Posts Tagged ‘ Health ’

The Difference Between Organic And Non-GMO Foods

Sunday, September 8th, 2013

2 years, 9 months.

Dear Jack,

Our family cares about buying organic and non-GMO foods.

To put it lightly, I’m personally not a fan of Monsanto.

In fact, I recently (jokingly?) referred to them as the antichrist and GMO foods as the mark of the beast:

“And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.” [Revelation 13:17]

A good amount (that’s an understatement!) of the food bought or sold in America is GMO and not organic.

What’s the different between non-GMO and organic foods?

To put it simply, non-GMO (“GMO” stands for “genetically modified organism”) means that a company (like Monsanto) has not synthetically interfered with the seed of the food to fit a uniform, worldwide model.

If the food is organic, it means that chemicals and additives (like pesticides and fertilizers) were not used in the process of the food being grown.

Yes, a food product can be one without the other. I think of it this way: “Non-GMO” refers the the seed, “organic” refers to what happens to that seed once it is planted in the ground.

So how can we know which of our foods are both non-GMO and organic?

We’re definitely not waiting on the government to force companies to label their products…

Instead, we’re paying our respects (and money) to the food brands out there who not only have organic and/or non-GMO products, but who are smart enough to label their products that way, so that families like us know to buy them.

We’re not putting our blind trust and health in the hands of companies who use chemicals and synthetic modifications to “make” their foods.

We prefer our foods the way God intended them to be, instead.

And by now, enough people are passionate enough about this, like we are, that it’s getting easier to identify the labels for non-GMO and organic.

So we look for the “Non-GMO Project Verified” logo with the butterfly and the circular USDA Organic logo. We try to buy those options as much as possible.

We can’t stop non-organic, GMO foods from being sold. But we can certainly choose to buy the alternative. By alternative, I mean, the original.





Note: This is an opinion piece of the author and does not reflect Parents magazine or the medical establishment.

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What I’ve Learned From Being A Vegan For 6 Months

Sunday, September 8th, 2013

2 years, 9 months.

*TMI Warning: Contains “too much informantion,” which may be deemed as innappropriate, controversial, and/or offensive to some readers.

Dear Jack,

It was 6 months ago I took that funny picture of you chowing down a messy, vegan chocolate cookie from Whole Foods, as I officially publicly identified myself as a vegan.

I have learned a lot since then about this growing alternative lifestyle; which now represents about 2.5% of the American population.

For one, I learned to stop using the word “vegan.” It’s not as marketable and has a bit of a negative, stereotypical connotation.

So instead, I refer to myself as “living a plant-based lifestyle.” It doesn’t offend people like the other word tends to do.

That’s a cue I took from several influential documentaries currently available for streaming on Netflix: Food Inc., Forks Over Knives, Vegucated, and Hungry For Change.

I also learned that I am no longer allergic to cats. Seriously, I can rub my hands and arms and face on a cat… and nothing happens- no itching, no sneezing, no headache. That has never been the case for me, until now. (Was I ever allergic to cats, or just eggs and dairy instead?)

Plus, and I apologize in advance for being so open about this, but since this is just between you and me, my sinuses are completely cleared out now. (In other words, I only produce a very small amount of clear, thin mucus. I see now that dairy products were the source of the thick, white and yellow stuff that led to my chronic sinus infections and non-stop sinus pressure which had plagued me since I was a kid.)

And while I’m being gross… I don’t really wear deoderant anymore. It’s not actually disgusting, though, considering that I don’t have body odor under my arms anymore. If you ask me, it’s only gross to not wear deoderant if you need it: No problem means no solution. I guess plants don’t produce as much odor when processed by the human body?

Another bizarre side-effect of removing eggs, dairy, and even honey, from my diet is that now, the thought of alcohol (I considered myself quite the expert of knowing a good craft beer or bottle of wine) sort of makes me nauseous.

