Do I have animal magnetism?

dr fawnnTruly, I’m thinking the answer has to be “yes”.  And I’m not tooting my own horn… I’m literally talking about REAL wild animals…

I’ve written before about how we seem to have an unusually large population of animals in our yard and (I’m not kidding), it has gotten even more outrageous.  While I can sit on my back patio and gaze at downtown Cleveland, I also seem to be harboring a suburban animal sanctuary.r'coon babies

Want to know what’s been hanging out in our yard lately? Lemme give you the list … deer (including babies!), squirrels, chipmunks, raccoons, opossum, snakes, rabbits, hawks, a wild turkey, birds in general (galore!) and a red fox, for pete’s sake.

No one else seems to find these animals lingering in their yard… except me.  Want to know my theory?… as'nake natural, organic yard. No chemicals, no toxins, no poison polluting up our little sanctuary.

Do you think these animals know that? They have a keen sense of… oh… just about everything.  Hmmm, do you think they’re telling us something…?

Antibiotics in our food supply…

pink pggThere have been a few occasions, over the course of this blog, that I have been accused of writing too much “fear based content”.  Hmm… okay.  Well, I’ve never really looked at it that way… I’ve always thought I was just sharing tips, ideas and the things I have learned or have come to “know” in helping others live greener, healthier lives…

So, for those who don’t like that type of information, I’ll preface this by saying that you’re probably not going to like what I’m about to share.

Nonetheless, I find this next bit of information really bothersome and I happen to think it’s worthy of sharing.  Okay, now you’ve been lovingly warned…

Here goes…

The FDA recently released the fact that 80% of the antibiotics sold and used in 2009 were actually administered to livestock used for our food supply.  Of the 35 million pounds used, 28 million pounds were used for agricultural animals and only 7 million pounds were used on humans.

The concern is this… evidence shows that the ever increasing use of antibiotics on agricultural animals (used for food) is contributing to the growth of bacteria that is resistant to the antibiotics we use to treat human illnesses.

Most often, they are not used for therapeutic reasons either. They are used to increase the growth, weight and size of animals more rapidly, and also attempt to control diseases when the animals are raised in such cramped confinement quarters.  There is also the need cow2to maintain the animal’s illnesses because they are fed with things that are unnatural to their digestive systems.  (Regular readers might recall a previous post about agricultural animals actually being fed junk food!)

I could go on and on about this topic but, suffice it to say, this is the exact reason all of the meats, eggs and milk I purchase for my family are antibiotic-free, steroid-free and growth hormone-free…

While I hope you don’t think my advice is fear-based, I have to be honest and say this information does scare me…

Your thoughts?

Plastic bags + animals = heartbreak

Some of the first things everyone says to do in a “mission to go green” is to switch to CFLs, or eat organic, or switch all of your products to eco-friendly formulas, or buy a reusable water bottle. To these things I say: yes, yes, yes and yes.

But I STILL cannot get over how many of us haven’t switched to reusable bagsI… hate… plastic… bags. And when it’s obvious that you can buy a reusable bag just about anywhere (for 99 cents, I might add), I wonder why so many of us hesitate to use them.

I ran across some images that, although they show only a portion of the problem, to me this problem is heartbreaking.

Some you may have seen before, some may be new. But I think they speak for themselves…

plastic bag & sea turtle

plastic bag & bird

plastic & sea turtle

ottr w bag

(Sea otter mother & baby photo by photographer, Terry McCormac)

dolph w bg

(The archipelago of Fernando de Noronha, Brazil is considered a wildlife sanctuary but today, even in this isolated archipelago, dolphins are victims of the bad habits of consumption. Photo and caption by João Vianna)

If you don’t already use them (and after seeing these images), would you please consider buying (and using) some reusable bags instead?

Palm oil: How (and why) to make responsible choices

palm oil burnAbout eight months ago I wrote a post about palm oil, the destruction of crucial rainforests to make way for these plantations and the devastating effect on wildlife (Palm oil is commonly being used as an ingredient in everyday products including margarine, shortening, baked foods, cookies, candies and even soaps, candles and personal care products. Its main purpose, aside from its “binding properties”, is to replace trans fat that we’re all trying to avoid.) Before that post, I truly didn’t know a lot about palm oil, but now my eyes are wide open.

If you’d like to read the original post, click here, but in a nutshell, this is the concern:

  • Rainforests are being cleared at alarming rates to make way for palm plantations and to keep up with the demand for the product.
  • Malaysia and Indonesia account for 83% of the production and 89% of the export of palm oil.  Within these countries the threat is enormous for endangered species including orangutans, tigers, elephants and rhinoceroses.orang mombaby
  • The threat is the greatest for the orangutans, as they live ONLY in these areas that are being cleared to make way for the palm oil plantations.  The occurrence of hunting and poaching these poor animals has dramatically increased as well, and it is estimated that 50 orangutan are being killed each week.  At this rate, their existence is limited.
  • When this deforestation occurs and the rainforests are burned, they release decades of stored carbon back into the atmosphere, contributing to the tragedy of global warming.
  • All this considered, the demand for palm oil is expected to double in the next 10 years.

During a recent trip to our beloved Cleveland Metroparks Zoo I noticed a sign on one of their food carts.  It read:  “We use only sustainable palm oil products.”  I respected the fact that they’re taking responsibility and using only palm oil from plantations established on land that was not recently deforested and has been well-managed with good environmental, social and economic standards.

plmI also found their online resource for understanding the use, and misuse, of palm oil.  And as we “label readers” find more and more products containing palm oil, they’ve also assembled a fabulous list of responsible companies (that have committed to using only sustainable palm oil in their products) to help us make wise choices.

Hopefully, if you haven’t noticed it before, you’ll notice it now and decide that unless you see “Made from Sustainable Palm Oil” on the label, you’ll set it back down and walk away.

How does your organic milk “rate”?

We’ve been exclusively organic milk drinkers since our daughter was old enough to drink milk (8+ years and counting!).  I’ve written about milk numerous times on topics that include the benefits of organic milk, comparing organic to natural milk, as well as reading beyond the organic label.

milkWhile I believe that the benefits of organic milk are indisputable, I recently learned that there is yet another side of the story.  Do you ever wonder how ethical those organic dairy farms are (in terms of everything from how they treat their milk producing cows, to how they acquire the milk, to their overall business practices)?

Well, The Cornucopia Institute set out to find the answers.  I was surprised to learn that our “former” milk of choice (Horizon) chose not to participate (hmm?), but I was happy to learn that our current milk of choice (Organic Valley) rated “four cows” out of a possible five.  It’s great to know that while we’re consuming our organic milk, we’ve also made a smart choice in supporting a trustworthy brand that rates high on the “cow scorecard”.cow

Want to know how your organic milk rates? You can find the scorecard by clicking here (best to worst, or alphabetically).  If you want a full explanation about the ratings you can find more information by clicking here.

I hope you’re not disappointed by what you find, but if you are, now you know how to truly find a happy cow farm!

Got milk?… well, now you can GET MILK with peace of mind.