Thursday, September 17, 2009

Not food.

I could have painted some food, but instead I've decided to go a little off topic. I feel it's important to post about beauty products, many of the natural and organic products out there contain many synthetic ingredients. Chemicals and preservatives that have been banned for use in food are still found in our cosmetics, hair products, and other toiletries. Ingredients that have been banned for cosmetic use in Asia and Europe are used here, the United States has the most relaxed cosmetic standards in the world. In fact, the FDA does not review – nor does it have the authority to regulate – what goes into cosmetics before they are marketed to salons and consumers.

Many relatively safe chemicals have names very similar to the stuff you want to stay away from. It's important to know which is which. I check my products and ingredients at a website created by the Environmental Working Group called Skin Deep.

My Aunt Cathy died from cancer yesterday. I know so many people who have had cancer. I often ask myself "where does this come from? what has changed?" Residents of Marin County, Ca were found to be at a higher than normal risk for developing breast cancer. After extensive studies researches came to the conclusion that the cause was not found in the water, soil, or air. The study found that affluence, education, and life style were the primary reasons behind the increased risk. There are many reasons that women develop breast cancer, but scientists pinpointed higher alcohol consumption and bearing children late in life, as the specific causes of breast cancer in Marin County. These findings were compared with results of studies done in Malibu, Beverly Hills, and the upper-middle class areas of New Jersey, Maryland and New York. Researchers noticed higher rates of breast cancer in these areas too. I believe it's possible that this may be due to higher consumption of beauty products and chemical treatments of affluent women. If I had more money I would buy more products!

Two SF Gate articles about the study:
Breast cancer amid affluence

Marin County rate blamed on lifestyle, demographics

Twenty breast tumors were tested and parabens were found in every sample. Researchers believe the chemicals seep through the skin, especially while bathing when pores are open. Parabens have created a big debate over their safety, they seem to mimic the action of female estrogen which may explain the growth of cancerous breast tumors. The cosmetic industry says their safe, but there is room for doubt. Many women are concerned with deodorant and antiperspirants, presumably because of aluminum content as well as parabens. I use Tom's Of Maine deodorant, the apricot smell is nice and it does a great job.

Another one to watch out for is sulfates. Sulfates are responsible for the bubbling suds effect of soap mixed with water. I was surprised when I read this, it basically reduces every shampoo I have ever used to dish washing detergent. A study at the Medical College of Georgia, indicated that sulfates penetrate the eyes and prevents children's eyes from developing properly and caused cataracts to develop in adults. The main problem with sulfates is that they clean by corroding. This is very damaging to our skin and hair and may lead to skin rashes and chronic acne. Sulfates strip the protective lipids from the skins surface so it can't effectively regulate moisture. Our skin compensates for this harsh dryness by becoming oilier, which perpetuates the problem. Sulfates in toothpaste may lead to ulcers. The scariest problem created by Sulfates is hair loss, follicle by follicle.

Another serious problem is the possibility of nitrate contamination. Sulfates react with other chemicals in your products and form nitrates, cancer causing carcinogens. To compound the problem it appears that sulfates have a higher than normal level of absorption, they can penetrate our skin deeply and are retained in our tissues for a very long time. A study published in the Journal of the American College of Toxicology found that “high levels of skin penetration may occur at even low use concentration.”

Parabens and sulfates aren't the only concern. I've heard of cancer causing sun screen, tooth paste that wears away your enamel, lip stick with lead in it, mercury and formaldehyde in mascara! I encourage you to check everything and research every chemical, you can't be too safe! Cosmetic companies are responding to the demand for cleaner products, although the products I've tried have been hit or miss. Recently I purchased Physician's Formula Organic Wear mascara, and I was very impressed. It smells like oranges and honey and washes off easily. It's certified organic by EcoCert.

New York Times: Natural, Organic Beauty

The Washingtonian: More than Skin Deep

Organic Beauty Magazine

Green America: The Ugly Side of Cosmetics

The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, this website has information about the cosmetic laws in Canada and Europe

All Natural Beauty, this website has tons of recipes for homemade beauty treatments.

