Saturday, December 8, 2012
Maybe you already saw my previous welcome message - if not, scroll down a post.
My old site is officially shut down, so - this is my one and only! I hope you will find something here of interest to you - and will follow me! Whether by email or feed reader, and/or by clicking "follow" in the side bar.
I will become active again after the New Year. Until then - enjoy your holidays!
Tuesday, November 6, 2012
Note 1: Until I get everything transferred/the new site configured how I want it, I won't be posting anything new - please be patient.
Note 2: In the transfer, many of images are now huge/don't fit the blogger platform, and many of the internal links transfer to my wordpress site (which will soon be nonexistent, thus making the links invalid). Short of going into each and every post and reconfiguring the link - does anyone know how to easily fix them? Unless I find a blanket fix, these will all, unfortunately, be broken. I hate this, as I spent some time building these links between my posts! :( If you have the know-how, please help!
Tuesday, October 16, 2012
black construction paper
First, paint the bottom of your child's foot with white paint. Then, press their foot onto black paper.
Once dry, glue on two googly eyes. Then, cut around the edge of the white, leaving a small border of black, and glue a magnet to the back (I just cut up one of those free flat advertiser magnets).
Voila! A Halloween keepsake/fridge magnet! Grandparents be watching - you'll get one in the mail soon!
Sunday, October 14, 2012
My first impression was of the beautifully illustrated dust jacket. This isn't a book you want to put on the kid's bookshelf (although you could, don't get me wrong). It is an heirloom quality book that I would want to keep pristine, reading it carefully to my two year old daughter now and giving it to her once she's older and understands books aren't for tearing and scribbling in.
For perspective, I just gave her her first "paper" book. It's title? No Hitting, by Karen Katz (yes, we are battling that right now - sigh). This one will go on the "special book" shelf for now.
To give you an overview of the book, from Mandala Earth Editions:
"In this ancient parable from India, a forest-dwelling hunter learns that cruelty has consequences and that compassion has rewards. When the hunter meets the wise man, Narada, "Do unto others as they would do unto you" takes on a very concrete meaning. The sage leads the hunter on an imagined journey in which the hunter becomes the hunted. When the hunter realizes his actions affect other living things, he has a change of heart and begins to live in peace with the animals he once pursued.
The Peaceable Forest is the ideal picture book for inspiring young readers to respect life in all its forms."
As an ecologist, vegetarian, and animal-lover, I am always excited to find ways to pass on a live and let live attitude to my daughter. The first time I read this book was sitting with her in our favorite reading chair. She loved pointing out the colorfully illustrated animals, though the message is still a bit above her head. We journeyed through a story of a hunter leaving devastation in his wake - injured and scared animals left to suffer and die. He was hunting purely for pleasure. Then the gentle Sage Narada was there, to provide comfort and healing to the hurting creatures.
Eventually the Sage catches up with the hunter, and brings all the animals he had once hurt or killed upon him in nightmarish fashion, causing the hunter to in return feel the pain and fear he had wreaked upon the animals, as the hunter becomes the hunted. After a thought-provoking discussion with the Sage, the hunter has a change of heart, and through tear-filled eyes pleads with the Sage to help him stop killing.
The ensuing discussion proceeds as such:
"From today on, never harm or eat another animal," said Narada.
"But how will I live?" asked Mrigari (the hunter). "What will I eat?"
"You do not have to kill to eat. The earth produces fruits and vegetables, grains and beans. You will not go hungry."
Mrigari proceeds to break his bow in a gesture that begins his new life as a friend to animals. We then learn that the story teller is himself Mrigari.
My initial impression of this book, though I love the tale, is that it was a bit idealistic. I personally have no problem with the hunting of animals, as long as they are taken humanely and for human consumption. The book paints the taking of animals for food in a negative light. However, in this case the hunter was hunting purely for sport and in an entirely non-humane way, leaving the animals to suffer. I take great issue with this, and like how the hunter in the end sees error in his ways and comes to care for the animals he once hurt with disregard.
Then I saw a "Note to Teachers and Parents" in the back of the book:
"The Peaceable Forest is a retelling of an ancient Vedic tale that has been passed on for centuries in the oral tradition from parents to children. This illustrated version of a beloved story from the Sanskrit Bhagavata Purana reminds children that compassion for living creatures and respect for life have their own rewards. The illustrations feature flora and fauna native to India, including langur monkeys, sarus cranes, and banyan and date palm trees."
I love learning of old stories passed down through ancient cultures, and find much wisdom in them. I thought the author/illustrator did a beautiful job with recreating this legend into a children's tale. It is a book I will be happy to share with my daughter, once she's old enough to appreciate the message. And hopefully she will share the same values about respecting animals, nature and the earth that my husband and I do.
The Peaceable Forest - India's Tale of Kindness to Animals
By Kosa Ely, Illustrations by Anna Johansson
Wednesday, October 3, 2012
1) Gather your supplies: a tub of lard (from any grocery store), peanut butter, and any fillers you want (raisins, cranberries, peanuts, oats, sunflower seed, cornmeal, etc.)
2) In a saucepan, mix equal parts lard and peanut butter (I used half a tub of lard for a batch) and melt until mixed evenly. Remove from heat and add your fillers in the quantity you desire.
3) Line a baking pan with waxed paper, then pour the mixture in the pan and set aside to cool. Will take hours to set. Once hardened, you can scoop out by the spoonful to fill a log feeder, for example, or cut into squares to fill a suet cage feeder (simply freeze what you don't use for later).
Tuesday, October 2, 2012
Schutz, Walter E. 1973. Bird Watching, Housing and Feeding. Milwaukee: Bruce Publishers
Watch tomorrow for my post on making suet. And if you want to get a head start on building bird houses for next spring (winter projects?), check out my posts under Backyard Wildlife on plans for nestboxes for all kinds of species of birds.
