Many of you may have seen the news report show Plusminus back in January 2000 which reported on toxic chemicals, namely Tributylzinn or TBT for short, being found in clothing and textile products in Germany (check out WDR's webpage Plusminus-TBT). This leads me to the topic of this month's column: nutrition and clothing for children. Increasingly, we hear about cases of foodstuff contamination, whether Listeria bacteria in eggs, meat and dairy products, or mad cow disease or harmful pesticides sprayed on fruits and vegetables or dioxin-contaminated poultry products. Add to this the discovery of toxic chemicals in clothes and other textile products, and one starts to wonder what is safe to eat or to wear anymore, especially when we think of the sensitive, developing systems of our children.
As a result of the failing trust in commercially manufactured products and foodstuffs and that of the government (German, American, or any other governement for that matter) to protect us from harmful additives, many consumers are turning to organic foods and clothing. While this trend seems to have caught on more strongly in Germany, it is also slowing taking root in the United States.
I find this particularly important when we consider what we feed our children and how we dress them. Organic food is easily found here in Hamburg, in some parts of town easier than others. You can check in the Yellow Pages under Naturkost for an organic foods store nearest you. Or you can check out the various organic open air markets (Ökomärkte) around town, also in the Yellow Pages in the Wochenmärkte section of the "Hamburg-Information" pages in the front of the phone book. Although organic food usually costs more, one shop owner says that prices are evening out due to the new demand for organic products. And I must add: isn't the extra cost worth the peace of mind knowing that you are not exposing yourself or your children to dangerous and/or toxic agents?
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Originally published April 2000
As far as children's clothing goes, I can only recommend dressing newborns in all natural fibers (i.e. cotton, wool or silk), and better yet are organically produced clothes. These are also more expensive, but one must consider that the rise in skin diseases like excema and allergic rashes certainly did not exist in such high percentages in times before the invention of polyester and chemically treated clothing. Clothes made of synthetic fibers often block the natural functioning of the skin by preventing the skin from "breathing", i.e. from absorbing adequate moisture, as well as eliminating harmful waste products. If the added expense of organic clothing is not in your budget, however, you can at least protect yourselves and your children by washing all new clothing products before wearing them.
Here are some websites where you can find out about organic nutrition:
Here are some websites where you can find out about organic clothing:
Here are some websites where you can find out about organic personal hygiene: