Fun Stuff

Toxic mercury found in foods containing High Fructose Corn Syrup

“Almost half of tested samples of commercial high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) contained mercury, which was also found in nearly a third of 55 popular brand-name food and beverage products where HFCS is the first- or second-highest labeled ingredient**, according to two new U.S. studies.”

And so begins a frightening article published by both USA Today and the Organic Consumers Association just a couple of months ago. So why isn’t there more of an uprising responding to this information that the food industry is knowingly poisoning our families just to save a buck? Maybe it’s because the word just isn’t out there. It appears to me when searching around for information, most of the response to these findings were published the week following publication. And, then, discussion seems to have just dropped off the cliff.

So, I’m putting the call out to all of you to join the folks who are researching the HFCS/Mercury issue and, and I’m asking you to continue the conversation. Preferably, in a loud audible volume so that industry leaders will actually catch wind and realize that we demand to have food choices that are not toxic to our children.

What about those commercials that say HFCS is just as safe as sugar? The article below posted on the site The Good Human states it quite clearly:

“Pure sugar just happens to be a truly natural substance that has not been mixed in vats, chemically derived and played with, and used as cheap substitute in almost everything on the grocery store shelves. Everyone should limit the amount of sugar they ingest. But according to an article in SF Gate, “The body processes the fructose in high fructose corn syrup differently than it does old-fashioned cane or beet sugar, which in turn alters the way metabolic-regulating hormones function. It also forces the liver to kick more fat out into the bloodstream.”

The mental image of feeding my family something that is “mixed in vats, chemically derived and played with” quite frankly gives me hee-bee-gee-bees. It also inspires personal pride that I attempt to feed them naturally derived foods as much as possible. But, I don’t think that alone is enough. I don’t believe that taking the stance of “well, I just won’t patronize those companies” is enough when taking a position against these industry business practices.

So, Check out the links below. And spread the word. And ask yourself this question: Could the processed-food industry be responsible for some of the rising incidences of childhood sickness and disease? Or worse, could there be a more direct HFCS/mercury connection to the rise in such developmental disorders as Autism Spectrum Diagnoses—blamed most recently on vaccination ingredients (mercury!) and aggressive vaccination schedules? Maybe the answers to these questions rest more on our pantry shelves than we think.

Study: High Fructose Corn syrup contains mercury

Much High Fructose corn syrup contaminated with mercury, new study finds

New York Times: The Food Issue- An open letter to the Farmer in Chief (Michael Pollan)

US Autism- Food Matters

The double danger of High Fructose Corn Syrup

HFCS vs. Sugar: Is one worse than the other?


**Reading Nutrition Labels: The list of ingredients on a Nutrition label are ordered by the amount of that ingredient in the product. For instance, a jar of peanut butter might read: “Peanuts, Salt.” The first ingredient, peanuts were the primary ingredient followed by a lesser amount of salt. Likewise, a box of multi-grain crackers might list: Enriched wheat flour, soybean oil, whole grains (barley, millet, triticale, sorghum, rye,) whole wheat flour, salt, baking soda, malted barley flour, calcium carbonate, yeast. In this example, Enriched wheat flour (the first ingredient) constitutes most of the product while the amount of yeast (the last ingredient) was measured the least of all ingredients.

Natural parenting books make great holiday gifts

Several readers have been asking about good books to buy/recommend on topics such as pregnancy, breastfeeding, parenting and vegetarian/whole foods family diets. Well, ask and ye shall receive, I say. Below are just a few of those that have influenced earthmother—with more suggestions to come as the holiday season approaches.

Five bedtime books that my toddler “read” to me

I’ve been under the weather the last few days. My two year old decided to put me to bed and had determined that —in my weakened condition—I would not be able to read her required 5,000 books for bedtime. So, the good Doctor Princess helped me settle into bed saying, “lay down, Mommy. Pull up you blankets. Shh! It’s sleepytime. I read you a story.” She then “read” a few books to me; showing the pictures to me and reciting verbatim from memory. Of course, there were the inevitable toddlerisms that make a mother want to smother her child with gratuitous affection. I was a worthy patient, however. I laid still, blankets pulled high, with a grin on my face (and the Vicks vapo-rub close at hand.)

  1. The Polite Elephant by Richard Scarry
  2. Time to Pee by Mo Willems
  3. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Martin & Archambault
  4. Put Me in the Zoo by Robert Lopshire

She then pulled out all the stops and read my favorite (children’s) book:

5. The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds

This book is inspiring and powerful while still managing to be incredibly simple. If you haven’t read this book, do so. Immediately.

Vegan White Cupcakes help welcome our new neighbors

Thanks to Jen McCann, author of Vegan Lunchbox, I welcomed my new neighbors with an unbelievably good batch of vegan white cupcakes with pineapple frosting. The cupcakes have a slight coconut flavor and they’re light and fluffy; the pineapple frosting is a perfect complement. Of course, the fact that they’re vegan shocked and amazed the crowd. It’s a good thing the recipe makes enough for seconds! Yum! (I made these also for my goddaughter’s recent first birthday. I was proud to see several guests opt for my cupcakes rather than the local bakery’s chocolate confection.)

