EWG’s 2012 Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is an American environmental organization that works to protect the public from toxic chemicals in our food, water, and everyday products.  As busy moms with busy schedules, it’s often difficult to pay attention to or keep track of every single thing we consume and use.  Even if we do take the time to read labels carefully and thoroughly, at least half of the time we don’t know what to look for or what ingredients are red flags.  To guide us in making better informed and knowledgeable choices in our daily lives  -

Below are links to the EWG’s 2012 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce, EWG’s 2012 Sunscreen Guide, EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database, and EWG’s Tips for Safer Products:

Download the Guide | EWG’s 2012 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™

EWG’s 2012 Sunscreen Guide

EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetic Database

EWG’s Tips For Safer Products

Pick safer products

Your body

Your teeth

Your lips

Your skin + the sun

Your hair

Your nails

Your kids

For babies and young children

For teens

For women

For men

Over-the-counter drugs and personal care products

Buyer beware: Less common ingredients with significant health concerns

Ingredients derived from animals

in summer

 Ah yes, it’s officially summer.  Both kids are home now and the craziness has begun.  I have to admit, underneath the layers of exhaustion, sweat, sand, and fingerpaint – we are having a ball.  It seems as though we’ve already established a summer day routine at our house.  We all wake up bright and early, around 6:30 am to be exact.  Every. Single. Day.  Like clockwork, my kids are up and at ‘em eager to rock and roll the day ahead.  I on the other hand, pray a little prayer every night for extra sleep-in time, but it never happens.  Needless to say, I’ve learned to embrace the wee hours of the morning.  We start our day with a nice breakfast together and before I know it I’m blowing up pool floats, endlessly re-strapping swimming goggles (what is up with those things?), and judging gymnastics contests.  Between water tables, sprinklers, and playing tag, my kids are all go, go, go.  They are on a mission and the number one task at hand is to play, play, play!  Not even bathing suit wedgies, blinding sand in the eyes, or pool water up the nose can stop them.  And it’s only 10:00 am.  Seriously, if our day ended at noon, the only thing my kids would be missing is the sunset.

There’s just something about summer-time that makes everything a bit better.  After all, the grass is finally greener, the smell in the air is sweeter, and spirits are freer.  Why would anyone complain?  Life is good.  And life is especially good in the summer.

It’s energy.  It’s beauty.  It’s pure joy.

It’s what you make it.

Don’t you agree?

5 Signs of Summer at My House

1. Watermelon — Our fruit of choice this summer.  I swear I must have sliced and served at least three or four watermelons this weekend.  Not for a family party or a fruit salad for 25 guests, but for my two little, we-can’t-get-enough-of-it, watermelon-loving kiddos.  My kids will eat watermelon for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack.  Is this normal?

2.  Flip Flops — Flip flops are a sure sign of warmer days, but at my house the foyer looks like the summer shoe clearance section at Old Navy.  Flip flops, flip flops, everywhere!  Polka dots, pink, orange, green, Toy Story, stripes, red, white and blue.  Some with ribbons and bows and ties, others with flowers and sparkles and gems.  Where did they all come from?  Did I really purchase all of these freaking flip flops?  How many pairs do I think my kids need?

3. Little Bags of Crap — Bags containing plastic toys and pads of paper and super balls can be found year round at my house, but in summer they can be found EVERYWHERE.  We have little bags of junk around ever corner.  In the garage, in the family room, in the backyard, under the dining room table, in the kitchen (Don’t think Hoarders, it’s really not that bad).  I keep cleaning them out and they just keep popping up.  Bags filled with hair clips, plastic necklaces, pool toys, Squinkies, board books, crayons, Hello Kitty Band Aids, chalk, doll clothes, toy cars, hats, sunglasses – you name it.

4. Target — I LOVE Target.  Apparently I love it a bit more in the summer time.  From their fun dollar aisles to their awesome glass punch bowls and Tiki Torches – Target has me hooked.  I’m sure I’m hardly alone on this one.  Maybe if I stayed out of there, I wouldn’t have so many little bags of crap to worry about – duh.

