Blog Posts by Ask an Organic Mom, The Daily Green

  • BPA In Jarred Baby Food!? What Next?

    I'm a big, huge, enormous, ginormous fan of glass for food storage. It's safe. I have zillions of glass jars them in my fridge, cabinets, and freezer. For a while now I've been aware that the lids of said jars contain the controversial hormone disrupter bisphenol-a that has also been linked to infertility and cancer. Many of the people I know and follow online have come up with all kinds of ways to attempt to get around BPA in their glass jar lids including not filling food all the way to the top so it won't touch the lids, never storing acidic foods in jars, covering food in a circle of wax paper to act as a (completely unscientific) "barrier" between the food and the lid, and even smearing the lid in beeswax.

    Me, I think the point of storing food in jars in the first place is to minimize exposure to harmful and potentially harmful chemicals I prefer not to have in my food, or my daughter's food. But you have to live in the world. At some point you have to feel you've

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  • How To Choose A Natural Deodorant

    One of the first of many green changes I made years ago -- long before I was even thinking of getting pregnant -- was to replace my conventional antiperspirant with the most natural and effective deodorant I could find. This was wise for several reasons. Conventional products tend to contain a whole host of best-to-avoid substances including hormone disrupters, petrochemicals, lung irritants, and other suspect ingredients. These are not only potentially harmful to the adults who use them, but also to teenagers who are still developing, babies in utero, breastfeeding babies (internally and externally -- they're often leaning skin-on-skin up near your armpits) and even to the waterways and aquatic life where traces of the conventional gunk winds up after we shower it off.

    But finding an effective natural replacement is no easy task if you're not a dainty fleur. I have plenty of friends and even family members who fall into that category -- they can garden and hike and build

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  • Study: Hand Soap Chemical Contaminates Dolphins

    Is your hand soap contaminating dolphins?

    The answer is probably yes, if you live along the coast where bottlenose dolphins swim, according to a new study.

    Researchers, according to a synopsis in Environmental Health News, tested dolphins in South Carolina and Florida waters, and found triclosan, an antibacterial agent, in the blood of bottlenose dolphins.

    How could this be? The waters tested have sewage plants, and the water flowing out of our pipes is laced with triclosan. It's found in a variety of products: antibacterial soaps, most notably, but also in personal care products, socks, cutting boards, garbage bags and other products -- any product that a manufacturer sees benefits by killing bacteria to reduce odor or increase shelf life.

    When it comes to soap, experts agree that vigorously washing with regular soap and warm water for enough time to sing the "ABCs" is more effective than using a chemical to kill bacteria, and has none of the unintended side

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  • 10 Ways to Limit Health Risk from Cell Phones

    I'm not really sure how parenting happened before cell phones. How did my parents know where I was at night in high school? Before anyone accuses me of over-parenting and laments this new age of Big Brother moms and dads, I know that growing up in New York City before it was as safe as it is today even I -- as the kid, not the parent -- would have been more comfortable coming home at my curfew if I had had a cell in my bag.

    But even if they make both parents and kids feel safer, are they actually safe?

    I follow all of the recent studies on cell phones, warily, as I continue to use mine. They don't seem like a good idea, health wise. I use a headset to reduce my exposure to electromagnetic radiation, but they break all the time and, when they don't, I often misplace them. I try to text and email more than I talk, in another effort to reduce exposure to my head. In general I have a low- to medium-grade mistrust of the things and yet don't seem to be able to get by without one,

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  • How to be a green summer house guest or host

    Memorial Day Weekend (for some of us) means the beginning of having and/or being house guests for a few months. We fall into the houseguest side of this equation. As urbanites, we want our daughter to have time out of the city, especially when the weather is good. So we spend a lot of the summer visiting family (and sometimes friends and friends-with-kids) who live outside the city or have second homes.

    Whatever side of the equation you fall on, house-guest season can equal eco-related awkwardness. For environmentally sensitive hosts housing environmentally insensitive friends or family members, situations can arise over things like the Hummer they drive up in, requests for non-dairy creamer, too many towels used, extra long hot showers and so on. For environmentally sensitive guests staying with environmentally insensitive hosts, similar issues can arise over sheets that have been washed in conventional detergents and reek of synthetic (hormone disrupting!) fragrance, BBQs

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  • Why It's Harder Than Ever To Find Safe, Natural Sunscreens

    It's warming up in the Northeast - Memorial Day weekend is nearly upon us - which means readers are in the market for and asking about safe sunblock again. I haven't given the goop much thought since last summer so have been just sending curious emailers a link to what I last wrote here about sunscreen.

