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Archive for Green with Food Allergies

October 25th, 2011

Halloween and the Truth About High Fructose Corn Syrup

Groovy Green Livin Halloween

Candy Corn, Kit Kats and M&M’s oh my!

Every Halloween it’s those bite sized candy bars that get me. Somehow on Halloween I give myself permission and I’m able to rationalize eating those fun- sized pieces (and lots of them).  Bad news for me: the National Confectioners Association says that two 50-calorie bite-size candy bars may not seem like much, but 100 extra calories a day for a year can result in a 10-lb. weight gain.  And come on-who can eat just two?

If that’s not enough to stop you from diving head first into the candy bowl, there’s more: chances are most of the candy you are consuming contains high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). There’s nothing wrong with a little indulgence on Halloween, but better to do so with the power of knowledge.

Groovy Green Livin Halloween candy bucket

 

What is High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)?

High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is a man-made sweetener made from corn and can be found in foods and beverages on grocery store shelves in the United States.  It can be found in a range of products from candy, soda and Twinkies to bread and ketchup. According to Planet Green :

There’s nothing natural about high fructose corn syrup and it most certainly does not exist in nature. The process starts off with corn kernels, yes, but then that corn is spun at a high velocity and combined with three enzymes…, so that it forms a thick syrup that’s way sweeter than sugar and super cheap to produce. That’s why it’s poured into a huge majority of mass produced processed foods.

Why is HFCS bad?

  • It messes with your body and interferes with your metabolism so that a person can’t stop eating. It’s addictive and many think it’s one of the culprits behind childhood obesity.
  • According to Healthy Child Healthy World, a few years back a study found mercury contamination in HFCS.  Not good.
  • HFCS is highly processed and has been linked to all sorts of health issues including obesity, cavities and a host of other health concerns and diseases.
  • There is no nutrition whatsoever in HFCS.
  • The use of HFCS isn’t very green and the environmental impact is huge.
  • With more and more shoppers and manufacturers shying away from using HFCS the industry has gone to the FDA and requested a name change from HFCS to “corn sugar”. Even the corn industry knows that HFCS has a bad rap and there needs to be a change.  You can click HERE to help prevent the name change, which would be very confusing to consumers.

How to avoid HFCS on Halloween

A few fun-sized candy bars make my kids smile on Halloween. I’m OK with that, but I’m all for getting rid of the leftover HFCS filled bonbons. Here are some ideas to help ditch the candy:

  • Trade them.  We have food allergies in our family so this is a simple fix for us. I usually buy healthy alternatives and trade with my kids. They take the good stuff and I collect the bad.
  • Pay them. Yep, pay your kids for their candy. This works like a charm.
  • Teach them. Read the labels on the candy together and teach your children why the candy isn’t good for them. We play a game -we look for the candy that has the most sugar, then the candy with the least sugar etc… Sounds like fun, doesn’t it?
  • Donate them (the candy, not the kids). Do whatever you can to convince your children that the candy should be donated. Let me know how that goes.

Do you try to avoid high fructose corn syrup?

photo credit: Pahz via photopin cc

This post is part of the Green Halloween Blog Carnival. Check out the other posts for some great tips on how to green your Halloween!

December 15th, 2010

Miessence-An Organic Skin Care Line That Does Its Job

I am always on the look out for new personal care products that fit into my groovy green lifestyle. I have spent endless hours researching brands and trying different products. Some work and some don’t.

Miessence is put to the test

Erin Ely of Miessence was kind enough to send me a sampling of products to review from the company.  This is a new product for me-but Erin has been selling Miessence since 2005. I decided to put her products to the test.

Background on the company

Miessence products are manufactured by the Organic and Natural Enterprise Group (ONEgroup). The products are sold through Independent Representatives-think Avon or Tupperware-and Erin Ely is an independent representative. All links in this review go directly to her site.

How did Miessence hold up?

