Food & Drink » Glenda Bartosh on Food

Food and Drink

You don't have to be abrasive




The other day I saw a slogan on a reusable bag that's stuck in my head: technology owes ecology an apology.

While the urge to green North Americans was at high tide about a year ago, thanks to media campaigns, books and neighbourly nudges, that slogan made me wonder how many people have actually changed their habits and products by way of apology to Mother Nature.

I'm happy to see more and more local and organic or chemical-free, produce and meats at grocery stores, complete with little signs telling you whose farm or ranch the product is from. But I'm not sure we've made many inroads on the cleaning side of our wee domestic Canadian lives.

The terms "green" or "eco-" anything are feeling a bit worn out, but the fact remains that technology has inundated us with thousands of chemicals in our environment that we're barely aware of - 80,000 of them in North America, says the CancerSmart 3.0 Consumer Guide , and less than 10 per cent have been fully tested for their health and environmental effects.

I mean, what can you say about those Mr. Clean or Scotch 3M "magic" erasers that clean by way of the formaldehyde in them? I say leave your kids' magic marker marks on the wall.

As for plug-in air fresheners - don't even get me started on those ridiculous things. Just remember as you "freshen" your home that they can also produce formaldehyde under certain conditions.

And in another for-instance, Unilever Canada puts into its White Bright Sunlight Laundry Detergent and Sunlight Ultra Laundry detergent trisodium nitrilotriactetate (NTA), listed by the International Agency for Research on Cancer as a possible human carcinogen also known to remobilize heavy metals in the waste stream.

But there are alternatives.

My favourite tale regarding same harkens back to a good party and some subsequent yellow stains on the carpet left by white wine that had happily sloshed out of someone's glass.

Had it been red, I would have noticed and washed it out, but that's the problem with colourless booze. If you get it on something, you usually don't notice until the alcohol starts yellowing, and by then it's too late.

At least that's what the rug guy told me when he used some chemical concoction, god knows what, to try and remove the stains years later. But whatever it was he daubed on actually made them worse, turning the stains dark brown and sticky even after he "professionally" cleaned the carpet.

To the rescue, Reena Nerbas. I've written before about this amazing woman from rural Manitoba who gets tons of media coverage because of her ability to parlay science with common sense to come up with cleaning solutions made from everyday stuff - ones that meet or beat the "professionals" and most commercial products and don't risk your good health or the environment. She now has a third book called Household Solutions 3 with Green Alternatives that you can buy on-line.

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