Sunday, September 09, 2007

Putting a Stanford Chemical Engineering Degree to Good Use

In 2002, I still thought organic milk and organic vegetables sounded weird. Were they like... dirty? Now I think food is kind of scary, because what we call "food" should be called "chemical, hormone, antibiotic, pesticide food" and what we call "organic food" should be called "food."

My mom points out for the less observant, do you notice you can often taste chlorine in your vegetables? Apparently, this has been getting worse over time. But if you have grown up eating chlorine vegetables for much of your life, you probably don't even notice it. We noticed that the vegetables in China tasted very good fifteen years ago, but we thought that was because of the natural fertilizer. So anyway, organic food has to include the washing, handling, storing, and packaging.

On the heels of organic food comes non-toxic and environmentally friendly cleaning products, still sort of weird-sounding, but it's time for a breakthrough.

Free & Clear Dishwashing Liquid took second place in Cook's Country magazine dishwashing liquid tests. The top two winners were the two environmentally friendly brands. I hadn't heard of the magazine before, but according to the Seventh Generation blog, their product is also showing up in the kitchen scenery of cooking shows such as Rachael Ray. If I were in normal health, this would make me actually go out and buy some to try.

I had seen the products in Whole Foods Market and checked out their Web site several years ago but never bought any of their products, for lack of clear information on how surfactants produced from vegetable oil are better than surfactants produced from petroleum. Is it just the renewability of the source material? Obviously, "vegetable-based surfactants" are no longer actually vegetables. The Web pages sort of jumble the topics of toxic substances and renewable sources. Even though they say their products are less toxic, they don't actually say that it's from using vegetable oil instead of petroleum. It seems to be because of avoiding other ingredients that are in most cleaning products.

We are reversing many of the trends of the last fifty years. Shopping without plastic and paper bags, how does that work? But that was normal not that long ago. Organic food, yeah, that used to be normal. And they used to make soap out of animal fat and lye in Little House on the Prairie. Is this going back to the future, or forward to the past?

I'm just now reading about the first place winner of the dishwashing liquid tests, a brand I hadn't heard of before. It's rather new, and one of the founders is a Stanford alum. is hip. Even the bottles are beautiful. They list all of their ingredients. Go check it out.


Lady M said...

I used to use 7th Gen detergent for clothes, until I stopped being able to find it at Target. The dishwashing liquid sounds great! Do you know if you can only get it at Whole Foods?

dancing dragon said...

I've only seen Seventh Generation at Whole Foods and Piazza's. But this new brand, Method Home, sounds even better and according to their Web site is available at most of the regular stores.

I'm wondering how the Seventh Generation detergent worked. One of my friends said she tried it many years ago but it didn't wash very well. They've probably improved the formula since then, but just wondering...

fourthbreakfast said...

I'm a big fan of Method. Esp since you can buy it at Target, no problem. I originally started buying their pump soap because I couldn't find any other brands that weren't "antibacterial." I haven't branched out into their laundry detergent, but my friend says it works well. I use Trader Joe's "eco" dishwashing detergent in my machine, as Consumer reports actually thinks well of it.

Mai-Sie said...

"We noticed that the vegetables in China tasted very good fifteen years ago, but we thought that was because of the natural fertilizer."

It's probably a combination of all of the above, as well as the fact that they were grown by smaller farms and not mega-farm-factories and then went from harvest to table within a day or two as opposed to being stored in cold storage then in a truck for hours or days then in cold storage again for days at the supermarket....