Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Dangers of Food Dyes

Important new research has shown that commonly used food dyes, such as Yellow 5, Red 40, and six others, are linked to hyperactivity, impulsivity, learning difficulties, and Attention Deficity Hyperactivity Disorder in many children. The Center for Science in the Public Interest Europe. has petitioned the Food and Drug Administration to ban the use of these dyes, many of which are already being phased out in

These dyes—petrochemicals, mostly—are often used to simulate the presence of healthy, colorful fruits and vegetables. But considering the adverse impact of these chemicals on children, and considering how easily they can be replaced with colorings derived from real food ingredients, it’s time to get rid of them altogether.

It’s interesting to note that in England, Kellogg’s™ Nutri-Grain bars are made with natural colorings, but in the United States they are made with artificial food dyes.

Watchdog Group Wants Ban on Yellow 5, Red 40, and Other Artificial Food Dyes Linked to Hyperactivity, Behavior Problems

WASHINGTON—The Center for Science in the Public Interest is asking America's parents for help in its campaign to convince the Food and Drug Administration that synthetic dyes, such as Yellow 5 and Red 40, don't belong in foods, especially those consumed by children. The dyes are being phased out in European countries because of important new evidence showing that the dyes, and perhaps the preservative sodium benzoate, cause hyperactivity and other behavior problems in children.

CSPI is urging parents who believe their children are harmed by food dyes to file reports online at The nonprofit nutrition and food-safety watchdog group will periodically forward the reports to the FDA, which denies that dyes cause any problem whatsoever. CSPI wants to hear from parents who believe that food dyes impair their children's behavior, as well as parents whose kids' behavior improved when food dyes were eliminated from their diets.

"Considering the problems that have been demonstrated with these dyes, along with the fact that they are easily replaced with natural colorings, it's sad that the FDA is doing nothing to get them out of food," said CSPI executive director Michael F. Jacobson. "Meanwhile, doctors are prescribing powerful drugs like Ritalin and Adderall to undo the damage being done, in part, by the increasingly unnatural food supply."

Consumption of food dyes has increased five-fold over the past 30 years, according to FDA data.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

People’s Winter Art Show

People’s Winter Art Show

Artists’ Reception

Friday, Jan. 30, 6 – 7:30 p.m.

Food, Music, and Art!

Join us for our first art show of the year, featuring selected works by Bhavna Mehta, Jana Sanchez, and Greg Shed. This exhibit will open with a fabulous evening of music, delicious food, and of course, great art. The show runs until June. Free of charge.

The Last of the Snow by Bhavna Mehta

One Fish Two Fish by Jana Sanchez

Mustangs by Greg Shed

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Three Plants to Promote Peaceful Slumber

German Chamomile – (Matricaria recutita)

You can find bags of chamomile on almost every supermarket shelf [at People’s, we offer chamomile in teabag and loose form], and we have probably all used it at one time or another. According to leading herbalist David Hoffman, chamomile is probably the most widely used relaxing nervine herb in the world. Although the attractive flowers of this herb can have a wide range of health uses, it is primarily used for rest and relaxation. There are several types of herb called ‘chamomile,’ but it is the German variety that is used for tea. The other kind, called Roman chamomile, has similar properties but is bitter and is used primarily for digestive upsets.

The mildly flavored, pleasant-tasting German chamomile tea combines easily with other relaxing herbs. Chamomile is wonderful to have late at night, but it can also be safely used in the day to ease stress and tension. Since chamomile is gentle and effective, it is the first herb to try for sleep disturbances.

How to Use: One teabag steeped for about 15 minutes in 8oz (one cup) of just-boiled water. Or, two teaspoons of loose dried tea. Chamomile is an easy kitchen herb to grow, so for fresh tea, use a good tablespoon. No matter whether the herb is fresh or dried, always remember to cover your tea so that the medicinal volatile oils do not evaporate with the steam. Sweeten with honey if desired.

If you prefer, a liquid extract, also known as a tincture, or capsules can be used instead. Use approximately 1-1 and ½ teaspoons of the extract or
two to three

Lemon Balm – (Melissa officinalis)

Although lemon balm may not be as well known as other herbs, it is no less remarkable in its sleep-enhancing abilities. Its pungent lemony-scent is tension relieving by itself. Used since the seventeenth century when it was known simply as balm, this herb is great for helping to relieve stress and anxiety, which in turn helps people to sleep better. Research in Germany has shown that a key compound in lemon balm, the volatile oils, calms the central nervous system.

