Friday, October 31, 2014

Vitamin E is helpful for disease prevention & skin care formulas, but is it GMO?

Vitamin E is commonly known as a supplement for internal use, but it is also an important ingredient for herbal balms and body product formulations. What makes Vitamin E so important to skin care formulators is its antioxidant properties. Antioxidants help extend the shelf life of oils by scavenging free radicals from oil based formulations that might otherwise go rancid quickly.  Vitamin E is found in plants like soybeans, safflower, wheat germ, avocado, sunflower, and spinach. The chemical makeup of Vitamin E is a mix of 10 fat soluble components called Tocopherols and Tocotrienols. Vitamin E is best stored in a refrigerator to maintain potency which can decrease over time.
Vitamin E deficiency is rare, however supplementation can be beneficial for prevention and treatment of certain diseases. The antioxidant properties make this Vitamin useful for preventing cancer and heart disease. Supplementation with Vitamin E is also beneficial to the nervous system and can improve the health of those suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s, restless leg disorder, and Epilepsy. Diabetics and those with low red blood cell count can also benefit from Vitamin E supplementation. People with blood clotting disorders or taking blood thinners should consult a medical expert before supplementing with Vitamin E.
Did you know that most Vitamin E, and many Vitamins are made from Genetically Modified Organisms?  This can be a challenge for Organic food manufacturers and formulators who are striving to support Organic growing methods. Vitamin E is most often extracted from soybeans and corn. Soy is now largely genetically modified, with approximately approximately 90% of North American soy crops grown from altered seed. Brian Baker, research director of the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI), has warned the National Organic Standards Board that more and more Vitamins are coming from genetically modified sources. National Organic Program rules state that an Organic product "must be produced and handled without the use of excluded methods," such as genetic engineering. This ambiguous wording has led to inconsistent interpretation by Organic certifiers who are assessing manufacturers who have not themselves used genetic engineering methods to produce the crop used to make the Vitamin E.  It can also be confusing to manufactures, because Vitamin suppliers may provide information indicating that genetically modified material is not detected in the finished Vitamin. Some Organic certifiers allow Vitamin E derived from GMO crops if it does not contain detectable genetically modified DNA in the finished product, while others may not. The Vitamin E used by Aquarian Bath is made from Spanish non-GMO soybeans. The soybean crop itself and the finished Vitamin E have both tested negative for GMOs. The Vitamin E is extracted from the soy beans by vacuum distillation. 
Aquarian Bath uses Vitamin E in our Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil based herbal salves, herbal balms, deodorants and most lip balm formulas (all but Virgin Coconut). Oil based formulations which contain primarily Jojoba or Fractionated Coconut oil (95% or more) such as our massage oil, mosquito repellent and hair serum do not require Vitamin E, because these base oils do not go rancid. Vitamin E is also not required in well formulated soap recipes.  It helps that certain ingredients in our soaps and shampoos like Organic Cocoa Butter have a high concentration of Vitamin E.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

New in Stock: Patchouli Deodorants

We have a new product to announce this week. Our new Patchouli Deodorants are now available in glass jars, 2 oz tins, or 0.25 oz sample containers. We have also added the option of including one of the Patchouli deodorants in glass jars in our Patchouli Lover’s Gift set.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Quick Guide to Sugar Content in Common Foods

I found this helpful infographic to share from Dr. Mercola's article about how much sugar you should have per day. Some of the numbers below are quite shocking. Hope you find it helpful for meal planning. For optimal health they recommend no more than 6 teaspoons or 24 grams of sugar per day, unless doing vigorous exercise. fructose overload infographic

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Yes, I can.. fasting for climate action while making applesauce

I survived my first Fast for the Climate action yesterday.  I am so glad that the next two fasting days do not fall on a Wednesday. On Wednesdays I take in 3 or 4 boxes of produce from Front Porch Pickings.  I trade our soap with them in exchange for vegetables, honey and jam. I woke up yesterday morning and was a bit hungry until around 11, but then that faded as I started drinking oatstraw and green tea infusion. I packed a few orders and fiddled around in my office a bit.  The main morning accomplishment was getting our petition to Ebay mailed out. Nearly 500 of us have asked Ebay to stop recommending bubble wrap to sellers. Then the produce delivery arrived. I started peeling about 15 pounds of apples with my new-to-me vintage apple corer slicers. Then I cut up about 5 pounds of tiny hard plums with the help of my eldest girl Moira. I had to sit down for a bit, because I was getting tired at that point so we took turns.  I really wanted to taste the applesauce, but I left it to her and Scott to decide on the right amount of cinnamon. I made it through the canning process pretty well, cleaned up the kitchen. After that I was just restless for the remainder of the day and evening. I usually ship orders during the non holiday season on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I was concerned that I would run out of energy if I packed all my orders and did canning and food intake during fasting, so to be careful I packed two mail bins of orders on Tuesday afternoon instead of Wednesday. Without my regular Wednesday schedule I just was restless sitting around admiring all the produce and lovely jars of applesauce. I tried sewing flax pillow sleeves  for a bit, but I was too restless and didn't trust my stitching so I stopped. It was much easier fasting last week when I decided spontaneously to fast rather than planning it out.  My fast last week was 42 hours, which in retrospect was a bit silly, but I wanted to see how far I could take it. I felt really kind of ridiculous fasting surrounded by so much food yesterday. I feel like I still have a lot to learn about fasting as a method of activism. I found it harder to fast on a specific schedule than the 42 hour spontaneous fast that I did last week when I signed up for the action. During that time I was just giving it a try with no expectations and no feeling of pressure. It was harder knowing that I was doing a group action with a specific purpose.

