Chemicals, Kids and what we as parents butt-up against as we try to raise healthy children in a toxic world.
When you are a busy mama raising a home grown family, I find that most of the time I’m not in my body at all. In fact at the end of a long day, just before sleep, I usually find myself saying ‘oh, there you are’, like somehow I’ve lost myself for the whole day only to find me again at bed time. And then I lose myself the very next morning again. Inspired by mindfulness I have started writing a ‘today’ gratitude list. The main gist of this is to write down whatever I am feeling grateful for in your life…right now; here and now; in the present.
This is the first one I am sharing. It’s a lovely practice for busy mama’s. You might want to give it a go. Beauty and simplicity surround us all the time and if we are not careful we can miss it.
I took time to meditate for 5 whole minutes.
I had coconut oil melt in my mouth for breakfast.
My egg yolk is like a creamy sunset.
Someone made me soup at the organic cafe for lunch.
I ate sweet juicy pink guava. They are nearly out of season. Goodbye guava. Thankyou.
I watched Adiva’s abundant joy as she showed me the gap where he tooth once was.
Thinking that it’s time to surrender to the ever-expanding laundry pile. I loose. You win.
I need to ask for more help with my busy schedule.
I watched Jedda sit on the trampoline eating mandarines and talking to her dolly named Raspberry (see photo).
Happy anniversary my dear Jase. Eight of the best years of my life. I feel blessed to be travelling this journey with you.
We are bringing Kombucha to Northy St Organic Markets! (in fact my post is a little late as we’ve been there for a few weeks now, sorry). We feel so grateful to be so well received in this beautiful community. It’s very satisfying to be around people equally passionate about fermented foods and health. And to be honest we’ve been struggling to keep up with the demand for our Kombucha. It’s been a sell out every week. But we hope we have it all handled now with over 1000ltrs of blissful brewing Kombucha. And we just got word from Saturday’s West End Markets and they have a spot for us too (no weekends for us anymore, but bringing kombucha to the people feels very right).
So if you are in the Brisbane area come and visit us for a sample. We have four different Kombucha varieties: i) Buchi Mama Origional (made on the SCOBY mother and that’s all); Deep Green Kombucha (yes, we use the Miessence Deep Alkalising Green mix with loads of blue green algae (spirillina), wheat grass, barley grass, kamut grass etc); Ginger Tumeric Kombucha (packs a punch for people who like that ginger kick); and Hibiscus Pine Lime Kombucha (this was made for people transitioning to Kombucha and who need a little sweetness in their drink).
And for people who are not in the area, but in Australia, you can still contribute to our crowdfunding (Pozible) for the next few weeks and we will send some delicious Buchi Kombucha your way. Check out our site http://buchi.pozible.com and make a pledge. Don’t worry about your location, we’ll be shipping Buchi all around the country to say thanks for your support.
This is an article I am proud of and feel grateful to Peppermint Magazine for publishing it. I have also had quite a number of people email me as a result of the article expressing thanks and appreciation. I feel deeply honoured by their corrospondance to me. Click the link to read the entire Habitat Article…. Enjoy!
Look at any parenting site dedicated to openly discussing vaccination and the dialogues are brutal. It’s apparent that the predatory instinct of the Wolf that lurks behind any good mother emerges when defending and protecting her cub. And like a wolf, we hunt in packs (gathering evidence and like-minded parents and practitioners to defend our decisions) and strike for juggler when we are cornered or feel threatened. Make no mistake, I too, can be one of those wolves I admit. Put oxybenzone on my child’s skin, an ingredient commonly found in conventional sunscreen and a known endocrine (hormone)-disrupting chemical, and I am known to hunt you down and attack without prejudice. It’s not personal – it’s primal, and I will defend my pack.
And it seems debate around vaccination has become even more divided these days as the Federal government moves to wed the vaccination schedule with the family tax benefit. If you are a ‘conscious objector’ to vaccinations you may not be affected –you just have to put in the form. But if you have missed or delayed your child’s vaccinations, or just don’t want some of the vaccinations, the government will doc you almost $2100 per child.
It’s been these latest government moves that have got me thinking more about the future of vaccinations, about control, the role of the State, and about the information (and science) we accept or reject about vaccination based on our values, faith, risk perceptions, intuition, and ideals that reinforce our opinions or identity as part of a social group.
Where paths diverge…
So what does the science say about vaccinations?
In short, that any risks associated with vaccinations are outweighed by the numerous benefits. Or in scientific terms – the correlation between vaccinated children and certain diseases does not equal causation.
