Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Consumers, consumers, consumers

This post is not about canning, not really... well, only in a roundabout sort of way... I can because I want quality food to eat... I want to know what's in it. I want to know that I'm eating and feeding my family the best I can afford. Sure, I buy Spaghetti-O's and boxed cereal from time to time. I consume the marketing ploys out there with the best of them. I buy into the convenience, microwave, instant gratification mindset often... WAY more often than I really want to. I eat fast food, drink diet soda, use Kleenex instead of handkerchiefs, paper towels instead of dish towels, and I LOVE flavored liquid coffee creamer. I'm guilty... totally. I almost never remember to take my recycled, reusable bags to the grocery store and I come home with piles of plastic bags every week. Yes, I'm guilty... I'm learning... I won't be fanatic about it, but I do want to do better... not necessarily because it's better for the environment (even though it is, I guess)... but because it's better for me... and mine.

I like people... love them really... but sometimes the "public" really bothers me.

A few years ago when my now 14 year old grandson was a toddler and lived with me... I realized he had an attention span problem... ADD and maybe ADHD... I don't know for sure, we never had him tested... I do know that he had a real problem sitting still, and if you told him to do three things... he might remember the first one and do it... but then he got lost somewhere on the way to do the second and third task... the TV, or a squirrel running past, or he would find a toy he hadn't seen in awhile... and he forgot to finish what he started out doing. This problem came to a head when we realized he was waking up during the night... he didn't bother anyone, he didn't wake anybody up... he would quietly get up... because his little mind was rushing around so fast... and he would play with his toys in his room for awhile, then go back to bed and sleep a little more. He stayed tired a lot because his mind wouldn't let him settle down and sleep. He developed asthma and other allergies. A friend told me about the Feingold Diet and I looked into it, researched it... I didn't have a lot of money but I invested in their book and I gave it a try... it was NOT easy! But it worked! I got rid of as much artificial coloring, artificial flavoring, and artificial preservatives as I possibly could and within weeks he was sleeping at night, his behavior had improved... people were asking me what I had done to change his attitude. We would go to the health food store to buy his macaroni and cheese, chips and a few other treats... he loved it! He would say, "Nana, when are we going back to the "good store?" He had fewer asthma attacks and fewer colds.

Cereal the color it was meant to be


Artificially colored cereal
I learned that "marketing experts" target children and their love for bright colors... so they load things like juices, cereals, candies and other things that kids like with artificial colors... in moderation these things aren't particularly harmful... they're FDA approved right? Think back when we were children... cereal was beige, we only had sodas or candy on rare occasions... we were made to drink milk... our toothpaste was white instead of sparkly and colorful and it tasted like toothpaste instead of bubblegum... our medicine tasted like, well, medicine... we didn't take Flintstone artificially colored and flavored vitamins because we were made to eat our veggies, drink our milk, have an apple... whipped cream and butter were made from, guess what? cream!!!! not hydrogenated oil...

What's wrong with butter being the creamy color of fresh cream... it's not supposed to be bright yellow! Artificial colors are made from petroleum... so is gasoline, crude oil... Artificial vanilla (vanillin)  flavoring is made from a waste product from paper mills.
Remember when Orange Crush came in an amber glass bottle?
When you poured it out into a glass, it was the
color of pale, watery orange juice.

Orange Crush today is filled with artificial
colors and flavors
"Artificial colors have been around for more than 100 years. (Originally they were made from coal tar oil.) And children have been eating artificially colored and flavored products for decades.
But then . . . most children ate these additives infrequently. They got an occasional lollipop from the bank or barber shop. Cotton candy was found at the circus. Jelly beans were given at Easter, orange cupcakes at Halloween and candy canes at Christmas.Today . . . the typical child growing up in the United States is exposed to these powerful chemicals all day, every day."



Also known as FD&C Yellow #5, tartrazine has been suspected as the cause of many reactions, including urticaria/angioedemaasthmaatopic dermatitis and other diseases. 

The following is a list of foods containing tartrazine:
  • Certain breakfast cereals
  • Aproten (low protein pasta products)
  • Refrigerated rolls and quick breads
  • Cake mixes
  • Commercial pies
  • Commercial gingerbread
  • Chocolate chips
  • Butterscotch chips
  • Commercial frostings
  • Ready-to-eat canned puddings
  • Certain instant and regular puddings
  • Certain ice creams and sherbets
  • Certain candy coatings
  • Hard candies
  • Colored marshmallows
  • Flavored carbonated beverages
  • Flavored drink mixes





And then there are diapers... disposable diapers... convenient? Sure. Better for baby bottoms? I'm not so sure. They claim to "keep baby dryer" but they use an awful lot of chemicals to do so. They cost more... and we have come to believe that they are necessary to raising a happy healthy child. 






"They contain dyes, sodium polyacrylate (the “super absorbent” gel), and dioxin, which is a by-product of bleaching paper. Sodium polyacrylate has been linked in the past to toxic shock syndrome and allergic reactions—and it’s potentially lethal to pets. Some dyes and dioxin, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, are known to cause damage to the central nervous system, kidneys, and liver—and may be linked to cancer. In fact, Dioxin is so toxic that even the smallest detectable quantities have been known to cause immune system suppression, liver disease, and genetic problems in lab animals.
The Food & Drug Administration has received reports that fragrances in disposables caused headaches, dizziness, rashes and chemical burns. Babies have also choked or suffocated on pieces of plastic from diapers.
Cloth diapers, on the other hand, are reusable, absorbent and so darn cute on a baby behind! I used cloth diapers on my babies... yes, I went against the grain... people thought I was crazy... I got comments and questions like "But you DO use disposables when you go somewhere don't you?" and "Don't you have to change them more often with cloth diapers?"... and on and on... I used cloth diapers when I "went somewhere" too... a saved bread bag was stuffed down in the side of the diaper bag along with a couple of damp wash cloths in another plastic bag for cleanups. When I came back home... I dumped the contents of both bags into the diaper pail for washing up later... 


