Archive | December, 2010

Target market

22 Dec

Hey! You! Big box store!

In addition to the relentless marketing on packaging for “family-friendly” food and in commercials aimed at kids on channels like Nick and Cartoon Network, I also feel pressured by end caps and front of store, eye-level offerings at CVS, Walgreen’s, Target, and other stores where I frequently bring my kids.

You want to sell me something as I’m making my way out of your store?

Don’t distract me with having to yell, “No” at my kids 1000 times. I just might buy the travel pack of tissues or hand wipes you’re selling by the register if I wasn’t trying to hurry my kids past the Skittles and bubble gum.

I’m not offended by the indecent photos on the cover of Vogue or even the headlines on the cover of Cosmo, but I am big-time pissed at you for making me a meanie in the eyes of my children.

Rethink your marketing strategy. Crunch the numbers and let me know how much money you make from all those impulse Twix buys.

Is it really worth it?

Holy Shit

19 Dec

It’s no big deal or anything, but I’m leaving the country.

Nope, it’s not April Fool’s Day.

And yes, I’m still certifiably sane. (Although to be fair, I’m hanging on to my sanity by a thread these days.)

But as of 2011, I will be a resident of the State of Israel, living on a beautiful kibbutz in the Lower Galilee region of Israel. 

My family of five will rent a home on a community in the Northern part of the country, where hills and greenery abound (as long as there is rain), where local farms are within arms reach (or a short drive away), and where the happiness and safety of children is paramount. 

I’ll be living in a community whose members are, according to their website, ”committed to communal responsibility, social awareness, environmental conscientiousness and spiritual consciousness.”   A kibbutz whose mission is “the integration of Jewish ritual and spiritual life, education, values, ecology, environment and Zionism.”

Sounds right up my alley, doesn’t it?

I am cautiously excited.

Excited to live in a community where “community” means something.

Excited to pick my own farm fresh eggs from chickens who live down the street from me and excited to give my kids a cultural experience that will impact them forever.

I’m cautious, though, because despite visting many times, I’ve never lived in Israel.

And while the country has made many advances when it comes to the green movement, as far I can tell from my visits, the average Israeli is just as ignorant, misinformed, and, perhaps disdainful about health and wellness as the average American.

This is a country where locals give their babies bamba practically the day after they exit the womb, where three-year-olds run around with a binkie in one hand and a diet cola in the other, where moms put infant seats in the front because it’s easier to plug a crying baby that way than trying to reach into the rear facing back seat. 

The Holy Land isn’t necessarily “whole-y.”

I imagine I will have plenty to bitch about despite living a slower, greener life.

I hope you won’t miss me too much while I am offline for a few weeks in order to get settled. 

I’ll be checking in on Facebook, and I’ll be back to blogging with vengeance before you know it.

Until then…have a happy, healthy holiday season.

With love,

The Wellness Bitch

Another reason to eat organic

14 Dec

This morning, I’m the lucky recipient of….a water main break!

We’ve been without running water for about 20 hours now. You know the situation must be pretty bad as the local water company has generously dropped off two quarts of bottled water for our use. (What would be more generous would be to get my toilet running again. It’s starting to get pretty stinky here. I supposed I should be happy it’s 20 degrees farenheit out today instead of 95.)

I reached for a pear this morning and wondered what would be the best way to eat it. First off, I was extra happy I buy organic, because even if I decided to chow down on the thing without washing it, I could rest assured I wouldn’t be eating harsh chemical pesticides.

Do you consider the chemicals you’re eating when you eat your non-organic fruits? The pesticides you’re ingesting? One old-school member of my family (no names mentioned to protect the innocence of my mother-in-law) pops conventional strawberries in her mouth straight from the box. If you haven’t started buying organic fruits on the “dirty dozen” list, you better think again. Even mainstream media are writing stories about how toxic these fruits and veggies are…so you know it must be true.

Back to my situation at home: Would dribbling a little bit of the bottled water over the pear do the job to reduce the residue? Would it be better to peel the pear and eat its innards?

I honestly didn’t know the answer. (Imagine that.) So I hopped online and tried to find a reliable source for an answer.

I googled “Do I need to wash organic fruits?”

The first answer that popped up was a terribly written article from MSN in Australia. I almost didn’t link to it because I was concerned that you might believe some of the trash that masquerades as news in this piece from 2006. It makes me sad that people searching for answers might not realize that this article has NO news or useful information in it whatsoever and yet it’s the top link coming up on a google search.

Remember when we used to get our information from Encyclopedia Britannica? Those were the days.

Further down the google results page, however, was an article from a source I trust a whole lot more:  The World’s Healthiest Foods, courtesy of The George Mateljan Foundation, a non-profit organization interested in informing the public about healthy foods.

The bottom line answer to the question “Do all vegetables need to be washed — even organic?” is yes. Ideally you wash organic produce with high pressured water and a scrub brush to get rid of bacteria. Since I have no high pressured water, I decided to peel the pear and pray that the guys who handled my produce along the way washed their hands with soap after they used the potty.

Wish me luck.

Why I don't nuke it

13 Dec

As you know, I’m not a scientist. I am just a girl armed with an opinion and a handful of other people’s opinions that sometimes are factually-based. I would never want you to take what I say as gospel. My only hope is that I’m making you slightly more inquisitive, paranoid, or aware about the shit you come into contact with every day.

One thing in particular I have decided not to come in contact with every day is a microwave. And I’ll tell you why.

I used to be just like you. I grew up on the microwave. I didn’t know how to use an oven or a stove growing up. I basically knew how to toast a toaster waffle, open a can of tuna fish, and microwave Mac and Cheese so it retained just enough moisture to be edible on Day Two.

