MSG is a jealous lover

Welcome to “That’s Not Food Thursday.” I’ll try to keep it shorter this time.

You know MSG loves you, and you love it. It makes you think everything it is in is SO yummy, you just have to have more.

Think about how you feel about Cheetos, or BBQ potato chips, or, in a very weak moment, maybe even KFC. You can’t eat just one for a reason. You can put this stuff on cardboard and all of a sudden you think, “Man, I LOVE cardboard–how come I never noticed this?”

See, even something that tastes crappy becomes above-average with MSG:


I once was righteously eating a pre-packaged veggie-tray, dipping happily in my white little bucket of sin it came with. Just one bite, and I thought, “WOW, this is good ranch! Seriously! I will eat even the broccoli in this if the ranch is this good . . . I think I’ll lick the cup when I’m done . . .Who would of thought ranch dressing would have . . . ? Wait a minute . . . ” (I flip over the little happy bucket suspiciously) Ah, there it is, the jealous lover, named like a gangsta–MaSta G.

It was just plain lame ranch, just with some MSG in it, messing with my mind.

That really is what it does, too. He’s big on the mind games. That’s why McDonalds can sell you wads of kind-of-beef under kind-of-cheese with shellacked “veggies” and you’ll go back again and again. And they know you will, because with MSG they don’t have to even try (and they don’t). So we go back because we love our MSG as much as he loves us (and our neurotransmitters), and he makes sure we do.

You might already think it’s bad because it makes a food high in sodium and bad carbs, which is a part of the story. Here’s the rest of the low-down if you and/or your kids are feelin’ the love for the MSG:

  1. MSG is in almost every processed savory food.
  2. MSG is not always on the label as Monosodium Glutamate (like it is shamelessly advertised on your Doritos). MSG is surprisingly big business, too, so, due to the bad press of MSG, food processors have asked and received from our government permission to call it lots of things, the most popular one these days is “natural flavors.” This can also be other things, but if it is a salty (not sweet) food, it’s safe to assume it’s MSG or a like-minded cousin (Trust no one!)
  3. MSG is highly addictive. This is not a secret to the manufacturers who use it. Don’t kid yourself, it is why they use it (conspiring men, if you know what I mean)
  4. MSG causes and predisposes its lovers to obesity. The younger a person is exposed, the more prone they are to obesity in later life. Type “MSG” and “Obesity” into the public medical study database and you will come up with over 120 studies explaining this link.
  5. A large percentage of people are allergic or react negatively to MSG. I have a very down-to-earth friend (not a crazy hippie, although I’m working on her) who has severe migraines when she eats it–she’s like a divining rod for unlabeled MSG.
  6. Last but not least, MSG has been shown to cause brain lesions and neuro-endocrine disorders.

I’m just giving you the short version here, but I do recommend you read this two-page article for the full education. The website is not perfect, it has a little of the “our government hates us” tone, but hey, they kind of do, and the article is one of the more well-documented and thorough on this subject. Read it–you know, for the kids.

The TV has been telling us for years that it is too time consuming and hard to make our own food, we are too busy, so we should allow them, the advertisers, take care of it for us. It’s a lie. And now our nation is fatter and sicker than ever (I know I am). I’m learning it takes more planning, but not necessarily time.

Here is an article on a quick way to start: Make Meals in 30 Minutes or Less

My kids get enough mind games from me, they don’t need to get them from their food. Plus, I know I already gave my kids the hefty gene, I am not about to throw their odds off even further with more MSG now I know the whole story.

I’m breaking up with MaSta G.

Graduate-Level Parenting

I’ve decided that I will truly have graduated as a parent when I:

  1. Spend as much time actually parenting my kids (and enjoying it) as I currently spend wondering, worrying and writing about it.
  2. Consistently get out of bed early enough to get myself together mentally, spiritually and physically before the kids wake up.

No more would I be rudely awakened by someone screaming in anger or pain while someone else cackles and giggles wickedly. No more would I angrily come downstairs half-dressed and blind to squint and yell the same lecture at indistinguishable blobs I assume to be my jammied children who are rolling on a floor covered in Cheerios not watching the screaming television.

