Well if it’s Hershey’s, Nestle or Cadbury (among the other chocolates that are cheap and can be purchased at the local drug store or gas station minimart), chances are it only contains between 5-10% chocolate. The remaining 90-95% consists of sugar, artificial flavors, additives, fillers and coloring.
The label of a bar of Hershey’s Milk Chocolate reads: sugar, chocolate, cocoa butter, cocoa processed with alkali, milk fat, soy lecithin, PGPR (short for polyglycerol polyricinoleate; derived from castor oil and is a cheaper substitute for some of the cocoa butter), vanillin, artificial flavor and milk.
Many people (including myself) love Hershey’s chocolate. It’s what we grew up with and is undeniable delicious. However, real, natural chocolate is extremely healthy as well as rich in flavor. These qualities are what Hershey’s “chocolate” is missing. Real chocolate contains many of the health benefits of vegetables and is high in antioxidants. Antioxidants protect the body from aging caused by free radicals which cause damage that leads to heart disease and cancer. Chocolate has also been proven to lower blood pressure and cholesterol (in moderation, of course).
This Valentine’s Day, consider treating your Valentine (or yourself… you deserve it!) to all-natural chocolate that not only tastes delicious, but has the health benefits of real chocolate as well. Look for an organic dark chocolate containing 60% chocolate or more. I am a personal fan of Geen and Black (fair trade as well as organic) but there are many other great brands selling great products. What’s your favorite?
- Non-stick pots and pans may seem like the best option, but you may want to reconsider after learning about the toxins released by the coating when heated.
I’m sure we all know what Teflon is. It’s the coating used on your non-stick pots and pans that not only keeps food from sticking to cookware but makes cookware easier to clean. For these reasons, Teflon-coated cookware has become a staple in most kitchens. The people love it! But Teflon is a great example of efficiency at an expense – your family’s health.
“In two to five minutes on a conventional stove-top, cookware coated with Teflon and other non-stick surfaces can exceed temperatures at which the coating breaks apart and emits toxic particles and gases linked to hundreds, perhaps thousands, of pet bird deaths and an unknown number of human illnesses each year.” These toxic gases: two carcinogens, two global pollutants, MFA (a chemical lethal to humans at low doses) and a chemical warfare agent known as PFIB. How yummy.
The government has not assessed the safety of non-stick cookware and most non-stick cookware does not have a warning label. The FDA approved Teflon for contact with food in 1960 (over fifty years ago!) based on a food frying study that found higher levels of Teflon chemicals in hamburger cooked on heat-aged and old pans. At the time, FDA judged these levels to be of little health significance. But it may be time to reconsider.
You can avoid exposures to the fumes from Teflon and other non-stick cookware by phasing these products out of your home use. Begin one pot or pan at a time and you’ll be on your way to a non-toxic kitchen.
As much as we all may want to buy organic all the time, sometimes money… or laziness in my case… can stand in our way. Using a produce wash is a great way to minimize pesticides and residue on non-organic produce. You could purchase an all-natural produce wash such as this Fit fruit and veggie wash… or you could make your own using ingredients you already have! Cheap, easy and healthy. Triple score.
If you have read any of our other DIY posts, you know the power of vinegar. It should be no surprise that vinegar cleans produce just as well as it cleans the tub. The acetic acid in vinegar kills the bacteria and dissolves the wax and pesticide residues found on the skins of fruits and vegetables.
Make a solution of equal parts vinegar and water for hard-skinned produce (such as apples) or 1 part vinegar and 3 parts water for soft-skinned produce (such as blueberries). Either pour into a bowl to soak produce or put in a spray bottle to spray directly on produce. Either way, let the solution work its magic for 5 minutes. Then simply rinse and enjoy!
I recently came across an article from the Mayo Clinic differentiating between organic and conventional foods. One could call it a simple chart for beginners:
|Apply chemical fertilizers to promote plant growth.
||Apply natural fertilizers, such as manure or compost, to feed soil and plants.
|Spray insecticides to reduce pests and disease.
||Use beneficial insects and birds, mating disruption or traps to reduce pests and disease.
|Use herbicides to manage weeds.
||Rotate crops, till, hand weed or mulch to manage weeds.
|Give animals antibiotics, growth hormones and medications to prevent disease and spur growth.
||Give animals organic feed and allow them access to the outdoors. Use preventive measures — such as rotational grazing, a balanced diet and clean housing — to help minimize disease.
Each of the additives on the left column poses a threat to those ingesting them, i.e. us. Is it worth paying more for the organic apple? Is it worth paying more for your health? You decide.
To read more: Mayo Clinic.
Surprising Stat: In February of this past year, the FDA confirmed that 80% of antibiotics produced in the US go into our livestock.
Congresswoman Louise Slaughter (D-NY): “Today I confirmed an alarming number that should shock all of us: 4 out of 5 antibiotics sold in this country were for use on animals, many of whom are not even sick, and that is dangerous to all of us.”
Dangerous indeed. These antibiotics are passed to the consumers of such meat (such as you and your family at dinnertime), who may experience resistance to antibiotics further down the line as a result of consumption.
Source: Food Safety News.
The EPA recently decided to start regulating some of the toxic chemicals in our public drinking water supply under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SWDA)- chemicals that we and millions of other Americans have been allowed to ingest for years and are… simply put, very scary:
Perchlorate: according to the EPA itself, “Perchlorate is both a naturally occurring and man-made chemical that is used to produce rocket fuel, fireworks, flares and explosives. Perchlorate can also be present in bleach and in some fertilizers. Perchlorate may have adverse health effects because scientific research indicates that this contaminant can disrupt the thyroid’s ability to produce hormones needed for normal growth and development.” How lovely that I’ve been drinking this.
Hexavalent chromium: Chromium in general is regulated, but this is the worst (that is, most carcinogenic) kind of chromium, and it is currently unregulated. Some may know it as the “Erin Brockovich” chemical if you ever saw that movie with Julia Roberts or are familiar with the true-life story (or nightmare, really). The National Toxicology Program has concluded that hexavalent chromium, also known as chromium-6, in drinking water “shows clear evidence of carcinogenic activity,” particularly since in causes gastrointestinal tumors on lab animals involved in studies (sad, I know to think of the animals, but helpful if it caused the EPA to finally start regulating it.) Read more from EWG here.
And last but not least…
Volatile organic compounds: Again, according to the EPA, “VOCs are emitted by a wide array of products numbering in the thousands. Examples include: paints and lacquers, paint strippers, cleaning supplies, pesticides, building materials and furnishings, office equipment such as copiers and printers, correction fluids and carbonless copy paper, graphics and craft materials including glues and adhesives, permanent markers, and photographic solutions.” Yummy. They are also highly carcinogenic, if the sources didn’t already indicate.
Read more from Forbes here.
BPA is not limited to plastic baby bottles. Any drink or food product that comes in a can these days (soda, juice, beer, soup, vegetables, and so on) has an epoxy liner containing this controversial chemical which has been linked by some studies to cancer, infertility, and obesity.
Consider buying such products in a glass bottle or container to limit your exposure.