June 10th, 2011 - Jill Ettinger
A study published in the current issue of the journal, Physiology and Behavior, suggests that our predisposition towards high salt diets may actually be a coping mechanism for dealing with stress, depression and anxiety.
Read More:New Study: Low Salt Intake May Lead to Depression
July 15th, 2009 - Laura Klein
Water has gone to Washington.
The Environmental Working Group presented an 18-month study to a congressional oversight hearing about the gaps in government regulation of the bottled water industry.
Summing up the problem nicely is Wenonah Hauter, executive director of the non-profit consumer advocacy group Food & Water Watch:
“The Bottled water industry’s strategy has been to market bottled water as the safe and clean alternative to tap water…This myth has been used to trick consumers into paying thousands times more for a product that is the same or even more polluted than the water available from our faucets. Tap water in the United States undergoes rigorous testing for contaminants—as often as 480 times a month, far more than the once–a–week test for bottled water.”
FDA vs. EPA
Under the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, bottled water companies have complete latitude to choose what, if any, information to divulge to consumers about their water.
Compare that to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) — the federal agency that oversees the nation’s municipal water utilities. All 52,000 nationwide community tap water suppliers need to produce an annual water quality report detailing the water source and pollutant testing results, as required under the Safe Drinking Water Act. (Although tap water does come with its own set of problems…)
Watered Down Labels
Furthermore, EWG researchers analyzed labels and websites from 188 bottled waters to learn which bottlers voluntarily disclosed the same information as required of community water suppliers. EWG found that many disclose little to no information at all on water source and purity.
What You Can Do
To sum it up, aqua junkies, I suggest that you:
- Buy a sturdy reusable water bottle which will save the on plastic waste and save you money
- Install a high quality water filtration system in your home
If you have to buy bottled, make it one that counts, like:
- Ethos: Available at Starbucks, this company gives .05 of every bottle to humanitarian water programs around the globe.
- Park City Ice Water: Uses 75% less energy to produce packaging than its counterparts
- Project 7: 50% of sales go to one of 7 critical areas including feeding the hungry, healing the sick, etc.
- Keeper Springs: Robert Kennedy’s own, all profits go to the environment
Read More:Tap vs Bottled Water, Which is Safer?
June 29th, 2009 - Leslie Billera
I’m about to become a first-time mom at age 40. Literally, at any moment.
I don’t know how I will feel when I first see my baby (my guess is a post mortem cocktail of thrill and terror), but one thing I definitely do know: my time – and sleep – will be limited. That’s what everyone has been telling me for the last 10 months (yes, it’s actually 10 months, not 9…but that’s another blog subject!).
Soon, my husband and I will have less time to make buying decisions – but more pressure than ever to make the greenest and healthiest choices for baby. The hours I formerly spent clicking around eco product sites, languorously reading ‘about us’ and ‘press’ sections to try to discern a given product’s ‘true green value’ will be but a hazy memory.
To prepare, I’ve saved these green washing sites – green washing is misleading marketing about the environmental benefits of a product – that I now share with other busy moms, dads, or just busy people in general…
Green America’s Responsible Shopper
I’m a Green America Business Network member, so this one is close to my heart (as a copywriter, I’m Green America-Approved and have the seal to prove it!). This site ranks companies in 27 industry categories from best to worst based on research focusing on such key issues as human rights, social justice, environmental sustainability and more. Check out the user-friendly “Act” section in which you can join campaigns to battle corporate abuse, or sign up for instant emails to get actions delivered to your inbox.
Skin Deep Database from the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics
This searchable database matches the ingredients in more than 25,000 shampoos, makeup, deodorants, sunscreens and other personal care products with 50 toxicity and regulatory databases. It provides the most safety information anywhere about the products you put on your body – and on the body of baby too!