Instead, they would come down to a bowl of warm oatmeal and a happy mom with inner peace who took the time to exercise, pray and shower, and even dress herself. Armed with the grace of God, faith hope and charity, and the steel zen fortitude needed to face another day, I will literally beat them to the punch.

Imagine having the first thing I think about my sweet children each day being about feeding and nurturing and loving –not just the instant fury upon waking that someone has woken everyone up at this unholy hour and are about to wake the –oh, and just woke the baby. Did I mention we’re talking about somewhere between 5:45 and 6:15 a.m. here? It’s not like I’m lazing about, mad that they’re up at 7 or something.

Getting up before the kids is the pinnacle I aspire to, even though it means 5 a.m. I know of mythical mothers who do it, and even some among my friends. They are evidence that it is possible.

It’s just more of that self-mastery mountain that I’ve elected to mope at the bottom of for years rather than start climbing. And on that topic, my week of banning daytime computer use apparently starts tomorrow.

The Devil’s in the Emails

Unlike children, we adults have the privilege of setting and enforcing our own household rules for ourselves. We can write our own chore list, and we can do it or not. As I’m still in need of strict and structured discipline, I fabricate methods to accomplish my own goals, from the basic (keeping myself from getting on file at Child Protective Services for sanitation reasons) to the more ambitious (unequivocal self-mastery).

Some tactics discussed on this site, like the habits of the mean broom, dinner’s not over until the kitchen is clean, and the self-propelling Sunday chore chart meetings, I’m finding are really working.

After a vacation, the flu, and some family excitement, I looked around and realized the house was a mess. I remembered that I read on a website somewhere that kids should do chores, and then I remembered it was my website, and I went to find out what I said. (I have a short-term memory problem that is amusing and tragic.) I reinstituted the patterns swiftly and surprisingly painlessly–the kids complained less than I remembered them doing before all the upheaval. Things are well on their way back to tamed chaos.

But my chores weren’t getting done. And I have no respect for the authority figure (me) and am full of sass when confronted with jobs. You can guess the culprit (besides sheer laziness)–it’s the dumb computer. It has become clear that my lack of discipline regarding when and how long I use the computer is the main obstacle between me and achieving all my hopes and dreams in life.

This is new to no one. There are endless sites helplessly bemoaning the ignoring of children and household chores to email, blog, read and shop. If you have a question, for example, about Neustria, because you have some ancestor there in the 9th century and you need to know right now where it was and why it had that weird name and why it eventually was named France instead, you can drop everything and find out. Now. That is the coolest thing ever.

The computer dings and I run over to it like a salivating dog–Will it be a funny, irreverent forwarded email (or more likely a not-funny or sentimental one, or one that assumes my political leanings are just about the opposite of what they really are)? Maybe it will be a coupon from Enterprise car rental? Is it time for my daily love letter from Barack who always ends his sweet notes with trying to bum my money like a bad boyfriend?

You know the drill. Then there’s some link in there that’s interesting which reminds you of that other thing you’ve been meaning to look at and then you find yourself reading about a long lost medieval country on Wikipedia.

So it’s time to lay down the law and make some guidelines.

If I’m honest with myself, I need to make sure my work is done before getting on the computer, and although I’d like that to mean just my chores, I’ve also tried to put parenting on my list of things to do. I have too many kids to have real down time during the day. So that means no computer until all kids are asleep, which also happens to be spouse time. Still, I’m going to make and follow this rule for one week, no computer before the kids are in bed, and I’ll let you know how it goes.

My hypothesis is that my motivation to hang out with my beau will quickly decide for me how important all those emails are, and perhaps benefit you with less long-winded posts, too. I end with a favorite quote (although I always find it heart-pricking) written by John Wesley’s mother. She said:

“Take this rule: whatever weakens your reason, impairs the tenderness of your conscience, obscures your sense of God or takes off your relish of spiritual things; in short, whatever increases the strength and authority of your body over your mind, that thing is sin to you, however innocent it may be in itself.”
— Susanna Wesley (Letter, June 8, 1725)

I consider my reason officially weakened, so it’s off with the daytime email. Wish me luck!

