways to fertilize soil, the same soil they’re using to grow the grass and food for their animals.  They’re sustainable farms that manage their resources in the most environmentally friendly way possible. (For a great example of this, see Polyface Farms.)

Approaching the Eggmobile, at Polyface Farms i...
Chickens on pasture, at Polyface Farms in Virginia. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
#2  Less Chemical Pollution and Contamination:
Organic farms do not use synthetic pesticides and fertilizers on the food they feed their animals nor on the land they’re raised on.  This means not only are the animals, and those who subsequently consume them, saved from ingesting these chemicals, the land isn’t contaminated with them. Our soil and water supply remain healthier.

#3  Diversity:
Nature thrives on diversity.  If it didn’t, there wouldn’t be more than 1 million types of bugs.  Large industrial farms typically raise one or two species of cow, pig or chicken; however smaller organic farms typically raise a variety, preserving the diversity of our food supply. (See this post if you're not sure why this is important - the same that goes for seeds and plants also applies to our livestock species.) 

#4  Resource Conservation:
Industrial farms consume vast amounts of resources to keep their farms running.  They go through thousands of gallons of water each day and the processes to automate the processes consume large amounts of electricity and fuel.  Not to mention the cost of fuel to distribute the grain and feed for the animals. 

However, organic farms typically use about 70 percent less energy than industrial farms.  They’re about sustainability and renewable resources, not mass production, and are therefore generally more aware of their environmental impact. 

#5  Sustain Your Local Economy:

When you buy local and organically grown meat, you’re generally supporting your local farmers.  These same farmers employ local residents and you contribute to the overall quality of life for your neighbors.  Not to mention that you’re buying food that is typically fresher and healthier for you and your family - it's a win-win-win!

#6  No Antibiotics or Added Hormones:

Industrial farms argue that they have to inject their animals with antibiotics to keep them healthy and they have to inject them with hormones to increase meat production.  However, what happens to those antibiotics and hormones?  We consume them and then flush them into our waste treatment facilities where they become part of our water supply and our soil.  The environmental and health effects are only now starting to be realized. 

Hungry pigs at Polyface Farms in Virginia.
Hungry pigs at Polyface Farms in Virginia. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
#7  Ethical Treatment Of Animals:

Now it’s true that the end result for the animal is essentially the same.  Unless we’re talking about dairy cows or laying chickens, most livestock ends up on someone’s dinner plate.  However, many argue that we’re all simply a collection of energy.  Whether we’re a bug on a flower, a chicken pecking at her feed or a parent making dinner for their family – we’re all energy.  And when this energy is treated well, it affects us all in a positive manner. Making sure an animal has a pleasant and happy life (however long it is), and isn't abused, is the least we can do. 

#8  Support one, support them all:

The dollar, and the consumer holding the dollar, has a mighty voice.  If you purchase organic meats, you’re helping to demonstrate to larger industrial farms what you want.  They will in turn, eventually adopt more environmentally sound practices or go out of business.  Money talks and business owners and farmers listen.

#9  Offspring:

One great thing about organic farms is that they tend to be smaller so that they can operate efficiently.  Smaller farms are more sustainable and thus more profitable.  However this means they cannot house or care for large numbers of animals.  What to do with the babies?  Offspring are often sold to other small farm owners thus spreading the diversity of livestock and helping other small farmers start and grow their businesses. 

#10  Better Green Practices Everywhere:

Believe it or not, as we change our behavior it affects others.  If you make a conscious decision to buy organic meat you’re not only affecting the farmer who raises the livestock and the folks they employ, you’re also bettering the environment.  However, your influence reaches far beyond that.  Your decision to buy organic meat is probably something you’ll talk about, even if only to one person.  Like a random act of kindness, your decision will have the same positive effect.  You’ll touch lives and others will in turn make the same decision to buy organic meat.  The end result…a better environment, better farming practices, and better health for everyone.

More About Sustainable Meat Farming Practices:
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Monday, September 17, 2012

Do You Know Where Your Food Comes From?

As seen in the eye-opening documentary, Food, Inc., the industrialization of food has meant the addition of preservatives, pesticides, and many other chemicals which can be harmful to our health and to the environment.  Additionally, it means that there are generally only a handful of large farms growing the majority of any particular crop throughout the country.  That means distribution is costly both in terms of money and resources.  However, not all food is created equally.  Some foods are better than others - both for you and the rest of the planet - and getting your food from quality, sustainable sources can benefit you in more ways than one. 

