April 21, 2010

Really Natural Foods: Beaver Brand Gourmet Ketchup

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Spring time is here and warmer temperatures brings on BBQ season. Whether you are cooking up organic beef or tofu burgers, unique condiments complement any outdoor meal. Beaverton Foods has just introduced a gourmet, all-natural ketchup that is blended with its award-winning honey mustard.

Beaverton Foods began over 80 years ago:

In 1929 Rose Biggi started Beaverton Foods in the cellar of her farmhouse. To help endure the Great Depression, she began grinding her horseradish crop, bottling it, and selling it to local grocery stores. Through her hard work and perseverance, she not only survived the hard economic times, but also built the foundation for the largest specialty condiment manufacturer in the United States.

This gourmet ketchup is very affordable ($3.50) and has a unique flavor, but I wish it was made with organically-grown ingredients. Furthermore, it came shipped in a box of styrofoam peanuts rather than the compostable kind.  At least the bottle is recyclable.

Disclosure: I was sent free samples of these products to review. No prior assurances were given as to whether the review be positive or negative.

Jennifer Lance at Permalink social bookmarking

April 19, 2010

Really Natural Books: Grow Your Own Drugs: Easy Recipes for Natural Remedies and Beauty Fixes

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Grow Your Own Drugs: Easy Recipes for Natural Remedies and Beauty Fixes is written by ethnobotanist James Wong. Wong believes, and I agree, that it's easy to grow and make your own natural remedies. He explained to NPR:

I think so many people have this stereotyped idea of what herbal medicine is. I think they've very much got a big black line in their minds that separates serious, conventional, tested, scientific medicine on one side and slightly airy, fairy, away-with-the-hippies -- you know -- natural-but-probably-doesn't-work, plant-based medicine on the other. To me as a scientist, whether a chemical is found within a pill or the cells of plant is really irrelevant -- that's just packaging.

Wong's book has a beautiful layout with incredible photographs and recipes. Take for example:
A few tablespoons of this garlicky vinegar in hot water make a powerful antifungal foot bath, but don't use it on broken skin -- it will hurt! The vinegar takes 1 month to infuse but will last at least 6 months to 1 year. It tastes good in salad dressings, too.

ATHLETE'S FOOT

Garlic Footbath
10 bulbs garlic, peeled and finely chopped
100 g fresh sage leaves
2 cups (500 ml) cider vinegar

1. Place the chopped garlic and sage leaves in a jar, then add the cider vinegar. Seal and leave to infuse for 1 month, shaking occasionally.

USE Add 5 tbsp to a bowl of hot water, and soak feet for 15 minutes. Use 2 or 3 times a week in conjunction with "Garlic Talcum Powder" (see page 52).

This is a great book for the seasoned herbalist and amateur alike, and it is an incredible resource I know I will refer to over and over again.  The title is pretty unique too!

Disclosure: I was sent free samples of these products to review. No prior assurances were given as to whether the review be positive or negative.

Jennifer Lance at Permalink social bookmarking

April 16, 2010

re:newal Bottled Spring Water Made From Plants, Not Oil

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We all know bottled water is bad, but sometimes you may find yourself in a situation where thirst demands you buy a bottle rather than sip off a dirty gas station bathroom sink. Fortunately, companies like renewal premium spring water - 'The Eco-friendly water bottle', environmentally friendly bottles made from plants offer consumers a choice.

As families are increasingly moving to a more sustainable lifestyle
the bottled water industry is quickly trying to adapt to stay
relevant. This $11 billion business actually declined slightly in
2009 and there was a flurry of activity among traditional beverage
companies to try and adapt. PepsiCo introduced Eco-Fina with 50
percent less plastic. Coke introduced a "plant bottle" which actually
still contains 80% plastic from crude oil and Nestle introduced
Re-source made from 25% recycled plastic. The reality is that plastic
is still derived from crude oil and takes up to 1000 years to break
down naturally.

Other brands like 're:newal premium spring water' are taking a
completely different approach to change the business but introducing a
plant bottle made entirely from corn. The resin (known as PLA) is made
completely from plants and can be returned to the earth in its natural
state. re:newal is one of a small group of companies using this
material and re:newal is unique in combing natural spring water with a
100% biodegradable bottle and label.


The only unfortunate thing about this bottled water (besides being bottled water) is that the facility is located in Florida. In an ideal world, the few times we find we need bottled water, we would have options to purchase petroleum-free plastic bottles holding locally sourced water. The transportation of water across the country certainly bears a heavy carbon footprint and must be considered.


Disclosure: I was sent free samples of these products to review. No prior assurances were given as to whether the review be positive or negative.

Jennifer Lance at Permalink social bookmarking

April 14, 2010

Really Natural Books: The Earth's Best Story: A Bittersweet Tale of Twin Brothers Who Sparked an Organic Revolution

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When I wasn't making my own baby food, I served my children Earth's Best organic baby food. The Earth's Best Story: A Bittersweet Tale of Twin Brothers Who Sparked an Organic Revolution is the story behind the company that feeds so many babies.

On the face of it, our story is the tale of a journey to launch the first organic baby-food company in the United States. While of course true, our inspiration soared beyond baby food to a grander, multidimensional imagining, an imagining where the face of agriculture was transformed and the chemically dependent agribusiness paradigm was reduced in its prominence.

We envisioned a world where organic foods would become dominant, with an organic avenue right through the mainstream food thoroughfare. And in our dreams organic baby food would be a catalyst for that paradigm shift: a shift that would support and protect our fragile ecosystems, safeguard farm workers and their families, and walk the talk about doing right by those who are most vulnerable and precious to us?our children.


Truly, these twin brothers are brilliant! Many people I know, including family members, only began their journey into organic food (which eventually leads to a greener lifestyle in general) when their first child was born. After feeding this pure little being the best food on earth (breastmilk) parents approach chemically-grown solid food with hesitation and trepidation. Earth's Best, found in almost every grocery store in America, offers an affordable, organic option. Thanks to the Koss brothers, an organic revolution really did begin with the babies!


Disclosure: I was sent free samples of these products to review. No prior assurances were given as to whether the review be positive or negative.

Jennifer Lance at Permalink social bookmarking

April 12, 2010

Natural Pet: Holistic Select Nourish Puppy Health Food

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My dogs have tried Holistic Select dog food before with favorable results, now it's our 124-pound puppy's turn to review "beyond natural, beyond holistic" food.

Holistic Select Nourish Puppy Health-Anchovy, Sardine & Chicken Meals Recipe was gobbled right up by our puppy. He actually had just eaten his regular breakfast and had a full belly, but when I poured Holistic Select into his bowl, he couldn't resist chowing down.  He loved it!

Ingredients: Anchovy & Sardine Meal, Ground Brown Rice, Ground White Rice, Chicken Fat (Preserved with Natural Mixed Tocopherols), Chicken Meal, Pork Meal, Oatmeal, Dried Beet Pulp, Flaxseed, Dried Egg Product, Menhaden Fish Oil, Carrots, Sun-Cured Alfalfa, Peas, Salt, Potassium Chloride, Organic Quinoa, Apples, Blueberries, Cranberries, Dried Kelp, Yucca Schidigera Extract, DL-Methionine, Vitamins [Beta-Carotene, Vitamin A Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin E Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Niacin Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Thiamine Mononitrate, Folic Acid, Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), Biotin], Minerals [Polysaccharide Complexes of Zinc, Iron, Manganese and Copper, Cobalt Carbonate, Potassium Iodate, Sodium Selenite], Choline Chloride, Lecithin, Rosemary Extract, Inulin, L-Carnitine, Dried Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus casei, Enterococcus faecium, Bacillus subtilis, Bacillus licheniformis, Aspergillus oryzae and Aspergillus niger Fermentation Products, Mixed Tocopherols (a natural preservative).
What's in your puppy's food? I bet you can't pronounce most of the ingredients. It's actually really gross what is put in pet food, and many of the ingredients are toxic. You don't have to worry about Holistic Select ingredients, and the puppy food also comes in a canned version.