Rose-colored retrospect?

I have four grandmothers (including in-laws). With one exception, they are all scrubbing that great floor in the sky.

They were all great housekeepers. They provided three (often warm) meals a day to their families, and feeding often included gardening and canning. There was bread baking involved. Laundry was a much more serious undertaking, a ridiculous amount of ironing took place. They all did church work and routinely produced gorgeous handicrafts, generally in the form of afghans.

Oppressed, you say? No. Actually, with one blatant exception, they weren’t oppressed in the least. They didn’t work outside the home, had purse money, were fashion-conscious to varying degrees, and each of them had hobbies and interests. More than one wielded subtle but solid primary control of the house.

Oh, and incidentally, they all were mothers. Mothers who, on the whole, raised decent kids, although they attended to them very little by today’s standards.

They lived in a time when it was clear what made a homemaker, wife and mother a success, and those were all the same things. While it’s true the vast majority of their identity and purpose was culturally outlined for them, that core curriculum was supplemented with a variety of electives to enjoy and excel in–just not so much in the workplace, unless the boys were at war. However stifling it may seem to some, with post-feminism ennui I see at least they had clarity.

However you feel about the universal “freeing” of women from homemaking, you’ve got to admit there is something paralyzing about too many choices, and with that freedom comes the entitled mantra of “I’m liberated, I shouldn’t have to do this” whenever we’re faced with a distateful domestic task. For me, it creates the constant distraction of “Why isn’t someone else doing this?” Which makes just doing the dishes everyday an affront.

The luxury of choice is spoiled by the fact that cooking, cleaning and generally caring for the homebase (if not the home) still needs to happen whether the 70s happened or not.

And nevermind that the “someone else” would simply be another woman who hasn’t the luxury of divorcing herself from the basic needs of food and sanitary shelter. Everyone–wealthy, liberated or otherwise–depends on these items yet we measure our success by how little we are required to think about them.

I rationalize that the grandmas’ times required less vigilance as a parent; their “be home before dinner” parenting style is completely unthinkable in many areas of the country now. But at the same time, I wonder if the unstructured breathing of fresh air, combined with examples of hard work both in and out of the home and steady routines of sacrifice for the family’s well being–weren’t a more efficient form of parenting in itself.

I say “efficient” because it seems housekeeping and yardkeeping weren’t at odds with parenting, but an essential part of it. And maybe we’ve replaced that two-for-one system with an exhausting, endless and expensive curriculum of after-school programs. And in the end, maybe the kids aren’t really raised as well and now the dishes aren’t done either.

I’m now in the rare and unexpected position of living in a way and a place that will allow me to experiment on this hypothesis, as I’m moving out of the city and going “back to the land” as they say. If my kids end up in jail, we’ll all know this was indeed rose-colored retrospect. But if my primary goal of happy, healthy and helpful kids is more easily met in this old-fashioned way, hindsight really is 20/20, and the Grandmas really did have it right.

PS, I recently enjoyed a quick, funny, twisting and surprisingly heart-tugging read. Related to this post, it’s about the fall-out of feminism and the reincarnated caricature of the bride, mother and housewife (and it’s uncoincidental alignment with the rise of Martha). Read a book!

Happy Birthday to Me!

I turned 36 on Friday! We had some low-key celebrations and I tried to stretch the birthday perks into sleeping in each morning all weekend and getting a big fat nap today, which worked out pretty well for me. I never thought a nap would be such a cherished gift, but I can’t think of anything I want or need more.

Yesterday was great, we went to the temple, had dinner together after we put the kids down, watched LOST (we’re one episode behind still), and I finally “caught on” to Guitar Hero. (I wrote more on this new development in my life here.) I finally beat Tom Morello in battle–it only took me 10 times!