Friday, September 14, 2012
And the pay off is very rewarding. She is a great eater, eating most anything I offer. She willingly accepts a wide variety of vegetables, and will eat any fruit (although bananas are her least favorite). There have, however, been a few veggies she tends to avoid. Like green beans. Then, I discovered my secret weapon.
That's right. One day, as she was shunning her green beans, not wanting to put any salt or salty seasoning on them, I looked through my spice cabinet, wondering what may dress them up a little. I ran across the garlic powder and decided to give it a try.
And you know what? After sprinkling a little on, she dove right in, and proceeded to eat them all right up. Wow. I was thrilled.
So, I decided to always have some with me, that way when we're out at a restaurant and I'm trying to find something healthy for her, I can always order steamed veggies, sprinkle this one, and voila - hopefully she'll have a healthy meal!
All you need is a small, empty plastic spice shaker. Like the ones McCormick puts nutmeg or pumpkin pie spice or turmeric in, the little ones. Once you empty one of these (or something like it), add some garlic powder and throw it in your diaper bag.
I decided to use this as a way to introduce other spices too, as I'd like to broaden her palate. I started this time by mixing in a little coriander, a relatively neutral, bland spice. I figured if that goes over, I can graduate to something a little stronger, like cumin.
I hope this helps with your picky eater, if you have one!
Tuesday, September 11, 2012
~ Darwin - The Origin of Species
Sunday, September 9, 2012
Crockpot Squash Casserole
2 lb yellow squash, sliced
2 lb zucchini, sliced
1 large onion, diced
2 cups shredded cheddar
2 cups breadcrumbs
8 ounces sour cream
2 eggs, beaten
1.5 teaspoons garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
3/4 cup shredded parmesan
Boil water in a large pot, and cook first 3 ingredients for 10 minutes - drain in colander, gently pressing against sides with spoon. Add rest of ingredients (except Parmesan) and mix well. Transfer to greased crockpot, sprinkle parmesan over top, cover and cook on low 2.5 - 3 hours, until center is set and edges are golden brown. Uncover and cook 30 more minutes. Let stand 10 minutes. Makes 10-12 servings.
From Southern Living November 2010
Saturday, September 8, 2012
Here are the points I found memorable:
Nature provides services for free that technology can't replace - pollination, removing CO2, adding O2.
Costanza estimates it would cost $37 trillion to do what nature is doing for free - add up all the economies of the world, and you get $18 trillion.
For every truckload of lasting material produced, 32 truckloads of waste are produced (Ray Anderson).
The result of $500 billion in advertising? Kids can ID 1000 corporate logos, but less than 10 plants and animals native to the environment they live in.
According to Betsy Taylor, the average American shops five times/week, spends the day working to make money to shop. Everything is getting bigger (houses, cars, our waistlines), while we are getting less of what matters = time.
Wade Davis - Americans spend more money maintaining their lawns than India collects in their federal tax budget. Americans have incredible wealth.
In America consumer goods are a cultural symbol.
We define who we are by material things.
We get our knowledge from the media, not the Earth. We are out of touch with the very source of our survival. We are disconnected from the Earth.
We are psychologically dumb. We drown in TV, music, cell phones, etc.,and don't "feel" nature or the beauty in the world.
50,000-55,000 species/year are going extinct because of humans.
Thursday, September 6, 2012
On Fridays I'll highlight a particular cause that I feel strongly about (and I have many!).
Today I want to bring your attention to two extremely easy ways you can make a big difference - simply by the click of your mouse.
The first is part of the GreaterGood network:
"Welcome to the GreaterGood Network of websites, a family of online activism sites that harness the power of the Internet to help people, animals, and causes in need."
By clicking on any of the following sites, you can access all the rest, but here are the options. It would take less than 2 minutes of your day (and btw, there are 1440 minutes in a day) and you could do so much good.
And if you're like me, you need a daily reminder. From each site, you can sign up for one!
You only need to sign up for one, however, because you can access any cause from any of the others.
And they have awesome gifts that you can buy, to help each cause, and links to other petitions and ways you can help!
The second is Care2.
They also have a Click-to-Donate site. Same exact premise, and you can also subscribe to get daily reminders. So, each day, I get 2 reminder emails, one from each cause, directly to my inbox, and I take about 4 minutes to help a grand total of 19 causes (one being a daily action that varies, well, each day). Wow. Can't beat that.
Have a particular cause you care about? From their site, you can even start your own petition. How cool is that?
Tuesday, September 4, 2012
Sunday, September 2, 2012
Vegetable Fried Rice
12 ounces of miscellaneous veggies (if you have some about to go bad), diced and steamed OR 12 oz bag of frozen stir-fry vegetables, microwaved for 2 minutes
3 green onions, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup rice (I only use brown rice), cooked according to package
2 tablespoons each soy sauce and rice vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped peanuts or cashews (optional)
Scramble the eggs, put aside. Heat oil in same skillet, add onions, garlic and veggies, stir fry for 3 minutes. Add cooked rice, soy sauce and vinegar, heat through. Fold in eggs. If prefer, top with nuts.
Taken from Parenting magazine, February 2012.
Thursday, August 30, 2012
Click here to take the Ages & Stages Questionnaire.
Wednesday, August 29, 2012
In searching for the best DHA product for my own 22 month old daughter, I realized the sheer amount of products on the market, and that they vary greatly. I decided to do a DHA review of companies willing to participate, chiefly to decide on which to give my own baby, but to share with you as well!
I set out to review the following:
For each brand, I give a link to their site (above), a break down of the products I reviewed, and at bottom more information about each company. For each product, I list the information printed on the package, the ingredients, nutrition information, cost (from Amazon), and my thoughts on the product. I gave each to my 22 month old daughter and tried them myself, so that I could give her impression and my feedback.
