Green For The Mainstream: I’m speaking at ShiftCon 2015!

Remember ShiftCon social media conference last year?! It was like a huge party of all the people who feel the same way I do about health, wellness, food purity, and low-toxin living. And I have mentioned before that I’ll be going again this year. In fact, I still have ticket discount codes, so if you are considering going, please contact me.

Another reason to attend: I’ll be speaking this year!

I am so excited to be co-hosting a panel with my friend Anne Brock from Flour Sack Mama and #CleanCouponing and Chef Dennis of Ask Chef Dennis and Good Morning Google+ fame! Our panel is called Green For The Mainstream and is based on our collective experience working with everyday people who are just starting out on this journey toward cleaner living — in food, beauty products, health, wellness, or cleaning products.

Below is the official summary from the ShiftCon web site, but first I have a question for you: what would YOU, as a consumer, want sustainable brands and companies to know about your journey? How could they help you and what do they do to alienate you that should be changed? Please feel free to tweet me your answer, leave a comment below, or message me on my Facebook page!

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Green For The Mainstream ShiftCon 2015 - I'm Speaking! | Living Consciously Blog

Mainstream America is at a crossroads, with chronic disease on the rise and an urgency to protect the planet like never before. Yet, the mainstream consumer is not necessarily ready to change old habits, even if health and home depend on it.

How do we make green truly work for the mainstream and get beyond trendy ideas to what works in the typical American household?

  • Where could you start on your own journey to live a greener lifestyle?
  • How do you, as a thought leader, respond when your audience is intimidated by change?
  • What resources could help you share?
  • How do you talk to your friends and neighbors about this sometimes touchy topic?
  • How could you bring the conversation to your social media spaces?

The Green for the Mainstream workshop will explore how social media outreach can gently transform old habits into new ones while respecting cultural traditions and limited household budgets. We will speak to the influential role of food in our everyday lives. This session will also cover strategies for reaching local communities with relevant messaging about better products and healthier lifestyles while avoiding elitism.

We will tackle the sometimes controversial topic of big brands entering the green/sustainable/organic market space and how that affects the mainstream consumer. Since many organic brands have been consumed by multinational brands, should you be concerned? We’ll cover some key details to look for when discerning quality products.

Whether you consider yourself light green and want to learn more about the ShiftCon movement without feeling overwhelmed, or whether you consider yourself a strong influencer who is looking for creative ways to reach the mainstream, this workshop is for you.

{excerpt from the ShiftCon web site, read entire description here}

Taking small bites: Ask Quaker to stop funding GMO Labeling opposition

What to elephants and GMO labeling efforts have in common? | Living Consciously Blog

Have you ever heard the old proverb about how you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!

OK, so elephants are majestic and in some religions, even sacred, so we wouldn’t really eat an elephant. But you know what most of us probably do eat regularly? Oats. If you are someone who consumes grains, this is a major one. Quaker is a company that made it’s name known by selling oatmeal, something most Americans ate nearly every day a generation ago. Now that they are owned by Pepsico, they are one of the largest corporate influencers in politics. Many of us have actually moved away from their oats since they do not currently have a gluten-free version. As a company, Quaker has also moved on to many other products like cereal bars, sugary snacks, and processed foods with little to no nutritional value. Away from where most of us reading this blog are probably headed.

The fact is, Quaker/Pepsico has significant political and monetary influence in the U.S. And right now, they are using that influence to fund anti-labeling effort for genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Organizations like Just Label It are working to convince our lawmakers to give every American the right to know what is in their food, while companies like Quaker/Pepsico are throwing a huge amount of resources toward keeping us in the DARK — read more about the DARK Act currently being debated by our legislators here. It’s intimidating how much more funding is on the anti-labeling side of this fight. It’s such a large disparity that it’s easy to get discouraged. What can we do as individuals? We don’t have millions of dollars to make our voices heard!

Back to the elephant. What we can do is work hard to convince corporations to stop funding the anti-labeling legislation. Maybe we can’t convince every corporate entity. But we can approach one corporation at a time with an ask, and we can keep asking until they respond.