The Greenwashing Index
Enviromedia Social Marketing’s website asks consumers to send examples of both good and bad green marketing campaigns, which visitors then rank using a five point index that includes 1 for Authentic, 3 for Suspect and 5 for Bogus. Also includes “ripped from the headlines” exposes on worst offenders, i.e. the recent charge from the FTC that Kmart Corp., Tender Corp., and Dyna-E International are making false and unsubstantiated claims that their paper products were “biodegradable.”
Check out the free report entitled the Six Sins of Green Washing and get tips on the top suspect terminology – i.e. the use of ‘chlorofluorocarbon-free’ even though these chemicals have been banned, by law, for years.
Laura Klein’s Green Club
Shameless plug here (I am the chief copywriter for Laura Klein’s green lifestyle membership site), but there’s no doubt that in addition to lots of good, green info and action-oriented tips, membership in Laura Klein’s Green Club gives you one-on-one consultation from Laura herself on any question relating to going green. It’s like having a personal eco consultant at your finger tips, so it makes for a truly great value.
Read More:Green Washing Mamma!
March 18th, 2006 - Barbara Feiner
Raising daughters? Then you’re all too familiar with their fixation with belly-baring pop stars and body image. You can certainly provide reassurance and help them eat nutritious organic food. But if your daughter becomes depressed, she may be at risk of developing a higher body mass index (BMI)—the measurement doctors use to determine obesity.
According to a study in this month’s Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, depression and anxiety disorders during childhood may be associated with a higher BMI into adulthood for women (but not men). The increasing prevalence of obesity among children and adults has become a public health crisis. Understanding the social and psychological conditions associated with obesity could help predict which children and adolescents are likely to become obese adults—something that will help physicians target treatment and prevention efforts. Previous evidence suggests psychological disorders may be one factor associated with weight gain, but studies have been limited.
Sarah E. Anderson, MS, and her colleagues at Tufts University in Boston recently evaluated the association between anxiety disorders/depression and weight gain from childhood into adulthood. The 820 individuals (403 women, 417 men—ages 9 to 18 at the beginning of the study, 28 to 40 at their most recent evaluation) were assessed four times between 1983 and 2003. At each assessment, researchers interviewed participants to determine whether they met clinical criteria for anxiety disorders or depression. The authors calculated BMI, adjusting it for age and gender based on national reference data.
During the study, 310 participants (119 men, 191 women) had anxiety disorders, and 148 (50 men, 98 women) were depressed. Women with anxiety disorders and depression had a significantly higher BMI. The earlier the onset of depression, the higher the woman’s adult weight. “An average-height woman diagnosed with depression at age 14 would weigh about 10 to 16 pounds more than a non-depressed woman by the time both reached age 30 years,” the authors write.
Depression during childhood was associated with an initially lower BMI among boys, but the weight difference in depressed and non-depressed men disappeared over time. Anxiety disorders did not appear to be linked to men’s BMIs at any point throughout the study.
Treating anxiety and depression in girls and women may be one strategy in the battle against obesity, the authors conclude. If your child or teenager is depressed, be sure to seek counseling.
Read More:Child and Adolescent Depression Can Lead to Obesity
February 9th, 2006 - Barbara Feiner
Living an organic lifestyle that incorporates a healthful diet and stress management is particularly important if you’re an African-American woman.
Two out of three urban black women at high risk for heart disease do not consider themselves at risk, according to recent research from Tulane University in New Orleans.
“Black women are more likely than other groups to die from heart disease,” says Dr. Karen B. DeSalvo, an associate professor of clinical medicine and chief of the Division of General Internal Medicine & Geriatrics. “We do not fully understand why they are at greater risk. The results of this study show the women themselves do not think they are at risk, even when they are. We also determined that women who are poor or who believe they are under a lot of stress are the least able to accurately assess their personal risk of heart disease.”
Dr. DeSalvo and her research team interviewed 128 African-American women seeking care over a four-month period at an urban New Orleans internal medicine clinic. The women were considered high risk if they had three or more heart disease risk factors, including obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, tobacco use and a family history of heart disease. Both obesity and high blood pressure were found in 61% of the women.