Policy makers and practitioners then interpret this science and implement it via the National Vaccination Schedule. This schedule is carried it out in two ways: on an individual basis to protect specific persons at risk; and on a population basis, to provide ‘herd immunity’ to protect individuals who have not been vaccinated. The argument is that the higher the immunisation rate in any population, the less likely that a pathogen will penetrate the group and find a susceptible person inside. As immunization rates drop, that protection grows thinner.
So why then do many parents disagree – sharply and persistently – about the facts on which scientists largely agree, and the government implements the schedule? Why is it that many parents choose not to vaccinate, or partially vaccinate their children given the evidence?
The thing about science is that whilst it seems all but omnipotent, given many of the impressive advances we have witnessed over the generations (and some advances that prove our other advances were not so successful) it never proves anything in an absolute sense. Nor is everything scientifically tested, including many vaccinations, and when some testing has been done, it hasn’t been done long term, nor has it been done in conjunction with other vaccines.
The area of chemicals is analogous to vaccines in many ways. 75% of everyday chemicals used in consumer chemicals have never been tested for their toxicity of the human body (or the environment), the long term effects are unknown, and testing of multiple variations to chemical exposure is rarely (if ever) carried out.
Also consider that some things may never be measurable. I was recently doing some research about the onset of labour and scientific uncertainty dominates this area. No one knows exactly what sets in motion the onset of labour – uterine contractions. Sure scientific papers focus on the intrinsic factors such as the cascade of biochemical changes that soften the cervix of the uterus and coax its muscles into a synchronized action. But the ultimate source of them remains unelucidated. When does a baby in utero tell the body when (s)he is ready to start her journey into this world? We don’t exactly know. And may never know. It’s what makes the journey of growing babies so celestial.
So vaccinations, like many topics, including climate change, global warming, chemical pollution, evolution, even the onset of labour remain contested. And perhaps always will be. Scientific uncertainty is a fact!
‘But what about the terrible life-threatening diseases of polio and measles,’ I hear you say. Indeed, while young parents today did not grow up with the debilitating and often fatal diseases such as polio and measles, parents across the globe continue to speak out about the severe regression and disabilities of their children following vaccine exposure, despite the scientific evidence. Asthma, cancer, autism, allergies, autoimmune diseases and neurological disorders are all on the rise, and most people experience these ‘disorders’ and diseases in our everyday lives. As parents of today, we are certainly not immune to the health challenges of our times.
Some say that science will eventually provide a way out of these diseases and diverging vaccinations debates – but as great as science is (and I’m part of this area myself)—it is not without limitations (or hindsight). There are some big questions, many ethical, that arise for me both as a researcher and a mother that frame the vaccination debate and yet are rarely discussed. Given that today’s children under five receive 13 injections and numerous oral vaccine courses, making up a total of 45 vaccine doses throughout childhood, I wonder if our children’s children continue to be vaccinated and in even more quantities than today’s children (as has been the case for the previous generations)? And what about their children’s children? How much is enough. How many vaccinations do we have to produce before we say enough is enough. When we reach one hundred? Or two hundred? Are we a culture that just continues to produce vaccines in response to disease? Is this really a way to live? I often wonder what kind of a path we are setting up for future generations by not asking these today.
Or is there another path? Surely with all of our knowledge and resources we are capable of developing a world where prevention is the cure. If we can put a man on the moon, surely we can create a clean sustainable environment that is harmony with the natural movements of the earth and seasons and where our children don’t have to be jabbed with concoctions and chemicals? I’d like to start talking about a path that is based on prevention not reaction. That seems so worthy of attention.
Since journeying back to Australia and emersing ourselves in everyday Brisbane living again, I have found myself yearning for connection with nature, health and self – yearing for community (It seemed so much easier when we were living on farms, tipis and yurts around the globe). It’s been a somewhat unsettling time for us as a family, and without this connection a certain amount of dis-ease has been creaping into our lives. Tiredness. A colesore here and there. A sore throat. Sore back. Crankiness.
Jeddabugs second birthday was an opportunity to reconnect to nature, health and self again. One of the greatest lack in our world, is the deep agony of separation and loneliness – we all long for connection with others. So we called on our community to help us celebrate Jeddabugs birthday and create our vege patch. It was a wonderful day and I feel deeply grateful to all beautiful friends for bringing our vege patch to life, for your generous time and seedlings, and blessing our Jeddabugs on her second birthday. It was a wonderful gift to our family and we hope to to repay it forward to others also seeking connection with nature, health, self and community.