  • Nut-Free-many personal care products contain nut oils.  My son has a life-threatening nut allergy so anything with nuts stays out of our home.There were two nuts listed as possible ingredients on the Miessence site: shea and tamanu nut oil. The Miessence certified organic Tropicana Body Milk did have shea butter-everything else was clear.
  • Scored well on the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetic Database-Miessence rocked this category-scoring between 0-2.  The ingredients are pure, mostly organic and sound good enough to eat.  Many of the products are certified organic through ACO (Australian Certified Organic). One of my favorites- Miessence Mint Toothpaste -uses Stevia, a natural sweetener with no calories.
  • Price-These products are expensive-an 8.5 fl. oz.  bottle of shampoo costs $22.00.  There are trial sizes for purchase for around $6.00.
  • They did their job-Once a product makes its way into my house it goes through a battery of additional testing by a group of relentless judges-me, my husband and my 3 kids. My hair felt clean with the Miessence Dessert Flower Shampoo and Miessence Shine Herbal Hair Conditioner.  The Miessence certified organic Tropicana Body Milk took a while to absorb into my skin and it was a bit sticky.
  • Lather-The Miessence Dessert Flower Shampoo surprisingly had great lather -I have found most organic shampoos to be lacking in this department since they don’t contain sodium lauryl sulfate.
  • Smell-all the products smelled clean and fresh with no overpowering scent. The Miessence certified organic Tropicana Body Milk had a coconut scent, which I liked.
  • I am a label snob. Their labels are pretty.
  • Packaging-The containers are plastic. I am not a fan in general, but they come in recyclable plastic bottles and tubes which state  “100% Recyclable non leaching Plastic”.  Guess I can live with that.
  • Their products are never tested on animals.

Verdict

Overall, I really liked their products. The Miessence Dessert Flower Shampoo, Miessence Shine Herbal Hair Conditioner and Miessence Mint Toothpaste were my favorites.  I didn’t care for the he Miessence certified organic Tropicana Body Milk.  The cost of the products is a factor and won’t fit into everyone’s budget. The company does offer sample sizes for most of their products-giving you an opportunity to try them out without committing big bucks. There are many more products to peruse on the site.

Miessence and Disclosure

Erin Ely of  Miessence Organics sent me an assortment of goodies for review.  I am not affiliated with Miessence in any way and any opinions you find here are my very own.  Click HERE for more information on my product review policy.

November 15th, 2010

Host a Party, Raise Awareness-Healthy Child Healthy World

Healthy Child Healthy World is a non-profit involved in  raising awareness and responsibility, inspiring parents to protect young children from harmful chemicals. Their site provides a forum which informs and inspires millions of people to take action and create cleaner, greener, safer environments for children and families. It is a place to find up-to-date information on current topics concerning children and their environment. Healthy Child Healthy World is  my go-to site for so many topics.

I was thrilled when they asked me to host one of their Healthy Home Parties and then blog about it. These parties were created as way of educating and empowering family, friends, schools and the community to create healthy living environments for children.

One afternoon a big box arrived at my door and I couldn’t wait to see what was inside. I knew that Klean Kanteen and Luna were the biggie sponsors -but there were samples, coupons and information from so many others.

I was amazed to see how many companies had jumped on-board, offering samples and information -ready to make the world a safer place for our kids.

We were eager to try out the products and use the coupons. Each family was set up with a goody bag filled with an assortment of samples, coupons, information and instructions from me: try out the products and let me know what you think.

There is nothing like trying out a new, exciting product with your children-especially when there is no question that the products are completely non-toxic and safe.  Here are some of our children checking out the goods.  Sometimes a picture says a thousand words……..at least when sampling snacks is involved.

Here is one happy guy enjoying the Clif Kid Organic Twisted Fruit.  My kids loved these too.  Not only do they taste yummy they are also allergy friendly for those of us with food sensitivities in our families.

Nothing like some fun bubble bath from Yes to Carrots to provide hours of non-toxic entertainment in the tub.  Check out these two cuties on the right-someday they will be completely mortified that this photo was used.


