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Detoxifying Your Personal Beauty Products

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Detoxifying Your Personal Beauty Products

Did you know that the FDA has not passed a major law regulating the beauty industry since 1938?!? Pretty crazy, right? The U.S. law that governs the $60 billion cosmetics industry that was passed in 1938, does not provide the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) with the power to ask cosmetic companies for safety data or issue recalls of cosmetics found to be unsafe. And the few laws we do have do not prevent companies from using carcinogenic ingredients in personal care products. That’s why we can find ingredients such as dioxane, formaldehyde and nitrosamine in them. These are all known human carcinogens, often with strong scientific evidence to prove it.

 

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5 Simple Tips for Home Fermentation

Image courtesy of Toréa Rodriguez

Image courtesy of Toréa Rodriguez

I'm not going to get into why fermented foods are so good for you - if you want to dig into the nitty gritty of it all you can read about that here (1), here (2) and here (3). Oh and here's a bit of science goodness here(4).

But here is the rub. Buying commercially available fermented foods is expensive $$$ - It may not seem so much at the time, but if you add it up over time - you end up spending a lot more than you need to. You can spend upwards of $10 for a jar of sauerkraut! If you bought a full pound of cabbage, you'd only spend a few dollars. See what I'm getting at here? 

Some folks are afraid to do their own ferments... afraid they might mess it up. Well, you might. I know I have messed up a bunch of batches, but its much less costly even if I mess it up a few times. Some folks think its too complicated. Well, it can be - I mean, you can get very very detailed about it. But it doesn't have to be. 

Here are some simple tips to make your foray into fermentation (or further into it) easier.

  1. Start with clean equipment. It is possible to culture the microbes that are on our hands, counters, jars, utensils etc. We'd like to try to keep that to the microbes that are naturally present on the veg. So make sure to wash your utensils, counters, jars and hands before starting.
  2. It doesn't have to be fancy! Yes, you could spend a lot of $ on special fermentation vessels. You don't need to. Start with a mason jar and a airlock top, like this one or this one.
  3. Good results start with good ingredients. Try to obtain the freshest produce possible. Organic or biodynamic will always yield really tasty results.
  4. Try to maintain consistent temperature. The colder it is, the longer your ferments will take. And the warmer it is, the shorter. But keep an eye on it. You'd like to keep the cultures proliferating rather than cycling between overactive and hibernation. Best to keep them in a location that has consistent temperatures between 65°-72°F.
  5. Still stuck? Get a good guidebook or try taking a class. It helps to have a resource to go to for details. Books I personally like are Sandor Katz' Art of Fermentation,  Jill Ciciarelli's Fermented or Lisa Herndon's Counter Culture: Pickles and Other Well-bred Foods. Some of these books are very very detailed, but again, its a reference. As for classes, you might be able to find local classes in fermenting. Or you can try an online course, like this one.

Pictured above are my two batches that I started this week. On the left is purple cabbage, fennel and apple sauerkraut. On the right is a batch of purple onions with some garlic and coriander seed. I guess I'm on a purple veg kick these days :).  Oh and the tops of the jars, I use a fermentation system by the folks over at Kraut Source

What do you like to ferment? Or what have you always wanted to try, but have been afraid to do? Leave a comment and let me know!

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5 Simple Ways to Detox Your Kitchen

Note: not my kitchen - CC image courtesy of Nathan Siemers

Note: not my kitchen - CC image courtesy of Nathan Siemers

Since this week's theme is detoxification (a la The Detox Summit), I thought I would share with you some simple tips that I have discovered along the way to remove toxins out of the kitchen. When tackling large projects like lowering toxins in the home, it can be overwhelming to try to do it all at once. I find it's much easier to break it down into manageable chunks and even that might need to be broken down into several steps to accomplish it all. So let's start with the kitchen.

The kitchen is one of the most used rooms in a home. As such, there is a lot of opportunity to have unwanted toxins. Years ago, I had many commercial cleaners under the sink, teflon cookware, and lots of highly disorganized plastic "tupperware" bins for left overs. Over time, I have budgeted to swap those things out that are more environmentally friendly and more biologically friendly on those of us that use the kitchen. Here are the areas I have focused on:

  1. Natural cleaners - It's amazing the kind of cleaning you can get from simple baking soda and vinegar! I now have a spray bottle with 2 parts water, 1 part vinegar and a few drops of citrus essential oils that I use to clean counters . I have a jar of baking soda that I use to scrub pots and sinks. For the rest (soaps) we seek out products from companies that are as toxin-free as we can find, such as those from Better Life.
  2. Ditch the plastic storage containers - plastics, whether BPA free or not, are a primary source of xenoestrogen compounds. That is a fancy word for estrogen-like compounds that come from a source outside the body. Absorbing these into your food or skin can wreak havoc with your hormonal balance. So we replaced our food storage containers with glass and stainless steel. Our favorites are Weck jars, Ball/Kerr canning jars and Lunchbots. Even our water bottles on the go are now stainless steel or glass.
  3. It's a wrap - plastic wrap gets the same bad rap as the plastic storage containers. My new favorite green replacement? Bee's Wraps - they work great over bowls and cups, and even keep my remaining avocado halves green when I store them covered in a Bee Wrap.
  4. Cast iron cookware - Even if you have a small budget, consider swapping out your teflon cookware for cast iron. No, its not super anti-stick, but the more you season it the more it becomes anti-stick. The good news here, is that cast iron cookware does not have to break the bank. A great company that is made in the USA is Lodge Cookware - we especially love this guy for melting butter or other solid cooking fats. Plus its super versatile and can be used in the oven, on the stove top and even on the outdoor grill.
  5. Go organic - No one likes pesticide residues. And recent studies show that organic is the way to go when avoiding pesticides and maximizing nutrients. You might think its expensive, but check out my previous post on how to go organic without declaring bankruptcy.

What are your tips for reducing toxins in the kitchen? Leave a comment below, I'd love to hear from you.

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