Food - Michelle

One of my favorite topics, favorite hobbies, favorite part of life! I could probably write a book about food, just babbling about this and that, but what I want to tell you guys is that Portland has no good Mexican food. I miss Sacramento for this reason alone (besides my friends and mom of course). I have found myself enjoying substandard burritos and telling myself that actually it's pretty good. I have found only one place with actual salsa and not water red or green hot sauce. The best chips and guacamole come from a place that is always incredibly busy and is also incredibly small, oh and did i mention that chips and guacamole is like 6 bucks? not to mention their tacos which are $3 a pop and tiny. I made my own fish tacos last weekend because i have been craving them all summer and cannot seem to find a decent one in this city that isn't covered in pineapples, or lacking flavor, or hardly any fish. Now I'm no fish taco connoisseur, but I know that I like my fish tacos (or any tacos for that matter!) basic. Delicious fish, either grilled or fried, a little bit of lime/sour cream sauce, pico, cabbage. Maybe some hot sauce if I am in the mood. Doesnt sound that hard! I might get some guff for this, but I would pay probably like $20 for 2 Jimboys fish tacos right now. When I go to Sacramento in October you better believe I am stuffing my face full of those amazing greasy perfect things. So back to the fish tacos that I made last weekend. They were AMAZING. I took pictures, and I would post them but I dont have time right now, so if you are so inclined, and want the recipe etc., check my food blog next week for the details. So, in conclusion, cherish the amazing mexican food available to you in sunny California!

st.ofle -- french foodie interview

For today’s topic, I thought it would be nice to conduct an interview.
It was actually perfect, because the biggest foodie I’ve ever known was right in my house – Corine’s mom, Cécile who is visiting from France.
I'd also like to add that she's probably the sweetest, funniest lady on earth, and as far as mothers-in-law go, I'm pretty lucky!

I typed this interview and translated it into English as I was talking to her, so please ignore any spelling mistakes (there are a few).

St.O: Maman, I do this blog thing – do you know what a blog is?

Cécile: yeah, it’s something for school, right?

St.O: not really, anyway, do you mind if I ask you a few questions?

Cécile: About what?

St.O: food

Cécile: of course not

St.O: What is the most important thing about food for you? What does into making something a good meal?

Cécile: The most important thing is the quality of products that you cook – very important!
The ingredients – yes.
You can’t good a meal with garbage, you know.

St.O: Do organic ingredients matter to you?

Cécile: Often organic things have a good taste, but good taste in general is more important than organic produce, yes.

St.O: Ok, so Nicolas Sarkozy (French President) makes a law that say you have to only eat one thing from new on and forever, what do you pick?

Cécile: (long pause) RICE! Basmati rice!
Rice has a taste all to itself – if only one thing, it’s rice you don’t have to add anything – rice is delicious alone, and it’s so simple. If it’s going to be the same thing all the time, it’ll get old no matter what, so it might as well be cheap and easy to cook, so I pick rice.

St.O: good answer
So, what are you most excited to give to Orson when he is ready to eat things other than breastmilk?

Cécile: hmmm. A good high quality beef tri-tip!

St.O: you know that’s not likely to happen right, as both of his parents are moderately vegan?

Cécile: (ignores me) -- cooked to perfection, like the steak houses you have in the united states do.

St.O: by you, or by someone else?

Cécile: By me. It’s easy to cook, but there again, it’s the quality that maters. Sadly, there’s no steakhouses like you have here in California in Paris, but I think I can make do.

St.O: that’s what you think. Can you talk a bit about the different culinary traditions with which you’re familiar?

Cécile: You mean West Indian, French, and American?
We can’t really talk about American cuisine – it’s generalized – I discovered it through Californian cuisine, and just trips here to see you and Corine. But California cuisine isn’t really American cuisine, is it? Especially with both of you being vegetarian, I don’t know if I can talk about American cuisine with any authority.
I can see West Indian cuisine in what you and Corine eat though. West Indian cuisine is influenced by latin-american cuisine, and latin-american cuisine also influences Californian cuisine. Didn’t’ this used to be Mexico anyway?
Anyway, French cuisine is really really refined – now I can talk about French cuisine. In France every region has it’s own specialty, its own special dishes, and smells. I can tell you a lot more about French cuisine than American cuisine, because there’s a lot more to tell.

St.O: This is hard because I translate what you’re saying, and type at the same time

Cécile: I understand

St.O: Have you noticed that things have changed since you were a kid, for example?

