Okay, it’s more accurate to say that I gave up scented products the better part of 2 years ago. No longer does Irish Spring reside on the rack in my shower. Gone are the halcyon days of liberally splashing Old Spice all over myself. Speed Stick is on a slow boat to China. I no longer use any soap or personal hygiene products that contain perfumes, triclosans, preservatives, dyes, or pretty much anything I can’t pronounce in one try.
So what do I use? For washing up, including washing my hair, I use Kirk’s Original Coco Castille bar soap. I also use Kirk’s for shaving. I recently found an herbal scented hair conditioner from Nature’s Gate that smells very much like Old Spice. And to prevent myself from offending in a crowd, I use Tom’s of Maine deodorant-as well as their toothpaste. For laundry and dishes I use products from Seventh Generation. I get all of these at the supermarket!
So what’s the purpose to this list of products? Well, I’m not getting sponsorship dollars, that’s for sure!
My point is to show that there are alternatives to products laden with allergens and endocrine disrupting chemicals. For my part, my asthma improved markedly, a variety of constant low-grade aches disappeared, and I have not had an inkling of a flare up from an old gout attack. I don’t have any empirical evidence but I am persuaded that switching to “natural” personal hygiene products is largely responsible for these improvements in my health.
There’s a lot of information available on whether eating organic food is any better for you than eating conventionally raised food. There are some fairly strict standards in place for a product to qualify as organic under Federal definitions. Skeptics (and Food, Inc. lobbyists) claim that organic food is not significantly more nutritious than organic food.
Duh. No kidding. That’s not the point. It’s more than just vitamin content that’s at stake.
For example, I have read that the USDA finds pesticides on a regular basis in the skins of things like peaches, apples, tomatoes, and potatoes. That alone is enough to convince me to eat organic. I go out of my way to avoid eating additives, preservatives and so forth. I sure as heck don’t want to eat insecticide in any amount! Bio-accumulation anyone?
As a rule of thumb, organic produce and meat are raised at smaller, often family-scale farms, so buying organic generally helps small businesses. As to organic meat, it’s a foregone conclusion that the animals had a better life on a small farm than they do in commercial facilities like hog or chicken factories, making this an ethical choice as much as scientific. That’s another pair of points in favor by my reckoning.
Finally, certified organically raised produce does not include any genetically modified organism (GMO) seed stock, nor are animals given GMO feeds. I’ll come right out and say it: I don’t trust Frankenfood! Nothing Monsanto or Con Agra says will convince me otherwise.
Last autumn I did Beachbody’s Ultimate Reset, a 21 day detoxing program. A major component of the program was a comprehensive eating plan. Briefly, the food in the program consisted of whole, unprocessed foods-raw as often as possible, and vegan the last 14 days. I feel I had been eating sensibly for a while prior, but this program really gave me an opportunity to reassess my eating habits. With only a few exceptions, I have been eating clean since I ended the program.
Clean eating, or thoughtful eating, may seem intimidating to one who isn’t familiar with it, but it’s actually quite liberating. Sure, it took a few weeks to kick the Doritos cravings, but there’s actually less involved in thoughtful eating than you might expect. Here’s the big difference: thoughtful eating is pro-active, not reactive. Once you get past that paradigm shift, you’re golden.
Tomorrow is the last day of my Beachbody Ultimate Reset, a 21 day detox program. I’ve dropped 9 pounds and 3 belt notches! A large part of the program is a comprehensive meal plan. The final 14 days are vegan, which was a bit of a stretch for me. I admit it, I love a nice Porterhouse once in a while. That said, I only had one hunger issue, during the first week. The eating plan does have accommodations for snacks, of which I took advantage. Otherwise, the program has been pretty drama free for me.
My big take-away from the program is that cooking with fresh vegetables and other whole foods is not as onerous as I previously thought. A dear friend once told me that I didn’t cook, so much as I heated since my primary appliances were a microwave oven and a Foreman grille. Now, I’m steaming and braising veggies, and preparing rice and quinoa in something besides a microwave pouch. I’ve actually got a co-worker who now compares me to Martha Stewart! (I’m still working on whether that’s funny or disturbing.)
Another thing I took away is that eating clean doesn’t mean spending money left and right. Like a lot of things, it does require being an alert shopper. For example, a bunch of kale goes for $1.99 around here, and I get 3 meals out of a bunch. All told, I spent about $80.00 on food during the 3 week program. Some things, like vinegars, oils, and dry goods (rice, quinoa, etc.) will last well beyond the end of the program. I’ve also saved a lot of money by not buying meat the past 2 weeks, or beef the past 3 weeks (have you seen the cost of steak lately?).
In summary, it’s not excessively difficult or expensive to eat smart. Give it a try!
A co-worker brought up the subject of “slow food” at lunch today. At first I was a little confused, until she clarified that she was talking about the opposite of “fast food”. Specifically, she was talking about the greens and other vegetables in her home garden. It made sense to me-tomatoes and squash will grow as fast as they will and no faster. It makes no difference to them if we are impatient.
I remember even in my lifetime that fast food was once the exception, rather than the rule. When I was a kid, a trip to McDonald’s for a hamburger and a small packet of French fries was a rare treat. It was not a daily (or multiple times per day) substitute for cooking good wholesome food. Even the serving sizes have increased, while America’s waistlines have also increased. Is this a coincidence? (Clearly, this is a not-so-rhetorical question.)
I have made an effort the past couple of years to increase my consumption of slow food. I eat a lot more raw and lightly cooked vegetables, and fruits, organic when I can. I have drastically reduced my consumption of highly processed food like white rice, white bread, and pasta (other than whole grain). I go out of my way to minimize the additives, preservatives, and chemistry set experiments in my food. So yeah, I can understand and appreciate the “slow food” lifestyle. Can you?