Saturday, March 20, 2010

It isn't easy being green...

 I got hit this week with a double dose of " you are a terrible parent and kind of a moron". So I feel a little uneasy about, well everything.
First, we have termites in our garage,which technically isn't our garage( we rent), so the termite people came to set up a time to tent the garage.I wasn't thrilled at the prospect of all of our stuff getting  sprayed with whatever nasty shit they use, but I figured that I could let it sit for a few weeks and lessen the impact on my family. I was planning on removing their bikes, any pillows or blankets that they play on-anything where residue might be an issue. I was planning on doing this all tomorrow afternoon, when I got a call from my neighbor.Long story short, he refused to sign the waiver letting the termite guys into his yard to put the tent on our garage. He said that he had been a reporter for years and had specialized in toxic chemicals and their use in urban areas.He said that they had moved out of their house while our house was tented before we moved in. For two days they went to a swanky hotel to avoid contact with the termite gas. It is that bad, in his opinion. Like our garage might be the next Love Canal.

I felt grateful and also a little stupid. I am someone who thinks of herself as sort of evolved in the areas of environmental stuff. I am  on the Green Team at my kids' school, am mostly vegetarian for ethical reasons,which has the added bonus of being the number one thing a person can do to help the  environment.I try and think before I buy and usually have a reusable bag when I go to the store. I try to avoid stuff that will pollute the ocean via our drain.We don't drive a Pruis or a hybrid,yet, and we haven't thrown out all of our kids toys that were made in China. We eat cheese, which is really as bad as meat in the ethical sense, not to mention that it is filled with pus from the infected nipples of the relentlessly milked dairy cows. We do soy milk,soy ice cream and some soy cheese at home. Butter for baking and special occasions only and occasionally whipped cream for a special dessert or as a treat on waffles in the morning.
My point is, I thought we were somewhere toward enlightened in the spectrum of environmental awareness, but the tone in my neighbor's voice clearly implied that I am just this side of a Chicken McNugget loving, Escalade driving, tap water drinking fool who would fit right in with the townsfolk in a film like "Idiocracy".

He might be onto something. For all our good qualities, we certainly do have some bad ones.
The amount of recycling and trash that leaves our house on a daily basis preclude us from winning any green awards any time soon. I don't know how to make cereal boxes less bulky short of making my own cereal. I have tried making soy yogurt in our yogurt maker, but it turned out like some tofu version of the Blob. We go through a fair amount of unrechargeable batteries every month,a few of which end up in the trash out of sheer frustration at the number of things I am responsible for every morning. I can never find the charger since the girls incorporate it into their toy zone if it is left in plain sight. We have given up any kind of baggies or disposable containers for school lunches, but I still get plastic bags at the store on occasion for things like cat box deposits and poopy diapers. And we are close to being done with diapers-yes disposable diapers, the worst eco crime next to fast food. I tried the eco friendly G diapers,which are sort of like a giant maxi pad insert for a sturdy lined cover, but it was too bulky to carry all the stuff I needed to dispose of it properly. Most days I can't keep pace with how hard it is to do it the right way.

Which brings me to the second reason I suck as a role model. At least one item in my kids' daily homecooked meals sees the inside of a microwave. Whether it is broccoli steaming in it's own bag or reheating the pasta for fifteen seconds or taking the chill off a soy based meatball, we use that sucker a lot. I googled the dangers of microwave ovens today, just to torture myself, and found the following list among the hundreds of blogs and pages issuing warnings about microwaves.The list of reasons to give up the microwave altogether made my throw up a little in my mouth.

1. Continually eating food processed from a microwave oven causes long term - permanent - brain damage by "shorting out" electrical impulses in the brain [de-polarizing or de-magnetizing the brain tissue].
2. The human body cannot metabolize [break down] the unknown by-products created in microwaved food.
3. Male and female hormone production is shut down and/or altered by continually eating microwaved foods.
4. The effects of microwaved food by-products are residual [long term, permanent] within the human body.
5. Minerals, vitamins, and nutrients of all microwaved food is reduced or altered so that the human body gets little or no benefit, or the human body absorbs altered compounds that cannot be broken down.
6. The minerals in vegetables are altered into cancerous free radicals when cooked in microwave ovens.
7. Microwaved foods cause stomach and intestinal cancerous growths [tumors]. This may explain the rapidly increased rate of colon cancer in America.
8. The prolonged eating of microwaved foods causes cancerous cells to increase in human blood.
9. Continual ingestion of microwaved food causes immune system deficiencies through lymph gland and blood serum alterations.
10. Eating microwaved food causes loss of memory, concentration, emotional instability, and a decrease of intelligence.

Well, slap me with the spoon I used to stir the Annies Organic Microwaveable mac n cheese (that I ate most of)....that is enough to make anybody want to sit  in the garage while they fumigate now isn't  it? Number ten might as well have a photograph of my face next to it.

So basically,I now know that,  for the sake of convenience( read laziness),I have possibly exposed my family to cancer, brain damage,lower I.Q.- as you can see the list goes on. The skeptic in me looks at the the other posts on that blog, though,  and sees a little bit of crazy vegan at work-but  even if she is only a little bit correct in her belief that microwaves are not a great idea, the news ins't good. And anyone with basic common sense (that they choose to exercise) could come to that very same conclusion. Obviously something is weird if the food is "heated" through the agitation of the molecules via microwaves. The mere fact alone that the monitors and cell phones go ballistic when we use ours implies that some heavy shit is being done to the food I am about to serve my family.

For some of you, this may seem  like the equivalent of  just now discovering,after all of the available information out there, how bad smoking is (another "common sense" kind of thing,too),but I had to search for it. I go to Trader Joe's and every other freezer item is "microwave ready". Every package of food has the directions for microwave preparation on the side. Everyone is doing it and no on is talking about the dangers.

