Not All Supplements Are Created Equal

Recently in California it was discovered that many common brands of fish oil contain up to 70 times the permissible "safe" levels of lead and PCBs. There were 74 manufacturers that were named in a suit on behalf of proposition 65 in California that requires companies to disclose that their product had been tested to have unsafe levels of lead. Proposition 65 is the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986 requiring manufacturers to notify potential consumers of possible lead exposure.

Funny thing about this is that lead was high in these fish oils. Lead is not normally a concern in fish oil manufacturing but mercury is because of the fish source. Since lead is the object of prop 65 and mercury is not, I think it is still reasonable to be concerned about accumulating mercury levels from these fish oils. One patient I treated for very high levels of lead and mercury in the blood (recent exposure) could only isolate his lead and mercury exposure to a fish oil purchased at a common Warehouse coop and one dinner with swordfish in the past 2 months. After stopping the fish oil, and starting a clean one I recommended, his blood lead and mercury levels went back to normal after a few months. PCBs are also a huge concern in fish oils and farmed salmon.

There was also one reported incident of Selenium toxicity in a patient taking a multiple vitamin/mineral supplement that contained 200 TIMES the stated level of Selenium on the label. This post is to warn all of you out there to be careful that your supplement products are manufacturer using GMP practices (Good Manufacturing Practices) certification. The scary thing is that a few of these companies cited in California for excessive Lead and PCBs had GMP certification. Below is the list of companies named in the suit in California.

We will soon be opening an online store so that our readers can get safe, consistent supplements with reliable testing. So many people waste their money on supplements that are either not sufficient or unregulated and in more and more cases, toxic.


21st Century Healthcare, Inc.

Apex Fitness Group, A division of 24 Hour Fitness USA

Biosan Laboratories

Bluebonnet Nutrition Corporation

Bronson Nutritionals

Buried Treasure, a division of Life Line Food Inc.

Clinician's Choice

D&E Pharmaceuticals

Davinci Laboratories of Vermont

Delaware Natrol

Designs For Health

Douglas Laboratories

Dynamic Health Laboratories

Enzymatic Therapy

Esteem Products

Fairhaven Health

Foodscience Corporation

Foodscience of Vermont


Genspec Labs

Health Authority Dba Doctor's Trust Vitamins

Hxn Corporation

Dba Health Xpress

Integrative Therapeutics

Irwin Naturals

J.R. Carlson Laboratories


Kordial Nutrients

Maximum International

Metabolic Maintenance Products


Mountain Naturals of Vermont

Natural Organics

Nature's Secret

Nature's Way Products


New Chapter

Nexgen Pharma

Nf Formulas

Now Foods


Nutritional Specialties


Olympian Labs

Only Natural

Optimal Nutrients, USA, a division of Pegasus Plus

Pioneer Nutritional Formulas

Pure Essence Laboratories

Rainbow Light Nutritional Systems


Spring Valley Herbs & Natural Foods

Supernutrition Life-extension Research

The Daily Wellness Company

The Vitamin Shoppe Industries

Threshold Enterprises, the Parent Company Of Source Naturals

True Fit Vitamins

Universal Nutrition

Wyeth Laboratories


We purchase ours from Costco..Kirkland brand but don't know if it's from another brand...been meaning to move over to Krill oil ... a good time to start looking but I guess there's no real guarantee that what we buy is safe unless you take it to a lab and have it tested... just seems like you can't trust anything anymore...sigh... ~nancy

Oscar Winning Documentary : The Cove

Just watched the Oscar winning movie The Cove. I knew it had to do with the mass killing of dolphins in a small town in Japan. I was ready for that (actually it took me 2 weeks to make myself watch it). But I was not ready for the bigger underlying part of this story... the poisoning of our oceans and the mercury poising. The dolphin meat is high in mercury. So why do they feed it to their people? Well it's something about tradition for the Japanes. Animal Right Activists are right in defending these helpless dolphins.

In the special features on the DVD there's a small film called "The Cove: Mercury Rising". This small film is worth renting the film for. Scientists talk about mercury rising and it's seeming correlation to Autism among other rising diagnosis. I wish I could find it on YouTube but have not found it yet. I'll keep checking.

Recipe: Quinoa Taco/Burrito Filling

Quinoa Taco/Burrito Filling

1 cup quinoa

1 tblspn EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)

1 red onion chopped

3 cloves garlic minced

1 1/2 tspn cumin

1/2 tspn oregano

1-2 tspn chili powder

dash cayenne pepper

Half each red, green and yellow bell peppers chopped

1, 15oz can black beans, drained

3/4 cup diced tomatoes (fresh or canned *read ingredients!)

1 lime

Salt and pepper to taste

6-8 oz of baby spinach

1 bunch of cilantro, chopped

1 avocado, diced

***taco or burrito tortillas (make sure to follow your diet restrictions!)

***(optional 1/3 cup of cheddar or feta cheese)

cook quinoa according to package (use beef, chicken or vegetable broth)

heat olive oil in a saute pan over medium-high heat, add onion and saute for 3-5 mins. until translucent. Add garlic, cumin, oregano, chili powder, cayenne and peppers; saute for 2 mins. Remove from heat and stir in beans, tomatoes, spinach, cilantro and juice of 1 lime. Stir in quinoa and season to taste. Add cilantro, ***cheese and avocado as a topping to tacos or burritos.

This originally was a taco salad. You can chill the filling and serve it over chopped spinach and cilantro. Add avocado and ***cheese to top it off. Use lime juice for dressing.

*** omit to make vegan or find alternative that works with our specific diet restrictions.

Jamie Oliver Wins the Prestigious TED Award

After watching this...Please make sure to pass by and sign his Food Revolution Petition

It's a bit weird to have someone from another country come in and tell this nation how to eat but we got to get over it! Whatever it takes to jump start us to a new reality. Healthy cooking, healthy food = healthy lives! ~nancy

Maine panel weighs cell phone cancer warning

By GLENN ADAMS (AP) – Mar 3, 2010

AUGUSTA, Maine — Ignoring the health risks of heavy cell phone use invites a cancer epidemic, supporters of a bill requiring manufacturers to put labels on mobile phones and packaging said Tuesday.

"We can do nothing and wait for the body count. That's what happened with smoking" before warnings on cigarette packs were mandated, David Carpenter, director of the Institute for Health and Environment at the University of Albany, told Maine lawmakers.