Lucy had some assessments this week. She is performing well on problem solving and cognitive skills, and physically is developmentally doing well. She’s language-delayed, though. As part of this, both her teacher and the assessment person tell me Lucy’s strong personality makes her difficult to work with and get to do things! She clearly knows what they want, but will stare them in the face, take the materials, and throw them on the floor with smug raised eyebrows.

Lucy and her teacher, Anaika, playing with curlers

The fact she’s the baby of the family, our family is large by today’s standards, and that she started out sickly they said often leads to this–she’s spoiled! We also apparently infantalize her, even though she’s almost two, because she’s so small. We don’t talk to her and interact with her like a two-year-old, but simply tote her around and live life around her like she is a baby.

She gets read to simply because she’s on the lap if someone else is being read to, but there is no special time where we just sit with her and a book and ask, “Where’s the ball? Show me.” Honestly, when I saw the teacher trying to get her to do this, I thought, “That is ridiculous, how come they are trying to get a baby to do that?” Which tells you how duped we are.

She still wakes to nurse 1-3x a night like a 4 month old, that’s how duped I am. I worked with my other kids to train them to be great sleepers by age 1 at the very latest, and we’ve all been the happier for it. How did I get here?

I think it is remarkable that I haven’t noticed that she’s hard. The teachers tell me that this is a credit to me, that I’m not high-strung, I am used to not getting enough sleep, I am juggling a lot of things and people, and that my idea of “hard” has adjusted since I have other children that, we’ll say, are “challenging.” (Meaning that they care always challenging me!)

They say that if I were a first-time mom and Lucy was my only one, I’d be pulling my hair out over her. Which is funny, because as far as parenting goes, this is nothing in comparison.

I’m glad to have this perspective, though, and after we move (we all agreed we should wait until then) I need to teach her to sleep and welcome her more to the independence and excitement of toddlerhood, along with more age-appropriate books and materials.

It’s so funny how overprepared I was with my first, and how behind the ball I am now. I think some middle ground must be the best place to be. I see people at the store stressing out over their toddlers’ behavior and I just think, “Oh, honey, let it go, you have no idea what’s ahead of you if THIS freaks you out.”

Anyway, so there’s Lucy.

Noah needs Joyschool or something. I need to figure out how to occupy him in the next month. He still has that half-sick, out-of-sorts thing that comes and goes. Sweet as ever, and into everything.

Ben is doing great on his schoolwork. We are really drilling math facts right now, and we won’t go on in our curriculum until he can do 100 multiplication problems in under 6 minutes. He is now doing 50 2-digit plus 2-digit addition problems in almost 5 minutes. We use this website to drill.

Sophie is actually really excited about what she says will be her “whole new life.” I know there will be apprehension with the upheaval, but she seems to be going forward with a really great attitude. She is surprisingly unattached to school, although she’s going to miss 2-3 of her friends.

David has more long-distance work coming up, but, in today’s economy, I’m starting to feel grateful for a job that actually grows more secure with the economic problems (foreclosures can increase his workload).

David sent me this great article that I found very motivating about the potential of frugal living. Now is definitely the time for it!

And now for a very small soapbox:

I have found myself getting more involved in the election process this week, and want to encourage all my friends and loved ones out there to not let the talking heads do all your thinking for you. Seriously, the talking heads should never be your primary source of information on anything.

Get the facts about all the people (not just your people) from the people themselves. If you want to hate somebody, do it smart by knowing what it is you don’t like about them.

Here’s your assigned reading for the week!

http://origin.barackobama.com/issues/
http://www.johnmccain.com/Informing/Issues/
http://www.hillaryclinton.com/issues/

And, as I said before, let hope direct your vote.

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
2 Tim. 1: 7

PS: Finally we’re back into our Sunday routine of chore charts and blogging, so blogs for Ben, Sophie, and Suburban Harvest are updated.

If Music Be the Food of Love

For someone who loves music, I just don’t use it enough. It gives me everything I need to be a happy mom. It makes my brain happy. It gives my house a good vibe that sets a tone for things and people. It reminds me of who I am, or was, or who I thought I was or imagine I am–any and all of those things.

