Sunday, February 18, 2007
Topics of the week
This week in journalism seemed to be catering to my every whim. The NY Times featured 3 items that are worth discussing. How Old McDonald Keeps His Farm spotlights how independently run farm owners are making some extra dough via tours labeled as agri-tourism. Tomorrow, you may walk into the office and find an evite to the staff for a visit to a location like Harley Farms. You will enjoy "team building" exercises involving milking goats and learning how their cheese is made. I must admit that sounds better to me than falling backwards into a pile of dirty hands in a "trust" game. On their farm live 200 American Alpine goats. These friends might chew on your pants a bit, but they munch on pasture and roam free which makes for some low stress-laden goat cheese. I suppose you are supposed to learn from the goat, how to function at work with less stress.
Agri-tourism allows family farms with integrity to stay small and dedicate themselves to quality artisan cheese-making. In case you are curious, in 2005 the average income of a farm is $81,420, $66,782 being from other sources of income besides actual sales of the farms products. They call this extra income "off farm income."
Agri-tourism prevents the need for farmers to go out and get a second job in most cases. I would like to poo poo the owner of Sun Ranch in Cameron, Montana. Roger Lang is his name, and he likes to set up summer adventures including programs in fly fishing and hunting because they just don't make money off the cows in the summer. Basically, this guy is not sure how else to make money unless he is putting something to death. Now that is a MAN!
Those of you allergic to peanut butter, I sometimes feel sad for you because PB is one of my favorite foods. Today, I am thrilled because 2 of the most important people in my life are allergic to peanuts and DO NOT eat peanut butter. This is good news for once because guess who lurks within a couple of crap brands of PB? That is right, salmonella. HOW? Oh boy, I am not sure I want to know how it got into jars of Peter Pan and Great Value Wal-Mart PB. 300 people fell ill this time. No deaths, but ConAgra can pat itself on the back for being the very FIRST peanut butter producer to include salmonella in their products for no extra cost to you! Ugh. Look on lids for code number 2111, if you bought it, you can return it to the store for a refund. Salmonella infection sickens 40,000 people in the US and kills 600 annually. Where will it pop up next?
Should you trust your makeup? I was not aware that the cosmetics industry is unregulated. When it comes to nasty chemicals, like formaldehyde, nothing is prevented from entering your tube of lipstick or mascara. I tend to purchase all natural cosmetics that are not tested on animals, so I generally feel safe trusting those companies. Go to the drug store and you are dealing with a different set of rules.
The California Safe Cosmetics Act took effect on January 1 of this year and requires cosmetics companies to tell state health authorities if a product contains any chemical on several governmental lists that are known to cause cancer or harm the reproductive system. Even traces of these chemicals NEED to be reported. One guilty party is known as phthalates, a group of chemicals used in nail polishes, fragrances, medical devices and shower curtains - these have an effect on reproductive systems of lab animals and can be absorbed and excreted by the human body.
The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics is publicizing their concerns about chemicals in cosmetics in hopes that soon there will be greater governmental regulation and intervention when it comes to these unsafe product ingredients.
Our smarter, more concerned friends over in the European Union imposed new regulations on the industry in 2004, banning more than 600 chemicals from use in cosmetics. Later this year they will introduce and put into motion a program called REACH (registration, evaluation, and Authorization of Chemicals) which will require companies that produce chemicals or use them in their products, packaging, or manufacturing, to collect comprehensive data on the possible risks of the substances to human health and to the environment. This new law will cost an estimated $6.7 billion (out of the chemical industry's pocket) over the next 10 years but it could save up to $70 billion in health costs over the next 30 years!! That is amazing to me. Apparently this is in response to increasing reports of early puberty, asthma and other allergies.
Chemicals that must be reported here in California under the new law are: acetate (in some hair dyes,) formaldehyde, a preservative, and toluene, a solvent used in some nail products.
Here is a list of SAFER companies taken from the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics website.
Consumer Reports also features a piece on safety and cosmetics.
Now that you have the info, don't be buying junk makeup dammit! Better to be safe than sorry. One of my favorites is ECCO BELLA makeup. The foundation is amazing, the mascara is great and the blush comes in many lively colors that you will love. My favorite lipstick is hemp organics LOVE. You can buy it at Whole Foods for about $7.