Sunday, October 26, 2008

Tagless Tag Bites Babies

And then there were rashes, mysterious yukky rashes. And what’s worse than mysterious yukky rashes? Answer--mysterious yukky rashes on babies. Argh!

On October 24, 2008, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a warning to parents about tagless labels in Carter’s brand kids and babies wear. It seems the tagless tags printed on the back, inside of Carter's clothing for infants is causing skin rashes on and about the necks of babies who wear the clothing. The CPSC states that “a small percentage of babies and infants have developed rashes on the upper back after wearing Carter's clothing with heat-transferred, or tag-less, labels.” A small percentage? Gosh, it's a wonder they bother to mention it at all.

Still, the CPSA must do their duty and send a mild warning to the public. And as usual the warning is accompanied by pictures and information about the labels.

So, guess where the suspect clothes are manufactured? Which country would be making such weird, rash inducing tagless tags for our kids? Come on, we’ve played this game before, just guess. Go ahead, guess...

You got it. China!


Hey, hey! Go China! Go China! Go China! It's not your birthday, but still congrats, on another dumper on the US consumer. Go China. Go China.

No, really. GO CHINA! Leave us alone!


But to be fair, some of the suspect labels and clothing (as displayed on the CPSC website, as well as the Carter’s web site) are also from other countries such as the Philippines, Thailand and Cambodia.

But, I'll wager a $1 bet that when the dust settles, the toxic trail will lead right back to our big ol’ smilin' friend, China. Maybe ol' big red provided the paint or the know how or just the idea to these other countries. Maybe it's something as simple as giving them a wink and a nudge and pointing out that big dumb sucker in the corner who will buy their crappy stuff for a good the US or rather, us.

What to do?

Well, once again I urge you to buy clothes that are safe, made in the USA, eco-friendly and cheap. In other words, buy

There are so many reasons to buy used stuff but only a few to buy new. For one, why buy new, when there are clothes already here, just waiting for good homes and someone to love them? Hmmmm...where have I heard that before?

Never mind.

And if you are determined to buy safe, USA made, Carter’s brand clothes for your little ones, then I suggest you accept the reality you will buy them second hand. I assure you, you aren’t imagining that Carter’s used to be made in the US. They were, but now they’re not.

Still, some people hate buying used stuff. Why? They want everything new and shiny. But this concept is not new, it's old. It's the old stuck-in-the-rut of consumer-hungry-commercially-fed-corporate-puppetmaster-to-slave-brain-implanted compulsion. We want new, because the commercials say we want new, because they want our money.

What's really new, is choosing to buy used...when you can afford new. That's new, and smart.

Remember garage sales? Remember how much fun they used to be? And how about shopping at your local thrift store, (not Goodwill, they’re corporate and greedy), wasn't that fun or at least satisfying on some basic level?

If you can't or won't get out of the house to browse the re-purpose sites, then you might check out your local online give away or Freecycle group. You'd be surprised at the stuff people just give away for free. And lastly, if you're really desperate for Carter's, there’s always eBay.

But don’t forget to check out some of the links to the sites listed on the (right) side column of my blog. You won't find Carter's or OshKosh B'Gosh (as they are both SELL OUTS) but you may find something you like better and something less destructive to our economy and our environment.

Now, excuse me but I’ve got to help my daughter-in-law weed out some Carter’s from my grandson’s chest of drawers. Seems she slipped in some foreign goods when I wasn’t looking and now she's in a tizzy realizing her mistake.


Monday, October 13, 2008

Baby Safe Feeder

We are lucky enough to have a sweet new baby in our house.  Before he was born, his mom,  my daughter-in-law,  ran across a promising looking little item. It seemed like a good idea. So she put it up and waited for the right time to use it. 

Well, the time finally arrived.  We started using the strange looking little gadget a few weeks ago.  And as it turns out, the item wasn't just a good idea, it was a great idea!

The item I am talking about is called the Baby Safe Feeder by Designs 2-U, Inc. 

The BSF is an odd looking little made-for-babies gizmo. It consists of a mesh bag on a plastic ring with a handle. It is a simple tool designed to help get the baby (and the parents) through the ever trying period called Teething. Ouch!

While using the BSF over the past few weeks, we discovered not only is it easy to use, safe for baby and eco friendly but it works just like it is supposed to work.  Best of all, the baby loves it! In my opinion, that rates as one totally successful product.

