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Archive for January 5, 2013

Stop Winter Indoor Air Pollution at Its Source

Stop Winter Indoor Air Pollution at Its Source


You’ve got the sniffles. Your eyes are watery and you have a sore throat,  too. But, hey, it’s winter; what else can you expect in the thick of cold and  flu season, right? Maybe. But while you’re downing lozenges and soup broth,  consider this: Eye, nose and throat irritations, wheezing, coughing, skin rashes  and severe allergic reactions can result from extensive exposure to indoor air  pollution, which has also been linked to headaches, dizziness, and fatigue.

Indoor air pollution is in full effect during winter months especially, when  windows and doors are shuttered tight to keep the cold air out — but  inadvertently keeping bad air in, too. Toxins from cleaning supplies, mold, and  even the off-gassing of new paint all need to be circulated or  filtered out. To add insult to injury, houses more than 20 years old may harbor  lead-based paint or asbestos. All of this means indoor air quality can be many  times worse than outdoor!

Thankfully, we have control of our indoor air quality in ways we don’t have  outdoors. The best way to protect yourself and your family are by stopping  indoor air pollutants at the door:

  • Replace your central air and heating filters monthly. Clean the vents and  make sure they’re not blocked by furniture. HEPA filters are especially good at reducing allergens.
  • Make your home a no-smoking zone and consider restricting your pets from  certain rooms in the house (such as a nursery or bedroom) to keep sensitive  areas free of pet dander and tracked-in dirt.
  • Most store-bought candles contain harmful chemical components and artificial  scents that are released as the candle burns. Switch to natural candles,  such as beeswax and soy candles, or, better yet, use these directions to make your own using sand!
  • Many people do not realize the risks of a dirty chimney. Smoke backs up in a  sooty flue and is pushed back into the home. It is well worth the money to hire  a professional chimney sweep or the time to do it yourself. Follows these best burning practices — your family and Santa will  thank you.
  • Clean with nontoxic products. Vinegar, baking soda, lemon juice and a few  other natural ingredients can replace most chemical cleaners. While nontoxic  cleaning supplies are available in stores, these recipes are simple and cheap to make at home.
  • Remove your shoes at the door to avoid bringing outdoor pollutants  inside.
  • Vacuum carpets, rugs and upholstery often to remove dust, pet dander and  other pollutants. One company offers a “cradle-to-cradle” carpet that improves air  quality.

If we have to spend more hours indoors during the winter months, they should  at least be fresh ones. Follow these tips and you’re on your way to a home you  can feel good breathing deeply in. As with all things, it pays to be proactive:  Change the filters, sweep that chimney, employ an army of houseplants to filter air for you and release a (clean) sigh  of relief.

By Shelly Stonebrook

Shelley Stonebrook

Shelley Stonebrook is an Associate Editor at Mother  Earth News—North America’s most popular magazine about sustainable,  self-reliant living—where she works on exciting projects such as Organic  Gardening content and the Vegetable  Garden Planner. Shelley is particularly interested in organic gardening,  small-scale, local food production, waste reduction, food preservation and  cooking. In her spare time, she posts in her personal blog, The  Rowdy Radish.

Photo from Fotolia

Shocking “Health” Companies to Avoid in 2013

Shocking “Health” Companies to Avoid in 2013


When it comes to what you put in your body I believe you have a right to  know.  That includes when genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) are found  in foods you might be eating.  After all, GM foods increase the  risk of allergic reactions, antibiotic resistance, pesticide exposure,  reproductive damage, cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and many  potential long-term health issues that we simply don’t know yet.  Human  ancestors may have lived on the planet for thousands of years but this is the  first time in our evolution that we’ve been unsuspectingly part of a long-term experiment with genetically-modified foods.

Even the World Health Organization and the American Medical  Association have spoken out about the need to phase out the use of antibiotics  in the making of genetically-modified foods.  And as for the  argument that genetic modification reduces pesticide exposure, a recent study  from Washington State University found that the use of herbicides has  increased by about 25 percent in the three main GM crops.

The problem isn’t just the genetically modified foods; it is also the  lack of transparency surrounding these foods. In North America and many  other places in the world, genetically modified organisms are not identified or  labelled on foods.  Recently California had the opportunity to force GM  foods to be labelled under Proposition 37.  Thanks to a massive campaign on  the part of corporations using GM foods, the bill was shot down.  Based on  the research of The Cornucopia Institute, here are some of the companies who  opposed this important legislation.  In other words, they don’t think you  have the right to know what is in the food you put in your body:

Naked Juice (owned by Pepsi-Co)

Back to Nature (Kraft)

Honest Tea (Coca-Cola)

Odwalla (Coca-Cola)

Simply Orange Juice (Coca-Cola)

Cascadian Farm (General Mills)

Muir Glen (General Mills)

Larabar (General Mills)

Kashi (Kellogg)

Morningstar Farms (Kellogg)

Gardenburger (Kellogg)

Bear Naked (Kellogg)

R.W. Knudsen (J. M. Smucker Co.)