The Health and Human Services Committee held a hearing on a bill that would make Maine the first state to carry warnings that they can cause brain cancer, especially among children. Opponents dismissed research pointing to the risks and said the bill is more about politics than science.

The sponsor, Rep. Andrea Boland, said the United States lags behind other countries that have either mandated similar warnings or endorsed policies warning the public about cell phone use.

Carpenter, a Harvard Medical School graduate and researcher with expertise in electromagnetic fields, said the strongest evidence of cell phone dangers comes from Europe, where the devices have been in use longer than in the United States. He told lawmakers that the U.S. "may face an epidemic of brain cancer" if nothing is done to warn consumers of risks.

Boland, D-Sanford, said the risks diminish markedly if the phone is held away from the head.

Olle Johansson, a scientist at Karolinska Institute in Sweden, submitted testimony saying that "very serious biological changes" that include cancer risks have been noticed for years from exposure to low-frequency magnetic fields like those emitted from cell phones.

Supporters also included brain cancer patient and relatives of victims who said the disease was triggered by cell phone use.

"When you put that phone to your head, you are unknowingly playing Russian roulette," said Alan Marks of the San Francisco Bay area, who's been diagnosed with a brain tumor.

An industry group, TechAmerica, said Boland's bill "substitutes political judgment for the collective scientific judgment of experts around the world."

Kim Allman, senior vice president of the Washington, D.C.-based group, said in a statement that scientific evidence so far does not indicate a public health risk and added that warning labels would be misleading and confusing.

Gov. John Baldacci's administration also opposes the bill.

Dora Anne Mills, director of the state Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said research by federal health and safety agencies does not justify a warning, although she acknowledged that uncertainty exists about the effects of long-term cell use.

Mills said the federal Food and Drug Administration is already taking precautionary action by urging the industry to do further research and to design cell phones to minimize exposure to risks.

But Mills said that if the state was to require warnings on everything with undefined risks, everything "from apples to xylophones" would have to be labeled.

The committee is expected to review the bill further in about a week.

Related articles

from Associated Press

Previous post on 8 Ways to Reduce Your Exposure

Toxic Chemicals in House Dust

Here is one of the major reasons why I love the Environmental Working Group. Their article on toxic house dust is terrific. Indoor air pollution is truly a problem for us. It's worse if we have new furniture, carpeting and pets. Few of us take our shoes off when we come into the house but that is good habit to start with. You'll be tracking less amounts of pesticides and other chemicals that we pick up from the outside world. Lots of good To Do's here in this following article by the EWG.

Toxic Chemicals in House Dust

Dust bunnies aren't just unsightly and sometimes allergenic; they contain toxic chemicals. Why? The many chemicals in and around your homes wind up in your indoor dust when they migrate from home products and come in through open doors and windows and on your shoes. But the good news is it's pretty easy to keep those dust bunnies at bay -- and reduce your family's toxic exposures, too. Read on to learn:

  1. Why your household dust is toxic
  2. How toxic dust can affect your family
  3. Tips to remove dust safely and effectively
  4. How to create less toxic dust in the first place

    Every home has a little dust -- and its own unique "dust load," based on a variety of factors like where you live, what you cook, if you smoke, the climate, and how many people -- and animals -- live there. Ordinary house dust is a complex mixture of generally yucky stuff -- pet dander, fungal spores, tiny particles, soil tracked in on your feet, carpet fibers, human hair and skin, you name it. It's also a place where harmful chemicals are found. One recent study by the Silent Spring Institute identified 66 endocrine-disrupting compounds in household dust tests, including flame retardants, home-use pesticides, and phthalates.

    The chemicals in your dust originate from both inside and outside your house:

    1. Products inside your house "shed" chemicals over time -- furniture, electronics, shoes, plastics, fabrics and food, among other things.
    2. Outdoor pollutants enter on your shoes and through open and cracked windows and doors.

    Once inside, the contaminants in indoor dust degrade more slowly (if at all) than they would outside in the environment where moisture and sunlight typically break them down.

    One type of toxic chemical commonly found in household dust is chemical flame retardants (aka PBDEs). As highly flammable synthetic materials have replaced less-combustible natural materials, PBDEs have been added to thousands of everyday products, including computers, TVs and furniture -- among many others. EWG conducted tests in 2004 that revealed the surprising degree to which flame retardant chemicals escape from consumer products and settle in household dust (from degrading foam or the plastics in electronic items).


    When you're exposed to certain toxic chemicals -- even at very low doses -- your health can be adversely affected. Dust is simply another way for the toxic chemicals in your house to reach your body.

    Young children are of special concern because their developing bodies are more vulnerable to toxic exposures, and they ingest or inhale more dust than adults since they -- and their toys -- spend lots of time on or very near the floor. They also put dusty hands and toys in their mouths often. Scientists once thought children got lead poisoning by literally chewing on windowsills. We've since learned that it's actually caused by their normal play behaviors because contaminants like lead stick around in house dust.

    In the case of fire retardants, which are commonly found in household dust, scientists have found that exposure to minute doses of toxic PBDEs at critical points in a child's development can damage reproductive systems and cause deficits in motor skills, learning, memory and hearing, as well as changes in behavior. Read EWG's 2004 report about toxic fire retardants in household dust.

    A note about allergies. Dust is a well-known allergen -- with or without the toxic chemicals. If you're allergic to dust, there are preventive steps you can take to reduce your contact with it. The Mayo Clinic has a list of lifestyle and home remedies.


    Careful cleaning is a simple way to get rid of toxic dust. Here's how:

    • Vacuum frequently and use a vacuum fitted with a HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter. These vacuums are more efficient at trapping small particles and will likely remove contaminants and other allergens from your home that a regular vacuum would recirculate into the air. Change the filter to keep it working well, and don't forget to vacuum the stuffed furniture (get under those couch cushions)!
    • Wet mop uncarpeted floors frequently to prevent dust from accumulating (dry mopping can kick up dust that simply resettles). Buy wooden furniture or furniture filled with down, wool, polyester, or cotton as these are unlikely to contain added fire retardant chemicals.
    • Wipe furniture with a wet or microfiber cloth. Microfiber cloths work well because their smaller fibers cling to the particles. If you don't have a microfiber cloth, wet a cotton cloth -- it grabs and holds the dust better than a dry one. Skip synthetic sprays and wipes when you dust -- they only add unwanted chemicals.
    • Caulk and seal cracks and crevices to prevent dust from accumulating in hard-to-reach places.
    • Equip your forced-air heating or cooling system with high-quality filters and change them frequently to keep them working well.
    • Keep electronic equipment dust-free by damp dusting it frequently; this is a common source of chemical fire retardants in dust.
    • Pay special attention to places where little kids crawl, sit and play. They live closest to our floors and as a result tend to be more exposed to those toxic dust bunnies.
    • If you're dust sensitive, consider asking someone else to do the dusty cleaning.


