the past eight years, this column has focused on helping readers recognize
the myriad ways in which we are exposed to toxic substances in our
daily lives – from pesticides on food, toxic chemicals in personal
care products, EMF exposure from cell phones, and other assaults to
our health in the modern world. The intent is not only to raise awareness,
but also to empower readers to make wiser choices in the marketplace.
As my dear friend and colleague Helena Baldyga always says, "The
consumer votes with their dollar." This holiday season I hope
to empower readers to let their dollars vote when they shop for gifts
for their families, friends, and associates. Buying healthful products
for those we care about increases the value of the gift. It also sends
a message to corporate America that we care about the products we use,
the health of those involved in the manufacturing process, and the
long-term effects on the environment.
Whether the recipient is a spouse, child, aging parent, cherished friend, colleague,
teacher, or staff person, you can find many ways of improving upon the usual
flowers or candy, as well as discovering more unusual choices, like EMF protectors,
organic food, clothing, cosmetics, and more. Gift shopping takes place all year
long with births and birthdays, graduations and retirements, engagements, weddings,
and anniversaries. Once we begin to think about healthier gift giving, it becomes
a mission, at least for some of us.
A gift of flowers brings joy to everyone. Unfortunately, most consumers don't
realize how toxic commercially raised flowers can be. A high percentage of
cut flowers are raised in Central and South America, where temperatures are
moderate and labor is cheap. Pesticide exposure to workers is seldom regulated,
nor is pesticide contamination of local soil and water sources.
Local florists who handle the flowers are also exposed to toxic pesticides.
I shudder to think how many beautiful wedding cakes are decorated with pesticide-laden
flowers, and no one gives it a second thought. A much better solution is to
purchase organic flowers that minimize damage to the ecosystem, improve conditions
for farm workers, and are more healthful for the recipient.
Several months ago, I received an organic bouquet of the most outrageously
colored roses from my daughter for my birthday. She knows I like bright colors,
and these were exquisite. The company, Organic Bouquet (www.OrganicBouquet.com,
1-877-899-2468) ships flowers directly from the farm and guarantees "at
least seven days of garden fresh beauty." In my bouquet, two of the roses
began to wither around the fifth day, so I phoned the company, and to my surprise,
they sent another full bouquet, which extended my enjoyment of the flowers
for a second full week.
One would hope that hospitals would start carrying organic flowers, instead
of exposing patients to more toxic chemicals. Health care professionals who
like to keep fresh flowers in their waiting rooms and offices might consider
voting with their dollar for organic bouquets, with a handy supply of business
cards that patients could pick up for ordering their own organic flowers. Another
company that offers a selection of organic flowers, as well as organic seasonal
fruit and organic chocolate, is www.CaliforniaOrganicFlowers.com (530-981-6265).
Their flowers are cut fresh in the early morning for next-day arrival.
When choosing an appropriate gift becomes overwhelming, gift certificates are
simple and welcome solutions. Since everyone eats, gift certificates to a
local health food store where recipients can happily choose their own gifts
are always appreciated. Wise shoppers already familiar with health food stores
will truly value such a gift, and for others, it can provide an opportunity
to a whole new world of healthful exploration.
Organic foods are healthier for the consumer, agricultural workers, and the
environment. Avoiding toxic pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, and genetically
modified foods is one way we can help others and ourselves. Where access to
health food stores is limited, the following mail order companies offer a large
variety of healthful selections. While not endorsing any particular company,
I offer several suggestions for readers' convenience.
The Grain & Salt Society (www.celticseasalt.com, 800-867-7258) offers high
quality Celtic sea salt, plus specialty oils, condiments, organic nut butters,
jams, pickling crocks, spices, juicers, personal care products, and much more.
Natural Lifestyles (www.natural-lifestyle.com, 800-752-2775) carries a wide
variety of organic dried beans, grains, herbs, teas, Fair-Trade coffee, and
condiments; bakeware, pressure cookers, woks, and beverage bottles made of
stainless steel; personal care products, water purifiers, organic clothing,
cookbooks, and more. Breaking the plastic water bottle habit by switching to
stainless steel, or another metal, is a great way to reduce plastic chemicals
from one's diet.
LILIPOH, which stands for Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, is a
quarterly publication representing the anthroposophic approach to health, education,
agriculture, and nutrition. They offer three websites for finding local organic
and biodynamic produce www.localorganicfood.com, www.biodynamicproduce.com,
and www.lilipoh.com. Natural Zing (www.naturalzing.com, 410-379-6174) sells
organic wild-crafted food, raw and vegan food, and health-related products.
Mountain Rose Herbs (www.mountainroseherbs.com, 800-879-3337) sells organic
herbs and teas in bulk, plus 4,000 other natural and organic products. A unique
item for the younger set is their wild-crafted board game that teaches about
medical herbs and the importance of cooperative teamwork. The Strand Tea Company
(www.strandtea.com, 888-718-6358) offers 100 fresh organic and regular teas.
Peace Coffee (www.peacecoffee.com, 888-324-7872) sells shade-grown, organic,
100% Fair-Trade coffee.
Gluten-Free Foods and Organic Pet Supplies
For the increasing number of individuals who are gluten-intolerant, a special
treat they can enjoy would be most welcomed. Grandpa Po's (www.GrandpaPos.com)
sells Nutra Nuts, crunchy organic popcorn snacks with soybeans that are gluten,
dairy, and GMO free. Shop Natural (www.shopnatural.com) offers 5,000 natural
and organic grocery, health, and beauty items, including gluten-free foods
and pet care items. N.E.E.D.S. (www.needs.com, 800-634-1380) offers a wide
selection of gluten-free foods and pet care items. Pet Guard Organics (www.petguard.com)
offers organic food, supplements, and grooming products for cats and dogs.