It’s like the health benefits of drinking a responsible amount of beer or wine became irrelevant when I began only consuming plant-based foods. My body started getting enough of all the nutrients it always always wanted and needed. I  have learned that for me, alcohol now messes up the natural good vibes that the plant-based lifestyle gives me on a daily basis.

I’ve traded in my Blue Moon for coconut water, which is about the same price, but enhances my sense of well-being, instead of knocking it down. Plus, I’m getting into Yogi Tea, too.

After 6 months of living this way, I can honestly say I’ve never been happier, more energetic, or as clear-minded as I am now.

And I have seen how even though you and Mommy have remained vegetarians, like I was up until 6 months ago, my switch to eating only plant-based foods has influenced our family’s lifestyle as a whole.

Now more than ever, we try to buy as much organic and non-GMO foods as possible. What’s the difference between those two? I’ll be covering that more in my next letter to you…

I can see that my conversion to the “plant-based life” has caused our family, by default, to incorporate more fresh fruits and veggies into our meals and snacks.

Plus, some of my plant-based food alternatives have replaced some of the normal food options in our fridge.

We use Earth Balance butter (made from olives) instead of dairy butter. When Mommy makes cookies, she uses almond milk and/or applesauce instead of eggs.

After 6 months of this alternative lifestyle, I am convinced this is how I want to live the rest of my life. It’s not for everybody, but it is for me. And since you have me as a daddy, you sort of have no choice but to know about all this weird stuff.





Note: This is an opinion piece of the author and does not reflect Parents magazine or the medical establishment.

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I’m 32, The Age I’m Supposed To Turn Into My Parents

Tuesday, August 27th, 2013

2 years, 9 months.

Dear Jack,

A concept that is going viral right now is that at age 32, according to a poll on, we “turn into our parents.”

The Netmums News Team explains it like this:

“It is at this age when we are most likely to find ourselves echoing our own parents’ phrases or mannerisms…

The grown-up responsibilities of having children, owning a house and having a busy career all contributed to the feeling of becoming more and more like your own parents.”

Fate would have it that I just so happen to be a 32 year-old daddy blogger at the exact moment in history when this concept has gone viral. That’s pretty cool, huh?

So, have I become my parents? Do I echo their phrases and mannerisms? Do I feel more like my own parents because I have a child and own a house and have a busy career, too?

Yes and no.

No, because I feel like they made this parenting thing, as well as the busy career and owning a house thing, seem so worry-free and easy.

In that way, I feel like I haven’t turned into them, though I want to.

Maybe I’m realizing that I am giving myself an extra challenge as a parent because I want this all to seem as easy as I thought it was for my own parents.

As far as how I have definitely turned into my parents, I do admit to using my hands a lot when I talk- which tends to happen when your mother is half Italian.

Basically, my personality comes from my mom. I’ve never really thought about that before… interesting.

And it’s pretty evident to me that I am ultimately a vegan (I mean, I’m living a plant-based lifestyle; which is the more marketable, less offensive term) because it seems like my dad was always teaching me as a kid to question where our food comes from and to relate eating processed foods to getting cancer and diseases.

So it should be no surprise that, as a 32 year-old adult, I now associate Monsanto with the devil and I see GMO foods as the mark of the beast. (That’s a slight exaggeration. Not really.)

I felt so deprived because it seemed I was the only kid I knew who wasn’t allowed to eat white bread or drink soda at his own house except for on very special occasions. (I thank my dad for that now!)

He seemed to always have a distrust of medicine and the FDA, instead teaching me to rely on what was already available in nature to prevent and cure health problems. (Which is exactly what I successfully did with my eczema, severe allergies, and sinus problems!)

Plus, he was always open-minded to the unpopular theories that mainstream society and popular culture often ridiculed or ignored, which I think was fundamental in me becoming a Libertarian, in regards to my political stances.

So yes, at age 32, I’m pretty much a mix of my parents the way I remember them while growing up; which again, wasn’t at all a negative thing.