    You can reduce the amount of toxic chemicals that wind up in your household dust by bringing fewer toxic chemicals into the house in the first place. We suggest that you:

    • Leave your shoes at the door and use a natural doormat. Shoes are a common way we bring outdoor pollutants inside.
    • Inspect foam products made between 1970 and 2005 -- they're likely to contain PBDEs.Replace anything with a ripped cover or foam that is misshapen and breaking down. If you can't replace these items, try to keep the covers intact and clean them more frequently. Some examples of household foam products are: stuffed/upholstered furniture, nursing pillows, padded high-chair seats, portable crib mattresses, baby changing pads, and chair cushions.
    • Choose home electronics without PBDEs. There are manufacturers who no longer use them in some products -- ask before you buy and support companies that have publicly committed to going PBDE-free, like: Acer, Apple, Eizo Nanao, LG Electronics, Lenovo, Matsushita, Microsoft, Nokia, Phillips, Samsung, Sharp, Sony-Ericsson, and Toshiba.
    • Stick to products made with natural fibers that are naturally fire resistant and may contain fewer chemicals -- like wood furniture, cotton, down and wool.
    • Clean up quickly and thoroughly when you finish a home improvement project, since these can involve dust (from sanding or drilling) and toxic products (like lead, PCBs and fire retardants).
    • Consider a high efficiency "HEPA-filter" air cleaner, which may also reduce contaminants that become dust in your house.

    From an article from:

Action Kit by Erin Brockovich

Action Kit by Erin Brockovich

Erin Brockovich

Join Healthy Child and support our mission — to protect children from exposure to toxic substances that cause health problems — by taking one or more of these action steps today.

Action 1

SIGN-UP for the Healthy Child Times, our monthly email newsletter that provides healthy living tips, solutions, options, and steps to protect your children’s health.
Forward these links to ten friends you love and learn together about raising healthy families in a toxic world. Urge each person to forward the information to people they know.

Action 2

TAKE a virtual stroll through the Health eHome for 30 minutes and visit each room in the house filled with everything you need to know about hidden toxins and their healthy alternatives.

Action 3

REPLACE three toxic household cleaning and pest control products with safe alternatives (and throw in a few organic fruits and veggies from a green grocer) and consider switching permanently. You can find recommended products in the Shop Healthy section of our website. Take The 5 Easy Steps to make changes in your home.

Action 4

SPEARHEAD a campaign in your neighborhood to eliminate the use of lawn and garden pesticides and talk with your neighbors about adopting integrated pest management (IPM). Share your success with us. Since pesticides don't stay where you put them, what your neighbors use matters. Visit Beyond Pesticides for more info.

Action 5

GATHER other parents and start a playgroup. Modeled on the one started by Healthy Child's founder Nancy Chuda with her daughter Colette and friends, moms and babies gather for playtime and share what they are doing to keep their homes healthy.

Action 6

SPONSOR a Healthy Child event in your home or in your community. SPREAD the Healthy Child message by organizing a fundraiser or hosting a Healthy Child table at a local health fair or community gathering. Contact us for materials to distribute.

Action 7

STIMULATE discussion in your child's school or day care center, your community center, or parks and recreation department as to what precautions are being taken to ensure that kids are not being exposed to toxic substances in the air, food, water or consumer products in each of these places. Use articles from our site to focus the conversation.

Action 8

SEND a letter or an email to your member of Congress asking him/her to ensure funding for the U.S. EPA's Office of Children's Health Protection — the only government office charged with protecting the environmental health of the nation's children. We hear that this office will be dismantled soon, so your voice needs to be heard.

Action 9

SHARE your ideas with other Healthy Child advocates for children's health by contributing to the Healthy Child Healthy World Blog. Visit our blog to keep up to date with what’s going on and let people know what’s on your mind.

Action 10

SUPPORT Healthy Child by becoming a member or making a contribution. Your financial support will enable us to sustain our national campaign to educate parents throughout the United States on the importance of taking health protective steps for children in their homes, schools, and communities.

from : www.HealthyChild.Org

Concerned about BPA: Check your receipts

Concerned about BPA: Check your receipts
By Janet Raloff
Web edition : Wednesday, October 7th, 2009
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What's the charge?Some — but not all — cash-register and credit-card receipts can be rich sources of exposure to BPA, a hormone-mimicking pollutant.Christopher Baker

While working at Polaroid Corp. for more than a decade, John C. Warner learned about the chemistry behind some carbonless copy papers (now used for most credit card receipts) and the thermal imaging papers that are spit out by most modern cash registers. Both relied on bisphenol-A.

Manufacturers would coat a powdery layer of this BPA onto one side of a piece of paper together with an invisible ink, he says. “Later, when you applied pressure or heat, they would merge together and you’d get color.”

At the time, back in the ‘90s, he thought little about the technology other than it was clever. But when BPA exploded into the news, about a decade ago, Warner began to develop some doubts.

Research was demonstrating that this estrogen-mimicking chemical was leaching out of polycarbonate plastics, out of the resins used to line most food cans and out of dental sealants. In the womb, this chemical could disrupt the normal development of a rodent’s gonads — or evoke changes that predisposed animals to later develop cancer.

Warner recalls that these reports piqued his curiosity about whether the color-changing papers that were increasingly proliferating throughout urban commerce still used BPA.

By this time, the organic chemist was teaching green chemistry at the University of Massachusetts. “So I'd send my students out to local stores to get their cash register receipts.” Back in the lab, they’d dissolve the paper, run it through a mass spectrometer and look for a telltale spike in the readout that signaled the presence of BPA.

And they’d find it, Warner says. Not in every receipt. But in plenty. And the paper used in the receipts that contained BPA looked no different than papers that didn’t.

