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Archive for Healthy Living

October 28th, 2014

Find Out What’s Really In Your Food With a New App

Groovy Green Livin food app

We all know how confusing and time consuming it can be at the supermarket when we’re on a quest to find  healthy, non-toxic food for our families. Going aisle to aisle reading labels and deciphering ingredients is an ongoing challenge for many of us.

Well get ready-there’s some exciting news on the food front!

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) just released Food Scores: Rate Your Plate, an easy-to-use food database and mobile app that will rate over 80,000 foods from about 1,500 brands in a simple, searchable, online format.

This scoring system factors in not only nutrition, but also ingredients of concern, such as food additives, and contaminants. It also estimates the degree to which foods have been processed.

EWG’s Food Scores is hoping to guide people to greener, healthier, and cleaner food choices. Users can find an overall score, from 1 (best) to 10 (worst), for every product in the food database.EWG’s product profiles include highly detailed information on how each food stacks up in terms of nutritional content and whether they contain questionable additives, such as nitrites or potassium bromate, or harmful contaminants, such as arsenic and mercury, and which foods have the lowest and highest processing concerns. They also identify meat and dairy products that are likely produced with antibiotics and hormones and highlight the fruits and vegetables that are likely to be contaminated with pesticide residues.

The food database also has a unique, interactive function that allows users to customize each product’s Nutrition Facts panel by their age, gender, and life stage, including pregnancy. Users can also limit their searches to find only certified organic, GMO-free, or gluten-free foods.

EWG also released its first full analysis of the more than 80,000 foods in the database. It represents a snapshot of products that carry a barcode in a typical grocery store, from bagged spinach to yogurt to tortilla chips. Overall, EWG found that only about 18 percent of products scored best (1-3.5), 57 percent scored in the middle range (4-7), and 25 percent scored worst (8-10).

While we know that Americans are eating too much sugar, EWG’s analysis shows how truly ubiquitous added sugar is across supermarket shelves. Nearly 60 percent of the foods in EWG’s database contain at least one form of added sugar, and in some food categories added sugar is shockingly pervasive. For example, EWG found that 92 percent of granola and trail mix bars in the database contain added sugars. In some cases, almost a third of the bar’s weight is sugar.

Other food categories with surprisingly high percentages of added sugar include stuffing mixes (100 percent), stuffing (96 percent), deli meats (74-98 percent, depending on type), salad dressings (86 percent), peanut and other nut butters (68 percent), and crackers (63 percent).

“We developed EWG’s Food Scores in recognition of two trends,” said Ken Cook, EWG’s president and cofounder. “First, Americans are becoming increasingly concerned about excessive amounts of sugar, salt, fat and other unhealthy ingredients in supermarket food. Second, they no longer trust big food companies or popular brands to put health before profits, not even the health of our kids. With EWG’s Food Scores, shoppers can quickly see what food companies are really putting into their food.”

EWG’s Food Scores is built on data gathered by LabelINSIGHT®, an independent product label database and analysis platform, which provides details on packaged foods that carry a barcode.

EWG’s Food Scores is available as a free mobile app for iPhone users. Click here to download the app. With the app, consumers are able to scan barcodes of products with their smartphones to get rating information while they are grocery shopping. They are able to compare a product’s score to that of similar products, right at their fingertips, and find comparable products with better scores.

“Whether they’re making a shopping list or using a smartphone to scan items in the store, EWG’s Food Scores will empower people to shop for healthier products and reward the companies that make them,” added Cook. “We feel confident that this tool will drive the marketplace towards greener, simpler and healthier products, just as hundreds of millions of product searches in EWG’s Skin Deep database have changed the market for cosmetics and personal care products.”

 My Thoughts

A big thank you to EWG for working hard on this much needed information. Food Scores: Rate Your Plate, will be a fantastic guide that we can use while shopping for our families. But remember, it’s only a guide. We still need to continue educating ourselves so we can make informed decisions at the market. We need to keep pressing for full transparency from food manufacturers when it comes to GMOs. This database is a great start, but we still have a long way to go.