English: Environmental contamination with pest...
Environmental contamination with pesticides (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Here’s how to know where your food comes from and to make an educated buying decision.

#1.  Check your food’s mileage.  Many foods come from half way around the world to land on your kitchen table.  That means that they’re often harvested early (and green), robbing you of nutrients.  It also means that to make the trip they are filled with preservatives and pesticides to maximize productivity and enhance longevity.  To find out where a food comes from, simply check the label.  It will say, "Grown and raised in Iowa" or "California oranges", or "Farm-raised in Thailand" and so on.

Buying food that comes from just down the street, or at least within your home state, accomplishes two things.  It helps to ensure you’re not receiving nutrient-poor foods or foods heavily loaded with toxins. It also reduces the carbon footprint and helps the environment.

#2.  Buy according to what is in season. Buying strawberries in December is definitely going to cost you more in terms of carbon footprint and money than buying them in June or July (at least in most areas of the world). 

#3.  Buy fruits and vegetables locally.  Buy your fruits and vegetables from local organic farmers who can charge much less for their produce because they don’t have to pay for distribution.  Additionally, you’re helping to sustain your local economy and you’re ensuring that thousands of gallons in fuel are not required to get the produce from the farm to your table. 

English: eco symbol used to promote organic, l...
Organic, locally grown food at a farm market. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Joining a CSA (community sustained agriculture) program (my favorite!) or shopping at your local farmer’s market is also a great way to buy foods which are both healthy for you and the environment. CSAs are most often organic farms and do not pour pesticides, chemical fertilizers, and fungicides into the earth.

#4.  Try growing a few fruits and veggies on your own.  Whether you live in a small space or you have acres of land, you can grow your own herbs, fruits and vegetables.  This not only provides immense satisfaction, it saves you money and is good for the sustainability of our planet. (See our sustainable gardening blog for tips and helpful resources on starting your own garden, or visit

#5.  Finally, whenever possible, buy organic.  Organic farmers treat your food and the planet with more respect.  Unlike industrialized farms, they do not use chemical pesticides, fungicides or fertilizers.  They use sustainable practices to keep you and our planet healthy.

Knowing where your food comes from is important for the planet, but it’s also important for your own health and the health of your family.  Pay attention and take measures to buy your food from sustainable resources.  You’ll be glad you did.

Learn More About Your Food:
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Friday, September 14, 2012

Handy Car Features That Minimize Gasoline Usage

The quest for relief from oppressive gas prices have led drivers on searches far and wide for ways to minimize the effect of the high prices on their wallets.  However, many drivers are literally at arm’s length from ways to help themselves, and do not even know it!  In fact, many features that come standard with new vehicles are not only convenient, but can help you to save on gas usage as well.

Since every gallon counts at today’s gas prices, even the simplest improvements to gas mileage can lead to more money in your pockets.  Although many products make gaudy claims to improve gas mileage drastically, most (if not all) of these claims are unproven.  As usual, the best remedies are usually the simple and somewhat obvious ones.  For instance, use your car’s already existing features to ease up on your gas usage when you are driving around from place to place.

Yaris Cruise Control
Yaris Cruise Control (Photo credit: nebarnix)
Cruise control is a great feature for many reasons.  It can keep you from having to glance down at your speed all the time, for one thing.  This means that you can avoid getting a speeding ticket by merely setting a consistent speed that will not get you pulled over.  Using the cruise control feature effectively takes away any chance of you accidentally getting a heavy foot and an unintended speeding ticket as a result. 

However, cruise control is also a great way to conserve gas!  When you are on the highway, the cruise control can help your car to stay at a consistent speed.  This means that you will not be accidentally increasing your speed and making the car periodically work harder. 

If you have an “overdrive” option for your car, you should use the overdrive gears whenever possible.  Overdrive allows your engine to work much less than it would otherwise.  Of course, the less your engine works, the less gasoline you use.  In other words, overdrive alone will increase your vehicle’s fuel efficiency. 

While you are at it, keep your eye on your RPM gauge, especially if you drive a manual transmission automobile - but you can learn to use this in an automatic car as well.  After all, any time your car is running in the high end of the RPM range, you are using more engine power than you need to, and thus more gas.  Make sure that you are not staying in the low gears for too long before shifting, and spend as much time in the comfortable RPM range of higher gears as you can, since you will save yourself some gas in the process.  The RPM gauge is another example of an under-utilized feature that, if used correctly, can help you to conserve gas. (In an automatic transmission car, with a little practice, you can learn to use the gas pedal to shift gears smoothly and work your way up into the higher gears sooner.)

