It’s Monday, so that means it’s time for this week’s Mothers of Intention post. I’m so excited that a blogger I truly admire, Isabel Kallman of Alpha Mom fame, is allowing me to cross-post today’s installment about a new book called The Unhealthy Truth, by Robyn O’Brien. After reading O’Brien’s book, Isabel gave voice to something that’s been on my mind for a long time — am I crazy to worry about food allergies and what my daughter is eating? Thanks so much, Isabel. You’re my inspiration on so many things, including taking to heart what I’m giving my nine-year-old for dinner.
I have to admit that I am so tired of all the eye rolls from friends, acquaintances and even doctors after even the slightest mention that there are certain foods I AM CONVINCED have an adversely affect my son’s behavior.
The typical comment (accompanied by a snicker) is These foods have been around forever, your son is not the first to eat them. These kids are fine and Chill Out.
I knew it! I am not crazy. The unhealthy, and unfortunate, truth is that since the late 1990s, our food supply has undergone a significant change where for example the package of boxed macaroni & cheese that you ate as a child is not that same that you are feeding your kids today. Instead our food supply is NOW laden with genetically-modified proteins, antibiotics, chemical additives and preservatives, all allergens irritating our kids’ immune systems and contributing to a skyrocketing allergy epidemic.
Robyn O’Brien leaves no stone unturned going from food group to food group and telling us what we need to know. Really! There’s drama, financial intrigue and politics behind the scenes of the FDA, CDC, and FAAN when it comes to Soy, Corn, Milk, Artificial Sweetners & Coloring. O’Brien is our generation’s Erin Brokovitch sharing with us a John Grishamesque-tale wherein you expect Julia Roberts to be starring in the book’s movie-version. Unfortunately, this isn’t the Pelican Brief, it’s a true story and our kids are the victims.
What Robyn O’Brien learned and has shared with us is that parents need to be the ones reading every label (if only that were good enough) and understanding from where their children’s food is sourced because unfortunately our government has done a piss-poor job over the last 10+ years protecting our food supply. Until things change, parents need to be more active and responsible.
Now, you can read The Unhealthy Truth and get really mad. Or, you can read it and be motivated to act like Mama O’Brien. We can make our food safe for our kids and make laws to protect our children from dangerous foods just like the European, Australian, Japanese and Russian moms have already done.
See, our food has changed and new ingredients have been added that have NEVER been tested for safety. Don’t you think our food should be clearly labeled so that we have a clear choice about what to feed our kids? I sure do.
The European Union has a law requiring the labeling of foods containing ingredients with more than 0.9% of genetically-modified content. We Americans have nothing. Heck, I had no idea corn (found in virtually all processed foods) and soy were genetically-modified. Shame on me? Shame on our government? Or, shame on the food industry?
It is possible for big companies to make and sell kid-friendly, family-friendly and healthfully-processed foods. They are doing it in many countries outside of the US.
In the UK, many US-based companies like Wal-Mart, Kraft, Coca-Cola, and the Mars Company have voluntarily removed artificial colors, the preservative sodium benzoate and aspartame from their products. Which begs the question why are these companies not doing a better job here at home?
Don’t our kids deserve better?
What can you do? Well, I’ll tell you what I’m going to do.
1) Start reading food labels much more vigilantly again; we’re very good about organic dairy, vegetables and grass-fed meats already. (The book provides you with a list of brands to trust)
2) Eliminate some of the worse offenders from my son’s diet (Yellow 5 & Sodium Benzoate) swiftly.
3) Support initiatives to have a safer food supply. I went to Change.org, typed “food” in the search button, and supported actions that made sense. I’m not done here, there’s much action to be taken.
Does this mean my family is going cold turkey and you’ll never see us chowing down on some colorfully-processed foods? No. I love me some cheeseburgers & fries (with a shake to go with it) for special times and won’t deny my son the same guilty pleasures on occasion.
But the bigger issue is getting the companies and the government to make it so that we parents don’t always feel like we’re playing bad cop but rather can walk confidently down our local grocery store aisles and shop for food without fear that it is making us sick.
If your child’s health is important to you, then yes, The Unhealthy Truth is for you. It’s intense (don’t plan to fly through it like the Twilight series), but it’s an important book, one that parents need to digest. I didn’t feel there was any fear-mongering in it, but rather well-researched and important information about the connection between our food and why it is possibly making this generation of kids sick.
Thanks so much, Isabel, for being this week’s Mother of Intention!