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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Eco-Overwhelm



Ignorance is bliss, as they say, and there are times as a holistic mom that ignorance is downright appealing. The information overload about toxic, unhealthy, chemical-laden, unsustainable, unethically-produced products can freeze anyone in their tracks, paralyzed by an overwhelming fear of making the “wrong” choice. Despite our best intentions and efforts, just when we’ve eliminated a basic staple in our food pantries or substance in our household, we are advised that our new choice is also plagued with danger. The journey to living a healthier, greener life can indeed seem daunting.

Just this week I started to question some of my own choices. First came an article from Reader's Digest about organic eggs. Looking beyond the labels and the minimal USDA requirements for organic egg production, the article highlights a study by the Cornucopia Institute revealing the truth behind farm practices and why just buying food with an organic seal isn't always good enough. Fortunately, the Institute's Organic Egg Scorecard can help busy parents sort through their organic options and locate products that meet their needs and desires for humanely-raised, healthy, and nutritious eggs. While organic labeling is a cornerstone for many consumers, this study may help you make even better choices beyond simply looking for the organic seal. Similarly, the Cornucopia Institute also rates organic dairy and reveals factory farming behind the labels, sometimes in places where you least expect it. In both cases, there are some fabulous options for parents looking for highly-rated products including those from HMN Sponsors Organic Valley and Pure Indian Foods!

Then came the BPA-free warnings. While we applaud the broad scale movement to reduce BPA exposure and remove products from store shelves due to health concerns, we learn from The Atlantic that buying BPA-free products might not give us the level of safety we are looking for. As with USDA regulations on foodstuffs, the oversight of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Food and Drug Administration leaves much to be desired. The authors point out that "because the U.S. system of regulating chemicals relies primarily on information supplied by a material's manufacturer, we know relatively little about these new plastics." And, consequently, relatively little about their safety and whether or not they are just as toxic as Bisphenol A. So while plastics have some advantages by way of convenience, a return to more trusted resources such as stainless steel and glass may well be in order.


The wealth of natural, non-toxic products and food options today are a boon to holistic-minded parents, to be sure. But being informed of the truth behind the labels, practices, and ratings is what empowers us to be make the choices that match our personal values. Both of these articles came to my attention through fellow Holistic Moms members. We can't always be on top of every issue, but by being connected to a passionate community who shares similar lifestyle choices, we can stay in communication with concerns and information, as well as to find the support we need when it all seems too hard and too overwhelming. And as we're ready to take that step to make changes in our health and wellness, we know our fellow HMN sisters can share their knowledge and experiences and enrich our journey!

1 comment:

  1. I can relate wholeheartedly to this article. As a mther of a 19 month old I feel bombarded with plastics and left in the dark about other options. I try and buy as many toys that aren't plastic as possible, I try and limit the plastic we have in thehouse, and I am always looking for an alternative to the plastic dinning wear available for kids. I can say that I am proud of many of the changes I have made to be more eco friendly and healthy in our home. We are ever finding new ways to use what we have and buy less and to make homemade versions of many other things. I make my own gren cleaning products, and baby wipes, and mad my on baby food when my daughter was younger. It just seems that some days being green is a constant struggle and everytime you get on top you seem to start sinking again.

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