English: 'Symbol of Air conditioning in a BMW ...
Symbol of Air conditioning in a BMW car. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
While we are talking about features to use, let’s also mention a feature that you should stay away from if you are trying to conserve gas: the air conditioning feature.  If you turn on your car’s air conditioning, your car will end up working much harder than usual, which means your car will consume more gas to fuel that work.  The easy translation here is to avoid the air conditioning whenever you can.  After all, it may be hot out, but you definitely do not want to have to sweat it out while pumping gas into your empty tank, right? Whenever the weather is cool enough, crack the windows a bit and enjoy the breeze - and save money on gas.

As you can see, there are many fairly basic features your car may already have that, with regular use, can help you go longer between trips to the gas station.  Even though some of these features may only have a small effect on your car’s gas usage, if you follow all of the tips, it will add up.  With gas prices as high as they are now, even if you can save a gallon or two here and there, that can be a pretty substantial savings for you!

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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

4 Little-Known Ways to Improve Fuel Economy

There is not a single driver among us who would not prefer to spend less of their hard-earned cash at the fuel pump.  That is why people are becoming more and more aware of the many simple and cost effective ways that they can improve their fuel economy.  However, what do you say to people who are already familiar with the basics?  Fortunately, there are many little known ways that you can improve your gas mileage.

English: Steady speed fuel economy 1997 study
Steady speed fuel economy 1997 study (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Just about everyone knows that if you want to save gas, you need to drive slower.  By now that's pretty much common sense. But even though you can save a lot of gas by going slower on the highway, many people are unwilling to do so. So what are some ways to increase gas mileage without having to do things that you are not willing to do in the long term?

1. First of all, stop neglecting the regular maintenance that your car needs.  According to studies, a dirty air filter can cost you up to 20% of the gas mileage you should be receiving.  A quick change of spark plugs can increase your fuel economy by over 10%.  Also, many people are not aware that they can increase their gas mileage simply by keeping their tires properly inflated!

2. Similarly, too many drivers are carting around a vehicle full of unnecessary things that are robbing them of valuable gas mileage.  For every 250 pounds of excess gear in your car, you can count on around one mile per gallon lost.  Also, make sure that you take bike racks and other items off of your vehicle when it is not the proper season.  It may take a few minutes, but such items produce extra wind resistance, which makes your vehicle work harder to accelerate or maintain speed.

3. You can even save some money on gas while you’re spending money- at the gas pump, that is.  For example, when the auto shut off kicks in, do not squeeze in a couple of extra cents to make the dollar amount even.  This is one of the ways in which people waste money, since most of that extra gas will not end up properly going in the tank.  Also, most drivers are unaware that a loose gas cap can not only cause your “service engine” light to go on, but can also result in lost gasoline, which escapes as vapor out of the tank.

English: EPA fuel economy and environmental co...
EPA fuel economy and environmental comparison label for the 2011 Chevrolet Volt (Dual fuel vehicle electricity-gasoline) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
4. Finally, make sure that you use your car’s features to their maximum effect.  You can save a little money on gas by using your cruise control often, since your engine will not be working to match the fluctuations in pressure that you are putting on the gas pedal.  Also, make sure that you use the overdrive function when possible, since it allows your engine to avoid overworking itself.

Driving and maintaining your vehicle in a way that allows for increased fuel economy is mostly a matter of having the proper knowledge, then putting that information to work.  It is vital that you not only know the methods for increasing gas mileage, but that you are consistent in their implementation, as just trying one of these tips once or twice isn't likely to make a significant difference in your fuel efficiency - you need to make it a habit.
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Monday, September 10, 2012

3 Tips For Changing Your Driving Style to Conserve Gasoline

Gas prices have spiked again recently, but they've been up and down so much over the past year, people are seeming not to notice as much - which I think is kind of the point.... In  my opinion, the oil companies do this on purpose - it's a form of (as a friend of mine used to say) "cooking the frog." They're getting us used to these spikes, so we don't notice as much that the price is going ever higher - eventually we won't make a peep when it's $5.00/gallon and more....  That's my take on it anyway.

