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USDA Certified Organic: What are your products wearing?

June 28, 2012

USDA Organic is more than a seal.  It’s an earned privilege and a badge of honor.  It’s a committment to pure ingredients, not toxins.  It makes sense to choose products that are pure and healthy, not filled with toxins.  Unless products are wearing the USDA Certified Organic seal ensuring at least 95% organic content then you’re probably getting toxins like pesticides, GMOs and more.  USDA Organic is the assurance you can count on due to the numerous standards and checkpoints in place every step of the way.

What are your foods and products wearing? If they’re not displaying the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Certified Organic Seal, then they could be wearing more than you want.  If they’re wearing the USDA Organic seal, however, then you’re getting high quality, pure, nutritious goods, not toxins like pesticides and are not genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and more.

By definition, the USDA Organic seal means: No irradiation.  No sewage sludge. No synthetic fertilizers.  No pesticides.  No genetically modified organisms.  It also denotes adherence to animal health and welfare standards, zero antibiotics or growth hormones, 100% organic feed and giving animals access to the outdoors.   Additionally, it means specific soil and water conservation methods and pollution reduction.

It Starts With the Land and Ends with You

It’s a three-year process to convert land to organic status, and only in the third year, not before, can produce be called organic.  There’s also a residue-testing program to verify that pesticides are not applied to organic crops, since over 3,000 high-risk toxins, including pesticides, are by law excluded from organic products.

This is huge because if a product starts by being grown with pesticides or other toxins, then it ultimately gets to you.  For example, the most common plants used for the majority of protein powders or greens products on the market, including soybeans, cereal grasses, spinach, kale, broccoli and others, all rank high in pesticide use while growing.  If the plant gets the toxins, then so do you, unless the product is USDA Organic.

Over one billion tons of pesticides are used in the US each year and four crops, including soybeans, receive 73% of the pesticides in the US.  Likewise, genetically modified (GM) soy and corn make up more than 80% of all GMOs available and are in nearly every processed food in the US.  Additionally, GM food manufacturers don’t have to say on the label that a food contains GMOs.

Unfortunately, those toxins show up in us.  For instance, a 2004 CDC data analysis revealed that 100% of blood and urine tests from all subjects monitored showed pesticide residues; some over four times what is deemed “acceptable.”  This is disheartening news.  Pesticides can cause poisoning, infertility, birth defects, nervous system damage and cancer.  GMOs can lead to infertility, immune dysregulation, accelerated aging, dysregulation of genes associated with cholesterol synthesis, faulty insulin regulation, cell signaling, protein formation and changes in the liver, kidney. spleen and gastrointestinal system.

Avoid these toxins by choosing USDA Certified Organic.  Scientists say that pesticide levels drop to undetectable levels when test subjects eat an organic diet, but return almost immediately with a non-organic diet.

What This Means for Plant Proteins, Greens and You

The most common plants used for the majority of protein powders or greens on the market rank high in pesticide use and other toxins while growing.  This is a problem.  If the plant get the toxins then so do we unless the product is USDA Organic.  Protein powders contain essential amino acids that we must have for life.  Since our bodies require them, we need to make sure they come from clean sources, not toxin-laden ones.  Likewise,  when you juice greens, you concentrate nutrients.  If the source of your juice is not organic then the toxins are concentrated.

USDA Certified Organic is Serious Business

Before a product is labeled organic, a government approved certifier inspects organic farmers, ranchers, distributors, processors and traders, including supermarkets and restaurants, to make sure they comply with all USDA organic regulations.  The USDA conducts audits and ensures that certifying agents properly certify organic products.  Working with the USDA, the National Organic Program (NOP) develops the laws that regulate the creation, production, handling, labeling, trade and enforcement of all USDA Organic products.

The process is strictly enforced.  Any individual or company who sells or labels a product as organic when it doesn’t meet USDA standards can be fined up to $10,000 for each violation or be suspended from or lose their organic certificate.

Small farmers with less than $5,000 in organic sales are exempt from the certification process, but they must still comply with government standards and can’t display the USDA Organic seal.

Check what your products are wearing.  If you see the USDA Organic seal, you can be assured that the product is indeed, organic.

The Elite:  Only These Can Display the USDA Organic Seal

The USDA has established an organic certification program that requires all organic goods to meet strict government standards.  These standards regulate how such foods are grown, handled and processed and only products certified 95% or more organic can display this USDA sticker.