Nordic Naturals -
Baby's DHA - liquid with vitamin D3; 2 fluid ounces/60 mls; suggested use: 1-4 mls daily, with food (5-10 lb: 1ml; 11-20 lb: 2 mls; 21-25 lb: 3 mls; 26-35 lb: 4 mls); nutrition info (per 4 mls): 36 calories, 340-1200 I.U. vitamin A, 250 I.U. vitamin D3, 5 I.U. vitamin E, 988 mg total omega-3s (328 mg EPA, 480 mg DHA, 180 mg other), 480 mg omega-9; ingredients: purified arctic cod liver oil, rosemary extract, d-alpha tocopherol, vitamin D3; no gluten, milk, artificial colors or flavors; $13.55 for 60 mls or $0.68 per serving.
I squirted 1 ml into my daughter's mouth, and she opened for more. I proceeded to squirt 2 more mls (the total RDA) in and she happily took them down. I then tried it - yuck! Tastes very fishy. But, it is meant to be taken with food, which would mask the flavor.
Nordic Omega-3 Gummies Tangerine Treats - with purified fish oil for children 2 years and up; 3 gram gummies; serving size: 2 gummies; nutrition information per 2 gummies: 20 calories, 4 g carbohydrates (3 g sugars), 10 mg sodium, 82 mg omega-3s: (41 mg EPA, 27 mg DHA, 14 mg other); ingredients: organic tapioca syrup, organic evaporated cane juice, fish oil (from anchovies and sardines), porcine gelatin, pectin, citric acid, natural flavor and color, sodium citrate, organic sucrose crystals, fumaric acid; no gluten, milk, artificial colors or flavors; $33.96 for 120 or $0.57/serving.
We each had one - very tasty. Like gummy candy. She wanted more!
Ultimate Omega Junior - great tasting chew or swallow soft gels, great strawberry taste, for ages five through teens; 500 mg; serving size: 2 soft gels; nutrition information per 2 soft gels: 9 calories, 1 g fat, 15 I.U. vitamin E, 640 mg omega-3's (325 mg EPA, 225 mg DHA, 90 mg other), 28 mg omega-9; ingredients: purified deep sea fish oil (from anchovies and sardines), soft gel capsule (gelatin, water, glycerin, natural strawberry flavor), natural strawberry flavor, d-alpha tocopherol, rosemary extract; no gluten, milk, artificial colors or flavors (possible soy); $24.36 for 90 or $0.54/serving.
We each tried one (chewing, not swallowing). I bit down, and the oil squirted out of the capsule into my mouth - pleasant neutral taste (slightly strawberry-flavored). I swallowed the oil, but was left with the rather thick capsule. I just spit it out. She happily chewed away, enjoying (and eventually swallowing) the capsule as well.
Note: Nordic Naturals also makes a Children's DHA (liquid, just like the Baby's DHA) but it is 8 ounces or 240 mls (although in the photo on Amazon it appears the bottle says 220 mls). It costs $21.21, and the recommended serving is 2.5 mls, which comes to only $0.22 - $0.24/serving - the best bang for your buck! I found this review on Amazon:
The label for the infant's DHA lists the amount of DHA and EPA per 4 ml (a serving size is 1 to 4 ml). The Children's DHA lists a serving size as 2.5 ml. When you correct you are getting the same amount of DHA and EPA per serving. But you get 8 ounces here as compared to 2 ounces. For way less than 4 times as much. What you are not getting is the higher levels of D3 in the infant. This one also has a strawberry taste that the infant does not. So if you are buying this for DHA and EPA, this is a much better per ounce price.
I did look up the nutrition info - per 2.5 mls: 23 calories, 2.5 g fat (0.5 g saturated), 7 mg cholesterol, 2123 - 750 I.U. vitamin A, 0-10 I.U. vitamin D, 15 I.U. vitamin E, 631 mg omega-3s (205 mg EPA, 313 mg DHA, 113 mg other), 300 mg omega-9; ingredients: purified arctic cod liver oil, d-alpha tocopherol, natural strawberry flavor, rosemary extract; no gluten, milk, artificial colors or flavors.
As a bonus, they are a LEED certified facility - one more plus in my book! AND they are philanthropic partners with nine organizations, from an animal sanctuary to a food bank. How cool is that?
Other N.N. kids' products include: Omega-3 stix, Children's DHA (liquid and soft gels), Omega 3-6-9 (with or without D) Junior, Ultimate Omega Junior, Nordic Omega-3 Fishies and Gummy Worms, Nordic Berries.
Barlean's Omega Kids DHA- fruit punch flavored liquid, with vitamin D3; 8 fluid ounces/236 mls; suggested use: for kids from two through teens, take 1/2 teaspoon daily with a meal; nutrition information (per 1/2 teaspoon): 20 calories, 2.5 g fat (0.5 g saturated), 0-1143 IU vitamin A, 325 IU vitamin D, 3 IU vitamin E, 200 mg EPA, 275 mg DHA, 120 mg other omega-3, 40 mg linoleic acid, 35 mg other omega-6, 270 mg oleic acid, 220 mg other omega-9; ingredients: pure and pristine, molecularly distilled, pharmaceutical grade cod liver oil (harvested from deep-sea, cold water Norwegian cod), natural fruit flavorings, rosemary extract, ascorbyl palmitate, ascorbic acid, soy lecithin, sunflower lecithin, d-alpha tocopherol, vitamin D3; contains soy; $18.36 for 236 mls or $0.20 per serving.
I put 1/2 teaspoon of the liquid in a measuring spoon and gave it to my daughter. She swallowed it happily, but didn't want more. I tried it myself - ugh! Fishy. Very slight fruit punch flavor, but hardly noticeable. Would recommend mixing with food as suggested.