But that was then, before he co-founded the Warner Babcock Institute for Green Chemistry, an organization that works with industry to develop safer products and production processes. So earlier this week I asked Warner whether he had evidence BPA might still be present in those papers. Yep. He turned up BPA-based receipts in use the last time he looked. Which was last month.

And the amount receipts carry isn’t trivial.

“When people talk about polycarbonate bottles, they talk about nanogram quantities of BPA [leaching out],” Warner observes. “The average cash register receipt that's out there and uses the BPA technology will have 60 to 100 milligrams of free BPA.” By free, he explains, it’s not bound into a polymer, like the BPA in polycarbonates. It’s just the individual molecules loose and ready for uptake.

As such, he argues, when it comes to BPA in the urban environment, “the biggest exposures, in my opinion, will be these cash register receipts.” Once on the fingers, BPA can be transferred to foods. And keep in mind, he adds, some hormones — like estrogen in certain birth-control formulations — are delivered through the skin by controlled-release patches. So, he argues, estrogen mimics like BPA might similarly enter the skin.

Maybe, maybe not. BPA and real estrogen don’t have the same structure, so their permeability might vary. Moreover, there are all kinds of materials in the skin that might selectively degrade or alter this hormone imposter as it passes through.

More importantly, I asked: Have you published your data? “No,” Warner says, “that’s not my goal.” His research organization “is dedicated to not preaching about the bad but about diligently trying to invent the good,” he says. Moreover, he says he lacks the resources to do a thorough job of quantifying the prevalence of BPA-laced receipts.

Perhaps. But for his research to have an impact, it must pass peer review and appear in journals that can be cited. His analytical techniques need to be articulated so that others can try to replicate his findings or shoot them down. And somebody has to go the distance and investigate how much BPA can rub off onto fingers from receipt papers, does it get through the skin — and if it does, how much gets into the circulation, where it can reach organs throughout the body?

Warner, a patent-toting inventor, has set his sights on developing some new analog to the old litmus test. He envisions something that could be rubbed across a receipt, or perhaps the fingers; when it sensed the presence of BPA it would change color.

Of course, a simpler caveat-emptor approach would be to just mandate labeling of any and all products that contain BPA at their point of sale — or in the case of receipts, at the cash register. At least pregnant women would know to wash their hands after picking up a BPA-laced receipt. And we’d all know to keep such paper out of hands of kids. We might also want to store those receipts in some zip-it-closed plastic baggie, not our wallets.

from: Science News

LAST BLOG: BPA in the womb shows link to kids’ behavior

Until you know which kind of receipt you are being handed.. Wash your hands after every purchase. I doubt using the gel hand sanitizer will do it. Maybe gloves would be a better bet? I know it's crazy what we need to think about on a moment to moment basis.

Love this Video... So much to do! One small step at a time!!

A Wake-Up Story from Healthy Child Healthy World on Vimeo.

The Story of Stuff Project Movie... Mom's you gotta watch this one!

are food allergies just the trendy new affliction to have ?

this is one of the questions any allergy parent has the hardest time dealing with. if you aren't an obsessive-compulsive personality before your child gets diagnosed with multiple and/or severe food allergies, you're going to fit the description of one by the time they are. you have to learn to be paranoid about all food situations, all caregivers, schools, anywhere food could be served to your child. the tests aren't even that accurate, especially the younger your child is. you may find yourself having to tailor or modify your doctor's advice or diagnosis to fit your child's true level of allergy response. and you may find that the doctor doesn't support you in doing so.

for example, my allergist told me that corn, soy and wheat were fairly mild allergies for my then 1 yr old. he said all i had to do was cut anything containing the words, 'corn' 'soy' or 'wheat' out of his diet directly, but that i could continue to eat these things as his breastfeeding mother and the minimal exposure in my milk shouldn't hurt the baby. the picture above with him with red, swollen eyes is how he looked until i realized i had to cut those things out of my diet completely, as well. he still looked like that and was a miserable, screaming, non-sleeping, constantly nursing mess until i learned all the hidden terms for these foods plus his other allergies and cut them out, completely, to the last trace, for both of us. luckily for me, my doctor could see the improvements with every extra step i took to cut out every trace of his allergens and supported me. lucky for me, i have found doctors who realize this is a fairly new problem increasing in children today that we are all learning about together.

the picture of his torso was taken a couple of weeks ago, at 2 years, 5 months - when his older sister spilled some of her cereal with vanilla rice milk on his shirt. the only thing in the rice milk he's allergic to is the vanilla, which is made with corn. the milk was on his shirt for less than 5 minutes. the picture of my little girl's face was also taken a couple of weeks ago, at 5 years. we bought a bakery cake for her father's birthday. she has life-threatening peanut allergy with anaphylaxis, so we knew she could never eat a cake from any bakery unless it is a dedicated peanut-free facility. i took a chance on this cake, that the bakery assured me had not come into direct contact with any peanuts. she picked up a napkin a brother had used who *was* eating the cake and she wiped her own face with it. right after taking the picture, her lips began to swell and she said her tongue itched - both signs of impending anaphylaxis. luckily i'd given her benadryl at the first sign of a bump and we didn't have to use the epi-pen or go to the emergency room - this time. i can't give my mulitple-allergy son benadryl for any of his reactions, as he is so allergic to the corn it is made with that he just has another reaction on top of the primary one.

i could post dozens of photos and stories about the terrifying reactions my kids have, but that's been done relentlessly on food allergy sites and i tend not to respond well to shock tactics myself, so i'd prefer to take the position of describing what it's like to suddenly find yourself in this position. here are a couple of articles that illustrate some of the opinions you find yourself up against when you learn that your child has severe, life-threatening and/or multiple food allergies:

i especially like reading the comments on these, because that's where you see the real parents responding and talking about real life situations. articles like these are terrifying to parents like me. they scare me even more than they make me angry. if being a parent is like having your heart walk around outside your body, then being a severe and life-threatening food allergy parent is like having your heart with a time bomb strapped to it walking around outside your body. and the detonating button is in a place that anybody can push it.

i want to believe that, as soon as they hear my child could die from a food, any other person would do their best to keep that food away from my child. then i see articles like these. or the story where the nanny felt the mom was just being neurotic and fed the child a sandwich with peanut butter that landed him in the emergency room. what mom *wouldn't* become obsessive or neurotic, living with these possibilities?

