Category Archives: Healthy Home

Lengthen the Life of Your Produce | Frig 101

Fresh produce in grocery bag

You just returned from the Farmer’s Market, arms overflowing with fresh, seasonal produce that need to go in the frig fast. Do you randomly stash them in the produce drawer? That is, do you put them wherever they fit… only to find that a few days later your greens are wimpy, berries are moldy, and your cucumbers are shriveling? If this sounds familiar, here’s how to store your bounty to maintain their optimal freshness.

humidity-drawerThose drawers in your refrigerator, a.k.a. humidity drawers or produce crispers, actually have a purpose. Notice the humidity controls ranging from low to high on each drawer. Do you know what they mean?

These settings aren’t anything fancy. They simply open or close a window in the drawer. For the low humidity setting, the window is completely open; for the high humidity setting, it is completely closed. And here’s why…

The Gassy Offender

Ethylene gas is produced naturally and released by many fruits and veggies. It causes:

  • Cells to degrade
  • Fruit to ripen (become softer and sweeter)
  • Leaves to go limp
  • Seeds or buds to sprout

Knowing which items are ethylene-gas producers and which are sensitive to the gas, you’ll never toss your apples in with your lettuce again. It’s all about the gas!

What Goes in the Low-Humidity Drawer (“Low Rot”)

Apples, pears and grapes

1. Produce that IS NOT sensitive to moisture loss.
2. Produce that emits ethylene gas. When the window is open, the gases escape, and fruits and vegetables won’t spoil prematurely.

Here are some common fruits and vegetables to keep in the low-humidity drawer (window open):    Continue reading

Fit Find | Evo™ Oil Sprayer



The Evo™ oil sprayer is my newest and absolute favorite gadget in my kitchen. I love it so much that I give it a “Must Have” for every health-conscious kitchen! Yes, really! It’s great for cooking, baking, sautéing, grilling, you name it.

What I Love About It

When pouring oil straight from the bottle, I would usually end up with more than I need and with oil in concentrated doses on my food or sauté pan. What I like about the Evo is that it sprays in what they call a “fan spray pattern” which is why it dispenses the exact amount of oil that I want and where I want it (great for portion control). It’s also refillable and reuseable, so it’s economical, as well as easy to clean.

I really like the trigger design because it feels good in my hand, that is, it’s ergonomic. If you have arthritis or carpal tunnel syndrome, the Evo is much easier to handle than the aerosol types. I suggest getting a pair of them — one for your favorite oil as well as balsamic vinegar. I spray fresh fish, veggies before roasting (much better than ‘drizzling’ oil all over them), and salads as well as my waffle iron, sandwich grill and baking pans. I plan to get another one to use for my own oil and vinegar dressing!


18-oz Evo

The BPA-free Evo Oil Sprayer comes in different sizes. I have the smaller 8-oz. size (in the photo at the top) which is perfect for my cooking needs and is great for portability. They also have a large 18-oz. size (left) for the commercial cook or someone who cooks a LOT of food at home. Check out their blog for videos.

Commercial aerosol cooking sprays are horrible. They contain propellants and chemicals and they’re messy. Their inevitable overspray left a sticky hard-to-remove residue on my wood cabinets and cooking surfaces. Ugh. I also never cared for the ‘mister’ types for spritzing oils because they clogged up and were hard to clean.

Apple c heart symbol_40x54Fit Tip: Evo is perfect for taking on picnics, BBQ’s or camping trips. I took my Evo on our last camping/fishing trip for grilling and cooking. It was so convenient to grab my Evo and go. Just be sure to lock the sprayer before you pack it up! It was so much more convenient than trying to fill up a travel size bottle of olive oil or packing up the entire bottle of oil (plus a basting brush) as I usually have had to do. Happy spraying! 🙂

Antibacterial Agent Can Impair Heart Muscle

[Since it’s been over two and a half years since this UC Davis study was published and triclosan is still widely used, I am republishing this post from 8/21/2012.]

Due to an obsession with germs by Americans, antibacterial products have flooded the marketplace. Triclosan, introduced in the 1970’s, has become a popular antibacterial agent in consumer products.

Studies have raised the possibility that the overuse of triclosan contributes to making bacteria resistant to antibiotics, but new studies now attribute it to weakening cardiac and skeletal muscle contractility — a problem that can affect people with heart disease and heart failure.

Triclosan Use  Due to the abundant use of triclosan in personal care products, triclosan levels in urine, blood and breast milk are on the rise. It’s used in everyday products, such as:   Continue reading

Healthy Homekeeping (Dirty Little Secrets)

Healthy living begins at home. Think of your house like a second skin. Whatever you rub, pour, sprinkle, or spray on in order to clean it can end up in your body. Here are some tips to keep your home (and you) healthy.

Take off your shoes and keep germs from walking into your house. The Japanese were way ahead of Westerners with this custom. Along with dirt and grime, your shoes can track in fecal bacteria originating in restrooms or from the outdoors (think pet poop) and can harbor various other types of bacteria that can cause serious infections.

In Japan, it’s also customary to wear special “toilet slippers” that are only worn in the bathroom.

Treat your clothes like your skin. If you wouldn’t wash your body with it, then don’t clean your clothes in it. Avoid toxic chemicals and animal fats. Always wash new clothes before wearing them. New fabric finishes contain formaldehyde, fragranced starches and insecticides. Soak them in one cup or more of baking soda before washing them to neutralize these potentially allergenic chemicals.   Continue reading

How Washing Your Clothes Can Make Them Dirtier

Pre-washing machine era. Women used straw to cushion their knees.

