Safety concerns about children's lunch boxes, Spring recipes, Cinco de Mayo and a new Quesadilla maker. Plus a preview of Kate Heyhoe's new book about Stubb's Bar-B-Q.
by Kate Heyhoe
What if New Year's Day was celebrated on April 1?
Think about it: "Eating healthy" resolutions would be so much more inspiring, given the wealth of spring greens and abundance of crisp, young vegetables. Ditto for "Exercise more." Who wouldn't want to get outside and walk or run in sunshine, fresh air, amid flowers and budding trees? Or would you prefer to slave on cold, repetitive machines in a sterile indoor gym?....More Spring Recipes
If tainted peanut butter doesn't get you, the cute little lunchbox will.
Call me stupid—I had no idea that vinyl contains lead. Vinyl! That soft, pliable stuff used for nearly everything, from wallpaper to siding, and in this case, kids' soft lunchboxes. Lead is often used as a stabilizing agent in vinyl, and truth be told, not all vinyl products contain lead, especially in recent years (other additives now perform the same function, without the health risk).
If the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) hadn't been blasted for approving lunchboxes containing potentially toxic levels of lead, I might never have even thought about the dangers of vinyl. But hats off to the Food and Drug Administration and the Associated Press' reporting for challenging the CPSC's testing methods and results. They contend enough lead exists for the FDA to warn both the manufacturers (that they may crossing into the FDA's regulatory realm of lunchbox lead as a "food additive") and the consumers (causing Wal-Mart to ban lead-vinyl lunchboxes and offer consumer refunds).
So what's the deal with lead? No amount is considered safe for humans. Lead from vinyl, both on the inside and outside of the lunchbox, rubs off. Children ingest lead when they touch the lead-laden vinyl then lick their fingers, or when they eat foods (like apples) that come in direct contact with it. Unlike the tainted peanut butter from Peter Pan and other ConAgra brands recalled for salmonella (a type of food poisoning), lead poisoning isn't apparent in a matter of hours or days. Its effects usually show up much later, in the form of brain-behavioral issues like attention deficit disorder, slow reflexes, and low IQ, and in muscle weakness, sleepiness, anemia, and later reproductive problems like miscarriages and premature births.
So all this begs the question: Why would the CPSC protect the lunchbox manufacturers who don't avoid lead? Even if the results are debatable, why not err on the side of protecting children? with salmonella in peanut butter, the effects are quick and visible - vomiting, diarrhea, and fever. Maybe if low-level lead poisoning caused obvious symptoms, the CPSC's stance would be a non-issue. With slowly ingested lead-poisoning, kids still romp home every day. But over time, ingested lead spreads to every organ through the bloodstream, and can be stored in the brain, liver, kidneys, teeth and bones. The effects are long term, insidious, and not reversible.
But there you have it. If the tainted peanut butter doesn't get you, the lunchbox may. (Hey kids: It may be safer to trade away your lunchbox than your sandwich!)
Whether you're packing lunches an insulated bag or a brown paper bag, give the midday break a boost with these handy tips and ideas. (But leave the lead out, please.)
Cinco de Mayo (The Fifth of May) is Saturday, May 5th, 2007. Arriba!
Get your fiesta fixin's here, from a spicy Quesadilla Maker (see below) to blended margaritas. Check out my Cinco de Mayo Fiesta, complete with links, history, anecdotes, recipes and more.
Quesadilla Maker: A Cinco de Mayo Must (or at least a strong Maybe)
Why would anyone need a quesadilla maker? Quesadillas are so simple to make in a skillet, I couldn't believe an electric appliance dedicated to their creation would be worthwhile. But after trying the Oster quesadilla maker, I'm a convert. No, you don't really need this appliance, but if you make quesadillas often and if you want a perfectly golden exterior and lusciously gooey cheese filling, on a consistent basis, then go for it. It's one of those party plug-ins that are easy on the host: assemble a half dozen or so quesadillas, fire up the quesadilla maker, then cook the quesadillas one at a time (in less than 2 minutes each). Slice them into wedges and serve as they come out of the cooker, or set them in a low oven until all are done and ready to serve.
Buy an Oster Quesadilla Maker.
Kate's Stubb's Bar-B-Q book gets a tasty review:
"...who could resist a bowlful of smoky, salty Black Eyed Peas 'n' Bacon or a square of Cheddar Corn Bread, which packs a little corn sweetness and a serious jalapeño punch? From appetizers to entrees to sides and salads, almost every tasty-looking recipe begs to be tried..." says Publisher's Weekly.
Check out The Stubb's Bar-B-Q Cookbook by Kate Heyhoe and sample the recipes (try and buy!). It's finger lickin' good.
Copyright © 2007, Kate Heyhoe. All rights reserved.
This page created April 2007
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