Drive (Photo credit: kaysha)
But most people can improve their mileage substantially, effectively lowering their price for gasoline, with a few simple adjustments. One of the most important is driving style. I find when I pay attention to my driving style, I get SUBSTANTIALLY better gas mileage (like 5mpg or so).

Most drivers are not thinking of fuel consumption when they drive. In past years, it might not have been as much of a consideration, but with the gas prices getting to be so high, we must all think about how we can reduce our gas usage.  After all, it is getting harder and harder to be able to afford frequent fill-ups at the gas station!  What follows are a few pretty basic ways that you can change your driving style to a more fuel-efficient one.

1. One big mistake that many drivers make is accelerating too often.  If you pay attention, you will notice that the vast majority of drivers accelerate almost all the time.  It does not matter whether they are 50 feet from a red light or a turn that they will have to slow down for, they will continue to have their foot on the gas right up until they have to brake.  This is a mistake for a number of reasons, all of which can affect fuel consumption.

First of all, it makes no sense to speed up towards a red light that you will have to stop for in a short distance.  Instead, why not take your foot off the gas and coast a bit?  This will not only allow you to save your brakes, but if the light changes, you can continue coasting until it is time to accelerate, and you may be able to do so without ever having to completely stop.  Your car will use a lot less gas starting from a coasting speed of 20 miles per hour than it would from a complete stop.  Again, the light is red anyway, there is simply no need to accelerate towards it.

2. If you have a turn coming up shortly, there is also no need to accelerate right up until the point where you must turn.  Why do so, when you will then have to brake aggressively in order to safely make your turn?  Instead, when you reach a reasonable distance to your turn, take your foot off the gas pedal and coast a bit before slowly easing on the brake and making your turn.  Doing so will not cost you much time, and it will save gas as well as your brakes, both of which cost a fair amount of money.

Driving Cars in a Traffic Jam
Driving Cars in a Traffic Jam (Photo credit:
3. Finally, try not to tailgate behind other drivers, and anticipate future stops or having to slow down.  If you give yourself a good amount of distance between yourself and the car(s) in front of you, you can see whether people are stopping or turning with much more notice, which allows you to coast a bit rather than having to slam on your brakes.  Again, you’re only wasting gas if you speed up to ride the bumper of the car in front of your.  This is needless, rude, and can also be the cause of an accident!

Think of it as trying to keep your engine RPMs as constant as possible. Try watching your tachometer (the gauge that measures your engine's RPM), and learn to drive while minimizing the spikes and keeping the engine's speed as even as possible - usually mine is the most efficient when I'm around 2,000 - when I'm in that range, I know I'm getting close to 40mpg, and it's taken me a while to learn how to get up to 40-45 mph without the needle going over 2,000, but it definitely works!

These subtle tweaks to your driving style won’t cost you any time or money, and will save you a lot of gas and wear and tear on your car.  Also, if you drive less aggressively, you will accumulate less traffic tickets and accidents, which can cost you way more money than gas ever did! It's a positive change all around. Also as a mental benefit, I've noticed that when I drive less aggressively, I also feel less aggressive, which reduces my stress and even helps me enjoy driving more. Try practicing all of these tips over the next several weeks, and you may be surprised to see how much your mileage improves!

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Friday, September 7, 2012

Choosing Cloth vs. Disposable Diapers?

With all the decisions new parents have to make you wouldn’t think diapers would be such a tough decision, yet it is one parents routinely struggle with: cloth or disposable diapers?  While cloth diapers are obviously better for the environment, and may contain fewer harmful chemicals, they're also more inconvenient than disposables. What is a health and eco-conscious parent on the go to do? This article lays out the pros and cons of both types to help you make the right decision for you and your family.

English: Disposable diaper, size 12-25kg/26-55lb.
Disposable diaper, size 12-25kg/26-55lb. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Disposable Diaper Pros
  • Disposable diapers are extremely convenient, no doubt about it.  It makes changing your infant a quick and easy process.  When you’re shopping and you have to change a messy cloth diaper, you don’t get to just drop it in the garbage, you have to haul it around with you.  Ick!
  • Disposable diapers may seem to fit better.  The adjustable adhesive fasteners make it easy to fit any size or shape baby.  This is not always so with a cloth diaper which always seems to stretch out once you have it on your child and certainly more so once it’s been soiled.