Homegrown Sprouts Bring Freshness to Winter Tables

If during these dreary winter months you’re looking for a fresh addition to your table, homegrown sprouts may just fit the bill. Growing sprouts at home is an easy, inexpensive and fun project to do—especially with the kids. Not to mention, they’re the perfect locally grown (in your kitchen!) vegetables to otherwise dull winter produce selections. While the snow is falling, it’s just nice to be able to watch as stems and leaves unfold while the rest of the outdoor vegetation lie fallow.

It’s important to acknowledge that while sprouting is fun and easy, it’s also an economical way to add immediate nutritional boost to meals. Several sources, including this living foods site, assert that sprouting can greatly increase the nutritional content of seeds, beans and grains—sometimes by 30 to 50%. Your newly grown sprouted foods can be added to salads, sandwiches, wraps, batter (muffin, crepe or pancake), stir-fries, rice dishes, and, of course, they can be eaten as is.

It’s really true that sprouting is a simple, quick process that can be done in a few days without alot of gear or fuss. While there is quite a selection of wonderful sprouting apparatus available for purchase, you really only need a glass jar, cheesecloth, a rubber band, seeds to be sprouted, water and a few days.

What will sprout well? There are a wide variety of beans, seeds and grains that can be grown to produce delicate delicious sprouts. Some of the most common include clover, alfalfa, mung, radish, lentil and even pumpkin seeds. It’s important to be sure all seeds and beans are organic and originate from a source free of pesticides or herbicides just as you would when planting a garden in soil. Many health food stores sell ready-to-grow packs of individual or blends of seeds and beans. You can also find sprouting supplies online here and here.

OK. So, how do you sprout? Very Easily. I Promise. This is my method. I have great success with alfalfa, broccoli, mung and lentil…not so much with quinoa, but I’m working on it.

  • Measure out 2 Tablespoons of whatever you want to sprout (seeds, beans, grains, etc.)
  • Inspect and discard any stones, pebbles or debris. Rinse well.
  • Place in a jar filled 3/4 full with cool water and soak over night.
  • Drain and place in the basin of sprouter (or a glass jar fitted with a piece of cheesecloth attached with a rubber band)
  • Once seeds are in sprouter/jar, rinse and drain well again. Let rest making sure there is no residual water left in sprouter/jar. Your sprouts will start sprouting in the nest few hours!
  • Fill and drain sprouter/jar twice a day for 3-5 days. My kids and I like to watch the tiny stems grow.
  • On the last day: Give them one last good rinse and your sprouts are ready to eat. Store any unused sprouts in a sealed container in the fridge for up to a week. (I always place a slightly damp paper towel under sprouts to absorb/provide moisture)

Check out this step-by-step sprouting instructional posted by the farm.org. They’re absolutely right: once you get the hang of it, the process is almost impossible to screw up. They’ve provided a nice illustration, too. Enjoy!

Happy New Year 2008!

We’ve been busy. Very busy. 2008 promises to be the year of organization for the Cameron Clan. I’ve put our weekly trips to storytime at the local library to good use and borrowed several books addressing organizing, minimalizing and feng shui. (One of my oldest and dearest pals is an extremely talented Interior Designer, so I can just imagine her chuckling to herself reading this from 3000+ miles away.)

Nevertheless—as part of my goal to reclaim brain cells lost during childbirth, years of breastfeeding, and endlessly repeating the same phrases to my children (ie: “No, you may not put on your bike helmet to headbutt your sister”)—I am self-directing a quick course in using the basic principals of feng shui in our home.

So far, I’ve experienced an exquisitely freeing, calming result from the first few minor adjustments in home energy flow.

  • I have overcome my urge to place on the staircase items whose homes belong on the next up/down floor. These items usually never made it to their destination. These items inevitably became fixtures on my stairs to the point that my toddler had to attempt to step around them while also holding on to the banister for support. Now, she lightly steps worry and obstacle free. And, the change in positive energy flow gives me a warm new-agey feeling inside.
  • I created a distinct entry way in my most often used entry door: from the garage into the basement. Though it’s not externally visible, I am often greeted by that brown door several times a day. So, to make ME feel more welcome in my home, I hung art on the door to greet me, laid a welcome mat and furnished the entrance with a small table, shoe racks, artwork and key hooks. Now, the space is defined and pleasant. Everything I need is right where I need it when I am entering/exiting the house. No more scrambling around for lost keys, phones, diaper bags, purses or backpacks. Our coats look so much happier hanging up than draped over my son’s bicycle.
  • We replaced several old light fixtures that weren’t broken just not bright or dim enough, as the case may be…not to mention they just weren’t our style. The difference in literal and figurative illumination was pleasantly unexpected.
  • I trimmed, sang to and breathed life back into a few neglected house plants. Ever since, they’ve been doing the same for me. Likewise, I thoroughly cleaned the fish tank down to filtering out the muck among the pebbles. Our bubble-eyed goldfish, Orange Juice and Chocolate Milk, are playfully swishing their tails with glee.
  • Most importantly, I unloaded years of baggage. Still useful items were taken to a women’s shelter. Hand-me-downs not worthy of passing on (originally given by well meaning family members which I allowed to overstay their use) were put out to pasture. My mom, the gracious and thoughtful giver of most of these items, told me upon entering that my house now feels bigger and brighter. And, here I thought she’d be hurt! It turns out, she thoroughly agrees that my home is better off without the unnecessary clutter.

The (re)organization will continue throughout the year, as I continue to relish the newly found focus and positive energy flow. And, I’ll be posting fun places to learn more about organizing, placement and home energy flow like this one and this one.

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