Monday, September 26, 2011


For those of you who are unfamiliar with this term, is stands for Genetically Modified Foods, which has been the topic of many a discussion in the natural health world and beyond for many a decades. The process of modifying foods has both terrified and concerned the majority of the conscious consumer, who make it a point to eat whole, unadulterated foods; the way humans have eaten since we have existed and how nature has existed long before we were a twinkle in Gods proverbial eye.

To a commercial farmer and large companies like Dole and Tropicana, GMO is the answer to increasing resistance to herbicides, drought tolerance, supposed bacteria and fungus resistance, cold tolerance and a way to get vaccines to underdeveloped countries via foods like potatoes and bananas. That’s right! Get your vaccines in a banana! You can see how in theory this is a great, though scary idea.

The process of GMO is isolating certain genes from other plants, animals and other desired DNA bits and injecting them into the DNA of the plant. The idea behind it is that you can combine tomatoes with the genes of a fish and this will help the tomatoes to be more resistant to cold, drought and certain bacteria’s. That’s right-it’s not just plant DNA, so your tomato may not be vegan after all.

Although GMO may seem harmless and a useful tool against world hunger, the reality of the way we use GMO has forced the world to take a better look and start to make some very important decisions regarding our agricultural practices.

Soybeans, corn, wheat, canola, potatoes and cotton are the highest ranking GMO crops in the world and scarily enough, most are produced in Canada and the States. EEp!

With the pesticides alone used in GMO cotton crops, over 20,000 deaths occur from pesticide and herbicide poisoning in this category alone in one year. So, the equivalent of you going to wall mart or Zellers and picking up a cheap white t-shirt pack of five; chances are people have died to produce that t-shirt. Pretty disgusting. Although my intentions are not to produce fear mongering or scare you into living in a raw food nudist colony that sit and pray all day for the healing of the earth-there are practical ways to be a smart consumer and base where you spend your money on ideals of health, environment and economic concerns…so you won’t have to go naked unless that it what you are into.

One of the main concerns that everyone has with this agribusiness is Monsanto. This company owns the seeds, patents majority of the worlds gmo foods, pharmaceuticals and numerous other terrifying things in the pursuit of profit with a complete disregard for human health and the environment. Essentially, world domination is their goal. In fact, I believe their company slogan is “MWAHAHAHAHAH!!!”

As pollen is blown from GMO crops to other crops, even found in nature, it can alter the chemical state of other plants and flowers. A high mortality rate of monarch butterflies and caterpillars has been shown as a direct link to GMO foods as caterpillars feed on specific plants that are now laden with gmo corn and cotton pollen. This is also being transferred to weeds in farmer’s crops, ultimately making weeds more resistant to pesticides and killing more crops by cross contamination and gene transferring.

Not just plants but humans are also affected by these freaks of nature. Ever make the connection of the amount of children who are allergic to peanuts, tree nuts and soy over the past few decades? Many scientists are fully confident that the contamination of genes into allergens produces an even more harmful allergen in the human body, meant to be resistant in plants and has similar resistance against the human immune system. Other human health concerns are based on studies that show that the pH in the intestines grows more acidic with GMO potatoes verses regular potatoes as has shown so in human testing.

Most people are just plum astounded that science and corrupt business practices drive our agricultural forces and has become a deadly business instead of a way to provide people with clean food which in turn provides clean soil, clean minerals, clean air…you get the idea.
Just like pesticides and herbicides, everything goes into the soil. The minerals in the soil are needed to provide our vegetation with adequate nutrients. What is our soil providing to our fruits and vegs now?

Ok, so now, what can you do as a consumer who wants to not only avoid these products, but use your eco dollar to support those who do not use these practices.

The easiest and best way to tell if something is GMO are the produce stickers in your grocery store. If you shop at a health food store, you are probably safe from having to avoid GMO foods and probably shop there for a reason. However, what about the rest of you, who has a family of three or more and has children to feed on a budget.

This was one of the most helpful tips I received from a wonderful friend and old roommate who was studying GMO in University. Thaank you Sara!

• The first number on the PLU (product) sticker of your produce will tell you if it is organic, GMO, uses pesticides or other.

So, if you look at organic bananas, apples and such, the first sticker will start with the number 9. It will say nature’s organic bananas #94652 or whatever numbers follow 9. If it starts with 9 it is indeed organic = you eat it safely and enjoy.

IF it starts with 8 it is GMO.

4 is not organic. It could be natural, though. This means that it is not necessarily certified organic, but could be local without certification. It means not organic and not gmo, but could be grown with the use of pesticides and herbicides though locally.

3 is a created number for an unknown category that the produce manager will have created for special circumstances. Now, working at a health food store at one point, every grocery manager knows that there is a grey area of numbering that you must create for certain things that do not have a product sticker. This may be from local farmers down the road or it could be shipped from some remote country you cannot pronounce that you have no idea what their agricultural practices are. This is where 3 comes in. I try to ask if I see a 3, but I ask for the highest person who does the ordering or who does the inventory. Do not ask the scrawny produce guy whose job it is to make sure the apples are evenly displayed and the lemons don’t fall off the strategically placed stack. Not only will he probably not know, but also won’t care and will make him feel useless to take time out of his job to go looking for someone who might know for a job he already resents getting paid minimum wage to spray cabbages with distilled water. Ask to speak to someone who knows what that number means. If no one knows, I ask for a manager and recommend that they have someone on staff who knows. Yes, I’m that customer, only I am exceedingly nice and patient about it. I don’t barrel in and start making a hissy fit and throw apricots all over isle 6. I simply explain that it means a lot to me how I spend my money and I want to know where my food is coming from. Most people will understand and have an answer; some people will give you the stink eye.

USA and Canada are not legally required to label or warn consumers of genetically modified substances or ingredients in foods. More likely is that they are in most parts of Europe and the rest of the world and we have the same shipments and people don’t bother to remove the stickers and don’t think it is a big deal, just a product sticker for inventory. Ha ha! This is your weapon, your tool for conscious consumerism. Take that!

In general, for the top GMO crops in the world, I buy organic. This includes clothing. I will not buy clothing from Zellers, wall mart or any other store that contributes to cotton pesticide use. I will go out of my way and out of my dollar to go shop at local thrift stores, value village, used clothing stores and online boutiques to alter used clothing to unique wearable pieces. American Apparel is a great store to support and most commercial stores will offer organic cotton, bamboo hemp and recycled denim clothing. I believe even converse shoes offer an organic hemp shoes and you can support awesome companies like terra plana, who take old shoes and materials to make a new, sustainable and down right funky fashion piece. I have even seen organic bamboo in wall mart, so even they are supplying demand for sustainable clothing. They are all about demand, so can’t blame them for trying and supplying good alternatives if people want them. They are even getting on the organic bandwagon.

Corn is in everything-cornflakes, corn pops, breaded chicken, high fructose corn syrup…gmo corn. Even the companies who are using biodegradable plastic bottles are made with-you guessed it- gmo corn. It’s nearly impossible to stay away from this ingredient. Same thing with soy. Read your labels! Most companies who do not support or use GMO products will advertise to no end because they are a rarity and people like me seek them out. Quite often the cereal box will say “NO GMO INGREDIENTS” and will be bigger than the actual product logo. If you go to a health food store you will have much less of a hard time finding GMO free products, but read your labels with caution and ask. Most people who work at health food stores are quite aware in detail about the company practices and ingredients and will have no trouble with the truth if you ask.

Us health food people are honest much to our detriment, but we love the earth so darned much, much more than companies claiming to be natural who are “fauxrganics”.

If you want to be thoroughly terrified and well educated on these subjects I suggest you rent Food Inc and The world according to Monsanto, to start. Don't say I didn't warn you. You might be looking for that naked raw foodist cult by the end or begging Woody Harrelson to let you into his commune.

Green Cleaning

Ever walk into the cleaning isle at Loblaws or Walmart and think “gee, there are a lot of green looking nice that everyone is offering more alternatives to cleaning products, tra lala lala”.

Wouldn’t it be nice if all those green labels actually reflected the quality of ingredients in those cleaners?! Sadly, the only thing that is “green” about those products is the colour of the sticker. It’s very unfortunate these days for large companies who think we’re stupid, as they go way down on my A-O-K list and on to the bottom of my Terra Plana shoe. Most companies who produce some of the most toxic ingredients, simply change their stickers and the wording of their ingredient labels (e.g instead of sodium lauryl sulfate it will say coconut derived surfactant). They change their name to say “Eco” or “Bio” to sound earthy and seem like they’ve turned a large environmental page in history; all the while in board meetings with their marketing team practising their evil laughs over a conference call with Monsanto.

There are very few cleaning companies that I like to support, as there are so many environmental claims that have no substance other than harmful chemical poop hidden behind a nice logo of a smiling tree hugging a distantly blue globe.