i remember the first time i'd heard of a child severely allergic to multiple foods. we had two - going on three- children of our own and the first one was starting kindergarten. we didn't do preschool, so this was our first school experience. there was a little boy in class with my son who was allergic to eight things. all the parents in the classroom were told we couldn't ever send anything containing peanuts or egg into the classroom. our sons lived on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and i kept giant bowls of boiled eggs in the fridge by the dozen for my huge-appetite children.

my husband and i were both annoyed that we couldn't send these favorite foods along to school with our son. then the mother of the allergy child sent a note home clarifying that if the eggs were baked in other things, they weren't as dangerous to her son, so baked goods containing eggs could be sent in. i was confused and wondered where that left things like egg salad sandwiches. just too much egg like that would be harmful to him, i assumed. but i didn't really understand. to make matters more complicated, his allergies changed as he grew. he'd get over being allergic to one kind of food and suddenly become allergic to another - it was crazy! i'll be the first to admit, i was very skeptical and confused about what the burden on other parents should be when a child has multiple food allergies - but i still felt completely obligated to follow the mother and school's mandates to the letter. if this mother had wanted to make the issue seem more 'legitimate', it would have been more effective for her to say, 'no eggs ever, under any circumstances - they can be life-threatening to my son'. by saying they were okay under some circumstances seemed to make her claims of the seriousness of his allergies less valid to the rest of us parents.

however, had she taken the more militant stance against eggs, she would have been doing exactly what we allergy parents are accused of so often: exaggerating and hyping the issue -and being hysterical. she was doing exactly what she should have: patiently trying to educate other parents and give a true and accurate description of her son's changing allergy needs. she didn't ask the school to take any extra measures for his lesser allergies, only the severe to life-threatening ones. regardless of our ignorance and feelings about what we wanted to feed our son, we never even considered sending anything in w/ even a trace of egg or peanut. for us, a big part of parenting is about reducing risks to our children in every way possible until they are old enough to do it for themselves and we couldn't imagine even taking the chance of being responsible for harming any child.

when i finally met her in person, all i saw was a concerned mother trying to keep her child safe and not the neurotic, attention seeking, overbearing parent these articles portray food allergy parents to be. i will never forget her describing her allergy kit to me. it contained his medications, his epi-pen, his photo and other instructions and identifiers should he have a life threatening reaction while at school. she asked the school to keep one in multiple locations where he spends time in the school building. i remember thinking what it must take for her to let him go and trust he would be safe every day. all i felt was sympathy, awe and respect. and if i'm being honest, gratitude that i didn't have to do the same.

and then i woke up one day and found myself in the same boat as her. in fact, she was the first person i called after my 11 month old daughter was diagnosed with life-threatening peanut allergy. and i forgot that there are still people out there that are as ignorant as i once was - or even willfully opposed to having their rights to feed their children whatever they choose restricted. i am still shocked every day when i read these articles or meet people like this.

if this were a breastfeeding issue, i would be ready with facts and sources and experts to quote and wouldn't back down until i'd made sure my point was made. but when faced with a parent telling me if my daughter is that allergic, she should be home schooled before they should be asked to modify what they send to school with their child, i just wilt. how do you argue with someone that seemingly would put your child's life at risk to prove a point? why would you even want to fight for the right to have your child anywhere near these people?

i met a mother in the park this past summer with a child attending the same school as my three oldest. my two youngest are the food allergy children and are not yet in school. a food allergy group was recently formed at our school due to other children with peanut and tree nut allergies - (though there are no children with life threatening level reactions at our school yet and peanuts and tree nuts are not restricted from the lunch room). they requested that the school make classrooms peanut and tree nut free. i went to the initial meetings and am very excited about the posters and instructions for reading labels and alternatives they have displayed for parents, teachers and students at school.

however, this mother in the park was fuming. she said that her son would eat nothing but peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. it was all he liked. and he needs his protein! i pointed out that there are some great alternatives, like sunbutter. she wrinkled her nose and said it sounded nasty and she should be able to feed her child what she wanted - if it could kill or harm another child, then that child shouldn't be in public school. i was stunned. i said, "but you don't think having a life-threatening disability to be around peanut butter trumps you giving your child a convenience food?" and she replied, "oh i don't believe it's that bad, people just exaggerate it to make a point, peanut butter is the new "bad" thing and it's really rare to be that allergic and if a kid is, then they shouldn't be in a public school!"

i couldn't believe what i was hearing and just walked away, bewildered. how can you argue with something that has no basis in fact at all ? why on earth would any sensible parent want to do away with peanut butter if they didn't have to? it's a great source of good fat and protein and tastes wonderful - we miss peanut butter every day! do people seriously think parents today have nothing better to do than exaggerate food allergies and try to get attention for it and make schools cater to their demands?! i have so many better things to do! i'd rather battle my states' lax laws on smoking in public areas than try to restrict what foods kids can have. or spend my time on my original parenting mission: to help educate parents about breastfeeding and help mothers and babies breastfeed successfully.

my two food allergy children aren't in school yet, but i'm already agonizing about it. i've been lucky enough to meet far more supportive and concerned parents at our school than not, but it only takes one dissenter to put my child's life at risk. one parent sending in m&m's for the valentine's day party could cause my daughter to die. i already know i can't let her have lunch at school, even sitting at the 'allergy table'. all it would take is another child that ate peanut butter touching my daughter's face or hands - or somewhere she will then touch - for her to have an anaphylactic reaction.

it's such an isolating issue to deal with. i put her in gymnastics a couple of summers ago and explained her allergy to the staff. they agreed to let me put up a notice asking other parents to wash their children's hands before attending the class she was in and asking them not to eat peanuts in the common waiting area. the owner of the studio cautioned me that he couldn't claim 'peanut-free' status nor would he force parents to comply with my sign - nor did he want to. he didn't want to alienate paying parents who felt the peanut was a healthy snack, and he agreed with them.

i wondered why i didn't matter, with the 5 children i was paying for classes for, but figured since i was with her constantly, i'd see any problems in advance. i counted on most parents already knowing about the peanut issues in society today and being more proactive and supportive than the owner of the gymnastics studio.

i counted wrong. i came in one day to find two boys eating "drumstick" ice cream cones from the vending machine, covered with peanuts on top. peanuts which were dropping and scattering all over the floor she was going to be walking barefoot on. peanuts she would then have to pick off her feet. peanuts that would leave proteins on her fingers that she might then rub her eyes with or poke into her nose or mouth. even as i tried to tell myself not to overreact and tamp down the adrenaline i felt beginning to surge toward my heart, one boy wiped his sticky, messy hand on the back of one of the seats we would have sat in. you would have thought they were in there playing with a loaded gun, the way i felt.