Disposable Diaper Cons
  • Disposable diapers are petroleum-based products, which means they’re just downright awful for the environment.  Carbon emissions are created in the manufacturing of disposable diapers, fuel is used in the transportation from manufacturer to store and diapers don’t biodegrade but sit in landfills for decades.  (Yes, decades!)
  • Disposable diapers also contain a number of chemicals, which may harm an infant’s sensitive skin - remember that an infant's skin is much thinner than an adult's, meaning they are absorbing a lot of the chemicals from diapers into their bodies. Double ick! 
  • Disposable diapers are more expensive than cloth diapers even if you have a diaper service.

Cloth Diaper Pros
Baby in cloth diaper. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
  • Cloth diapers can be environmentally sound, particularly if you purchase organic cotton diapers.  And while cloth diapers have to be laundered, which does contaminate the water supply and use water, they can be washed with biodegradable detergent.  This makes them more environmentally friendly than disposable.  However, if you have a diaper service then you’ll also have to weigh in the fact that delivery is contributing to greenhouse gases.
  • Cloth diapers, if they’re organic, don’t have harmful chemicals in them which means they’re not going to be as likely to irritate your baby’s skin - or contribute to increasing the toxins in his or her body.
  • Cloth diapers don’t fill landfills.  They’re reusable.
  • Cloth diapers are generally a lot less expensive than disposable over time.

Cloth Diaper Cons
  • They’re inconvenient, particularly for moms on the go.
  • They don’t necessarily fit as well, though some cloth diapers being manufactured today do have a better fit and fastening system than the old rectangle and diaper pin method. (In fact, many are now made with elastic leg bands and velcro fasteners, making them as easy to put on and take off as disposable diapers.)
  • If cloth diapers are not organic, then the cotton used to make them is grown and harvested with pesticides, chemical fertilizers and other environmentally harmful chemicals.

Wrapping it all up

Disposable diapers are more convenient, though more expensive and they are generally an environmentally unfriendly practice.  There are some more natural disposable diapers (such as gDiapers) but they tend to be quite expensive, and may still be inconvenient to dispose of in some cases.  Cloth diapers, if they’re organic, are the most environmentally sound practice - and the healthiest for your baby.  The downside is they’re inconvenient.  Ultimately, the decision to buy disposable or cloth must meet your personal needs as well as your lifestyle. But if you're leaning towards cloth, take a look at some of the newer designs - you may find them a lot easier to handle than the cloth diapers of old.

A Few Eco-Diaper Choices:
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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

3 Reasons To Feed Your Baby Organic Baby Food

Are you a new parent?  If you are, you may be looking for safe and healthy foods to feed your baby.  When doing so, you may find that you have a small number of options.  Unfortunately, a large number of baby foods currently on the market cannot be considered completely natural.  If this causes you concern, you may want to take the time to examine organic baby food.

As nice as it is to hear that organic baby food is safe and healthy to feed your baby, you may still have some reservations.  After all organic food is known for its higher prices.  There are many first-time parents who wonder if the cost is truly worth it.  But after a close examination, I think you will find that it is.  In fact, there are at least three reasons why you should feed your new baby organic baby food.

1 – Organic Baby Food Is Healthier

Baby Food
Organic Baby Food (Photo credit: Cascadian Farm)
The health reasons are just one of the many reasons why organic baby food is ideal for babies.  As previously stated, many food products designed for babies cannot be considered completely natural.  This is because many companies add in unhealthy sugars and other additives.  This is not the case with organic foods. 

There are many individuals, including parents, who claim that organic food can help to improve a child’s health, as well as their behavior now and in the long run.  Despite the lack of scientific proof, many parents are not willing to take the chance.  Another impact has to do with recalls.  Whether it be recalls on toys, food, or clothing, parents are concerned with companies following all government restrictions to the letter.  Many wonder if a toy manufacturer can put too much lead in a toy, can too many chemicals make their way into baby food?

2 – An Increasing Number of Options

Another one of the many reasons why parents should consider feeding their babies organic baby food is because of the growing number options available.  Unfortunately, many parents mistakenly believe that choosing organic foods limits the number of foods their children will be able to consume.  While this may be true in some cases, you may be surprised how many flavors and different varieties of organic food are available for babies and other small children.