And as if all that isn't enough, then get this . . . the BSF is made, where? Right here in the USA. Yay!!!

FYI: To use the BSF, just unscrew the ring from the handle, insert a clean mesh bag (they are washable and re-usable), fill with a  piece of fresh fruit and replace the ring, screwing on tightly.  Hand it to the baby of your choice and then stand back and watch the slobbering and chewing begin.

The BSF has been great for keeping our baby occupied for several minutes at a time, as well as giving him a means to eat fruit without the danger of choking. He just gums away to his heart's delight. (Warning: Bib recommended.)

And if you're thinking I have a hidden agenda here, think again. Once more let me lay this disclaimer out there -- I am in no way affiliated with this company or product. I am just trying to share the discovery and promote buying USA made.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Poisoned Infant Formula

Remember the poison pet food from China? 

Well now it's baby formula from China.

So far, 4 infants in China have died and over a thousand are seriously ill from melamine tainted formula, according to The Australian News online.  The Chinese people are in an uproar of course. Parents there are scrabbling to buy imported formula.

As a grandmother of an new infant, I am very worried. He is a breast fed baby usually, but when his mom goes to work he drinks formula.  

According to the Food and Drug Administration, we have no need to worry, however.  The agency assures us, the public, that babies in the USA are safe from the poison formula. The statement on the FDA web site claims all US made baby formula is closely monitored and tested. 

But oddly, I could find no clear statement that none of the ingredients come from China, or other imported sources. And so, I went to Gerber's website and searched for information on the subject there, but found no mention of either the melamine issue or an assurance that their products are safe.

So, I called their customer service line and got a representative named Renee. She was a little vague on the subject but said Gerber (Nestle) was "aware" of the problem and she was certain none of their ingredients came from China. When I asked why there wasn't a mention of this fact on the Gerber web site, Renee didn't have an answer. She simply said the web site was "in transition." Hmmm. Odd.

Meanwhile Mead Johnson, the makers of Enfamil, have issued a statement denying any Chinese or other imported ingredients are used in their infant formulas. They are pretty clear in their denial. Let's hope they're telling the truth.

Abbott Nutrition, the makers of Similac, have likewise issued a statement of assurance. Their statement claims all ingredients come from the USA, New Zealand and Europe. They, like Mead Johnson, swear their formulas have no ingredients from China, nor contain melamine.

I want to feel relieved. I want to trust our government and the assurances of US corporations. But I still remember all the pets who got sick and died from food that appeared American made.  I also remember how long it took before the government took action and the corporations pulled the items from circulation.  And as I recall, it didn't say anywhere on those packages--Made in China.  Yet there it was, a silent poison wrapped in fancy packaging and sold by US companies to its citizens. 

I just hope the FDA is right this time. I hope that American companies who sell baby formula have maintained their safety standards. I hope we don't have another disaster in our midst.

Meanwhile, I'll hold my breath and continue to buy Made in USA, fingers crossed.

Monday, May 12, 2008


Garlic or Allium sativum L, is a bulb. It is a member of the onion family Alliaceae. This smelly but delicious little plant is also closely related to shallots and leeks.

As an organic gardener, I have grown garlic as well as onions and shallots. But the easiest and cheapest for me to grow is garlic. When I can't grow it, I buy it at the grocery store.

I can't imagine not having garlic in the kitchen. Yet, in all the years I've eaten garlic, cooked with garlic and bought garlic, I've never stopped to wonder where the garlic was grown. I just assumed grocery store garlic came from the US. Somewhere.

Well, I was right and I was wrong. Up until recently most garlic came from right here in the United States. A lot of it came from California--Gilroy, California to be exact. But now (and for the last few years) the US garlic industry is in danger. It has been fighting a loosing battle against a foreign invader. The battle is not in the garlic fields but in the market place. The US garlic industry, like so many other US industries, is being muscled or rather drowned out of existence by the flood of cheap imported garlic from, guess where?...China, of course. *sigh*

For more information on this issue you can read the article "
U.S. Growers Say China's Grip on Garlic Stinks" on the NPR web site. The article details Gilroy, California's garlic growers struggle with the Chinese incursion into the US garlic market.

What can you or I do about this situation? Well, for a start, try to make sure you are buying US and not Chinese garlic, of course. But how?

I learned this great tip for identifying domestic garlic on a gardening show:

First, check for a label, hopefully it will state country of origin and that will answer the question.