How to Use:

Lemon Balm makes a great-tasting tea and is also effective when taken in pill or extract form. Take 1 or 2 teaspoons of extract and two or three capsules. For the tea, use two teaspoons dried herb to one cup of just-boiled water and let steep for 15 minutes.

Passionflower - (Passiflora incarnata)

Don’t let the name mislead you – passionflower has nothing do to with passion, and everything to do with sleep. This herb, which is native to the southern United States, has been used for over 200 years for its sedating and tranquilizing properties. One of the great characteristics of passionflower is that it will help you sleep without giving you the groggy feeling that is typical of many sleeping medications.

How to Use: This herb can be drunk as a tea in the evening (one or two cups, prepared as described above.) A tincture is also effective – one to two teaspoons, or two or three capsules.

These herbs have a long history of use as gentle but effective sleep-inducers. Their versatility means that you can combine all three in a tasty tea, or you can choose to try pills or tinctures one by one to find out what is most effective. Whatever herbs you decide to use, hopefully you’ll soon be sleeping sounder, longer and more peacefully.

(The above text was excerpted from “Herbs to Help You Get a Good Night’s Sleep”

by Deborah Cooper. To read the full article click here)

Sleep: it's a Good Thing

Don't Want to Catch a Cold? Get a Good Night's Sleep

Getting adequate sleep and quality sleep may reduce your risk of catching the common cold. In a new study, researchers recruited 153 healthy men and women, ages 21 to 55, who recorded details about their sleep for two weeks and then were exposed to cold viruses. Those who reported sleeping less than seven hours a night on average were nearly three times more likely to develop a cold than participants getting eight hours or more of nightly shuteye. "Sleep efficiency"-the percentage of time spent in bed actually sleeping rather than tossing and turning-was even more strongly related to risk of the sniffles: Those reporting the least-efficient sleep were 5.5 times more likely to come down with a cold than the most-efficient sleepers.

-Archives of Internal Medicine

Saturday, January 10, 2009

What is a Transition Town?

“If we collectively plan and act early enough there's every likelihood that we can create a way of living that's significantly more connected, more vibrant and more in touch with our environment than the oil-addicted treadmill that we find ourselves on today.” – Transition Network

It all starts off when a small collection of motivated individuals within a community come together with a shared concern: how can our community respond to the challenges, and opportunities, of Peak Oil and Climate Change?

They begin by forming an initiating group and then adopt the Transition Model (explained here at length) with the intention of engaging a significant proportion of the people in their community to kick off a Transition Initiative.

A Transition Initiative is a community (lots of examples here ) working together to look Peak Oil and Climate Change squarely in the eye and address this BIG question:
"For all those aspects of life that this community needs in order to sustain itself and thrive, how do we significantly increase resilience (to mitigate the effects of Peak Oil) and drastically reduce carbon emissions (to mitigate the effects of Climate Change)?"

If we collectively plan and act early enough there's every likelihood that we can create a way of living that's significantly more connected, more vibrant and more in touch with our environment than the oil-addicted treadmill that we find ourselves on today.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Make Your Own Bread – It’s Easy

It’s the third day of the New Year and already your resolutions are starting to test your resolve. No fears, that resolution that you made regarding making more meals at home just got a jump start with “Five Minutes a Day for Fresh Baked Bread” by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François from the Mother Earth News Do it Your Self online newsletter.

“It is easy to have fresh bread whenever you want it with only five minutes a day of active effort. Just mix the dough and let it sit for two hours. No kneading needed! Then shape and bake a loaf, and refrigerate the rest to use over the next couple weeks. Yes, weeks!”

The article includes recipes for Caramelized Onion and Herb Dinner Rolls, Naan, Sticky Pecan Caramel Rolls, 100 Percent Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread, Neapolitan Pizza Dough and more. Click here to get started.

Baking bread at home saves hundreds of dollars on groceries every year. With this easy method, each deliciously crusty-on-the-outside, moist-and-chewy-on-the-inside loaf will only cost you about 50 cents and 5 minutes a day. We can smell the soft warm aroma of fresh bread filling the kitchen already. It’s easy, and you can do it!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Making Organic Wild Bird Seed Mix

You serve your family mainly organic foods, you compost your kitchen waste, you even own two pieces of clothing made from organic cotton, but would you consider feeding the wild birds in your yard organic bird feed? There's no reason not to!

A bird feeder outside your window is a joyful addition to any home. Even those who can't have pets due to allergies or leasing agreements can enjoy caring for fellow creatures. Bird identification and the building or purchasing of a bird feeder is a fun and educational event for families or simply for the solo wildlife enthusiast. You can visit your local library for books with plans on constructing feeders, often out of recycled materials. Even if you live in a high-rise apartment building, you can buy a window feeder.