I get emails from parents asking me about easy raw and delicious recipes for kids (and the family). Sorry, I’ve been a bit slack on posting suggestions while we have been travelling…but we’re in Brooklyn for a while now, so I have a kitchen, a local farmers market, and a weekly organic box of fruit and veges. So to start with here’s our fairly standard breakfast recipe. This recipe is a good brain-booster with lots of omega 3 in the chia seeds (and hemp seeds if you can get them – easy to come by here, but not so much in Australia). Our kids just love this breakfast. And for Jase and I, we add in extra ginger, which is warming for the body, but the girls still aren’t too keen on ginger in even small quantities so add just a wee bit for them.
Here it is…
Chai sees, apple and cinnamon porridge
2 apples, grated
1/2 C chia seeds (either soaked over night or not)
1/2 C pepitas and sunflower seeds (you can sprout these overnight)
1 tsp cinnamon
A good knob of ginger, as much or as little as you like, grated really finely
2 T hemp seeds (optional) but if you can get them they are great for this recipe and so good for you (or a drizzle of hemp oil)
1 – 1 1/2 C of your favourite nut milk (fresh sprouted almong milk with a dash of vanilla is amazing)
1 T Gratitude for these beautiful ingredients
Heap it all in a big bowl and mix it up! Let it sit a while, particularly if the chia seeds are unsoaked. They will need a bit of time to soak up the liquid and swell. This will probably take about 10 minutes. This should be enough for at least 3-4 people.
We have also used nashi fruit when in season in this recipe and that’s great too. And experiment with this recipe…add goji or soaked cranberries; a squeeze of lemon…
Love and enjoy!
I did an interview for an article in GMag called The Chemical Child. The author of the article Aimee Wagenheim did a fabulous job given that I bombarded her with so much information about chemicals and their impact on the body. It’s well worth a read. And if you haven’t subscribed to G Mag (an excellent green magazine) I would I would recommend it. Grab a copy.
It’s an apt place to do this thinking given we (our family) are snug in a cabin in the woods of the Teton Mountain ranges in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. 10,000 ft about sea level and surrounded by swirling snow, naked aspens, snow covered spruces, rolling rivers and the most incredible feast of nature.
Each morning the girls and I wake up to see what snow has brought us through the night. The irascible moose and her baby may have returned to our cabin for some relief from the snow or to eat the succulent green water grasses from the Fish Creek riverbed nearby. There is something about an irascible creature that I am drawn to. I·ras·ci·ble – unpredictable, prone to outbursts of temper; easily angered; known to charge if their calves are under threat. As a mama I appreciate some of these qualities and am known to charge too if my girls are under threat.
During the day the girls and I have taken to watching the elk on their migration routes; the mule deer forage for food anywhere they can find it; coyotes lingering on the margins of the forests; and the bald eagles flying overhead as the first field mice start to emerge from their burrows as the long winter ice starts to thaw. The girls build ice caves, make snow angels in the powder, and collect river rocks to paint. We drink lots of herbs in front of the fire to keep warm, and at nights when everything is silent – I write and watch the snow fall.
Yes… there is no doubt that this environment can also be extreme – dry cracked lips and stringy hair, muddy and cold and sometimes impractical – but its an environment that’s easy to think about nature in, because it becomes you; engulfs you. John Muir’s quote is apt here: ‘When one tugs at a single thing in nature, (s)he finds it attached to the rest of the world’.
So about kids and nature…
For years I have been speaking to groups about the importance of nutrition (raw and nutrient rich foods for kids and how to make these part of their everyday diets), adequate sleep, co-sleeping, touch, reducing (eliminating) toxic exposure to everyday consumer products. But importantly – kids also need contact with nature! The missing link (and heart) of my presentations.
There is a great book by Richard Louv called Last Child in the Woods. He writes about reducing what he calls the ‘nature-deficient disorder’ in children of the 21st century. Where more kids than ever before are disconnected from nature – have reduced amounts of leisure time; spend more time in front of the TV and computer; growing obesity rates, sedentary lifestyles and where nature activities are being criminalized. Researcher Jane Clark also calls these children ‘containerized children’ – they spend more time in car seats, high chairs, and even baby seats for watching TV. And when they do go outside they are often placed in containers – strollers.
Louv talks about the time he spends with teenagers: ‘I am reminded that while they are aware of the global threats to the environment – their physical contact, their intimacy with nature, is fading. It seems nature is something to watch, to consume, to wear’.