we turned and walked out of the room and went to the office, where i was told that perhaps i should train my (then three year old) daughter to recognize and avoid peanuts on her own and then i wouldn't have to be so worried. i calmly explained that she had her 1st anaphylactic reaction at 11 months and hasn't been able to be near peanuts since then - how could i familiarize her with peanut products besides when we go grocery shopping? she wouldn't know what they are out of the packaging because we have been a peanut free household almost all her life - to keep her safe! not to mention all the look-alike products out there made to replace peanut butter. would any parent of a child not even in school yet trust that they would know peanut butter from sunbutter when the containers are almost identical?

it went on and on like this and i even asked the owner if he'd allow me to leave a loaded gun lying in the cubbies while i attended the mom and tot class with my son. i pointed out that was almost exactly what he was permitting to happen to my daughter by providing and allowing peanuts to be eaten in the main waiting area. i also pointed out that a drumstick was hardly the healthy option he'd championed for budding young athletes.

i knew it was a lost cause when he told me he understood and sympathized with my plight because they'd had an adult employee with airborne peanut allergy that they wouldn't even ban peanuts for. no longer employed there - and no wonder!- he told me she'd had an anaphylactic reaction right there at her desk when someone opened a container of peanuts around her - and they still didn't ban peanuts from the premises!

he just felt it was the principle of the thing, it wasn't fair to other paying patrons to have their foods restricted nor did he want to take on the legal liability of trying to make his place 'peanut free'. as soon as i heard that, i couldn't get my daughter out of those classes fast enough. and the really strange thing is the owner is a religious, upright and well-respected pillar -of- the -community type man with several children of his own.

you just never know how people are going to react when it comes to food issues, you can't trust that they are going to put your child's safety first - you simply can't. and that's what gives us allergy parents the reputation of being neurotic and paranoid. neurotic and paranoid is what has prevented or lessened most of my children's exposures to their allergens, so i guess i can live with that label.

the label i can't live with is that we are exaggerating or hyping these allergies for attention or a need to manipulate others. any point i could make has already been made in the comments of the two articles i posted . suffice it to say i'd never pick this issue to exaggerate about. i've been on both sides of the fence. i was a blissfully ignorant parent of kids with no food issues. now i'm a parent of kids with and without.

even in my most ignorantly blissful state, however - i never would have taken the chance on a child's life or health for my convenience of food preferences. we are one nation that could afford to give up a little freedom to eat whatever we want, wherever we want, whenever we want - and not suffer for it. we are rich - in fact, gluttonously rich - in other options.

i actually think this wealth of easy options is what has led to my children's food allergies as we have no genetic predisposition on either side of our families. this is one issue where i learned firsthand that you might want to be a little open minded and accommodating just in case you find one day the shoe is on the other foot.

safe babywearing

why bag slings are bad :

The Story of Stuff Project

I love how simple Annie Leonard puts this very complicated process of our consumption.

I was a shopaholic not to long ago so I know exactly what it feels like to wake up and have the list of things to go buy to feel like I got something done or got accomplished for the day.

Recently we have had to give a lot of our "stuff" to Good Will and Salvation Army. Our house even though it has tripled in size just did not fit all the crap we have.

I don't shop nearly as much as I used to. Mostly because we are trying to get out of debt. (Thanks to Dave Ramsey!)

This project is eye opening. Everything we consume has it's own life cycle. We have to be aware of what our impact is on this earth. We have to realize that cheaper does not = better!

reducing environmental toxins & allergens around the house

after eliminating all of the things my son was allergic to for almost 2 years, baseline continued to remain an elusive dream. i *knew* he wasn't allergic to the things he was eating still, because there were no direct cause and effect reactions happening when he ate the different things on our menu. conversely, if an accidental exposure to an allergen did occur, he would have an immediate and traceable reaction to that exposure.

he was finally sleeping through the night, which was a HUGE improvement, not crying and whining and scratching all day, not nursing for comfort as much... but he still just wasn't quite right. he had dark purple rings around his eyes, he had a very light rash with redness at the creases that i was barely keeping at bay with raw organic shea butter applied as needed and he was still clingier and fussier than my other children were at almost 2.

the answer finally hit me when a good friend convinced me to come and visit her and stay in her home, which is about 4 hours north of mine. i'd been so overwhelmed with the food allergy issues, i'd been afraid to accept her invitations before. i decided to go for it and packed enough of our food to last most of a week, though my stay there lasted 4 days.

within 24 hours of being there, my little guy cleared up completely. i got my first look at what he would be if he were 'normal'. his fair white skin glowed and shone like a pearl - it was completely unblemished by bumps or swellings or redness. the circles around his eyes were gone. he didn't scratch once. he wasn't camped out at my breast constantly - he ran and played and explored the new house.

we both keep our houses pretty clean and dust free, so i knew it wasn't a difference in dust mites. we have the same area rugs on wood floors almost exactly, so i knew it wasn't wool allergy. she does have well water and we have city... and we have a dog and they don't. so i now knew to suspect either the water or the dog. i can't even express what a relief it was to rule out our foods for sure. i lived (and still do!) in fear that he is going to become allergic to something we rely heavily on - like rice or tomatoes.

when i returned home, i took him in for an allergy test for dogs and it came back positive. he is also very allergic to cats and i had to find a loving new home for my kitty of 13 years because his reaction became so severe. however, we got the puppy after we knew elijah is pretty much allergic to everything and therefore chose a very low-allergen producing dog w/ very short hair that sheds minimally - a great dane. so i felt i could manage his exposure to the dog allergen.

i now slather him in raw organic shea butter immediately upon exiting the shower to seal and nourish his fragile skin. i clothe him in the longest layers weather permits as well as socks before letting him go out into the rest of the house. i vacuum the one common area rug we have and the dog's bed almost daily, sometimes twice daily if he is experiencing his minimal shedding. these final steps are what finally got us to baseline.

it got me thinking about how very allergic children can also be so sensitive to things in the environment and how we parents are left to sort it all out. in thinking about this, i realized i've had signals for a very long time now that some of my other children have chemical sensitivities and allergies, as well and have been automatically adjusting our habits and routines to accommodate these.

