Having A Voice – Catalysts

I’m getting a quick pedicure at a salon as I write. I rarely paint my nails as I don’t like the chemicals or the yellow stain it leaves. But I have a special occasion I need nice toes for.

Naturally I have brought my own nail polish that has fewer chemicals than the average bottle and some organic, extra virgin coconut oil for the massage because the stuff they usually use at these places is really smelly and toxic.

My non-toxic nail polish is formulated without the use of harmful ingredients like Formaldehyde, Toluene, DBP or Parabens. These three chemicals Formaldehyde, Toluene and DBP can cause cancer, birth defects, respiratory problems, neurological damage, and the list goes on. Dibutyl phthalate (DBP) adds flexibility and a moisturizing sheen, and helps dissolve other cosmetic ingredients. DBP is a reproductive and developmental toxin that has been linked to feminizing effects in baby boys. Toluene helps suspend the color and form a smooth finish across the nail. It also affects the central nervous system and can cause headaches, dizziness and fatigue. Toluene is a possible reproductive and developmental toxin. Formaldehyde is found in some nail products such as nail hardener. Formaldehyde is a known human carcinogen. It is also an irritant to the eyes, nose and throat, and can lead to skin irritation and an allergic rash called dermatitis.

The staff are always interested, (under their masks) in what I bring with me, as they’re pretty aware that the smell in the salon must be bad for them. The fluorescent pink massage cream looks like plasticine and STINKS of nothing on this earth, and that’s coz it’s not naturally occurring. It’s man-made. One day I think we’ll see more of these chains with natural products, as we do now see beauticians and hair salons that use only sulphate and paraben- free products.

Only a few years ago finding a ‘clean’ anything was tricky but now it’s not as hard – depending on where one lives of course. In Bangalow – the closest town to me – I have a choice of 4 hair salons. The fourth one has only just opened and uses nothing toxic. I now go to this salon. Before this I took in my own shampoo and conditioner, or drove farther to a salon in Byron that used the organic stuff.

In the area my clinic is in in Sydney, there isn’t one salon that I know of (and I think there are 24 within 2 blocks) that uses organic products. There is one or two that don’t use any parabens or sulphates, which is great, but nothing 100% organic. The time has got to come when there will be more, or even one.

I really do know I’m an idealist but why can’t we have more salons that aren’t polluting our planet and us every single second? More of us don’t want to use toxic skin, body and beauty products as we’re becoming increasingly aware of the side effects. If more of us spoke up and said that we’d rather not put poison on our hair, face, body, hands and feet, and in our mouths, then perhaps the demand for these greener places would increase. After all, it’s about supply and demand. If we said ‘no thanks’, then I’m pretty sure business owners would find something that we we’re saying ‘yes please’ to.

When I started in the media talking publically about food as medicine in around 2002, I remember an instance when I was about to do a live segment on morning TV. I had this gig for about 18 months, twice a week. I was about 2 months into it and it was being received pretty well, even to the surprise of the execs that hired me I think. The host at the time was having a ciggie outside near where I was waiting for my segment to start, and he looked at me asking ‘so you really reckon the food ya eat affects your health eh?’ Seriously I though he was joking, but when I repeat this little ditty to people, they aren’t at all surprised, and admit it wasn’t until recently that they started believing it also.

My point here is that some of us have to be catalysts. Some of us have to be brave enough to be heard, without fear of the consequences. I have had to deal with my own fear or retribution surrounding the often somewhat confronting and controversial things I say and post on social media. Most of you probably remember when I first started doing GCBC, how much flack I copped. I mean it was relentless. I got so much hate mail and death threats, and mostly from women saying I was being mean to Gary. Seriously. Nothing about the toxic, factory farmed ingredients he was using, or the ridiculous amounts of refined sugar, cream or GMO products.

At the time I wondered if this was because Gary is just so lovable, or because he’s well…a man, and women are notoriously known for being each others’ own worse enemy. But in the end I think it was both of these things, but mainly because I was talking about confronting topics. Topics that forced the general public to look at themselves, and we all know how much we enjoy this past time. The ‘haters’ weren’t hearing me say ‘hey guys I’m one of you and there is a better way’. All they heard was ‘you’re doing it wrong and your killing yourselves and your family, and it’s all your fault’.

Nowadays ‘gluten free’ is a term as common and accepted as Twitter. It’s taken pretty seriously and one is no longer considered just a little bit of a paranoid, freaky, high maintenance hypochondriac if one is avoiding gluten. Nowadays being vego’, or making the conscious decision not to eat seafood, or choose to eat only sustainably caught seafood is seen as admirable (if not just a little annoying for the host). There are many of restaurants – in the major cities at least – that have gluten free, dairy free, vegan, vego, nut and soy free options – and a handful that are 100% vego, vegan and/or organic. Great isn’t it?

I saw a regular client today that said she was going to an event this week and was taking white bread sandwiches. I was curious as to why as I know she doesn’t eat gluten or white bread. She said apart from the cost for making many sandwiches using organic and/or a nice gluten free bread, no one would care or notice either way, and if they did then they would likely make a spectacle of her.

She had a good point. I remember going to parties and BBQ’s in the early days and noticing how the guests ate the processed sausages and white rolls with tomato sauce, and the potato salad with that disgusting mayo (which isn’t even mayo btw, its rotten cabbage that’s been processed with white vinegar and heaps of refined sugar and salt). They ate all the cheezels, then the Sarah Lee dessert but hardly touched my local quinoa salad, or roasted beetroot, goats’ cheese and walnut salad – all organic of course. Occasionally a curious person (usually a woman) would ask ‘what do you have there dear?’

Ok so this was in the early 90’s but I was studying Naturopathy and Nutrition full time, working as a chef in a super busy and groovy vegan restaurant by night and part time by day in a health food store, AND had been a dairy and gluten free pescetarian for many years by then, so I guess I was in a kind of bubble. A wonderful bubble. My bubble would sometimes burst when I had to venture in to the ‘real’ world, which meant the way the majority of people were eating and thinking. I felt a little like a ‘green alien’ but I quickly found my tribe. Others that felt and lived the same ‘green’ way I did and supported me on my wholefoods journey that was taking me to a deeper understanding of the connection between the body, mind and spirit – and my relationship to the earth.

So I understand what my client was talking about this week. Of course I do. But…we lead by example, don’t we? Yes I realise we all can’t afford organic, spelt sourdough from a divine artesian bakery, but then don’t take sangers to your event. Take a frittata, or hummus and crackers, or even Mountain Bread wraps with organic scrambled tofu. I hear you say ‘but we don’t know how to cook like that’ or ‘we don’t have the time’. I have all of my recipes available to everyone free on line, and I have all of the articles I write on my website for everyone to read, for free. I post daily on Facebook and other social media platforms. It’s all there for the taking – and sharing.

The world as we now it has changed, and changing more all the time. We now live in a world where superfoods are the new black, and what we eat and bring to a party is equivalent to our resume. So let’s try to remain congruent and lead by example, and decide NEVER to eat or buy processed white bread, ever.

In Love and Wellbeing,


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