They do not use wheat gluten or source ingredients from China.
Wine is a very popular holiday gift item. Health-conscious consumers are learning
about the many benefits of grapes. They are loaded with vitamins, minerals,
and easily digestible sugars and have long been recognized for their cleansing
properties. In some cultures, the grape diet has been touted for its therapeutic
benefits. Grapes are grown with a lot of pesticides, and many consumers are
sensitive to sulfites. Organic wines are great to give and to receive.
In the Finger Lakes area of New York, the small Four Chimneys Organic Winery
(www.fourchimneysorganicwines.com, 607-243-8156) introduced organic wines in
1980. In Kettle Falls, Washington, the China Bend Winery (www.chinabend.com,
800-700-6123) offers organic unsulfited wines. The Organic Wine Company (www.ecowine.com,
888-326-9463) guarantees 100% satisfaction of their wines, claiming they are
well-tolerated by the chemically sensitive.
Raising organic production a notch higher is biodynamic farming, which is even
more eco-friendly, working with nature on all levels of planting and harvesting.
Two wineries run by the Benziger brothers in the Sonoma Valley area of California
raise biodynamic grapes. The Benziger Family Winery (www.benziger.com, 800-490-2739)
offers eight biodynamically prepared wines. The Imagery Estate Winery and Art
Gallery (www.imagerywinery.com, 877-550-4278) sells biodynamic, organic, and
sustainably grown varieties. The Cooper Mountain Winery in Beavertown, Oregon
(www.coopermountainwine.com, 503-649-0027) is another small winery offering
organic and biodynamic wines.
Natural and Organic Personal Care Products
A gift certificate for organic make-up or personal care products is sure to
please any young (or not so young) woman on your shopping list. These items
tend to be a little pricier than what is available in the discount department
stores that flaunt tempting colorful lipsticks, nail polishes, and eye make-up
filled with toxic ingredients. Giving organic body care products is a wonderful
way to help people we care about avoid inhaling, ingesting, or absorbing
harmful chemicals such as paraben preservatives, anti-microbial pesticides,
and petroleum-based dyes and fragrances.
The following list is a mere sampling of the growing number of companies
meeting consumer demand for organic or synthetic free products:
Organics (www.aubrey-organics.com) was one of the first companies
offering organic cosmetics.
- Miessence (www.onegrp.com) cosmetics
are both "Australian
Certified Organic" and "USDA
- allnaturalcosmetics.com offers a selection
of 300 cosmetics, toothpaste, household cleaners, and personal
care products for men,
- Dr. Bronner's (www.DrBronnerSunDog.com)
offers a line of organic lotions, balms, and soaps.
- MyChelle Dermaceuticals
LLC (www.mychelleusa.com, 800-447-2076) offers skin products,
plus lip, cheek, and eye colors that are
free of toxic
- Herbalix Restoratives (www.herbalixrestoratives.com,
866-387-4222) sells chemical-free products for hair care, massage,
plus products and
treats for pets.
- The Druide Company (www.Druide.ca, 800-537-8433)
in Canada carries all natural balms, shampoos, conditioners,
Gifts for Babies and Chemically Sensitive Individuals
Many personal care products, including those used on babies and children contain
harsh or toxic ingredients, including estrogen-mimicking chemicals that are
endocrine disruptors. A good supply of baby-friendly products makes a great
gift for new mothers.
Parenting By Nature (www.parentingbynature.com, 800-537-8433) offers 100% chemical-free
organic baby care products, diapers, sleepware, baby carriers, and a lot more.
Eco-Beauty Organics' (www.eco-beauty.com, 208-267-9819) products are
designed for delicate baby skin. Organic baby clothing and linens are available
from Gaiam (www.GAIAM.com, 800-869-3446).
Cell Phone Protecters
You can hardly find an American youth walking around without a cell phone or
iPod stuck to his or her ear. The EMF controversy rages on, with industry
and government denying any health risks, while a growing body of scientific
research from outside the United States appears to disagree. No one is willing
to give up their cell phone or iPod for health reasons, and trying to convince
young people to limit their use is futile. What to do? Err on the side of
caution, and use an EMF harmonizer.
Several companies sell little button harmonizers that attach to electronic
devices, such as cell phones, iPods, computers, TVs, large appliances, cars,
and more. The devices do not eliminate the electro-magnetic frequencies (EMFs),
but alter them to harmonize with the body's own frequency.
EMF harmonizers are available from www.HealthLine.cc, 800-370-3447 and www.ProHealthSolutions.com,
800-500-9395. Q-link is a personal EMF protector that can be worn around the
neck. It is available from www.needs.com, 800-634-1380.
The N.E.E.D.S. company (www.needs.com, 800-634-1380) carries hundreds of products
for healthful living, including air and water purifiers, gentle household
cleaners and bedding for the chemically sensitive, books on health, plus
vitamins and supplements at discount prices. More environmentally friendly
products for the home, including furnishings, shower filters, organic linens
and clothing are available from Gaiam (www.GAIAM.com, 800-869-3446).
The Cutting Edge Catalog (www.cutcat.com, 800-497-9516) carries a huge variety
of healthful items, including products for vision therapy, natural home and
garden products, light & color therapy, air and water purifiers, energy
testers, personal care, and more.
It may be helpful to keep a copy of these websites handy for future gift buying.
As consumers, we vote with our dollars. I hope that this holiday shopping season
more of us will vote by buying products that help sustain our health as well
as the health of workers around the world and that of the eco-system.
Rose Marie Williams, MA
156 Sparkling Ridge Road, New Paltz, NY 12561