Barlean's Omega Kids Swirl - lemonade flavored liquid; 8 fluid ounces/227 mls; suggested use: for kids from two through teens take 1 teaspoon daily, straight or with food or drink; nutrition information (per 1 teaspoon): 20 calories, 1.5 g fat (0.5 g saturated), 5 mg cholesterol, 2 g carbs (0 sugar),170 IU vitamin A, 2 IU vitamin E, 180 mg EPA, 180 mg DHA, 13 mg LNA, 140 mg other omega-3, 50 mg linoleic acid, 50 mg other omega-6, 345 mg oleic acid, 70 mg other omega-9; ingredients: purified fish oil (salmon and/or cod liver), water, xylitol, glycerine, gum arabic, natural flavors, citric acid, xanthan gum, guar gum, turmeric, vitamin E and ascorbyl palmitate; $11.19 for 227 mls or $0.26 per serving.
I put 1 teaspoon of the liquid in a measuring spoon and gave it to my daughter. She swallowed it happily, but didn't want more. I tried it myself - yum! No fish taste, very lemony and sweet. I really liked it - not sure why she didn't want more! I did!
ChildLife Essentials -
Cod Liver Oil - strawberry-flavored liquid; 8 fluid ounces/237 mls; suggested use: 6 months through one year - 1/2 teaspoon daily; 2-12 years - 1-2 teaspoons daily; nutrition information (per 1 teaspoon): 45 calories, 5 g fat (1g saturated), 14 mg cholesterol, 870-1950 IU vitamin A, 0-40 IU vitamin D, 0-8 IU vitamin E, 1225 mg total omega-3 (600 mg DHA, 400 mg EPA, 225 mg other); ingredients: purified arctic cod liver oil, natural strawberry flavor; no gluten, casein, alcohol, artificial colors or flavors or sweeteners, no milk, soy, eggs, yeast or wheat; $15.26 for 237 mls or $0.16/serving.
We both took this directly from a spoon. Very slight flavor, pleasant - mostly neutral. We both would have taken more.
Pure DHA- natural berry flavored soft gels; 90 250 mg soft gels; suggested use: 6 months through 1 year - 1-2 capsules daily, 2-4 years - 4-6 capsules daily; nutrition information (for 3 soft gels): 5 calories, 0.5 g fat, 0-1 IU vitamin E, 90-195 IU vitamin A, 0-5 IU vitamin D, 185 mg omega-3 (60 mg EPA, 90 mg DHA, 35 mg other); ingredients: purified arctic cod liver oil, purified water, gelatin, glycerin, ascorbyl palmitate, lecithin, natural berry flavor; no gluten, casein, alcohol, artificial colors or flavors or sweeteners, no milk, soy, eggs, yeast or wheat (although the actual bottle says it contains soy); $7.38 for 90 soft gels or $0.16/serving.
I gave her one of these gels, and she said "candy" with a big smile on her face. She chewed it up, swallowed it down, and asked for more. I had one - again, pleasant, neutral taste with a slight hint of berry flavor. The capsule was very thin - easy to chew up and swallow.
Children's All-in-One Multivitamin Supplement + Omega-3's and Vitamin D- serving size: 4 gummies; nutrition information (per 4 gummies): 36 calories (5 g sugar), 1107 IU vitamin A, 40 mg vitamin C, 400 IU vitamin D, 20 IU vitamin E, .05 mg thiamin, 1.33 mg vitamin B6, 267 mcg folic acid, 67 mcg vitamin B12, .01 mg pantothenic acid, 100 mcg iodine, 4.3 mg zinc, 101 mg omega-3s (57 mg EPA, 24 mg DHA), 11.7 mg choline, 20 mcg inositol; ingredients: organic cane sugar, organic tapioca syrup, gelatin, pectin, citric acid, natural flavors and colors, pantothenic acid; no wheat, milk, eggs, gluten, peanuts, shellfish, artificial colors or flavors, salicylates, or high-fructose corn syrup; $17.95 for 120 gummies or $0.60/serving.
We each had one. Yum! They are sweet, like candy. We could have both had more!
A GREAT aspect of this company is that they are sponsors of Vitamin Angels - every time you buy their product, they make a matching 1-for-1 nutrition grant to a child in need.
All costs per serving were figured on a recommended serving size for a 22 month old. Older kids may require a larger serving, thus the cost/serving would increase.
Most sources say it is unknown how much DHA a child should receive each day, but I did find one source, Evelyn Tribole MS, RD who recommends "children 2-3 years old get 433mg of DHA/EPA with a minimum of 145mg of DHA, 4-6 years old get 600mg of DHA/EPA with a minimum of 200mg of DHA and 7 years and older including adults get 650 combined with a minimum of 220 DHA. For pregnant women the DHA minimum is 300mg". Another source (not recorded) suggested babies from 1-18 months get 32 mg/lb and children 18 months - 15 years get 15 mg/lb (of DHA + EPA).
The best way to pack in the good stuff is with the Nordic Naturals Baby DHA. It contains 741 mg omega-3's, including 360 mg DHA. It also has vitamin D, which many infants should be receiving anyway. It is on the pricey side, however, at $0.68/serving. If you subtract out what you would have to pay for a vitamin D supplement, however, I'm not sure what it would bring that total to. You'd want to make sure if you give your baby this you aren't over-supplementing with extra vitamin D from another source.
If you just look at value, the best value comes down to a close tie between Nordic Naturals Children's DHA ($0.24/serving, 631 mg total omega-3, 313 mg DHA), Barlean's Omega Kids DHA ($0.20/serving, 500 mg total omega-3, 275 mg DHA), and ChildLife Essentials Cod Liver Oil ($0.16/serving, 613 mg total omega-3, 300 mg DHA). These are based on a 25 pound 22 month old when figuring serving sizes to compare.