Clothes washer technology has reduced the drudgery of scrubbing clothes to get them clean — much nicer than the days of pounding or rubbing the clothing on rocks in a river or against a corrugated wash board. But even the high efficiency, highest tech agitators need your helping hand. Otherwise, washing your clothes can actually make them dirtier.

Wash Before Wearing

First, always wash new clothes before wearing them. New fabric finishes contain formaldehyde, fragranced starches, and insecticides. Soak them in one cup or more of baking soda before washing them to neutralize these potentially allergenic chemicals.   Continue reading

Medical Write-off Rules Worth Knowing

It pays to know what expenses are deductible.

With tax season now here, accountants are saying that many people think they don’t have enough medical bills to get them over the 7.5% deduction hurdle. To enjoy the maximum write-off, these experts advise that you know exactly what qualifies as a medical expense deduction.

For example, did you know that your mileage, parking fees and tolls for trips to the doctor, dentist and pharmacy are deductible? As are TV and telephone adapters for the hearing impaired? And that the cost of meals at a hospital are deductible if you’re there to get medical care?   Continue reading

Healthy Homekeeping (Clearing the Air)

Q: I like to keep the air conditioner going all summer, but my wife insists we need to “air out the house” and opens up the windows.  My solution to clearing the air is spraying the rooms with Lysol.  Is there anything wrong with that? ~ R.V., Riviera Beach, FL

A: During the summer when you’re hot or homebound, keeping your home closed up tight with the air conditioner on may be a nice retreat from the heat.  Similarly, in the winter you may keep your windows shut all season to block out the cold.  However, keep in mind that the majority of germs are airborne, invisibly transferred, and continually reproduce.

Disinfectant Sprays

What you inhale is absorbed into the bloodstream

What you inhale is absorbed into the bloodstream

Disinfectant sprays are manufactured to kill viruses, bacteria, and fungi on surfaces — not in the air.  Some of the newer ‘sanitizing sprays’ on the market claim to “kill odor-causing bacteria in the air”.  However, be aware of the ingredients that are supposedly ‘refreshing’ the air you breathe.  Once inhaled, these chemicals are absorbed into the bloodstream.


A few widely-used brands and their disclosed ingredients are listed below.  Click on the product name to access its Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) and the individual chemical for the MSDS on that specific substance.

Lysol® Disinfectant Spray:

  • Alkyl (50% C14, 40% C12, 10% C16) Dimethyl Benzyl Ammonium Saccharinate – .10-1.0% (No properties, health effects and exposure limits have been defined for this chemical.)
  • Ethanol – 40-60% (May cause reproductive and fetal effects; tumors; and liver, kidney and heart damage.)
  • Petroleum gases (propane, butane, isobutane) – 2.5-10%

Lysol® Neutra Air® Freshmatic®:

Lysol® Neutra Air® Sanitizing Spray:

  • Ethanol SDA200 Proof0-0.5% (Acute and chronic health hazard with eye/skin contact and inhalation.)
  • Ethanol SDA 95% – 20-25% (Acute and chronic health hazard with eye/skin contact and inhalation.  Target organs:  kidneys, central nervous system, and liver.)
  • Alkyl (50% C14, 40% C12, 10% C16) Dimethyl Benzyl Ammonium Saccharinate – 0-0.1% (No properties, health effects and exposure limits have been defined for this chemical.)
  • Triethylene Glycol – 5-10%  (Toxic to kidneys and nervous system in humans.)
  • Propellant Blend AB-46 – 20-25%

Oust® Air Sanitizer:

Propellants irritate lungs and affect heart rhythm

Propellants irritate lungs and affect heart rhythm

Many of the commercial disinfectant sprays and room fresheners contain propellants which are easily inhaled into the lungs then circulate throughout the body.  Propellants also irritate the lungs and may cause an irregular heart rhythm when inhaled at high concentrations.

Some disinfectant sprays contain o-phenylphenol (a.k.a. 2-Phenylphenol) a derivative of benzene.  Benzene is recognized as a known human carcinogen associated with leukemia.  O-phenylphenol is a recognized carcinogen and a suspected:

  • Cardiovascular or blood toxicant
  • Developmental toxicant
  • Neurotoxicant
  • Reproductive toxicant
  • Respiratory toxicant
  • Skin or sense organ toxicant

Ingredient Disclosures Are Not Required

hazard symbolCommercial cleaning product manufacturers are not required to list all the ingredients on their labels.  A product may contain a dangerous or untested chemical and consumers would be unaware of it.  Even worse, the Poison Control Center might have difficulty identifying the contents.

WARNING: Until a chemical is tested and evaluated, or if the results are not publicly available, current laws recognize the chemical as “safe”.

Open windows to get rid of germs safely

Open up windows to eliminate germs safely

Apple c heart symbol_40x54Fit Tip: Try to brave the chill, heat, and humidity and clean the air naturally in your home.  Open doors and windows during the day as frequently as possible while paying attention to the air quality advisory in your area.

Avoid disinfectant sprays and air sanitizers.  You’ll end up with a chemical cloud in your home that can do more to harm your health than it can to extinguish germs.

© 2009 Karen Owoc and The Health Reporter™.  All Rights Reserved.