*On a side note- let it be known that most “eco certifications” or companies who have little icons on the product label claiming that a very important ground breaking company certifies their product is a load of dirty, stinky socks. Most of these companies do not even have a scientist or biologist who work for them, nor do they inspect any products or facilities. These companies make their money by getting others to pay for “certification”, meaning they pay to put a green looking logo and all the rights to advertise that logo on their product. Yep. Sneaky aint-it?! Most of these companies pay a fee of $500-$1200 a year just to have the rights to a little sticker that makes them “certified”. This is also true with most energy efficient washing machines. No one certifies to make something energy efficient. All it means, is that you use half the dose. The en*rgy st*r label itself, is the same thing…a finely tuned and incredibly smart and sneaky way to sell a product with no manufacturing cost except the rights to an image. Brilliant, but very dishonest.

Nature Clean
I support Nature Clean 100% for so many reasons. One, being that they listen to customer demand, are on the cutting edge and have really, really clean ingredients. As far as cleaning goes, I trust them because I know and understand what I am reading on their labels and their formulas are pretty at par with the old fashion methods of “natural works best”. It’s also an easy company to mention for cleaning products as they make a huge range of products from shampoo, laundry to all purpose and dish soap. I recently tried their pet stain/odour remover, which works really well (new puppy/carpet approved) and I’ve always used their dish detergent for all of the above reasons. They are also Canadian.

TKO Orange Oil
This stuff is supreme. It is all purpose from hand washing, floor cleaning, toilets to removing cat pee and skunk smell. Seriously. All it is, is orange oil concentrate. Concentrate being the key word, as the price often scares people away. But, you add the instructed amount into water and then use. Although the price may seem shocking to those who are used to spending $5-10 on a crappy product, this is magically wonderful and completely natural and biodegradable stuff. In my opinion, it smells wayyy better than any lemon fragrance you will come across and it will last you a very, very long time which is where the savings come into play. I especially like using this on floors, as it is safe for hardwood flooring and you don’t need to worry about pets getting it on their paws or into their system.

Dr. Bronner's
Getting sick of me talking about how I love this company? Too bad, cupcake. Their all purpose soaps really do mean all purpose. I love the idea that this is safe enough for my hair, skin and I can clean my shower with it too. There I am in the shower with my giant puffy sponge lathering my hair and then cleaning the tiles too. Splish, Splash, I forgot about the bath.

Here’s the thing about natural or organic cleaning products: if you are down with a little effort into making your own, it will be cheaper and more rewarding to just make your own. Most of the clean green products are made with the same ingredients you can find at the grocery store, or even in your cupboards. Less packaging is less waste, so it is better for the environment for you to make your own, and it will save you money for sure on top of your own self pride levels going up a few points therefor uplifting the overall positivity levels of the universe up to 2.6 notches.

Baking soda: powerhouse of cleaning and deodorizing along with 60 other multi purposes:

Cornstarch: Carpet and rug cleaner

Lemon juice: A natural enzyme brightener, gets rid of grease and stains on clothing and counter surfaces. Mix with olive oil for furniture cleaner!

Salt: great for scouring as it is abrasive and gentle.

White vinegar: A fantastic all purpose cleaner for removing mildew, grease and urine smell from cloth diaper laundry. Also great for washing windows and metal surfaces.

Grapefruit Extract: wonderful anti-fungal and disinfectants. Grapefruit seed extract and essential oils such as lavender, clove, and tea tree oil have antiseptic properties and operate as natural fungicides which is especially great in bathrooms and kitchens.

Club soda: Great for all kinds of clothing and carpet stains. You can even use this on windows if you find the vinegar smell hard to handle.

Also, get this book…it is also water resistant.

Facial Care

Now this, I am an expert on. Natural Facial Care. I have tried every single facial product on the natural market-no exaggeration. I’ve probably spent more money on facial products in a lifetime to purchase a small plane.

It used to be, you walk into shoppers and get an entire skin care regime of exfoliant, toner and moisturizer for under $30. Then Lancome and laroche posay; fancy packaging with pigeon poop, extract of baby tears and golden flecks from endangered butterfly cocoons. Oddly enough…what makes commercial skin care so expensive is not the ingredients…it’s the marketing. Proactive is the leading skin care company in Canada and the US…very simple ingredients, not the healthiest…but, they have mega stars on their commercials. And, they are not available in stores, only kiosks and online. They do that for a reason: less manufacturing costs and the don’t go through a distributor asking for a 30% cut.

Similarly, I think skin care lines in the natural health realm have gone a kindred way. Everyone at one point or another has the idea in their head that the more expensive product the better. Sometimes, this is true in cases with clothing, shoes and some skin products. Most focus groups spend months deciding how much money they can squeeze out of a product and will sit down with ladies all over the world and ask them… “how much would you pay for this product” in other words “how much can we get away with selling this product at the maximum amount of money”.

In the natural world, the only difference I think is the companies, first of all, but also, that some products are expensive because the ingredients are expensive. But, you want to know if it is worth it.
Here are our top skin care products and whether you want to spend that extra cash.

As a bit of a girly girl with my products, I love the company Suki. I love all their products and they work phenomenally. The only problem is..the price. This is one of those examples of having to pay for quality ingredients. I’m not talking just quality, this company has all certified organic extracts, all biodegradable packaging, amazing formulas, no added crap or carcinogens, aaaand….get this-is all food grade, meaning you can eat it. It isn’t so much the ingredients, as food grade products won’t break your bank-it’s the certification that is the most expensive part of this mark up, that and it comes from Belgium. Their most popular product is their exfoliant. It is lemon, lemongrass and sugar based. You dip your finger in the tub and it feels like gritty sugar, but as soon as you put it to a wet face and scrub it in, it foams and leaves your face squeaky clean. The exfoliant runs for about $40…eep! So, if you have the cash and you want to treat yourself…go for it, baby! It tastes good too. Not something you want to put in your coffee, but it’s tasty should some accidentally make it’s way to your lips.

Other than that, you can get creative with about 30 cents and get a small food processor and add lemon juice, lemongrass and white sugar and try to make your own; very similar experience. Always exfoliate as the first part of your regime. This will get rid of dead skin cells and prep your skin for more blood flow and deep cleansing.

They also make a phenomenally awesome brightener cream, which is closer to $100 and a balancing cream for oily skin-and really is nice.

They also make a fantastic makeup line, to which my mother in law, who has extremely sensitive skin, uses and prefers this company to many other ones.

So, my take on suki, is that if you are spending that much money on commercial products and you want to make the healthy switch, this is a superior company that will impress even the most skeptic. If you are a facial care snob and are dedicated to purchasing awesome products regardless of price, this is also for you. However, if you are a student, or someone with an acne problem looking to watch your budget but still purchase some great products-read on.

A-VOGEL (green clay)
If you want to make your own mask-this is great and cheap stuff. It’s also fun! I like to make a little steam bath for my face with a pot of water and some eucalyptus oil to open my pores and then take about ½ tsp of clay and sea kelp and honey with warm water and leave it on. This is step 2 for my skin regime after exfoliating. I steam and then put this mask on looking like a swamp queen, it's totally a good look for me.

Be it known that I was previously addicted to these strips. Not only do they take your black heads away but you can seeeee them!! Ewww!! and Cooool!! I soon found out that no one wanted to see them but me, sadly, but luckily, I found this lovely young lady on the net who, shows you how to make your own homemade strips using eggs and some more posting after her video with gelatin. Check it out !

My favourite product that they make for skin is their aloe and grapefruit seed cleanser. It runs under $12 in most stores, lasts a long time and works really well. What is different about this cleanser is that most aloe vera products are mostly water, meaning you pay for a lot of water and some actual aloe extract-not with this product. They’ve taken the water out, so all you are getting is the pure benefits of aloe, soothing, healing and moisturizing with the antiseptic and antibacterial benefits of grapefruit seed extract so it’s great for acne and oily skin. You only need a little bit of it, as it spreads quite generously and cleans quite effectively. Normally, one does not exfoliate every day, so when I’m not doing my lemon scrub. I use this and I have a $4 electric toothbrush that I use to scrub my face with. Now, something important to say about facial bacteria, is that you can have different kinds of bacteria on different zones of your face. Whether it be a cotton ball or scrubby brush, I always do a little hot water rinse before scrubbing other areas of my face.

I’ve been battling with toners my entire life. Too much alcohol dries my skin out and makes it peel, alcohol free ones have glycerin in them and make my skin greasy and clogged. I opted in the end for, plain $2.99 drug store witch hazel and a cotton ball, after cleansing.

BURTS BEES repairing serum
Mmmmm yah, baby. This little sucker is the secret to my now nice skin. Although this little bottle will be about $30, it will last you months. I mean like, months and months. After exfoliating, cleansing and toning, I use 3 drops of this oil on my face. Every night. It’s my night oil. Other than the suki facial moisturizer, I just found that all the cream bases clogged my pores and made me break out, so I read about putting oils on your face that seem to be the most similar to the natural oils your skin makes, so it balances out your oil production on the surface and repairs your skin with all those fantastic botanical ingredients like green tea, rose, chamomile and pomegranate extract.

