Category Archives: Products

there’s something in the water

My friend Rachel emailed me an SF Gate article I thought was worth sharing. It’s about the adverse effect of sunscreens, which wash off people’s bodies at the beach, on fish and coral reefs. The article talks about how sunscreen is one of the many chemical personal care products that end up in the water supply, including medications. They suggest that the solution is to educate people about these chemicals so that they can demand safer products and a better water filtration system (as of now we go right ahead and drink this stuff aparently). They also have a list of sunscreen products that are better for the sea.

I remember a similar discussion a couple months back about birth control hormones ending up in the drinking water supply. I sort of shy away from this topic because (a) it’s really gross to think about drinking water that was formerly pee! and (b) I’m really conflicted. I’ve always been a pretty strong live and let live person. I certainly would never want women who wanted it to not have access to birth control. At the same time, I think these cases are good reminders that “live and let live” has some serious challenges, in that we all live in the same place.

The same issue comes up for me with chemical laundry detergents and dish cleaners. In general, I don’t use them myself (to be honest, more because they give me a rash), but I’ve never really pushed them on people in my life. Still, nothing really goes away when it goes down the drain… and sometimes it’s just coming right back out the faucet.

I’m conflicted because I guess I am feeling a little burned out on the idea of a consumer revolution. Are we really going to demand safer products? Do we have time to? Many alternative are available now and most people don’t buy them (can’t afford to? can’t find them? don’t care?). But the idea of regulation is a scary ethical minefield. Some things, such as sunscreen that still protects from sunburns but doesn’t hurt the ocean as much seems pretty uncontroversial. But birth control? What about life-saving drugs that get into the water supply?

I wish we could trust the government to decide what is reasonable for public health and safety versus individual rights, but it’s pretty obvious that we can’t (and if we do while the person we like is in power, it’s all subject to change when their term is over).

I might sound a bit pessimistic, but I’m not. I’m just mulling it over. I definitely know a lot folks who think changing consumer behavior is where it’s at. I just don’t think we can do it until we change consumers back into citizens, and that’s a formidable task. (I’ll do it if someone else pays my rent.)

In the meanwhile, there is a silver lining – at least our internal organs and our sushi won’t get sunburned!

a pretty informative and overly balanced link on tap water (though admittedly not without bias)

a side of metal with that?

logo_lodge.gifHappy New Year! I wish everyone a healthy ’08.

I was contemplating what sorts of health things I want to blog about this year. I plan to continue with tips about how to reduce consumption of toxins. My tips come from a variety of sources: friends, professionals, my own research and hopefully some new tips from the natural cooking classes I got for Christmas!

Last night as I was washing our almost new frying pan, I noticed a bit of ugly chipping — i didn’t think they were Teflon, but it appears they are, and are already getting scratched. I’m really looking forward to bits of Teflon in my scrambled eggs. We’ve all heard how healthful that is!

Actually, what I’m really looking forward to is the day I purchase a set of Lodge pots and pans. Lodge makes cookware out of cast iron, completely Teflon free. This company has been around forever, and individual pots and pans are really reasonable (about twenty bucks for a large frying pan). I think they may even be sold at target, among other places.

* This tip came from Ode Magazine, which ran an article a year ago about the dangers of Teflon and suggested Lodge as an alternative.

dried up & scarred

I’m about to delve into finals period for my MFA, so likely might be a little sporadic until after the holidays, but I’ll be back full on in the new year (with the report on the full month of chlorophyll experiment, so far so good).

Heading into winter, I did want to mention a product I discovered last year, which was recommended to my mom for a scar by a natural skin care specialist. It’s rose hip oil. My mom used it on a scar from surgery, which all but disappeared, and I used it for the awful skin dryness that comes with winter, especially at the corners of your mouth.

rosa-mosqueta-rose-hip-seed_66c47cd6.jpgRose hip oil smells lovely & is pretty cheap. I bought an Aubrey version for about twelve bucks, used it all last winter, and just handed off more than half a bottle to my brother that was left over. There’s a ton of brands available, and as long as there’s nothing extra in it, they all should do the job.

Happy trots in the blustery wind!

agua de beber, camara

802180.jpgWhen I was in the Israeli Army (!) for a week as a teenage tourist in Israel, they told us to drink water for everything: headache, cuts, fatigue, bad dreams… drink water!

Drinking water is so important, but what are we supposed to do now that we know bottled water is bad for the environment and ultimately bad for all of us? Additionally, plastic bottles – disposable & not – are a bit suspect in my opinion, especially when they warm up (plastic tasting water, anyone?).

For awhile I was carrying around a glass bottle from GT’s Kombucha for my water, but it was too heavy (not to mention breakable). I was keeping my eye out for a light-weight, non-toxic water bottle and I finally found the perfect one through Carbon Conscious Consumer, a website where you can join challenges to reduce your carbon footprint.