Addressing the disproportionate impact of heart disease on black women will require improved health education, as well as social or policy approaches to reducing stress and increasing support, according to Dr. DeSalvo. Questions about perceived stress should be included in heart disease risk screenings, she says. A better understanding of the stressors for urban black women, as well as methods to reduce stress, could help women address their heart disease risks.
Results of the study were published in the December edition of the Journal of General Internal Medicine.
Read More:A Note to African-American Women…
January 6th, 2006 - Barbara Feiner
Earlier this week, I covered the new food labeling requirements on trans fats. Also effective Jan. 1 is a new law that requires labels to clearly state if food products contain any proteins derived from the eight major allergenic foods:
- Crustacean shellfish (shrimp, crab, lobster)
- Tree nuts (almonds, walnuts, pecans, etc.)
The Food and Drug Administration enacted the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA) because approximately 2% of adults and 5% of infants and young children suffer from food allergies—30,000 of which require emergency room treatment. About 150 Americans die each year from allergic reactions to food.
FALCPA requires food manufacturers to label products with the identified ingredients in one of two ways:
- Include the name of the food source in parentheses following its usual name. For example:
Ingredients: Enriched flour (wheat flour, malted barley, niacin, reduced iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), sugar, partially hydrogenated soybean oil and/or cottonseed oil, whey (milk), eggs, vanilla, salt, leavening (sodium acid pyrophosphate, monocalcium phosphate), lecithin (soy), mono- and diglycerides (emulsifier).
- Place the word “Contains,” followed by the name of the food source from which the major food allergen is derived, immediately after or adjacent to the list of ingredients. The type size cannot be smaller than that used in the ingredients list. For example: Contains Wheat, Milk and Soy.
FALCPA does not require food manufacturers or retailers to remove or relabel products that were labeled before Jan. 1. Consumers with allergies must recognize there will be a transition period and continue to read package ingredient statements.
The new labeling law will be especially helpful to children who need to learn how to spot the presence of substances they must avoid. For example, if a product contains the milk-derived protein casein, the product’s label will have to use the term “milk” in addition to the term “casein” so those with milk allergies can clearly understand its presence.
Read More:Food Labels Must List Common Allergens
January 2nd, 2006 - Barbara Feiner
Jill Hennessy (NBC photo: Paul Drinkwater)
In a recent interview, actress Jill Hennessy, star of the NBC hit drama “Crossing Jordan,” was asked about the one food she can’t live without. Her answer? Cocoa powder, which she adds to her morning bowl of Cream of Wheat.
“Seriously, it’s even better than a chocolate soufflé,” Hennessy swears—and her predilection may even help her fight cancer and heart disease.
According to researchers at Cornell University, cocoa is a major source of cancer-fighting antioxidants. It contains twice the amount found in red wine and up to three times the level found in green tea, according to Dr. Chang Y. Lee, chairman of the Department of Food Science and Technology. He and his fellow researchers found that cocoa contains a high level of phenolic phytochemicals (flavonoids), which indicate the presence of known antioxidants that can help prevent cancer, heart disease and other conditions.
Cocoa offers 611 mg gallic acid equivalents (GAE), a phenolic compound, and 564 mg flavonoid epicatechin equivalents (ECE) per single serving. In comparison, a glass of red wine provides 340 mg GAE and 163 mg ECE, while one cup of green tea offers 165 mg GAE and 47 mg ECE.
“If I had made a prediction before conducting the tests, I would have picked green tea as having the most antioxidant activity,” Dr. Lee says. “When we compared one serving of each beverage, the cocoa turned out to be the highest in antioxidant activity, and that was surprising to me.”
Phenolic compounds protect plants against insects and pathogens. A decade ago, “food scientists did not know that phenolics had an important role in human health,” Dr. Lee explains.
But don’t rush to substitute an organic chocolate bar for a cup of organic hot cocoa.
