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Milk Money Mar 05 2008 11:37 AM
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by mindfulmomma

a coupon) but almost always hormone-free.  Thing is, depending on what store I go to (and I frequent many) there are different brands available that make my choices more complicated.


I'm often tempted by store brand organic milk because it's less expensive.  But have you heard about the Horizon/Aurora Organic boycott?   The Organic Consumer's Association is leading the charge to boycott this company (owned by Dean Foods) because they have been pushing the limits on organic standards by using factory farm feedlots where the animals have little or no access to pasture.

So, if you care about maintaining organic standards, then consider passing on not only the Horizon Organic brand but the private label brands that use the same supplier.  As far as I know, these brands include:  Costco's "Kirkland Signature," Target's "Archer Farm", Walmart's "Great Value", Safeway's "O" organics brand, Publix's "High Meadows,"Giant's "Natures Promise," and Wild Oats' organic milk.

Milk3.jpgTrader Joe's and Whole Foods "365' brand of organic milk appear to be OK.  Let's hope so anyway! (and feel free to correct me if I'm wrong about any of this)

If you want to get into some heavy details, check out the Cornucopia Institute's research project on Maintaining the Integrity of Organic Milk.  If not, just enjoy their great graphic illustration of the situation!



I want to keep this as simple as possible.... rBGH (recombinant bovine growth hormone) is given to cows to increase their milk production.  It is bad for:

  • COWS - because it can lead to chronic mastitis (if you've ever breast fed, you know what that means and why you don't EVER want to have it!). And because of the risk of infection, herds are treated with lots of antibiotics.
  • PEOPLE - because the resulting milk has high levels of Insulin-like Growth Hormone (IGF-1). Research has shown that elevated levels of IGF-1 is linked to an increased risk of breast, colorectal and prostrate cancer.

Use of rBGH is banned in Canada and the European Union.  It's allowed here in the U.S. but the movement to stop using it is getting bigger by the day.  All Trader Joe's milk (organic and non) is rBGH-free.  Starbucks offers rBGH-free milk in all their U.S. stores and is working toward a complete switch.  Kroger is officially rBGH-free in the West and their switch will be nationwide by Feb. 2008.   

Fortunately, rBGH-free milk is easy to find and while you do pay a premium, it is not as spendy as organic.  A good compromise if you ask me.   


Most people I know buy 1% or skim.  I buy 2% because it's what I grew up with and what my family likes.  My son had a pediatrician who gave me a hard time about switching to skim.  I switched doctors instead.  I'm not an expert, but I'm not afraid of a little bit of fat.

Anyone out there a raw milk fan?  I've never tried it but I know there are people who think it is MUCH healthier than pasteurized milk.  You can learn more from the Campaign for Real Milk (a project of the Weston A. Price foundation).    

Supporting your School?  Here in Minnesota, I try to buy Kemps Select brand (rBGH-free) because saving the cap means money for Drew's school.  Just one more thing to think about in the complicated process of feeding your family... 

Homemade Cleaning Products - A Baby Step Feb 13 2008 12:30 PM
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by mindfulmomma

this topic.'  Aaaah, but I caught myself - and this time I'm taking baby steps. 

No, I don't have the borax or the soap flakes or the washing soda yet.  But I do have ingredients that I already have in my house:  baking soda, vinegar and some essential oils.

I whipped up a simple sink scrub that made my stainless steel kitchen sink shine and left the whole kitchen smelling fresh.  Oh, and the 'volcano' action you get when you mix the baking soda and vinegar is a fun little science experiment for the kiddos - so get them in on the action!

1/4 cup baking soda

1/4 cup white vinegar

3-5 drops of essential oil (those with antibacterial properties include lavender, lemon, lime, orange, sandalwood, cypress, chamomile, rosemary, thyme, lemongrass and others)

auracacia.jpgI used an essential oil blend from Aura Cacia.  I love their Essential Solutions blends because I don't have to buy a bunch of individual oils.  They create the blends for various effects:  Creative Juice is energizing, Pep Talk is refreshing, Chill Pill is soothing and Mellow Mix (the one that I use) is calming with lavender, lemon, sandalwood, roman chamomile, petitgrain and neroli oils.  It smells SO good! 

I also made a garbage pail freshener using the same essential oil blend.  Just fill a spray bottle with water, add 8-12 drops of essential oil and viola - you're armed and ready to overcome the stench of a stinky pail - without filling the air with toxic chemicals.

Watch out, I just might try some more!  I'll keep you posted as I work my way through the book The Naturally Clean Home by Karyn Siegel-Maier.  It's got some great tips and over 100 recipes for anyone inclined to DIY.

A Healthy Response to a Year of Toy Recalls Feb 06 2008 8:46 AM
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by mindfulmomma



HealthyToys.org is a consumer action guide to toxic chemicals in toys.  They test toys for five key elements that indicate the presence of chemicals that are linked to long-term negative health effects. Those five elements are:

  • Lead - a heavy metal used as a stabilizer in PVC and as pigment in paints and coatings.
  • Mercury - used in inks, adhesives, and in forming polyurethanes. 
  • Cadmium - a heavy metal used in PVC and in many paints and coatings.  
  • Chlorine - associated with the use of PVC - polyvinyl chloride.
  • Arsenic - a heavy metal used as a wood preservative and in the production of fertilizers and insecticides.

Use their product search guide to search by name, by brand or by type of toy.  You can even request that a specific toy be tested, although they seem to have a long waiting list. 

Each product gets an overall hazard rating (High, Med or Low) based on the levels of the 5 elements.  However, they do make it a point to say that their rating is NOT a specific measure of chemical exposure or health risk.   It is simply a relative measure of the level of the chemical on the toy's surface.