Cécile: I don’t’ think I’ve lived long enough to see changes that are that big, but yeah, there has been an evolution – sure! You can go into the supermarket now and buy already done plates – things that are ready to eat! We can make an entire meal without cooking at home!

St.O: Do you think cooking is on its way out?

Cécile: No, No. I don’t think so

St.O: When you go back to France, what will you appreciate having the most?

Cécile: Not meat – Not really fish -- What else
Aha! Croissant and coffee!

St.O: You want to say something about American coffee?

Cécile: You already know how I feel – it’s sock juice – it’s disgusting!
Whenever I talk about the US, I tell people never to order coffee here – they give you watery coffee in this huge glass (holds up a coffee mug) it’s just gross.

Food - graciela.

I don't agree with Anthony Bourdain's claims that vegetarians eat bad food and that they hate good meals. The problem is that most people don't know how to cook vegetables properly. Steamed veggies are definitely not my idea of eating. I partake in the dying art that is cooking from scratch. When done properly, vegetables amaze in soups, casseroles, even home made pizza. The hell with semi-homemade and fuck prepackaged dinners from the super market. Meat tastes good, I do remember that, but us vegetarians and vegans don't hate food. Anyone who truly cooks, loves food.

Food also tastes best when you've grown it yourself. If only cities abandoned the lawn for plants that can feed its citizens. If I can do it, you can too.


When Richard told me that this week’s Topical Thursday topic du jour was about food, I got really excited. There are few things that get my lard-laden blood pumping faster than the promise of enlightened discussion about all things gastronomic.

But before I begin, let me make it clear that I’m a recently converted carnivore who spent more than seven years before the leafy celery mast of vegetarianism. I’m not interested in discussing the ethical ramifications of eating all things cute and or fuzzy, but rather the sweet, sweet science of eating food that my friends (who are infinitely more talented then myself) have prepared. There is no better feeling than cracking open a cold one, sitting around the table, and getting BBQ sauce in various locations around my mouth. Other than making love (the way I do it anyways), eating with one another is the single most bond-tastic thing you can do. Having dinner with one another should be a required activity for families, friends and people you see on the street that you shoot smiles at because you know that if you ran into each other somewhere else (like dinner maybe) you would totally hit it off.

Now that summer is winding down, the chance to cook outdoors is dramatically dwindling. I suggest you stock up on the Sriracha, box wine, and Netflix so that this winter you can get closer with the people you want to get closer with.

Eat something good and don’t forget to invite me cause y’know I can’t cook for myself.


Early in my childhood, I can recall the pleasure I took in eating food. Our relationship was simple; food was delicious so I ate it, and I loved it. There was no concern for the nutritional or caloric properties of food. There was never a second thought. I adored food so much so that my mother threatened to lock it up while she was gone if I did not gain self control. And I cried so much so, as I did not know what I would do without it.

Ultimately that relationship turned sour as I found myself at age 19 weighing 250 lbs. Food could no longer cover for the fact that I was alone and miserable. Nor could it shelter me from the consistent banter of heartless adolescent girls.

It was then that I decided food and I were over. With a mounting interest in nutrition, I knew what was to be done. I cut out food. For six months I ate 600 to 800 calories a day, and I loved it. This restriction was so severe that chewing gum was limited, if not entirely avoided, as I thought to myself, “Do I really want to eat 5 more calories…?” As this went on, I shed 130 lbs.

At 21 years old and 120 lbs., I looked in the mirror and saw the same monster that food helped create; still overweight and still undesirable, even to myself. The endless amount of attention I began to receive was meaningless to me. I wanted to have food in my life again and be a normal young adult. I started eating, but I couldn’t keep it down. I taught myself how to vomit, and that was fabulous for awhile.

No one knows about my year long struggle with bulimia, as I have never been caught in the act, nor have I written about it in my diary. As with most of my disgusting habits, I was able to stop on my own, but not entirely as I will confess, I have done it within the past month.

As I am happier and healthier now, food and I will never be the same again, as our relationship has gotten better, but not entirely.


found object:

grocery list, stuck in with the gums and mints at a checkout aisle at Safeway..
i picked it up and scanned it for R St. Ofle but i'll post it here too..
i especially like the "Snovers Dinner" and "variety of shasta sodas" hehehe


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Belated Guilt Post

I just realized the irony of me not posting last week for the topic of guilt. I was going to feel too guilty if I posted the picture I had intended on posting.