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Steps to Making Healthy Lunches

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child-packed-lunchNow that summer vacation is coming to a close and the kiddos are headed back to school, it’s time to start preparations. Many have already done the school shopping, picked out their first-day outfits, and packed their backpacks with new supplies, but haven’t thought about those pesky little lunches that need to be packed. A healthy lunch provides sound nutrition to give students energy to do well in school and for the rest of the day. Healthy lunches are not just for kids, so these tips can be applied to all packed lunches, including the ones you take to work.

Here are some tips to take that lunch from blah to healthy in no time!

Reusable Containers Make Packing Lunches a Snap

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Use containers that have separated sections, like Bento boxes. The separate sections allow for more healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables and dips, with less waste from packaging. The box’s sections also allow for portion control, so you get to decide how much of each food is included.

Offer Nutrient Dense Foods

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Provide a selection of foods such as lean protein, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, that will give children needed nutrients. An added benefit of nutrient-dense food is that it makes you feel fuller longer.

Small Changes Can Make a Big Difference

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Switching from white bread to whole grain bread and opting for low-fat dairy products and organics can make a world of difference without noticeably changing the tastes of favorite foods. Also be sure to visit your local farmer’s market to buy locally grown produce!

Remember, Beverages Count, Too

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Giving children a healthy lunch, then packing a sugar-filled, high-calorie drink eliminates the efforts of the healthy lunch. Water is the best option for a healthy drink. Make the water more fun by picking a fun, reusable water bottle. (You can always pack a small low-fat milk or real fruit juice to add variety.)

Let Kids Choose Some of Their Food

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Allow your kids to pick some of the healthy foods they will be eating. Giving children the option will make them more likely to enjoy their lunches.

Enjoy those healthy lunches!

20 Simple Ways to Conserve Water

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The hot summer weather is here and it is creating a drought, making water conservation a must. This year California businesses and residents were asked to voluntarily reduce water usage by 20 percent to help save water. There are hundreds of things that you can do to help conserve water. Here are a few ideas that you can easily incorporate into your everyday life.

  1. Minimize the number of dishes used throughout the day by designating a drinking glass for yourself. This eliminates the need to wash multiple cups.7190209429_6d6b828104_z
  2. When serving dinner, serve right out of the pots and pans, as this will eliminate additional dishes.
  3. Soak pots and pans instead of letting the water run while you scrape them clean.
  4. Wash your fruits and vegetables in a pan of water instead of using running water from the tap.DIY fruit and veggie wash 4
  5. Keep a pitcher of drinking water in the refrigerator instead of running the tap for cold water.
  6. Dishwashers can use less water than hand washing, especially new energy-efficient models.
  7. Collect water used for cleaning fruits and vegetables, drained from pasta, etc. to water your plants.

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  1. When doing laundry, wash in cold water, as it saves water and energy while helping clothes keep their color.
  2. Also, when doing laundry be sure to match the water level with the size of the load.
  3. Shorten your shower by a minute or two and save up to 150 gallons per month. If your whole family did this, imagine how much water your house could save!3761877701_a3858973a7_z
  4. Aim for 5-minute showers and you can save up to 1,000 gallons of water per year.
  5. Skip the baths, as a full bathtub requires up to 70 gallons of water.
  6. Turn off the water as you brush your teeth and save up to 4 gallons a minute. That’s up to 200 gallons a week for a family of four.
  7. Be sure to check all faucets for leaks, as one drip every second can add up to 5 gallons per day! Also check all pipes, hoses, toilets, and faucets inside and out for leaks.6502693313_54a02fb395_z
  8. Run your washer and dishwasher only when they are full. This can save up to 1,000 gallons a month.
  9. In your yard, be sure to plant species that are native to your area, as they require less maintenance to flourish.
  10. Start a compost pile or bin. Using compost in your garden or flower beds adds water-holding organic matter to the soil.

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  1. Wash your pets outdoors, in an area of your lawn that needs to be watered.
  2. Use a broom instead of a hose to clean patios, sidewalks, and driveways, and save water every time!
  3. When washing your car, use commercial car washes that recycle water. When washing your car at home, be sure to turn the water on only when rinsing.

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Try to incorporate as many of these as you can, and see what a difference a few little changes can make to reduce the amount of water you use.

 

OTA’s Latest Study Shows that More Parents are Choosing Organics for their Kids

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Here is a great article from the Organic Trade Association (OTA):

WASHINGTON (June 16, 2014) — Lawmakers on Capitol Hill may be fighting over the standards of the lunches being served to American children in schools, but in households across the nation, parents are in growing agreement that organic food is the most healthy choice for the meals they are in charge of, shows a new study by the Organic Trade Association (OTA).

OTA’s U.S. Families’ Organic Attitudes & Beliefs 2014 Tracking Study, a survey of more than 1,200 households in the United States with at least one child under 18, found that eight out of ten American families have bought organic products one or more times in the past two years. In nearly half of those families, concern about their children’s health is a driving force behind that decision.

My children influence my purchase of organic food, because I want them to be as healthy as they can be,” commented one of the parents who participated in the survey. “I am responsible for providing my children with all their food since they cannot buy it. I choose healthy and organic foods and they enjoy whatever I give to them. Win-win!” said another parent.