Although the Nordic Naturals Omega-3 Gummies Tangerine Treats and the SmartyPants vitamins were the best tasting - like candy - they also had very little DHA (both under 30 mg), were very expensive, and had added sugar. If you wanted a healthy "candy" for your kids, you could use these as a way to up their DHA intake (giving the recommended serving each day), but that would be expensive candy for the little bit of DHA they would be getting.
My daughter was happy enough to receive a flavored soft gel, treating it like "candy". If your kid will go for this, better alternatives for healthy "candy treats" would be the Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega Junior ($0.54/serving, 640 mg omega-3, 225 mg DHA) or the ChildLife Pure DHA ($0.16/serving, 123 mg omega-3, 60 mg DHA). The former is much more expensive, but packs more of a punch too.
One product I'm leaving out, not because it's not a good product but simply because it falls out somewhere in the middle, is Barlean's Omega Swirl. At $0.26/serving, it delivers a respectable 500 mg total omega-3 and 180 mg DHA. It is sweetened with xylitol. But if you're looking for a less expensive yet tasty alternative to the sugary gummies, this would be a good choice.
However, not only was I interested in value, I was also interested in 1) toxins present in the fish (such as mercury), and 2) whether the fish were harvested sustainably. This plays a large role in whether I will support a company. It is also important that the company has their product tested by an independent laboratory (third-party tested), which I could confirm was the case for all four companies.
The NRDC provides information regarding mercury levels in fish. Anchovies, sardines, salmon (wild-caught) and whitefish (=cod) are all on the safe to eat list (these are the species used in the above vitamins).
The Monterey Bay Aquarium provides information on sustainability by species. Here's what I could find on cod, sardines, and salmon, though I was unable to locate any information on anchovies. I was also informed that these lists were intended for the commercial fishery as related to whole fish intended for food, and the standards used here were far inferior to those used in fish oil supplements. However, that means that at minimum they are as safe as the safest food fish, and according to their more stringent standards, one ingesting their products would be ingesting far fewer contaminants.
It is problematic that there are so many different names for the fish (for example, according to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Atlantic cod is often called scrod or whitefish. The fish oil companies refer to it as skrei, which the Seafood Watch list doesn't even reference). To the best of my ability, based on the location from which they are obtaining their cod (North Atlantic waters of Norway) and salmon (Alaska), and due to the fact that all cod caught in the northeast arctic by Norway and Russia are on the "best choice" or "good alternative" list on the Seafood Watch list, I assume these must mesh.
Every batch of Nordic Naturals fish oils is third-party tested for environmental toxins, including heavy metals, dioxins, and PCBs. All fish oils used in NN products surpass the strictest international standards for purity and freshness. They seem to have a sound foundation for sustainable fishing. According to the materials they sent, "N.N. has built a direct relationship with the independent fisherman (in compliance with the Norwegian fisheries management system, which has been a model of sustainability for over 30 years) in order to manage the sourcing and production of our Arctic Cod Liver Oil. Thanks to this relationship, fewer fish are brought to shore each day. Since it is our mission to operate in an environmentally responsible manner, we work only with fisherman who utilize 100% of the Arctic cod for human or animal consumption." They also are conscious of bycatch and use methods to reduce this as well as habitat destruction. They are taking steps to minimize pollution as a result of their practices. They use "only wild-caught, sustainably sourced fish".
They also provide Certificates of Analysis to consumers who are interested. These are reports on the testing conducted on their products, including environmental toxin and heavy metal levels. I like this transparency.
And right now:
Nordic Naturals® Back-to-School Promotion Supports Kids’ Health
Company partners with Healthy Child Healthy World
Watsonville, CA (July 31, 2012) Nordic Naturals®, leading manufacturer of omega-3 supplements, has announced a Back-to-School promotion that features selected kid-friendly essentials and benefits its 2012 Cause Partner, Healthy Child Healthy World.
Nordic Naturals and Healthy Child Healthy World are teaming up this year to send an important message to families everywhere: It is essential that we protect our children from harmful contaminants by creating healthy environments where they can grow, thrive, and flourish.
To raise awareness about this important issue, Nordic Naturals will donate a portion of proceeds from selected Nordic Naturals children’s products to Healthy Child Healthy World during its Back-to-School promotion, which will run from August through October.
One dollar of every bottle sold of the following products will be donated to Healthy Child Healthy World:
- Nordic Berries™ – chewy, sweet-and-sour multivitamins provide 100% of the daily value of the most essential nutrients
- Nordic Omega-3 Gummies™ – easy-to-chew, omega-3 tangerine treats for ages 2+
- Children’s DHA™ – chewable, strawberry-flavored omega-3s support brain and visual function for ages 3+
- Baby’s DHA – omega-3s for babies 5-35 lbs. with a measured dropper for easy addition to formula or food
"Barlean’s fish oil is accredited through IFOS (International Fish Oil Standards) and we have a 5-star rating which is the best rating you can get. This basically means, Barlean’s fish oil is some of the freshest and purest fish oil available. Here is a link to our IFOS documentation on our website: http://www.barleans.com/ifos.
Barlean's was featured on Naturally Savvy for their sustainability practices:
"Barlean’s is our feature green company of them month, chosen for their commitment to sustainability and responsibility. Barlean’s is committed to adhering to sustainable fishing practices, preservation of endangered species, and governmental fishing laws. While ensuring that their fish oils are high quality (and delicious), they also take great care minimizing their environmental impact. They source their products off the coasts of Norway, Peru, and Alaska, adhering strictly to government regulations to prevent overfishing and endangering other species.