Now, if you are a keener, I’d recommend picking up this book:

Organic body care recipes by Stephanie Tourles

it gives you some great recipes on making your own skin care, which I would recommend more than taking a chance on some of the more home based companies who have made it into the market. I love independent companies with all my heart, but I’m ambitious, and would rather spend the money and make it myself. That’s just me, I’m stubborn. I must also have my nana's pride in saving many dollars by making something with things I have around the house. Not quite as “thrifty” as using the 2 year old leftover candy from Halloween, but still, it's an acquired characteristic.

As a rule of thumb, except for the witch hazel and clay, I do not put things on my skin that I would not be able to eat. That means that whatever is in my fridge…should be able to go on my face. Be it yogurt, avocado, pineapple, strawberries, cocoa…you can make some lovely facial products with some of the same foods that are known to keep you healthy on the inside as well.
Jessy Cooke


This is still a very popular and ever growing niche market, as it is constantly changing to meet consumer demands. At first it was just whey protein; significant data showing that an increase in protein is great for energy and stamina, cell repair and even assisting in weight loss and healing from illnesses. But then, what about vegetarians? Ok, so here’s a soy protein…then there’s the people who can’t have soy…ok, here’s hemp protein…too much fibre..ok here’s pea protein…and what about gluten free? And how much sugar is there? AAAHH! Enough to make one have an egg. Never fear; the Tarts are here!

I mean, I applaud all the companies making proteins, but man is it hard to be a new consumer and make a decision without being overwhelmed with not only choices but the amount of aggressive competitive advertisement in an already over crowded market. I find certain massive advertising programs very manipulating, as the companies who are the most honest in their ingredients and methods are the ones who get my mark, not the huge cardboard cutouts of Kratos and his eight pack of magical fury matched with a product with no foundations. It’s just like c*ntrum and mat*rna vitamins…they spend more money and energy on advertisement then they do to produce a competitive product with quality ingredients. These guys produce the S#!tiest product ingredients in the entire vitamin industry and yet, are a very successful company because they can afford commercials and exploit angel vitamin programs close to expiry dates…boo.

Same thing with proteins in my opinion. I don’t want to see a guy with washboard abs pack flexing his biceps with a murderous look on his face that says “I will spit you out and destroy you!”. I'd go ready a motorcycle magazine if I wanted to see that. Which leads to the most popular myth of all time surrounding proteins-it is NOT just for body builders and Conan the barbarian. Although many large guys who body build and work out do use protein shakes, in general, a protein shake can just be something really healthy you an incorporate into your lifestyle for anyone above the age of 16ish.

Lets look at the body for a moment. Your DNA is made up of all the amino acids you need to make and control the balance in every aspect of your body. Amino acids make up all the strands of your own personalized double helix. Your body needs to get most amino acids from your food. Your body is ever growing, changing, repairing, compensating, preparing, fighting and goes goes goes to keep you going. If you injure yourself, your body needs to repair itself and uses proteins and other body bits to fix it. You need protein on a daily basis, not just for repair, but for all the little building blocks of your body. No one can survive without proteins.

Eating meat is a very easy way to get protein, so meat eaters need not worry much. Meat is a complete protein, meaning it has all the amino acids neatly packed together so your body can use all of it, as it is very balanced. Having a meal without protein is like ordering the harry potter hogworts castle set from lego and only receiving the hallways without the astronomy tower…you need the astronomy tower. In order for vegetarians to have access to complete proteins, they need to food combine. For example, rice combined with beans is a complete protein. An egg is a complete protein. Lentils have protein in them, but not all of the amino acids so it is not a complete protein. It’s a little harder for vegetarians, as we need more nutrient dense foods and different kinds of protein to equate to all the nutrients we need. It is just as important to eat a quality protein as any other carnivore, omnivore, herbivore or opportunivore.

So here’s how you can breakdown the kinds of proteins and reasons for taking proteins:

1)Whey Proteins: Taken from the whey (the protein from the bi product of cheese) of cows and goats. Regular meat eaters looking to either increase more dietary protein for weight loss, or easy breakfast options, work out sessions or just plain health reasons. The huge problem arising from whey protein is the quality of whey. Commercial cows these days are cesspools for disease, cancers, are ridden with hormones, antibiotics, are being fed other animals and are over worked and are producing stress hormones in their milk. This is why most proteins boast hormone free, organic whey proteins.

New Zealand whey is very popular as they treat their cows better than most westerners treat themselves. They are free range and naturally organic grain fed living on organic soil, are raised to have stress free and full lives in the sunshine and grass. The only downside is that you have to pay for this quality. New Zealand whey proteins can range from $60-$100. But, I think it is worth it on many an economic and health level.

Some people want to avoid the cow all together and go with Goat protein. Goat milk on a digestible level is “way” easier (pardon the pun) to digest than cow. This goes for milk as well. Goat’s milk is the closest thing to human breast milk and goats are treated much better than cows.
The problem for meat eaters who increase their protein intake is the risk of acidosis. Which is essentially, what the atkins diet is; putting your body in a state of burning fat so much that you produce an obscene amount of toxic and acidic residue causing too much protein in the blood, overwhelming the kidneys with urea formation and putting strain on the heart…hence the controversy behind the atkins diet associated with heart attacks, acne, aggression and poor digestion. Always balance your diet by including alkaline fruits and vegetables.

2)Vegetarian and plant based proteins: Vegetarians who don’t receive a lot of easy digestible proteins looking to increase and supplement protein intake from the lack of meat in their diet would benefit from having a protein shake in the morning. The average person needs about 30g+ of protein in a day, and vegetarians scarcely get about 10-15g in their diets on average. Protein powders often offer at least 9-20g depending on the source and product, but just enough to give you what your body needs. On top of lack of the vitamin b12 and iron which are found so readily in meats, this is often why vegetarians are tired and pale and have no energy-lack of protein or the balance of protein along with b12 and iron.
The rub with vegetarian proteins is that we choose to be conscious and picky eaters. We want sugar free, gluten free, soy free, GMO free and dairy free products. I think the CEO’s of protein companies curse us in their sleep. But, believe it or not, we are the ones who buy more proteins than anyone else. High five vege heads!
MOST body builders, and work out guys don’t care about quality or even consider that there is a battle on quality and will go to a local muscle head shop and purchase the biggest tub of cheap whey protein that is blueberry muffin flavored and be on their hulky way. But, the rest of us, including the conscious athlete and body builder, demand quality.

Soy Proteins: problem with soy-1) it is probably GMO unless specifically states Organic sprouted soy 2) is hard to digest and often causes gas 3) is processed and would not be as beneficial as eating tempeh or tofu which have the phytonutrients that are beneficial in soy 4) processed soy is associated with excess estrogen, which is not beneficial for anyone. Benefits do include the same phytonutrients you would find in soy and does have a high protein content.

Hemp Protein: I love hemp. It truly is nature’s wonder plant, but it is a little tricky to use this as your only source of protein. Although it is loaded with nutrients, omega’s and is high in fibre, I find I have to use a lot to get adequate protein intake and some people are turned off of it’s gritty texture. I think it is an acquired taste and would recommend for those who want to use hemp as their protein powder that they mix it with other things. I have found in my experience that the “Hempies” are the ones who make their hemp shakes in the morning and take pride in putting anything they can that is good for you in there. I love their dedication and hard core methods of adding greens, oils, nut butters and other powders. It is a satisfying way to get healthy and treat your body to wonderful things. Though admittedly, not for everyone.
Rice protein: Rice is a very alkaline and easy way to get protein. It is also safe for kids and teens. I found quite often this was mostly purchased by mothers who added rice protein to their baking ingredients from pancakes to muffins and cookies. Unbeknown to their children, they were getting a little protein in their food.
Mixes: Most companies have discovered the economic way is to make a mixture of pea, hemp, rice, flax and other beans and lentils like chick pea protein and even potato proteins. I like this idea and find it is a little better on one’s wallet as well. Within these mixes you get a complete protein range all plant based.


Once again, Vega comes shining through as a superior protein. All plant based, fibre, multi, greens, acidophilus, antioxidants, omega’s. These guys thought of everything.

This company is Canadian, organic and provides fresh and high quality hemp products. They don’t need to go crazy on their advertisements because people know they have awesome products. They have plain hemp protein, so adding this to a smoothie gives it some fantastic nutrients and fibre.

I really like Living harvest’s products. They make a chocolate chili hemp protein that I could eat all the time and they even have hemp milk and hemp ice cream. Yum!

Progressive nutrition chose their company name well, as they really are progressive. Also one of the few who do offer New Zealand Whey, it is very clean and they have some great flavor faves.

This company covers all aspects of the protein spectrum. Whey, hemp, vegan, rice, greens…truly dedicated to high quality and organic nutrition.

Genuine Health offers one of the first vegan proteins on the market that does not have soy, herbals or gluten. I’m partial to this one, as it’s tasty and easy to drink or bake with. And, I find the price for the amount is quite do-able. Not to mention is has a higher amount of protein than most vegan based ones at 21grams.

Jessy Cooke


Although it may seem like there are hundreds of companies who make greens…well, there are actually hundreds-your perception is correct. The problem for us consumers is, which one? This one says no alfalfa, this one has kale, this one has chlorella…what the heck is that? And, before you know it, your noble quest for picking a greens product has failed and you are greenless and now blue with confusion empty handed except a large tub of jenny macaroons and some organic grape pop.