Ninety percent of parents report that they choose organic food products for their children at least “sometimes,” with almost a quarter of those parents saying they always buy organic.

Moms and dads purchasing baby food are even more committed to organic; more than a third of those parents say they always choose organic for their infant or toddler. Meanwhile, 74 percent of daycares throughout the country now offer organic options for the children they serve.

Choosing organic foods is increasingly a large part of how families are trying to take better care of themselves and the planet,” said Laura Batcha, CEO and Executive Director of OTA. “The proportion of families who say they never buy organic food has been on a steady decline for the past five years, and those who are choosing organic are buying more.”

OTA partnered with KIWI Magazine on the study, which was conducted in late February and early March.

The proportion of parents who reported that they never buy any organic products fell to 19 percent, a significant decline from just five years ago when almost 30 percent of households surveyed said that organic was never a choice.

The findings are in line with the OTA’s annual industry survey released earlier this year which showed that organic sales in the United States in 2013 jumped to $35.1 billion, a new record. OTA expects the upward trend to continue, pegging organic sales during 2014 to increase by 12 percent or more.

OTA’s consumer survey takes an in-depth look at the buying patterns of American households, who buys organic products, what products are being bought, the reasons behind those decisions, and the purchase patterns of the organic consumer.

It is great to see the organic industry growing and more people learning about the benefits of incorporating organics into their lives. If you have not already, I suggest checking out the Organic Trade Association (OTA) website HERE as they have great articles, news and insight into the organics industry.

For more information on the great Certified-Organic Products offered by OMI click HERE.

Why Your Brain Needs Sleep

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Many scientists have studied sleep and why it is that we devote so much of our time to sleeping. New evidence from a recent study by Maiken Nedergaaed and colleagues at the University of Rochester in New York has refreshed a long-held hypothesis that during sleep the brain cleans itself. The scientists studied mice to find that sleep allows fluids to easily run through the brain and clean out metabolic toxins, essentially cleaning the brain of garbage. Check out this video from D News about the study and it’s findings.  

Make sure you get your sleep so you can dump the junk from your brain!

The Science and Value of Organic

There are (literally) tons of benefits of choosing organic products. Check out this report from The Organic Center recently released by the USDA about the impact you can have by making an organic purchasing choice.   

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For the full report click HERE.

Should Americans Fear Their Furniture?

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James Redford and Kirby Walker, directors of “Toxic Hot Seat” at Napa Valley Film Festival in California

Airing tonight on HBO is a documentary that explores the chemical-laden flame retardants contained in much of today’s furniture.

Here is an excerpt from the article, Should Americans Fear Their Furniture? by New York Times author Jane Margolies:

The pet hairs and red wine stains on sofas across America, it turns out, should be the least of our concerns. The real issue is what is in the foam cushions we curl up on every day: up to two pounds of flame retardants.

In their HBO documentary “Toxic Hot Seat,” scheduled to be aired on Monday, the directors James Redford and Kirby Walker disclose that these chemicals, as used in home furnishings, do not stop fires. They do, however, whoosh out of seat cushions when we plop down, hitching a ride on airborne dust and ending up in our bodies. They have been linked to cancer and other health disorders.

The film explores how a 1975 California law requiring retardants (Technical Bulletin 117) became widely adopted. And it follows the firefighters, scientists, health advocates, state legislators and investigative journalists who brought attention to the chemicals, leading to a recent reform of the California mandate — which the directors, who spoke from their homes in the San Francisco area, applaud.”

For the full article click HERE.

This issue was previous explored in the OMI blog “Makers of Flame Retardants Manipulate Research Findings.”

We at OMI continue to use a safer system that allows us to use organic wool as our only flame retardant. As a result, our mattresses are able to pass federal flame tests without the use of toxic chemicals or silica barriers. To use any form of chemical flame retardant in our products would violate our ethical standards and integrity. We stand by our purity so you and your family can have a safer place to rest your heads at night.

To learn more about OMI and the certified products we offer, click HERE

House Committee Examines Senate Chemical Bill

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From the ISPA (International Sleep Products Association), regarding our government acknowledging the use of chemicals in products:

“The Energy and Commerce subcommittee on the Environment and the Economy held a hearing today on the bipartisan Chemical Safety Improvement Act, a bill currently pending in the Senate. This is a significant action as the House rarely holds hearings on Senate legislation. The legislation would update the Toxic Substance Control Act (TSCA), which governs the use of chemicals in consumer products in the U.S. ISPA is a member of the American Alliance for Innovation (AAI), which was formed to make sure that any legislation to reform TSCA did not burden the industry. ISPA joined members of the AAI in supporting the compromise legislation.

Despite broad support, there has been an effort by some Senators, states and environmental groups to make changes to the legislation because they are concerned with the bill’s preemptive effect on state chemical laws. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) is leading this charge and spoke at a recent hearing about making changes to the bill because she fears the compromise bill will limit California’s Proposition 65 and other state chemical laws. The AAI and ISPA support the bill, in part, because of its preemptive effect. The hearing and further action by the house could put pressure on the senate to not make significant changes to the current bill.

Any action on the legislation is not expected until next year at the earliest.

Efforts to reform TSCA in the past have failed but those were partisan efforts. ISPA will continue to follow the progress on this legislation.”

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