Have you tried the app? Can’t wait to hear what you think.

photo credit: Brother O’Mara via photopin cc

October 27th, 2014

5 Yoga and Workout Clothing Brands With a Sustainable Twist

Groovy Green Livin Workout Yoga Clothing

Some links in this post are affiliate links meaning, at no additional cost to you, I may get a small commission if you make a purchase. Thank you!

I’m a creature of habit. Once I find a brand of yoga and workout clothing that fits well it’s hard to make a switch. For many years I was a devoted fan of  Lululemon. After the company made a quite a few bad choices in my opinion and wound up in a PR nightmare I, along with many others, made a conscious decision to expand my horizons and seek out other brands for my daily workout gear.

After much searching and wearing I have a few of my new favorite yoga and workout clothing brands to share with you.

Albion Fit Yoga and Workout Clothing

Groovy Green Livin yoga workoutAlbion is a local, family-owned company hailing from the Albion Basin at the top of Utah’s Little Cottonwood Canyon. They’re committed to the environment and their community by recycling plant waste and by using earth friendly materials in their products. They also follow fair labor practices with all of our employees and business partners and are proud of their sustainable work environment.

I had a chance to try out the Go Long Leggings in black. They also come in pumpkin, turquoise, coral and cobalt. The Go Long Leggings have a spandex feel and sit just below the waist. They are a snug fit throughout the leg. They’re extremely comfortable for a workout and also look great tucked inside a boot with a long sweater.

pRana

prAna is an ancient Sanskrit word for breath, life and vitality of the spirit. It’s also a fabulous clothing line. I’ve loved pRana clothing in general for quite some time. I started out wearing their yoga-wear way back when I took my first yoga class.

Scott Kerslake, prAna CEO, says,

From the very beginning when our company was founded, we have attempted to make yoga and climbing clothes in a way that does as little harm as possible to the environment. 

prAna’s long list of sustainable initiatives is impressive. This is a brand that I was initially drawn to because of style, but knowing that they truly care about our health, the environment and our planet makes wearing the clothing that much more appealing.

I have quite a few workout tops from pRana. My favorite is the prAna Vienna Top in Black Deco . Most of the pRana tops I’ve worn are a very loose fit. My only complaint is they’re not overly supportive. The designs are attractive, unique and flattering for most body types.

Yogiiza

Yogiiza is based in Miami Beach, Florida and all of their clothing is made outside the US using non-GMO, organic cotton.  The company uses non-toxic dyes that meet the Global Organic Textile Standards and uses recycled packaging. They also subscribe to fair trade practices.

I’m loving these YOGiiZA Men’s Organic Yoga Pants and this YOGiiZA Women’s Organic Racerback Tank.

Soybu

Soybu is a sustainable yoga and workout wear brand which is available at many major retailers. Soybu’s price point makes it an attractive option for many.

Check out Soybu Women’s Killer Caboose Performance Pant and Soybu Women’s Allegro Capri. For workout tops I’m loving the Soybu Women’s Goddess Tank Top

Patagonia

I’m a big fan of  Patagonia. I have talked about how wonderful Patagonia is HERE and HERE. They really are a fantastic brand with so many green initiatives in place.

These Patagonia Women’s Serenity Leggings  are super comfy and a great fit. This Patagonia Overhead Sports Bra is extremely supportive.

What’s your favorite sustainable yoga and/or workout brand?


P.S. If you liked this post you might enjoy our Groovy Green Livin NewsletterReceive new posts and special opportunities delivered right to your inbox! Sign up HERE.


 

Disclosure: The kind folks at prAna  and Albion Fit sent me workout wear to test out. All opinions are my very own. There are a few afflilate links in this post. Any purchases made will help support this blog. Thanks!

October 23rd, 2014

Dangerous Chemicals Found in Popular Halloween Costumes

Groovy Green Livin Halloween Costumes with Toxic Chemicals

This is a press release by Ecology Center’s HealthyStuff.org project, the Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow and Clean Water Action. I’m quoted in here as a concerned parent, wondering why we keep finding toxic chemicals in products marketed to our children. 

A study released today by the Ecology Center’s HealthyStuff.org project, the Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow and Clean Water Action has found elevated levels of toxic chemicals in popular Halloween costumes, accessories and party supplies. The nonprofit Ecology Center tested 106 types of Halloween gear—purchased at national retailers such as CVS, Kroger, Party City, Target, Wal-Mart, and Walgreens—for substances linked to asthma, birth defects, learning disabilities, reproductive problems, liver toxicity and cancer.  Advocates and parents in Massachusetts expressed outrage and dismay about the findings and called for legislators and retailers to act to ensure that consumer products are made safely.