His primary argument (and core of his book) is to reduce the ‘nature deficit disorder’. Why? Because it is in our self-interest, not only because aesthetics or justice demands it, but also because our mental, physical, and spiritual health depends upon it. Exposure to nature reduces diseases, improves cognitive abilities and resistance to stresses.
I would also add that the health of the earth depends upon it as well. How young people relate or connect with nature, and how they raise their own children, will shape the conditions of our cities, our homes, or parks and the conditions of our animals, plants and ecosystems.
Author Bill McKibben has called this time as ‘the end of nature’. But a mama of two small girls and connected to a community of conscious parents, I am far less pessimistic. I watch how children connect with nature with such ease if we give them the space to do so. It’s like breathing to them.
Svetla Stoikova, a clinical psychologist at Alexandrovska University Hospital in Bulgaria notes in her research, ‘…If you place a bunch of flowers and a telephone in front of a 8-month-old baby, she reaches for the flowers. If you give a 4-year-old girl the choice between sand and stones, or dough with milk to cook a meal for her doll with, he will choose the former. If you offer a 14-year-old teenager a hike to a mountain peak or to let her chat on the computer, they will choose the mountain’.
Of course they will. We, as parents, have a brief opportunity to pass onto our children this earth.
* Photos of our cabin in the woods and hooked on nature adventures
So as health nuts, what do we do to maintain our health while we are travelling?
We ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS carry THREE health enhancing products when we travel. And I’m going to share them with you. You may use different ones, but these are the ones we just love! They are:
i) Probiotics – InLiven is our preference and I have written about this previously. Certified organic, fermented, and a superfood (so we don’t have to keep it in a fridge –which is very handy when travelling and fridges are not always available)
ii) Antioxidants – we try and get as many natural occurring antioxidents in our diet as we can – berries, aloe vera, raw cacao, fruits etc. but we can’t always get the full spectrum, so when we travel we bring along Berry Radical. A great cuppa in the afternoon.
But the one I want to talk about is a new product called:
iii) Alkalising superfood - ‘Deep Green’. And it’s amazing!
Now I get the opportunity to review quite a few health products, most I don’t even bother to write about. But this one is quite different…
‘Eat more leafy greens!’, was the catch cry of my grandma.
Because leafy greens (and grass juices and spirulina) are the ‘deep-greens’ of nutrition. I think about them as the pigment-rich dark green veins of the plant. It is these dark green foods that contain all the essential nutrients and precursors upon which all other life depends. Deep-green foods are concentrated sources of easily absorbed vitamins, amino acids, chlorophyll, enzymes, phyto- nutrients, and alkaline minerals. And to eat them is to optimise our health, immunity and energy levels.
The ideal balance of food intake is 80% alkaline and 20% acidic.
Alkaline-forming foods are theses deep greens (and some fruits). They are great at doing this. They neutralise toxic acids in the blood and tissues caused by eating acid foods, excess stress, excessive exercise, environmental pollutants, drugs, alcohol, coffee, and tobacco. When our bodies are acidic, bad bacteria, viruses, yeast, and other unfriendly organisms flourish. When our bodies are slightly alkaline (from eating alkaline foods like raw veggies and green food powders), bad bacteria, cancer, yeast, and viruses can’t survive. Deep-greens are good for your brain, your bones, and your heart, AND they help to prevent cancer, detoxify and alkalise your cells, boost your immune system, and give you more energy.
Acid-forming foods include just about everything else we eat – meat, poultry, milk, cheese, bread, pasta, pastries, snack food, soft drinks, and processed foods.
So this is why we should ‘Eat more leafy greens!’.
In a nut shell, Deep Greens contain chlorophyll. Chlorophyll-rich greens are blood builders. They cleanse and heal, as has been heavily documented in a multitude of studies, detoxifying heavy metals from the body. Chlorophyll stimulates tissue growth and red blood cell production. (NB. Chlorophyll is almost identical to haemoglobin, the red pigment in blood – instead with magnesium at its centre instead of iron).
DeepGreen Alkalising Superfood contains ONLY certified organic blue-green algae, green grass juices and leafy green vegetables!
This is where it gets interesting. There is so much I could say here, but I am going to limit it to two main comments. Firstly, Deep Green Alkalising Superfoods are RAW, unprocessed, certified organic algae, grass juices and leafy greens which contain an abundance of natural enzymes – the body’s spark plugs – that are responsible for digestive processes, cellular energy, supporting immune function, and promoting circulation and detoxification.
Most people don’t get enough enzymes because heat destroys enzymes and most of our foods, whether cooked at home or processed, are heated and the enzymes destroyed.
But what sets it apart from any other product on the market – and this is critical – is that Deep Green is not Grass – it’s juice!