Today I really enjoyed a nice salad, okra pickles, garlic bread, and of course the applesauce that I make during the fat.  Maybe you will too.  Here is the recipe:

Applesauce with plums

16 pounds apples
5 pounds plums
3 Tablespoons Organic Cinnamon
1 cup purified water

Peel and cut the apples into small pieces. Cut up plums into small pieces. Add them all to a stock pot with cinnamon and 1 cup of water. Cook down the the fruit on medium low heat until only medium sized chunks are left. Use a stick blender to blend it up until it is just how you like it. Fill up 7 previously boiled quart size mason jars with applesauce leaving 1/2 inch of head space. Clean the lid rim. Add lids and rings. Boil jars under 2 inches of water for 20 minutes at sea level.  Adjust time as necessary according to your altitude. Shelf life is 1 year.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Why I'm Fasting for Action on Climate Change

Fast for the Climate is a group of people who are fasting for action on climate change this year. I am joining them. Here is more about the group action from the website: 

2014 is a crucial year in shaping our response to climate change. Climate change meetings throughout the year, including the Climate Leaders Summit in New York, are building up to the crucial UN climate talks in Lima, Peru in December. The UN climate negotiations in Lima this year, part of a negotiating process started in 1995, will be the most important climate change meeting ever yet, and will lay the foundations for binding agreements next year in Paris. Throughout the year there are significant moments in the climate change calendar and we are linking our monthly fasting on the first of each month to this process.
When I was first invited to this movement by food blogger ZeroWasteChef, I admit I was skeptical.  Could this action really influence decision makers?  It is a once a month fast, not a hunger strike. After thinking about it for a day or two, I realized that I could still make a difference in a small personal way no matter what the outcome of these fasts. 
I am fasting to show solidarity and support to those who believe in this effort.  I am also fasting, because I know that there is a problem with the diets and health of North American's like myself, which lead to over consumption of food. Food production, processing, and distribution are energy intensive, and we need to be mindful of that in the context of climate change.  USDA growing zones have changed.  Farmers are having to experiment with different salt resistant rice varieties in India and Bangladesh due to flooding.  Wheat production is down in the US due to drought. Olive oil production is down in both California and Europe due to record drought. The standard high sugar, high carbohydrate American diet leads to cravings for more and more of the same as well as insulin and leptin resistance. The body can 'forget' how to use it's own fat stores, leading to increased risk for diabetes, heart disease and cancer. The person stuck in the sugary processed food diet gets caught in a cycle of eating too much food, even though they may have the fat reserves to power their body. Fasting can help break the cycle of dependence on factory processed high sugar and carbohydrate foods; food which requires more energy to produce than simple whole locally grown foods.  During fasting the body 'relearns' how to use its fat reserves as fuel, because the quick energy from sugary high carb foods are no longer available.
I am a big fan of intermittent fasting which I learned about from Dr. Joe Mercola. His website had many good articles on the topic. Going without food for just a 16 hour stretch (regularly skipping either breakfast or dinner) can help trigger the body to switch over to fat burning mode, signaling the body to use the energy stores that it already has. I did a fast last week before the official first of the month fast, just to make sure I could do it for 24 hours. I found that I needed to slow down my activity a bit and stay hydrated with tea and water, but I was fine. Toward the end of the day I had a bit of a dull head ache. I believe the relative ease at which I was able to complete the fast can be credited to my occasional intermittent 16 hour fasting that I was doing during the summer, as well as having around 25% body fat. I feel this percentage is too much even though that percentage is considered normal for women on a lot of charts.
Last week I saw a heckler making fun of an overweight woman on twitter who was wearing an #Ifastfortheclimate T-shirt. I applaud that faster, and I dare that heckler to try it themselves. It's not as easy as an ice bucket challenge, hmm?  I wish everyone who is participating success with their personal fasts, and success in influencing positive action by UN decision makers in Lima Peru this year. Thanks also to blogger You as a Cook for mentioning us in her blog post about why she is fasting for climate change.

Cory Trusty, president
Aquarian Bath