“Although a bar of chocolate exhibits strong antioxidant activity, the health benefits are still controversial because of the saturated fats present,” Dr. Lee and his research team concluded in their study. Cocoa has about .33 g fat per one-cup serving, while a standard 40-g chocolate bar contains 8 g fat.
To ensure you get your daily antioxidant boost, Dr. Lee encourages “diversification.”
“Personally, I would drink hot cocoa in the morning, green tea in the afternoon and a glass of red wine in the evening,” he says. “That’s a good combination.”
Sources for Organic Cocoa Powder
Green & Black’s
Read More:Cancer-Fighting Organic Cocoa
November 23rd, 2005 - Barbara Feiner
Organic Authority is firmly committed to educating parents about the dangers of childhood obesity and the importance of teaching children to eat properly.
Ironically, Thanksgiving—the holiday when we gobble down the biggest meal of the year—may serve as “a turning point in winning the war on childhood obesity and improving family health,” according to a new campaign from KidsPeace, a national charity that assists children who are dealing with trauma, depression, eating disorders and the daily stresses of life.
“Join the Fight, Help Kids Eat Right” has two key goals:
- Attack obesity’s physical and nutritional aspects by encouraging families to eat adult-supervised, healthful home-cooked meals—beginning with Thursday’s Thanksgiving dinner.
- Attack obesity’s underlying emotional precursors by encouraging families to use the dinner hour to problem-solve with kids.
Children who regularly eat dinner with their families face fewer health and behavioral risks, according to major studies. Unfortunately, a recent national study by KidsPeace and Boys & Girls Clubs of America revealed that 51% of U.S. parents say their children don’t eat enough nutritious foods—and roughly 40% eat home-cooked meals with their kids less than once a day.
“It’s not always just what our kids are eating,” says KidsPeace President and CEO C.T. O’Donnell. “Sometimes, it’s what’s eating our kids. America has more diets and more diet advice than any nation on earth, but our kids keep getting bigger and bigger. We will never win this battle until we help kids eat right and solve the emotional roots of overeating. Research shows that sitting families down at the dinner table works to improve physical and behavioral health. Perhaps the archetypal American meal embodied by the Pilgrims’ famous dinner is the model and paradigm upon which we can rebuild healthy families in this modern age. If we’re to win this battle, we have to fight it over the dining room table, as well as on the battlefields of our children’s day-to-day lives. Now’s as good a time as any to start.”
KidsPeace is offering free obesity prevention brochures: one for parents and one for teens (downloadable PDF files).
Read More:Thanksgiving: An Opportunity to Combat Childhood Obesity?
November 17th, 2005 - Barbara Feiner
Having put out a call to chefs for holiday Brussels sprouts recipes, I was contacted by Lyle Davis, co-owner of Big Bang Catering, a company that operates out of Pastures of Plenty Farm—a 35-acre organic cut-flower and vegetable farm in Longmont, Colorado.
All of Big Bang’s menu choices are made from the freshest ingredients available—locally grown and organic, whenever possible.
Lyle wants to share his special Brussels sprouts recipe with Organic Authority readers.
Brussels Sprouts with Roasted Hazelnuts and Lemon-Garlic Sauce
Serves 6 to 8
2 lbs. Brussels sprouts
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 lemons, cut in half
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup roasted hazelnuts
- Trim the Brussels sprouts’ stems and remove any tough or yellowing outer leaves.
- Blanch in boiling salted water for 5 to 7 minutes or until al dente. Plunge them into ice water to stop the cooking process.
- Melt butter in a large skillet over a medium heat. Sauté garlic until softened.
- Squeeze lemon juice into the pan through a sieve. Whisk the sauce.
- Add Brussels sprouts and toss until thoroughly coated and heated.
- Season to taste.
- Add nuts just before serving.
Read More:Brussels Sprouts with Roasted Hazelnuts and Lemon-Garlic Sauce