    A few weeks ago, I finally went shopping for new tubes of my chosen brands and the stock looked a bit sparse. Several days later I happened on the following announcement on my mainstay brand's website:

    "New European regulations for sunscreens will soon require levels of UVA protection that are impossible to achieve with natural mineral sun filters such as the titanium dioxide in Dr.Hauschka Sunscreens. In order to meet the requirements of these new regulations and maintain our products' SPF ratings, we would be forced to reformulate using synthetic filters.

    "Our unwavering dedication to pure, holistic skin care and BDIH guidelines for natural ingredients prevent us
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  • User post: My Pressure Cooker Experiment

    I often hear from parents wanting to know if one jarred food is better than another. Other than always suggesting families choose organic over conventional, I have no jar preferences. The boiled within an inch of whatever nutrients might be left mush in any jar is often older than the very kid parents are trying to feed. The best thing I can say about jarred food is that the empty jars can be reused as excellent first drinking glasses for children. It should come as no surprise that I'm a big advocate of homemade baby food, toddler food, kid food, teenage food, and adult food.

    "But it takes too much time," is the near constant refrain I hear from many of the people seeking my advice on what and how to feed their children. Eh - not so much. It's all about what you spend your time on. There are a lot of things I'd happily give up in order to make our food. Still, I have more than a few time (and, coincidentally, energy) cutting tricks up my sleeve I employ. I help myself always

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  • New Choices On The Cloth Vs. Disposable Diaper Scene

    I've been doing a bunch of green parenting talks of late. Generally I go through my top 10 how-to-live-green list, adapting and tweaking it slightly depending on my audience. I obviously love to talk to a big group, but when I get a small one, it enables me to do Q&A as I go through my list, rather than waiting until the end of my spiel. Answering questions as I go along means everyone (mostly) gets answered. It also teaches me a lot about what's on the collective mind. And these days, apparently, it's diapers.

    My answer is usually some version of what I've written about diapers here (The Case for Disposable Diapers, Parts I and II) and in The Complete Organic Pregnancy-- that conventional disposables aren't a green option, and that it's a toss up between "green" disposables and cloth diapers (so says the NRDC), unless you're washing said cloth at home and line drying them.

    I haven't actually written about diapers in a while, and I have some new(er) information I've been

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  • Organic Mother's Day Wishes: From Local Asparagus to An Automatic Composter

    It's a miserable rainy spring day but we pulled on our waterproof boots and other gear anyway and headed out into it to trek to a farmers' market across town. We had missed the smaller market closer to us this past weekend and rumor had it the asparagus are at long last here. Rain can't stand between me and my first of the season goods. My three-year-old knows the depths of my passion for real local food and indulged me this soggy trek, even though it meant she was stuck in her stroller for longer than she likes.

    I've been thinking a lot about food lately, for many reasons. The arrival of the spring onions, mizuna, and other gorgeous greens at the farmers' markets coincides with the editing of my next book, a total guide to sustainable food and kitchens, due out from Clarkson Potter next year. I'm busily testing recipes, and my daughter is truly helping me as a sous chef - kneading dough, tearing herbs from stems, tasting everything, and offering her (pretty hilarious)

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  • 13 Fun, Rainy Day Activities for Kids

    girl baking class=April showers may bring May flowers, but they also bring some dull family days stuck indoors with kids and parents alike climbing the walls. Combine the weather with school vacation (we return to school this week), and I've been digging deep into my mental bag of eco rainy day activities of late. I hope some of what we've been up to will keep other families busy during downpours. Keep in mind that my daughter is three, so all of the below is appropriate for kids around that age. Her younger and older friends have happily taken part in the same activities. If you've got other tricks up your sleeve, share the wealth in comments. We're all looking for fun, easy to do at home distractions that don't involve buying new toys or eco-and-health unfriendly art supplies.

    1. Labor-intensive kid friendly baking or cooking projects

    I'm talking time consuming projects, or ones that you can come back to in stages - bread, pizza dough, muffins and the like. Last week we even tested a recipe for

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