Sunday, June 26, 2011

No going back now

Have you ever read something that scares you to your core?  Not a Stephen King kind of scary.  A what-the-hell do I do now kind of scary?  I feel that way reading Robyn O’Brien’s book The Unhealthy Truth.  
I have been trying to change our diets for some time now.  I thought slow and steady was the way to do.  First went high fructose corn syrup, then refined sugar, then Aspartame, now food coloring.  But right under my nose in my refrigerator and in my cabinets were other food items that I did not realize were as harmful as they are: soy based products and genetically modified foods.
I thought soy was good.  I have been giving Grace soy milk as an alternative to dairy.  Dumped that out.  I became aware of GMO and GM food a few months ago but I had no idea how pervasive genetic modification is in our food supply.  Recently I was talking to Greg about kicking it up on removing all processed food from our diet. He felt it could not be done.  I agreed based on our current lifestyle.  But with more time spent at home cooking real food from real ingredients, we can eliminate most processed foods and gain a sense of control over what ingredients we use.
We also discussed looking for areas in our household spending to cut.  I want to shop almost wholly at Whole Foods and Trader Joe's.  At least then, if we purchase processed foods I will be reassured that my food supply does not contain foreign proteins that my children may develop an allergy to, especially given Grace’s gluten intolerance and Lilah’s food sensitivities.
I don’t want to summarize the entire book.  You should read it.  It will change the way you feed your family if you live in the United States.  It may prod you to get involved in some way to urge our elected leaders to make our children’s health and welfare paramount.  Why is it that our country feels this sorry state of affairs is acceptable?  Why have we not followed suit with other countries who have clearly placed a higher value on their citizens lives?  I know....I know...I am not completely naive.  Money talks and our government has an unholy relationship with business, especially the one (begins with an M) who has a strangle hold on farmers and consumers.
As of now, I am no longer content with slowly changing my families diet.  I am committed to the radical altering of what we eat and how we eat.  I am grateful it is summer.  I plan on getting a deep freezer to stock with frozen fresh fruits and vegetables from my garden and farmer’s markets to see us through the winter months.  Rarely have I had to use canned tomatoes thanks to two days of late summer freezing.  Our habits have to change.  Our laziness has to change.  Our ignorance has to change.  Now that I have become aware, there is no going back.


  1. I need to read this book! Thanks for the recommendation.

  2. I'm going to have to check out this book! I think you're right that we have become so complacent about our diet. But I think it starts with us in our home, teaching our children a better way to eat - not necessarily with our government mandating changes. I think unhealthy life styles have become so common they are acceptable. We went to a living history museum yesterday and saw first hand how this country used to be. Families had to work to provide their own food or they didn't survive! Not only did they eat more wholesome food, it took hard work to get it to the the table. Now, I like my stove/oven but I certainly think we can do better for our children! Thanks for this post!

  3. @ Susan - I think you will find it fascinating.
    @Jen - I agree it starts at home. I think most parents went on the assumption that the FDA was a screen to ban harmful ingredients but that is just not the case. I guess on some level I knew it was the case. I do not let my children consume any amount of Aspartame. But I had no idea how involved the FDA was with giant corporations, nor did I realize that corporations pay Universities for research that they then control. It seems the system is generously skewed on the side of manufacturing and the best thing we can do in a capitalist society is place our capital elsewhere. I have been moved to action though. As I take my money elsewhere, I will be writing to companies and manufacturers to request the standards here in the US be the same as in other countries they operate in.

  4. I too need to read it. We are making small changes but I need to do something HUGE. It just makes me so mad how expensive it is to eat healthy and how cheap to eat poorly. I am going to the library and getting this. I may never eat again! :)

  5. Karen,

    I realized that there are only a few things that we need to switch to organic such as popcorn, coffee and milk (I was using the hormone free but the cows still eat the GM corn.....). I also realized that there are a few changes we can make that don't cost anything - like making our chocolate pudding instead of buying it, making banana bread and muffins and freezing some for when we are in a rush and need a quick snack. I have to restructure our days to allow for more time at home to actually cook these things. My old way of thinking was cook three meals, but snacks are a free for all. Now I know I have to cook the snacks too, unless what we purchase is organic. The book's author has a 80/20 rule which helps her stay sane.