“We found that seasonal products, like thousands of other products we have tested, are full of dangerous chemicals,” said Jeff Gearhart, HealthyStuff.org research director.  “Poorly regulated toxic chemicals consistently show up in seasonal products. Hazardous chemicals in consumer products pose unnecessary and avoidable health hazards to children, consumers, communities, workers and our environment.”

“It is beyond scary that chemicals that have been known or suspected to be hazardous for many years are still turning up in products that are designed for and marketed to children,” said Elizabeth Saunders, Massachusetts Director for Clean Water Action. “And it’s outrageous that the government has done almost nothing to protect the health of everyday people from these hazards.”

Clean Water Action and the Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow coalition are working to pass state and federal legislation to require consumer products to be made with the safest available alternatives. The groups are also collaborators in the Mind-the-Store campaign which is calling on the nation’s largest 10 retailers to end the use of 100+ hazardous chemicals.

HealthyStuff.org tested Halloween products for chemicals based on their toxicity or tendency to build up in people and the environment. These chemicals include lead, bromine (brominated flame retardants), chlorine (vinyl/PVC plastic), phthalates, arsenic, and tin (organotins).

Groovy Green Livin Halloween Toxic ChemicalsSome products contained multiple chemical hazards, including a Toddler Batman Costume whose belt contained 29% regulated phthalates, 340ppm tin, and lead in the lining of the mask at 120 ppm. Overall, 39% of the products contained tin at levels suggesting organotin stabilizers, which are endocrine disruptors and can damage the developing brain and immune system.

Saunders noted that Toddler Batman Costume is currently sold out at all Wal-mart stores in a 50 mile radius of Boston and on Wal-Mart’s website, suggesting that this highly toxic product is extremely popular among unsuspecting parents and children.

Parents in the Boston reacted to the news with outrage and dismay.

“It’s shocking to me that these toxic costumes and toys are sold completely legally, and that the government is doing nothing about it,” said Quanda Burrell, a South End mother of two. “My children love Halloween, my 9 year old will even wear her costume to bed, but I never knew that I could be harming my kids.”

“I put lots of time and effort into finding safe products for my children and giving advice to other parents, and in many cases even I can’t tell which costumes are safe and which aren’t,” said Lori Alper, mother of 3 from Bedford, and author of the blog Groovy Green Livin’. “We can’t keep leaving parents alone with this struggle, it’s time for state and federal legislators and retailers to step in.”

Upon hearing about the report, Michelle Gottlieb of Marblehead immediately worried about the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Mikey costume that she just bought for her youngest son, Asher, “If it turns out to be toxic, then I’m going to be extremely upset, because there is no way that I could have known from looking at the packaging and he will be heartbroken if I have to tell him he can’t wear it.” Fortunately for Asher’s Mikey dreams but unfortunately for Michelle’s peace of mind, the costume was not included in the study.

The results of this study are available on the easy-to-use consumer website – www.HealthyStuff.org and build on recent HealthyStuff studies on back-to-school products, summer seasonal & beach products and university-themed products.  The majority of these seasonal or specialty products routinely contain one or more toxic chemicals. Due to the fact that many consumer products are largely unregulated, the items tested sometimes have levels of toxic chemicals that exceed the regulated levels set for children’s products and toys.

In addition to finding many products with chemical hazards, HealthyStuff.org test data shows that many Halloween products do not contain dangerous substances, proving that safer products can be made.  For example, the results show shifts in some products away from hazardous phthalate plasticizers to less hazardous non-phthalate plasticizers.  The represents a market shift in the face of growing consumer and regulatory pressure.

SEE THE RESULTS HERE

It’s time to regulate consumer products so we don’t have to worry about this. Don’t you agree?!

photo credit: CaseyLessard via photopin cc

October 21st, 2014

5 Websites to Visit This Week

Groovy Green Livin Websites to Visit

There are a lot of websites out there. Sometimes, because of lack of time, I find it challenging to visit all the sites I want to check out. I’ve been trying to expand my horizons and explore websites that might not fit squarely under a green umbrella. There are so many talented writers providing an incredible service to their readers. I think I could spend days or maybe even weeks hunting them all down.

