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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Wearing your cause on your sleeve

Your food's organic, but is your clothing?

Published: February 15, 2008
Section: Arts, Etc.

For the past several years researchers of the health sciences have constantly been investigating new and innovative ways to maintain a healthy way of living provided the conditions of the current environment.

The health food industry has become a central network of resources which provide natural and wholesome foods, all of which to some extent are said to help prevent illnesses such as cancer, heart disease, high levels of cholesterol etc.

The most recent rampage has been a focus on foods which contain doses of antioxidants such as blueberries and pomegranates. This vitamin or nutrient that may help prevent damage to the heart, arteries, and other tissues.

Antioxidants inhibit oxidation and guard the body from the damaging effects of free radicals. Studies show that antioxidants serve as an important nutrient needed to protect individuals from the free radicals released in the environment which can ultimately cause skin damage and other areas of the body.

Whole Foods Market, the leading retailer in natural and organic foods, has been marketing products which contain high doses of antioxidants. For example, Vitamin Water released a new flavor known as XXX. The drink is named for its triple antioxidant formula which specifically refers to flavors such as pomegranate, acai, and blueberry.

Recently Whole Foods Market signed a contract with Marci Zaroff, founder of Under the Canopy, an online retailer of organic fiber fashion. Whole Foods Market will now begin to stock clothing and apparel which can help to decrease the damage inflicted upon our environment.

There has been a sudden realization that people can not shield themselves from environmental damage simply by consuming products containing antioxidants. Studies show that people need to take more serious courses of action in order to forcefully prevent any further damage to the environment.

The chemicals used in growing and manufacturing the materials used to produce conventional clothing are inflicting a terrible toll on our planet, and particularly our health. Global warming is accelerating, and chemical sensitivities and health problems are becoming more common.

“The important thing for consumers to know is that none of the fibers used in our products are sprayed with harmful pesticides, fungicides, herbicides and chemical fertilizers,” says Zaroff.

The collection to be released by Under the Canopy will feature apparel for women, men, babies as well as home bedding products. Zaroff ensures customers that the clothing line will keep up with latest fashion trends. She is also interested in expanding her products in major spa chains.

Ronnie Cummins, national director of the consumer advocate group Organic Consumers Association (OCA), said “Whole Foods’ foray into natural clothing could help propel the organic concept into mainstream America.” Although organic clothing is a small niche, the fact that it is being exposed by a large chain such as Whole Foods Market should definitely have an impact. In the 2003 fiscal year, Whole Foods took in total sales of $3.1 billion. The company operates 163 stores in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.