Cherish life. Nourish it.

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What’s That Smell?!


MC900387179We all love things that smell good: roses, a freshly cut lemon or orange, a bouquet of lilies, the clean fragrance of the air after a rain. Natural fragrances, as they occur in the world untouched by man, add greatly to our quality of life, and enrich our sense of connection to our environment.

However, we are inundated with, even steeped in, unnatural fragrances rife with man-made chemicals and solvents. Laundry detergents, fabric softeners, every conceivable type of grooming product, household cleaning products, retail stores, candles…..the list goes on almost infinitely. Many might be surprised to learn that the word “fragrance” on a label can represent the presence of 600 different chemicals.

But are all these miscellaneous chemicals harmless?


  • Toluene, a known neurotoxin, can produce headaches, nausea, and narcosis (stupor). Yet, the EPA finds Toluene in every single fragrance sample it collects.
  • Musk Ambrette can cause central and peripheral nervous system damage.
  • Linalool has been shown to produce respiratory disturbances, depression, reduced motor activity, and ataxic gait (loss of coordination while walking).
  • Methyl Ethyl Ketone can cause numbness in the extremities, congestion in the liver and kidneys, emphysema, and narcosis.
  • Propylene Glycol is considered an immunotoxic chemical.
  • Solvents do just what their name implies: they dissolve things. One way these affect mammals is that they carry substances that would normally be excluded by our cell’s protective mechanisms right past those gatekeepers and into the vulnerable inner workings of the cell where our mitochondrial (the part of the cell that makes our energy) DNA can be attacked and damaged.

Common solvents include Acetone, Benzene, the aforementioned Toluene, and Isopropyl Alcohol.

  • TIP: if you read labels on cosmetics and grooming products, any word that contains the letters “prop” anywhere within it will be a solvent.

The average consumer uses more than 18 different scented products daily. To do so adds tremendously to the toxic burden of the body.

As we work towards our best health, considering our total “toxic load” would certainly be worthwhile. And with so many exposures being outside our ability to control on this planet, it is important to take advantage of changing those exposures we can.

“The fragrance and cosmetic Industry is the least regulated Industry. There is no pre-clearing of chemicals with any agency”. Dr John Bailey, FDA

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What do those PLU stickers on my fruit mean?

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PLU labels, or “Product Look Up” labels can be pesky things to remove, especially on soft skinned fruits like plums. But they do contain information you can use as you decide how to spend your hard-earned cash. And to decide what you’d like to ingest, or avoid.

Since 1990, most fruit and some vegetables, herbs, nuts, and seeds have had these coded stickers. One reason for this is to make it easier for checkout clerks to determine which of the dozen or so varieties of apple, etc., you are purchasing, therefore tracking inventory more effectively.

But look closely. There are three different types of numerical sequences:

  • 4 digit codes: these represent non organic foods, grown conventionally, in nutrient-depleted soils, sprayed with chemical (petroleum based) fertilizers.
  • 5 digit, starting with 8: This label indicates a GMO, or Genetically Modified, food. That’s a big deal, since it means that animal DNA or bacterial DNA has been spliced into the genetic structure of the plant in order to make it a teeny bit more cold tolerant, thereby marginally extending its shelf life. What it can do to human “shelf life” is a huge experiment being run on the unwitting American public. (GMO foods are not allowed in Europe). Nothing like this occurs in nature.
  • 5 digit, starts with 9: Here we have non GMO foods, raised to meet criteria set by the National Organics Standard Board.

We’ll talk more about the concerns surrounding GMO foods in future articles. For more information on pesticides and their effect on human life, bee activity, and other living creatures on our planet, see .