The question is, will you become me in about 30 years? If so, you’ll basically become your grandparents.





P.S. The pictures of me with my parents, featured above, are from around Christmas 1983, nearly 30 years ago, which is when I was about your age now.


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Making Room For Dessert… Literally!

Saturday, August 10th, 2013

2 years, 8 months.

Dear Jack,

Mommy made some more awesome vegan chocolate cupcakes this weekend, from that recipe on the blog Oh She Glows. She had told you that you could have one after lunch today.

However, you hadn’t eaten much of your quesadilla before you were asking for your cupcake.

“I’m full. I want my cupcake. I want to hold it,” you told us.

(I like the fact that you were somewhat implying that you just wanted to hold the cupcake, not eat it.)

Mommy and I explained to you that if you were too full to eat the rest of your actual lunch, then you were definitely too full for a treat.

You’re a clever kid. Let me just say that.


We heard you grunting and straining. We were confused as to what you were doing.

“Jack, are you trying to make room for dessert?” Mommy asked.

The sly look on your face gave it away. Yes. That’s exactly what you were trying to do!

Nicely done. It worked.

Mommy and I decided to let you have a very small bite of your cupcake before your noontime nap.

You’ll get the rest of it later.

But honestly, it was as simple as us not wanting you to strain yourself too hard. After all, Mommy had already changed a dirty diaper of yours this morning while we were at the shoe store.

So we weren’t sure that you had much more to… push out.

I’ve heard of saving room for dessert, but never making room for dessert.

Well, at least not until today.




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Calling For Grandparental Reinforcement To Finish Dinner

Wednesday, August 7th, 2013

2 years, 8 months.

Dear Jack,

There’s no question that you love your GoGo Squeez applesauce pouches. (As do I.)

It’s just that you’ve begun to associate finishing your applesauce with finishing dinner, and therefore, having to get ready for bed.

So you take your time eating dinner, essentially trying to make it never ending.

But a few nights ago, you were really putting up a fight… Mommy and I never let you finish dinner without eating some kind of fruit.

So half jokingly, Mommy asked you if we needed to call Papa (my dad) to tell you to finish your applesauce.

You hesitantly agreed.

I quickly briefed Papa on what was going on before putting him on speakerphone and handing the phone to you.

“Jack, you need to eat your applesauce. It’s good for you,” Papa advised.

You didn’t say a word. You just listened, nearly in disbelief that I actually called Papa about this.

He did his best, but ultimately, after the phone call, you still stood your ground.

We gave you a choice: Either eat your applesauce and have some playtime afterwards, or go straight upstairs to get ready for bed.

You chose to go straight upstairs. (Granted, Mommy still forced you to eat a spoon of applesauce before taking you upstairs.)

So sort of like the time you put yourself in time-out so you wouldn’t have to get dressed, you chose not eating applesauce over getting extra playtime.

Just in case you missed it, here’s the irony:

You didn’t want to eat your applesauce because it signified going upstairs to get ready for bed, meaning your fun time would come to an end.

So you refused your applesauce, meaning you went straight upstairs, forgoing the option of playing with your toys in the living room for a few minutes before going upstairs.

Even Papa tried to help. But sometimes you’re just so set in your ways.





P.S. I have to brag on GoGo Squeez. Their products are free of high fructose corn syrup or any added colors or flavors. I’m not waiting or hoping for the government to mandate food labeling. Instead, I’m taking control of the situation myself by purposely buying food from brands I can trust. Brands that aren’t dependent on Monsanto for their livelihood or that are shady about their ingredients. Any food brand that can claim to be kosher certified, as well as vegan friendly, has my attention:

100% natural Kosher certified BPA free packaging Gluten free Wheat free Vegan friendly



(Plus, all GoGo Squeez products are produced free of common allergens, including milk, egg, wheat, soy, tree nuts, peanuts, fish and shellfish.)

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