Santa Cruz Organic (J. M. Smucker Co.)

Unilever (Ben & Jerry’s)

Horizon Organic (Dean Foods)

Silk (Dean Foods)

Similac (Abbott Nutrition)


Goya Foods

…and many more — for the full list of companies that collectively spent  millions to crush Prop 37 and stop your right to know what’s in your food, check  out The Cornucopia Institute’s website.

Of course, Monsanto, Dow Agrosciences and Bayer Cropscience are on the list  too but I don’t think many people would consider these corporations “health  companies.”  The companies above stood alongside Monsanto to prevent you  from knowing the harmful frankenfoods you’re eating while they continue to take  your money for their “health products.”  We’ve been inundated with  green-washing but “health-washing” is becoming just as common.

If you think you have a right to know when Frankenfoods are contained in the  foods you’re eating, tell these companies by voting with your dollars.   Avoid the “health food” companies on this list if you want to see  genetically-modified organisms labelled on foods.  Their parent companies  (in parentheses) have been spending their money to fight Prop 37.  No one should have the right to hide potentially-harmful substances in  your food without your knowledge.

Sign the Cornucopia Institute’s petition to get Frankenfoods labelled  here.

By Michelle Schoffro Cook

Michelle Schoffro Cook

Michelle Schoffro Cook, MSc, RNCP, ROHP, DNM, PhD is an international  best-selling and 14-time book author and doctor of traditional natural medicine,  whose works include: 60 Seconds  to Slim, Healing Recipes, The  Vitality Diet, Allergy-Proof, Arthritis-Proof, Total Body Detox, The  Life Force Diet, The Ultimate pH Solution, The 4-Week Ultimate Body Detox Plan,  and The Phytozyme Cure.  Check out her natural health resources and  subscribe to her free e-magazine World’s Healthiest News at  to receive monthly health news, tips, recipes and more. Follow her on Twitter @mschoffrocook  and Facebook.


The Benefits of Organic vs Conventional Food

The Benefits of Organic vs Conventional Food



The debate between organic and conventionally produced food continues, and a  new infographic (below) produced by gives more statistics to consider. The creators  focused on the  unhealthiest conventional foods, what meat looks like from both  a  grain-fed and  a grass-fed cow, and the nutrient differences between   organically and conventionally grown products.

Researchers have conducted many studies on whether organic foods are  more  nutritious than conventionally grown foods, and the results are  varied,  depending on what study you go by. This infographic states that  they have one  quarter more nutrients than nonorganic. One of the most  well-known and  frequently cited study, done by Stanford University  scientists, looked at over  forty years of data comparing the two types  of food, and concluded that organic  foods are no more nutritious nor  more likely to be contaminated. However, critics of that research say organic is still superior,  as  it excludes antibiotics and artificial growth hormones, high  fructose corn  syrup, artificial sweeteners and dyes, pesticides, and  sewage sludge from being  present.

An interesting thing to note is the three countries that eat the most   organic foods. Per capita, they are Denmark, Switzerland and Austria.  According  to the CIA World Factbook, Denmark, Switzerland and Austria  are all in the top  25 percent ranking of countries with the highest life  expectancies, with all  three ahead of the United States. In a 2012  study by Bloomberg, Switzerland  ranked as the fourth healthiest country in the world. These could be  coincidences, of course, but lend more credence to the benefits of buying  organic.

Perhaps the most surprising section of the infographic is when it  states  what are the best foods to buy organic. Beef and milk make the  list, as the  controversy over antibiotics and artificial growth hormones like rBGH being added to them are  well known. But did you realize that  conventionally produced celery, popcorn  and tomato sauce contain very  high amounts of chemicals and pesticides? Or  that, just as important as  the quality of food you buy, is the type of cookware  you prepare it  with? The makers of the graphic recommend you buy “organic  cookware,”  meaning avoid plastic, aluminum, and Teflon “nonstick” coated  cookware  in the kitchen. Instead, sites like say you can   safely use cast iron, stainless steel, glass and stoneware cooking pots  and  pans for all your culinary needs.

It’s important to do your research when choosing whether or not to  buy  organic. There are many factors involved in choosing produce and  meats, and  different products have different risks and possible health  benefits associated  with buying it organic or conventionally grown.

Eating organic saves us money in the long run because we offset all of the healthcare costs


by Sarah Shultz for Diets in Review


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