The Sweet Life
by Kate Zuckerman
Slow Death by Rubber Duck
by Rick Smith and Bruce Lourie
The Basics: The Foundations of Modern Cooking
by Filip Verheyden and Tony Le Duc
Tasting Club
by Dina Cheney

Monday, May 3, 2010

We're Reading: Slow Death by Rubber Duck

I was listening to All Things Considered on NPR back in February, on my way home from work, where I was first introduced to the book Slow Death by Rubber Duck. Guest/author Rick Smith had me glued to the radio; I didn't want to get out of the car until the interview was over.

My husband, being the sweet and thoughtful person he is, tracked down a copy of the book for my birthday a couple of weeks later. Apparently it was a hot item because it was THE only copy within a 70-mile radius of Orlando. {did I mention how sweet he is!} I read it that night, after birthday cake, cover to cover. The next morning, I purged the kitchen of any plastics that did not fall into the "safe" category. This process was time consuming, educational and scary. I never realized how many plastic containers and utensils we actually owned.

Rubbermaid was surprisingly OK. But, oh the Tupperware. We've had some of the Tupperware pieces since I was a baby, when my mom was selling the stuff. She was so good at her job, she was given a company car. I remember the station wagon vividly because it had a rumble seat in the back, which is the coolest thing ever to a 5-year-old. I couldn't bear to part with the Tupperware antiques despite the surrounding controversy over the type of plastics they use.

Beyond that though, the book really made me examine the way we cook and reheat food, as well as the cleaners, shampoo and other chemicals all around us. I never thought much about the stain resistant chemicals on our brand new couch and how they mimic hormones in our bodies until I read the book.

It's a great read, overwhelming at times when you think about all of the chemicals surrounding us. But, if you take it in, in manageable chunks, you'll be wiser for it.

While I long to live off the grid, on a farm with goats and chickens and a tire swing, it's not possible right now. I'm too young {looking} to let my hair go gray, and too anal to not use bleach on my chef's coat to remove the stains. Despite my vanity, we did make some small, but important, changes:

1. We make sure any plastic in this house is a 2, 4 or 5. {you'll have to read the book to find out why}
2. We changed our household, all-purpose cleaners to plant-based. Right now, we're using Martha Stewart's line of cleaning products and are really loving them.
3. We stopped using non-stick pans.

Changing shampoos and soaps and deoderants will have to be part of phase II. I can't bring myself to part with the spring rain smell of my hair.

UDPATE: On the heels of my blog post, I read this interesting article about BPA laws about to hit the Senate floor. The "big guys" are threatening to boycott a bill if BPA is banned from food containers. Here's a snippit:
The food industry's threat to boycott the bill has kicked health activists, parent groups, and environmental non-profits into gear. These groups have issued statements reminding Congress that BPA restrictions have been enacted in five states and are under consideration in 13 more. They have also cited the Center for Disease Control report that 93 percent of Americans' urine contains BPA, most likely contracted from food containers.

Some countries and manufacturers have already taken action. In April of 2008, Canada became the first country to ban the chemical. In March 2009, six major U.S. baby bottle manufacturers stopped using BPA, and House and Senate leaders proposed the first legislation to ban it. In March, the Environmental Protection Agency declared BPA a "chemical of concern." Also in the works for this year is a World Health Organization assessment of the effects of BPA exposure on very young children and further research from the EPA and the National Institutes of Health. KEEP READING>>