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5 posts from April 2009

April 26, 2009

Can Organic Food Save Your Life? Madame X says it's helping her.

Madame X Madame X is a friend. We've met only once face-to-face, but that was enough to start the email chain. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in about 5 months ago and wants to share with other women how she raised her white blood cell count by just changing what she ate. She also wants to keep her identity a secret as the the scar of "health-liability" with any future employer is bigger than the bodily scars of a breast cancer survivor bears.

Disclaimer: Seek a physician’s advice before starting any nutritional program. The information presented here is based on the experiences of the author and are not intended to replace medical advice.


As a public advocate for integrating sustainability into business, and long time consumer of organic whole foods, I have recently found myself in the unlikely and sometimes unbelievable seat of battling breast cancer.

I am the 1 in 8 women who were diagnosed last year with breast cancer. I am now in the midst of chemotherapy treatment, perhaps an unlikely path for such a strong advocate of organics. Leading an organic lifestyle didn’t keep me from getting cancer, it has clearly given me the good health and strength to endure and survive this battle.

From the onset I decided two things to continue to feed my body whole organic foods and to use supplements sparingly, if at all, since there is very little information on the potential interactions of supplements with chemotherapy http://www.cancersupportivecare.com/herbal.html

I have had extraordinary results from blending organic whole foods; fruits and vegetables in a Vita-Mix. This process using the Vita-Mix has allowed me to heal quickly after a recent bout with the flu, specifically consuming the same fruits and vegetables that I had been eating to raise my white blood counts with success, now in the blended format, has yielded extraordinary results in just a few days.
White blood cells (WBC) act as your body's protectors, providing it immunity against infections. The normal count of white blood cells in the body is measured at 4.1-10.9.  When WBCs fall below 4.1, the immune system gets weak, making it susceptible to infections. When undergoing chemotherapy, the most important aspect of the survival game is to keep your treatments on schedule, low counts can delay or even cancel treatments.

Using the Vita-Mix plus the list of foods (organic) and recipes noted below, I was able to raise my white cell count from 1.8 to 14.5 in just 3 days; my counts did level off, to a normal range. I did have success with eating versus blending these same foods, but was only able to raise my counts 2-3 pts in a week.

A long time organic foods consumer, I also avoid GMO food, [genenically modified] whether it is fresh or food made. The 5 main GM crops are: corn, soy, canola and cotton (cottonseed oil), and sugar from sugar beets. http://www.responsibletechnology.org/GMFree/Home/index.cfm I also look for Non-GMO certified and labeled preferred foods. http://www.nongmoproject.org/

So how do you know what fruits and vegetables are Organic? You can look for the “USDA Organic” seal or other approved labeling.  http://www.ota.com/definition/quickoverview.html
In addition you can also use the PLU (Price Look Up) sticker codes found on fruits and vegetables.
PLU code stickers are placed on virtually every piece of fruit, every vegetable including every type of potatoes and every head, bag or container of lettuce. The PLU code indicates whether the item is;
• Conventional 
• Organic
• Genetically modified (GM) crop.
The codes are based on four-digit numbers for conventional produce. An extra digit is added at the beginning of the code to indicate Organic or GM status.
If the number begins with a 4 it is grown conventionally. If the number is five digits beginning with a 9, then the item is organic. If the item is five digits beginning in 8, then it is a genetically modified crop.
An example would be a PLU sticker code number such as 4011 indicates conventional bananas. 94011 indicate that they are Organic bananas, and 84011 would indicate that the bananas are genetically modified.
Some Foods That Increase WBC Count http://lifestyle.iloveindia.com/lounge/how-to-increase-white-blood-cells-4064.html
• Yogurt
• Garlic
• Pumpkin
• Squash seeds
• Shitake mushrooms
• Spinach
• Carrots
• Melon
• Oranges
• Beet root
• Asparagus
• Broccoli
• Cauliflower
• Strawberries
You Are What You Eat Vita-Mix recipes.
1.) 1/2 Cantaloupe no seeds-no rind
      2 Oranges peeled
      About 4oz water
2.) 2 Pears
     2 Apples
     1/2 Cantaloupe with seeds no rind
     Keifer as base maybe 6-8 oz
3.) 1/2 Cantaloupe no seeds-no rind
     6 Strawberries
     1 Orange
     Keifer as base, about 6 oz
4.) 6 Carrots
     1 Apple
     Water as base, about 4-6oz
5.) 3 stalks of Celery
     1 large Cucumber
     1 4x4 piece of a head of Broccoli
     1 Apple
     Base, 6 oz wheat grass drink (powder)

6.) 2 large leafs of Kale or Spinach
     2 large carrots
     1 medium apple
     Base 6 oz of water

A regular scheduled mammogram, resulting in an early breast cancer diagnosis, will make me one of the lucky 2.5 million breast cancer survivors living in the US today. The most significant risk factor for breast cancer are gender (being a woman) and age (growing older). http://www.breastcancer.org/symptoms/understand_bc/statistics.jsp?gclid=CJjfld6oiJoCFRBbagodswmmFA

Thanks Mary, for the space to share my success. This journey is a complete healing process for the Whole Person: Body, Mind, Spirit and Soul and requires a great support system of family and friends.

April 21, 2009

Viva La Green Revolution!

Viva La Revolution! 

Can you feel it?

Everything is changing for the sake of a better planet - politics, manufacturing, food production, construction,education,  media... Everything is getting better, people are talking and nations are looking for ways to put down the guns and work together. That's something to celebrate and turn into your own personal battle cry.

Earth Day is more than green; to me it represents a coming together of thoughts and ideas and passions; mending nations, blending capitalism and recreating a safer and saner world.

Each day I take little guilt trips thanks for my gal pals who are my peers and pressure cookers for me to stick to my green diet. The women of the green mom carnival keep me looking in new directions and understanding what resonates and what doesn't. I think of Diane every time I buy my organic breakfast of coffee, yogurt and granola. I can barely buy anything that comes wrapped in plastic, thanks to Beth. Karen put me on the path to green, cost-saving cleaning products. MC is my trusted sounding board, Marilyn keeps me focused, Pat inspires me to remember the simple life, Martha requires me to look beyond my condo and into changing whole communities. Taiha has me eating out of her organic hand and Nina gets me off the computer and puts my face back into the wind.

I can't thank them all and so many others for enriching my life and making the trip (guilt-free or not) worthwhile.

I especially would like to thank Victoria who inspired the above banner. She's a young mom and while walking with me one fall day past homes with the school flags flying we had the following exchange. I suggested that we needed to get rid of all the little flags and just have one with the planet on it. Her immediate response was, "And it should say, Viva la Revolution."  Indeed.

Happy Earth Day all and Viva La Revolution!

April 16, 2009

Make it a Home Energy Saving Earth Day - April 22

What if we cut our home energy bills in half? How much "work" energy could we save by working a few less hours to pay those bills?

We all know we need to do it, but could someone just make it a bit easier? Check out http://www.energycircle.com/store  where they put all the things we need on one site. Plus a way to measure how much is being used.

Lisa tells us how she's making it easier to dial down the bills while creating a lower consumption planet. Thanks for the service!

April 10, 2009

Wendy's hopped up on bunnies...

A9 It's Easter weekend, time to relax with a book, smell a few daffodils and celebrate talent that doesn't know when to stop.

A10 Meet my gal pal, Wendy Vaughan, a prolific painter of all animals not just bunnies.  Wendy worked her magic for my clients at Hunt Advertising in the 80s and has been a good friend ever since. 

She and her husband Greg shelter a mixture of models which include rabbits, cats, mice, ferrets, chinchillas and even pigmy goats. It's such a gift to sit on their deck with a glass of wine watching birds on their fly bys. 

Her award winning paintings are featured in galleries across the US. While her originals command high dollars, she generously allows her art-online to be copied and used as long as she is given attribution. That's a small price to pay for exceptionally fun visuals.

Be sure to check out the larger views of her work - there isn't a "hare" or a feather out of place. Have a wonderful weekend and may the Easter Bunny be with you all...

A1 A2

A3 A8


April 06, 2009

Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble as mom's create their own tipping point for change

Ducks When you start asking moms to promote products that other moms and organizations find troubling and maybe even toxic, you can expect a backlash of conversation.

That's what happened in April, 2009 when Johnson and Johnson launched a contest Big Bubbin Stars, with the best video of kids having fun in a bubble bath. The winner gets $10,000.  You didn't have to buy the J&J products and yet, wouldn't you? It's $10,000 afterall, and it seems fun and safe enough.

The troubling part for many moms was that it promoted the use of products that contained dubious chemistry that over time can build up in little bodies soaking in it. The launch of Bubblin Stars also coincided with a report from the Safe Cosmetics organization titled "No More Toxic Tub". In the bubble bath case, the moms were specifically questioning the use of products containing 1,4-dioxain and formaldehyde.

What's the big deal? It's not just in J&J products according to a report on a site focused on reducing breast cancer.