The facts: The vast majority of Americans (92 percent) support mandatory GMO labeling and want to know what’s in their food according to a recent Consumer Reports national survey.

We want large food companies to stop blocking our right to know through the DARK Act or other anti-mandatory labeling initiatives. We also want to call upon Congress and the FDA to institute mandatory GMO labeling.

How: Go to www.JustLabelIt.org to ask Quaker to:

1) Publicly support mandatory FDA labeling of GMOs

2) Stop funding anti-mandatory labeling efforts

3) Stand up against the DARK Act

The Vision: Working together, we will hold food companies accountable for refusing to support mandatory FDA labeling of GMOs, expose their contributions to anti-mandatory labeling efforts, and show overwhelming support for mandatory labeling. Consumers will know that GMOs have dramatically increased the use of probably carcinogenic herbicides and will be able to choose foods with all the information they deserve.

On the positive side: to support companies that are actively contributing money from their bottom line to promote GMO labeling, buy from this list.

Will you join us?

 

#ShiftHappens: Join me at ShiftCon in LA this year!

ShiftCon Social Media Conference - Join me in 2015! Discount codes | Living Consciously Blog

Despite how totally awesome I am sure I make it look, it isn’t easy being green.

Sometimes I wish I didn’t know what was done to the ingredients in our food. Sometimes I wish I didn’t mentally envision the end-of-life (landfill, never biodegrading) of those not-really-disposable plastic products that everyone else seems to be able to use without thinking twice. Or I think how convenient it would be to buy makeup at the drug store without thinking about how I’m absorbing phthalates (endocrine disruptors) through my pores.

It’s times like those that I feel a little crazy. And sometimes a little alone.

But in October of last year, I had an amazing weekend that helped me realize that I am NOT alone. Not only am I not alone, but those of us who are (fortunately or unfortunately) armed with too much information about the toxins and waste in our world don’t have to just sit around and worry about it. Together, we can affect change. We can work with big brands and companies to change the way products are made. We can petition Congress and talk to our representatives about legislation that will protect the purity of our food.

Every time I make my own hand soap or bread or buy alternative products without nasty additives, GMOs, or artificial colors, I am sending a message to the corporations that I am NOT purchasing from. I admit that I get tired of all the DIY and due diligence sometimes. I want it to be easy and fast. So I’m excited to support companies that produce convenience that is responsible, safe, and uses only whole ingredients.

What if all of us who feel this way got together in one place? What if we invited the brands who agree with us to join the conversation? What if we talked about why we want change, what change we want, and helped each other get stronger and more relevant in the movement to shift the paradigm?

We can! It’s called ShiftCon Social Media conference!

Blogger or social media influencer, brand or company: no matter where you are on your journey to a greener, cleaner, healthier lifestyle, I would encourage you to attend ShiftCon social media conference this fall September 26-27 in Los Angeles, California. I am already signed up! If you are considering signing up, I have some great ways for you to save on registration.

1.  This week through March 23, registration is $100 off! Please follow the link and read more about the discount.

2. If you’re reading this after March 23, I still have a $50 off coupon code for you, as my friend! Yep, reading my blog finally pays off. $50 for you, just contact me directly at jenny{at}living-consciously{dot}com for the code.

I hope to see you there!

 NOTE: I am now an affiliate seller of tickets to ShiftCon. If you buy tickets using this link, I get $20 even after your $50 off! Let’s help each other out!

Don’t Deny Americans the Right to Know – defeat the DARK Act

Stop the DARK Act - HR 4432 will prevent GMO labeling at the Federal level effectively killing all GMO Labeling efforts in the states. Take action today! | Living Consciously Blog

If I told you that there is actually bill in the U.S. Senate right now designed to prevent us from knowing what is in the food we eat, would you believe me? Or would you say this is some kind of crazy scare tactic, and that it could never happen in the USA?

