September 30, 2009

Really Natural Books: The Up Down Day

When I first read The Up Down Day by Brian D. McClure, I wondered why this book had been sent to Really Natural. It is a children's book about the world being turned upside down (literally), and a boy realizing you can't assume the world exists as you believe. The rhyming text is cute, but the examples of things going topsy turvy do drag on a wee bit, but overall this is a great children's book. The book ends on a very positive note emphasizing the universal nature of being, which is how I see the book tying into natural living.

Why do people live naturally? Many make changes for health reasons, but others recognize their relationship with nature is not dominion but interdependence. The Up Down Day emphasizes this oneness with everything. Author Brian D. McClure believes in this message so much that he donates 100% of profits from his children's books to "The Forgotten Children", and organization providing relief to children in Africa. Brian has even created a "universal flag" mean to unite rather than divide people of the Earth. McClure's organization is a recognized 501c3 Non-profit Organization.

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September 29, 2009

New Species Discovered in the Mekong Delta by the WWF

Among the new species discovered by the World Wildlife Federation (WWF) in the Mekong River region are a fanged frog, leopard striped gecko, a tube nosed bat, and the Nonggang babbler. All of these species are potentially threatened by climate change. Stuart Chapman, director of the WWF Greater Mekong Programme, explains:

After millennia in hiding, these species are now finally in the spotlight, and there are clearly more waiting to be discovered. Some species will be able to adapt to climate change, many will not, potentially resulting in massive extinctions. Rare, endangered and endemic species like those newly discovered are especially vulnerable because climate change will further shrink their already restricted habitats.

The Guardian points out that just as we have learned about these species existence, there very survival is threatened by climate change.

Photograph: Thomas Ziegler/WWF/EPA
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September 28, 2009

Natural Cooking: Food and Wine Cookbooks

Almost every cookbook uses whole foods in their ingredient lists, which makes it easy to learn to cook naturally. Using organic ingredients ensures your food is the healthiest possible for your family. Recently, I was sent two new cookbooks by the editors of Food & Wine. Even though I am a vegetarian, and there are many meat recipes included, it is always easy to omit the meat and create great meals.

  • Food & Wine Quick From Scratch Italian Cookbook: As a working mom, I appreciate recipes that are quick, but I also want to create meals for my family starting with whole foods (i.e., "from scratch"). One recipe that looks particularly good to me is "potato pie with tomato and fontina". This recipe only takes 10 minutes to prepare, and it bakes for 50 minutes. I also love how each recipe comes with a wine recommendation!
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September 25, 2009

Ethical, Performance Sunscreen by KINeSYS

KINeSYS SPF 30 Sunscreen Spray is touted as the world's first "ethical sunscreen" by its founding partners for supporting sustainable practices. As part of its commitment to the earth, KINeSYS uses "100% recyclable High Density Polyethylene (Bisphenol-A free)" and "non-aerosol pharmaceutical-grade sprayers disperse an ultrafine mist but result in no direct detrimental environmental effects". In addition, the company purchases "clean, emissions-free electricity generated by wind power to offset that used in our manufacturing process as well as our office" and is a signer of the Compact for Safe Cosmetics. KINeSYS SPF 30 Sunscreen Spray is free of parabens, alcohol, PABA, oil, and preservatives. It has received a safety rating of 3 out of 10 on the Environmental Working Group's (EWG) cosmetic database.

When reviewed on other blogs, such as Eco Child's Play, readers have questioned the safety of KINeSYS. In an open, honest dialogue, founder Jeff Kletter wrote to us:

I fully agree in this chemical laden world that we should find alternatives if possible. The problem is that "natural" doesn't always mean better. The reality is there is no such thing as "natural" sunscreen. The products that advertise and promote "natural or organic", are using physical blocks. As you may know, Sunscreen ingredients are regulated and are broken down into two groups: organic ingredients that tend to absorb UV light; and inorganic ingredients, which reflect UV light.
Inorganic ingredients zinc oxide and titanium dioxide reflect radiation (which are often marketed as "natural, organic or chemical free" use an aggressive chemical process to make the minerals small enough and a mechanical process- still using energy), they provide protection from components of UV light. However, one of the issues with these ingredients is their opaqueness - they leave an unattractive white colored film on the skin. New technology has been developed that can eliminate this disadvantage. The processing of the zinc oxide and titanium dioxide into nanoparticles allows formulation of a product that is transparent, yet reflects all components of UV radiation. But, the jury is still out on the safety of nanoparticles. I have read numerous articles and I really don't know what to believe, as we did make a sunscreen with Micronized Titanium Dioxide. At this stage the EWG is re-evaluating nanotechnology...KINeSYS technically is "organic", but doesn't market it as "organic or natural" (we will never market our products as "organic or natural"). We are proud signers of The Compact for Safe Cosmetics, the products are not tested on animals, cruelty free and vegan.

There are other sunscreens with lower ratings by EWG, but at least I feel comforted by KINeSYS's commitment to the environmentally ethical practices.
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September 24, 2009

US Illegally Approved Genetically Modified Sugar Beets Says Courts

Big news for those of us opposed to genetically modified crops: U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White has ruled it was illegal for the US to approve "Round Up" ready sugar beets created by Monsanto. Already, over 70 companies have pledged not to use genetically modified sugar beets in their products, and the courts have ruled in their favor. The San Francisco Chronicle reports on the ruling:

The government illegally approved a genetically modified, herbicide-resistant strain of sugar beets without adequately considering the chance they will contaminate other beet crops, a federal judge in San Francisco has ruled...Planting genetically modified sugar beets has a "significant effect" on the environment, White said in his ruling Monday, because of "the potential elimination of a farmer's choice to grow non-genetically engineered crops, or a consumer's choice to eat non-genetically engineered food."

Judge White stated the USDA needs to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), and lawyers are calling for an "injunction against sales until the review was completed."
Via: Organic Consumers Association
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September 23, 2009

First Made in the USA Filtered Stainless Steel Water Bottle by EcoUsable

486_image.gifEditor's note:  Please read the comments below.  Apparently only the filter is made in the USA. The labeling on the bottle's tag did not state anywhere that we could find about the bottle being made in China.  We have not confirmed the information contained in the comments below, but we would like to draw your attention to them. 

In the great reusable water bottle debate, Kleen Kanteen is always criticized for being made in China, and Sigg has fessed up to having BPA in its epoxy liner all along. Finally, there is a stainless steel water bottle made in the USA, and it has a bonus feature of filtration! EcoUsable 25oz Filtered Water Bottle - Stainless Swirl is so cool! It is the absolutely best stainless steel water bottle on the market that I have found, and the filter will last for approximately 12 months.

EcoUsableā„¢ presents the world's only Environmentally Safe Stainless Filtered Water Bottle.

Enjoy filtered tap water on the go instantly filtered as you drink through the ech2o sport top! This exclusive top removes up to 99.99% of pollutants for up to 100 gallons* of great tasting filtered water.

Each 25 oz. 304 food grade stainless steel water bottle is non-leaching, BPA-free, reusable, lightweight, and taste-neutral.

The Ionic-Adsorption Micro-Filtration System is an entire water filtration plant within a portable bottle. The patented Ionic-Absorption Micro-Filtration reduces up to 99.99% of the following zones of contamination:

  • Aesthetics: unpleasant taste, odor, clarity, chlorine, sand, sediment and Radon 222.
  • Biological: Pathogens such as cryptosporidium, giardia & other cysts and spores.
  • Chemicals: toxic chemicals, detergents, pesticides and other harmful industrial and agricultural wastes.
  • Dissolved Solids: heavy metals such as aluminum, asbestos, copper, lead, mercury and others.

Ecousable also makes a variety of other stainless steel bottles, but only the EcoUsable 25oz Filtered Water Bottle - Stainless Swirl is made in the USA. Other bottles include:
All of these bottles are BPA-free, recyclable, and come in a variety of colors.
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September 22, 2009

Doggy and Me Yoga: Doga

If you are a parent, you've probably heard about Mommy and Me yoga classes, but what about our canine friends? The New York Times reports explains about Doga: Yoga for Dogs:

Appropriate or not, this is how it works: Doga combines massage and meditation with gentle stretching for dogs and their human partners. In chaturanga, dogs sit with their front paws in the air while their human partners provide support. In an "upward-paw pose," or sun salutation, owners lift dogs onto their hind legs. In a resting pose, the person reclines, with legs slightly bent over the dog's torso, bolster-style, to relieve pressure on the spine.