Laboratory tests released today revealed the presence of 1,4-Dioxane in products such as Hello Kitty Bubble Bath, Huggies Baby Wash, Johnson’s Baby Wash, Scooby-Doo Bubble Bath and Sesame Street Bubble Bath. The tests also found the carcinogen in Clairol Herbal Essences shampoo, Olay Complete Body Wash and many other personal care products.

1,4-Dioxane is a petroleum-derived contaminant considered a probable human carcinogen by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and a clear-cut animal carcinogen by the National Toxicology Program. It is also on California’s Proposition 65 list of chemicals known or suspected by the state to cause cancer or birth defects. Because it is a contaminant produced during manufacturing, the FDA does not require it to be listed as an ingredient on product labels.

So what did these concerned moms do?

Green mom carnival Within 2 days, they mobilized, conducted research, wrote blogs and posted their own spoof of a contest. Sommer Poquette also hosted and posted a mini carnival of concerns on her Clean and Green Mom blog.

Then See Jane Do, an online radio program got wind of it and asked Lynn Miller, Lisa Frack and Jennifer Taggert to join a discussion along with another prominent mom activist Joan Blades of Mom's Rising. Lynn Miller is a marketer and founder of the blog Organic Mania and the Green Moms Carnival. Lisa Frack is the online parent coordinator for the Environmental Working Group and Jennifer Taggert, is a lawyer, engineer and author of The Smart Mama, a blog promoting a toxic-free life for our kids. She also wrote the Smart Mama's Green Guide: Simple Steps to Reduce Your Child's Toxic Chemical Exposure.  

The Green Mom Carnival crowd isn't the only concerned group, in a newsletter the same week the Eco Mom Alliance announced their partnership with the Seventh Generation and EWG to provide product samples and education on how to reduce your exposure to bad chemistry.

 Remember, the issue is long term build up, not one-off exposure. Jennifer Taggert recapped it well on a follow up post here. She was justifiably irked that moms are looked upon as crazy for caring. She also noted in background research report she prepared for the green carnival group that the EU has already not allowing dioxane.

If the EU has disallowed it, what is happening in the US? We asked the two popular potions standards to comment. Eco Logo and Green Seal which are both coming out with new personal care standards this spring. Cheryl Baldwin, PhD and VP of Science and Standards at Green Seal said, "We have a new standard that will be released soon (any day now) that covers soaps, cleansers, shampoos, and other rinse-off products (GS-44).  It prohibits the use of the components that are the sources of the chemicals found by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics (.e.g 1,4-dioxane and formaldehyde).The SMaRT Standard also won't certify any product that has the Stockholm "Dirty Dozen"chemicals which include dioxanes.

After first being ignored or sent to underlings with no knowledge of the subject, Johnson and Johnson provided a statement to Jenn Savedge of the Green Parent.

"The trace levels of certain compounds found by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics can result from processes that make our products gentle for babies and safe from bacteria growth. The FDA and other government agencies around the world consider these trace levels safe, and all our products meet or exceed the regulatory requirements in every country where they are sold. Experts such as MDs, toxicologists and clinical scientists regularly review the safety data for all ingredients used in our products. In addition, we test our final baby product formulations for safety. Once our products are in the marketplace, we continually monitor consumer experiences and review evolving scientific data.

The mom's aren't buying it - literally. If they have a choice (and they do) they're going to buy products that are erring on the side of NO 1,4-dioxane no matter how "trace" it is and they are encouraging others to do the same.

From Sommer Poquette's Carnival of Concerned Moms:

1. Sign the Declarationand tell your friends to sign the deleration to get the Kids Safe Chemical Act passed.

2. Write your legislator, as the Mindful Momma suggests.

3. Use safer products by using the Skin Deep Data Baseand tell companies, such as Johnson and Johnsonand the others listed on the reportwhat you want as consumers.  Check out the Safe Mamaand her hundreds of reviews and cheat sheets for safe baby care products and Healthy Child Healthy Worldfor suggestions and tips. For reviews of products I have tried view my green cleaning category.

4. Promote this post anyway you can to get the word out there. #NoToxins to follow the Green Mom’s Carnival on Twitter!

5. Send any bottles back to the manufacture that aren’t used or half used but stop using them and demand for safer ingredients and full disclosure!

Lessons learned for companies selling personal care products:

1. Don't ignor women bloggers who are concerned enough to call. Bad idea.It really ticks them off.

2. The standards for what is safe or not have changed, update your product line to get in line with world expectations. (If Detroit can drop Hummers, you can drop dioxanes.)

3. Mommy blogger's all know one another. If you don't think they are comparing notes with each other - think again!

photo credit: Krikit