Unfortunately, this is happening. It’s an example of just how much money Big Agriculture have invested that they were able to lobby our Senators to even propose such a bill and bring it to a vote. Here are the portions of H.R. 4432 that I find most concerning:

Preempts any state or local requirement respecting a bioengineered organism intended for a food use or application, or food produced from, containing, or consisting of a bioengineered organism.

Sets forth standards for any food label that contains claims that bioengineering was or was not used in the production of the food. Preempts any state and local labeling requirements with respect to bioengineered food.

Requires the Secretary to issue regulations setting standards for a natural claim on food labels. Preempts any state or local regulations that are not identical to the requirements of this Act.

Per the bold text (my emphasis) above, not only will this legislation prevent genetically modified organisms (GMOs) from being labeled in the U.S, but it will also automatically invalidate any mandatory labeling laws that have already been passed in individual states. H.R. 4432 has been nicknamed “The DARK Act” – Denying Americans the Right to Know what is in our food. As of the publication of this post, more than 70 initiatives to label GMOs have been introduced in over 30 states (source). Clearly, Americans want to know what is in our food. I know I do!

And it’s not an unrealistic request — foods that are manufactured by major food brands here in the U.S. are already exported to Europe with slightly different labeling to meet the GMO labeling requirements in other countries. See picture proof of different labels for the same products manufactured in the same American factories in this post. So the objection that GMO labeling will be “cost prohibitive” is false because major brands are already labeling their products for sale in Europe. They actually spend more money producing dual labeling now than they would if they labeled the products the same way in all countries.

We need to come together to speak out against this legislation.

If you’ve followed me long, you know that I rarely ask you to take advocacy action. There are so many important ways to be involved that it’s often difficult to take a stand on just one. So I save my social media and blogging influence for when it really matters. I believe that this really matters and that now is the time to act.

2 ways you can help

1. Sign the petition hosted by JustLabelIt.org. There is a handy option on the site where you can provide your address and automatically generate an email to your Senator(s). I did this from my iPhone in less than 5 minutes. [NOTE: In Texas, you will be asked to specify the topic of your email in a form – choose “Agriculture”]

2. Call your Senator personally. Our advocacy experts tell us that calling a Senator’s office personally holds so much more weight than a petition or even an email. Staffers take detailed notes of each call, so be polite and brief, but be honest and firm. Tell them why you care. They need to know we are serious! Use WhoIsMyRepresentative.com to find their phone number. I will update this post with a link to talking points when I have it. Until then, be authentic. Speak from the heart.

BONUS: Share on social media.
Facebook: follow and Share posts by JustLabelIt.org and Mamavation
Twitter: follow and retweet posts by JustLabelIt.org, Mamavation, and myself. @ your Senator, if you can!

Use the following hashtags: #StoptheDARKAct #WeekofAction

If you join me, please let me know! Join my Facebook group to discuss it or tweet at me! Thanks for sharing!

Saving money on organic non-GMO groceries

After a full year of saying we’re going to sit down and go over our budget, my husband and I finally did it. We used to be such superstars about our budget when we were first married, but it’s yet another area that has slipped since we had children. We have so very little time without the kids that it seems like a waste to spend it on budgeting (see what I did there?). Still, we did it, and we survived. The aftermath has left me with the task of saving money on organic non-GMO groceries.

We’ve been eating organic produce when it comes to The Dirty Dozen for many years; that has not changed and will not change. But ever since I attended Shiftcon in October, I’ve been making a more concentrated effort to avoid genetically modified organisms in our food. I have learned so much about what’s happening to our bodies, our health, and our children as a result of GMO’s in the past few years that it’s difficult for me to “unknow” all of these things and go back to allowing these untested organisms back into our food supply. I feel terrible about choosing cheap over safe now. I hate that it has to be a choice, but I know that if I keep “voting with my dollars”, eventually the companies will start listening.

I reached out to some wonderful clean eating anti-GMO bloggers that I know asking for their best tips on saving money while eating clean. I have compiled the best advice I received and hope to implement. Some of these things I already have in place and have already tested out for you! PLEASE NOTE: There are affiliate links in this list, meaning I am an affiliate of some of the online stores, so if you order from them I will get a few cents. Thank you!