Here’s what it all means:  If food boasts the USDA Organic label, then it has been produced and processed according to the USDA standards and at least 95% of the food’s ingredients are organically produced.  Food or products that are completely organic are labeled as such–100% organic–and carry a small USDA seal.  Foods that contain more than one ingredient can use the USDA organic seal or the following wording on the labels, contingent on the number of organic ingredients:

Organic:  Products that are at least 95% organic, not counting added water or salt and must not contain added sulfites.

Made with Organic ingredients: These are products that contain at least 70% organic ingredients.  The organic seal can’t be used on these packages.  For foods that contain less than 70% organic ingredients, the organic seal can’t be used on their packaging.

Natural is not organic:  Don’t mistake the term natural for organic.  Natural foods are not organic.  They don’t contain additives or preservatives but they can be grown with pesticides or GMOs and they are barely regulated.  The only real requirement is that the label must explain the use of the term natural, such as no added colorings or artificial ingredients or minimally processed.

This article is published in Extradordinary Health Magazine by Garden of Life, LLC.

Safe & Healthy Gardening Tools

May 24, 2012

Summer is almost here – time to get in the dirt, sow some seeds, and take full advantage of your area’s best growing season. It’s great exercise and a fun way to provide your family with healthy and inexpensive food! But are there some hidden toxic hazards in your tool shed?

A recent study of gardening tools from HealthyStuff.org found that two-thirds of garden hoses, garden gloves, and other gardening tools tested contained levels of chemicals of high concern such as lead, phthalates and Bisphenol A (BPA)!

Much of the problem comes from the presence of these chemicals within the vinyl (PVC) in hoses, on gloves, and on tool handles.  Lead, phthalates and BPA pose a risk of being absorbed into your hands or leaching into your soil and potentially contaminating your healthy garden. But the good news is that safer alternatives do exist, so you can avoid this unnecessary exposure to toxic chemicals.

What Can You Do?

  • Check out www.HealthyStuff.org to view their report and helpful video to help you avoid the most problematic items.
  • Store your hose in the shade (heat will increase the leaching of chemicals from your hose).
  • Let your hose run for a few seconds to flush out the water that has been stored in the hose (which will have the highest chemical content).
  • Don’t drink from a hose unless you know it has been certified as drinking water safe and lead-free.
  • If you decide to replace a toxic gardening tool you have already purchased, contact the company and tell them why! Your voice is so important to help drive the industry towards making safer products!

Great Recipes & Cooking Websites

April 24, 2012

Now that you have a housekeeper, you have more time to enjoy other interests, like cooking!

Here are some websites that we like:

www.cbc.com/bestrecipes

www.saramoulton.com

www.cookscountrytv.com

Coming soon are recipes that we like.  If you have a great recipe that you would like to share with others, feel free to comment.

2013 PTCS Customer Service Survey Results Rating is 100% Excellent

March 27, 2012

I am proud to announce that in January, 2013 the results of the annual customer satisfaction survey results rating is 100% excellent!  The reoccurring comments across the board from existing clients is that the service is affordable, reliable, knowledgeable, friendly, efficient, professional, carefull, trustworthy, detail oriented and that we would refer the service to our friends and family as the best cleaner in town!

The World’s First Museum of Clean

March 11, 2012

The Don Aslett Museum of Clean

by aslettco on November 10th, 2011

This first ever and one-of-a-kind museum collects, preserves, and displays artifacts and records that illuminate the little-known history of cleaning. It gives visitors a new view of clean, its power and omnipresence in our lives—and it’s  fun. It highlights more than 3,000 treasures of the past and reveals the progress of cleaning up ourselves and the planet over the centuries. You will find here the tools, machines, appliances, art, posters, and dramatic presentations that add up to a look, feel, hear, and “try-it-out” trip!!  Don Aslett, America’s #1 Cleaning Expert, after more than 58 years in the profession of clean, created this as his lifetime legacy. The museum is located in a beautiful southern Idaho city, Pocatello, and housed in a spacious 80,000-square-foot green building.

Contact: Don Aslett, 208-236-6906; DonAslett@MuseumofClean.com and visit www.museumofclean.com for more information.

Click to enlarge.

Photo: Jordan Moser, electrician, Kevin Gibson, property manager, and Scott Huckstep, special projects.

Easy Ways to Save Time and Energy by Organizing

March 1, 2012

or·gan·ized/ˈôrgəˌnīzd/

1. To arrange in a systematic way, esp. on a large-scale.

2. Having one’s affairs in order so as to deal with them efficiently.

“People think getting organized is daunting, but it saves you so much time and energy in the long run.” Nate Burkes

What is your organizing style?  Are you a Revealer, who puts things on display?  Are you a Concealer who hides it away? Even if you can’t fit into these styles, here are easy ways to reduce stress by being organized at home and at the office.  Clutter is one of life’s easiest things to fix.  It takes just a few minutes so set aside time on your calendar to do these simple things and in the long run, your life will be easier to manage.

