Have you noticed that there are so many choices when it comes to buying eggs, it is not only confusing but you have got to wonder if the way the cartons are labeled is misleading. How do you decifer those labels? If the label says Cage Free you would assume those chickens get to run around on a pasture because they weren't caged and eat grass and bugs all day. Well follow along with me and lets just see how free, how healthy, your choice of store bought eggs really are.
*Cage Free: These chickens are raised with no cages. But did they ever get to see daylight? More than likely they were raised in a overcrowded barn without bars, having never seen what is was like on the outside.
* Grass Fed: A chicken that is grass fed you would hope would have access to pasture land and was able to eat all kinds of grasses. They should not be supplemented with any antibiotics or hormones to encouge growth or even grains to make them fatter. But that is not necessarily so, they can be pasture raised but they are more likely to be raised in confinement and fed grass andthey can be given antibiotics if they have disease.
*Free Range: If a chicken is a free range chicken it should have access to the outdoors each day. But unfortunately that may not be the case. Did you know that if a carton says Free Range on it, that can mean that if its a laying hen used only for eggs that it can be raised in a barn and never see a blue sky outside. Legally, that chicken can be a Free Range chicken if the barn doors are left open for a certain amount of time, but never allowing the chicken outside.
*100% Vegetarian Fed: These chickens have been raised on grasses, hay, and other kinds of weeds found on pasture land. But that does not mean they ever touched their feet on pasture land or see a sunrise. Most of the time these chickens are being raised on corn and other grains and grasses. They can be given supplements and additives if the farmer chooses, while being raised in a overcrowded barn.
*Natural: This is the buzz word of the day. The word NATURAL does not tell you how the chicken was raised, it could be raised in a cage that is crowded with a ton of other chickens and still be considered having natural eggs. It also means the chicken can be raised with antibiotics and hormones. What the label NATURAL does have to state is whether the egg was artifically colored, was processed or has any artificial ingredients.
*Organic: There are alot of standards that have to be met to get the Organic Label on anything, and they are all controlled by the USDA. Those standards are that the chicken cannot be grown using sewage sludge (yes that's a common feed for chickens) cannot be genetically modified, irradiated or pumped full of chemicals (antibiotics or hormones). The chicken must have access to the outdoors, which just means the outdoors is available, they may or may not ever go out there.
*Pasture Raised: This is how every animal should be raised. And in a time not too long ago farmers did raise their animals on the pasture. They are raised humanely and they eat grasses, bugs and whatever else is available in the soil. The big caveat here is whether the farmer is using chemicals on that pasture, if so the chickens are consuming those chemicals, which in turn means you are eating eggs that may have fertilizer or insecticides in them.
These are the most common labels you see on a carton of store bought eggs. Which one is the right one for you and your family?
When I began my business Flower Girl Naturals I was looking for a way to offer an alternative to the chemical cleansers that are available everywhere in the bath and body industry, because I knew putting the chemicals on your skin could not be good for you. Your skin is the largest organ you have, which means whatever chemicals you are washing your clothes with in the washer and drying in the dryer is what you are wearing day and night on your skin. My intention was not to venture into Laundry Detergent, but when looking into the ingredients (which are difficult to find) it occurred to me that there must be residue left in your clothing that you then wear all day as it slowly absorbs into your skin day after day. So why does it make sense to try and take the chemicals out of your bath and body products but still have them in your clothing? We go through a lot of trouble to make sure our clothes are fresh and clean, but the very detergents that we use to make our clothes "clean" may actually be leaving them worse off than they were before we threw them in the wash. That's because most commercial laundry detergents, the common brands you find at grocery stores, are loaded with potentially toxic chemicals that could harm you, your family and the environment.
Residues of these chemicals are left on your clothes that you wear all day and night and then they are possibly absorbed by your skin and evaporated into the air where they could be breathed in.
A Typical Laundry Detergent
If you take a look at a powder or bottle of laundry detergent, you'll find that the ingredients are rather vague or not listed at all. One popular brand listed these ingredients:
Cleaning agents (anionic and nonionic surfactants)
From this list, it's hard to tell what, exactly, is even in the detergent, so here are some of the more common laundry ingredients:
Linear alkyl sodium sulfonates (LAS): These synthetic surfactants are commonly listed as 'anionic surfactants' on labels, and are one of the most common surfactants in use. During their production process, carcinogenic and reproductive toxins such as benzene are released into the environment. They also biodegrade slowly, making them a hazard in the environment.
Petroleum distillates (aka napthas): These chemicals have been linked to cancer, lung damage, lung inflammation and damage to mucous membranes.
Phenols: According to the National Institutes of Health, phenol is toxic and people who are hypersensitive to it could experience death or serious side effects at very low exposures. Plus, it is rapidly absorbed and can cause toxicity throughout the entire body. Typically, death and severe toxicity result from phenol's effects on the central nervous system, heart, blood vessels, lungs and kidneys.
One common surfactant in U.S. laundry detergents is nonyl phenol ethoxylate (this chemical has been banned in Europe, and was found to slowly biodegrade into even more toxic compounds). Studies have found that this surfactant stimulates the growth of breast cancer cells and feminizes male fish.