I worshipped the microwave so much that one year I even gave one to my husband as a gift on his birthday because he didn’t have one in his office…and I thought it would be nice for him to be able to heat up a Hungry Man frozen meal for lunch a few times a week.

(He though it was a Sony Playstation and was mighty pissed at me when he took off the wrapping.)

I started becoming more cautious about the microwave when I got pregnant; carefully avoiding standing in front of a running microwave as “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” instructed.

Then when I had my first kid, I stopped using the microwave to heat up liquids because I learned you could burn him if the liquid heated up unevenly. But mostly, since I was warming breast milk, I wanted to make sure I retained all of the nutrients “as is.” And even though I didn’t have any science to back me up at the time, I just didn’t believe that breast milk from the microwave would be the same as breast milk from my boob.

Occasionally I would microwave the little homemade baby food cubes I made my son, stir them up real well, and then taste them to make sure they weren’t too hot, but it didn’t occur to me that the nutrients in the frozen broccoli would be any different microwaved than warmed on the stove.

I am not so sure now.

Since I started becoming more aware of food, food regulation (or lack therof in this country), and the impact of our habits on our health, I started re-evaluating my use of the microwave. I’m not so sure any more that heating up my food quicker is necessarily better (or even safe, for that matter). Furthermore, after watching the entire series of Lost, I pretty much lost my confidence in Electromagetic fields

Call me a caveman or a technophobe, but it feels a lot safer warming my food over an open flame.

In the past five years, I’ve almost completely reduced my use of the microwave oven. So much so that we are not bringing it with us when we move at the end of the month. We will have all your normal appliances, but no microwave oven. I will heat all my food in the oven, the toaster, or on the stove.

I know this may seem dramatic to some. Others will ask: Are you still going to use a cell phone? A radio? A TV? What about the harmful effects of electromagnetic fields in those everyday appliances?

And I would say, “Good point!”

And then I would say, “Look, sometimes we make our health decisions based on pure science. And sometimes we make our health decisions based on anecdotal evidence. And sometimes, like I’m doing now, we make our health decisions based on instinct with a little science thrown in for good measure.”

The food I put into the microwave oven just isn’t the same when I take it out. And that creeps me out.

It creeps me out that you can’t put metal in there and if you do, “Watch out!”

It creeps me out that people might use the microwave in my house to cook in a really dangerous manner (ie. heat up food for my kids in a plastic container.)

Hence, my conclusion.

Having a microwave in my kitchen isn’t the right choice for my family.

And that’s all it takes to choose.

High risk behavior

8 Dec

Oh, to be young and sexy…

Ok, of course, it’s all a matter of perspective. I suppose a senior citizen might consider Yours Truly young and sexy, but I’m talking about the kind of young and sexy that needs to worry about birth control and sexually transmitted disease because they’re having lots of hot sex. I don’t want to presume that our guest blogger today, 25-year-old women’s health advocate Kristina Davidson is having lots of hot sex…but something tells me she is. And good for her! But even better yet, she’s a wellness bitch in the making and she wants to WAKE UP women her age to what she knows about The Pill.

By Kristina Davidson

I used to think I led a healthy life. I exercised on my elliptical machine an hour every night, avoided fast food at all costs, and always got enough sleep. I discovered recently, though, that all those carrots and hours on my elliptical machine might not have been enough for someone who also takes The Pill.

Did you know the danger you put yourself in when you start taking an oral contraceptive?  I didn’t.

Like many adults, I enjoy the health benefits of a monogamous, physically intimate relationship. Little did I know that despite being part of a monogamous relationship, I put myself at risk every morning when I popped The Pill. 

I’m not alone. The Pill is a bad habit that lots of young women share with me. With up to a 99.9% rate of pregnancy prevention, it’s been my go-to choice of contraception for the last two years.  As a contraceptive, The Pill is effective and convenient.  All I need to do is take it at the same time every morning. So what’s the problem?

Well, thanks to clever marketing, more than 100 million women worldwide (including me) have been led to believe these pills represent a completely safe option in pregnancy prevention. Many manufacturers, recognizing this is a highly profitable product, devote millions of dollars to its heavy marketing each year. The U.S. government even encourages Planned Parenthood Clinics to provide these drugs at very little or no charge, sometimes adjusting cost according to income. 

However, the FDA last year asked Bayer HealthCare, the manufacturer of the top-selling oral contraceptive pill Yaz, to remove misleading advertising for their products, in particular dishonest ads promoting their products as treatments for other unrelated health concerns, like depression and acne, despite a lack of evidence. 

These misconceptions aren’t the worst part of these drugs, unfortunately.  Oral contraceptives can also present frightening physical side effects, like the increased risk of cardiovascular disease because the estrogen in them also acts as a blood coagulator. One Yaz lawsuit   involves a woman who developed blood clots in her lungs after using this particular brand of oral contraceptive.

In the end, it’s up to the individual to educate herself about the risks before deciding whether the inconvenience of an unplanned pregnancy warrants the use of these hormone-altering drugs. After learning what I put my body through for the last two years, I decided to write this article to share my story and some of the frightening details of this product.  I now hope to inform women of the alternate forms of contraception that ensure against both pregnancy and unwanted side effects. I never thought it would happen, but I can now add cultural crusader to my list of activities.

Editor’s Note: The Wellness Bitch adds that my own experience on the Pill for many years makes me worry about future incidence of breast cancer — Not one of the three OBs that prescribed me The Pill over that period asked me if I was at risk for breast cancer because of being an Ashkenazi Jew or due to family history of breast cancer. Furthermore, while the Pill was awesome at keeping me not pregnant, it often turned me into a lunatic, particularly the one time I tried Yaz.