Barlean’s ensures that:
- The commercial family fishery is 100% sustainable
- All printed materials are up to 80% recycled stock
- All packaging materials are biodegradable
- Pressed flax “leftovers” are provided to local farmers to enrich milk and eggs with Omega-3
- Only natural products are used in cleaning facilities and equipment
It’s no surprise that Barlean’s has been selected as one of America’s 100 Eco-Friendly companies. We love Barlean’s because not only do they give us products that are good for us, but we can feel great about buying them and supporting sustainable practices!"
According to a ChildLife representative, "Regarding the NRDC - The NRDC follows FDA rules pertaining to mercury and utilizes the EPA’s level of mercury to be safe for human consumption of fish. Higher methylmercury levels can lead to elevated levels of mercury in the bloodstream of unborn babies and young children and may harm their developing nervous system. These disabilities have been documented in ability to use language, to process information, and in visual/motor integration. U.S. EPA's 2001 Reference Dose (RfD) for methylmercury was calculated to protect the developing nervous system. Currently, U.S. EPA uses a RfD of 0.1 µg/kg body weight/day (ppm) as an exposure without recognized adverse effects. The mercury levels in ChildLife Pure DHA/cod Liver oil is Not Detectable which is less than 0.007."
Regarding sustainable fishing practices:
"Norway has the strictest fishing practices with significantly higher standards than those that are set by the U.S. Government and promoted on the MBA Seafood Watch list. This is what the MBA Seafood Watchlist says about the fisheries in Norway: Atlantic Cod, Iceland and Northeast Arctic (by Norway, Russia).
Most Atlantic cod in the U.S. is imported from Iceland and the northeast Arctic. Atlantic cod fisheries in these regions are well-managed and populations are increasing. The small portion of the fishery that uses hook-and-line gear is the "Best Choice" thanks to the low levels of bycatch and habitat damage. A portion of this fishery is certified as sustainable to the standard of the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC).
The cod used in ChildLife Pure DHA, meet and exceed the MBA Seafood Watch list for safe, and sustainable fishing, as well as toxicity levels. The cod caught is considered an Atlantic cod, however the species is native to the arctic waters of Norway. Whitefish would be the closest comparison, which is rated "Best Choice" in the MBA Seafood Watch list category."
Based on the above, for my child I would select either the Nordic Naturals Children's DHA, the Barlean's Omega Kids DHA, or the ChildLife Essentials Cod Liver Oil. They each provide a respectable amount of DHA in a daily serving, are reasonably priced, use sophisticated extraction processes with virtually no contaminants present (as evidenced by the third-party reports which you can access), and, according to each respective company (and to the best of my ability what I can reconcile with the Seafood Watch information) participate in sustainable fishing practices. I would feel good supporting any of these companies, and am confident I am getting a good value in purchasing any of these three particular products for my own daughter.
Samples were provided to me by all four companies for review purposes.
Tuesday, August 28, 2012
To kick it off, I'll share my favorite story of all time.
The Starfish Rescuers by Jeff Roberts
One morning after a particularly fearsome storm, a man arose early and decided to go for a walk along the sea. As he neared the beach, the early riser saw an old man in the distance slowly, yet purposely, ambling down the shoreline. As he watched, the old man stopped, picked something up, and tossed it into the ocean. Then, the old man slowly straightened himself up, walked several more feet, stooped down, and once again picked up something, which he tossed into the sea.
Intrigued, the early riser moved closer. As he drew near, he realized suddenly what the old man was doing. Littered all down the shoreline, as far as the eye could see, were thousands upon thousands of starfish cast out from the ocean by the fury of the now-passed storm. As the early riser watched, the old man bent down, gently picked up a small, helpless starfish, and tossed it back into the ocean. He repeated the same process every few feet.
After a minute or two, the early riser approached the old man. "Good morning, sir" he said. "I couldn't help notice what you're doing. I commend you for what you're trying to do, but the storm has washed up thousands of starfish on this beach. You can't possibly save them all! What possible difference do you hope to accomplish?"
The old man paused for a long time, pondering the early riser's question. Finally, without saying a word, he bent down, picked up a starfish, and tossed it far into the ocean. "It made a difference to that one," he said.
Now, it was the early riser's turn to be silent. As he looked at the old man with growing admiration, it seemed as if the years fell away, revealing someone wise, noble, and strong enough to stand up to any challenge. Deeply moved, the early riser struggled for the right words, but none would come. At last, he too, bent down, picked up a starfish, and tossed it into the ocean. The old man, watched intently. He spoke not a word, but his nod and a wink said all that was needed. "Well," the early riser said as he looked out at the thousands of starfish stranded on the beach before them, "It looks like we've got a lot of work to do."
Just then, the two men realized they were not alone. Others out for their Saturday morning walks and jogs had witnessed what had taken place. When they saw what the old man and early riser were attempting to do, they too bent down and picked up starfish of their own. Soon, the morning sun shone down upon hundreds of good Samaritans - young, old, black, white, rich, and poor; each working diligently to save as many starfish as he or she was able. What had started out as one, had grown into an army of kindness.
Some time later, an amazing thing happened. As the last starfish was tossed into the ocean, a spontaneous cheer broke out among the starfish rescuers. People hugged and high- fived each other. Some exchanged names and numbers and promised to stay in touch. Others walked off together to share breakfast with new friends. To a person, each one felt they had done something important and had made a difference.
That morning, in the span of only two hours, five thousand starfish were saved, and hundreds of lives were transformed. All because one person cared enough to try to make a difference.
I love this story. It highlights why we should all care. Why we should all make a difference. Why we should all do something. Because even if you make a difference in the life of ONE - one person, one animal, one being - you made a difference.