I'm not sure my dogs would comply, and they would probably spend their time sniffing other dogs in class. Besides, they already spend a lot of time in their version of corpse pose.
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September 21, 2009

Really Natural Books: Flat Belly Diet Cookbook Features MUFA recipes

What's MUFA? MUFA stands for "super-health monounsaturated fatty acids" that are supposed to flatten your belly. I can't tell you whether Flat Belly Diet! Cookbook diet really works, but I can tell you the recipes look delicious and are quick to prepare. It is not a vegetarian cookbook, but there are plenty of recipes for veggie heads like me, including a whole vegetarian chapter.  In addition, there are many recipes that can easily be adapted for meat-free eating. For example:

Chickpea Curry with Cashews
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
1 cup low-sodium vegetable broth, divided
2 teaspoons canola oil
1/2 onion, chopped
2 teaspoons curry powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 can (15 ounces) no -salt-added chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup unsalted cashews, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
4 Tablespoons fat-free Greek-style yogurt

1. Whisk the cornstarch in a small bowl with enough of the broth to dissolve. Set aside.

2. Combine the oil, onion, curry powder, salt and pepper in a large skillet over medium heat. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for five minutes or until the onion is softened.

3. Add the remaining broth to the pan along with the reserved cornstarch mixture. Cook, whisking constantly, until thickened. Add the chickpeas and cashews. Simmer for 5 minutes for the flavors to blend. Stir in cilantro. Serve with a dollop of the yogurt.

Flat Belly Diet! Cookbook claims you can lose up to 15 pounds in 32 days! Whatever the veracity of this claim from the editors of Prevention magazine, you will at least eat well while trying!

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September 18, 2009

Etsy Finds: Handmade Dual Wooden iPod and iPhone Dock

I love discovering handmade treasures on Etsy, and I couldn't resist sharing this Dual Wooden iPod and iPhone Dock! Each dock is handmade to order from cedar. It takes three weeks for your custom iPod dock to be made and shipped.  I'd love to have one of these decorating my home.

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September 17, 2009

Really Natural Recipes: Oven Roasted Balsamic Vinegar Cherry Tomatoes

My garden is exploding in produce, and I overplanted cherry tomatoes this year. One quick and easy recipe that uses up a lot of cherry tomatoes (and my daughter adores) is Oven Roasted Balsamic Vinegar Cherry Tomatoes. This vegan recipe is super simple to make and complements almost any main course.

Oven Roasted Balsamic Vinegar Cherry Tomatoes

These oven roasted cherry tomatoes are even good cold in your lunch on the following day!
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September 16, 2009

Really Natural Books: The Girl Who Rode Dolphins

You can't choose a better title than The Girl Who Rode Dolphins to appeal to my daughter! The Girl Who Rode Dolphins by Michael J. Gans is:

A novel of epic adventure, treacherous risk, and resolute hope.


He has come to fulfill a solemn promise made to a comrade-in-arms killed in the mountains of Tora Bora. He is the consummate warrior, bold and courageous, daring to the point of recklessness. But fate intercedes, and Jake Javolyn finds himself the protector of the most incredible life forms the Earth has ever produced...


A beautiful girl and her Haitian mentor are not prepared for the violence and greed about to overtake them.

This book won the 2009 Green Book Festival's Science Fiction Genre Award. The Green Book Festival "honors books that contribute to greater understanding, respect and positive action on the changing worldwide environment". The book includes many modern issues, such as global warming and terrorism, while entertaining readers. The introduction gives background into the story's setting of Haiti, "currently the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, a Carribbean nation beleaguered by economic strife, dismal squalor, and political instability, a land of defoliation and ecological ruin." Gans writing style is easy to read and has received rave reviews.
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September 15, 2009

Maldives Tourists to be Charged Climate Tax

The Maldives, which aims to be the first carbon-neutral nation in the world, will begin charging tourists a climate tax. Vacationers to this Indian Ocean archipelago will pay $3 a day. The money will be used for renewable energy projects in the Maldives. President Nasheed has also proposed a relocation fund for residents of the island should rising oceans due to climate change obliterate the nation.

Via: The New York Times

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September 14, 2009

Vegan, Hydrating Shampoo by White Sands not All Natural as Claimed

I was recently sent samples of White Sands Hydrating Shampoo and Conditioner. These products are designed for color treated hair, and although they are vegan, they are not natural. White Sands Hydrating Shampoo and Conditioner are sulfate and silicone free, and according to the press release I received, "all natural".

As 100% Vegan, Hydrating Shampoo and Conditioner by White Sands is an all natural, sulfate, silicone, and cruelty free cleansing duo powered by Wheat and Silk Amino Acids. The line excels at moisturizing dry, damaged hair from the inside out, while providing superior hair color protection with each use.

If it is all natural, then why is the last ingredient FD& C #40, a synthetic food color made from coal tar or petroleum? Chris Gupta reports:
From the Dictionary of Food Additives: FD and C Red # 40:

This dye, approved in 1971; is a member of the family of Azo Dyes; it is widely used in the cosmetics industry. Allied Chemical has an exclusive patent on it. It is substituted for FD & C Red #4 in many cosmetics, food and drug products. Many American scientists feel that the safety of Red #40 is far from established because the manufacturer conducted all of the tests. The dye should not have received a permanent safety rating. The National Cancer Institute reported that p-credine, a chemical used in preparation of Red #40, is carcinogenic in animals. The FDA permanently listed Red #40 for use in foods and ingested drugs but only temporarily listed it for cosmetics and external drugs. FD means food & drug; C means for cosmetics.