If there is no label, then inspect the garlic. Look at the bottom of the bulb. Chinese garlic will very likely have the root end cut out. So, if the bottom is smooth and concave, like the garlic in the picture on the right, then odds are it's imported.

On the other hand, California garlic will look more like fresh from the garden garlic. It will still have some dried root "hairs" on the bottom of the bulb, such as those in the photo on the left.

To reiterate; when shopping, take a second to see if you can determine where the garlic was grown before you buy it. Be sure to look for a label, but also, take a peek at the bottom of the garlic bulb itself.

It may be a small thing, choosing USA grown garlic, instead of Chinese. But if we don't make this small effort now-- while we still can, there may come a day when we won't have to bother. Because one day, garlic and everything else we buy, may come from the same place--China. And then, we won't have a choice.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Organic Fabrics: Bamboo or Cotton?

If you’re into the eco-friendly concept at all, then you have probably heard of, or bought something made of organic bamboo fabric. Bamboo is an abundant, renewable, cheap and well, great, source for textiles and many other applications. I love bamboo. It is one beautiful plant.

And who doesn’t want the word “organic” stamped on their purchase somewhere? I know I do.

But did you ever wonder where that wonderful organic bamboo fabric comes from, hmmm? I’ll give you three seconds to think about it.

Give up?

The answer is CHINA! Gee who woulda thunk it? Not only is China the sole supplier of organic bamboo textiles for the world, but the reason for this monopoly is because they slapped a patent on the process. So now no one else (ie. more earth-friendly and trust worthy) could take advantage of this miraculous resource. *sigh*

I learned this info quite by accident when I emailed a company featured on another Made in the USA web site. The online retail store which specialized in USA made products offered organic clothing for babies and kids. The company is called Shirts of Bamboo.

I went on the site to snoop around. I followed up with an email to their customer service department asking them where their fabric was manufactured. Here is my email and their response.

-----Original Message-----

From: Maxine Columbia []
Sent: Thursday, February 07, 2008 3:07 PM
To: Shirts Of Bamboo Customer Service
Subject: Contact from Shirts Of Bamboo: Other: Country/state of origin

Other: Country/state of origin

Where do your fabrics come from? What state or country? I need to know this information before I can purchase any goods from you.

-----Reply Message-----

RE: Contact from Shirts Of Bamboo: Other: Country/state of origin
1 message
Heather Brodesser Thu, Feb 7, 2008 at 3:23 PM
To: Maxine Columbia

Currently China holds the patent on bamboo textile manufacturing .That fabric is then imported and sent to our manufacturers in the U.S. The
manufacturing is done in non-sweat shop environment.
Please contact me if you have any other questions.

Thank you for your interest in bamboo the eco-friendly fiber.

Heather C. Brodesser
Wholesale Representative


True, their products are assembled here in the USA but they are not 100% made in the USA. Further, I would question their "eco-friendly" status as well. The main component of Shirts of Bamboo products --the fabric-- comes from China, a country not know for it's toxic-free environment or concern for worker safety.

So, if you are seeking organic bamboo fabric grown in the US or other (safer) countries than China, you are wasting your time.

On the other hand, you can find safe, 100% made in USA,
organic, cotton clothing. Texas has a struggling but determined group of farmers who grow organic cotton. I say struggling because they, like so many US producers, are fighting a losing battle against cheap imports and big agri-business.

One of these home grown organic cotton grower/sellers is SOS from Texas. They don’t have a wide selection of clothing but what they do have is good quality and at a good price. And best of all, they are completely made in the USA.

Last fall I bought some organic cotton t-shirts and baby items from SOS and was very happy with my purchase. I’m hoping they will expand their selection soon.

Another certified organic cotton company is Earth Wear out of Tennessee. I haven’t bought anything from them, but I plan to.

Other Links of Interest:

Organic Essentials

Texas Organic Cotton Marketing Cooperative

Though I have been offering ideas and information about buying American made clothing in this blog, I have a final thought and a heartfelt plea I want to make. Before you run out and buy any new clothes, please stop and read this article by Stan Cox of entitled “Dress for Excess: The Cost of Our Clothing Addiction.” It is an eye-opening and important article about how American clothing gluttony is harming our environment. This article really shook me up and made me think. After reading it I made a promise to myself:
If you don't need it, don't buy it. But if you do need it, buy it used or buy it USA.

