Chew on this

Did you know that chewing gum is made from petroleum? It is. Why do I know this? You see, Ava (age 3) has recently taken quite the interest in chewing gum. Jody and I let her have a piece and she did well with it – didn’t swallow it I mean. However, now that she’s had a taste, she wants more, more, more. You could say she’s a chain chewer. She’ll chew one piece for a minute or two, spit it out and pop another in her mouth.

This new habit made me question what all goes into chewing gum. Jody did a search on Wikipedia and found this: Chewing gum is a type of confectionery which is designed to be chewed rather than swallowed. Traditionally, it was made of chicle, a natural latex product, although for reasons of economy and quality many modern chewing gums use petroleum-based polymers instead of chicle.

Mmmm, petroleum. /gag If I don’t want my kid to ingest pesticides and growth hormones in her food, I sure as hell don’t want her gnawing on petroleum in her gum. Oy.

Of course his next search was to find a natural chewing gum alternative to crude oil, which lead him to Glee Gum. Glee Gum is all natural chewing gum made with sustainably-harvested rainforest chicle.

Glee Gum

Jody picked up three packs of Glee Gum at Vitamin Cottage and Ava has been happily chewing on chicle ever since. The only problem with chicle is that it gets stuck in your teeth much more easily than slippery old petroleum. So there have been a few occasions where I’ve had to retrieve gum from Ava’s mouth – it likes to get stuck between her teeth and gums. But I’d rather fish around in her mouth than worry about her ingesting petroleum. ;)

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Which brings me to my next story. Guess what artificial colors are made from. C’mon, guess! That’s right – petroleum as well (in addition to coal tar and insects)! Thanks to Greenstylemom for sharing this bit of information and putting a damper on my recent M&M gluttony consumption.

Here’s a bit more about some of the artificial colors…

Blue No. 1 uses coal tar as one of its components. Because of the use of coal tar, many organizations and circles are speaking out and boycotting products using colors with coal tar because it is a carcinogenic in large quantities, known to cause tumors in lab rats.Blue candy

Red No. 40 can be found in sweets, drinks and condiments, medications, and cosmetics. It has caused allergic reactions in people as well as hyperactivity in children.

Yellow No. 5 or Tartazine can be found in soft drinks, instant puddings, flavored chips (Doritos, etc), cake mixes, custard powder, soups, sauces, kool-aid, ice cream, ice lollies, candy, chewing gum, marzipan, jam, jelly, marmalade, mustard, horseradish, yogurt, noodles, pickles and other pickled products, certain brands of fruit squash, fruit cordial, chips, tim tams, and many convenience foods together with glycerin, lemon and honey products.

Tartrazine, however, does produce the most common allergic react, especially among those with an aspirin intolerance and ashtma. Some research has linked Yellow No. 5 to early childhood Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and hyperactivity. It is banned in Austria and Norway.

Yellow No. 6, also known as Sunset Yellow FCF, is an orange coal tar-based food dye found in orange squash, orange jelly, marzipan, Swiss roll, apricot jam, citrus marmalade, lemon curd, fortune cookies, sweets, hot chocolate mix and packet soups, trifle mix, breadcrumbs and cheese sauce mix and soft drinks. It is the color most prominently seen in DayQuil. It is capable of causing allergic reactions such as abdominal pain, hyperactivity, hives, nasal congestion, and bronchoconstriction, as well as kidney tumours, chromosomal damage, and distaste for food.

Here’s the kicker, a number of these dyes have been banned in countries around the world because of their link to cancer, tumors, allergic reactions and hyperactivity in children, yet they are still used in foods in the good ol’ U.S.A.

Note to self for future sweet binges: Chocolate = good. Chocolate with cancer-coating artificial dye coating on it = bad.

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brain-body connection Thirdly, on another related note, thanks to my friend Melissa for sharing the article: Scientists make gut-brain connection to autism. (The bolding below is mine.)

Compounds produced in the digestive system have been linked to autistic-type behaviour in laboratory settings, potentially demonstrating that what autistic children eat can alter their brain function, say scientists from the University of Western Ontario.

It’s wonderful to see a scientific study finally acknowledge what many parents have already come to realize on their own. (Jenny McCarthy was recently talking with Oprah about this with regard to her autistic son.)

Dr. Martha Herbert, assistant professor in neurology at Harvard Medical School, told CBC News that the study opens up a new way of thinking about the disorder.
Now we’re learning that the brain and body can influence each other,” she said.

Excuse my cynicism here, but NO KIDDING! This hardly seems like news to me, but I guess I should be happy that science is catching on that there IS a mind-body connection. Perhaps they will realize that this can apply to many other things as well. I’m crossing my fingers, but not holding my breath yet.

Eat your veggies day

World Vegetarian Day
Today, Oct. 1, 2007, is World Vegetarian Day – the annual kick-off of Vegetarian Awareness Month. We eat vegetarian meals several days of the week in this house, but I made a point of selecting only vegetarian meals for this week, and especially today.

We started off the day with cereal and fruit and had leftover pumpkin and black bean soup for lunch (a favorite of both Ava and Julian who had his first bowl full last night for dinner). Jody said he even chose to even vegetarian while at work today, which isn’t that big of a deal considering he used to be a vegetarian for seven years, but he seems to like his meat these days.

For dinner I am making a spinach and chard quiche which calls for tofu instead of eggs (though I may still throw in a couple eggs). The rest of the week will include dinners like Spinach Lasagna, Fall Minestrone Soup, G-Z Burgers (G for Garbanzo beans and Z for Zucchini – a recipe I got from Isil a long time ago) and a few others that I haven’t committed to yet.

How about you? Are you going meatless today? What veggie meals are you eating?
Special thanks to everyone who signed up to ‘go veggie for a day’ below. You rock! :)

Best Shot Monday – 10/1/07

I finally was able to take some pictures of the moon this past week, and of the Harvest Moon no less! It was a lot of fun, but I quickly realized I’m going to need a much bigger lens if I want to get good shots of the moon. It’s just so dang far away! ;oP

This was taken with one of my zoom (kit) lenses at 150 mm, which is as close as I can get. I cropped a TON of black space out of this picture to get it to look like this. In fact, I’ll share the original pre-cropped below so you can see for yourself. Edited to add settings: ISO 200, f 11, 1/250 and here’s a site where I got some tips before I attempted it: Take a picture of the moon.

Best shot:
Harvest moon - 9/25/07
Same picture before cropping:
Same picture pre-cropped

See more best shots over at Picture This (click the button):
little bsm button

And don’t forget to enter my Halloweenie giveaway. You could win a shirt for the little pumpkin in your life!

One more reminder – today is World Vegetarian Day. That means no meat all day. C’mon – you can do it! :) More on WVD later.