GMO Labeling: Vote Yes On Oregon’s Measure 92

YGMO labelinges on 92: the GMO labeling initiative in Oregon.

Here are some facts:

1) GMO is *not* the same as hybridization. If someone says, “we’ve been genetically engineering food for centuries.” They’re only partially correct. Historically farmers and agriculturalists have crossed like with like. E.g., pluot, broccolini, etc. Genetic engineering is like with UNlike. E.g., Corn DNA with soil bacteria DNA. (BT Corn. Actual product in our food.) The two would never cross without human intervention.

2) Labeling of GMO’s is required in 64 countries around the world. The companies pouring in money to fight labeling actually already do it with the products they sell overseas. (General Mills, Kraft, Pepsi, Coke…) One reason European countries cite for labeling is the ability to track potential allergens.

Here is an example of Hershey’s syrup from the UK, where GMO labeling has been in place for many years:

hershey's UK label

Ingredients read:HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP* CORN SYRUP* WATER, COCOA, SUGAR* SALT, EMULSIFIER, (xanthum gum E415) VANILLIN, ARTIFICIAL FLAVOR. *produced from genetically modified sugar beets and corn.

 

3) A recent study found the GMO labeling cost to consumers? $2.30 per year. YEAR. Not day-week-month. YEAR.

4) Since the introduction of GMO’s to our food supply, the use of Glyphosate (aka RoundUp) and other agricultural chemicals has increased exponentially as the bugs and weeds evolve to withstand the heavy spraying. It’s in our rainwater, urine, breastmilk….and being sprayed or dripped constantly. The chemical has a proven (negative) effect on human cells. GMO crops are, in fact, increasing  dependence on agricultural chemicals, not decreasing it as was previously thought.

5) The definition of epigenetics: relating to or arising from nongenetic influences on gene expression. In other words, how we interact with our environment and the everyday things in it (food, chemicals, even social interactions, etc.) influences our genetics. Previously, it was thought that these “epi-tags” would not carry through from generation to generation. New research on genetic science (long after genetic engineering of food made the scene) has found that, in fact, what your grandmother ate or was exposed to environmentally actually affects YOU and your children. My argument: how do we know what we engineer now will appear two generations down the line? Learn more about epigenetics here: (and please pay particular attention to number 2: prenatal care and exposure to pesticides and herbicides.

6) The effects of what we interact with in our environment isn’t always known right away. An NPR story on rats and DDT illustrates the science of epigenetics: rats exposed to DDT had third-generation obesity amongst the population. Meaning, the DDT-exposed rat’s great-grandchildren were obese. DDT is a pesticide that was heavily used post-World War II. It was banned in 1972 because of concern over it’s affect on human health.

The science of epigenetics is emerging and we are learning more all of the time. It appears we won’t know the long-term effects of environmental exposures and changes to our food supply on human health for generations to come. Is exercising caution and implementing GMO labeling *that* big of a deal?

7) REMINDER: It’s a LABEL. That’s it. No one is telling these megacorps that they can’t use GM ingredients. We are telling them they should let us know, so we can make an informed choice. That’s it. Choice. If the presence of GMO’s in your food doesn’t bother you: no problem. If it does bother you or give you pause, shouldn’t you be able to choose?

I want to say, here, that I am not anti-science. I am grateful for all the discoveries science has brought us. Vaccines, antibiotics, the computer I’m typing this post on…the list goes on. What I do believe is blind faith in of-the-moment science can have consequences we aren’t prepared for. At one point we were collectively told formula was better than breastmilk, because science had produced a better product. We know, through science, that is simply not the case. We were told that margarine was better for us than butter, because science had concluded that the fats from butter were causing heart disease. Food science then created a product called “partially hydrogenated vegetable oils,” also known as trans-fats. Through science we have now concluded margarine is actually much worse than butter on human health.

Science is not infallible.

The time has come for GMO labeling.

Yes on 92.

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What Is Real Food?

real food

The Real Food Question

I’ve publicly talked about food, and how we as a country have become so far removed from the sources of what we eat. I’ve advocated for GMO labeling, largely because I think it’s a basic human right to know exactly what’s been done to what you are putting into your body. It’s your BODY for Pete’s sake. Make choices based on what you know, and when you know better, choose better.

But I’m seeing a sad trend in relation to food choices: shaming. “Ew, how can you EAT that? It’s not ORGANIC.” Or, I don’t feed my kids McDonald’s, how could YOU?”

We, as a family, volunteer once a month at our church with an organization called Faith Cafe, where we prepare and serve a free lunch to people in the area. No preaching, no evangelizing, just food, conversation, and care for hungry people. Seconds and thirds are available if asked for.

In the almost year that we’ve been volunteering there, not one single patron has asked me if the food we serve was organic. Not one person has asked if the hamburger was pink slime hamburger or “real” hamburger. No one has questioned whether the hamburger bun had the yoga mat chemical in it. It’s been a humbling and eye-opening experience for me. I’ve woken up to my own food snobbery. Based on my experiences with volunteering in this capacity, I’ve come to this conclusion:

Food that fills their tummies and blesses them so that they carry on another day is real food.

As we go hurtling headlong into the big food fight coming, I’m really concerned that we are creating a two-tiered food system: those who CAN buy “real food” and those who can’t.

Food that fills a body and allows that person to continue on is real food.

Should we rely less on a box of processed “food-like substances?” Of course. We’ve been given a bounty all around us of things to eat that help us grow, maintain our health, and even heal us in some cases. It’s unfortunate that the politics and the money machines have taken hold and made the least nutritious food the most affordable. It’s also unfortunate that we have been programmed by this disease of abundance to seek out only the things that give us a sweet or salty or fatty fix.