5. Longer Days — My kids are early risers no matter what.  When school is in session, I can count on a stricter bedtime ritual.  When it comes to summer vacation, it’s no-holds-barred at our house.  In summer, I become more free-range with the kids which is great for them, but poops me out entirely.  At least we don’t live in Alaska where it’s sunny until 1:00am.  How do you guys do it up there?  Really, the lower 48 wants to know!

Strawberries, Pineapple, and Brownies on a stick!

 

Ella celebrated her birthday in school this past Wednesday.  She is a summer baby (July 7th), but the class threw a cute little party for her since they won’t be together for her real birthday.  I needed to send in a birthday treat for the impromptu event.  I decided to forego the cupcakes, cake and ice cream.  I wanted to make a healthy snack, but I also wanted to make it “special” because it was her birthday.  In this case, ‘special’ means some sort of chocolate or candy or sweet yummy goodness that almost always includes frosting and almost always is not healthy for you in any way.  I went with brownies sans the frosting.  Then I got creative (by my standards anyway!).  How about fruit and brownies on a stick?  Um, hello!  Perfect.  What kid doesn’t like a treat on a stick?  Am I right?

I went to the craft store and picked up some ribbon and some lollipop sticks.  I stopped at the grocery store and bought organic strawberries, an organic pineapple, and some organic brownie mix.

 

Quick and easy:

  1. Follow instructions for brownie mix, bake and allow time for them to cool.
  2. Wash your strawberries and pineapple before cutting.  Cut pineapple into chunks.  Cut stems off of strawberries.
  3. When brownies are  nice and cool, cut them into 1 1/2″ squares.
  4. Layer the pineapple, brownie, and strawberries onto the lollipop stick.
  5. Tie a ribbon onto the stick. Done!
Obviously you can alter the recipe to include any type of fruit you prefer!  I went with pineapple and strawberries because they mesh well with chocolate, but grapes, kiwi, oranges, apples, etc. will also work great!  Also, I found  lollipop sticks to be much safer to use than skewers (not so pointy!).  The sticks are shorter as well, which make them able to hold the perfect amount of food for the little ones.
Let me know if you try it!  Have a great weekend!

junk food junkies

Have you ever heard of The Fast food Song?  Apparently this song used to be taught to kids in school.  Yikes!  Clever?  Yes.  Catchy?  Yes.  Horrible for teaching our children about health and nutrition?  Absolutely.  Thank goodness schools have since abandoned this mind-numbing song, but marketing unhealthy foods to children remains a stronghold in advertising today.  Catchy commercials  and ‘superhero’ product endorsements are widely and greedily used tactics by big corporations to target our children.  These companies spend millions upon millions of dollars in advertising.  They pay BIG money to bait our children with popular cartoon characters and bright colors.  They pay BIG money hiring scientists to manipulate and chemically alter foods to get our kids wanting more and more and more.  I get it.  It’s not a conspiracy.  These companies have an agenda and their agenda is to sell their product.  Bottom line.  Children are the perfect target.  They are gullible, easy to manipulate, and have the potential to become customers for life.  Cha’ching!

Are these companies to blame for intentionally creating habits that will condemn our children to a lifetime of ill health, including but not limited to obesity, diabetes, and mood disorders?  Or should our focus be put solely on us as parents?  Have we become a nation of brainwashed fools who aren’t educated enough to understand the difference between whole foods full of nutrition and over-processed junk?

Are we being outsmarted by these big corporations?  Are we raising an entire generation of junk food junkies?  Shrek sells.  Spongebob sells.  Scooby-doo sells.  But who’s buying????

Over-processed foods make-up eighty to ninety percent of our supermarket shelves.  The odds are stacked against us, but it is the consumer who dictates the market.  It’s as simple as supply and demand.  Every time a product you purchase is scanned at the check-out, you become an advocate for that particular food or beverage.  Think about it.  What have you been advocating lately?

Our children still have a chance at a healthy life, but it’s up to us as their parents to give them that chance.  If five year-olds are incapable of making proper food choices without the guidance of an adult, how is it that these corporations are WINNING over our kids?  It is in fact the adult that is purchasing this crap, correct?

We need to STOP being a victim of the food industry.

And honestly, the Shrek Twinkies make me want to gag just looking at them.