For example, Earth's Best Organic is a well-known supplier and product manufacturer of organic foods.  In terms of their jarred baby food, which is ideal for infants, they have flavors that include apples, carrots, bananas, peas, sweet potatoes, and pears - and much more.  It is also important to mention that these flavors are only for jarred baby food.  Organic formula, rice cereals, and other snacks can be made organically as well.

Homemade Baby Food - Carrots
Homemade Baby Food - Carrots (Photo credit: Cascadian Farm)
3 – You Can Make Your Own Organic Baby Food

As previously stated, organic baby food does cost more than traditional foods.  This is due in part to the extra steps that must be taken to ensure that all foods are organic, including certification.  Although many grocery stores and organic food stores, both on and offline, offer sales and discounts, the costs may still be too much for many parents.  If it is for you, you can still feed your baby organic baby food by making your own.  In fact, you may be surprised just how easy it is to do so.  All you need to do is find homemade baby food recipes and make sure that you use organic fruits and vegetables. Usually all you need is a basic food processor, and you're good to go. You can make small batches in the amounts that you need, and you'll know the food you're feeding your baby is as fresh and healthy as it can be!

As you can see, there are a number of reasons why organic food is great for babies.  If you are concerned with your child, their health, and the ingredients found in many common foods, organic baby food may be a great choice.
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Monday, September 3, 2012

Choosing Products to Minimize Your Baby's Toxic Load

Having a baby can be one of the most joyous occasions in life. However, for the growing number of parents who are awakening to the many toxic dangers of our modern lifestyle, it can also be a time fraught with many nervewracking questions and decisions. The last thing you want to do is burden your new baby's body with potentially harmful chemicals - their bodies are already faced with enough adjustments as it is, and research has shown that many chemicals in the environment can contribute to a number of childhood diseases, including rashes, chronic skin conditions, asthma and other respiratory complications. This week we are going to share some tips for minimizing your baby's exposure to toxins in the environment, and helping make sure they grow into healthy, strong kids, who will become healthy, strong adults.

English: Baby Boy being bathed
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
There are many body care products on the market under the heading of "baby" - baby lotion, baby bath, baby soap. But just because something has "baby" in the title does not mean it's the best for your little one. Babies' skin is five times thinner than adults' skin, so even a product that is "safe" for adults could be harmful for your baby. Here are some things to consider when choosing body care products for your little one.

1. Think outside the labels

Unlike food, the FDA does not require extensive labeling of personal care product ingredients, nor does it require companies to test the safety of the ingredients they use. On labels that do show some ingredients, you might see parabens, sodium laureth/lauryl sulfate, and pthalates - all implicated in skin irritation and hormone disruption.

What the labels don't show are by-products, such as 1,4-Dioxane, a potential carcinogen and component of sodium laureth sulfate. If the product you are considering contains sodium laureth sulfate, that means it contains 1,4 Dioxane. Don't automatically trust labels that claim the product is "natural" or "mild."  There may be many chemicals in mainstream baby body products that are not listed at all on the label. (This article has a helpful list of ingredients to watch out for as well:

2. Don't perfume the baby
So many personal care products are infused with fragrance, which means they probably contain pthalates, a chemical that is often a component of scented items. Pthalates are linked to problems with reproduction. Fragrances have been known to cause allergic reactions as well. Be sure to choose fragrance-free products if these are concerns for you.

3. Research

There are excellent sites, some with databases, where you can research the safety and toxicity of specific personal care products for babies and children. Some sites even rate the products, giving them a toxicity "score."  One such helpful site is the EWG's cosmetic safety database, which is free to use and search.

Organic Baby Care by Butt Naked Baby
4. Go organic - or make your own
If the chemicals in baby body care products concern you - including the rather  significant "the consumer does not know" factor - consider getting organic products or making them yourself. Look for labels that say "certified organic" or have a list of what they don't contain, such as "paraben-free" or "NO sodium laureth/lauryl sulfate."

The simpler, the better - organic olive oil is a mild, natural moisturizer for baby's skin, as is organic almond oil. Oatmeal is soothing and inexpensive - powder organic oats in a blender and add to baby's bathwater. Or, mix the powdered oats with water to make a paste and use as a skin cleanser. That's all the cleanser baby's skin needs!

To find good baby care products, besides EWG's site, you may also wish to check out The Natural Product Directory - their "Skincare" category has a small but growing list of baby care products, which are helpfully rated by a number of safety factors, ingredients, and consumer reviews. (Click on Product Categories, then Skin Care. There is a baby care section near the bottom.)

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