Saving Money on Organic NonGMO Groceries | Living Consciously Blog

Saving money on organic non-GMO groceries

1. Buy supplements, specialty (gluten-free, vegan, Paleo, non-GMO) snacks, and pantry staples from online retailers.

A list of retailers that may be cheaper in some cases than Whole Foods, Sprouts, or even Natural Grocer include:

Vitacost (affiliate link)
Thrive Market (affiliate link)
Abe’s Market (affiliate link)
iHerb (recommended by Lindsay Dahl)

I have found that crackers, flours, bulk herbs and grains, bath and body products, dental products, and organic feminine hygiene products are cheaper on these sites than at physical stores. Tip: order with a friend so that your order is large enough to qualify for free shipping (usually $50).

2. Garden: grow your own organic produce and herbs

This would work better if I did not constantly kill everything that I attempt to grow, but I just keep trying! The most valuable thing for me to grow would be herbs, again if I did not constantly kill them. I spend $3-$4 per week on fresh cilantro, parsley or sage. If I could somehow stop killing the herbs in my garden, that would save me $156 per year, minimum. Related: has anyone ever tried the Aerogarden (affiliate link) for this? I have been thinking of ordering one for years to try to stop the constant herb death over here.

3. Meal Planning

I am literally unable to do this inside my own brain, so I pay someone to do it for me. I love buying meal planning and having someone else tell me how to cook and what to cook. Meal planning makes certain that you don’t buy what you won’t eat in a given week. No waste! Clean eating plans that I love:

Real Plans (affiliate link)
The Fresh 20
eMeals (choose the Clean Eating, Vegetarian or Paleo plan)

4. Use the freezer

Maybe 2015 will be the year we get an electrician out to install outlets in the garage for a deep freeze. If you have freezer space, you can buy in bulk and freeze. Things to freeze: organic fruits, organic vegetables (from your garden!), grass fed meat, large batches of soup, large batches of baked goods like muffins, pancakes, and waffles, leftover smoothies and bulk cooked beans (cheaper & safer than buying canned). You can also buy frozen organic produce more cheaply than fresh.

5. Shop smarter

I’ve saved a lot over the years by knowing where each item is the cheapest. For example, conventional marshmallows have high fructose corn syrup AND blue dye (linked to attention issues and hyperactivity in children, actually required to carry a warning label in the UK, largely phased out over there). So I buy organic marshmallows, but there’s a difference in cost depending on where you buy…

Whole Foods: $4.69 per package
Natural Grocer: $4.29 per package
Thrive Market: under $4 per package

Per my blogger friends across the nation, try to find these local chains near you:

Grocery Outlet
Costco (carries a TON of organic and GMO-free items)
Natural Grocer (by Vitamin Cottage, under that name in some areas)

For more ways to shop smarter, check on these posts Organic on the Cheap, Real Food Money Saving Tips, Using Amazon Subscribe & Save makes Real Food Affordable and Real Food Grocery Budget.

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I hope some of these tips help all of us! Here’s to a thrifty 2015, and please feel free to post YOUR money saving tips for organic, non-GMO groceries in the comments!

All the Drama on the Internets #5: NPR GMO bias?

Every so often I like to give you a bulleted list of some recent “green” stories in the news and why half of the people are excited to hear about the news or study and the other half are super offended by it for some reason. DRAMA ENSUES. Almost 100% of the time, I am somewhere in the middle. I just figured that some of you might want to know what’s out there and read for yourselves. Just in case you aren’t already immersed in social media 24/7 like I am…

Food Babe speaking at ShiftCon | Living Consciously Blog

On Thursday I ignored the article NPR published calling Food Babe an alarmist because I didn’t want to draw attention to it (still refusing to link to it). Yesterday I spent most of the day watching my private Facebook groups of green/holistic/real food bloggers argue over whether the attack on the food movement by NPR was warranted, if it damaged us all in our efforts to raise awareness of the issues with our food system, and whether Vani should really be allowed free speech like the rest of us. OK, so I made that last part up, but kind of not really. Because whether we like her message or not, whether we agree with the way she says it or not, I don’t think we can argue that she has a place at the table (so to speak), just like any of us with a blog.