All other products I have seen on the market use pulverized dehydrated grass and leaf in their product. Pulverised grass powders are completely useless for humans! Unlike cows or horses, we cannot digest the cellulose in grasses, therefore all the nutrition remains ‘locked’ in those fibres. Deep Green uses ONLY the grass juice powders. Only grass juice powders contain easily bioavailable nutrients we can absorb.
How amazing is that!
• Extremely concentrated and dense – 1 teaspoon of powder is equivalent to over 60ml (2 fl.oz) of fresh green juices. • 100% RAW, VEGAN and CERTIFIED ORGANIC. • A concentrated source of super nutrition. • A natural source of alkalising minerals. • Formulated without fillers – no rice bran, no flax seed, no beans or legumes… just pure DeepGreens! • Great for those on low carbohydrate diets. • Perfect for convalescents or those with weak digestive systems who are unable to obtain enough green foods through their diet.
Add a teaspoon or more of DeepGreen Alkaliser to water or fresh juice. I have a heaped teaspoon every morning (sometimes more if my body wants more).It can also be added to smoothies, sprinkled over foods, and used in salad dressings. DeepGreen Alkaliser is organic food, and can be taken in larger amounts if intense cleansing and nourishment are desired.
Absolutely. If they are eating, then you can add it to their diets.
This is completely up to your child. As I have written about previously, follow their lead and never force children to eat anything they don’t feel like eating. Trust them. Eating comes as naturally to a child as breathing. Allow them to choose from a range of foods including Deep Greens. Some mornings both our chick drink a glass full of Deep Greens (about ½ tsp in water or extremely diluted fresh juice), sometimes it’s a gulp and sometimes they don’t feel like any at all. We notice when we allow them to do this, they are intune with what their bodies need. It’s beautiful to watch.
Full Ingredient list of Deep Green:
*organic spirulina (arthrospira platensis) powder, *organic wheat grass (triticum aestivum) juice powder, *organic barley grass (hordeum vulgare) juice powder, *organic alfalfa grass (medicago sativa) juice powder, *organic oat grass (avena sativa) juice powder, *organic kamut grass (triticum turanicum) juice powder, *organic spinach (spinacia oleracea) powder, *organic nettle (urtica dioica) powder, *organic collard (brassica oleracea acephala) powder, *organic kale (brassica oleracea acephala) powder, *organic parsley (petroselinum sativum) powder. *Certified Organic by USDA
This is some excerpts of an interview with Stacy Malkin, author of the award winning publication Not Just a Pretty Face: The Ugly Side of the Beauty Industry and one of the organizers of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. She is one of the leading experts on toxic chemicals in beauty products and chemical regulatory policies, and is frequently interviewed by major media outlets including the New York Times, USA Today and Washington Post. We met in Berkeley, San Francisco a few weeks ago.
Sarah: How did you get into the field of cosmetics and chemicals?
Stacy: I was a reporter for many years and I got into this area of chemical impacts via pesticides actually. I lived in Colorado – beautiful scenic mountain views and forests; and our local community officials were planning to spray pesticides onto our parklands and public spaces to control the weeds. So the community came together around this issue at a community meeting. Nearly 200 people turned up which for a small mountainous community was huge. The meeting started and these very earnest city workers started the meeting off with a film. It was a slick presentation about how the weeds would destroy the natural ecosystem as we knew if we didn’t do something. And they believed the safe, happy solution was to spray chemicals to control the weeds. Then the credits of the film came on and it highlighted that the film was made by Dow Chemicals and Dupont. These companies had a major strategy of going after County’s in Colorado with these anti-weed programs, and they in fact also had it put into the State law that they had to control weeds. The whole thing was insidious. So at that point, the meeting erupted, people freaked out and they were yelling at the workers. It was really dramatic. The city workers were obviously very confused but as a reporter I was thrilled because I was looking for a good story. I had a little time, so I further investigated the issue, and went out with these weed guys. It became clear that they knew everything about weeds, but they knew absolutely nothing – zero – about the chemicals they were spraying.
Then I started asking about what they currently use around the parks and golf courses and they told me – Roundup. They said “It must be safe, you can get it in Walmark”. They just had no idea.
So I essentially play the role of storyteller. I work with academics and scientists and try and work out ways to tell this incredible story – and make it sellable and accessible.
Campaign for Safe Cosmetics – Bipartisan Support
Sarah: The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and Coalition has had a lot of success since its inception in 2004 and has been taken up a broad spectrum of people spanning a range of differing political ideologies.