We've got a tub full of plastic fruit in our house...all either from hand-me-downs or garage sales...so I was very concerned when I found a rating for plastic fruit that looked similar to some of mine (although mine is made in Malasia, not China).  It was rated HIGH overall, due to very high levels of lead and cadmium.  So, what should I do with my big tub of fruit? Since we're beyond the 'everything in the mouth' stage around here, my gut says we're OK, but honestly....this is tricky stuff.






The Consumer's Union (the publisher of Consumer Reports) has a website called Not In My Cart that is kind of a one-stop shop for information about recalls.  It's got toys and other household products (and even some food) all in one spot.  It's updated daily with the latest recalls.  Photos of each product are included which makes it easy to tell right away whether or not the recall is something you've got in your house.

The mission of Not In My Cart is not only to provide consumers with an easy way to keep track of recalls but also to facilitate ACTION.  In fact, they're calling 2008 the Year for Reform (2007 was the year of the recall).  The website's TAKE ACTION page has a form letter for you to fill out and send to your members of Congress urging them to stop unsafe imports.  It just takes a minute, so I urge you to do it!




MyThings is an interesting concept.  It's mainly an organizational tool - to help you keep track of your receipts, warranties and insurance documents.  But they've added a new service called MyThings Recall Alert in response to the flood of toy recalls going on these days.

It's very simple:  Make a list of the things you own.  Then, if something is recalled in the future, they will let you know by email.  The service is free - all you need to do is register with your email address.  I just might try this - that is if I remember to keep track of the UPC codes....

Glass Baby Bottles - A Safer Choice? Jan 30 2008 10:29 AM
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by mindfulmomma

made from polycarbonate plastic (the clear, hard type as opposed to the cloudy, more pliable type) which contains a chemical called Bisphenol A, commonly known as BPA.

Numerous studies, including a 2007 study of baby bottles by Environment California have shown that BPA can leach out of bottles and into whatever liquid they contain.  The problem is magnified when liquid is heated in the bottle - a pretty common occurrence with baby bottles, I'd say.  The big concern is that very low doses of BPA can lead to some pretty big health problems like breast cancer, diabetes, early puberty and infertility. 

There are so many people clamoring for glass baby bottles that I've heard they can be hard to find.  But it looks like they are available on Amazon if you can't find them locally.  Evenflo, Dr. Browns and BornFree are some of the brands available.

But still, glass and babies???  Their sudden movements could potentially send a bottle flying...and shattering.  And toddlers?  You never know what they might do!  Fortunately, for every problem, there is a creative solution.  Here are a few:

  • etsybottlecosy.jpgSiliskins - A silicone sleeve or 'skin' that slides easily over a glass bottle. They come in pretty colors but are translucent so you can still read the measurements on the bottle.
  • Wee go - Another protective, silicone sleeve that's easy for baby to grip.
  • A handmade bottle cosy - this one's made from recycled cotton sweaters and old buttons, I found it on Etsy!

If glass still doesn't work for you - don't worry - BPA-free plastic bottles are also available.  BornFree and Green to Grow are a couple brands that come to mind.

Some Like it Mashed, Some Like it Strained... Jan 25 2008 12:02 PM
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by mindfulmomma

been linked to cancer, birth defects, and lots of other nasty stuff. And kids are at greater risk than adults because they eat more relative to their body weight. Organic farmers skip the pesticides and synthetic fertilizers and as a result their food is not only safer but higher in nutrition than conventionally grown crops. All the better for our little ones!

I almost want to have another kid just to try some of these tasty organic options...

Happy Baby's cute little bite-sized cubes come frozen, which preserves nutrients better than the heat-processing that jarred baby food endures. And they don't make run-of-the-mill flavors either. Check out the Baby Dahl, made with lentils, cinnamon and coriander. Even the peas are flavored...with mint!

Tastybaby is another line of frozen baby food, developed by 2 Moms who believe in the power of organics.  And they appear to have quite a celebrity following too! Their slightly wacky flavors include Peas on Earth, Sweetie Pie and Kickin' Chicken.

Keep your eyes out for Plum Organics too. Another flash-frozen line hawking vegetable stew, rice pudding and even a black bean tomato ragout for babies!

homemadebaby.jpgHomemade Baby is a line of fresh, organic baby food available in the refrigerated section.  It's organic, it's kosher, it's non-GMO and it comes in 3 textures:  so smooth, good mushy and kinda chunky, to match your baby's developmental stages.

Earth's Best is another popular organic brand, available at most co-ops and a lot of mainstream groceries too. How can you resist with product names like Butternut Squash Bisque and Peach Apricot Muesli? I just might try some for lunch!

Of course, you can make your own too. It's really easy and very rewarding.  Winter squash and sweet potatoes were my homemade faves. Wholesome Baby Food is a useful site with recipes and how-to's.

I just have to share this goofy photo of my son Liam which captures the joys of mashed sweet potatoes!


Hello from Mindful Momma! Jan 24 2008 12:08 PM
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by mindfulmomma

to families who want to dip their toes into this concept of sustainable living.  You will also find picks and pans of eco-friendly products and lots of valuable resources if you want to dig deeper into something that interests you!

Here at Glow Mama, I'll be writing about the kinds of things that new Moms might be interested in.  Like the diaper dilemma (cloth, disposable or in-between?), organic baby food (WOW - there are a lot of options these days!) or how to navigate the crazy maze of toy recalls.

Oh, how I wish Glow Mama was around when I was pregnant!  I can totally relate to the desire for a ?special' drink - water gets SO boring!

Thanks for reading - I hope you enjoy the posts!