According to Wikipedia, FD & C Red #40 was introduced to replace a truly natural food coloring made from Amaranth.  There are other ingredients in the White Sands product that I question.  I think it is also important to note that it is only the press release that claims the product is all natural, as their is no such information contained on the products' bottles.

Consumers need to be cautious when companies claim their products are all natural. Often ingredients are included that are naturally derived, yet consumers assume this is the same as being natural. FD & C Red #40 comes from the natural source of petroleum or tar, but that doesn't mean I want to put it in my hair or in my body.

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September 11, 2009

Eco-Friendly, Imported Handbags and Bracelets by five ACCESSORIES

One of the things I love about imported, artisan goods is they are usually eco-friendly, in addition to being unique and aesthetically pleasing. five ACCESSORIES offers many items that include a bit of philanthropy with every purchase.

The company began while Christine Hutchison and her husband, Wells, were on their honeymoon in Bali. While there, they met a Balinese tour guide who told them how much difference five dollars a month can make to a family in Bali. While admiring the beautiful handbags and jewelry made by local artisans, the couple had the idea to start five, a company that embodies both their entrepreneurial and philanthropic zeal. The mission of the company is to create income generating programs for individuals in need, donate a large portion of it's sales to worthy charitable causes and foster the use of sustainable material in fashion.

We were sent a natural handbag from Bali and a triangular solid wood bracelet to try out. The Sayan Night bag is made from dark slats of bamboo and is on sale! It is very stylish and practical with a metal clasp closure. The triangular sold wood bracelet is also made from bamboo in Bali.
You can feel good about supporting five ACCESSORIES and will be rewarded with unique items that make wonderful gifts giving back to the communities in which they were made.
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September 10, 2009

Swine Flu Deception

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September 9, 2009

Bob's Red Mill Build New Gluten-Free Dedicated Facility

We like Bob's Red Mill and have just received samples of Bob's new gluten-free corn products.

  • Gluten Free Corn Flour: Corn Flour is freshly stone ground at Bob's Red Mill and contains all of the bran, germ and endosperm. Add it to your favorite pancake, biscuit or bread recipe for added flavor and nutrition. Try making your favorite cornbread recipe with part or all corn flour instead of cornmeal. Your cornbread will be richer and less crumbly when made this way.
  • Gluten Free Corn Grits/Polenta: Corn Grits-Polenta makes a popular breakfast, especially in the Eastern and Southern states. Many gourmet Italian and Mediterranean restaurants feature our polenta. The recipes on our packages are simple and delicious. Also makes a delightful hot cereal served with milk and honey or brown sugar.
  • Gluten Free Medium Cornmeal: Medium Grind Cornmeal makes the best cornbread possible-gives a great texture without an overabundance of crumbs.

My dad is a celiac, so we are always looking for new gluten-free products. Bob is committed to maintaining the gluten-free integrity of its products by dedicating a "gluten-free manufacturing facility that is completely separate from the rest of the manufacturing and production areas." Bob's gluten-free products don't have that ubiquitous warning about facility cross contamination many gluten-free products contain.

I wish Bob's new gluten-free products were organic and available in bulk. Sure it is better to buy in bulk, but Bob's packages are convenient and available in many more stores that don't have bulk bins.  The packaging also reduces the risk of cross contamination in bulk bins from careless consumers.

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September 8, 2009

Sigg Bottles Contain BPA, So Swap it!

I have always suspected Sigg bottles for not disclosing the contents of their aluminum bottle lining, but I liked that they were made in Switzerland rather than China. Now, consumers are outraged to know that Sigg lied to consumers all along about their water bottles containing BPA. If you have a Sigg bottle, you may be wondering what to do. The Soft Landing and Cool Mom Picks have you covered with the Big Bottle Swap!