In the Office

Revealer:

  • a memo board for invitations and memos keeps your eyes on what’s current
  • a shelf frees your desktop
  • a clear sorter with labeled folders keeps key files in view
  • bins for storing individual items keeps things tidy

Concealer:

  • dividers turn a drawer into a smart system and keeps supplies out of sight and close at hand
  • binders in coordinating colors keep papers in order by topic
  • clear plastic sleeves protect precious documents.  Comes in archival quality, too.
  • creating a magazine and reference library, separate from other documents eliminates clutter
  • investing in a label maker keeps tabs uniform and easy to read

In the Family Room

Revealer:

  • designate an eye-catching remote controller holder dish to encourage the family to use it when the show is over
  • put gaming accessories in a basket
  • wrap cords with masking tape and label
  • use wire baskets to organize tapes, books, games, videos and cd’s

Concealer:

  • purchase an even open bookcase to store bins, books and games
  • create binders for mom and dad and binders for kid’s movies and games instead of jewel cases
  • use cigar boxes and metal boxes found at vintage and thrift stores to store extra cords, clickers, iPods, remote controls
  • purchase a bench-box to store stuff out of sight and provide extra seating
  • keep extra blankets in a storage chest that becomes a table and extra seating

In Your Dressing Area

Revealer:

  • attach a wood, 2 x 1 inch board, painted, to the wall.  Add decorative hooks for necklaces and bracelets
  • nail jar lids to the wood board, screw the jar to the lid for containing small things.  Use spice jars.
  • use a wall mounted paper towel holder to organize and display bracelets
  • use trays on top of the dresser to hold coins, watches, glasses and rings

Concealer:

  • hang an inexpensive medicine cabinet for an added mirror and storage
  • label small boxes inside the cabinet and in drawers to bring order to baubles.  Group items by style.
  • put sorters in drawers for socks, scarves, nylons and under garments
  • put scented drawer liner paper in your drawers and every time you open your drawer to put items away, it’s a memorable experience
  • put tissue paper inside your sweaters when folding to eliminate wrinkles

From an article in Good Housekeeping, What’s your organizing style?”, January, 2012

Why Should We Use Cold Water and Eco-Wise Detergents?

February 29, 2012

Today’s new products deliver clean laundry using cold water according to a recent article in Healthy Living Healthy Planet Natural Awakenings Magazine, February 2011.  According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), an average American family annually washes nearly 400 loads of laundry.  Because heating the water accounts for 90 percent of the energy used by a washing machine, using only hot or warm water in a top-loading electric washer annually produces an average 2,407 pounds of CO2 pollution–equivalent to two cross-country flights.

Many conventional cold-water detergents still contain toxic chemicals that when drained, end up in waterways, creating a host of environmental concerns and exposes wildlife to endocrine disruptors.  For both clean and green clothes, buy biodegradable laundry detergents made with plant oils and other natural ingredients that are free of phosphates, bleach and surfactants such as petroleum-based nonylphenol ethoxylates, or NPE.  Kinder to the planet, greener choices are also gentler on our skin surface.

Consumers concerned about killing bacteria, dust mites and other allergens may be tempted to turn on the hot water tap for sheets, linens and undergarments, but Philip Tierno, Jr., Ph.D., a professor of microbiology and pathology at the New York University of Medicine, says that most of the hot water people use is not hot enough anyway.  He says that, “You need the water that’s between 140 and 150 degrees to kill germs.”  However, turning your hot water tank to 140 to 150 degrees may be too hot for your taste and could cause burns to the skin.  Tierno, author of “The Secret Life of Germs”, notes that the sun is one of nature’s most efficient germ killers.  That means that hanging clothes on the clothes line outside and airing pillows, blankets, clothing, shoes, etc. is an effective germ killer and a great eco-option. Tierno says that ultraviolet radiation kills germs and is just as effective as bleach.”  This is good news.

Natural disinfectants that can be added during rinsing include white vinegar (one half cup per load); grapefruit seed extract (one teaspoon per load), tea tree oil (two teaspoons per load), and lavender or peppermint essential oil (a few drops per load), which also brings a fresh fragrance to our laundry.  No need to buy expensive fabric fresheners that may have chemical ingredients, too.

I have used all these essential oils and white vinegar as disinfectants and they are great, in my opinion.

Articles from Natural Awakenings and The Secret Life of Germs