Disclosure: I was sent free samples of these products to review. No prior assurances were given as to whether the review be positive or negative.
Jennifer Lance at Permalink social bookmarking

April 9, 2010

Natural Eye Care: LashFood Conditioning Eyeliner, Mascara, and Eyelash Serum

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Some people are born with beautiful, lush eyelashes, and some people need a little help in that department. LashFood was designed for anyone looking to improve the appearance of their eyelashes, and they have added conditioning mascara and eyeliner to their line.

LashFood products are natural eyelash and eyebrow conditioning stimulators that provides you with fuller, longer, darker, and stronger lashes. LashFood is formulated using the highest grade natural ingredients including Biotin, an essential vitamin, Arginine, a natural amino acid, and root and herbal extracts. No harsh chemicals, drugs or imitation ingredients are used. All products are dermatologist tested and approved. The newest innovation of JB Cosmetics, LashFood is created by Jane Kim. JB Cosmetics is a well known cosmetic manufacturer that specializes in eyelash products and stands for sophistication and beauty.

Products include:

LashFood uses nano-peptide technology. Honestly, I am afraid of anything that uses nano in its product description over growing concerns about the safety of nano technology; however,  It is positive that these products are made in the USA and are not tested on animals. They would make a nice Mother's Day gift too!

Disclosure: I was sent free samples of these products to review. No prior assurances were given as to whether the review be positive or negative.


Jennifer Lance at Permalink social bookmarking

April 7, 2010

Really Natural Books: Animal Factory

Animal Factory: The Looming Threat of Industrial Pig, Dairy, and Poultry Farms to Humans and the Environment by David Kirby is an eye-opening, informative account of how factory farming is negatively affecting our health and environment. I have not read this book cover to cover at the time of this review, but I am very impressed at its thoroughness and message.

Animal Factory is a thoroughly-researched piece of investigative journalism, in which Kirby sets out to approach factory farms differently from 'Fast Food Nation' or 'Eating Animals'. As his powerful and provocative books shows, the supermarket price of milk, pork, steak and chicken do not reflect the actual costs of mass-producing meat and dairy, which are passed on the to surrounding communities, including:

  • Airborne feces sprayed by farms, covering neighboring homes, fields, and towns

  • Recalls of dangerous meats, fruits, and vegetables caused by farm pathogens

  • Increasing public health crises, including asthma and MRSA infection, and possibly swine flu and leukemia and other cancers in communities adjacent to these farms

  • High levels of feces and nitrates in public water supplies near these farms. The New York Times recently reported that "19.5 million Americans fall ill each year from drinking water contaminated with parasites, bacteria or viruses." (9/15/09)

  • Massive fish kills in local waters from pig and cow manure lagoon spills

  • Immense costs to clean up hazardous farms, absorbed by taxpayers or individual farmers, rather than by the corporations that profit from such practices

  • Dead zones spreading miles out to sea, where marine life is suffocated by algae growth stimulated in part by factory farm pollution


In Animal Factory, Kirby follows three American families in different regions of the US, whose lives have been utterly changed by Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, or CAFOs. Weaving complex science, politics, business, and the lives of everyday people, Kirby documents a crisis that has reached a critical juncture in the history of human health and our larger global environment.

I like how Kirby tracks factory farms affect on families, as it gives a human touch to a story that is truly overwhelming to contemplate.

As a vegetarian, my life is still affected by factory animal farms. No one is immune. We must support local, traditional farms as consumers to really bring about change, as well as make sure our politicians are aware of the consequences of factory farming. Anyone that has visited or driven by a large factory farm, like Harris Ranch on I-5 in California, knows, the situation is not good for animals or humans.


Disclosure: I was sent free samples of these products to review. No prior assurances were given as to whether the review be positive or negative.

Jennifer Lance at Permalink social bookmarking

April 5, 2010

Non-Toxic Cleaning: PawSafe Cleaners Safe for Pets and Kids

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It's long been a source of rumor and concern that common cleaning products are harmful to children and pets. Although many of these internet rumors have been proven false, the truth is most common cleaners do contain harmful ingredients for our health and environment. Snopes explains:

Western society likes its homes and its clothing clean, but satisfying that desire comes at a price -- to do so, consumers must place their faith in polysyllabic chemical concoctions vended by large corporations, entities they don't always trust to have their best interests at heart. Consequently, fears about noxious or dangerous substances being secreted in common cleaning products is a recurring theme in contemporary lore.

