Thursday, October 30, 2008

Plastics industry wrote FDA policy on BPA

As you think about who to vote for next week, consider this. The Milwaukee Journal reports that the FDA, which ruled in August that the plastics additive BPA is safe, was influenced heavily and guided by plastics industry representatives. In a pattern similar to what we've seen at the Consumer Products Safety Commission relating to toy safety, the Bush administration's FDA has deliberately allowed industry to determine its policy. The result is that baby bottles, water bottles, toys and hundred of other products continue to be made with BPA, despite mounting evidence of the chemical's harmful effects on the endocrine system.

Environmental Working Group (EWG) President Ken Cook said, "An agency that once epitomized independent, impartial expertise in the service of public health has degenerated to a disgraced stenographer for the chemical and plastics industry." You can read here a more extensive criticism of the FDA under Bush from the Organic Consumers Alliance.

I'm sure we'll continue to find fault with government agencies no matter who is president. But, nothing more than regime change can reorient these important government agencies so that they fulfill their mandates and protect public health rather than promote the interests of industry.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Obama defeats McCain (In paper dolls at least)

Yep, When it comes to paper dolls, the results are in. Obama dolls outsold McCain dolls in our store by a 3 to 1 margin. Nationally, the Dover Book Company tells us that Obama has outsold McCain by 2 to 1. In fact, they're almost out of Obama dolls. We still have a few left, but they're going fast. We haven't had this much fun in an election year since Al Gore ate at the St. Clair Broiler back in 2000!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Announcing Do Good Diaper Service Starter Kits

We've always thought that a cloth diaper service is an excellent introduction to cloth diapering for new parents. I mean, when you have a new baby, you want to provide the best for your child and the environment, you don't have a lot of extra time for doing laundry. It's a great time to do some outsourcing.

So, we're very pleased to partner with Minneapolis-based Do Good Diapers, the Twin Cities only cloth diaper service. We now stock the Do Good Diapers Starter Kit, which retails for $72.50 and has everything you need to start up with diaper home delivery--6 Prorap diaper cover, a pair of Snappi fasteners, 10 cloth wipes, a nylon diaper tote bag, and a coupon for 1 FREE week of Do Good Diapers delivery service (worth $19-$23). How cool is that?

Although a service costs more than washing diapers yourself, it's still a lot cheaper than disposables and much better for the environment. So, if you're thinking that you'd like to try cloth but aren't up for laundry, stop into the store and do some good with Do Good Diapers. Check their website to learn more about delivery areas and how the service works.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Two hikes in the woods

From Dan: It sure was a great weekend here in Minnesota. Two beautiful warm fall days with the leaves at their colorful peak. On Saturday we went hiking out to Pike's island at Fort Snelling State Park, just below the airport under the Hiawatha bridge. We first visited this park a few years ago, having lived in the Twin Cities all our lives and never seen it before. It's a pretty cool place, with a lot of land hidden away where the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers merge. We climbed fallen cottonwoods and walked along the river and picked up some trash.

We also found out about the State Park system's Geocaching courses, which are new this year. Homeschoolers that we are, we got oursleves a low-end handheld GPS and trekked out to Afton State Park on Sunday. (Many parks also have free GPS units available for checkout.)

Abby and Riley took turns with the GPS, directing us from one checkpoint to the next until we found all 6 of the geocaches in the park, which took us about 2 hours and 2 1/2 miles of walking (we're pretty slow in the woods). When we found the final cache, we got to write our names in the log book and collect a card as proof. Riley's excited about collecting cards from all 72 State Parks and Recreation Areas that have set up geocache courses, but that might be a little ambitious. Still, Millie noted that it's at least as fun as golf without having to hit a ball around--a free and fun outdoor family activity.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Peapods Top 5 Toys for 2008

Looking forward to the holiday season, we ran a report on our fancy pants computerized cash register to see what our most popular toys were in the past year. We were very pleased to see that, out of our top 20 toys priced over $10, only 3 were made in China. We were also very pleased with our top 5, which really are some of the best toys we offer.

So, here's the Peapods top 5 toys for 2008:

Number 5: The Plan Toys Shape and Sort A simple shape sorter for ages 1 and up, made in Thailand by Plan Toys. We love this toy because it's very open-ended, very durable, and the blocks made a satisfying clunk sound when you drop them through the holes. And, we love Plan Toys for their quality, design, and their commitments to environmentally sustainability and fair labor practices.

Number 4: The Plan Toys Punch 'N Drop Another favorite toddler toy from Plan, the Punch and Drop is probably the best selling toy in the history of our store. Hammer or push the colored balls through the top and they clunk down and roll out the side of the box. It's like playing peek-a-boo. Also made in Thailand.

Number 3: Baby Bottoms Anatomically Correct Cloth Dolls These toddler safe cloth dolls are great for potty training or big brothers and sisters. Soft and cuddly with a removable diaper. These are made in China.

Number 2: Sophie the Giraffe Sophie is so cute, so sophisticated, that it's almost a shame that she's so easy and satisfying for babies to chew on. Made in France from natural rubber, Sophie mutters a cute little squeek when squeezed. A great teether for babies and toddlers.

And our Number 1 Best Selling Toy for 2008: Uncle Goose Classic Embossed Alphabet Blocks Made in Michigan by the really nice folks at Uncle Goose, these blocks are carved with embossed designs that harken back to the turn of the last century. Truly a classic, these blocks not only teach letters, but are great for stacking up and knocking down. In fact, with our kids, we found no better motivation to entice a baby to try to scoot across the floor than to make a short stack of blocks just out of her reach. We also offer these in Spanish and ASL/Braille.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The book's always better than the movie

From Dan: The kids and I went to see the movie City of Ember tonight. Abby was excited to see it because she'd read the books. Riley was excited because he loves a good movie. We had a great time. The movie was pretty good, too.

One of the previews we saw was for Inkheart, which is another movie made from a book we've enjoyed--in this case as an audiobook on one of our long family trips. It's remarkable, I think, how many wonderful works of children's literature are being made into movies. A lot of our favorites have already been done: The Dark is Rising, The Spiderwick Chronicles, Ella Enchanted, Eragon, Narnia, the Golden Compass, Despereaux and of course, Harry Potter.

I don't remember all of my favorite stories turning into movies when I was a kid, but I think it's kind of cool to first experience a tale as only words and then as moving images. Riley and Abby agree that sometimes the images your mind creates when your reading or listening to a story are better than what a movie can create. But the movie condenses and sharpens the story in interesting ways--some of which are not deemed acceptable. Ask Abby, for example, how many plot points the movie of Prince Caspian got wrong and you'll likely get an earful.

Abby says she'd like to see Hollywood adapt the works of Tamora Pierce or the Mysterious Benedict Society. And, we're still holding out hope for the The Subtle Knife and The Hobbit.

In the meantime, Riley's hoping that the folks in Wisconsin Dells will build a City of Ember waterslide like the one in the movie. "That was totally awesome!", he said.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

NYTimes: Momma, I'll Have What You're Having

The New York Times today sand the praises of making your own baby food with the little hand-powered food mill we sell. It's an excellent article with lots of ideas and guidelines. Yes, what's good for mom and dad can be good for baby, too!

You can read the article here.

And, um, you can buy your own Baby Food Mill here.