The basic premises behind a greens product is to increase your amount of green vegetables, sea vegetables, minerals and vitamins that you would otherwise have gotten from a few massive salads and maybe licking a few rocks at the bottom of the ocean if we were still living in the wild. I know that's what I like to do on vacation and I do know a few people who would be quite happy returning to that state of being. Slime covered rocks could make a comeback.

Greens are a condensed form of some very healthy nutritional products that assist your optimal health levels by helping the body to become more alkaline, reducing cholesterol, cancer risks and inflammation, improving digestion and overall energy levels. Greens are a great product for anyone wanting to do something healthy for themselves, boost their already awesome eating habits or add some healthiness even though they might not eat the best.

The possible debate with hard core nutritionists and extreme raw foodies is that you should be able to get everything you need from your whole foods. These green powders are jam packed with numerous healthy things, but often there are a lot of items, and some argue that this is too much for the body. I have always been on a “to each there own approach”, but I love my greens, and I notice a change in my health when I use those products so I continue to use them. It’s something everyone can do, it’s small, but can have major impact in your long term health.

So, that being said. Lets do our top green products.

Genuine Health
Of course I would mention these guys, as I’ve made it clear that I like their products in previous blogs, but also I am doing their 21 day challenge right now. Genuine Health has the widest range of greens products, as it is not just greens anymore-they have greens detox, healthy skin greens, greens with energy, bone building greens…protein with greens…greens greens greens! Lucky for you, I’ve tried them all and can tell you that the greens detox is a great small detox you can do for those wanting to do a slow cleanse. Healthy skin is by far the tastiest greens I’ve ever had bar none. It comes in chocolate raspberry, has cocoa extract aaaaand fish oil for the extra anti-inflammatory benefits and balances sugar levels. The greens energy is phenomenal for busy people who are on the go. Treat it like a coffee without the crash effect. Bone builder is awesome for people who hate taking calcium, as it is already in there! Woop, woop! It has doctor formulated ingredients proven to help bone density and comes in a great blackberry taste. If you want simple, easy and self explanatory-you can find genuine health everywhere.

Enerex Greens
I adore this greens product, which is strange-I know, to love green chunky powder. The main ingredient that stands out in their greens is the blue green algae. It sounds gross, but algae is a huge source of protein, minerals, omegas, vitamins and chlorophyll (this is where the slime from rocks come from...told you they'd bring it back) When I had this for the first time it was dark, dark green like the depths of the darkest part of the most mysterious uninhabited place in the ocean. I soon adopted this into my daily smoothie at work and noticed the difference immediately. Some joined in the green smoothie in the morning. We were those lame co workers offering each other smoothies while we did yoga in the half hour we showed up for work early. The dark colour and fresh aroma of the greens really gives you the sense that it is lush with healthy goodness. If i had one word to describe it, it would be “fresh“. If I recall, I had this every morning with a banana, flax, wheat germ, almond butter and threw it in the blender with some almond milk. I did this for a very, very long time. Highly recommend this brand, but suggest you mix into smoothie. You’ll taste how healthy this is without cringing and your body will give you love from the inside.

Garden of Life
Garden of life is a way cool company. Their perfect food blend is quite similar to the other ones, although they focus more on the fiber aspect and include flax, chia and pumpkin seeds. I didn’t find this one as tasty, but it had higher concentrations of ingredients and for that you must pay. This one might be better for someone who needs more calories like ADHD, an athlete or someone who might be fighting an illness where they need some high concentrations of nutrients in the fastest way possible. This fiber blend is also fantastic while you detox while ensuring that toxins are taken and released.

New Chapter
New Chapter has some very unique ingredients in their berry greens including turmeric, red cabbage and grapes. They are all certified organic ingredients and use all fruits and vegetables. They have chosen their formulas very effectively in staying true to their philosophy of 100% pure and whole.

Progressive Greens
Progressive has a large variety of ingredients in their vege greens. It’s like someone wanted to cover all the bases on this product, and you can’t blame them for trying…you get anything and everything you could possibly want in a product from plant soured omega’s, quercetin, cleansing immune strengthening herbs, fiber, digestive support and of course…vegetables. Can’t go wrong with these guys and as I recall, the price is also right.

I know some people prefer to take things individually. There are many people who wanted to simply take wheat grass capsules, or sprouted kamut, barley, just chlorella, spirulina or chlorophyll in liquid…as the thought of taking everything at once might not agree with them morally or physically.

I used to work at Booster juice, where there I learned that wheat grass is extremely sensitive to oxygen once you juice it. It’s one of those things you down immediately after juicing and make a face than can only be described as partner to the whiskey face. Although I think the nutritional benefits from wheat grass are astounding, if you want it in your system, go all out. Get a wheat grass juicer and grow it yourself in your house. I know Planet Organic market has a contact who brings in fresh wheat grass, and they also have a product that is flash frozen seconds after juicing, so there is hope for a more convenient way to get this if you still want it. I could never get used to wheat grass-Oooh I wanted too though. Green and good for you? Sign me up for that! Sadly, I just couldn’t stomach it, which is why, I’m sure it is available in capsules, but see what their methods are if you do want a capsule…flash frozen, underwater extractions…ask ask ask.

If you’re going to have barley, Kamut or individual sprouted grain, make sure that it is first organic, then check the expiry date and look at the storage instructions. The main complain I received from working in a health store when people bought sprouted grains was that it was rancid when they opened it, didn’t know to store it in the fridge, or bought it and it expired in a week. Because these products are so natural, they expire fast, so make sure you look at those important factors.

Ok, Chlorella, is a fine, fine product. My problem with this is the price and the amount that one has to take in order to get a nutritional benefit from it. I think sun chlorella suggest 10-30 tablets a day…hmm…I couldn’t even get people to take calcium twice a day. Although I think it is a great, green product, it’s not a financially practical way, or convenient way to get some greens into you. Like Spirulina, it is an algae, so the source is important as well as the company. I find with algae, the more expensive ones are actually companies that spend that money on providing a superior algae and for that value I am willing to pay. There is something about algae that makes you feel healthy-perhaps the colour often almost a dark blue green, like they’ve just surfaced from the depths of Atlantis to bring you this magical goo.

Chlorophyll and I go way back. It was my first introduction to a “green” product in college. It came up in nutrition class and the next day, everyone had green water. I liked it because it was cheap, easy and there was only one way to take it-tablespoon in water. Sweet. This is actually good for numerous things, alkaline, iron, deodorizer…this is great for a slow cleanse and is quite refreshing. Very light, very clean and pure.

Jessy Cooke

Menstrual Relief

Pain relief/painful period products…

Almost every woman I know has painful and problematic periods. I’m tying this in with pain relief, as they are similar in results; pain being the problem, inflammation being the root problem.

Why do periods hurt? Once an egg has been released from the ovaries, natural chemicals called prostaglandins are produced. These chemicals play a large part in the body's mechanism to pain tolerance and inflammation. The uterus is, after all, a muscle and contractions can be, quite painful. Cramps may also be more painful because there is a reduction of blood tissue in the body during menstruation and therefore oxygen supply to the muscles wall of the uterus during the contractions cause a tighter muscle.

Some women also suffer from fibroids, endometriosis, lupus, hormonal imbalances and many other factors which can contribute to painful periods. Instead of looking at each individual cause, lets loop them all together and attack the root cause of the pain, which are-the prostaglandins which cause the pain in most inflammatory situations.

There are certain foods that can increase and decrease the amount of prostaglandins in the body. For example-if you consume crappy foods that are not good for you like chips, white sugars, white breads, white pasta…candy, dairy and red meat-these are all foods that can cause inflammation in the body and thereby increasing your production of prostaglandins making your body feel more pain to things like headaches, bruises, joint/muscle pain and you guessed it-cramps. This can also contribute to dark circles around the eyes and redness in the body including acne and facial inflammation. It’s essentially making your body more prone to inflammation and the result is PAIN, puffiness, redness...all symptoms of inflammation. This stays true in most cases of inflammatory conditions from acne to arthritis, and adopting a more anti-inflammatory diet, I think is a large factor to achieving not only a healthy body, but avoiding a lot of unwanted future ailments. Woop, woop!

Above all natural pain relief formulas and pills, supplements etc… I’d recommend a more alkaline diet as a first and vital step in the path of pain relief. By increasing your anti-inflammatory foods like blueberries, salmon, greens and eliminating foods that cause inflammation like potatoes, heavy oils, refined sugars, white pasta and breads is very important, as removing those foods will be extra beneficial. After just having done a 21 day alkaline diet with Genuine Health, I can tell you what a huge improvement it made on my pms/cramps. While usually bed ridden with a hot water bottle duct taped to my abdomen, and 2 xtra strength tylenols every 4 hours, I was in very, very minimal pain and did not need to take any over the counter pain killers. I was really surprised at the result in terms of energy, pain relief and even my skin texture and complexion improved significantly.