Pawsafe offers a non-toxic solution "Pet & Kid Safe".
The ASPCA lists household cleaners in the top 10 list of poison calls handled by their poison control center.

Most household cleaners on the market today use harsh chemicals to provide the cleaning power in their products. Unfortunately, many of these chemicals are toxic and remain in the environment long after use. These products can be safely used but pose a threat if a young child or pet gets into them. Just read the labels and see the ingredients, hazards and warnings that most cleaning products carry. Some cleaners can burn skin, cause blindness, and even death if ingested.

Why take risks when you don't have to.

PawSafe products are formulated using natural plant-based surfactants and citric acid that cut through grease and grime, limescale and soap scum without leaving a dangerous chemical residue.


PawSafe makes:

I have to admit the vibrant colors scare me, as I do not associate them with natural cleaners. I am also concerned with the "vegetable derived surfactants", but here is the company's response:

Q: What are surfactants and are they safe?

A: The surfactants used in PawSafe products come from plants and are a natural wetting agent that helps water and oil mix. This is an important ingredient in helping clean up oils and grease, dirt and grime. All of the ingredients used in PawSafe products are generally safe and temporary exposure should not create problems for your pet or children. However, it is a good, safe practice to keep this and all cleaning products out of the reach of pets and children.

Q: What are emulsifiers and are they safe?

A: Emulsifiers keep the ingredients of PawSafe in suspension and prevents separation so you don't have to shake the bottle before using. Emulsifiers are generally not harmful to pets or children. However, it is a good, safe practice to keep this and all cleaning products out of the reach of pets and children.


The terms "generally not harmful" cause some concern, but anything can be harmful in excess.


Disclosure: I was sent free samples of these products to review. No prior assurances were given as to whether the review be positive or negative.

Jennifer Lance at Permalink social bookmarking

April 2, 2010

How to Super Simple, Super Cheap Make Organic Vegan Chocolate Pudding

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One of the common complaints about switching to an organic diet is that it is more expensive, especially when it comes to convenience foods. Not everyone has time to make dishes from scratch using whole food ingredients. I recently discovered Dr. Oetker Organic Chocolate Pudding Mix on sale, and I figured out how to make it vegan by simply substituting soymilk for the milk.

Ingredients
Organic Cane Sugar, Organic Cornstarch, Organic Cocoa, Salt.

At $1.42 a box, anyone can afford this organic treat. It is super easy to make, just add soymilk and heat slowly, and it comes out tasting like real pudding (even with the layer of skim on the top). My kids love it, and I love how cheap and easy it is to make!
Jennifer Lance at Permalink social bookmarking

March 31, 2010

Chaco Flip Flops Eco Tread Features 25% Recycled Rubber

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I finally splurged on a pair of Chaco women's "Eco Tread" flip flop sandals! I tried to buy a pair on sale last year, but they were too small, and they didn't have my size. I've waited a year, and now I am the proud owner of a pair of Chaco flip flops. These sandals are stylish and comfortable.  Sure they are expensive, but they will last a long time.

All flip, no flop. An innovative redesign of the essential summertime sandal.
• BioCentric™ footbed with PU formulation oriented towards out-of-box comfort
• Fixed straps anchor under mid-foot to eliminate "flop" and promote active use
• Nylon toe piece engineered for the perfect blend of durability and comfort
• EcoTread outsole features 25% recycled rubber

BioCentric refers to the footbed that is designed to support and has won the Seal of Acceptance by the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA). These are flip flops that will hold up to dancing at a music festival or walking miles of city blocks.

Chaco also donates money to the Grand Canyon Youth program helping get young kids on the river.

Grand Canyon Youth is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in Flagstaff, Arizona. Our mission is to give youth (ages 12-19) an experiential education along the rivers and canyons of the Southwest in an effort to promote environmental awareness, community involvement, personal growth, and teamwork among people with diverse backgrounds.
Great sandals and helping kids experience nature...it can't be beat!
Jennifer Lance at Permalink social bookmarking

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