Friday, July 31, 2015

There Are No Safe Plastics

     If any chemical deserves a bad rap it's BPA, despite public outcry the FDA has yet to ban it entirely which shouldn't come as a real surprise since the FDA has banned fewer than 10 chemicals since the 1970s. Plastics are everywhere despite conclusive evidence from the CDC linking BPA to diabetes, heart disease and liver toxicity. BPA enters our body when we consume food or drinks that have been packaged or stored in a material that leaches BPA, as such is an every day occurrence for most of us scientists have found that 95% of the U.S. population has measurable levels of this chemical in their bloodstream. BPA is especially troublesome with our hormonal systems as it interferes with estrogen, testosterone and thyroid hormones, hence we refer to it as an endocrine disrupter. In 2011 the FDA did ban BPA from baby bottles and sippy cups, a move that the Environmental Working Group called "purely cosmetic." Even after this ban the FDA maintains that BPA is safe citing numerous plastics industry backed studies as proof while ignoring independent studies which show the exact opposite.

     A good video showing the disastrous effects of raising a generation of children constantly exposed to endocrine disrupting chemicals is The Disappearing Male. With the gamut of problems affecting children today that were unheard of just a few generations ago we need to realize that we're perpetuating a problem by our lifestyle and take steps to reverse the damage. Going completely plastic free is nigh impossible, but we can greatly reduce our exposure. Beginning steps include:
  • replace mixing bowls, measuring cups and spoons and dishes with ceramic or metal
  • avoid plastic take out containers
  • coffee machines leach BPA into every cup of coffee, use a percolator or a traditional French press
  • be selective when purchasing canned goods, acidic foods leach more BPA than non-acidic ones do. Consuming 1 can of soup from a BPA lined can everyday for 5 days causes a 1000% increase in urinary BPA levels. 
  • avoid touching receipts as they are coated with BPA. If you must handle them wash your hands as soon as possible
     The problem with products labeled BPA free is that you are deceived into thinking them safe when nothing could be further from the truth. ANY product containing recycled plastic content is likely contaminated with BPA. Also, since companies are aware that consumers are shying away from BPA laden products they are replacing it with similar chemicals, these are likely as harmful as BPA but the public hasn't heard about them or the fact that they are just as harmful yet. Remember: Industry isn't required to prove the safety of any of this before they put it into your body. 

     What about "safe" plastics?  The problem with plastics that test safe is that tests are performed on plastics that are new and unused, when subjecting plastics to the stress of everyday use via heat and light most plastics will test very differently. An excellent synopsis on why we can't trust BPA free labeling is here and another article called Scary New Evidence On BPA-Free Plastics both are worth reading. Most of our grandparents grew up without plastics and it is possible to closely achieve that again, I think it's worth the effort for our family. I hope you do too. 

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Know Your Beekeeper

     This spring we began working with bees again for the first time since moving South. We placed the hive in the back corner of the yard facing East, close enough to keep an eye on it, but not too close. We always feed bees a 1:1 ratio of sugar water in the spring if there aren't many flowers in bloom for the bees to work, it prevents starvation and I know of no beekeeper who doesn't use this emergency measure.

A sugar water feeder similar to ours

     I'm not crazy about the fact that white sugar generally comes from Monsanto's GMO sugar beets; how ironic to feed bees with a product that is made by a company who is largely responsible for massive bee die off. I'm not really aware of any viable alternative though.

A swarm that didn't settle inside a hollow tree, but hanging from a branch

     We bought our bees from a local beekeeper, a mutt strain that we thought would be already adapted to our particular climate/altitude etc. While in his bee yard, located in the suburbs and containing 50+ hives I noticed feeders on every hive. I asked if there were enough sources of nectar locally for his bees to survive and was met with an astounding answer. He said that he feeds his bees year round as a matter of course. B-b-but then, my mind is racing, all of the honey you sell is garbage, it's all junk food made from GMO sugar and would have NO health benefits at all. You probably would never know what you were actually buying.

     In the years when we didn't keep bees we have found local beekeepers to buy honey from as it greatly improves Mr. G's allergies. But never again will I buy honey without asking some gentle questions about what these bees have access to. There is no point in paying $5+ per pint for pseudo honey. Bees are such an easy thing to keep, I'm so glad we have our own again!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes

     Hey there friends, sorry that I haven't been around much. This spring and summer have been a whirlwind of activity and some days I feel like I haven't had a moment to get my bearings.

     On April 25 our oldest, Aleks, and his beloved, Melissa, made a lifelong commitment before God and their families.


Aleks and his youngest brother, Asa.

       And then....... Aleks & Melissa announced a week or so ago that we're going to be entering a new phase in life. Grandparents. Our girls are over the moon with excitement as are we. March can't come too soon!