I thought you might like to check out a few that I stumbled upon this week.  These are new sites for me and I’m looking forward to spending some time browsing around over the next few weeks.

5 Websites You Won’t Want to Miss

Minimalist Baker

This website is run by John and Dana, a husband and wife team currently based in Kansas City. Here’s their about section: “We share simple, delicious recipes that require 10 ingredients or less, one bowl, or 30 minutes or less to prepare.” I’m hooked.

TimeLapse

If you have time to kill head on over to Timelapse . Watch how climate change has impacted the earth from 1987-2012 or see how a place has changed over a period of three decades through a series of satellite images from Google Maps. Warning: it’s addictive.

A Good Movie to Watch

How many countless hours have you spent searching for a movie? A Good Movie to Watch can help. It’s a movie suggestion website which directs you to a selection of little-known,good movies! I haven’t spent enough time on it yet to know if their suggestions are a good fit. Let me know what you find.

Healthy Slow Cooking

The author of Healthy Slow-Cooking, Kathy, has been eating meatless since 1983. She has a passion for teaching people how to eat better with less effort. Her recipes are simple and doable. Check out her recipe for Harry Potter’s Curried Pumpkin Burger -it looks mighty tasty.

The Lean Green Bean

The author of The Lean Green Bean, Lindsay, is a Registered Dietitian from Columbus, Ohio.  Her website shares her  passion for nutrition and healthy living, including healthy recipes, nutrition tips and workouts.

What are your favorite websites this week?

photo credit: mkhmarketing via photopin cc

October 16th, 2014

My Love Hate Relationship With Composting

Groovy Green Livin Composting

Composting hasn’t come easily for me. I’ve been trying on and off for the past few years to compost our kitchen scraps and encourage my family to do the same. Seems like a pretty simple task, yet I’m struggling.

I have all the right equipment- an outdoor compost bin and an indoor compost pail, which is always under the sink.

My composting system is in place, however I can’t get into a groove.

Here’s why composting isn’t working for me:

  1. The smell
  2. The fruit flies

The fruit fly problem was so awful last year that I ended up leaving the composting pail on our back deck for most of the winter.  I needed a composting vacation.

Now I’m back from my composting vacation and I’ve decided to take the NBC Green is Universal Eco Eats Challenge to compost kitchen food waste.

Here’s the challenge:

Give Compost A Chance: Food scraps make up 7 percent of household waste, on average. Try composting your food scraps instead of sending them to a landfill and and watch your garbage bag deflate.

Did you know that a typical household throws away an estimated 474 pounds of food waste each year. That means about 1.5 lbs per person a day in the U.S. Food scraps generated by all households in the United States could be piled on a football field more than five miles (26,400 feet) high. That’s a lot of waste.

The solution to my composting issues was simple: dump the compost pail outside in the compost bin daily so there’s no opportunity for fruit flies or that horrible smell to surface.

Here are a few tips to make kitchen scrap composting work for you.

  1. Invest in a quality compost pail for your kitchen.
  2. Do not compost meats, dairy and fish. Stick with other food scraps.
  3. Keep all pesticide and/or herbicide treated food scraps out of your compost bin and pail.
  4. Empty your containers daily to insure that no smell spreads throughout your kitchen or home. This will also keep the fruit flies away.

It’s amazing how I’ve reduced the amount of garbage we throw away by composting our kitchen food waste.

What’s your trick to composting? I’d love to hear.


P.S. If you liked this post you might enjoy our Groovy Green Livin NewsletterReceive new posts and special opportunities delivered right to your inbox! Sign up HERE.


 Disclaimer: Please know that if you make a purchase using a link on this page, I may earn a commission (at no extra cost to you), which in turn helps support this site. None of the companies I promote on this page have paid me, I just really like their products. Thank you in advance.

 Are you interested in ‘eco-eating’? NBC’s Green is Universal is hosting an “Eco Eats” sweepstakes from September 29 – October 17. To join, visit their free green-living tool, One Small Act, and join the “Eco Eats” challenge. Everyone who signs-up and tackles at least one action by October 17th will be entered to win one of five 6-month subscriptions to NatureBox. No Purchase Necessary. Must be US resident and 18+. Read official rules here.

