The Jellyfish and The Robot

I was really pleased with how these turned out – both got many many comments from other parents and even other kids – particularly the jellyfish costume. Plus, I liked that both had the lights as a built-in safety feature. The Jellyfish even stopped traffic at one point, which was when I knew the get-up was a true hit.

Jellyfish and Robot in action:

And you thought demonic candy was the worst of your worries?

Now there’s this:

Consumer Reports’ latest tests of canned foods, including soups, juice, tuna, and green beans, have found that almost all of the 19 name-brand foods tested contain measurable levels of Bisphenol A (BPA)….

BPA, which has been used for years in clear plastic bottles and food-can liners, has been restricted in Canada and some U.S. states and municipalities because it has been linked to a wide array of health effects including reproductive abnormalities, heightened risk of breast and prostate cancers, diabetes, and heart disease.”

The Endocrine Society, a medical group, has some additional warnings to share with us in this statement from mid-2009.

I try to avoid canned foods for this very reason, as well as nutritional reasons, but we do have canned soups in the house. I think they are nasty, but Mr. Lawyer likes them occasionally. We also stock canned organic tomatoes and red and kidney beans for quick soups and other dishes.

For those who choose to formula feed their infants, you should note that many baby formula containers are also lined with BPA which leaches into the formula. BPA-free baby bottles are now the norm, but how beneficial is that when the formula is stored in BPA for months before consumption?

So what are we to do with this information? How do we limit exposure, particularly with regard to young children and babies?

~ Heat food and beverages in ceramic or glassware rather than in plastic containers. I no longer heat in any type of plastic – I have a cabinet stocked with Pyrex that gets used daily.

~ Check all of your baby bottles, sippy cups, water bottles, and other reusable plastics and when buying food or drinks, avoid plastic containers marked #7 as a general rule:

BPA is found in polycarbonate plastic food containers often marked on the bottom with the letters “PC” recycling label #7. Not all #7 labeled products are polycarbonate but this is a reasonable guideline for a category of plastics to avoid. Polycarbonate plastics are rigid and transparent and used for sippy cups, baby bottles, food storage, and water bottles. Some polycarbonate water bottles are marketed as ‘non-leaching’ for minimizing plastic taste or odor, however there is still a possibility that trace amounts of BPA will migrate from these containers, particularly if used to heat liquids…Soft or cloudy-colored plastic does not contain BPA.”

~ For plastic servingware for children, look for a #5 code on the bottom – these are generally considered safe, though I personally heat in glass and then transfer to plastic bowls. Stainless steel bowls, while harder to find, are a good alternative, though obviously not microwave-friendly.

~ Choose fresh or frozen fruits, vegetables, and other foods over canned goods. Particularly acidic foods, such as diced tomatoes or pineapple will inevitably break down the BPA faster than other foods, and should be avoided proportionately. Some studies suggest that fatty foods (such as infant formula) will also break down the lining faster.

~ Breastfeed your infant. Of course there are a multitude of reasons to choose breastmilk over formula already, but since boobs aren’t lined with BPA, here’s just one more reason to add to the list. For those with adopted children, medical issues, or for those who choose to use formula, consider using glass bottles, avoid older or secondhand bottles unless you call the manufacturer to confirm they are BPA free, and most definitely avoid canned pre-mixed formula.

~ And lastly, if there is a product with BPA that you love, CALL the manufacturer and ask them to make their products safer before you will be able to buy them again. And urge friends and family members to do the same – Money speaks volumes.

Drink to Your Health!

I keep seeing an annoying television commercial that features a sympathetic, presumably lower income, mother who tells us, in a very serious tone that, and I’m paraphrasing here, “poor people need junk food too – please don’t tax our already overextended budgets.” The commercial attempts to illicit sympathy for the underprivileged who will be forced to go without their soda and fake fruit-flavored drinks if a law of this nature passes. Can you imagine anything more horrifying?
For starters, we ALL need as much incentive as possible to eat healthier and if a three cent tax helps in any way, then Booyah! – I’m all for it. Secondly, for a number of reasons, lower income individuals and children tend to be more overweight than those who earn a higher income. There are educational reasons and cultural reasons at play, but the biggest reason is likely that overprocessed, minimally nutritious foods are cheaper than their fresher and more natural counterparts. And thanks to scientifically proven marketing methods and modern manufacturing, it is not only tasty and convenient, but you can easily be lulled into thinking it’s not really that bad….or even fooled into believing that it’s beneficial.

One five year old child I know brings ramen noodles, potato chips, and a “juice” drink (containing little, if any actual juice) to school every day. Devoid of protein and complex carbohydrates and, frankly anything of redeeming nutritive value, this is truly the lunch made in hell. He has a toddler sister and Mom is expecting a third child (heh – that part sounds familiar) – perhaps their budgets are stretched too thin? Or perhaps his parents truly don’t know any better. I don’t know.

Back to the commercial. It’s really a complete no-brainer that the less soda and sugary artificially flavored drinks a population imbibes, the better. There is actually no real downside, despite what our friends, the drinks manufacturers would like us to think.

If a tax is ultimately in the best interest of the entire US population, if it would very effectively raise money for nutrition education and for programs to help improve the diets of our youth and if it will contribute, even in a small way, to the long term health of our children (and ourselves), how can it be a bad thing?

No one, even those of us who delight in our daily diet soda, no one, NEEDS soda. No one NEEDS high fructose filled, artificially flavored, chemically enhanced beverages. And if you must (I use that loosely) have them, then pony up that three cents, knowing that it will do some good down the line. And yes, as a non-coffee drinker, I readily admit to my diet soda habit – it’s no secret.

With regard to the overall obesity problem, I realize that there is blame to spread around, but when we have a well-funded national campaign to convince voters that the underprivileged will be deprived if a soda tax passes, that is just more evidence to me that our nutritional priorities are completely fouled up in this country. Common sense doesn’t come with a huge lobbying budget, but I certainly hope in this case it wins out.
Meanwhile, I’ll be making a list of other things to tax…….keep an eye out.

Food for Thought

“Nearly half of all U.S. children and 90 percent of black youngsters will be on food stamps at some point during childhood, and fallout from the current recession could push those numbers even higher, researchers say……

….The analysis is in line with other recent research suggesting that more than 40 percent of U.S. children will live in poverty or near-poverty by age 17……”

See also, The Nourished Kitchen’s recent Food Stamp Challenge – Read about Jenny’s attempt to eat not just healthfully, but optimally for a month on just a Food Stamp budget. Can it be done?

%d bloggers like this: