Facts of the “burning” (grill) question: propane vs. charcoal

grll prpaneDinnertime at my house over the summer months gets dramatically easier, because much of the cooking is done via the grill, so it means I can pass along some duties to my husband who proudly takes the roll of “Captain BBQ”!

We’ve always owned a propane grill and never, ever go the route of charcoal or (perish the thought!) lighter fluid!  (EEK!)

To me, the propane choice seems like a no-brainer, but is it really? 

Take a look at the facts:

  • Overall, propane grilling creates a smaller carbon footprint than charcoal grilling, by about a third.  (win: propane)
  • Charcoal comes from renewable resources, but propane does not.  It comes from non-renewable fossil fuels. (win: charcoal)
  • Carbon monoxide levels from charcoal grilling can be as high as 105 times as much as propane grilling.  (BIG win: propane)
  • The “burn time” for propane is much less than charcoal.  It only needs to be “on” when you need it.  Charcoal must burn until coals are hot and then you need to wait until it burns out before the cycle is done, and it creates gasses all the while.  (win: propane)grll chrcoal
  • Charcoal often travels a far, far distance (and creates extra emissions) before it even reaches your grill, but “not so” with propane… it’s most likely local. Plus, producing charcoal creates even more emissions than actually burning it!  (win: propane)
  • Lighter fluid for charcoal is a petroleum distillate that emits volatile organic compounds (VOCs) when burned.  (win: propane)

So, I’d say we’ve been making the right decision, especially with that last VOC issue!  But just remember that what you toss on the grill matters too – preferably local organic meats and veggies!  And when it’s time for clean-up, baking soda and warm water does wonders too!

Now, fire up that grill and let’s get the cookout underway! (I’ll be right over!…)

Strawberries & an (un)healthy dose of methyl iodide?

straw1This weekend my family and I happily retrieved some fantastic local produce from our CSA with Fresh Fork Market.  I’m telling you, I’m like a little kid picking-up a bag of sweets at the candy store.  It’s just so exciting to share in the local and organic harvest, fresh from the farm!

This week’s bounty included some fabulous strawberries. Our kids were thrilled because they are bona fide strawberry junkies (and yes, these photos are the “actual” strawberries… yummy, yes?)

Well, if your family has strawberry junkies too, or if you EVER buy strawberries for that matter, this next issue should interest you… (especially since strawberries are on the “dirty dozen” list and they retain a lot of pesticides!)

It seems the state of California, the nation’s largest agricultural producer, is close to approving a potent carcinogenic gas for use on strawberry fields and other food crops.  This chemical pesticide, methyl iodide, is a known neurotoxin that disrupts thyroid function, damages developing fetuses and has caused lung tumors in laboratory animals. Although California already classifies it as a human carcinogen, the EPA approved it for agricultural use in 2007 despite the objections of 50 prominent scientists.straw2

Really?  This just causes me to put my face in my hands and shake my head profusely.

I, for one, do NOT want this applied to anything meant for consumption, but I also shudder to think what this does to the air, water and PEOPLE that work these farms or live in close proximity.

If you agree, you can speak up and voice your disapproval.  CREDO is working hard to get the EPA to reverse this decision.  If you would like to sign the petition, simply go to this link so you can be counted.

In the meanwhile, we’ll be consuming these lovely, local, organic strawberries and hope that the EPA will rethink a decision as rotten as the tainted strawberries they are willing to feed us.

The “Toxic 10” … everyday products to avoid…

toxcWhen making the decision to “go green” the list of “should nots” is equally as important as the “shoulds”…

I recently ran across a fabulous list of the should nots that are very much worthy of a mention.  This list comes from Healthy Child Healthy World and includes the top 10 toxic products that you DON’T need in your home. Without further ado, start checking the checklist!:

