Eat your vegetables.
We all know that’s good advice, but what about organic? Is that part of the “I’m going to be healthy now” package?
Sometimes as people are trying to make the switch from processed foods or junk foods to a real food diet, they think they have to eat organic food to be healthy, and the sticker shock sends them back to Poptarts for comfort.
It’s not all or nothing though. Eating your vegetables, no matter how they’re grown, is better than Poptarts. Sourcing organic vegetables is even better, but that can wait until round two on the journey.
When it comes to cleaning, I’ve touched on using natural products many times here at Kitchen Stewardship, and today it’s time to show you round two: Checking into the sources of your natural and homemade cleaning products.
If you’ve been using homemade products or “natural” products for quite some time, it may be time to learn the sources of the different ingredients.
Skin: a Revolving Door
Your skin is your largest organ, and it isn’t like a shield per se but more like a sieve, allowing elements to pass through both ways (body products, air pollution, sunlight go in, sweat and toxins come out).
If you don’t believe that, cut a clove of fresh garlic and rub the cut side on the sole of your foot. Within about 10-15 minutes, you’ll taste garlic in your mouth.
What we put ON our skin might as well be going into our mouths. (Except that clearly we shouldn’t really put cleaning products in our mouths, no matter how they are sourced…)
So if you are at the place in your journey where you’re prioritizing organic food, especially if you go beyond the dirty dozen and also seek out well-raised, organic meats (we had an interesting discussion about whether that’s worth it and how to afford it on Facebook)…maybe it’s time to take the next step with your personal and cleaning products too.
Prioritizing the List
Just like with produce when you might prioritize buying organic raspberries or apples over avocado or broccoli because of the pesticide loads, consider length of time in contact with your skin when you prioritize natural products and contaminant-free sourcing.
Consider that while whatever you use to clean your floors and wash your hands will likely only be on your skin or in the air for a short period of time, products like lotions, makeup, and laundry soaps are in contact with your skin all day long. You might also prioritize products you use in the shower, because all the heat and steam can both open up your pores and increase the likelihood that you’ll be breathing in fumes of whatever you’re using.
(In case you’ve been wondering about the “other detergent” scent in my secondhand clothes since my Molly’s Suds review, I did wash them once more in Molly’s powder, and now…they smell pretty much like “clean” and “fresh out of the dryer” with just a teensy whiff of “other detergent.” It was a really strong fragrance, because some other secondhand clothing that I just scored last week went through one wash and smells perfect already.)
Go Deep to Avoid Contaminants
It’s hard to avoid toxins in our world – air and water pollution, cleaning products in public buildings, offgassing furniture and paint, and even the fragrances other people are wearing assault our senses daily.
Choosing organic foods is one way to reduce the number of foreign, potentially hazardous substances your body will come into contact with. Choosing organically sourced ingredients in your personal products is another.
Many products are scented with essential oils, for example, or even have them as active ingredients. To make an essential oil, it takes pounds and pounds of the plant substance to produce just a little bit of oil, so everything is very concentrated. Many say organically grown botanicals are the only safe source for EOs.
It turns out that even inorganic substances – stuff that doesn’t decompose and was never alive – should be sourced thoughtfully. Molly’s Suds explains the source of all their ingredients here, including:
We use a pure, cruelty-free source which is mined from the Green River Basin in Wyoming; a sustainable natural source for 20,000 years. Other sodium carbonates are synthetically processed from trona, glass and manmade chemicals and sold for laundry and industrial use.
For those folks making popular homemade laundry soaps that use Super Washing Soda, apparently that is made with fillers and has contaminants. Just because something is “from a natural source” doesn’t mean it’s contaminant free.
This idea reminds me of Real Salt, which is from an ancient sea deep below the surface of the earth in Utah, protected from modern pollution for hundreds of years simply by its placement. I guess sometimes you have to dig deep to find the good stuff.
But I’m Overwhelmed!
That’s OK. To be honest, I don’t take time to specifically source perfectly crafted everything, either. It’s good to have some knowledge about how to find well-sourced ingredients in personal and cleaning products, though, so that if you’re comparing two brands, you can place more weight on contaminant-free stuff.
Should you toss all your “natural” products if they’re not organic? Goodness, no. You just might pat yourself on the back when you find a company that does care enough about sourcing to explain each ingredient and where it’s from.
Bottom line: For those of us who seek contaminant free food (organic) already, we might also want to consider contaminants in other products.
Do you read ingredients on non-food products too? What are you looking for in a natural cleaner/personal product?