Sunday, August 26, 2012
Pizza Bites (Makes 24)
4 cups tomatoes, finely chopped
salt and pepper, to taste
20 sheets fillo dough (9x14), thawed
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
2 cups mozzarella, shredded finely
1/2 cup parmesan, grated
Mix tomatoes, salt and pepper in a bowl. Coat 2-12 tin muffin pans with cooking spray. Lay out a sheet of wax paper, and on it layer 5 fillo sheets, lightly coating each with cooking spray. With a sharp knife, cut the fillo (5 sheets thick) into 6 squares - cut it once lengthwise and then twice across the width. (Or use a biscuit cutter to cut out 6 rounds.)
Press each square of 5 layered sheets into a muffin cup. Repeat 3 times to make 24 tarts total. Bake in oven at 350 for 8 minutes. Spoon 2 tablespoons tomato mix in, sprinkle with basil, top with 1 tablespoon mozzarella. Bake 3-4 minutes more, until cheese melts. Sprinkle with parmesan. Serve warm.
Friday, August 24, 2012
A favorite author of mine, Dr. Jenn Berman (author of Superbaby) recommends (and for good reason) that you hold out until age 3.
I had every intention of waiting until at least 2. The verdict was still out beyond that.
Intentions are often good, but...
My husband was resistant. As a TV addict, it was futile trying to convince him to turn off the TV whenever our daughter was in the room. He saw no harm in her watching cartoons, citing we both did it growing up and, look how great we turned out!
He also preached the "educational value" in good children's programming, and thought she was missing out. (That's the argument everyone uses, by the way, but extensive research has shown they have little educational value, even the good ones.) Then my mom started in too. I mean, I grew up on Sesame Street, they taught me all I know, yada yada yada. (Just kidding about that last part.) So I went to our pediatrician, husband in tow, hoping she'd side with me and the AAP and all the research I'd read. And what did she do? She towed the party line. She gave the answer so many give, the whole "okay in moderation" thing. Argh. Not what I wanted hubby to hear. So what did I do? After holding out for 18 months of zero TV for my baby girl, I caved. I decided I'd made it most of the way there, and really - could a little SuperWhy! really be all that bad?
Fast forward 4 months. I now have a 22 month old who is ADDICTED (like, asking to watch 5 times a day, even after she's already watched the same 4 DVDs we own 5 times that week) to the Wiggles. And I've slipped into the oh-so-easy routine of simply popping the disc in and giving her some sliced kiwi in the living room while I escape to the kitchen to clean up the breakfast mess. And I feel - guilty.
Do I wish I would've stuck to my guns? Maybe... It's not so much that I hate that she's watching TV, but maybe that I've become a bit too apathetic. I don't think TV has to be a terrible thing, but it should be used in the most educational way possible. I do only limit her to 1 (VERY rarely 2) hours a day of TV, and feel okay with that. But, seriously? How much can her little brain be getting stimulated by the same four guys doing the same ole song and dances for the 46th time?
So, I am making it my mission to at least revisit the idea of her TV watching to make it as educational experience as possible. I mean, the kid is only awake for 10 hours a day - this hour is very important! I am going to do my best to phase out the Wiggles (at least maybe only letting her watch once a week) and turn on more stimulating programming - something different and new each day!
And for this, I turn to PBS. In our area, between the two stations we get, they have a GREAT morning line-up. It goes like this:
6:00 (heaven forbid we're up that early): Curious George
6:30: Cat in the Hat
--- and now the really good stuff starts ---
7:30: Dinosaur Train
8:30: Dinosaur Train
9:00: Word World
9:30: Word World
10:00: Sesame Street
And that gets us through 11:00, which is nap time! The point is - from the time we get up (usually 7:00) until the time she goes down for her nap, at any point during that 4 hour period that we're not going for a bike ride, eating breakfast, playing in her room or swinging outside, we can turn on PBS and find a commercial-free, quality program (after screening a few shows, I've decided for her age these above are my #1 picks - Dinosaur Train, SuperWhy!, Word World and Sesame Street).
So, from now on, whenever that hour of TV watching falls, I will do my best to make sure it is tuned in to one of these!
And to do more, check out their website just for kids!
Monday, August 20, 2012
Many emotions are likely involved with these captive animals - whether emotions of excitement and awe, as you get up close and personal with them, only a slab of glass between you and them as you stare into their eyes - or emotions of sadness and guilt as you get up close and personal with them, only a slab of glass between you and them as you stare into their eyes.
I must admit, recently on a trip to San Diego, as I found I had a day to kill and could take my young daughter anywhere I wanted to kill it, I had to remind myself of all the reasons I should NOT go to Sea World. Instead, we spent the day at the coast, looking at wild harbor seals and playing in the sand. I was tempting, but I couldn't justify it.
I recently watched The Cove, and it broke my heart. Thousands of dolphins are being slaughtered in Taiji, Japan. "But in a remote, glistening cove, surrounded by barbed wire and “Keep Out” signs, lies a dark reality. It is here, under cover of night, that the fishermen of Taiji, driven by a multi-billion dollar dolphin entertainment industry and an underhanded market for mercury-tainted dolphin meat, engage in an unseen hunt. The nature of what they do is so chilling – and the consequences are so dangerous to human health – they will go to great lengths to halt anyone from seeing it." (To watch it, click here.) If you want to do more, click here and here.
The mastermind behind this, Ric O'Barry, is also outspoken against keeping marine mammals in captivity. As is PETA:
"SeaWorld confines orcas—who often swim up to 100 miles a day in the wild—to concrete tanks that, to them, are the size of a bathtub. They are also forced to perform meaningless tricks for "entertainment." SeaWorld strips animals of everything that is natural and important to them—their families, the open ocean, and their happiness. Animals trapped at SeaWorld often die prematurely from stress and other causes related to captivity, but you can help them today. Explore SeaWorldOfHurt.com to learn more about the abysmal record SeaWorld has, including the premature deaths of countless orcas—and say "No!" to SeaWorld. You can help by refusing to support this cruel industry, which uses animals to make a hefty profit. Please sign the letter to urge SeaWorld to release its animals to coastal sanctuaries and never purchase tickets to SeaWorld."
