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You Are What You Eat…

“…people need to start demanding local, wholesome food…” –Food Inc.

“…so the carrots can be a better deal than the chips…” – Food Inc.

Do you know where your food comes from?  A few years ago, if I was asked this question, I wouldn’t be able to answer immediately.  I admit I’d walk blindly into a grocery store once a week and gather the typical items that filled my cupboards and refrigerator – not knowing where it came from or what it consisted of or how my continued purchases were affecting my health, my community, and the future of food production and consumption.

Roughly seven years ago, my husband and I started to frequent the farmers markets in our area. Our food tastes began to change around this time.  We were exploring different culinary options and it seemed only fitting to go to the farmers market to find something …different.  Our trips to the grocery store became less frequent and our purchases became smaller.  We were learning about our community and discovering that the best ingredients were right in our very backyard and not from thousands of miles away.  The exposure to the farmers market’s really changed the way we viewed food and how we shopped for food.

It wasn’t until I was pregnant with my son did we really put a microscope to our food and product consumption.  How is my baby going to be affected by what
I’m eating now and what we’ll be feeding him after he is born?  My husband has a friend whose daughter is only 8 years old and she is experiencing hormonal changes a lot sooner than what the average timeline should be.  Her pediatrician explained that he is seeing more and more children developing at an earlier rate these days and it’s due to the food we consume, it’s “quality” and the chemicals we are exposed to.

Since my son was born, the majority of what we feed him is organic and much of it comes right from our community.  We’ve been getting to know the farmers at our city’s Farmers Market and in our community.  We’ve been seeking out food that has the least possible processing involved, humanely treated, and closest to its natural state.

A recent visit to the book store I uncovered the book Food Inc. The book exposes America’s industrial food system and its effect on our environment, health, economy and workers’ rights.  We found the movie version and watched it that night.  I had a pretty good idea of how bad our ”food system” was but after seeing the horrific stories in Food Inc. it was more than enough confirmation for why we are being so picky about the food and products we consume.

Besides the overuse of hormones, pesticides, and antibiotics, Genetically Modified/Engineered Organisms are making their way into our plant and food population and they’re spreading like wildfire.  GM/GE organisms are being created by what is known as gene-splicing; DNA from one species is combined with other species creating plant, animal, bacteria, and viral genes that do not occur in nature.  According to the USDA, in 2009, 86% of corn grown in the U.S. is GMO.  The GMO corn is injected with a poisonous bacterium gene, Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt). The Bt enables the plant to produce an insecticidal protein. Most GMO plants are adjusted to cause the plant to self-produce a poison that will kill an insect that feeds upon it, or enable the plant to safely absorb a poison applied to the plant (Non-GMO Project).  So we’ve created corn that kills an insect that feeds upon it… what about the humans that feed upon the corn?

Go look in your cupboard now and read the food labels…
almost everything in your cabinet has some derivative of corn and if it’s not
organic… it’s GMO corn.  It’s not only corn… soy, canola, and cotton are major GMO crops and in almost everything we consume.  We are trying to change the
genetic makeup of what has occurred naturally for hundreds and hundreds of
years.  We are developing an antibiotic resistance, and over the years there is an increased incidence of allergies and cancer risks.  In over 30 countries they
have banned the use of GMO products – not the US.

What is “organic”? Organic foods are produced without the use of conventional pesticides or fertilizers made of synthetics.  Organic foods are not allowed according to USDA standards to include genetically engineered/modified organisms.  Meat, dairy, eggs, and poultry cannot contain growth hormones or antibiotics (California Certified Organic Farmers and USDA National Organic Program).  I’ve heard the argument before – what are you getting when you buy organic?  The better statement is, what you are NOT getting when you buy organic.

I realize there is an abundance of information out there and can be somewhat of a daunting task to uncover the facts.  Families on budgets can’t eat well without
breaking the bank or maybe it’s more of an inconvenience to seek out what is
healthy.  I challenge you to visit a farmers market in your area (http://www.localharvest.org/) where you will find local, in season, organic produce that most times is cheaper than what is in the grocery store.
Talk to the farmers; ask questions, they will be more than willing to
share information with you.  Make it a family affair; an opportunity to spend time with your children and to learn with them.  There is a reason that 30+
countries have banned or put strict laws on GMO products…not only are they
considered not proven safe but because it’s consumer’s choice.  The consumer has used their voice by how they buy.

We’ve made the conscious choice to take a stand against those who ultimately are poising our food and trying to change the genetic makeup of what has been for centuries.  We have adjusted our shopping habits to make grocery day the same day as the farmer’s market.  All of our produce comes from local organic farms in our community (Pinnacle Organics, Heirloom Organics).  We choose to only eat what’s in season, which keeps a majority of our purchases local.  I understand there are some things you just can’t get locally, such as bananas.  In this case we make sure our bananas are organic.  Our eggs, poultry, lamb and goat are grass-fed, free range, organic and come from a local farmer in our community (Pasture Chick Ranch).  Our dairy is organic, raw and comes from dairy farms in our community (Claravale Farms, Straus Farms).  Our pork and beef are grass-fed organic also from a family run ranch in our community (Douglas Ranch).  We make our own dressings, sauces, jams, breads, and pastas from organic ingredients.  When I do make a trip to the grocery store I spend a little extra time looking at the labels; where did the product come from and what does it contain.

We LOVE food.  We love to eat food.  We love to cook food.  We love exploring different restaurants.  As we learn more about our food – it’s gotten to the point that we can’t eat out anymore – unless specified, every restaurant out there is getting their produce, meat, dairy, and poultry from the same contaminated markets as the grocery stores.  When people offer my son a snack I have to decline despite their good intentions.  I started out informing people of “food dangers” but always concluding that, “I’m not trying to change anyone’s mind…this is what’s best for me and my family.”  As I learn more and more I’d like to change that statement.  I do want to change people’s minds.  It’s our health, our environment, our future…our children’s future, and their children’s future.

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One response to “You Are What You Eat…

  1. awesome and such an informative article. I love that you”re doing what’s best for your family and not letting anyone pressure you into changing your values and standards. You live in an area that is much more conducive to shopping the best and most reliable organic. You have soooo many choices and I love that you do. Keep up the good works and Please keep on informing and educating people. Many great things have started with just a few great minds and people talking to others and spreading the word. It takes off and change happens and eventually the world learns.

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