When I was in high school, one of my teachers introduced the concept of "Something Different Fridays." On Friday, instead of teaching math, he'd teach us something else he thought was worthwhile, like how to play the stock market, or Piaget's theories of development. I am stealing this concept here to indulge my occasional urges to blog about something unrelated to crafting- not every Friday, but once in awhile. Sometimes they'll be silly, sometimes serious. I hope you'll find them an enjoyable diversion!
So this is a new thing I'm trying! And we're going to start off with something that's been on my mind a bit lately.
I don't know about the rest of you, but I have what I would call a "passionate interest" in not feeling shitty, getting cancer, and otherwise dying horribly. To this end I've become a bit obsessed with trying not to poison myself. Unfortunately, this is easier said than done, since pretty much everything around us is poisoning us at all times.
I want to take this time to recommend two books:*
I know, it's a stupid name. And it appears to be out of print, though there are some used copies. But I genuinely believe that anybody who has or has ever had ovaries should read this book. It's way too complicated and indepth to go into here, but let me summarize in one sentence:
Pesticides, household chemicals, and nasty food additives are fucking the hell out of your hormones and making you feel awful.
Remember DDT and how it ruined all those bird eggs and generally crapped on everything it touched? Did you know that we still use very chemically similar products, and that we still manufacture DDT and send it to other countries where it's still allowed? And then, of course, those countries send their produce back to us, and we eat it, and it sits in our bodies for upwards of THIRTY YEARS. And that's just one chemical, there are plenty more that are still legal here and just about as dangerous. When it comes right down to it... if it's going to kill bugs and small rodents, it's not going to be good for you either.
To make matters worse, that shit is *everywhere*. It runs off of fields and into water supplies, it's in the air, it's in the soil, it's in the rain. In small amounts, it's in the grass that your all-organic-grassfed-hamburger-to-be is munching on, and therefore in the meat, eggs, and milk we eat, even when we do our best to avoid it (though it's still a far sight better than the cows that might as well have cyanide mainlined into their veins for all the crap they're given.) Not to mention the stuff that's in our cleaning products, beauty products, and food. They get all up into your body and start pretending that they're hormones and clogging up your receptors and generally being total dicks. (Another fun fact: the manufacturers of these chemicals are only required to test for cancer-causing effects- they don't have to look for ANY other toxic effects on the body. If it doesn't immediately give a mouse cancer, it's good to go! At least, as of 2003 when the book was published.)
These guys know what I'm talking about.
Hormones are important. When they're out of whack, your whole body starts sucking. Migraines, fatigue, digestive problems, skin problems, period problems, mood disorders, PCOS, infertility- even major things like autoimmune disorders and cancer. Your hormones want to work properly and be your friend, but it's a very delicate system and they've been under attack since the day you were conceived. This book is aimed at women (who are lucky enough to have an insanely complicated hormonal system. Woo) but this crap messes with male hormones too. For some reason, doctors never want to deal with this stuff (as I learned when I was trying to sort out my crazy hormonal migraines and was prescribed baby aspirin. No thanks, I'd rather, y'know, fix the problem.) As this book explains, reproductive hormones aren't really the domain of any of the medical specialities- gynos are only focused on what's going on with your immediate reproductive system, endocrinologists focus more on thyroid hormones, etc etc. Hormones are rarely checked unless you're being treated for infertility, despite the fact that they affect so much more. This book will talk you through (in AGONIZING DETAIL) the many affronts on your ovaries, the problems they cause, and what you can possibly do about it - starting with avoiding as many of those poisons as possible, which brings us to the second book, which is a bit more fun.
No More Dirty Looks: The Truth about Your Beauty Products--and the Ultimate Guide to Safe and Clean Cosmetics
This book (and the blog that goes with it) are a little bit hippy-dippy and a little bit "OH MY GOD $20 FOR THAT TINY BOTTLE OF LOTION??" but nonetheless, a super invaluable resource when it comes to eliminating nasty toxic shit from your body and cosmetic products (you know how people are always complaining about headaches from people wearing strong perfume? There is a very good reason for that.) A lot of the stuff they recommend is a little pricey, but there are some good cheaper alternatives and they give you a very handy list of ingredients to avoid. As a bonus, a lot of the yicky chemicals in body products are actually just cheap filler, so when you switch to the good stuff, it works a lot better too (nothing has ever helped my dry hands as much as that stupid $20 bottle of lotion... and it goes a pretty long way, I swear!) Plus, when you treat your skin more kindly it rewards you with fewer breakouts and irritations, and my hair looks better than it has in a lonnng time- did you know that the ingredient in most conditioners that helps your hair feel silky (silicones and other "-cones") actually locks the moisture out of your hair and dries it out in the long run? Which, of course, causes you to buy more conditioner. Which dries your hair out....you see where I'm going. Companies want to keep you coming back and they don't always do it ethically. Silicones show up in a lot of lotions, too, btw. Ahem.
Anyway, that's my soapbox. Some other Friday I'll do a run down of the reasonably-affordable products I've found and recommend. It IS possible to detoxify your products without having to sacrifice any anal-retentive cleanliness, by the way (most of them, anyway.) A lot of people recommend no-soap or "no-'poo" routines, and there are a lot of super non-toxic products that frankly don't work for shit. That's great for people who don't mind it (it's better for your hair and skin anyway), but that stuff doesn't fly with me, I want to feel just as squeaky clean as I did when I was using drugstore crap :-P Luckily the hippies have evolved, and they're putting out some pretty awesome things now.
(*BTW, these are affiliate links so if you use them to purchase things, I get like, a few cents. Feel free not to use 'em, but I figured as long as I'm recommending books anyway...)