Stacy: The Campaign crosses all political parties. If people are interested in their health, or those of their family, then it’s an issue for them! The problem we experience is most people think that the chemical industry here in the US is regulated. That shocks everybody when they find out that its not remotely regulated. I don’t know why, but people have this built in expectation that the government it protecting us. Even those people who are critical of the government still think that they are protecting us in this area. People don’t put a lot of thought into this obviously.
Sarah: Where do you think these beliefs and expectations come from?
Stacy: I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this. I think there is such an intense training from such an early age. I call it ‘corporate consumer training’ – through the education system, the media, employment and training. It’s beaten into us on a subconscious level via. People have such a blind faith in the market. I think the toxic story, the pollution in blood cord and newborn babies that is showing up, is a wake-up call for many people. It’s the alarm bell that shifts people out of that story that we can just trust these companies and trust that we are being protected.
Sarah: Tell me about the demographics of people involved in the campaign here in the US.
Stacy: It’s primarily being driven by lot of parents, and moms in particular. There are so many children growing up with severe allergies and the doctor’s just can’t help them. In fact no one is able to help them. So they have to figure out a way to help themselves. I fell like there is a bit of an awakening that is happening – but its still under the radar.
Environmental Health Policy
Sarah: Recently the US Congress has had some hearings on the issue of chemicals and children. Many experts in the field have provided their stories, and the research is conclusive – chemicals can severely impact the body. What do you think will translate in this area in in terms of policy?
Stacy: So there’s the bill that Senator Frank Lautenberg introduced this week – ‘The Safe Chemicals Act’ which will reform the current Toxic Chemicals Act which is the main law which governs industrial chemicals in the US. There’s a separate law that deals with pesticides, which is slightly better, but still obviously failing to protect public health. Right now there are a lot of organizations working together to reforming the toxic chemicals law that was passed in the 1970’s and completely outdated. This deals with the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). The law as it currently stands is largely a front for the chemical industry to do whatever they feel like doing. They get to put the chemicals into the environment and into consumer products without any accountability; without any concern for health or environmental impacts. Health problems are inevitably starting to crop up and then its left up to consumers and governments,to prove without a shadow of a doubt that it is indeed the chemicals that are doing the harm. Which is ridiculous when there is no requirements for industry to study the impacts. In this system, ignorance is rewarded and allowed to continue.
Sarah: So there is obviously a lot of talk at the moment, do you think that will translate into actual concrete changes?
Stacy: If the Democrats were smart they would take up this issue. It’s a winnable issue. It could be THE issue that they could win on. It’s a non-partisan issue and there is a lot of support on chemical reform. And there will be reforms of some kind because the chemical industry is also pushing for reform. They recognize they are losing the public vote on this. They also recognize that the laws are outdated. So change will happen. What it comes down to then is how progressive the laws will actually be.
Women and consumer groups in the USA
Sarah: Tell me about your consumer groups and organisations here. They are certainly bigger than in Australia and NZ and seem to have a lot more power in making change in this area.
Stacy: Yes, I think consumer change is critical and then the laws follow. That is why consumers and the market shift can be so powerful. I think in this the toxics debate, the power lies primarily (but not solely) with women. And that is my focus because I think women have the most power on this issue. Women buy most of the consumer products. About 85% of consumer decisions in the home are made by woman. We’re also 54% of the vote; and 60% of college graduate in the United States. So I think there is the power of women that can be tapped into and environmental health is certainly a significant issue that can generate action.
Sarah: In Australia we don’t often talk about environmental health in this way, as a women’s, or a feminist issue, for that matter.
Stacy: You don’t hear about it here either actually because of the backlash against the women’s movement. And the word ‘feminism’ is still not cool. ‘We have already won’, they say. And yet this is clearly an issue that we have not won. In fact it’s getting worse. We have polluted women (and men, but differently so); polluted pregnant women; and polluted babies. It is a feminist issue. How can it not be.
Sarah: That’s a great chapter in a book!
Stacy on the health care system
Sarah: Tell me about your health care system here. How are health professionals in the US responding to environmental health and the pollution within?
Stacy: People put so much faith in doctors. And yet still don’t train in this area, and so have very limited knowledge in this area. We find nurses much better in terms of wanting to do ‘prevention’.
Sarah: What are the big health issues you are witnessing here in the US in relation to environmental contamination?
Stacy: Allergies are huge. Allergies of all kind. And growing.
Sarah: Eczema is certainly an issue that I get asked about.