It is important to consider the responsibility of setting up a feeding station as the birds will become dependent on you; if you don't feel like going outside on grey or rainy days you would be doing them a disservice. When you first start putting seed out for the birds, you will probably only get a few visitors, then they will come back, and bring along their friends. Cheep, cheep!

Different species of birds seek different foods. You will have periods when a certain type of bird is very prevalent, depending on migration patterns. Remember that as soon as your birds have run out of natural feed, they will leave unless you provide them with a good reason to stick around. Whether you live in the city or the country, one way to be sure of year round birds is to feed them year around. There is no more wonderful sight in late spring and summer than to watch a mother bird bring her young to your feeder.

Remember: Never place food where cats can easily ambush birds; put feeders up high, and away from trees and fences that can be climbed by kitties.

Admittedly, the easiest thing to do is to pick up the pre-mixed, non-organic wild bird food from the supermarket. But, here are some facts to consider:

  • It is estimated that of the roughly 672 million birds exposed annually to pesticides on U.S. agricultural lands, 10% or 67 million die from pesticide exposure
  • The bird that visited your neighbor has most likely been exposed to poisonous pesticides. Over time these agents will take their toll on a bird's immune and reproductive systems
  • Most commercial wild bird food contains cracked corn, and unless the corn is certified organic, it has probably been genetically engineered
  • By purchasing commercial bird feed, your dollars are supporting the pesticide application of the acreage where these seeds were grown, effecting the farm workers, wildlife and ground water in that area

Making your own organic bird feed is easy and inexpensive. You can purchase organic seeds at Ocean Beach People’s Organic Food Co-op from the Bulk Dept. Most birds will eat any seeds, but here are the seeds that certain birds prefer:

Black oil sunflower seeds are eaten by Cardinals, American Goldfinch, House Finch, Juncos, Mourning Doves, Nuthatches, Grosbeaks, Tufted Titmice, Chickadees, and Sparrows.

Safflower seeds are enjoyed by Cardinals, Morning Doves, Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, Chickadees, and Sparrows.

Millet is enjoyed by Cardinals, Mourning Doves, Juncos, and Sparrows.

Cracked corn is enjoyed by Cardinals, Mourning Doves, Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, Juncos, and Sparrows.

You can prepare a mix based on the type of bird you wish to attract. Birds also benefit from organic fruit, such as apples or oranges sliced in half, organic raisins and unsalted nut pieces.

What Bird?
Have you ever tried to identify a bird and failed? Now you can be successful using our bird identification search engine available at WhatBird.comThe search method is intuitive and fast, leading you to the correct bird every time.


Ten Ways to Go Organic in 2009

#1 Get off to a clean start: Take a shower with soaps and shampoos made with organic ingredients. Then, serve someone special an organic breakfast in bed with certified organic juice, coffee, fresh fruit, cereal, yogurt and eggs.

#2 Create a celebratory meal that's as close to 100% organic as possible. Invite friends and family to enjoy and help cook. It can be an organic picnic, pizza party, barbecue or high tea!

#3 Volunteer or make a donation to support organic gardening programs in your community, through schools, social service agencies, etc. Get resource information on community gardens in our country by visiting San Diego Roots Sustainable Food Project by clicking here.

#4 Building healthy soil is a key tenet of organic farming. A great way to guarantee rich, organic soil is to start composting! City dwellers can compost at your neighborhood community garden. What's composting, you say? Contact your local library for composting information or visit the Solana Center for a list of upcoming free composting classes click here.

#5 Be a big "softie" and treat yourself (or someone special) to a pair of 100% organic cotton socks or anything made with snuggly organic fleece. Studies have shown that in the U.S., it takes about one-third of a pound of chemicals to grow enough non-organic cotton for one T-shirt.

#6 Treat yourself to organic indulgences: Nibble on an organic chocolate bar, lick an organic ice cream or frozen yogurt bar, or scoop up succulent organic sorbet. Fill your candy jar at home with organic snacks or cookies.

#7 Bring an organic treat to the office to share with co-workers or to send with your children to school. Certified organic raisins, cheese, nuts, fruits, chips and crackers are just some of the possibilities.

#8 Remember your Pooch! Give your furry friend an organic dog wash and treat him or her to an organic doggie biscuit.

#9 Raise a toast to organic! Whether you enjoy a glass of organic wine, lemonade or tomato juice, there are numerous organic libations and refreshments to wet your whistle.

#10 Slumber soundly and organically–sip organic chamomile tea and slip under your organic cotton sheets.