Because there is a lack of blood iron in the body during menses, that means there is also a lack of oxygen which can also cause pain, so deep breathing can also be a bit of a relief in such things as yoga and meditation or anything relaxing. In any situation, oxygen is always good for the body, even taking three deep breaths can be beneficial during your day.

But, in terms of products here ya go:

Arnica is a homeopathic formula, taken internally in this case. Arnica is a muscle relaxant and is also beneficial for bruising, both internally and externally and muscle pain. Although I am in that very small percentage of homeopathic remedies either not working or having a reverse effect, I can take arnica quite safely at a 30ch potency. You take 6 tiny pellets under your tongue within no meals or anything else in your mouth half an hour previously. I find this a wonderful muscle relaxant for things like heavy cramps, sore muscles and headaches. Homeopathic preparations in health food store will be about $6-10 and will contain about 100+ small pellets in a lactose or sugar based formula. I was so relaxed when I took this for the first time at work that I had to go take a break and enjoy being chilled out for a bit and not do anything that required human interaction, as the only words I wanted to say was “ uuuhhhhh”. However, everyone is different, and it is a difficult job if you do not have a homeopath to chose a potency, as they range quite a bit. I’d recommend taking the base level which is a 30ch and if it does not work, chose a higher potency.

PURICA-RECOVERY FORMULA: This stuff rocks. It is expensive, but it rocks. One large bottle will be in the $60-70 range, but it works like a charm. The bottles are large because you have to take a lot of capsules in one day; anywhere from 6-10. This isn’t the most popular anti-inflammatory because of the price and the amount of pills to take, but I really like this products and saw more results in it than taking a cheaper product both in quality and price. This is an all around anti-inflammatory that one would need to take on a regular basis. Not trying to make you spend money, but it has super pure ingredients ranging from anti inflammatory berries, msm, glucosamine, magnesium, green tea extract and vitamin C; all good things. This original formula was intended for horses, dogs and cats who had arthritis and injured limbs, but the company started to develop a similar formula for humans on account of the popularity of the product and success rates with their animal customers. I didn’t notice anything for about 10 days, but after that 10 day stretch-nice skin, great energy and most of all-no cramps. I was originally taking it for a rotator cuff injury in my arm, and noticed significant healing improvement so much that my physiotherapist also noticed a difference in my range of motion and cut my physiotherapy time in half.

SERRATIA PEPTIDASE: Taken from the culture of the enzyme that silk worms produce to escape their cocoons, this enzyme is a natural miracle for eating away dead tissue in the body. This enzyme was recently discovered in the past decade to treat unwanted and dead tissue including internal scar tissue, fibroids and even small tumours in the body. It has a significant anti-inflammatory affect and is a common treatment for osteoarthritis, sinusitis and removing the plaque from heavily clogged arteries. Pretty cool. It is taken from the culture of a silk worm, so no worms are harmed during this process and there are no silk worm farms somewhere where they work the little guys to their death. Enzymes, are essentially, the human body’s main defence against pain and inflammation. Many companies make this formula, but so far, the highest potency is made by the company ENEREX:

This company actually has a few formulas to help with inflammation. They have ZYFLAMED (a combination of herbs and foods) they gave DAILY GINGER, which has proven effects on the body’s production of those pesky prostaglandins, TURMERIC FORCE, which they consider to be the top anti inflammation herb in the world as well as many other health professionals and cultures. If you want anti-inflammatory products, this is the company to go with. Turmeric is getting more popular in Canadian and western culture, but India, China and many other countries all over the world have been using this herb for thousands of years. Here is a link to make your own Turmeric Tea.

OMEGA 3: Omega’s have powerful anti inflammation properties to them. I’d recommend a high level potency from Ascenta, who have a great 3:1 ration of DHA/EPA, proven to help not only memory and cell structure, but also-inflammation. Or, Genuine Health makes a great omega called Omega Glow. It has a great ratio of fish oils, but also a very impressive formula of bilberry, vitamin C and vitamin E. Also, great for acne and skin conditions. I take 4 capsules a day of it and really notice a difference in my skin. I notice when I am out or don't take it, my skin does not look as lovely.

Quercetin/Vitamin C/Bromelain/CoQ10/Gogi/Green tea/Vitamin E…
and all the others I forgot. All these things are great helpers, but most of these components are found in food. The issue with these and inflammation, is that often people need high doses to make a difference with pain unless they eat immaculately and their bodies are a little more in tune and pure. The amount of capsules and milligram doses for these items would be astounding and expensive, and seriously, if you eat a well balanced diet, I wouldn’t bother going for these guys. Don’t get me wrong-they’re great, but they are too widely available in foods to take them on an individual basis unless recommended by a health care professional. If you can get these from food so readily, get them from food, you don’t need a lot of it. Just a consistent diet of it.

What about all those herbs for hormonal problems: Black cohosh, Vitex, cramp bark, yellow dock, dandelion, wild yam chaste tree and certain combination's of them?
Hormonal herbs, I do not have the patience for. And, I am a herbalist. To find what herbs work for you, you need to do a trial and error. Because herbs are so natural and so particular to the phytochemicals matching with your own personal body chemistry, I would recommend either to see a personal herbalist who can assess your own body, or to do them individually once a month to see which ones work for you. It’s a pain, I know. But, if you are dedicated to doing the herbal route, start with FLORA’s floressence detox herbal tea or detox concentrate to see if it helps. It has a combination of all the top liver cleansing herbs, which is more likely a liver problem and not necessarily a uterus problem. Most of these herbs are also diuretics which help to take the physical pressure off of the uterus from the bladder and kidneys. I am also not a fan of taking herbs in a dried form, as liquid is a little more stable in keeping the needed nutrients from the active plant.

There are so many companies who make herbal blends it is hard to tell how they extract the elements of the plant needed and how your body will react to it. I’m not saying dont try herbs. Just as a general rule, either plan to go all out and get the right one, or risk wasting your money. I’ve had a success with a ginseng based formula called KAMA by Kami Sante.
This product is a combination of different kinds of ginseng and de-stress related herbs. This tended to help with the PMS aspect, and also for sleep and stress.

Top Anti-inflammatory foods:
The Conscious's top 10 anti-inflammatory foods

Stay tuned for our first video blog where we put natural menstrual products to the test! And our pH soap test on all the natural bars of soap we can get.

Jessy Cooke


You may think that toothpaste isnt an item where you need to read the ingredients list, but unfortunately, I'd start if you haven't already done so. Most of the ingredients that we use to clean our teeth end up in our stomach, intestines and can be absorbed into our gums. Hence, the need to rinse well with water or switch to a natural toothpaste.

Being a natural product reviewer I’d opt for either making the switch to a healthy toothpaste or making your own. Having small amounts of carcinogens every day, especially in your gastrointestinal system is in no way healthy for you, your family or the environment.

What you want to look out for:

SLS: For some reason, companies, even natural ones add this ingredient to make it seem frothy, like you’re getting a good clean. Everyone likes a good old frothy rabies smile when they brush their teeth. In reality, rabies is not attractive and this stuff stays in your gut, so much so that studies are finding large amounts of it in the intestines even after one stops using sls ingredients in their toothpaste. Yuck! This stuff is also known to be toxic to the liver and kidneys not to mention toxic to aquatic animal life…think about how many people have this ingredient in their toothpaste and how much of it goes down the drain yearly.

Titanium Dioxide: I’ve read so many mixed things about this ingredient. It’s a white pigment from the oxide of titanium. Essentially, it’s a mineral that makes things white…like paint, makeup, tattoo ink, food glaze, the lining on baseball and soccer fields, plastics, paper… The harm in titanium dioxides was mostly discovered from in sunscreens, as the ingredient lists have to include silica and other components that do not allow the titanium dioxide particles to penetrate the skin as it is a known human carcinogen. Key word: Carcinogen. That being said, I have never seen a makeup even natural one without this ingredient. Regardless, It’s used to make your toothpaste look white and is unnecessary. Most of the ingredients in your toothpaste will be white anyways like calcium carbonate.

Parabens-I’ve mentioned these before. Estrogens, found in tumors=bad.

Our take on Sodium Fluoride: I’ve actually fought with my dentist about this. I, in no way, mean to mock dentists or dental related practices or people who use fluoride because their dentist said so. I just am looking at the facts and my dentist had no solid argument other than “the text book said so”… and it was written by Colgate…ahem.

Sodium Fluoride is one of the main ingredients in rat and cockroach poison. Even minimal ingestion of sodium fluoride causes nausea, vomiting, gastric pain, and diarrhea. Large doses may cause paralysis, muscular weakness, followed by respiratory and cardiac failure. I am not a fan of having fluoride used as a water treatment. Fluoride poisoning is surprisingly identical symptoms of osteoporosis and I wonder how many people are being misdiagnosed from having too much fluoride in their water from the accumulation of such an ingredient in their system over a long period of time. Sodium fluoride is also the main component in anaesthetic and psychiatric drugs while being primarily used for Sarin Nerve Gas. Our body needs a tiny, tiny amount of this mineral in our body for our teeth and bones, but the over consumption of this mineral in our society is slightly terrifying along side of the amount of things that destroy this mineral. Where's the balance?