It shows my kids I have interests and identity outside of them without making them feel marginalized or encroaching on their time. Plus, my kids are at an age where my ridiculous dancing and dramatic singing will amuse and delight them rather than horrify them, as will be the case all too soon.

It’s because I don’t have an iPod. I have oodles of music shoved in cases in shelves that have been turned around to prevent sticky hands from spewing them all over my house and scratching them up. My home decor synergizes nicely with that sweet cardboard look of the back of Ikea CD racks. My own music has it’s back turned on me.

I’m resolving to get out the music and start humiliating myself in song and interpretive dance on a daily basis. My husband being the super rocknroll geek that he is (with a dedicated hard drive with 40,000+ songs and counting) has been doing this for years. In fact, I’ve learned that, to speak his Love Language, I must play three rounds of Guitar Hero with him every night. I like it, although I had to sanitize it a bit when the kids were watching by choosing a character who is actually wearing clothes and explaining that the rocker guys are actually saying “I love you” in sign language whist head banging, probably angering some pagan god somewhere.

Anyway, although my library is way less metal, I can vary the kids’ exposure with my ferocious opera obsession and an endless supply of new wave hits and Lillith Faire fodder circa 1990 (read: women in short hair playing acoustic guitars). Thanks to my husband’s music arsenal I can supplement this dated mix with some of the less-murderous Nick Cave, the less-morose Red House Painters, and the less-graphic PJ Harvey, although that probably limits me to five songs between the three.

I’m convinced that laying down the desired soundtrack on my life will have the desired effect on the overall tone of my daily existence. I’ll let you know how it goes. This project will be much more successful if my birthday tomorrow pans out as it should (rhymes with “Hi Maude!”)

Oops! I hear “Rock You Like a Hurricane,”–it must be time for that nightly wifely duty, that sacred moment between man and woman in the privacy of their own home when the kids have gone to bed…

the Wii!!

Imperfect thoughts on perfectionism

A purist would say I could not be a perfectionist because my house is not clean and I have toddler snot on my shirt.

I don’t have the good kind of perfectionism, the kind that makes you not only bring changes of clothes for your children when you go out, but an extra shirt for yourself in case of boogery hugs. That kind of person is probably vigilantly watching and catches any offending substance with a handy Kleenex before it could even happen anyway.

Yet I am a perfectionist, in that I believe if I can’t do something perfectly, I shouldn’t bother. I do it with housecleaning, dieting, and hey, let’s just get it all out there, I do it with my parenting and even my bills.

I periodically get an email newsletter from a like-minded hippie lady, the Urban Homemaker, and today she addressed this topic in a way I found helpful, and I’d like to pass on what she said. She is an “I love Jesus,” back-to-basics hippie lady, as I am and aspire to be, although she would not probably accept my brand of Jesus loving. So, it’s a little sermony, I’m warning you now, but I really recommend her site.

If you have my little problem of sloppy perfectionism, or even the “good” kind of perfectionism, it makes a good read. She was reporting on a talk she gave about “What I Wished I Had Known;” she talked about sundry home management, baking, parenting things, but focused in part on her spiritual journey. Here are her words:

I talked about what I wished I’d known about ungodly perfectionism. What I know now, is that allowing perfectionism and comparisons to go on in our mind is quite a prevalent and insidious, maybe even rampant problem among Christian women.

Regardless of your personal struggles, I believe it is very hard for women to see that an effective tool in the enemy’s arsenal is designed to keep our eyes off of God and on our circumstances.

This evil attack takes place in our minds and seeks to destroy us, our families, our joy, and our peace just through our thoughts.

Here is my working definition of Perfectionism:

  • A sense of drivenness.
  • Continued feelings of not being good enough.
  • Deep underlying need to control one’s life.
  • Excessive striving after reward and recognition.
  • Perpetual jealousy of others and a making of comparisons. Again, it is the idea that so and so has more money, better husband, nicer house, higher achieving kids, gorgeous clothes, great figure, she’s a great cook and on and on it goes.
  • It robs our peace, it can put us into a depression.

The thoughts go through our mind over and over, accusing us and discouraging us. These thoughts can literally make us sick.

