Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Why "Going Green" May Make You See Red

We all know that our planet isn't in the best of shape and each and everyone of us is trying to help save our environment in any way that we can. Some of us are making our homes more energy efficient, some of us are bringing our own bags at shopping centers, some of us are choosing eco-friendly cleaning products, and some of us are looking to make animal's lives a little better.

For some, going green also means making better choices in our food consumption too. Foods that are filled with hormones, fillers, additives, chemicals, and pesticides are not only bad for the environment, they're bad for our bodies in some cases. Some of us may have food allergies or sensitivities to certain chemicals and we may have even built up an intolerance to an additive. I know this to be true since I have fibromyalgia and I have sensitivities.

Whatever the reasons may be for going green, it's still a good idea to do as much as you can because some research is showing that certain things really are making a difference. Even something as small as allowing chickens to roam free on the farm can produce better quality eggs and this is something that has gotten attention. But exactly what kind of attention may be left up to the eye of the beholder.

An interesting article entitled, Reality Check, has come out in this month's issue of The Oprah Magazine that states that free range or free roaming chicken product labels may only mean that a chicken has access to the outside for a certain amount of time each day. In other words, a chicken coop door could be open for five minutes every day, and that would constitute a manufacturer being allowed to slap a free range label on their product. The article also mentions that you can look up any green label at Consumer Reports' Greener Choices Eco-labels (greenerchoices.org/eco-labels), but being the savvy kind of gal I am, I decided to take a look at it for myself and give you an opinion about the whole thing...

Words on products like, No steroids, antibiotics, hormones, or additives, are only claims that the manufacturer has put on a product. These claims have not been certified by an outside third party. Okay, you might say, I know that people selling products can claim anything and the buyer should be ware, but did you know that eggs contain more labels on them than any other product out there? And did you know that the USDA has not made any kind of standards for organic fish products?

Gluten-free products may not be truly free of gluten. In fact, any product that has less than 200 parts per million (ppm) of gluten after finalization, can be considered gluten-free. Why is this you may ask? Well, according to the UK's Food Standards Agency, it would be impossible to remove every spec of gluten from a product, hence, there are standards. The nice part about this, though, is that the FDA (as of August 2008) wants to make an international standard of 20 ppm for all products. The sweeter deal? If you happen to find a label on food from The Gluten-Free Certification Organization, a group that is part of the Gluten Intolerance Group, you can be rest assured that the product contains no more than 10 ppm of gluten.

Kosher products have become famous for high quality and clean products because standards are set higher than the USDA's, but does that also mean that they are vegan friendly? Again, sadly, this may not be the case due to limitations.

According to the Spring 1996 issue of the Jewish Newsletter, Kosher Parve products can contain eggs, honey, and fish due to Jewish law. And products that contain no dairy, may have been produced on machinery that was used for other dairy products. If a machine was not properly boiled, dairy can remain on the metal, causing cross-contamination in a sense. So it is best to read the whole label in this case too.

With all of these limitations and regulations, it makes one wonder what you can truly believe. The good news is that some labels from outside sources will certify a product. That's great, and yet, it's a bit scary. What I mean by that is, you've heard the old saying, did you check for the doctor's credentials on the wall (i.e. diploma)? Well, did you ever think you'd see the day where you'd have to check for your food's credentials? I know we get label conscience and all, but don't you think that's a little crazy?

Due to these labels, limiting what we can't eat has gotten real popular today. There are elimination diets and we tend to steer clear of carbs and fried foods if we have high cholesterol. But we all have to eat in order to survive, so what does one really do in this case?

There may not be a real clear-cut answer, but there are some solutions that might fit your lifestyle. Going to a natural food store might free up some of your label-reading time to do other things, like planting a vegetable garden, for instance.

Gardening is fun and it can be as inexpensive and organic as you want it to be. The kids and I have a lot of fun with it and it truly teaches them how to work with what you've got. In fact, you don't even need a back yard if you don't have one. We don't, but we do have pots and soil that are growing some tomatoes, basil, rosemary, lemons, lettuce, and peppers as we speak! We can't wait for the lettuce to fully bloom, but I will tell you that we snuck a few bites and it's goooood!

So when you try to go green for the environment, try not to get red at those manufactures, curse them, become a hermit, and go on a hunger strike. It's not worth it. Have fun with the whole thing, be creative, and that's being green which is to me just fabulous!

I'll post more about my garden in later blogs. I will try and post a few pictures for you too. Take care for now.

Stay fabulous!
Love and friendship,

Kimberley




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