“Surprisingly, fluoride has NEVER been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Additionally, a 1990 study stated that fluoride has been shown to NOT reduce cavities and scientists are now linking fluoride to dental deformity, arthritis, allergic reactions and about 10,000 unnecessary deaths each year from cancer. (From “Fluoride an equivocal carcinogen. National Cancer Institute)

You could say I am anti-fluoride. I am a firm believer that I probably get enough fluoride when I am somehow exposed to tap water by drinking tea or coffee not from home.

Triclosan: A pesticide found in many types of commercial toothpaste. Pesticides and the complex chemical components that make them up can be stored in body fat (adipose tissue), sometimes accumulating to toxic levels causing damage the liver, kidneys, heart and lungs, suppress the immune system, and cause hormonal disruption, paralysis, sterility and brain hemorrhages.

Hydrated Silica: Taken from Quartz, sand and flint, these are the primary abrasive agent in commercial toothpastes. The difficulty in avoiding this ingredient, is that all cleaners need an abrasive. That goes for most things. Salt is the best abrasive as it wears down and is dissolved in water. Silica, being used from sand, and rock, does not break down and if you have soft teeth this is going to be harder to avoid even in the natural industry. The benefit is that MOST natural companies know this and grind this ingredient down to a very fine powder so that it can be broken down by the body and will not do significant damage provided you don’t brush your teeth 10 times a day with an industrial electric toothbrush. I think of all the ingredients it’s the least harmful if you brush your teeth gently and take good care of your gums. However, the “whitening” agents in most toothpastes are in reality, the ones with more abrasive agents to break down your teeth enamel.

Propylene Glycol: Causes birth defects and is the agent that brings moisture and toxins to the deeper levels of the skin=bad.

FD&C Food color dyes may also cause potentially severe allergic reactions, asthma attacks, headaches, nausea, fatigue, nervousness, lack of concentration, and cancer. Also, you’re trying to clean your teeth. Why would you need purple or blue toothpaste to make it appealing?

Believe it or not, there are natural teeth whiteners out there. The harm in commercial ones is basically the stripping of the enamel and the bleaching of the teeth which are caused by some pretty chemically harsh ingredients.
Your choices are going to range from bamboo, calcium, walnut tree bark, orange peel, strawberries, sage, lemon juice, and baking soda. There are probably some other natural miracle ones, but these ones are the most popular in the natural market. The avoidance of smoking, large wine consumption and coffee are also recommended for those wanting to make their teeth all bright and sparkly.

So…all that being said. You can either make your own, or make the switch, and if you do make the switch here are some good ones to choose:

Dr. Kens

Kens give you the option of having fluoride or fluoride free and whitening or not. Whitening has titanium dioxide, but you can easily avoid this by purchasing their basic regular fluoride free formula.
It has some great antioxidants like green tea, aloe and stevia, which is a great sweetener in toothpaste and has been shown to be quite beneficial for proper oral hygiene.

Green Beaver

Yes, they make toothpastes. Awesome toothpastes. Not only do you get clean ingredients, but also some cool flavors like orange, green apple, star anise and cilantro mint. These guys have a very small amount of hydrated silica at the very end of their ingredient list, meaning there is only traces of it. My advice is to not use it with an electric toothbrush that could cause further abrasive damage to the enamel.

Kiss my face Whitening

This is one of the good whitening toothpastes out there and used aloe vera as one of the main components. I especially like the mint as it doesn’t burn or sting like most of them. Its a good clean and I like the taste and the ingredients.

Thera Neem

Neem is an excellent anti bacterial and healing oil. Quite beneficial in cleaning and protecting the gums , it is no wonder it is now a main ingredient in so many different salves, lotions and shampoo.


I really like this company for so many reasons. In terms of natural, apart from making it yourself, it is probably the most natural one. They make a great kids line ranging from kiwi, bubble gum, strawberry, cantaloupe and orange cream. They use yucca as a foaming agent, seaweed, tea tree, grapefruit extract and colloidal silver. Doesn’t get any better than this.

For Kids
When choosing a toothpaste for babies I would recommend Waleda toothpaste or Newco. Kiss my face has a great toothpaste for kids under 4.

For kids over 4 and under 12, Newco is still my fave.

Mouthwashes: I generally don’t use mouthwashes that have alcohol in them. However, the main function of a mouthwash is to be rid of any leftover bacteria. The same result can be achieved through salt water rinse. I do like Jasons line of mouthwashes. The ingredients are good and the results are beneficial.

For those ambitious types

Make your own toothpaste recipe:

All Natural Toothpaste Recipe 1
1/4 cup Vegetable Glycerin
1/4 cup Baking Soda
one eights of a tsp on salt
10 to 15 drops of Food grade Essential Oil of your choice: cinnamon, anise, orange cinnamon, lemon, ginger…go nuts.

Recipe 2 with Stevia
3 tablespoons of baking soda and
1/2 small packet of stevia powder
2 tablespoons of coconut oil
20-25 drops of food grade essential oil

What about toothbrushes…Here are some awesome companies making toothbrushes and floss out of recycled plastics like yogurt containers or the leftover pulp from nylon.

Jessy Cooke

Laundering Your Cloth Diapers

Laundering Your Cloth Diapers

With ever growing popularity among cloth diapering parents, I have been overwhelmed with the positive feedback that the Laundry Tarts All Natural Detergent has received. Cloth diapering parents deal with some of the worst laundry stains and smells. With only 1-2 tbsp of detergent, the Laundry Tarts will sweeten your foul load leaving them clean, bright, and stink free and won't leave unwanted residues that can hamper your cloth diapers' absorbency! That being said, even the most experienced cloth diapering parent may experience undesired results from their laundry. Common problems include a diaper's sudden loss of absorbency, the inability to wash away ammonia odors trapped between diaper fibers, or the diaper seems to develop a general dinginess that might stir up the question, "why did I decide to do this again"?

Fear not! There is always a solution. Here are a few tips to get the best results from your cloth diaper laundering and prevent future disasters!

1.       The number one laundry sin parents are guilty of is overloading their washing machine. The best front loaders can hold up to 18lbs of clothes, but every machine is different. No matter what style of laundry machine you have, always check the manufacturer's maximum load size to make sure that you aren't overloading your machine. With cloth diapers, you probably don't want to exceed 80% of the max capacity for several reasons.

·         If you exceed the max volume/weight capacity, there won't be enough water to wash the nitty gritty stuff out and away from your diapers.

·         If you exceed the max volume/weight capacity, there won't be enough water to wash and rinse the detergent out of your diapers.

·         If neither the urine/feces nor the detergent are being washed out of the diapers, you will have one heck of a stinky residue caked into/onto your diapers!!!

1.       So long as the manufacturer doesn't specify any contraindications, adding a ¼ – ½ cup of vinegar in the softener slot will improve the water's cleaning ability and it will combat those strong ammonia odours caused by urine trapped in between tight fibres. I do this with all of my laundry and I have noticed that it fibres as tough as denim seem to be coming out softer from the dryer.

1.       If you can, try to always do a rinse and spin with cold water prior to doing a washing cycle. If you can make the adjustment with your machine, try to get a low or medium spin. If managed to loosen particles during your rinse, a low spin will keep those same particles from mashing themselves right back into the fibres.

2.       High Efficiency laundry machines are amazingly efficient, but I find that there are a lot of HE machine owners who forget that one of the reasons they are so popular is that the phrase "Less is More" is critical to the objective of the machine. Less water, less electricity, and less detergent!!!
I myself have only recently scaled back to 1 tbsp per load because I was accustomed to using more in the standard washer. It's amazing how much better my laundry results have been. They are a lot brighter and softer! With cloth diapers, it's best not to exceed 1 tbsp of Laundry Tarts. I recently had a client tell me she was able to clean 18 diapers with only 1 tbsp!!!

3.       HE laundry machines are not always friendly with powdered detergents. If you have reduced the amount of detergent you are using, and you find that the detergent still isn't completely dissolving, add a ½ cup of warm water to the detergent and let it sit for a minute.

4.       HE machines require maintenance on a bi-monthly basis. Manufacturers recommend running a self clean cycle with a cup of bleach (although using vinegar is just as efficient).This is meant to help breakdown residues that may build up in your machine. Your model may also feature a trap somewhere along the bottom of your machine where debris from pockets detergent and dirt residues will build up. This trap must be cleared out regularly as it can clog and backup much like a sink or a toilet. If it does, dirty water/residues will float back into the machine and onto your clothes/diapers.

Tanja Warren

A Tart's Guide to Cloth Diapers

A Tart’s Guide to Cloth Diapering

Why are people making the switch back to cloth diapers?

Everyone has their own reasons. Whether it's for the environment, to save money, or for baby's comfort, parents of the new millennium are returning to this traditional diapering method in great numbers. The number of cloth diaper and natural/organic child care boutiques are overwhelming. Just Google cloth diaper stores/boutiques and visit one of the hundreds of little online stores that are flourishing due to its growing popularity among new mothers and fathers. This is in large part due to the fact that cloth diapers have been redesigned and modernized to appeal to the modern parent who is typically drawn to the ease of use of disposables. With a little research and practice, success with cloth diapering doesn't have to entail a lot of work.