Stacy: I’ve spoken to a lot of dermatologists who have done a lot of studies on eczema and they argue there is not such thing as eczema. It’s an allergy. The body is having an allergic reaction in most cases. People are exposing themselves to something they are allergic to and if you remove the source of the allergen, then it gives the body time to heal. Never mind steroid creams.
I was doing an interview with a paediatrician in Alaska recently and this issue came up. Formaldehyde came up as a substance directly related to eczema. And formaldehyde is in everything. And if you have an acute exposure you become sensitive to so many things and you develop severe chemical sensitivity. And most people don’t know about this. They have never thought about eczema as an allergic reaction.
About the Precautionary Principle
Sarah: What are your views on the Precautionary Principle?
Stacy: It’s essentially means getting more chemicals tested before they are introduced. And that can only be a good thing. In the EU where it being introduced, chemicals that are liberally applied here in our personal care products and everyday goods are being banned there. Most recently it’s been dibutal phthalates*, but not in all uses. So what they are doing in the EU will be really usefully for us here in the US. We can make better decisions this way and with the most recent information we have. One thing that did concern me though is that when the EU REACH legislation came in, the NGO Toxics Programs simply disappeared. It was like ‘we’ve won this one as much as we can, so lets move on’. But we still have so far to go on this issue.
Here in the US no one like those words ‘precautionary principle’. We talk a lot about ‘exercising free will’ with the ‘free market’, so the precautionary principle language is confronting to people.
And the reality is, we may never be able to prove some of the health problems that are occurring. We may not be ever able to prove cancer – there are so many possibly and multiple causes, and cancer may take 20 years to develop. So wouldn’t it be better to talk about prevention rather than finding that one ‘cancer cause’.
Ethics and environmental health
Sarah: When we see research that shows that newborn babies are being born with a whole range of chemicals inside of the – before they take their first breath in the world – what do you think are our ethical obligations here as a society?
Stacy: Tresspass. It’s blatant trespass. It’s corporations putting their products in my child before they are even born. It’s a shocking issue! It’s an ethical issue! The problem is there is no moral or ethical framework with a corporate free trade system. There is no component for this. Their primary purpose is to make profits, and ethics may or may not come after this. Usually not. And that’s insane. It’s an insane system. And it always comes down to the same argument about why this is happening. It’s legal! It’s in our laws.
So when people ask me ‘what should I buy’ I’m almost past the point of looking at companies. I think the bigger issue is an understanding of companies and who they are and what they are doing. Because the reality is, even if you buy all organic products for your home, your children are still going to be polluted via schools, or parks, or store, or the water supply. They are using atropine in the fields. They are using Teflon in our clothing.
So the question comes down to, how do we change these systems?
And I think it comes down to is how we spend our money and our lives – being a conscious consumer and getting active in our communities. This is where Mom’s are great. And this is where young women can be particularly powerful because they are connected to schools and campus’s. And there is such a hunger for this knowledge. This is where women can have a real impact on their communities.
Future for the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics
Sarah: What plans have you got for the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics?
Stacy: We’re really focused on Federal Policy at the moment. And we will continue to do that. But we also need to work with young women to raise their consciousness on this issue. And we need to work with each other. Lift the veil on this. And with this lifting comes freedom. I’m interested in bringing women to that point. Free from toxic messages and toxic products. And when you start on this process, ie getting away from toxic substances from their lives women start feeling better. Your health improves. There is a huge percentage of people in society who are sensitive to chemicals, around 30%. Giving them this information gives them freedom – gives them relief.
Dibutal phthalates* – Uased in fragrances; plasticizer; solvent. The State of California and other authoritative bodies have classified dibutyl phthalate (DBP) as a reproductive and developmental toxicant, and the European Union banned the use of this ingredient in cosmetics and personal care products. In animal studies, exposure to DBP during gestation causes infertility, cryptorchidism and problems in sperm development, adverse effects similar to human testicular dysgenesis syndrome. Prenatal exposure to DBP has been associated with anatomical changes in the reproductive system development in baby boys. In adult men, DBP has been correlated with changes in serum hormone levels, lower sperm concentration and motility, and decreased fertility.
Thankyou Stacy for this interview!
One of the best things we do when travel is order a local box of organic fruits/veges/seeds/nuts/juice/spring water before we arrive at our place of destination. Sure it’s a little organisation, but well worth the effort. So when we set down in Los Angeles this afternoon – jetlagged, dehydrated, tired, and amongst a sea of skyscrapers and dry winds – we all gladly welcomed our box of fresh ruby red grapefruits, mangoes, cucumbers, almonds, avocados, pineapple, oranges, dates and other bits. These were delivered directly to our hotel. We chose to use LA based TGL Organics and they were great. Thankyou TGL!