Note: In exchange for participating in the challenge and writing this post, I was given a gift package from Green is Universal. All opinions here are still my own.”

photo credit: London Permaculture via photopin cc

October 14th, 2014

Known Cancer Causing Chemical Found in Always Pads

 

Groovy Green Livin cancer causing chemicals in Always Pads

It’s enough. I don’t know about you, but  I’m getting tired of hearing that there are cancer causing chemicals in products that go in and/or on our bodies.

This time we’re talking menstrual pads. Not a comfortable subject for some, but this is something we need to talk about. It’s time to put an end to toxic chemicals showing up in these products that come in direct contact with our bodies.

Groovy Green Livin Always Cancer causing chemical

Cancer causing chemicals found in Always pads

Our friends at Women’s Voices for the Earth just discovered that Always pads release styrene, a known cancer causing chemical, along with chloroform, acetone, chloromethane, and other toxic chemicals listed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services National Toxicology Program, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, and the State of California Environmental Protection Agency as carcinogens, and reproductive and developmental toxins. 

Both scented and unscented Always Ultra Thin pads were tested, as well as scented and unscented Always Infinity.

None of these chemicals—and no ingredients whatsoever—are listed on the Always label.

The worst part? These secret toxic chemicals are coming into contact with some of the most sensitive and absorptive skin on our bodies!

Toxic chemicals don’t belong in feminine care products. Period.

What you can do

Always shareholders are meeting in Cincinnati TODAY to talk about what’s important to the company, and they need to hear from you!

Please take a moment to call Always and tell them to list ingredients so that we have the information we need to protect our health.

Always Customer Service number: 1 (800) 888-3115

Sample script:

Hello. I just saw test results from Women’s Voices for the Earth that show chemicals linked to cancer, reproductive harm, and allergies in Always pads – and no ingredients are listed on the label. We have a right to know what we’re using on our bodies. Please list all ingredients and remove harmful chemicals.

Take action

Send an email HERE telling Always and Tampax to list all ingredients and remove harmful chemicals!

Today Women’s Voices for the Earth and Naturally Savvy will be delivering over  21,000 signatures to the makers of Always from women demanding to know what’s in pads!

Did this info surprise you? How are you planning to take action? 


P.S. If you liked this post you might enjoy our Groovy Green Livin NewsletterReceive new posts and special opportunities delivered right to your inbox! Sign up HERE.


 

photo credit: Timothy Valentine via photopin cc

 

October 10th, 2014

How to Cut and Peel a Mango

Groovy Green Livin mango

When a mango is ripe the flavor is magical. It is a little piece of nature’s candy.

Did you know there are over 1,000 varieties of mangoes? They’re known to help prevent cancer, improve digestion, boost your immune system and contain a big dose of Vitamin A for improved eye health.

All this good stuff added to our diet from one mango, yet I’m having a mango issue. It seems to happen every time I cut into one. They’re incredibly messy, especially when they’re ripe. Juice flies and drips everywhere. Because of this I can only eat a mango in the comfort of my own home, when no one’s around.

Definitely not a good first date food.

How to cut and peel a mango

I decided to do a little research to see how others were eating this delicious and nutritious fruit. I knew there had to be a way to eat them gracefully, or at least not like an animal in the jungle. Good news-there are tips and tricks that will revolutionize the way you cut and peel a mango. Here are the basics:

  • Wash it well.
  • Peel it-using a sharp knife peel away the skin.
  • Cut off the sides.
  • Slice the fruit into pieces.

Check out this video of Chef Allen Susser who shares a few pretty cool ways to slice and dice your mango.

I love this trick from lifehacker- How to Peel a Mango in Under 10 Seconds

You’ve got to check out how this guy uses a glass to peel his mango.

Would love to hear your tips and tricks for peeling and eating a mango. 

 


P.S. If you liked this post you might enjoy our Groovy Green Livin NewsletterReceive new posts and special opportunities delivered right to your inbox! Sign up HERE.


 

photo credit: bangdoll@flickr via photopin cc

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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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Lori on ABC World News

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