 Except Hans Hertel. But somehow they gagged him, and then reversed it a few years later:

Court Removes Gag Order from Swiss Scientist on Microwaved Food

Hans Hertel is the first scientist to conceive of and carry out a quality study on the effects of microwaved nutrients on the blood and physiology of human beings. This small but well-controlled study pointed the firm finger at a degenerative force of microwave ovens and the food produced in them. The conclusion was clear: microwave cooking changed the nutrients so that changes took place in the participants' blood; these were not healthy changes but were changes that could cause deterioration in the human systems. Working with Bernard H. Blanc of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology and the University Institute for Biochemistry, Hertel not only conceived of the study and carried it out, he was one of eight participants. In 1991 Hans Ulrich Hertel and a Lausanne University professor published a research paper indicating that food cooked in microwave ovens could pose a greater risk to health than food cooked by conventional means.

Significant changes were discovered in the blood of the volunteers who consumed foods cooked in the microwave oven. These changes included a decrease in all haemoglobin values and cholesterol values, especially the HDL (good cholesterol) and LDL (bad cholesterol) values and ratio. Lymphocytes (white blood cells) showed a more distinct short-term decrease following the intake of microwaved food than after the intake of all the other variants. Each of these indicators point in a direction away from robust health and toward degeneration. Additionally, there was a highly significant association between the amount of microwave energy in the test foods and the luminous power of luminescent bacteria exposed to serum from test persons who ate that food. This led Hertel to the conclusion that such technically derived energies may, indeed, be passed along to man inductively via consumption of microwaved food.
An article appeared in issue number 19 of the Journal Franz Weber in which it was stated that the consumption of food cooked in microwave ovens had cancer- type effects on the blood. The article was followed by the research paper itself.
On 7 August 1992 the Swiss Association of Manufacturers and Suppliers of Household Appliances brought an action against the applicant in the Canton of Berne Commercial Court. It produced an expert report by a professor at Zürich Federal Institute of Technology from which it appeared that the applicant's research was worthless and his findings untenable.

As soon as Hertel and Blanc announced their results, the hammer of authority slammed down on them. A powerful trade organisation, the Swiss Association of Dealers for Electroapparatuses for Households and Industry, known simply as FEA, struck swiftly. They forced the President of the Court of Seftigen, Kanton Bern, to issue a 'gag order' against Hertel and Blanc. The attack was so ferocious that Blanc quickly recanted his support-but it was too late. He had already put into writing his views on the validity of the studies where he concurred with the opinion that microwaved food caused the blood abnormalities. Hertel stood his ground, and today is steadfastly demanding his rights to a trial. Preliminary hearings on the matter have been appealed to higher courts, and it's quite obvious the powers that be do not want a 'show trial' to erupt on this issue.

In March 1993, the court handed down this decision based upon the complaint of the FEA: "Consideration. 1. Request from the plaintiff (FEA) to prohibit the defendant (Dr Ing. Hans Hertel) from declaring that food prepared in the microwave oven shall be dangerous to health and lead to changes in the blood of consumers, giving reference to pathologic troubles as also indicative for the beginning of a cancerous process. The defendant shall be prohibited from repeating such a statement in publications and in public talks by punishment laid down in the law.
However, in 1998 that decision was reversed. In a judgment delivered at Strasbourg on 25 August 1998 in the case of Hertel v. Switzerland, the European Court of Human Rights held that there had been a violation of Hertel's rights in the 1993 decision. Under Article 50 of the Convention, the Court awarded the applicant a specified sum for legal costs and expenses.
The European Court of Human Rights decided that the "gag order" issued by the Swiss courts against the Bernese scientist prohibiting him from declaring that microwave ovens are dangerous to health was contrary to the right to freedom of expression. In addition, Switzerland was sentenced to pay compensation of F-40,000. This decision is to put an end to judicial censorship of persons drawing attention to the health hazards of certain products.

 Well, there you have it. First chocolate,then watches and now this? If I had a Swiss flag, I'd wave it. It's no  surprise that we aren't the only government that gags the truth in the name of big business,but it's pretty iamazing that he stood his ground for five years and eventually got what he deserved.

After reading the article I couldn't help but wonder,how did I miss this? With all the research I did on strollers and cribs and carseats, you'd think this would have come up. I really think I have just been in bubble.A giant stay-at-home-mom-frazzled-Calgon-take-me-away bubble where I took the easiest road in order to not lose my mind. Doing it the "long way" adds hours to any given week and takes me away from what I would rather be doing- writing, hiking, banging my head against the wall, sleeping. Doing it the "right " way reduces my life to the excriciating minutiae of domestic duties- mind numbingly boring domestic duties. But it is worth it to avoid the inevitable, it has to be. And  I suppose that it is easy to become an alarmist and believe everything that it out there, but if any of it is true then we have this to look forward to:

A trash strewn( over consumption), barren( no trees) planet,surrounded by toxic lifeless water we can't drink or touch or fish from(global warming/melting ice caps/pollution), overpopulated ( the pope)with an illiterate( education system), brain damaged( microwaves),tumor covered(aspartame) people who do nothing but fuck( over exposure to pornography),fight( overexposure to violence) and sleep( overly medicated).The only benefit to knowing this is that maybe we use the premise to make millions writing the blockbuster movie and move to Mars with the  gazillionaires when it comes to pass.Anyone want to write a script? Screw green, I think red is my new favorite color.....

1 comment:

  1. Just when I thought I was doing a bang up job of changing my foot print, carbon and otherwise, you had to come along and write this brilliant little piece and make me hate myself for my addiction to rolled meats and cheddar cheese. Thanks, Martha Milk Free! Oh and that party showing off didn't help my self esteem either. Flowers indeed!