Here's the deal:

  • You return your BPA-lined SIGG bottle(s) to us at The Soft Landing (please use the form below before shipping)
  • Once we get your bottle(s), we'll send you a unique discount code for 30% off your choice stainless steel bottle from participating manufacturers at (CamelBak, Crocodile Creek, Green Sprouts, Kid Basix, Klean Kanteen, Nathan, Thermos and Thinksport)
  • You can return as many bottles as you like and you can purchase the same number of bottles for 30% off (you only need to fill out the form once, because one discount code will be assigned for all bottle purchases)
  • All return packages must be postmarked by September 14, 2009 to qualify
  • The Soft Landing will ensure all returned SIGG bottles are properly recycled
  • Offer open to customers worldwide
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September 7, 2009

Organic Cotton Yoga Strap by Gaiam

I just purchased a new yoga strap for my daughter, who has taken a renewed interest in yoga; however, I was disappointed I did not discover this organic cotton yoga strap by Gaiam before purchasing a new one. Gaiam Eco Conscious Organic Cotton Yoga Strap is just like any other cotton yoga strap, only it is made from organically grown cotton. At about $10, it is an affordable green yoga prop that will certainly help you stretch and relax tight muscles.

If you aren't familiar with Gaiam, it is:

a lifestyle company with the vision that, given a choice, people would choose a lifestyle that is healthy and life enhancing, for themselves, their families and the Earth. The Gaiam lifestyle is a vote for individual health as well as the future sustainability of the Earth's resources. Gaiam strives to provide customers with alternatives to traditional products by offering natural, eco-friendly or healthy versions that compare with the style, quality and price of conventional products.

Gaiam's goal is to become the trusted source and unifying brand for Lifestyle of Health and Sustainability (LOHAS) participants. They understand that the opportunity to affect people's lives with information and products is both a privilege and a responsibility. Gaiam believes in the concept of Conscious Commerce, the practice of making purchasing decisions based on personal values and beliefs. It takes into consideration all the aspects of our lives and the impact we have upon the planet.

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September 5, 2009

World's Only Naturally Memory Foam Ergonomic Pillow by Essentia

Essentia makes the world's only natural memory foam and is a member of 1% for the Planet. Essentia products have zero toxic chemicals or emissions and uses glue and adhesive free technology.

Essentia is the only manufacturer of natural memory foam in the world. Our cutting-edge Natural mattresses deliver a level of comfort, performance, purity and durability never before seen in mattresses.

All eco-friendly mattress components, such as unbleached organic cotton covers, natural latex rubber, plant extracts and organic essential oils, only enhance the comfort provided by Essentia mattresses. Made from 100% natural latex, Essentia's natural memory foam has all the benefits of memory foam without the toxic ingredients.
Essentia memory foam mattresses and pillows are individually handmade using the finest raw materials to ensure the highest quality sleep product on the market.

We were sent an Essential Natural Memory Foam Ergonomic Pillow to test. This pillow is designed for back and side sleepers. It supports the head and neck superbly, and the natural memory foam is "80% more breathable than a synthetic memory foam pillow, thereby reducing heat and discomfort.". This is the kind of pillow you will fall in love with and want to take with you wherever you travel.
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September 3, 2009

Ginormous Hand Knit Bunny Took Five Years to Complete

Ok, this may be a little off topic for Really Natural, but check out this ginormous knit bunny! Knit by four artists over five years, this art installation is located in the Italian Alps (and it makes me smile). The artists state:

behind a hill, as if knitted by giant grandmothers, lies this vast rabbit, to make you feel as small as a daisy.

I hope they used organic or at least natural fiber yarn. I wonder how it will hold up to the the mountain weather.
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September 2, 2009

Really Natural Documentaries: Blue Gold World Water Wars

The World Water Crisis is an issue we are all going to have face, especially as experts predict in the future wars will be fought over clean water accessibility. Based on the book of the same title by Maude Barlow and Tony Clarke, Blue Gold: World Water Wars is a documentary film that discusses how the "corporate giants, private investors, and corrupt governments vie for control of our dwindling fresh water supply, prompting protests, lawsuits, and revolutions from citizens fighting for the right to survive." Derek Markham of Blue Living Ideas writes about the film:

How many of us have heard of the company Suez? How about RWE? Veolia? These are three major private water companies, which are gaining control of water supplies in cities around the globe. It's estimated that Suez and RWE together manage 40% of the water share worldwide. That's a staggering amount of control for private companies to have over something that should be considered a human right: access to clean water.

The film is not all doom and gloom, as positive changes activists of all ages have brought about around the world are highlighted in addition to the eye opening information about the world's water supply.

We viewed Blue Gold: World Water Wars as an open invitation community gathering. It was well-received by the audience, many of whom were motivated to take action on local water issues. This documentary is a must see for all that will truly enlighten viewers about the world water crisis. 

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September 1, 2009

Really Natural August 2009 Monthly Round Up

Alternative Energy

Electric Cars






Monthly Round-Up


Product review

Really Natural Books






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