If you aren’t familiar with Food Babe, go ahead and look her up. She’s so huge I don’t even have to link to her. Do I read her blog? No, not regularly. Mostly because I am orthorexic, and if I read too much about the tiny details of chemicals in everything I start starving myself. But here’s the thing: most people are not like me. In fact, most people are the opposite. The majority of Americans eat the food they find in the middle of the supermarket, the Standard American Diet, which (aside from being woefully nutritionally deficient) is full of so many chemicals, additives, preservatives, and overall fake-ness that our bodies don’t even know how to function properly. What’s worse is that most people actually feel like they are eating healthfully because our government requires pretty much no labeling or explanation of what is really inside our food when it comes to GMOs, synthetic chemicals, and ingredients that are banned in the UK and other industrialized countries.

Food Babe’s value is that she uses the sensational-type headlines that Americans consuming mass media find intriguing. “You Won’t Believe What’s In Your Yogurt – And It’s Not On The Label!” , “If You’ve Ever Eaten Pizza Before, This Will Blow Your Mind (Maybe Literally)“. Are they the kind of blog post titles you’d find on my blog? No. But they work for her and they draw attention to her message. She also has the guts to go after the big corporations and she’s had some very impressive wins – getting Kraft to remove the artificial orange from their macaroni & cheese, alerting us to the yoga mat ingredient in Subway buns, telling us all that the Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte is deadly.

OK, so it’s actually things like that last one that get us into trouble.

Does the Pumpkin Spice Latte have bad ingredients in it? Yes. Should we be putting that crap in our stomaches? Not really. But will one latte really kill us? No. No, it won’t. But…

Here’s the thing: those nasty chemicals like the ones in the Starbucks latte might be small in the latte, but they are in EVERYTHING we consume. Those little tiny bits of chemicals in your coffee creamer, in your sandwich bun, added to your lunch meat, in your salad dressing, in that artificially-colored yogurt with aspartame that you had for a snack, the eggs McDonald’s sells that have 17 ingredients (look it up) — it’s the accumulation of those chemicals that is the issue. And that is what Vani has spent the past several years exposing, one at a time. She is there to teach those who aren’t aware to start thinking about what they are eating, to ask “why?”. I think she has a place. She is good at what she does, and she is drawing our attention to very important issues.

Obviously, my technique in encouraging consciously living and eating is different than hers, but I also don’t grab the kind of attention she does from the mainstream public. I think that a lot of you were probably already on your way to making better choices when you found this blog. She writes the kind of headlines that reach people who aren’t seeking ways to change, and causes them to consider something for the first time.

I am a little disappointed in NPR. We’ve been members of our local NPR station the entire time we’ve been married, and my husband was a member for years before we were married. We will continue to support our local NPR station. It was unsettling to see that there was only one side represented in this article, with heavy quoting from a pro-GMO group but not representation from anti-GMO groups at all.

Just this morning, NPR released another article putting GMO ingredients in a negative light. Because so many vitamins added to processed foods are manufactured using GMO ingredients, the cereal makers who have agreed to remove the GMOs from their cereal are left with cereal lower in added vitamins. I say good! We should not be relying on sugar- and grain-filled cereal each morning to meet our nutritional needs with manufactured vitamins. We should be getting these vitamins from whole foods — fruits and vegetables and superfoods throughout the day. If moving toward fewer GMOs also moves us toward more whole foods, GREAT!

But, NPR…not so great, guys. Not so partial. I would definitely not go so far as to say that there is a NPR GMO bias, but I would like to ask: Where is representation from our side in these stories?

Living Consciously Holiday Gift Guide 2014

I’ve never done a Holiday Gift Guide before, but this year I really learned about some great brands and products that I think will truly help you give (or receive) this season in a way that will help you live more consciously in 2015, so I had to share! Please note that I do have an affiliate relationship with some of these brands, or that I might have received free products the first time I tried them, so that I would know whether I wanted to recommend them to you. I have noted which and what applies with an asterisk or affiliate relationship marked in parentheses.

My hope is that you will be able to find some amazing non-toxic gifts for anyone on your list, while giving back (see Soapbox Soaps) and supporting small businesses.

Happy Holidays!

GiftGuideKids2014v2For the Kids

Bendi Baby Yoga Mat (affiliate link) – A yoga mat specifically made to be as tall as your child and light enough to carry! Comes in two sizes: Baby and Tot. Make sure to follow them on Instagram, they have some adorable pictures!

Kids Yoga Stories – I used these books when I taught Kids Yoga and the kids LOVED them. Now there is also a set of flashcards with children doing poses to make learning the yoga poses easy for kids. I’d also recommend signing up for the weekly newsletter on this site, which comes with really neat pose sequences that you can do with your child at home.

Mama May I Shop* – An adorable boutique of handmade, sustainable toys for all ages. My kids (ages 3 and 5) absolutely LOVE telling stories to Daddy and I at night and listening to us make up stories for them with Story Starters. These handmade wooden dice have pictures printed on them in eco-friendly ink. You roll them and make up stories! They come in a metal tin with a little notebook for recording your best stories. Other toys we were interested in included play silks, Fairy Friends, and the assortment of crayon wallets!

Musical Instruments – More of a general suggestion, I wanted to include this because we recently purchased both a child’s guitar (affiliate link) and a full junior drum set (affiliate link) for our son, even though I honestly thought we were insane to do it (especially when it came to the drum set). But it hasn’t been a terrible idea, actually. I have noticed he has much better rhythm and it gives him a constructive way to use his energy. We started at the age of about 2 with this simple Melissa & Doug music set (affiliate link).

 GiftGuideAnyone2014v2Eco-friendly non-toxic gifts for anyone

Vitamix blender (affiliate link) – Although this is more of a dream item for most people, it’s absolutely worth the price tag, in my opinion! I got mine for Mother’s Day this year (2014) and still use it every day, sometimes multiple times a day. Make your own nut milk, nut butters, soups, hummus, smoothies, and even juice with your Vitamix to avoid additives and preservatives in processed foods. For ideas, check out my Vitamix recipe Pinterest board.

Board & Batten Farm to Skin* – A new concept in luxury skin and body care, this company has a “Farm to Skin” philosophy — their products are created from raw materials taken from their own farm in Florida. On their site you can purchase soy candles, charcoal soap, body creme, and a full skin care line, all packaged beautifully and ready to gift. I have tried the “Begin Again” facial buff made of organic quinoa and fruit enzymes and loved how simple yet effective it was! If you just can’t decide on a gift, try a pre-assembled gift set bundle.

Soapbox Soap Holiday Bundle* – One of my favorite discoveries at ShiftCon this year, Soapbox Soaps are in the business of giving back to those in need year-round. Every time you purchase a soap, body wash, or body lotion from Soapbox Soaps, they will donate an equivalent value to someone in need. For example, buy their famous charcoal soap and they’ll give a bar of soap to someone who doesn’t have access to soap. Buy a body wash and they donate an entire month’s worth of water to areas with no access to clean water. For a bottle of lotion, one year of vitamins to undernourished populations. My favorite item for gifting is the Holiday Gift Bundle, the purchase of which provides a bar of soap, a month of water AND a year of vitamins to someone in need!

Dolly Moo products – I won a package of Dolly Moo products in a yoga challenge this year and the scrubs quickly became my favorite. I love that the body products are made of ingredients I recognize and that all the scents come from essential oils. She also makes dried sage smudge sticks for cleansing the home. The company has a lovely Instagram page and is very committed to the yoga community in particular. Bonus: the scrubs also stand in for shaving cream on legs, leaving your legs luxuriously moisturized! Two products for the price of one!

Living Consciously Blog's Non-Toxic Gift Guide Stockings Stuffers 2014 Non-toxic Stocking stuffers/Secret Santa suggestions

Nutiva O’Coconut coconut nuggets – I loved finding these low-sugar (3g) GMO-free Fair Trade treats in my ShiftCon swag bag so much that I ordered more of my own from Vitacost.com. Flavors are Original and Hemp & Chia. The ingredients are healthy but the taste is like candy! They can be difficult to find locally, but if you have a Natural Grocer or Whole Foods near you, try the treat section. Or just buy through Vitacost (affiliate link).

Dang coconut chips Dark Chocolate – Coconut chips dipped in dark chocolate! Yum! Fair Trade, GMO free, and low in sugar. Very easy to find at any local health food store, but also available on Vitacost (affiliate link).

Miessence Rose Monsoon Hydrating Mist – The brand is committed to 100% organic skin care ingredients, and it’s a great place to find any body products or even probiotics, but their moisturizing rose water spray is something that everyone can use! Just this week I spent too much time in front of the fireplace and felt smokey — I sprayed a fine mist of the rose water all over my hair and face and the smokiness was gone! An instant mood brightener during hectic holidays, you might actually want to grab some for yourself as well as your friend. There is a discount with a purchase over $150. Be sure to click on her “Special Offers” for botanical perfumes currently more than half off!

Earth Mama Angel Baby Lotions – Not just for new moms and babies anymore! Here’s my last-minute pampering suggestion: Earth Mama has come out with 2 brand new lotion scents that make great teacher gifts, and you can run to your local Sprouts or Target as late as 10pm the night before and grab a bottle for $10! Put it in a cute bag with a note about how you trust your little one with such a great teacher every day and you’re done! They have all kinds of great stocking stuffers, from relaxing herbal teas to non-toxic lip balms (which are our family’s personal favorite chapstick option!) If you do want to buy online, you can always buy from Amazon (affiliate link) or directly from their web site.

 

* All items marked with an asterisk were given to me to sample by the company at some point in 2014. I liked them so much that I proceeded to purchase them with my own money and/or use them regularly. I did NOT get paid to mention any of them in this gift guide.

GMO Labeling is NOT impossible: picture proof

If you live in a state that has proposed labeling Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) in food, if you stand up for #LabelGMOs on social media and have been attacked by anti-labeling trolls, or if you have had any conversation at all with someone who is anti-GMO-labeling, you will have heard this claim: GMO labeling is prohibitively expensive and time consuming for companies. The argument goes like this: companies will have to do allll this extra work to identify GMOs in their products, then oh nooooooo, all the ink it will require to print the labeling! So prohibitive! All that ink! All that knowing-where-the-ingredients-come-from! It will make even the largest companies fold under the sheer prohibitive cost! It’s anti-capitalism!

Well, I’m here to tell you that all the “expensive”, “difficult”, and “prohibitively expensive” work has already been done by many of these major companies who are leading the charge against labeling in the United States. GMO labeling is NOT impossible, pictures are below. Leah of Mamavation (and founder of Shiftcon) is currently on a European trip and was kind enough to send back pictures of the GMO labeling and altered ingredients found in the UK versions of popular products here in the U.S. She has posted them on her Facebook page over the past week or so, and I thought I would compile them for those of you who do not follow her.

Popular US products with GMOs removed or labeled in the UK versions. Note that many are actually manufactured in the US! | Living Consciously Blog

Notice in these pictures that the several of the products with GMO labeling are manufactured in the U.S. It’s not that these products are manufactured in the UK for the UK, as special products only to be sold in Europe. They are made and labeled here, right alongside the product sold to Americans unlabeled. U.S. families are the only ones left in the dark as to what is actually in our food products. Not labeling these products here in the U.S. is conscious choice, one that is requiring companies to actually produce multiple lines of packaging (often in the same facility) to keep GMOs hidden from Americans.

Another interesting fact noted on the graphic is how the FD&C artificial colors have been removed from the UK versions of food. You might be wondering why there rarely artificial dyes in the UK versions of food. Artificial food dyes that have been found to cause hyperactivity and to exacerbate nervous conditions such as ADHD in children (PDF of study summary here) are forced to contain a warning label in the UK stating “may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children”. In order to avoid having to include this warning on their foods, companies who sell products in EU countries have self-regulated and removed artificial food dyes, substituting natural dyes (Mercola report source here).

I get particularly annoyed that the same products are manufactured without artificial food dyes overseas, because I have talked to several of these large brands at the Expo halls of major blogging conferences and have been told over and over that they “can’t” remove the food dyes because “it would change the quality of the product”. Apparently those were all lies, because these products already exist without the food dyes in the UK!

I guess it’s not surprising that marketers lie to us. But, I think it is time to hold them accountable. The next time you hear the argument that GMO labeling is prohibitively expensive or too laborious, help me spread the truth!

#shifthappens and what happened there

 

#shifthappens ShiftCon social media conference

As I mentioned before, I spent the last weekend in Los Angeles, California with an amazing group of women (and I heard there were some men attendees, but I never directly spoke to any except Gary Hirshberg). We all have different areas of focus; real food, organic, living waste-free, toxicant avoidance, pesticide reform, fitness, wellness, or nutrition. But what we had in common is the desire to shift the paradigm in this country. You can see our social media conversations by searching the #shifthappens hashtag on your favorite social media platform (we’re everywhere!).

I learned from the speakers, discussions, and side conversations this weekend that what we need to do is ask for what we want. It’s that simple. It’s so simple that you can do it too!

We are all in different places on our journeys to live more consciously. When we learn that the things we eat, what we put on our skin, what we buy for our children contain toxins that are making us sick, we can choose to be more and more afraid, to withdraw further into fear and paranoia… OR… Or we can vote with our wallet and seek out alternatives. We can choose not to participate in this cycle of cheap chemicals.

But it doesn’t even have to be as difficult as changing brands: we shouldn’t have to stop going to Starbucks. Instead, we need to be asking Starbucks to change(I did this weekend and I got some Twitter flack for it, as did several others involved in the Starbucks #organicmilknext campaign). I heard over and over from people like Robyn O’Brien and Vani Hari that when enough consumers ask a company to make a change, they respond. Chipolte did. Kraft didSubway did. Disney did.

You might notice those are not small companies, but they changed their ingredients. Why? Not because of regulation or legislation — but due to consumer demand. Of course, we will still work on the legislative front. Right now there are GMO labeling initiatives in Colorado and Oregon. If you are in those states, please vote for labeling!

I, however, am not in a state that is ever likely to vote to label GMO’s. So all I can do is vote with my dollars and ask for change. I’m hoping to document a little more of both sides of my ongoing journey for conscientious change in the next few months, so stick with me!

I’d like to close this post with the trailer for a movie that ShiftCon founder has been working on. I will keep you posted on places you can see this film when it begins showing!

“A New Resistance” Teaser Trailer from Unacceptable Levels on Vimeo.

March Against Monsanto Dallas, TX

March Against Monsanto DallasMarch Against Monsanto, Dallas TxYou can't own Mother Nature #MarchAgainstMonsanto#MAM DallasThe Honeybee Guild says "Where my bees at?" #MarchAgainstMonsantoMarch Against Monsanto Dallas
Greed Kills from Occupy Baton Rouge at #MAM DallasMarch Against Monsanto DallasMarch Against Monsanto DallasGreed Kills: Dallas March Against MonsantoThe Dallas March Against Monsanto
The only thing more expensive than organic is CANCERThe President of McDonald's sits on the baord of MonsantoGathering after #MarchAgainstMonsantoOur fearless leader #MAMMy first protest march! #MarchAgainstMonsanto
March Against Monsanto Dallas, TX

Today was my first (peaceful!) protest march – March Against Monsanto. These marches took place all across the globe in major cities to protest Monsantos ubiquitous barrage of GMO’s in our food supply. I was so encouraged to see the diversity of people and march together with a common concern. Above are links to my Flickr photoset because there were too many to upload via WordPress. Valerie and I went together and she created this awesome video of our impressions immediately after the event {video here}:

Let’s keep up this fight and push for (at the VERY LEAST) labeling of GMO foods and GMO-derived products! Thanks also to everyone who came out!