The vice president of digital media for a major broadcast company was quite progressive when it came to everything, whether it was in the workplace or for her diet. Yet even though she had a mini refrigerator in her office specifically for the fruitarian diet she was following, she couldn't help but chuckle every time she walked by my office and saw me sipping my steaming cup of tea (a mixture of green/ginger/chamomile/rooibos/apple-cinnamon). Her laughter wasn't because of all the teabag strings hanging out of my mug representing the delicious antioxidant-filled personal concoction, it was because of the glass straw from which I was drinking.
I could say this was for the environment, but it started almost 10 years ago and I had not heard yet about all the current news of states, cities and businesses, like the recent announcement from Starbucks, banning or considering banning plastic straws in order to help avoid danger to marine life in our oceans. My own statement then, and as I still stare at the glass straws in my home cupboard that I use daily for hot beverages, was more regarding my personal environment
As one of the first investigative preventive health columnists and book authors, the initial syndicated article I wrote was about how the enamel of the teeth can be eroded by acidic foods and beverages. At that time, dentists were seeing it especially in patients who drank an excessive amount of diet soda, since consumers might be more tempted to drink extreme amounts of that and they noted that one of the best ways to avoid acids from beverages hitting the teeth was by using straws.
I have used straws for all these years for that reason and didn't want to give up the positive procedure when I drink hot beverages like tea. However, at times there was also news about not exposing plastic like that used in straws to extreme heat. Therefore, I looked on the internet and found a world of glass straws for heated beverages and ordered three, one for me at home, one for my husband, who at the time drink a lot of tea with honey and lemon (another acidic item) in it and one for me at work that the VP and others used to good-naturedly chide me about. My husband tried the glass straw with his hot tea and didn't take to the idea, but, let's just say dentists from that time on, including up through last week, have made comments to me that I have the "cleanest mouth they have ever seen" and what my husband likes to requote back to me, teeth that "look like little pearls." He is slightly more challenged in that area due to all of his "straw-less" tea drinking.
Now, of course, the reason for alternative straws, like glass, metal and paper, to become more well known is much more urgent. The environmentalist group 1 Million Women, among others, note that places like the state of California are bringing up banning plastic straws because, since they are plastic, they are often just used once. Unlike paper, plastics never break down. Eight million tons of plastics enter the oceans every year and plastic straws are among the top-ten items picked up on beach cleanups. An avid scuba diver reported to 1 Million Women that in a 20-minute period she picked up 319 plastic straws at the beach; 24 hours later she went back and found 294 more in the same spot.
If, like me, you want to protect both the environment and the enamel of your teeth, you too might join environmental groups in picking up all types of plastics from seashores as well as expanding your straw knowledge to include all types, like paper and reusable metal and glass ones. Following are my cold and hot favorites to drink with whatever straws you choose. All ingredients are to taste
Squeeze fresh lemon, lime and tangerine or mandarin juices. In a blender container strong enough to chop ice, combine one part of the mixed citrus juice with two parts water and one part coconut or almond milk, sliced strawberries, peeled cucumber pieces, stevia and ice cubes. Blend until smoothie is of desired consistency.
TEA THAT'S JUST PEACHY
Brew peach tea. While teabags are steeping, in a small saucepan, combine store-bought or homemade peach nectar and peach preserves and cook over low-medium heat, carefully stirring occasionally, until it warms and reduces. Add steeped tea and carefully stir before serving.
Lisa Messinger is a first-place winner in food writing from the Association of Food Journalists and the author of seven food books, including "Mrs. Cubbison's Best Stuffing Cookbook" and "The Sourdough Bread Bowl Cookbook." To find out more about Lisa Messinger and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.