To distill it down - if you are opposed to these animals being kept in captivity, sign this letter and never purchase tickets to places that display them. If you are not opposed to it, well - I hope you've read all the supporting evidence and thought it over. If you have and still can't see reason to oppose it, that is your choice!
Sunday, August 19, 2012
This stuff is DA BOMB! It is the perfect dessert. Sweet, with chocolate (if you so desire), and - wait for it - healthy! Seriously! I took it to a potluck, and EVERYONE wanted the recipe!
Cookie Dough Hummus
1 1/2 cups chickpeas (if canned, drained and rinsed)
1/4 cup cashew butter
1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
1/4 cup honey
2 packets Splenda (or similar sweetener)
3 tablespoons ground flax
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup chocolate or carob chips (optional)
Process all ingredients (except chocolate chips) in a food processor - then stir in the chocolate chips.
Serve with animal crackers, graham crackers, or slices of fruit.
I promise - you'll love it!
Note - special section for kids at bottom of post
I wrote two articles about them - one regarding their natural history, and the other their conservation. I hope you'll check them out!
I have had the amazing opportunity to snorkle with them, and let me tell you - there are few experiences as awesome as being side by side with an extremely large yet extremely gentle marine mammal like this. And even more amazing to me is that they seemed to seek out human company. At times they would swim into the "off-limits" zone (meaning off-limits to human divers, to afford them a peaceful human-free zone when they wanted it), only to turn around and come back to me once they realized I was no longer with them!
If you are interested in manatees and conserving them, you must check out this organization. I hope you will sign up to receive their action alerts, helping manatees whenever possible.
They also have the option to "adopt" a manatee - these make great gifts!
Manatee Kid Zone
The Save the Manatee site has a great page just for kids! And another for educators! Whether you're a teacher looking for classroom materials, or a parent looking for fun activities to do with your kids, you're sure to find something usable! Here and here are links to a bunch of free manatee stuff. Enjoy!
Saturday, August 18, 2012
Sustainable Fish Options for the Summer Dinner Table
SUPPORT HEALTHY OCEANS BY STICKING TO THE GREEN LIST
We often play on the surface of our planet, and usually this is just our local environment, so it is easy to forget that we have so many different ecosystems on this globe! There is nothing like swimming with leopard sharks, sting rays, huge bass and other marine life to remind you of the beautiful diversity within our oceans. As close as I live to the beach I don’t make it half as much as I would like to, but this month I have been fortunate to have several close encounters with a slew of fishy friends at both the Monterey Bay Aquarium and the USC Wrigley Institute on Catalina Island. They have reminded me of the impact that we have on the oceans as fish consumers and pollution makers.
It was a treat to be so close to the marine life. We got to watch them, touch them, and swim along side of them which was very cool. At the Wrigley Institute, Marine Researchers shared details about their discoveries and connected the links between our level of interconnectivity with the oceans (whether we are aware of this or not). Both of my kids were in total awe of the Monterey Bay Aquarium. My daughter even started to put two and two together, making associations between what she was seeing, our pet fish “Jewel,” and the sauced up filets that usually end up on her dinner plate. She kept asking me “Mommy, can we eat that one?” which got me thinking about the choices that I make when selecting my seafood for meals.
The Monterey Bay Aquarium has a great snap shot resource called the Seafood Watch which offers suggestions for “Best Choices” in fish to combat destructive fishing and poor farming practices. On their website you can learn more about the differences between wild-caught and farmed fish and the sustainability issues related to both. DOWNLOAD one for your region today, or get their APP for iPhone or Android to stay in the know while on the go.
First, Mercy and Sharing is having a t-shirt drive called "Promise 126" to raise funds for the 126 orphans in their care.
There are 126 orphans at Mercy & Sharing Village in Haiti. We have made a promise to each child to care for them and raise them. Mercy & Sharing provides food, shelter, education, therapy, education, and LOVE for each child. Our latest project—"Promise 126"—gives you a new opportunity to help us care for these precious kids. And you'll get to proudly wear this colorful "Promise 126" t-shirt design. We need at least 126 donors to donate $39.11 for each t-shirt. From that gift, $25.00 will go directly to helping these orphans. WE HAVE JUST 21 DAYS TO SELL 126 T-SHIRTS.
Second, HerpDigest is trying to raise funds to keep the site going through the sale of books, such as this one:
HEALTH CARE AND REHABILITATION OF TURTLES AND TORTOISES
An excellent, must have for every turtle owner and every turtle & wildlife rehabilitator
Covers everything from general information such as: turtle anatomy, diet, stress, hibernation, brumation, outdoor and indoor enclosures and more --- to over 250 pages on shell fractures, tube feeding, bacterial and viral diseases, parasites, diagnostics, antibiotics in chelonians, and with supporting photographs. The author took great time and care to translate her and others experiences in turtle rehabilitation without the jargon, so all turtle owners enthusiasts can understand.
Full-color photographs. (2012) 393 pp. Softcover, by Amanda Ebenhack $39.85 plus $6.00 S&H see below on how to order (Overseas email us at email@example.com for S&H price.)
Help HerpDigest Survive. Buy a book, an important book, add on a small donation. $5.00? $10? $20? more. Longer list of other books available upon request. Book is $39.95 plus $6.00 S&H. Use PayPal our account is firstname.lastname@example.org THE EXACT SAME PRICE AS AMAZON, BUT REMEMBER ALL PROFITS HERE GO TO HERPDIGEST NOT AMAZON SHAREHOLDERS.