  • Air fresheners – they’re full of chemicals, synthetic fragrances and even anesthetics that can be inhaled into our lungs (ewww!)
  • Bottled water – this water is no less contaminated (and sometimes MORE contaminated) than your tap water… add the BPA content of the plastic bottles and they are simply bad news.
  • Canned goods – their epoxy resin linings often contain BPA, linked to hormone disruption, heart disease and obesity.
  • Couch cushions – avoid anything containing foam that says it meets California TB 117 because they contain toxic fire retardant (like those horrible mattresses!)  They’re linked to cancer, birth defects, and thyroid, reproductive and neurological disorders.generic bottles
  • Drain, oven and toilet bowl cleaners – they contain lye and acids that can burn skins, eyes and internal tissues.
  • Dry cleaned clothes – even though the chemical perchloroethylene (or perc) is applied elsewhere, it is linked to a number of cancers and even bringing home those clothes (and wearing them!) dramatically increases your exposure.
  • Oil-based paints and finishes – they can contain up to 300 toxic chemicals and 150 carcinogens … enough said.
  • Perfume and cologne – one formulation can contain literally hundreds of chemicals that can absorb through the skin and accumulate in the bodies.
  • Pesticides – these chemical poisons linger and contaminate the air and undoubtedly get dragged into our homes.
  • Rubber duckies! – okay, and ANYTHING that contains PVC or vinyl.  They can leach phthalates (linked to hormone distruption) and lead (a potent neurotoxicant).

Please check out Healthy Child Healthy World’s original post for more great information on all of these “toxic 10”, as well as important suggestions for substituting better options…

So, how many are still in or around your home?… I’ll bet you’re about to change that, aren’t you?!?

Simple health tip: Remove those shoes!!!

shoes off matScenario: You come home from picking up the kids from school, after walking the dog, visiting the grocery store and stopping for a fill-up at the gas station.  You’ve trudged though gas, grass and “goo” all along the way, but you run into the house (with bags of groceries flung over your shoulders to get them to the freezer before the ice cream melts!) and don’t remove your shoes before you get to the kitchen.

Have you ever thought about what is on your shoes?

The fact of the matter is, your shoes encounter a lot more than you’d ever want to know… chemicals, pesticides, toxins and lead that rest on every inch of the ground where we walk.  And when you don’t remove your shoes everything you walked through becomes embedded in your carpets or rugs and transfers to your floors, and THEN it literally becomes airborne so you ALSO inhale those same contaminants that were once a part of your shoes!

Another scary fact:  studies have shown that wearing shoes indoors is a larger source of children’s pesticide exposure than eating non-organic fruits and vegetables!

Time to remove those shoes at the door… and it’s okay to ask your guests to do the same!  What is tolerable for your “soles” is not tolerable for your health or your most “beloved souls”!

The FULL story of pesticides and produce.

The other day I wrote a post about pesticides and using sea salt and water to wash fruits and vegetables before we consume them to remove those dangerous pesticides.

pesticidesWell, a close, personal friend, Will, was bold enough to call a foul.  He is very passionate about the topic and went so far as to call the post “lame”… (ouch!).

I’ll first say that the post was written in response to a few readers’ prior comments that they didn’t feel the added expense of organics was in their budget and had limited access to affordable and available organics because of where they lived geographically.  While I wasn’t attempting to mislead anyone or act irresponsibly, and this sea salt and water wash can remove the pesticides from the surface of produce, this is (admittedly) only part of the story.

The reality is that you absolutely cannot prevent consuming pesticides unless you are willing to invest in organics… period.

The fact of the matter is also that pesticides aren’t sprayed on the produce just prior to harvesting; they are applied constantly, being spraying and absorbed all throughout the growing process.  No amount of soaking and scrubbing can eliminate that.  This “solution” isn’t the solution!organic sl

And while we continue to buy conventionally-grown produce, we are actually (financially) supporting this farming practice, therefore lessening the demand for organics, slowing widespread distribution AND keeping their cost high.  All the while these pesticides are harmful to us as consumers, extremely dangerous to farm workers and contaminate our ground and surface water, as well as wildlife and the environment… a cycle that goes on and on unless practices change… dramatically. Pesticides (and herbicides) are simply bad news all around.

So, I’ve said all along that this “greening my life” would be a journey, mistakes included.  But now you know the FULL story… supporting organic farming is the only true option for an abundance of reasons.

Now back to our regularly scheduled program… hopefully with any further lame posts excluded! 🙂