7 years ago, in july, my 2nd son turned one. shortly after his birthday, i was hanging cloth diapers on the clothesline and he clamored to join me outside. i only have 2 children who did not get my olive skin and darker hair. they are my 2nd and 5th, both born as white as pearls and with white blonde hair and sky blue eyes. (i think they got it from a recessive gene on my husband's side, he jokingly notes that the UPS man is blonde with blue eyes).

this was my first very fair baby and his first summer being mobile and wanting to come out into the strong sunlight. i practice elimination communication in a more laid back manner by leaving my children naked constantly as soon as they become mobile so we can both watch for cues to potty and if missed, they can see the cause and effect of going to the bathroom without a diaper distancing them from the process. so bo was naked this day. if it was my firstborn, jake, i would have simply brought him out naked for the 15 or 20 minutes it took for me to hang the laundry and not worried that his swarthy skin and darker hair couldn't handle it.

i decided this was the kind of baby and situation that sunscreen was made for. I've never used the stuff myself, but my husband does and bought some for babies when it was on sale at costco. i found it and slathered bo from head to toe in it. there was even a spray to protect baby heads and a stick that was much stronger protection for noses and cheeks. i used it all. i carried him out and stood him up against the picnic table as i returned to hanging diapers. within a few minutes, i heard him making a strange choking and gasping sound. i ran over to him, thinking he'd eaten something he found on the ground.

i found him hunkered over the bench, as red as a lobster from head to toe. he had thick ropes of clear mucous hanging down to his belly from his nose and foamy drool coming from his mouth and his lips were turning blue at the corners. he was gasping and wheezing and i could see his belly sucking in to expose his ribs as he labored to breathe. my first inane thought was, "how did he burn so red with all the sunscreen i put on him?!" and my second one right on the heels of that was, "he got stung by a bee, this is an anaphylactic reaction!"

i scooped him up and began to run with him into the house as i swept my hands and eyes all over his body for any signs of an insect or stinger. i could find none and began to panic as his lips got bluer and his eyes closed. my mind raced to recall everything he'd eaten, everything he'd come into contact with that could be doing this as i grabbed the phone and called the pediatrician's number and told the receptionist it was an emergency. even as i was waiting for the dr. to get on the phone, i realized the only thing new was the sunscreen. i ran for the bathroom, phone wedged between my ear and shoulder, baby in my arms.

at this point his body went limp and he burped and peed on me and i realized he'd lost consciousness. i jumped into the shower and turned it on full blast, dropping the phone by the drain. i began to rinse and scrub at bo frantically, pumping handfuls of baby soap to get all the sunscreen off. the water was cold and the vigorous rubbing seemed to revive him and bo woke up and began crying in big, whooping gasps.

it was my first terrifying experience with any kind of allergic reaction. when i took him in to the pediatrician and we went over it all, she said it was a rare anaphylactic reaction to something topical - some chemical or fragrance in the sunscreen. she advised me to avoid sunscreen completely for the boys until they were a few yrs older and then we would think about doing a test trial on his arm or something to see if he'd outgrown it.

i learned to put long light layers on bo and find the best lightweight, wide brimmed sun hats. he even swam and played in water in his sun hats and long sleeves and never had a sunburn. we had to limit our time at public water parks and pools because all the sunscreen in the water would make his eyes swell and his face go blotchy, but he never had another reaction like that first one again. (of course i realize now i also probably put way too much on, never having used it before). he is 8 now and won't wear the sun hats at pools anymore, so we've discovered pure zinc for his nose and ears and long-sleeved rash guards with board shorts for the rest of him. when jake was 3, we almost had a similar reaction when i was slathering him with mosquito repellant, but i saw his skin turning red as soon as i rubbed it on and swiftly got him into the shower to rinse it off.

these incidents showed me early on that the skin is the largest organ in the body and if you put harmful chemicals on it, they can swiftly start harming all the rest of the organs. i'd never really thought about things my children could touch -or that could touch them - harming them like this until i saw it firsthand.

here are some of the things i do to try to minimize the exposure my kids get to toxins and allergens in products around the house:

i use natural soaps to clean surfaces and linens and clothing whenever possible.
i love Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps for bathroom surfaces and tile and linoleum flooring. it's also great for occasional laundry use and washing animals, hair, hands and body. (be warned they contain real oils, however and the peppermint can be a bit zingy for sensitive parts and the almond could potentially trigger nut allergy). i use the aloe vera baby mild to wash our pets. i love the way the house smells after cleaning with the peppermint! the only thing better is when i combine it with lavender and eucalyptus for a vigorous scrubbing of the bathrooms after we've had a bug in the house. i don't use these soaps for wood floors or glass as they can leave a buildup due to the natural oils they contain.

i've also gradually eliminated almost all plastics from our kitchen as well as aluminum cookware and anything with teflon or other non-stick coatings. not only is there concern over the leaching that most plastics do, but i've learned that most are also made with corn. i use glass tupperware or stainless steel (like tiffins available in bento box sets). i use cast iron or ceramic cookware as well as stainless steel. the kids get stainless steel water bottles to drink from (that are uncoated - i was very concerned/upset to learn about the issues the SIGG bottles i'd been partial to before switching to Kleen Kanteens) and we all use glass or ceramic to drink form at the dinner table.

for laundry, i've had to get away form any commercially prepared detergents completely, elijah was allergic to something in them all. i now use soapnuts i get from NaturOli and am experimenting with all the different ways you can use the liquid soap you can make from them, too. i used to love cleaning with vinegar before the corn allergy - it's anibacterial, antimicrobial, germicidal and antiseptic. the liquid in soapnuts is a great replacement as it is a natural surfactant that leaves no residue, yet it leaves clothes incredibly soft and completely odorless. i order from this site because they send them in natural cotton bags instead of plastic bags other sites use that are made with corn.

for scrubbing toilets, baking soda and lemon juice works wonders & is also great for removing soap scum in showers. i also like method: home care and personal care products as they are toxicity free, biodegradable and not tested on animals. they also work great! i love their ylang-ylang daily shower spray for cutting through soap scum. a drawback to these products is that some of them may be too strongly fragranced for sensitive people. i tend to stick to the products that get rinsed away, so i don't have to worry about possible corn ingredients coming into direct contact with skin.