Saturday April 2nd, 2-4pm, Brisbane Independent School Library, 2447 Moggill Rd, Pullenvale, RSVP 07 33785466
Children Welcome! Refreshments provided, www.bis.org.au
By Dr Sarah Lantz
Sunday morning at our local, organic market I like nothing more than watching my kids (and kids generally) forage in the children’s garden – dig their hands into fresh compost, pull out weeds, dig holes, plant seeds. In mulberry Season I watch them shamelessly climb the purple laden branches for the juiciest berries at the top.
It got me thinking about how it is that we have cultivated a culture of ‘battery kids’ – an industrial kid factory. Why it is that we produce and market, more processed, preservative packed, low (or no) nutrient food for our kids than any other time in history. Then we fatten them up (often unintentionally) on these products[i], drug them when they get sick from these foodstuffs[ii], and then put them in cages (professionalized structured and supervised environments) where we train them to be good citizens, dependant consumers, compliant patients, obligated workers. And like the battery hens in cages where 10% or so do not endure the stress and simply die (which is built into the cost of production), I think about the rising mental health rates among our children and young people, depression, anxiety disorders, learning difficulties, body image issues, and suicide.
It makes me think about the lack of soul it takes to build (and feed) an industrial kid factory in this way. And yet the fine line (and almost contradiction) of the economic impulse to take this path, given that this system also needs enough ‘healthy’ kids to grow into workers and to continue to support this industrial kid factory.
I think about the vigilance people extend to investigating the credentials of their house cleaner or their accountants, but rarely extend that same kind of vigilance to the people growing our food or the quality of the food we are consuming. I think there would be nothing better for the integrity of our food chain than the gaze of the consumer on the very farm in which our food is grown. To ask the farmer directly about the crops she grows, the way he treats his animals, how much life (nutrient density) is still in this food that we take home. This implies, as Michael Pollan says ‘…not only a new kind of food producer, but a new kind of eater as well, one who regards finding, preparing, and preserving food as one of the pleasures of life, rather than a chore’.[iii]
It makes me realize that the raw/slow/local/organic food movement doesn’t seem like an unreasonable response to the existence of such a wickedness. It gives me faith that alternative food systems are rising up on the margins.
What do you think our world look like if we threw away our microwaves, limited the use of our ovens and stove tops to only a few times a week, and instead fired-up our blenders, juicers, nut and seed grinders, and dehydrators more. What would the world look like if every household had their own vegepatch? That we opened up our kids cages and let them fly free? Fattened them up with them local, organic, raw foods, fermented foods, superfoods, cold-pressed oils, raw honey. I know when I do this my chicks come back to me laden with grimy covered clothes, berries stains on their faces, dirt under their finger nails. They ask me when mango’s are in season and when are the mulberries coming back. They tell me they don’t want kale in their smoothie this morning, only goji and acai berries, almond milk and a vanilla pod today. All of this is instinctive to them. Raising rawsome free range kids is awesome. And it’s a choice!
BLEND. It’s that easy. And depending on who is making it, more or less of the ingredients will be added to taste (and varies depending what’s in the pantry)
[ii] Childhood obesity in Australia is rising at an annual rate of 1%, a trend which suggests that half of all young Australians will be overweight by the year 2025 (National Obesity Taskforce, 2005)
[iii] Pollen, Michael. Omnivore’s Dilemma, pg, 259
The average Australian shopping basket contains food that, combined, has travelled up to twice the Earth’s circumference – over 70,000km!  Common items like oranges, sausages, tea, baked beans and tinned fish have journeyed great distances before they finally land on your local supermarket shelf. This is one of the reasons we have supported Organic Farm Share! (In which I have posted about previously).
And we visited our farm today! (along with other members/owners). We soaked up the panoramic view of our 265 acre farm. Stood in awe at the majestic backdrop of Mt Lindsay. Walked barefood on the earth. Envisage our organic food growing. Listened to whipbirds. And when everyone else was gone, we nipped down to the fresh water creek running through the farm and swam naked in the cold, clear waters. After a visit to the farm, it’s hard to believe that we live in such a material, plastic, consumer world. There’s a great Cree Indian Proverb:
If you would like more information about becoiming a member/owner contact the gorgeous crew at Organic Farm Share or give us an email.
 Abraham, A.B. & Gaballa, S. Food Miles in Australia: A Preliminary study of Melbourne, Victoria, March 2008.
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