I’m not super impressed with their website design, but my SIGG water bottle is great. I got the one pictured here. It’s the perfect size, so light weight, and includes a screw-off top for gulping and a secure spout that’s great for on the run or running at the gym. It’s made of aluminum.  Water tastes like water in here.

The one thing I don’t love about it is I had to order it on the internet, which means shipping and not supporting local businesses (though I’m not sure there are water bottle manufacturers in Brooklyn). However, if you sign up for the no-more-bottled-water challenge at Carbon Conscious Consumer, you get a discount (normally cost around 20 bucks). Happy drinkin’!

gimme green

I first tried drinking liquid chlorophyll after discussing natural deodorants with another natural products fiend.  She told me, in fact, she didn’t use deodorant at all because she didn’t need it; she didn’t smell bad (and she really didn’t).  I asked how that could be and she told me for a long time she drank liquid chlorophyll (which among other things acts as an internal deodorant) and now just eats a healthy diet rich in leafy greens and presto! No BO.

What I didn’t realize is that liquid chlorophyll is a super concentrated dose of green goodness, including calcium and iron (which is why it is often recommended for women to replenish from menstruation).  It is also good for digestions and detoxifying your liver (and word on the street is it can improve the odor of your genitals).

Chlorophyll is available at health food and vitamin stores (it’s actually a whole food, not a supplement).  You can dilute it with juice or water, but I actually find the taste just fine (though kind of like nothing else).

People on various blogs and alternative health sites seem to see chlorophyll as a health miracle.  I’m going to try drinking it for a full month, and report back on my findings (and we’ll see about the no deodorant…).

are you clean inside?

ColonixThis is the cringe-worthy copy on the box of Dr. Natura’s Colonix, the three-month cleanse I just finished.  The graphic design is not much better (not the mention the name…).  Colonix, however, is great, and I highly recommend it if you’re looking for a natural cleanse, have never cleansed before, or want something fairly gentle.

Three months?  That’s crazy!

It really wasn’t.  Colonix consists of an herbal supplement, fiber, and a tea, plus an optional recommended probiotic supplement (which you could augment with kimchee or kombucha).  There are no specific diet requirement, though Dr. Natura advises eating healthy and avoiding all the things people normally tell you to avoid or limit (red meat, sugar, coffee, etc).  I personally drank a fair amount of ice tea and some alcohol (it was summer, man!) and it still worked great.

The idea of the cleanse is to eliminate all the gunk that’s stuck on the inside of your intestines (let’s not go into that), kill any bad parasites and let all the good ones flourish.  I can’t say I saw results immediately, but at the end of three months (recommended length for first time users), I’m pretty blown away.  My digestion is great (so great I don’t even think about it) and people keep telling me I look healthy (a feat for NYC!).  Another side benefit is my stomach is flatter.

There are loads of different cleanses out there, natural and not, and many don’t require you to buy specific products, but this one by far gave me the best results of the few I’ve tried.  As with any product, be sure to read up and google around to make sure it’s right for you, and follow the instructions.  My acupuncturist recommended this cleanse to me and said several of his clients have also found it beneficial.  If you want more info (it is a bit of a financial investment), feel free to contact me directly or comment.

*Word to the wise: While the testimonials on the sidebar are hilarious, do not look at the picture gallery on the website, unless you want to throw up.  Personally, I like to celebrate my inner cleanliness in the privacy of my bathroom, but not everyone feels that way.

wild fermentation

kimchee.jpgMy dear friend Adam arrived in New York with a very exciting late birthday gift: Wild Fermentation by Sandor Katz. Sandor has a lovely and modest website about fermentation as well. This man is truly WILD about fermentation, and after making my first foray into fermenting, guided by Adam, I think I am too.

Adam and I made the radish and root kimchee. After chopping up various radishes and roots, soaking them in salt water, adding garlic, ginger and chili flakes and pounding them down into a glass vase, we put a jar on top to keep them submerged by the next week, they were fermented!

Not only is it this kimchee delicious, I have this deep feeling of satisfaction after I eat it. Surprisingly, I have found it does not leave an lasting taste in my mouth as I would have expected, but it is important to store it in an airtight container to keep the strong garlic+ smell from taking over your fridge.

The process of fermentation creates probiotics like the ones in kombucha, which is also fermented. As Sandor puts it, we should invite this friendly bacteria to live in our bodies in a symbiotic relationship. He has a pretty special way of describing his passion for fermentation, adamsarah.jpgincluding a very touching story about radishes. This book is great for anyone looking to spice up their cooking, jump start their health in a new way or reconnect with the desire to do.

Me and Adam: fermented friendship —>