Sunday, January 8th, 2012
Just for the record, I similarly loathe high-fructose corn syrup too!
Here’s a new concept: When we put any substance on or in our bodies, it is ultimately the same as digesting it.
So what about the shampoo, soap, deodorant, and toothpaste we use? What’s actually in that stuff? Check your labels and I’m pretty sure you’ll find the ever-popular and uber-mysterious ingredient known “sodium lauryl sulfate.”
Basically, it’s made by scientifically mutating the fatty acids of coconut and/or palm kernel oil. (Either I’m really smart or I went to Wikipedia for that.)
I have to be honest; I always feel uneasy when we start talking about mutating the cells of anything, because really, that’s what cancer is: mutated cells.
Well, I would be able to look past that part if it weren’t for one little thing: products with sodium lauryl sulfate always cause my skin to break out. Therefore, I have to buy most of my hygiene products at Whole Foods, where sodium lauryl sulfate will not be listed in the ingredients list.
It would be one thing if this only happened to me, along with thousands of other people who have suffered irritation, but it also has the same effect on my 13 month-old son.
My wife and I were using a popular brand-name, “organic” baby soap for him in the bath tub. After a few days, we noticed the same eczema-looking rash I used to get. I looked at the back label of the soap and sure enough, there it was:
Sodium lauryl sulfate.
Man, companies can be tricky these days, wanting to slip that stuff in all their products. I see it as the hygiene equivalent of high-fructose corn syrup; the cheap, low-grade, Frankenstein-corn-derived sweetener found in most processed foods, thanks to the folks at Monsanto, who bully corn farmers into growing their copyrighted corn. (I learned that by watching Food Inc. on Netflix. I’m one cultured dude.)
So yeah, I have to pay a little more for toiletries that are made from natural ingredients, for both my son and myself. But on the bright side, my toothpaste flavor is “tea tree oil with fennel and anise.” Seriously, how cool am I? My breath smells like anise.
Wait, that doesn’t sound right…
For more on sodium lauryl sulfate, check out the Wikipedia link I went to for further research: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sodium_lauryl_sulfate
Image: Dental brush with tooth paste, via Shutterstock.
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Thursday, December 1st, 2011
Because my son Jack decided to take on the rare and formerly forgotten genes of his Norwegian great-grandfather on my wife’s side, it is pretty much expected now when people meet him that they half-jokingly respond with some form of, “Are you sure he’s your kid?”
Trust me; my wife and I both have almost wondered if there was some kind of mix-up at the hospital, but we know we never took our eyes of him the entire time we were there. Yes, we actually had to convince ourselves!
My kid is the poster child for what foreigners think the typical American kid should look like: Blonde hair, blue eyes, and porcelain skin. (I learned this back when I was a teacher in Thailand; I was once confused for another teacher who had these traits.)
So while everyday I try to squint hard enough to see how he resembles me at all, I keep in mind that not all of the traits he takes on present themselves in the form of physical resemblance. In fact, all I had to do was grab a pen and a yellow sticky note to come up with 5 ways my son reminds me of myself:
1) He loves being outside; getting deep in thought. When Jack gets antsy, I simply take him for a walk. I carry him in my arms around the neighborhood. He loves to feel the wind on his face. When I take him on these walks of solitude, he gets quiet and just takes it all in. So do I.
2) He thrives on meeting new people. Jack never meets a stranger. Last weekend we went to my new favorite restaurant in Nashville, an authentic Italian place called PortaVia. As we were waiting on our food, we let him walk around to nearby tables. Everyone who saw him pop into their frame just laughed with adoration, as if a cute little cartoon puppy had just appeared.
3) He gets angry when he’s hungry or needs a nap. Don’t try to make him laugh. Just feed him or get that kid a nap. He’s hard-wired just like me in those ways. My wife and I are always prepared with a bag of Cheerios and the new Red Hot Chili Peppers album for either event.
4) He can never eat enough bananas or pasta. Jack refuses to eat meat; mainly dining on some form of whole wheat grains or a banana. It’s almost eery how we both have the same food staples in our diets. The truth is, I’m actually a vegetarian who just hasn’t come out of the closet yet. (More on that in days to come…) Jack, however, is more confident in his identity.
5) He has very sensitive skin. Just like me, neither his soap nor shampoo can contain sodium laurel sulfate- we break out in rashes if we use the normal stuff. And I’m sure that just like me, the same thing would happen if he ate shellfish or too much sugar. Jack inherited the eczema gene through our Mexican bloodline.
Yes, the outdoors-loving, people-person, angry-when-he’s-hungry-or-sleepy, pasta addicted, Burt’s-Bees-soap-using kid is my son. Just remember, though, he is the white sheep of the family.
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