Sunday, June 13, 2010

Weekday Veg

I know there are a lot of us out there who want to reduce the amount of meat that we eat.  Bryan and I have been trying to eat meat only a few times a week.  This past week hasn't been so good... I bought bacon to put in my baked potato soup, I used chicken broth for my orzo, and I ate a hot dog last weekend.  Not too great.  Not terrible, though...

I think there are so many reasons to cut back on meat.  Meat production has astronomical affects on the environment, it's not that great for us, and it costs money.  Add in the unethical treatment of animals in factory farms and you have really good reasons to go veg, or at least PARTIALLY veg.  I personally am not interested in cutting all meat out of my diet; I like meat.  I really do.  Carnitas is my favorite Mexican dish.  Chicken panang curry is my favorite Thai dish.  And a hamburger?  Ohhhh I love a good hamburger.

Since I cannot commit myself to vegetarianism, I think this "Weekday Veg" plan is a good one; Bryan and I have been eating meat 'whenever' but limiting it.  It seems to work for us.  The Weekday Veg is a bit easier since you know exactly which days you CAN eat meat.  Obviously, you don't have to be super strict with it, but it's a good framework.

By the way, this video and the video on underwater photography and ecosystems comes from  I highly recommend paying this site a visit - it's hard not to get caught up in all of the interesting talks!

Sunscreen and Cancer and Warnings, Oh My!

In the last few days, Jenna at That Wife and Leigh at Marvelous Kiddo have posted about sunscreens.  Apparently, the FDA has had information stating that sunscreen may protect you from sunburn but will not necessarily protect you from SKIN CANCER.  Which is ridiculous, and makes me angry.

I feel like sunscreen has been preached over and over again as protection against skin cancer. Am I wrong about this??

The Environmental Working Group's report posts the following information on their sunscreen website:

This year, new concerns have arisen about a form of vitamin A called retinyl palmitate, found in 41 percent of sunscreens. The FDA is investigating whether this compound may accelerate skin damage and elevate skin cancer risk when applied to skin exposed to sunlight. FDA data suggest that vitamin A may be photocarcinogenic, meaning that in the presence of the sun’s ultraviolet rays, the compound and skin undergo complex biochemical changes resulting in cancer. The evidence against vitamin A is far from conclusive, but as long as it is suspect, EWG recommends that consumers choose vitamin A-free sunscreens.
EWG has again flagged products with oxybenzone, a hormone-disrupting compound found in about 60 percent of the 500 beach and sport sunscreens analyzed. The chemical penetrates the skin and enters the bloodstream: biomonitoring surveys conducted by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have detected oxybenzone in the bodies of 97 percent of Americans tested...
Some of the blame falls on the FDA, which has yet to finalize regulations for sunscreens promised since 1978. FDA officials estimate that the regulations may be issued next October – but even then, they expect to give manufacturers at least a year, and possibly longer, to comply with the new rules. That means the first federally regulated sunscreens won’t go on store shelves before the summer of 2012.
According to, "A person's risk for melanoma--the most serious form of skin cancer--doubles if he or she has had five or more sunburns."  Also: "Children are especially at risk: One blistering sunburn in childhood or adolescence more than doubles a person's chances of developing melanoma later in life."  I have only had one blistering sunburn that I know of; I was 21 and didn't think to apply sunscreen on my neck (or if I did, it wore off).  Maybe you've never had a blistering sunburn.  What about this? "A person's risk for melanoma--the most serious form of skin cancer--doubles if he or she has had five or more sunburns."  Most people I know have had at least five or more sunburns throughout their life.  I usually get sunburned once a year if I'm not careful.

Marie Claire recently ran an article on skin cancer and how to take care of your skin in the summer.  In this article, Manhattan dermatologist Dr. Jody A. Levine mentions that "tanning lamps emit four times more damaging UVA rays than the sun," and that your risk of melanoma (the most deadly skin cancer) increases 75 percent if you tan indoors before age 35.  I have used a tanning bed several times before I wised up to the fact that it's just not worth the risk.  I tanned in high school before homecoming/prom, I tanned in college to get through the winter blahs (my folks do this as well, since it helps with their seasonal depression - winter in Chicago sucks), and I tanned before my last cruise in 2008.  I knew better, but I still tanned twice in a month.  My folks tan much more than I am comfortable with; I've talked to them about it, and I hope they realize that my nagging is out of concern, not haughtiness.  (I know you read my blog Dad - I love you!!  Take care of your skin!!  Grandma Nelson's skin cancer recovery did NOT look fun!)

The sunscreen/moisturizer that I currently use is listed on the Environmental Working Group's website as one to avoid.  I use Jergens Natural Glow Face Daily Moisturizer, SPF 20, for Light Skin Tones.

I'm bummed it is listed as a sunscreen to avoid, because I like the way it makes my skin feel; it moisturizes, and it has a gradual sunless tan aspect that I love.  I use it every morning, thinking that I'm protecting my skin and getting a bit of color along the way.  Of course now I'm considering changing...  Here's what the EWG website says about it:

The overall score is a 7 (0-2 is recommended, 3-6 is cautioned, 7-10 is avoid).  It provides Moderate UVB protection, but Poor UVA protection, and Poor UVA/UVB balance.  It has a HIGH Health Concern.  Under "Other Concerns" they listed that it contains oxybenzone.

Here are the ingredients in my sunscreen that are "cautioned" or ingredients that I should "avoid."

It may be hard to read (I just mashed together the bad ingredients in Microsoft Paint) but you get the idea.  Check out the Oxybenzone - developmental/reproductive toxicity, endocrine disruption, biochemical or cellular level changes...  Not okay.  The Aluminum Starch Octenylsuccinate lists developmental/reproductive toxicity, neurotoxicity, organ system toxicity, and heavy metal warnings.

What amazes me about some of these findings is that these chemicals are found in so-called "baby" sunscreens!  If Oxybenzone affects adult development, including the reproductive system, that does it do for babies and young children??

This isn't to say that sunscreen shouldn't be used - it's just important to find a sunscreen that's good for you.  Go here to find out which sunscreens the EWG recommends.  Go here to find out how your sunscreen rates; hopefully it got better ratings than mine!  Go here to find 9 Surprising Truths About Sunscreen (this pretty much sums up the above, plus points out a few good reasons to question your current sun blocking methods).


The ocean is such a wonderful, magical, sometimes scary, place.  If you have ever been snorkeling or scuba-diving, you know this.  It's amazing what can be found just underwater.  For instance, this is my sea turtle friend:

This picture was taken on a cruise that my family went on in January of 2009.  I giggled a whole lot, because when in the world do you get to see this?!  He even let me touch him, it was really cool.  We snorkeled in a bay off St. Thomas, and this guy just swam up to us.  We saw some really amazing fish and other sea life.

Here is my sister Stacey pretending to kiss a "Donkey Dung" sea cucumber.

This guy was sooo not as cute, and although I touched him, I was not interested in holding him.  Or kissing him.  Stacey is much braver than I am.

I found this video sad and inspiring at the same time.  Make sure to watch the section on shrimp fishing, and the "garbage" that accompanies it.  It's so sad how much we take for granted; the animals that have to die as a result of our idiocy.  I see nothing wrong with fishing on a small scale, but obviously, some things need to change.