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How Eczema Led Our Family Down a More Natural & Organic Path

It all started when we had to slather our baby with moisturizer multiple times each day in order to help his severe eczema. I began to think about his weakened skin barrier and how it was possible some of these creams could pass through his skin layers and into his body.  So I started looking at the ingredients. Yikes! Since cortisone had made our son’s skin worse and I was less than thrilled with the concept of steroids, it was the first to go. Next were most of the drugstore creams, most of which had stung our son’s skin when applied. Needless to say, my son was doing the happy dance when those were moved to the back of the closet. We tried to move to products with more natural ingredients that I could pronounce and understand.  Realizing that these simple, alcohol-free, non-toxic, natural skincare products were hard to come by was why we started The Eczema Company.

Natural skincare – Check.

Then I realized – eek! Think about what we’re putting into our bodies…especially my poor little eczema baby. The one covered in head-to-toe eczema. I began to understand the food allergy – eczema connection. Allergy testing was inconclusive, but an elimination diet led us to his food allergies.  So, we said goodbye to our son’s food triggers.

Food allergies – Check.

Now, what about the quality of our food? Organic vs. conventional? GM foods, what’s that? Really, I should be buying local?  Oh.

I made the conscious decision to buy organic when possible by starting with a few things and adding to the list when we could. But man, organic foods can give you a bad case of sticker shock. I would love to buy everything organic, but we just couldn’t financially afford it.

So, if I could only chose a few things, what’s most important to buy organic?

Conventional (non-organic) pesticides are toxic chemicals that I did not want in my food supply. Since cutting them out completely at first wasn’t an option, I started with the Dirty Dozen per the Environmental Working Group. Their list is updated each year I believe, and this list is up-to-date as of today’s post.

Per EWG, the top 12 most pesticide-laden produce is as follows:

  1. Apples
  2. Celery
  3. Strawberries
  4. Peaches
  5. Spinach
  6. Nectarines (imported from outside US/Canada)
  7. Grapes (imported from outside US/Canada)
  8. Sweet Bell Peppers (I’m guess this means red, yellow, orange)
  9. Potatoes
  10. Blueberries (domestic!!!)
  11. Lettuce
  12. Kale/Collard Greens

And we can’t forget about GMs. Genetically modified foods (GM) are still controversial, but I’ve decided it’s not worth the unknown risk to my family. Splicing the genes and DNA of our produce and farm animals is just a little too scientific and I really don’t want it anywhere near my food. Thankfully there are only certain foods that are genetically modified today. Since organic foods are not allowed to be genetically modified, I decided to play it safe and ONLY buy the following products organic. For more great info on GM foods, check out this page from WikiHow.

GM Food  – adding these to the organic shopping list:

  • Soybeans
  • Corn
  • Canola/Rapeseed
  • Sugar Beets (check your sugar products)
  • Dairy (Cow only)
  • Aspartame/Amino Sweet (moving to natural sweeteners instead – maple syrup and honey to be exact)
  • Papaya
  • Farm Raised Salmon

And did you know?

  • Pesticides can’t necessarily be washed off. Many times they are in the soil and therefore absorbed into the produce. So peeling may not help.
  • A 5-digit produce number beginning with an 8 is GM.
  • A 5-digit produce number beginning with a 9 is organic.
  • These numbers are not required, so don’t trust produce without a numbered label.
  • Make sure the label on your organic product reads “100% organic.” Products just labeled as “organic,” could still contain up to 30% GMs!
  • Just because you don’t eat anything in the GM food list above doesn’t mean you’re not getting trace amounts of GM food in your diet. Farm animals could be eating GM grain or feed. A good reason to buy organic meats.

So, in summary, we eat lots of fruits and veggies, buying organic when we can and often from the Dirty Dozen and GM lists above.

How do you determine what’s safe for your family to eat? Do you buy organic? Are you concerned with genetically modified foods?

12 Comments Post a comment
  1. Lana #

    I have to say, aspartame is a lab chemically produced artificial sweetener, so not sure what u mean by ‘organic’ aspartame? There is no such thing! Aspartame is poison! And has many deadly affects, it should NEVER be consumed by human beings!

    Like

    April 8, 2013
    • Lana, I am mortified – yes, I know this of course, but I didn’t make it very clean in my post. Just updated it to say what I originally should have made clear – we moved to natural sugars like maple syrup and honey. Thank you for pointing out my blogging error!

      Like

      April 8, 2013
  2. K #

    I’ve always been aware of gm foods but never really cared until I got eczema. My parents also couldn’t afford a completely organic diet. Recently I stopped eating any food that has vegtable or canola oil in it cause it’s full of gmos and I have to say my eczema has lessened and my face is almost completely clear of eczema. When I ate ice cream with vegetable oil and other gmos in it I flared out a bit and now I believe it’s not proccessed foods that make people with eczema flare out, but gm foods (which most proccessed foods are made out of) that make people with eczema flare out.

    Like

    April 15, 2012
    • Hi – thanks so much for the comment. Yes, I’m sure for some, eczema can be triggered by GM foods, which are just so darn scary. But, for other, I think there are so many eczema triggers that it doesn’t stop there. Eating organic and non-GMO certainly can only help us, specifically those with eczema or food allergies. I’m so happy for you that you’ve found a way to control your eczema. It’s all any of us can ask for really. Jennifer

      Like

      April 16, 2012
  3. Most European consumers have demanded the right to be what foods they consume are genetically modified. Polls indicate that the majority of Americans would also like labeling, but it has not become a major issue. In an ongoing poll on MSNBC’s online health, 90% of American’s believe genetically modified foods should be labeled. Unfortunately this will not happen until consumers choose to get informed about what they are eating and stop purchasing genetically modified foods.

    Like

    April 5, 2012
  4. the speech monster #

    i am slowly converting to being a lot more judicious about the kinds of produce and groceries we get. this also stemmed from our son’s diagnosis of eczema. before his eczema, i didn’t even really know what ingredients went into my foods like ready made sauces. i mean, soy sauce contains wheat — REALLY?! and that sodium lauryl sulphate is in every cleaning detergent??!
    right now i’m still learning and discovering new things. i definitely have a new appreciation for the whole foods type goods that i never had before.

    Like

    April 4, 2012
    • I am so with you! I was not a label reader pre-eczema and now it’s one of my biggest past times (ooh, what does that say about my social life…ha!). It really is incredible and horrifying to see what manufacturers feel is ok to add to our foods. Shameful. I sure hope the new FDA labeling passes. Thanks so much for your comment. It’s great to really relate with another mom. Jennifer

      Like

      April 4, 2012
  5. I feel the same way about my son’s allergies- it’s a blessing, not a curse. It made me stop and think about what we should be eating and how to take control of our health better. Good, positive article!

    Like

    April 4, 2012
    • Hi Tracy – Thanks so much! The allergies certainly felt like a curse at first – I know you know what I mean. But now, like you said, a blessing. Thanks for your comment! It’s always great to hear from you and have your support 🙂 Jennifer

      Like

      April 4, 2012
  6. Congratulations! I’ve awarded you with the Liebster Blog Award! Thank you for all your hard work! ❤

    http://aminerecipes.com/2012/04/04/thank-you-for-the-love/

    Michelle Ferris
    Low Amine Recipes
    http://aminerecipes.com

    Like

    April 4, 2012
    • Thank you so much!

      Like

      April 26, 2012
      • Most welcome, you deserve it!

        Michelle F
        Low Amine Recipes
        http://aminerecipes.com

        Like

        April 26, 2012

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