  6. I have not read this, and given my past history, I am a little afraid to because I easily get obsessed with this stuff. Several years ago, we stopped buying meal helpers and started making all meals from scratch with fresh vegetables, herbs, etc. and it tastes so much better! Now we can't tolerate the processed foods. Simple is so often better (salt, pepper, crushed garlic, oil for a marinade), etc. We switched to using an air popper for popcorn and buy the kernels at Trader Joe's and it tastes better. I've changed the girls yogurt to organic plain with fruit. For the most part we eat yogurt, fruit or popcorn for snacks, but I do allow them some processed snacks as a treat sometimes.

    I keep saying I am going to make the switch to organic milk, but when I go to buy milk and the organic is 4times the price of non-organic, I end up buying the inorganic. Then I kick myself when we get home!

    It's really irritating how much control large corporations have over government, our health, information that gets out, etc. Money talks. Years ago, I was involved with a demonstration that was sort of an extension of Farm Aid. Our government wouldn't let US farmers use certain pesticides, yet they imported produce from other areas where they were allowed to use those pesticides. So Americans were still ingesting unsafe amounts of certain pesticides even though those pesticides were outlawed here.

  7. Theresa, That must have been an amazing demonstration. The book talks about the bind that our farmers are in. All summer long we support local farmers at our farmer's markets and through our CSA. Joining a CSA was one of the best decisions our family made.

  8. You have chosen the "red pill", and like you said, there is no going back. It is scary, isn't it? I have often wondered, when did we accept that "they" put all this junk in our food? Was it easy to do as a result of the women's liberation movement? Why do we accept it?
    We do not consume soy products because soy has a component that mimics estrogen, but if we did, it would have to be organic.
    So many choices, such expensive choices!

  9. We joined a CSA this year as well and i am really glad that we did, even if it is less convenient in terms of getting our produce. I like that it's organic and we are helping local farmers. The family that runs our CSA also homeschools :)

    The issues with the farms dates back to the mid-80s, maybe longer. It's funny because around here we still had farms in the mid-80s, I forget that other parts of the country STILL have farms, since ours sold out to developers years ago. But I do think there is some correlation to government/corporate control of industry, farms, etc. and the demise of the family farm. It's just like the mom and pop businesses...

  10. Monica - LOL! Yes, it is more expensive but now that Greg is 100% on board, hopefully it will be a wash for us because we will no longer buy any junk. That money that we would have spent on the junk will just go towards the organic. We were talking about it tonight and the more I dig into our cabinets and fridge, the more I realize we were on the right track all along. I just have to modify our dairy/coffee/ and some other small things like popcorn and the little bit of bread we eat. Going gluten-free last year helped tremendously.

    Theresa, we don't have many farms here either. There are some decent mom and pop farms that sell their produce but not many dairy farms of substantial are right, they can't compete with gov't subsidized larger farms.

  11. We definitely do have farms here...dairy farms, primarily, but lots of other, smaller farms growing all sorts of items (veggies, fruits, fiber animals, etc). Most farms are family farms, but some have gotten quite large. My brother-in-law and father-in-law run a smallish dairy farm. Unfortunately, all farms seem to use genetically modified seeds, pesticides, and so forth. Some farms are trying to go organic, but it is VERY hard financially!!
    I agree with Karen's comment about being angry with how expensive it is to truly eat healthy, but how cheap it is to eat in an unhealthy way.
    I am a firm believer in making food at home from real ingredients, but the expense of organic ingredients always makes me pause.
    I placed this book on hold at the library, and am looking forward to reading it--I am certain it will be opening my eyes wider, as well.

  12. Just wanted to let you know I checked this out today. Looking forward to getting started reading it.

  13. We talked about your blogpost at dinner today, as we were yumming up our lentil, split pea, carrot, pumpkin, brown rice (and other yummy veges) soup (that we lovingly call "Splodge"!). We talked about how our dinner was made from all healthy foods (though NOT organic, I now realise—something to work towards). We talked about your post, the book, the problems with GMOs and soy based products, we talked about going organic. It was a beautiful, open dinner: all of us sharing our thoughts, and our desires for a healthy future. Thank you, Jess, for triggering the conversation! Beautiful, heartfelt post, as always.

  14. Thanks Helena! That is very touching. Not all of our produce is organic. Our CSA is not an organic farm but they use pest control specific to the crop, rather than just blanketing everything in pesticide. I keep the "dirty" fruit and veggies organic but if I have to peel it, then I buy regular.


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