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A blog about all things allergen-free and delicious

Entries in No More Dirty Looks (1)


Stephen Colbert, from Cows to Cosmetics, You've Led Me Down a Sticky Path



As I research the new gluten-free labeling initiative, and answer some interesting questions about it, I am reminded of other sticky issues bubbling for attention in the background.  When I watched this video from Stephen Colbert's Oct., 6 2010 show which was posted on this morning, I decided to give these bubbles a little attention.  The foodista post was simply intended to show that the raw milk controversy has gone mainstream.  That's it.  But this is an interesting subject to me, since certain groups are proclaiming that raw milk will help cure dairy allergies.  As a person who suffers from the same, I am intrigued, but not about to run out and guzzle a giant glass of moo cow.  Or even a tiny one.  Thus, mine will be the cautious path and I'll do some heavy investigation before even commenting on it.  (However, if you are one of those folks who have had your dairy allergies actually cured from raw milk, I soooo want to hear from you.  Moo.)

The video clip itself, however, innocently drew me into other sticky issues.  This clip is really more about civil liberties than it is about the benefits or risks of drinking raw milk.  Which is interesting, but in today's times, civil liberties usually ends up in an "us" versus "them" discussion, which is ...  well you tell me.

Pasteurization without representation.  _Ron Paul

Individuals are stupid.  _David Acheson, former Assistant Commissioner for the FDA on Food Safety

But my attention stuck on something else that Stephen mentioned in the clip:  New York's stand on the health risks of dangerous chemicals in common household products.  To be fair, in his own words:

“… New York State will start enforcing a 40-year-old law that requires manufacturers of household cleansers to reveal the chemical ingredients in their products and any health risks they pose.  Way to spoil the surprise Bloomberg!”

But wait, the sticky issues don't stop there.  Have you read your cosmetics labels lately?  Pick up a copy of "No More Dirty Looks" to see why this is important.  Or simply read this quick article by the authors of that fine book.  In short, certain terms like "fragrance" are covered by trade secret laws, which means that, as long as there is an ingredient list outside of the word "fragrance", any company can put any chemical into any "fragrance", be it listed on a perfume, household product, or cosmetic.  To give you a different perspective, Europe has banned over 1,000 chemicals that are listed for use in cosmetics, while the U.S. has only banned nine.  Why would companies put carcinogenic or harmful, sometimes deadly chemicals into our household cleaners, let alone our skin care products?    Laziness?  Naughtiness?  Hatefulness?  Ignorance?  Mis-guided Creativity?  Greed?  Your guess is as good as mine. 
Regardless of the answer, it's worth becoming a little more educated about the products we are using.  Our skin is our largest organ and it absorbs what we put on it quickly (think:  hormone creams, "The Patch", etc.). Research, like this study done by the University of Michigan School of Public Health, reveals that chemicals in anti-biotic soaps are damaging the immune and hormonal systems in both children and adults.  What's more, they "increase the risk of hay fever and other allergies."  Weren't anti-biotic soaps supposed to be good things?  After all, I remember seeing the commercials and rushing out to buy them. 
In the end, we are what we eat, slather on, and breathe.   It stinks that some manufacturers don't just "do the right thing" or think about the outcome of their ingredient choices on their own customers.  But many don't.  The good news is, we can make choices that influence the market and support those good guys who have a more wholistic, knowledgeable and caring vision.  Need some inspiration?  Just start reading labels.  And spread the word about the good things you find.