Common myths/concerns surrounding cloth diapering

Let me go ahead and help throw out every reason that's caused you to hesitate from trying cloth diapers.

·      They cost more

·      They're old fashioned

·      They're inconvenient

·      They're time consuming

·      They leak

·      They are smelly

·      They're hard to clean

·      They're bad for sensitive skin

I've already discussed how cloth diapering saves you money. Even if you incorporate your laundering costs, you will still save over $1000.00. Cloth diapering may be old fashioned in nature, but the cloth diapers that are available this millennium are beyond convenient. Inspired by both classic and modern design, cloth diapers are easier to use than ever before. The All-In-One diapers in particular are designed to be just as convenient as disposables. Past concerns about leakage and absorbency have been addressed. In regard to being a time consuming task, snaps and Velcro have made getting baby in and out of his/her cloth diaper quick and convenient.

Cloth diapers are in fact less smelly then disposables. They require you to change baby's diaper regularly, keeping baby smelling fresher all day and preventing diaper rash from becoming a problem for baby's sensitive skin. Cloth diapers require laundering every couple of days. If you leave them any longer, lingering ammonia smells will sour in baby's diaper pail. With proper maintenance, cloth diapers should not retain any smell after laundering (Learn about preventing and treating cloth diaper odours in the Diaper Care and Laundering section of this blog). Always choose all natural fibres whenever possible to keep the stink at bay!

Top 3 Reasons to make the switch

1. Its Environmentally Friendly: Help reduce your waste/chemical output for the sake of our environment

Overflowing landfills have drawn our attention to the excessive amounts of waste humans produce on a weekly basis. Disposable diapers have been the norm since the 1960s. Today, over 4 million disposable diapers are being discarded per day in Canada (1.6 billion per year)It is unsure how long exactly it will take the plastics used to fabricate disposable diapers to decompose. Some say it can be anywhere between 300-500 years, others aren't sure if they ever will!

Some argue that cloth diapers are just as harmful to our planet. They consume a lot of water when laundering, and they pollute our waters with the detergents. Common detergents contain chlorine, phosphates, and EDTA which all contribute to ecological problems in our fresh water sources, as well as the ocean. Chlorine is commonly used to kill unwanted bacteria, when released into oceans, and can kill a large amount of natural bacterias needed for certain aquatic life. An abundance of chlorine has changed the chemical composition of the oceans, which could destroy the symbiotic balance of bacteria in healthy areas of water. Phosphates are used for their superior cleaning power as they eliminate the soap scum residue leftover from cleaning. Excess phosphorus into rivers, lakes and fresh water can offset the delicate balance of biology and produce an excess of algae and bacteria, making water inhabitable for aquatic life, unsuitable for swimming or ingesting. EDTA is used as a preservative in laundry detergents for treating hard water. EDTA is harmful to the environment and can acts as a hormone disrupting agent according to large study groups.Cloth diapering moms have been able to debunk their negative impact on the environment by purchasing High Efficiency laundry machines and all natural detergents (like The Laundry Tarts All Natural Detergent) . HE machines generally use as little as 1/3 of the amount of water that traditional laundry machines use, so even doing a double rinse uses less water than a traditional unit might. Choosing to wash with an all natural detergent like the Laundry Tarts helps to keep unnecessary chemicals out of our waters and off of your baby's skin.

2. Its Economical: Help save yourself thousands if you stick with it!

The average baby will wear diapers for approximately two and a half years. If you have chosen to diaper with disposables, you will spend approximately $2500-$3500 on diapering products. If you have chosen to cloth diaper, you will only spend approximately $650-$950 on your diapering products!!! Your stock supply might cost you a bit, but their are alternatives to allow you to try out cloth diapering before making the plunge. Nearly every cloth diaper boutique that I have come across offers a trial service that allows you to take home 2-3 diapers of each available style for 1-4 weeks for about $20.00/week. With this, you are able to figure out what style suites your lifestyle best and purchase your stock accordingly if you wish to continue with the cloth diapers. You can also try a cloth diaper service. This is great for parents who like the idea of cloth diapering bit who don't have the time for the extra laundering. Most diaper services run for approximately $20-$30 a week. They will supply you with fresh clean diapers on a weekly basis and they will pick up and wash your used supply. If you decide to stick with a cloth diaper service, you won't save much, but it is an alternative method of trying out cloth diapering without taking the plunge.

3. Its comfortable :Keep baby as comfortable as possible

Babies are most comfortable when they are changed often. The less their delicate skin is exposed to ammonia left from urine, the less likely they are to acquire a diaper rash. Regular diaper changes are required when cloth diapering as baby always feels when he is wet. Letting baby sit in his disposable diaper (which is changed less often to save money) can expose him to heat and moisture long enough for bacteria and heat rash to thrive. Cloth diapers are typically made of cotton which is a breathable material which allows air to freely circulate, helping to prevent diaper rash.

Alright, I've convinced you to try them out. What do you need to get started?


It is recommended to have about 24 diapers available for newborn – 6 months olds. If you choose to use diaper wraps as well, 6 wraps are generally recommended. Once baby has reached 6 months, you can scale back to about an 18 diaper supply with 4 wraps. Sizes will vary between brand and style.

There are 4 cloth diaper styles to choose from.

The AIO (All –In-One): This is the easiest diaper to help transition from disposables. It doesn't require a separate cover or soaker. The only disadvantage is that they require longer drying times and are sometimes more difficult to wash effectively. An alternative to this is the AI2 (All-In-2) diapers. A separate cover is not required, but separate soakers are required. The AI2 is a little more expensive, and it does require you to remove and insert a soaker (meaning your hands get a little dirty). They wash and dry more effectively, and are still just as convenient as disposables.

Pocket Diapers: Pocket diapers are simple to use. There is an outer and inner layer with a pocket between for you to stuff your absorbent insert into. The insert absorbs baby's urine and is then easily removed and replaced with a new insert. This system allows you to select the absorbency level of the pocket insert to suit your baby's expulsion. Its easy to clean and can often be less bulky (depending on the absorbency insert selected).

Fitted Diapers: These diapers look and fit like disposables. The are sized to fit snugly around baby, usually with elastic gatherings in the leg and waist. They are often held together with either snaps or Velcro. They require a separate waterproof shell, and there are some designs available where you may also include an absorbent insert. They are easy to clean and can be washed in high temperatures.

Flat and Prefold Diapers: This is the least expensive choice for parents. They require a waterproof cover, and diaper pins or a snappy to hold it together. Flat and prefolds are very absorbent, easy to launder and dry, and have multiple functions as a doubler, pocket stuffer, burp cloth and even as cleaning rags (once baby is finished with them). Word to the wise, this type of diaper can be hard to use on squirmy babies.

Diaper Fibres

Once you choose your diaper style, your diaper's fibre can make all the difference in the world. Common fibres you will come across are organic cotton, hemp, wool, microfleece, and bamboo. Each fibre has its own unique absorbency ability and may require special laundering care.

Always read your cloth diaper manufacturer's laundering instructions to ensure that they maintain their ability to absorb.


Now that you have selected your cloth diapers, you can get the rest of your supplies.

Baby Wipes: You can continue using disposable baby wipes, or you can always opt to use reusable wipes and throw them in with your cloth diaper laundry!

Diaper Pail and liner: You will need to choose between dry pailing, wet pailing, or dry/wet pailing. I will discuss this in greater detail in the Pailing section of this blog.

Cloth Diaper Safe Detergent: It is VERY important to use detergents that are specifically designed for cloth diapers. Using one that is not safe on cloth can ruin your diapers by leaving residues which prevent absorption and trap bacteria and odours.

Cloth Diaper Safe baby care lotions/creams: Just like your detergent, it is critical to use lotions and creams on baby's bottom that are safe for cloth diapers . They can also ruin your diapers by leaving residues which prevent absorption and trap bacteria and odours.

Where do I buy cloth diapers?

Cloth diapers can be purchased from any of the hundreds of online cloth diaper stores, or from a local kids' boutique. You can even try buying used cloth diapers. There is always a score to be made from Craigslist or Kijiji.

Diaper Care and Laundering

Diaper Pails: Dry vs Wet

Dry Pail: This is most common pailing method used with modern cloth diapering. Soiled cloth diapers are thrown into a diaper pail that you can line with either a plastic or a re-usable nylon or polyester bag. The reusable bag is often more practical as you can throw the bag right in the wash without having to handle the diapers. If baby is breast fed, no need to worry about shaking off the mud pie. If baby is older or formula fed, you can shake the pie right in your toilet or you can purchase bioliners that are easily removed from the cloth diaper and may also be tossed straight in the toilet. If you want to mix up your pail as a wet/dry pail, you can rinse off the diapers as you use them and throw them in the dry pail.

Dry pails need to be changed every two days or so to keep odors and stains at bay. To help keep your pail fresh smelling, its often recommended that you sprinkle some baking soda at the bottom of the pail to absorb bad odours. You can also use a little tea tree oil (which smells great and has disinfectant properties), or you may purchase a designated Diaper Pail Freshener. NEVER USE DETERGENTS in your diaper pail. It may cause your cloth diaper fibres to breakdown. Always refer to your cloth diaper manufacturer for specific pre-treatment and washing instructions.

