Pure: pyo͝or/
  • without any extraneous and unnecessary elements
  • free of any contamination

As the mother of an 18 month old and eager to get pregnant again, I do everything in my power to take back from corporations the control we once had over what’s going into our family’s bodies.

GMOs and the intense use of pesticides in our food system are new problems (the first commercially produced GMO products were marketed in 1994!). They therefore require a new level of diligence. Protecting our families from a consolidated food system that is corporate controlled just became a whole lot harder. It’s important to remember that Big Food – food corporations – do not have our best interests in mind! We should therefore not trust them; they exist for one reason – to make profit.

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It’s striking to me that striving for purity and acting on a deep desire to protect my family from the unbelievable reality of our food system is often perceived as elitism. In this sense, strangely, it feels like a burden to know what’s in my food.

I am shocked by how many uncomfortable community eating situations I’ve found myself in lately. As a passionate food and animal rights activist, it’s tough to strike a healthy balance between not saying anything at all, and opening your mouth at the risk of starting controversy. This is especially true when the people you love in your life are chowing down on pesticides, GMOs and factory farmed meat. In the end I simply want to educate them so that they can be empowered to make informed choices for their families, and in all likelihood they are probably eating those foods because they don’t know what’s really in them.

For example, a new study out of Harvard shows that even tiny, allowable amounts of a common pesticide can have dramatic effects on brain chemistry. Organophosphate insecticides (OP’s) are among the most widely used pesticides in the U.S. & have long been known to be particularly toxic for children. This is the first study to examine their effects across a representative population with average levels of exposure. The key finding is that kids with above-average pesticide exposures are 2x as likely to have ADHD.

It is unbelievably sad that every day people in this country, who work hard and live an earnest life, are unwittingly feeding this crap linked to obesity, lower IQ, ADHD, autism and asthma, to their families. Experts at the CDC recently released another round of data on how many kids in the U.S. are affected by autism and ADHD – noting that chemical exposure is a key contributing factor. The numbers are, once again, dramatically up.

In the U.S., GMOs are in as much as 80% of conventional processed food!

Time and time again I’ve heard friends and extended family say, “I’m not a purist, I am ok with the fact that sometimes I buy food at Target” or “I can’t afford to feed my family organic food,” or “vegetarianism and/or only eating organic food is such a white American problem/an issue of privilege.” Now although I agree with the fact that by prioritizing feeding my family organic foods I am paying more up front for those products and that it’s not cheap to buy organic, I have a hard time with these arguments for the following reasons:

1. Paying extra up front for organic food is one of the best ways to invest in your children’s long term health care. Especially during pregnancy and the early years, when your child’s brain is developing and so vulnerable to chemical exposure. The way I see it, we either pay the extra money up front for organic foods or we pay it months or years down the road on health care bills when your family members develop health problems associated with a conventional dietary regime.

2. The argument that eating organic is an issue of privilege is a tricky one. While I agree that buying organic is expensive, and that the systemic problems and injustices inherent in our broken food system often place the burden on low income communities and communities of color, that doesn’t negate the fact that we must do everything in our power to take on the corporate industrial food complex and get our food system back on track. Including avoiding conventional foods.

I believe it’s essential for all of us, especially mamas – the protectors of the den – to unite and challenge the food system at every step of production, through activism, advocacy, and education. And although I know there is skepticism about lifestyle activism and its ability to create real systemic change in the world, I believe it’s paramount that we walk our talk, and leverage our purchasing power and consumer voice to let the brands we love know that we won’t stand by irresponsible products.