Blog Posts by Ask an Organic Mom, The Daily Green

  • Organic Mom: Organic Prenatal Nutrition, With or Without Supplements

    I just ... began my search for the healthier prenatalchoice. I've read up a lot on the perfect prenatal by new chapter organics. Do you have any opinions on this? I noticed it contains lavender, which I'veread can cause some female hormones to appear in male babies? Any other opinionson products for me?

    Thanks, Staci

    A perfect prenatal is a tall order! Overall -- organicor not -- you want to make sure you're getting the maximum daily recommendeddose of folic acid (important for helping prevent neural tube defects and spinabifida). Some natural (that's in quotes because the claim natural isunregulated) brands also contain additional herbs and nutrients consideredbeneficial for pregnancy. These claims aren't exactly regulated either, so it'sa good idea to go over the ingredient list of any vitamin you're taking withyour OB/GYN or midwife.

    Here's a list from The Complete OrganicPregnancy of the vitamins and minerals your pre-natal should contain and theappropriate levels

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  • Organic Mom: Toxic Formaldehyde Found in Baby Cribs

    I rarely get the opportunity to answer Organic Mom questions for family members, but my daughter's cousin is soon-to-be born so I have had the pleasure lately. It's tough to try to list what is most important to least important if you know that someone is only going to heed a few suggestions at best. But I have been trying.

    I tend to hit the buy-an-organic-crib-mattress-that-isn't-wrapped-in-vinyl message pretty hard whenever someone asks what to do when setting up a nursery. And I mention that cribs should be hardwood, not particleboard, so it won't have high levels of toxic formaldehyde. When I was setting up my daughter's sleeping space, we absolutely bought a good mattress (from daxstores.com) and borrowed a crib from my Complete Organic Pregnancy co-author/friend Deirdre. The crib had belonged to her niece and I don't think it was entirely hardwood but it had been around for a considerable period of time, and so I felt it was amply offgassed. We were very committed

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  • Organic Mom: How to Choose Indoor Plants to Clean the Air

    It's air conditioning season in New York and this is the first year we've gotten on board. It feels great of course but I have to assume the new ecosystem in the living room had something to do with the death of our orchid. (Although, who am I kidding, it was just a matter of time. My husband says the blooms will return, but I've watched more un-flowering stalks linger pathetically to death than I can count.) I've moved a number of plants to the deck for the brutally hot weeks to come, but was reminded by this reader's letter that they'll be more valuable to me as air filters when they're back inside.

    I have been faithfully reading your advice on making my house greener and improving my children's lives but I have come to two road blocks.
    The first is we are renovating our kitchen but did not order green choices. I looked up plants to put in my house to get rid of the air pollutants but have found that all are toxic to animals and children which does not work for me since I

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  • Organic Mom: Raw Milk Victory

    A critical hurdle was just cleared in California where the threat of raw milk becoming illegal (as it already is in many states) was looming. The Assembly Health Committeevoted unanimously for SB 201, the Fresh Raw Milk Act of 2008. They are also close to passing legislation that will codify making it safe and legal, hopefully to be used as a template in other states.

    Today is the hearing before the Assembly Agriculture Committee, that is expected to vote in favor of the bill. After that the bill goes to the entire assembly.
    California readers can check in herefor more details on when to make critical phone calls in support.

    I'm very happy with the milk club I joined -- a great side benefit is the access to nitrate-free pork bacon, organic beef and Celtic sea salt -- but it would be way more convenient to buy everything down the block than traveling to appointed locales at appointed times.

    It took some my husband some convincing that raw milk really can be

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  • Organic Mom: FDA Reverses Course on Mercury in Dental Fillings

    I'm trying to think of inventive ways to make teeth brushing fun for my daughter (who at this point just wants to suck down the toothpaste) because I worry about her genetic inheritance in the teeth department. At one point in my life I probably had 25 silver fillings in my mouth. I remember when my old roommate had her amalgam fillings replaced-- she said she felt much "lighter" after, but I've never had the money or motivation to electively remove the mercury from my system. (In the left hand corner of my mouth, where my lips meet, there's some purple-colored residual mercury under the skin. Pretty gross.)

    Sweden, Switzerland, Norway and Japan have all banned amalgam in fillings (composed of 40% mercury and a 60% silver, tin, copper, and zinc combo), but it's still anything goes here. Lots of dentists have upgraded to resin composites or porcelain (only a couple of my silver-topped teeth remain), but amalgam's cheaper and easier to deal with, and the American Dental

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  • Organic Mom: Why You Should Avoid Nylon Rugs

    I'm taking a break from blogging about potty training (!) toanswer reader questions.