These two red-headed brothers were willing to try all the samples their parents were willing to share. They admitted to loving the  Luna bars.

Lots of delicious samples were had by all.  Each sample was yet another example of how  snacks can be healthy, non-toxic and taste great.  I think they all agreed! The non-toxic bubble bath and floor cleaners were also a big hit.

My guys showing their support for Klean Kanteen water bottles.

There were many other products highlighted-cleaners, Klean Kanteen water bottles, CleanWell Hand Sanitizer and many others.  It was nice to share alternatives to the many harmful, toxic  products on the market.  Hopefully, with the information and coupons, we can all make at least one simple change that will create a safer world for us all.

If you are interested in hosting your very own Healthy Home Party click HERE.

October 26th, 2010

Healthy Food Facts-Understanding Food Allergy Labels

Photo used under Creative Commons from s5ky

Most of us know someone with a food allergy.  I certainly do-two of my children have been labeled with life threatening food allergies; one to peanuts and tree nuts and the other to soy.  Every time I head to the grocery store I spend a tremendous amount of time reading each and every label-including labels that I am familiar with to be sure they haven’t changed.  This is a necessity to keep my family safe and healthy.

The Law

In January, 2006, the new Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA) took effect.  The law requires food manufacturers to identify all ingredients in a food product containing one or more of the eight major allergens.

The eight foods identified by the law are:

  1. Milk
  2. Eggs
  3. Fish (e.g., bass, flounder, cod)
  4. Crustacean shellfish (e.g. crab, lobster, shrimp)
  5. Tree nuts (e.g., almonds, walnuts, pecans)
  6. Peanuts
  7. Wheat
  8. Soybeans

The law states that the name of the food source of a major food allergen must appear:

  1. In parentheses following the name of the ingredient.
    Examples: “lecithin (soy),” “flour (wheat),” and “whey (milk)”

OR

  1. Immediately after or next to the list of ingredients in a “contains” statement.
    Example: “Contains Wheat, Milk, and Soy.”

Most companies are very clear in their labeling and use the “contains” language in bold after their ingredient list.

HERE’S WHERE IT GETS REALLY CONFUSING

Photo used under Creative Commons from Gabriel Lima

I have been scrutinizing food labels for years-I am noticing that I have to squint these days to read the fine print.  Many labels contain language about cross-contamination-if the food was processed on shared equipment or shared processing lines with one of the 8 allergens.

But not all manufacturers are listing cross-contamination information.  The reason being- companies are not required to include this information. There are no particular regulations on whether they need to add statements such as “may contain traces of peanuts,” for example, for foods that aren’t supposed to contain such allergens. It is a company’s choice whether or not to include this information, and how to word it.

How to decide if cross-contamination is an issue

So the bottom line is YOU will need to determine what degree of risk you are comfortable with when purchasing foods. That is a lot of pressure when you are buying food for someone else.

Here is my internal checklist for deciding whether or not to buy a product:

  • I first check the ingredients list for the 8 common allergens.
  • If there is no cross-contamination  or “may contain” information I then look at the other same brand products on the shelf.  If there are other products that have either nuts or soy I will more often than not assume there might be cross-contamination.
  • I might contact the manufacturer on occasion to ask specifically about a cross-contamination issue.

Let me know how do you decide which products are safe to purchase?

My Go-To Food Allergy Sites:

Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network

The Allergic Kid

The Nut-Free Mom

The Food Allergy Mama

Peanuts in Eden

Sources:
Food Allergies: What You Need to Know

How to Shop Safely

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About Lori

I’m Lori Popkewitz Alper, a recovering attorney, mom of three and the Founder of Groovy Green Livin. I hope you'll join me as I embark on a journey to live a healthy life. Along the way I might make a few pit stops to fight for issues that affect the health and safety of our families. Come along with me as I work hard to make the world a little safer for each of us. Together we'll discover that simple, small changes can lead to a healthier lifestyle and a greener planet.

Click HERE to contact Lori

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