another thing i worry about is offgassing or outgassing. this is when you buy something new and it has that strong "new" smell for a while, like a vinyl shower curtain. what is actually going on is the chemicals it is made up of, are being released into the environment as it is opened up to the air. some of these chemicals can be very toxic or damaging to brain cells or developing respiratory organs - especially if outgassing happens in a closed space that gets hot. like a new car seat left in a car. studies with special chemical sensing equipment have recently revealed that there are clouds of chemicals outgassing around new car seats sitting in cars.

when i buy anything new that isn't made of completely natural materials for use with my children, i try to buy it in advance of needing it and let it 'air out' for a few weeks before bringing them into contact with it. for example, we bought a memory foam mattress topper for them to use as a nest to sleep on over the summer when they'd stay up all night watching movies. i put it in the basement, draped over the half wall for weeks before we actually brought it upstairs and let them use it.

when buying a new shower curtain liner, i do so in the warmer months and hang it on the clothesline outside for a few weeks, until the "new" smell is gone, before bringing it in.

luckily, my super sensitive allergy guy has had only hand -me -down car seats from his siblings to use. no new crib mattresses for my kids to possibly raise the risk of sids, as they all slept on our not-too- old to- be- germy and not- too- new to- be -chemical-y mattress beside us.

i only put clothing made from natural fibers on my allergy guy and i only use this soap for him: Vanicream Skin & Hair Care Products: Specially formulated for Skin Allergies and Sensitivities!

i have found nothing that heals and protects his skin as well as raw, organic shea butter. i used to buy it from this site: SensibilitySoaps - Nourish® but have since found it locally at a health food store for a much better price.

my policy has become to look for the most natural option available and if there isn't one, to let the item air out for a while after being opened before we use it. this feels like a middle-of-the-road solution we can all live with, as simply doing without some of these plastic and toxic items wouldn't be an option i'm prepared to work around.

Market Place : Staying young when you're cheap!

Love this advice. So simple!! ~nancy

Staying young when you're cheap

Young adults at a health club

Cash Peters looks into some of the more economical ways of maintaining your youth.

TESS VIGELAND: If you're the Peace Corps type, it's a safe bet you're not obsessed with your looks. They're not generally what you'd call glamour assignments. Still, as we age, it's hard not to notice crow's feet, sagging chin lines. That explains why, according to the AARP, we spend more than $1.5 billion a year on anti-aging skin care products.

Here's Cash Peters.

Cash Peters: You know, I thought aging was just a horrible fact of life. I'm growing older, I'm going to fall apart -- soon by the looks of it -- and die. But now, apparently, we have options.

Shari Rowan is a health writer for the Los Angeles Times.

Shari Rowan: There are things we can do to slow down the process and really make a significant difference on how we age, and how we feel in old age.

Well yeah, but can they be done cheaply and easily? Here's the mathematical equation that I'm working with: Expensive + Difficult = I'm not doing it.

Rowan: For some people, they just need to go into that whole consumer schtick. They need the exercise tights and the latest gym clothing and they need a fitness trainer. And if you can afford that, fine.

But I can't, so let's never mention it again. There has to be a simpler way. George Lamoreau is an herbalist, specializing in longevity

George Lamoreau: Most of us believe that a normal lifespan should be around 120 years.

Peters: When you say most, you mean you.

Lamoreau: See, here's what you have to do. You have to fool the body into not turning on those genes that are going to get you on the road to degeneration. You have to keep the body young, or at least you have to make it think that it's young.

Exactly. And the way you do that, George, says, is by making it feel strong and vital inside. And by staying in shape -- not, as I thought, by buying all that stuff you see in commercials, cosmetic surgery and anti-aging creams. In fact, I have a good authority... Well, OK, I got it from the woman from the L.A. Times. But she says that a lot of the creams -- the ones that magic away wrinkles -- guess what? Don't even work.

Rowan: I can tell you that a lot of the very expensive skin creams, the anti-aging formulas that you see in fancy department stores, are no better than anything you'd pay $15 for in a drug store. And they sometimes cost 10 times more.

Wow, jeepers, what a scandal.

So, OK, what if I want to look young and stay young, but I'm an uncompromising cheap skate? You know, just saying. Where do I start?

Jason Andrew Wrobel: Start drinking really good water.

Hm, that's it? Jason Andrew Wrobel is a raw food chef. And he thinks we've made this "living longer" thing way too complicated.

Wrobel: What I think is being required is a value system switch. By the way, I just met a 108-year-old doctor who looks like he's in his sixties. His tips, for instance, were get out and walk, do things physical. Very basic. Eat a lot of blueberries. Very basic. Do things that make you feel good. Very basic things.

So basic that I had not even thought of them. Here's another:

Rowan: Exercise.

Ah... I've never liked the sound of this. But Shari Rowan is adamant.

Rowan: Exercise is the closest thing we have to the magic pill. But the scientific evidence shows more than any other product, diet, surgery, anything that exercise will yield the most benefit.

OK, but you can't stop there. You have to eat well too.

David Wolfe is one of the top nutrition experts in the world.

David Wolfe: I start people off with two things: Fresh vegetable juices, because you feel that right away, and superfood blended smoothies, because you can feel it right away, cuts through all the numbness, all the resistance and people get an experience.

Yeah, right. But haven't we heard this all before? Switch to organic fruits and vegetables blah blah blah. We never do it; it's all too expensive. Have these gurus any idea how much organic produce costs? And what's the point of "superfoods," such as herbs, acai berries and cacao keeping you alive longer, if your grocery bill could give you a coronary?

Wolfe: The money issue is an important issue, and my goal is always to get the price of natural foods down down down down down. But it has to be a step-by-step process. In order to get more demand, we have to get the price down and make it more accessible.

OK, fine. So, water, free. Exercise, free. Good nutrition, still a little pricey, but probably worth it. And finally, the last tip for longevity comes from Jim Root, who runs the Glen Ivy Spa in San Diego. Age 54, looks about 12. He says, do yourself a favor: Relax outdoors, go stare at something.

Jim Root: Even if it's to look out at the mountain or look at a plant. And then from...

Peters: But that won't get rid of my wrinkles.

Root: But what it will do is it works from the inside out. It has more long lasting and real impact than all the creams and surgeries in the world.

Are you listening, Joan Rivers?

In Los Angeles, for the next 50 years at least, I'm Cash Peters for Marketplace Money.