    Hi,

    Know anything about nylon rugs? I am trying to buy a rug for my son's room andnot spend too much, seems there are many nylon ones. Are they safe? I thoughtyou'd probably know...

    thanks,

    Gillian


    I do know! But before I tell you I'd liketo start by saying that my approach to anything I'm bringing into my home is tofirst decide if I really need it. Whatever you bring into the home has thepotential to also drag in unwanted chemicals, so this is a first step I forcemyself to take whenever I get a shopping urge. This is a legitimate questionwhen it comes to rugs. I actually prefer bare floors, especially wood ones.They're very easy to clean and don't provide safe haven for chemical residue ordust mites, neither of which you want around a kid. That said, rugs do breakall kinds of baby and kid crashes and falls, and are helpful to curb noise bothfor when you're sneaking away from a

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  • Organic Mom: The Surprisingly Simple Nontoxic Silver Polish

    Oh the countless emails I get asking about silver. It seems mother-in-laws like to break out their darling sons' cups/spoons/teething rings and pop them into the next generation's mouths. Come to think of it, all grandparents like to do this my own mother unearthed similar heirlooms for my daughter. The silver isn't the issue, it's the noxious silver polish used to clean the antiques off before proffering them that the moms are writing about. They're right to ask.

    Here are two silver queries I've gotten recently:

    I had a question I was hoping you could answer. Is there a safe way to polish silver? Those nasty chemicals seem bad enough for polishing jewelry (I wear gloves when I do it) but horrifying when you think about polishing silverware you eat with or teething rattles and such. My answer has been to just leave those things tarnished, but I was wondering if there was another way?

    Thanks,

    Susan

    and

    My mother-in-law uses silver

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  • Organic Mom: Chicken Is Dunked in Chlorine? Believe It.

    I was giving an eco-parenting talk last week when a pregnant-with-her-second-child mom asked me if it were true that all chicken is bathed in chlorine as part of its slaughterhouse processing. I was grossed out, appalled, and stumped. I wasn't, however, surprised. Conventional meat is about as grim and questionable as it gets. The slaughterhouses must have some serious gunk in need of disinfecting, especially as it is done in (potentially cross contaminating) bulk. I haven't personally used chlorine bleach in years and years and clearly would not want the food I feed my family to be dunked in it.

    When I got home, I immediately started researching her query. I personally get chicken from three places: my local farmers market, a pastured meat and poultry CSA I belong to, and a butcher shop near my parents' place in upstate New York called Fleisher's. I have never smelled anything even remotely chlorine-y about any of these birds. But apparently a lot of people have smelled

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  • Organic Mom: The Chemical Hidden in Toilet-Training Potties

    My apologies for writing about toilet trainingtwice in a row but as I mentioned, it's all potty all the time around here. While visiting grandparents in upstate New York this past weekend, we had a portable seat with us. Mere moments after arriving, my daughter let us know that there was no way she was going to use the portable seat, that she much preferred and required a real little potty. It's amazing how demanding someone so small can be. We tend to spend a fair amount of time upstate during the summer, and she's not the only grandchild who visits, so it felt like a wise idea to buy the house a potty.

    My parents' home isn't located near a wealth of stores and so, on a swelteringly hot day (why so boiling so early in June? scary!) I found myself in exactly the sort of monstrously huge big box store I avoid as if it were my religion. I'm talking a Kids 'R' Us. The offgassing plastic toy chemicals hit us like an anvil when we walked in. But I digress. I'm

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  • Organic Mom: Stonyfield Yogurt Uses Suspect Plastic

    Girl Eating Yogurt

    I'm not a morning person. Never have been. My daughter is aterrible/odd sleeper but the upshot to her late nights is that she wakes uplate (for a kid), too. If I had to do morning duty, her schedule makes itpossible even for me. But I'm actually not "on" in the mornings as I tend to domost of my writing late at night or in the morning before her father goes towork. All of this preamble is getting to a story, I swear. I happened to wakeup with her one morning over the long weekend so her father could have a muchdeserved sleep-in. I do like the opportunity to be in charge of her breakfastand we have fun things we make together just-us-two on these rare mornings. Weespecially like to make buckwheat pancakes that I load with all sorts ofgoodies (flaxseed oil, wheat germ, organic eggs, blueberries etc.) and makethem even more special by dotting the resulting misshapen things with (the mostminiscule amount of) maple syrup that comes from someone near our CSA farm.

    Lately, the kid

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