[Click here if you are interested in reading the text of her presentation, What I Wish I’d Known]

–back to MamaMelodrama:

“I can’t start, because I won’t do it well enough” has been a wonderful way for the little red guy on my shoulder to get me to not do anything at all. To do my best and give God the rest (rhyme unintended) would take me a lot farther.

I don’t know about you, but this is food for my brain to munch on tonight.

Retraction (or, the Story in Full)

If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you may have heard me say, rather recently, that we are going to live in California forever, that it’s the “right” place for us, etc. Well, apparently not.

While we were in Utah, David learned that more of his work will be out of California, and he also realized the quality of life we could have there was better that we could have here. He decided we should move there.

After he decided this, and I had time to pick myself up off the floor from the shock, I was sent off to Utah this past weekend to find a new house to rent (which is why the late post). It was kind of a whirlwind, and we saw 10 properties on Monday, picked one out, then found out that another place was available that we thought wasn’t anymore. That was the only one we saw on Tuesday, and it was definitely the one for us. We move March 18th.

For about $800 less than we pay now, we have a much, much better way of life. You can see pictures here, click the pic. It’s winter, so the trees are naked and make it look a little unkempt.

House

It is exactly what I’ve always wanted–a big garden, a small orchard and vineyard, trees to climb and swing in, big pine trees. Also, perks include a 2-story playhouse in back and a laundry chute!

One thing I love about Utah is that it is normal to have a living room AND a family room–seems so excessive and luxurious by California standards! David is not excited about the red master bedroom, so we’ll have to make a few adjustments there, but the house is cute and so big compared to anything we’ve ever had.

We will also be two blocks from my sweet cousin Kim’s house (and go to the same ward). Thanks for finding us this place, Cuz!

So, some very big changes, we’re both a bit nervous, but it feels good and everything is opening up to go this direction, which is saying more than anything else we’ve tried to do in the last five years.

I have so many thoughts surrounding all this that I can’t think clearly to formulate them coherently, so I won’t. Suffice it to say that I thought we’d have to fix a lot of other things before being in a situation like this, things that would take decades, and I really feel the Lord is showing me that he knows me, cares about me and hears me. Some of the littlest details in this house seem unimportant, but only the Lord would know that they meant something to me.

To all our California friends, we love you SO much and never thought this day would come. Thanks to blogs, email, cell phones and the continual exodus many of you make to and from Utah, I hope to hold on to you tightly.

To all our Utah friends, let’s start booking the dinner calendar now!

All the hip parents are doing it

I’m traveling, so I’m short on time, but for your amusement, I thought I’d share a real-life conversation that took place between me and my husband on Sunday, uncensored.

Him: Hey, I was thinking that since, you know, we’ve had four kids and stuff, that today, when we go to church, we could maybe take a diaper and some wipes in a purse or bag, so when the baby poops I don’t have to drive home to change her.

Me: What? Who does that? That is crazy talk. Who am I, Martha Stewart?

Him: No, I’m just saying that last week I had to bring her all the way home in the middle of church, and, if we brought a diaper, you know, in a bag, then, when she poops, we can change her there, and it will take less time.

Me: I don’t know about this . . .

Him: It’s all the rage with parents these days, it’s really “now.”

Me: Well, okay, we’ll try it, but just this once.

This may explain why, when my dear friend was excitedly explaining how she could get a new $150 diaper bag for only $50, I was left bewildered. I realized that not only am I required to go prepared with baby items when I leave the house, but using a plastic shopping bag from Target would not be acceptable for this purpose.

There must be some sort of government aid or compensation for people with this condition.

Coal: Fun and Yummy

It’s time again for “That’s Not Food” Thursday (which may also turn out to be “That’s Not Funny” Thursday, but you are fine, and can still visit me even if I fail to amuse you one day a week.)

Here is a fun and funny fact. When foods are made with pretty colors, it makes us think they are yummy. It can make us think food is fresh, masking any fading that may have taken place in the typical long ride US food takes to get to our mouths (1500 miles on average). It can hide normal variations in appearance so all our food, from oranges to salmon, can look like it just came out of a magazine. And of course, it makes Sno-Cones fun. No matter how limey a Sno-Cone tasted, it surely would not taste as good if it were white. At least that’s the theory.