On the positive side, this article also made me feel better about my love of thrift store shopping. Yeah!

Remember love your country but most of all, love your planet.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Toothbrushes & Toothpaste


Remember the summer of `07 scare about poison toothpaste from China? The FDA warned consumers to discard toothpaste made in China as it may be tainted with diethylene glycol, a component of antifreeze. Ouch!

As far as I know, a major recall of toothbrushes hasn’t happened yet
but, any day now I expect to see warnings about toothbrushes made in China. My guess it will be for lead in the plastic. But maybe the Chinese figure they have played out the And-the-secret-ingredient-is-LEAD! trick by now, so they will have to come up with some new and horribly cunning way to poison us. I’m not willing to wait for that day, so I am buying Made In USA dental hygiene products from here on.

Recently I asked my daughter-in-law to conduct an informal survey of toothbrushes on her next shopping trip. (She does most of the family grocery shopping.)

A couple days ago she went to a local Target here in Austin. She looked over each of the toothbrushes and here is the breakdown on their country of origin as sold by Target:

BRAND............ COUNTRY......... MODELS

CREST.............. China.................. All
REACH............. China................. All
COLGATE......... China....................2
......................... Switzerland ..........1
ORAL-B............. USA ....................4
.......................... Germany..............1

The results of this survey may be incomplete and totally anecdotal, but they do tell us
one thing for sure; toothbrushes made in the USA are getting harder to find. And also, that you can’t trust any product, no matter how well-known, to be made here in the US and not in China.

Crest and Reach are two of the biggest, most well-known brands of toothbrushes and they are made in China. These companies are sell outs. Their CEO's don’t care about you or me or our country. They only care about their profits. I don't know about you, but I am really getting sick of big corporations taking our $$, selling us crappy products and sending jobs overseas to China. It is really starting to make me mad.

I say, show these companies your displeasure by shunning their products. And while you're at it, call their customer service department and voice your anger, send an email or write a snailmail to them. I sent an email to Crest and Johnson & Johnson, and it made me feel a little better.

And if you are really fired up, how about sending an email or a letter or phone call to your government representative and/or the White House. (To locate the name and contact info for your government rep click here. For the White House, click here. And for your state governor, click here.)

Here is the snail mail and phone contact info for CREST:

Procter & Gamble Co.
Address: P.O. Box 599
City: Cincinnati
State: OH
Zip Code: 45201
Telephone Number: 513-983-1100
Fax Number: 513-562-4500
Toll Free Number: 800-543-7270
Johnson & Johnson, is the maker (or rather distributor, since the Chinese are the real makers) of REACH toothbrushes. Here is their contact info:
Johnson & Johnson
Address: 1 Johnson & Johnson Plaza
City: New Brunswick
State: NJ
Zip Code: 08933
Telephone Number: 732-524-0400


On a more positive note . . .

While shopping at Wheatsville, our local food co-op, my daughter-in-law discovered a Made in USA brand of toothbrushes. She bought everyone in the family a little surprise; a new toothbrush they could trust. The brand is POH. It is simple in design, inexpensive and safe.

So far, I have been very happy with my unpretentious, but well made POH toothbrush. The look and feel of the brush reminds me of my childhood.

As I do for any product or company I write about on my blog, I traveled to their web site to gather a little more information.

On the POH web site it says they have been supplying toothbrushes and dental floss to the US military PX’s and BX’s since 1961. Unfortunately for POH, they say they lost their floss contract with the Army/Air Force Exchange Service in 2006. I wonder what floss the Army/Airforce is using now? One from China maybe? hmmm.

While on their web site,
as a show of support, I ordered some POH dental floss (also cuz I need some floss). The POH floss comes in a metal and plastic canister which looks really cool and cost $3.00. I ordered several and some additional toothbrushes ($1 each) for the family. I’ll post an update after I’ve tried the floss to let you know how I like it.

As for toothpaste, there are two Made In USA brands that I have used (and still do). The first is Tom’s Of Maine, which is pretty easy to find in most stores. Tom’s toothpaste is, of course, all natural and comes in several flavors, both with and without fluoride. I have been using Tom’s of Maine since the 70’s and it is a good brand.

But my current personal favorite is Nature’s Gate toothpaste. I just started using the
Cool Mint Gel Natural Toothpaste and I like the taste better than any of the Tom’s of Maine that I have used so far.