Optical brighteners: These synthetic chemicals convert UV light wavelengths into visible light, which makes laundered clothes appear whiter (although does not actually affect the cleanliness of the clothing). They've been found to be toxic to fish and to cause bacterial mutations. Further, they can cause allergic reactions when exposed to skin that is later exposed to sunlight.
Phosphates: These chemicals are used to remove hard-water minerals to make detergents more effective, and to prevent dirt from settling back onto clothes during a wash. A major problem with them is that, when released into the environment, they stimulate the growth of certain marine plants, which contributes to unbalanced ecosystems. Many states have banned or restricted the use of phosphates for this reason, and you may see laundry detergents advertised as "low-phosphate" or "phosphate-free."
Sodium hypochlorite (household bleach): This is a chemical precursor to chlorine, which is highly toxic and involved in more household poisonings than any other chemical. When it reacts with organic materials in the environment, carcinogenic and toxic compounds are created than can cause reproductive, endocrine and immune system disorders.
EDTA (ethylene-diamino-tetra-acetate): EDTA is a class of compounds used as an alternative to phosphates to reduce mineral hardness in water, prevent bleaching agents from becoming active before they're put in water and as a foaming stabilizer. EDTA does not biodegrade readily and can re-dissolve toxic heavy metals in the environment, allowing them to re-enter the food chain. Artificial fragrances: Many of these can be made from petroleum (see petroleum distillates above), and do not degrade in the environment. They've been linked to various toxic effects on fish and mammals, and often cause allergies and skin and eye irritation. Have you noticed that everyone seems to have allergies nowadays?
Making the hard choices: Before you put that next bottle or box of laundry detergent into your shopping cart think hard about what is best for you and your family, the companies that make these so called “detergents” are not concerned about your health or the environment at all, so it is up to you to make the “wise” choice. Unfortunately even the laundry detergents that are fragrance free or green or whatever the popular word that is used to get your attention generally still contain these ingredients; they just no longer have to list them. Ironically I legally have to list the ingredients I put into my products which I am very proud to do! We have so many customers who love our Laundry Suds, if you combine them along with a white vinegar rinse you will have the cleanest freshest clothing. Because Laundry Suds are made with our own natural soap they are very gentle on the threads of your clothing, that means the threads stay new longer. And yes, Laundry Suds can go into the new HE washers without any problem.
(pictures at the bottom)
With all the talk about your gut and adding "Probiotics" I thought my first blog post should be on something I know how to do well, is foolproof, and so very good for you. If your like me store bought yogurt is not my favorite food. But since I started making homemade yogurt it is now a food I eat daily and actually crave, although my yogurt is drained to make Labneh Cheese (more on that process later). Here's what you will need to get started
large canning pot (or pot large enough to hold a half gallon jar)
1/2 gallon canning jar with lid and ring
1/2 gallon organic milk
1 cup store bought cup organic yogurt
dishtowel and clip
oven with a light
bowl with a strainer and cheesecloth
You will be using a canning jar to keep it from cracking from the heat.
Pour your organic milk into the canning jar and place the jar into the canning pot. Your pot needs to be filled with water at least half way to the middle of the jar, I also will place a dish cloth on the bottom of the pot to keep the stress of the heat off of the bottom of the jar. There is nothing worse than filling your jar up and hearing a loud crack only to find the bottom of the jar has cracked and all of your milk is now in the water! Place the lid onto the jar just enough to hold the thermometer in place. Heat the milk up to 180 degrees (takes about 45 minutes) and remove the jar and thermometer from the water, careful the jar gets hot. Leave the thermometer in the jar and let the temperature cool to 120 degrees. Add 2 tablespoons of yogurt to your milk and screw on the lid and band. Take the dishtowel and wrap it around the jar and clip it so that the towel stays in place. Now place the jar into the oven (Do Not turn on oven) right up against the light. Leave the milk in the oven for 8 hours at least. After that amount of time remove the jar, and the dishcloth and you are looking at delicious homemade yogurt. Pour the yogurt out of the jar into the strainer lined with cheesecloth (I use a 100% cotton dishcloth) sitting inside of a bowl large enough for the whey to drain off, place bowl with strainer into the refrigerator. So if you drain your yogurt for 8 hours you will have Greek Yogurt and if it drains for 12 hours it becomes Labneh Cheese, which is a thick cream cheese consistency. In your bowl after the yogurt has drained is whey which is also full of probiotics. This is great to keep refrigerated and add to smoothies, the dogs dish or anywhere else you might use a liquid, just remember if it is heated above 120 degrees you have killed the wonderful probiotics. This may sound like alot of trouble and overwhelming at first but here's how my weekend routine goes. On Saturday night I boil the milk and place it into the oven with the light on. In the morning (it may have been longer than 8 hours I haven't found that it makes that much difference) I empty the yogurt into the cloth lined strainer-bowl and place it into the refrigerator. There it stays all day Sunday draining. On Monday morning I now have yummy Labneh Cheese, this will make 5 bowls (see picture at bottom) of yogurt, just enough for lunch everyday. I place the yogurt into the bowls with lids and each morning I will add blueberries and sometimes a spoonful of organic jelly or honey from my beehives. This routine is very easy and I love that I have something healthy to eat each day that I know has the probiotics that my gut needs to stay healthy. I also make extra Labneh Cheese and use it in any recipe that calls for cream cheese, you can add all types of herbs to this cheese to add wonderful flavor.