The FDA currently authorizes seven colors to be used in people food. Another fun fact–they’ve discontinued another seven due to safety or other concerns (for instance, “Oops! I guess that benzene in there causes leukemia!”).

If the FDA says it’s ok, it means that they haven’t personally seen it, working solo, cause cancer in a living thing. What FDA approval does not mean, however, is that a given item in our food IS food. Whatever it is made of, if the information the FDA have at the time shows it doesn’t seriously hurt you (or if it does, the manufacturers have paid for enough counter-studies), then hey, it’s all good with them.

When your body is fed things that aren’t food, it doesn’t always just send it out the chute. Instead, it trusts that the neurological safeguards of discernment are functioning and that you have imbibed this for a reason. It tries to deal with it as if it were actually food, and so it gets integrated thoroughly into the awesomely complicated innerworkings of your amazing bod.

So, just in the name of getting information out there, for the kids and whatnot, I’d like to introduce you to ten little facts about your run-of-the mill food dye, those innocuous little four bottles in the little blue box–the red, blue, yellow and green–as well as all their variations in the aisles of the supermarket. It is super un-funny:

  • Artificial dyes (and many preservatives) are derived primarily from coal tar or synthetic versions of it.
  • Coal tar is among the by products created when coal is carbonized or gasified, and is used extensively by the chemical industry
  • It gets better! Coal tar is a Group 1 carcinogen.
  • Tartrazine, a specific coal-tar derivative, is found in many yellow, orange and green dyes and causes a high level of allergic and intolerance reactions, particularly among those with an aspirin intolerance and asthmatics
  • Some are particularly sensitive to the effects: reported reactions include anxiety, migraines, clinical depression, blurred vision, itching, general weakness, heatwaves, feeling of suffocation, purple skin patches and sleep disturbance.
  • Several FD&C colors have been banned in European countries, and while you may write them off as being commies anyway, they do tend to be a little less blindly enamored with corporate success at all costs. The World Health Organization also advises that some colors regularly used for food in the US should be only for “non-food use.”
  • Some researchers have linked tartrazine to childhood Obsessive-compulsive disorder and hyperactivity, especially exacerbating symptoms in ADD children
  • A study commissioned by the UK’s Food Standards Agency found that when used in a mixture of other colors and preservatives, increased levels of hyperactivity in children were observed. (It’s that big chemical cocktail we’re awash in, not just any one thing on it’s own.)
  • Several major studies show academic performance increased and disciplinary problems decreased in large non-ADD student populations when these and other artificial ingredients were removed from the diet.
  • And finally, studies show that all these fun things are also absorbed easily through your skin in the form of cosmetics, lotions, shampoo, toothpaste, etc. As I like to say: “Skin: it’s your other mouth.”

Specific label ingredients to avoid in things you want to put in your mouth or on your skin: FD&C anything, and especially D&C anything (that means even the FDA doesn’t call it food). I.e., FD&C Blue No. 1, Blue No. 2, Green No. 3, Red No. 40, Red No. 3, Yellow No. 5 (the big bad one), Yellow No. 6. Large natural food stores carry dyes from natural food sources so you can still make that big, neon birthday cake.

(What? Make a cake? Well, countering that objection is a whole nother post, but suffice it to say the mix saves you 30 seconds of measuring dry ingredients, most chocolate cakes have Red 40, and the Hershey’s cocoa box has a cake and frosting recipe that will blow any box away.).

So, why are we eating coal tar? Just because it’s on the grocery shelves? And why is so much of it in kid foods, who have littler bodies and thereby receive a higher load of the chemicals?

Coal tar is NOT food!

Word to the wise: Be your own FDA.

PS: Although I have a book on the topic with the info I’m using, most of the references and citations for this data can be easily found on Wikipedia. Ask me if you want specific studies.

[Rant officially over. Removing self from soapbox.]