Photo courtesy of the smitten word
... washing them and hanging them on the clothesline was a joy to me (OK, it wasn't ALWAYS a joy, especially in the winter, but I had a dryer for backup)... the sun freshened and whitened them and they smelled so good! I remember my grandmother washing diapers out by hand EVERY time she changed a baby (it was part of the changing process)! Unless it was a poopy diaper... she simply rinsed it out, sometimes with a little soap, and hung it over the line on her screen porch... easy peasy!

And, yes, I had to change my babies a little more often than their disposable wearing friends... I mean, just how lazy have we become? 

My babies rarely had diaper rash or irritation and we all survived till potty training just fine!

And then there's the Great Raw Milk Debate!!! Geez!!! Our milk products are so over-processed, over-preserved, over-pasteurized... watered down... that we don't even remember what REAL milk is supposed to taste like... YES! we need to be sanitary, clean, and hygienic... and most dairy farmers, cow milkers, local folks with a cow, etc. are! And yet the CONSUMER is buying into the hype that everything that isn't FDA approved or USDA stamped is unhealthy and should be illegal! C'mon... artificial color Yellow #5 is FDA approved and it's PROVEN to be unhealthy! Good, fresh, clean cow's milk that hasn't been tampered with, added to, or "improved upon" sounds pretty good to me right now!


And last, but not least... along with my research concerning my grandson's diet... I began researching products we put ON our skin... and I began making my own soap, lotion, and other bath products. My husband told me I had a GREAT product and should market it. So we set up a website and a small soapmaking business on the side. We've been to markets and festivals and have done reasonably well with our soap... but some of the questions and comments "the public" makes leaves me shaking my head. "Why isn't your soap pretty colors like so-and-so's?" Well, the purist in me won't allow me to add artificial colorants to my soap... maybe it won't hurt me (maybe it will!), there's principle involved... it doesn't add anything to the health and well-being of my skin so why color it up? 
"Don't you sell 'vanilla' or 'plumeria' or 'lilac' scented soap? and why not?" Well... I don't add ANY artificial fragrances either... they contribute to allergies... don't do anything to moisturize or benefit my skin, or yours, so why would I?


Lovely, artificially colored soap
Honey Oatmeal Soap the color soap really is... creamy beige...
I think it's simply beautiful!


Most 'soaps' are not soap but detergent:
Usually these products are labeled as beauty, facial, or cleansing bars, and sometimes even as soap. Detergents are made from petroleum products and consist mainly of surfactants, foaming agents, and alcohols. Since these chemicals have a disagreeable odor, detergents are usually heavily scented with cheap, synthetic, artificial fragrances. Detergents also contain preservatives and antibacterial agents so that they do not spoil. All these chemicals are frequent causes of allergic reactions, penetrate far below the surface of the skin, and reside in your body tissues. One facial bar manufacturer has a 'hypo-allergenic formula' approved by 'a dermatologist' that has as the primary ingredient the chemical that causes the most allergic reactions in people of all the chemicals present in cosmetics today (TEA-triethanolamine).

What are true soaps made from?
Versus detergents, true soaps are made with natural products (fat and lye) and require very little energy in the production process. It is possible to make them without having leftover by-products that tend to go to the landfill, and the soap that flows down the drain while washing is bio-degradable. These soaps have a pH that is between 9.5 and 10 (alkaline), which makes them effective cleansers and eliminates the need for harmful preservatives and antibacterial agents. Not all natural soaps are created equal however, as there are many different ingredients that may be in such a soap. High quality soaps are made with oils such as coconut, palm, castor, or olive oils, and retain the natural glycerin, instead of removing it and selling it for profit, as mass producers generally do. High quality soaps use botanicals and essential oils to lightly scent while providing skin-nourishing properties instead of synthetic, artificial fragrances.

And let's talk for a minute about packaging... I mean, I know shampoo has to come in a bottle, how else would you get it home from the store... but is it necessary for a half ounce jar of eye cream (for example), in addition to the little jar... to be buried deeply into a 3x5x2 inch cardboard box? 

When I started selling soap at festivals... I simply put the bars of soap, unpackaged, into baskets... I liked the old-fashioned "country store" look, and I could offer my customers a quality, beautiful product at a good price without wasting money and resources on packaging... You know what I found out? "The Public" doesn't want that! We are so brain washed by advertising and marketing "experts" to believe that packaging, bright colors, shiny, glittery, slickness and the protection of shrink wrap, that we feel there must be something horribly wrong with a product that is simply a product without all the glitz and glamour and "protective" coverings... I stepped into the trap myself in order to please my customers... I began packaging my product... and it started selling better... and I could charge more for it! And the "consumers" were happy. Even though, once they got that bar of beautifully wrapped, packaged soap home, the first thing they would do would be to rip off that wrapping, down to the bare soap and wash with it. I don't understand!


I'm just sayin'


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