One concern with dry pailing is that diapers often retain stains and odors if they sit in the pail too long. Remember to launder your cloth diapers regularly to prevent odor causing bacteria to grow and flourish.

Wet Pail: Contrary to the dry pail, the wet pail is filled with water rather than a liner. A soiled diaper is tossed into the water filled pail usually after a quick hosing and/or after mud pies are shaken into the toilet. This method is often better at preventing stains from setting into your diapers and some cloth diaper users think that it smells less as well. Often a wet pail water solution is used with a combination of baking soda and essential oils to keep odours at bay. There are a few things to take into consideration before deciding to wet pail. You need a pail that has a lid that secures. As bizarre as it may seem, there have been numerous occasions where babies have drowned in wet pails from falling in (enough that every reference I could find was adamant about this warning). Another consideration is that because the diapers are soaking in water, the opportunity for bacteria to thrive is much greater with a wet pail. Diapers must be washed every couple of days in order to prevent odour causing bacteria to settle in to the diaper fibres. Wet pails are also very heavy because of the water, so it is best to have it as close to your laundry machine as possible. When preparing to launder, you must dump the water and pull apart the diapers before putting them in the washer. A pair of rubber gloves may prove helpful!

If you have opted to launder your own cloth diapers, it is very important to do it correctly. Understanding common laundering issues/concerns will make it easier for you to troubleshoot if you have run into any problems during your cloth diapering experience.

The importance of using a cloth diaper safe detergent vs other detergents and other laundering don'ts

When using cloth diapers, the number one concern with detergents are the residues they leave behind which prevent absorption and trap bacteria and odours. Many detergents are heavy on oil ingredients which can be therapeutic to the skin, but which also act as a barrier for water causing leaks. Residues are more likely to develop in fabrics made from polyester than in diapers made from natural fibres. Residues are caused by using too much detergent, using a detergent with additives/oils, not using enough water to wash/rinse, not using enough detergent, and dryer sheets. There is a growing concern with HE laundry machine users because there is an increased chance of acquiring a urine residue. This is a result of not using enough detergent and/or not using enough water to wash out and rinse the detergent. You will know if your diaper has a residue if your diapers stink after washing, if your diapers become discoloured, if your diapers stop absorbing liquid, if your diaper cover leaks, or if your baby develops diaper rash. If you suspect your diaper has a residue, check to make sure you are washing the diapers in enough hot water. If you cannot increase the water volume in your washing machine, just throw in fewer diapers with each load, and always do a double rinse.

There is a great debate among cloth diaper users regarding the use of baking soda in cloth diaper detergent and that soda wash based detergents should be used instead. Cloth diapers made from bamboo fibres in particular are subject to this controversy, with manufacturers promoting bamboo specific detergents. The argument against baking soda is if it is not rinsed properly, the detergent will leave a residue and break down fabrics faster. Chemically speaking, soda wash is more acidic than baking soda and is found in the majority of all cloth diaper detergents. After many tests, the Laundry Tarts All Natural Detergent has a tried and true level of baking soda in relation to its other ingredients, harnessing a well balanced blend of odour, stain and bacteria removing ingredients with great cleaning power, naturally.

Why should you launder your cloth diapers with the Laundry Tarts All Natural Detergent?

Choosing the right detergent will make your cloth diapering experience go along more pleasantly as we have previously discussed with regard to residues. A common misconception is that baby laundry detergent and cloth diaper safe detergent are one and the same. Unfortunately, the pair doesn't go hand in hand as baby laundry detergents are usually filled with oils meant to moisturize baby's skin which will inevitably saturate your diapers with unwanted residue. It will also put your baby in contact with many harmful chemicals that leach onto baby's skin and eventually absorb into the blood stream. Commercial detergents in general are saturated with unnecessary and harmful chemicals that are absorbed by our bodies and the environment. We often take for granted that we can reduce pollutants in our lives and environment by taking the time to notice that we don't have to use them in order to harness the same results, especially with household cleaning.

Chemical cleaning became the norm during World War II, when natural minerals like Sodium Bicarbonate (baking soda) were hard to come by . Strangely North Americans never switched back to their original methods believing that baking soda and vinegar just couldn't cut it anymore. So instead, generations have grown up cleaning their homes and washing their laundry with products containing chlorine, phosphates, Sodium Lauryl/Laureth Sulphate (SLS/SLES), parabens, phthalates and EDTA. You read the ingredients on the back of your products all the time, be it on shampoo, toilet cleaner, etc., and I know there has been at least one time when you've wondered to yourself, "what the heck is this?". Many like myself go ahead and wonder about it, but have never taken the time to find out what it is they're exposing their bodies to daily. Please take the time to really take in what these chemicals can do to you and your baby's body, and give baby the healthiest start he/she can have in life.

(information courtesy of Jessy Cooke, owner of The Laundry Tarts All Natural Detergent)

Chlorine: Chlorine is very irritating to the skin. It dries out the skin's natural oils and can cause rashes, hives, soreness and irritation to the eyes, lungs and mucus membranes. Chlorine is mostly found in bleach and many detergents and cleaning products. Commonly used to kill unwanted bacteria, when released into oceans, chlorine can kill a large amount of natural bacterias needed for certain aquatic life. An abundance of chlorine has changed the chemical composition of the oceans, which could destroy the symbiotic balance of bacteria in healthy areas of water. Although it has anti-fungal properties to it, there are much healthier alternatives to your skin and to the environment.

Phosphates: Phosphates are used for their superior cleaning power as they eliminate the soap scum residue leftover from cleaning. Phosphates are made from a phosphorus base, which is a very important mineral for plants and animals. However, the chemical balance of phosphorus is very important to keep in check. Excess phosphorus into rivers, lakes and fresh water can offset the delicate balance of biology and produce an excess of algae and bacteria, making water inhabitable for aquatic life, unsuitable for swimming or ingesting.

Sodium Lauryl/Laureth Sulphate (SLS/SLES): SLS/SLES is commonly used in soaps, shampoos, detergents, toothpastes, dish soap, body wash, facial cleansers, hair mousse and any other products that make a lather. SLS/SLES works very well to dissolve grease and adds that wonderful foam to traditional products. Unfortunately SLS/SLES, is a skin irritant and is absorbed into the skin very easily. Like many other commercial ingredients, it is also a xenoestrogen, making it's way to the bloodstream and causing hormonal imbalances in the body.

Parabens: Parabens are a common preservative, used in thousands of body care and household products and sometimes, even food. Fortunately, many companies are reformulating certain products to eliminate this harmful preservative from being so widely available on store shelves. Parabens are the most well known of xenoestrogens, possibly because it is so commonly used in deodorants, body creams, sun lotions, hair dye, makeups and pretty much anything in your body care regime. The most recent study, done in Texas, has found paraben traces inside of breast tumours, sparking more studies and links related to how the body detoxifies and just how harmful these chemicals really are.

Phthalates: Phthalates are synthetic fragrance enhancers, commonly used in over 70% of scented soaps, candles, perfumes, shampoo's, body washes, deodorants, air fresheners, detergents, dryer sheets, dish soap and anything commercial containing synthetic fragrances or perfum and are also used as a softening agent in plastics. Phthalates can be irritating to asthma sufferers, cause headaches, migraines, dizziness and are being linked to disrupting hormone levels, feminizing males in the womb and blocking natural hormone receptors in females.

EDTA: is used as a preservative in cosmetics, food, chelation therapy, the textile industry and pulp mills as well as in laundry detergents for treating hard water. EDTA is more harmful to the environment and can as a hormone disrupting agent according to large study groups.

Get into the habit of checking labels and you will see just how many products contain these chemicals. Even during this Green/Enviro-Concious product revolution, you will discover how not "green" they really are!

Laundering Instructions for The Laundry Tarts All Natural Detergent

Washing instruction and amounts; for cloth diapers we recommend using half the amount normally used for regular clothing. For small loads in a traditional top loader, use 2 tablespoons and 4 tablespoons for med-large loads. If you wish to use vinegar, we suggest using ¼ cup for small loads and ½ cup for large loads.

Energy Efficient machines and front loaders: Energy efficient machines use 1/3 the amount of water than traditional top loaders making them better for the environment and uses less energy. This means specifically for cloth diaper detergent, less detergent is needed as well. However, less water means that powdered detergents are harder to dissolve and for that reason we suggest mixing our detergent with ¼ cup of warm water to help it along the way. Because most modern washing machines use much less water, this can also unfortunately lead to the common problem of clothing not being properly rinsed and can leave residues. These residues can cause rash, allergic reaction and can aggravate skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis. Most health websites recommend doing a double rinse, which surprisingly still uses less water than older machines. Use 1 tablespoon for small load and 2 tbsp for a large load.


I hope I have left you with a little insight into cloth diapering of the new millennium! I'd love to get your feedback on anything you may have read or that you think I should include in this guide. Until next time, good luck with the cloth diapers and


Tanja Warren