BTW, the Department of Dental Hygiene, at Texas Woman's University in Denton did a comparative study of the plaque removal ability of toothbrushes in 1990. One of the brands they chose to use for the test was POH. I have included the text of the summary of the study. They compared the POH against the Alli-Croc (?) children’s toothbrush and the POH won.


From the NCBI/PUB MED database

Comparative analysis of the plaque removal ability of .007 and .008 toothbrush bristles. Beatty CF, Fallon PA, Marshall DD.

Department of Dental Hygiene, Texas Woman's University, Denton.

A two-phase study was conducted to compare the plaque-removal effectiveness of a .007 toothbrush and a .008 toothbrush when used in an unsupervised home-care program. In the first phase of the study, two children's toothbrushes, a .007 toothbrush (POH Junior #8) and a .008 toothbrush (Allie-Croc), were compared in a population of third through sixth grade children. The .007 group had a greater reduction of plaque from pretest to post-test than the .008 group in all grades, with statistically significant differences favoring the .007 toothbrush for fourth and sixth grades. In phase two a .007 adult toothbrush (POH #4) was compared to a .008 adult toothbrush (Oral B 40) in a population of nursing and dental hygiene students. Both toothbrushes performed equally well with a significant decrease in plaque and gingival inflammation observed from pretest to post-test regardless of toothbrush used. Any changes in soft-tissue abrasion were negligible and not statistically significant. Based on the results of this study, both brushes appear to be safe and effective and can be recommended with confidence.

PMID: 2095314 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Monday, January 21, 2008

Speaking of Sell Outs: Baby Jogger


As I stated in my About Me section, I am about to have a new grandchild in the family. We expect him/her to arrive in April `08. So, of course, everyone in the family is excited and fluffing the nest in anticipation of the little stranger. We are hunting and gathering items, hoping to find good, safe, eco-friendly, MADE IN USA, products.

One of the items we have been searching for is a stroller, any stroller, made in the US. So far, we have had zero results in this area. My daughter-in-law checks every time she shops in a store that carries strollers. I have Googled repeatedly, searched every stroller maker’s website I can think of and even set up a Google alert which sends me search results daily. Still, we cannot find any US manufactured baby strollers.

I thought I had finally found one when I came across The Baby Jogger. I had seen it mentioned several times by other bloggers, as well as on several websites, each stated it was a US company which manufactured baby (jogging) strollers in the US. I went on their web site to investigate. Their About Us/History page briefly mentions the original maker of the baby jogger stroller as “Phil Baechler, a local newspaper journalist” who established "The Baby Jogger Company” in 1984. The rest of the page is bloated with boasting about the “high quality” and claims to be the “leading designer and manufacturer of high performance jog strollers.” Wow, I thought. Perfect!

So, just to be sure, I emailed the Sales department and asked if I could tour their factory. Here was the response I got:

BJ Sales
to --- <>,
date Jan 21, 2008 9:07 AM
subject RE: Product question about baby joggers

hide details 9:07 AM (10 hours ago)


Dear -----,

Thank you for taking the time to contact the Baby Jogger Company. Our products are manufactured in China, not the US, and unfortunately it is a private factory that is not open to the general public.

Please let me know if I can answer any further questions for you.


Erica Jutzin

The Baby Jogger Company

800-241-1848 x1139 (PH)

804-262-6277 (FX)



So, we are still searching for a baby stroller manufactured here in the USA. If anyone out there knows if such a thing exists, please email me ASAP.


Friday, January 18, 2008

Wine: Buy domestic, not imported

Wine. Mmmmm. I love wine. Wine with cheese. Wine with chocolate. Wine with fruit. Wine with fondue. Wine with chips and dip. Wine with anything, really. Did I say I love wine?

But alas, I don’t drink wine or any alcohol anymore (doctor’s orders). If you do however, and you want to support our US economy, and you want be more green by shopping locally (shorter shipping = less fuel waste = better for the environment)--consider buying domestic instead of imported wines. Put your money where your principles are, I say.

Here in Texas we are lucky, we have our own little “Napa Valley” thing going on in the hill country. Personally, I used to love to drink Llano and Fall
Creek wines, they are both delicious.

For a list of Texas wineries and tour information you can go to Texas Hill Country Wineries home. Or for an even bigger list of US wineries, check out

Buying local wine is one easy AND fun way to do the right thing.