The topic of food is so incredibly complicated that I can’t even begin to unravel what we have done to our food supply in the last sixty years. However, the fact remains that food, regardless of its source, fills the mouths and tummies of those who need to eat it. Let’s keep the fighting about what is “good” and “real food” out of the mouths of the children and their parents who can least afford a hat in this particular ring.

Feed people. Teach them how to feed themselves with gardens and co-ops and books like this. Teach people what foods truly nourish theirs and their children’s bodies. But please, don’t judge and shame someone who has to choose between vegetables or making their rent this month. Because for them? What they can feed themselves and their hungry children is real food. And then, put your money where your organic mouth is and teach, share, and help. Looking down your nose at a person either making a different choice than you, or is forced to make a different choice than you is shameful.  If your attitude makes a person feel embarrassed about their food choices, the problem is yours.

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Growing Up Girl Child: My First Instagram Account

first instagram account

picture: Instagram http://instagram.com/press/

I finally gave in. Yep. Girl Child is now the proud owner of her very first instagram account. Seeing as she’s just heading into seventh grade, SubHub and I second guessed ourselves on this one quite a bit. She has my old iPhone 4 for her personal use, and at the moment she does not have cell service on it. So far, she hasn’t needed it. She texts over WiFi without any issues. When she has after school activities, she can text me using the school’s WiFi. So far we’ve dodged the “add a line” cell phone bullet.

And So It Begins

Instagram? A whole different animal than cell service. I made the decision when I started blogging in 2007 that I would share Girl Child’s story, including pictures. Oh, how naïve and cute that was. I think in the years following, many parents and an entire generation of kids have learned that a picture is worth a million reshares, whether you want it to get reshared or not.

This is one of those moments that I feel like it was a lucky twist of fate that I got into blogging and social media when I did. So, when the inevitable happened and she asked for an account, I was ready. As ready as I guess a parent ever really can be.

My First Instagram Account: The Rules

Here’s where I cop to being an extremely strict parent. I’ve been paying attention all these years to what gets shared, what makes viral headlines, and what just counts as obnoxious behavior from kids whose pre-frontal cortex needs some work that only growing up and life experience can make happen. A friend of mine says, “Kids run ’til they find the fence.” For Girl Child, the social media fence is close to the house where everyone can see it. These were the rules we agreed on:

  • Her account is private. Anyone sees her profile has to request to follow her.
    • She cannot let anyone follow her that she does not know in real life.
    • Conversely, she cannot request to follow anyone she does not know in real life.
  • She cannot put personal information in her public bio.
    • Personal information consists of: age, birthdate, address, her personal email address, etc.
  • I have to be one of her followers.
  • Her older female cousins have to be her followers also. They are 15 and 18 years old, and have experience.
  • For the time being, she asks permission of me to post a picture.
  • If she wants to leave a comment on someone’s picture, we talk about what’s appropriate and what isn’t, including the use of hashtags.
  • She cannot reshare other people’s photos if they have private accounts.

As you can see, her first instagram account is tightly controlled. It’s also working. She is very reserved socially at school, and this is afforded her an opportunity to share pieces of her personality that she’s too shy to let shine in big noisy groups. Her school acquaintances have found her and requested to follow her, and she is following back. It’s opening up new possibilities for her as she starts to consider what she thinks is “share-worthy” about her and her life.

The rule that she has to show me what pictures she wants to post has come in handy, too. She brought a picture to me that she wasn’t sure of. It was selfie she took where she had face paint on. This led to a very productive conversation about “What if this gets shared by people? How would you feel about that?” She decided against it.

In talking about this entire thing, we also had to prepare her for the potential for hurt feelings. Her friends may post pictures of things that they have done together, and she wasn’t invited to join. This can hurt, even if you’re an adult. And it happened. She WAS hurt, but took it in stride, didn’t make any comments on the picture, and moved on.

Maturity vs. Sophistication

I’m trying to help her build a pause button before she hits send. I see parents everywhere mistake sophistication for maturity, and I can’t help but wonder if it leaves the child confused, or with a false sense of their perceived importance. We all know that adolescence is when we, as humans, are the most inward focused. I’m doing my darndest to make certain that her sense of importance comes from real maturity, not just the illusion of it.

She knows where the fence is.

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Service Is To Serve

service

Service

It’s been an interesting transition for me going from “mommy blogger” (which everyone seems to have a distaste for lately) to a behind the scenes content person for small businesses. I’ve been writing less here because of it.

But oh….I’ve learned so much. I’ve learned about online marketing, SEO, improved my writing in areas such as tone, grammar, readability, word choice…and for a writerly nerd like me, it’s been fantastic.

Here’s one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned:

The best online marketing plan on earth won’t make up for rudeness and a lack of willingness to be humble with your customer.

I can spend hours writing a post with a friendly, welcoming tone, stating that the business is there for their customer’s needs 24/7. I can make it perfectly clear that the business WANTS business and will provide the service they are selling with a friendly face, kind words, and a smile.

When a person online reads this, believes my words, calls the business only to be met with defensiveness, rudeness, and an overwhelming desire to get in the last word, I’ve just been made a liar.

I spent many years on the front line of dealing with the public. I worked in retail, restaurants, front offices and phone software support. I’ve worked with children and their parents. I’ve seen people be crazy mad, upset, fearful, and even sad. Here’s what you DO NOT do:

Hang up on them. Turn your back. Tell them that their business isn’t worth your time or effort. Tell them that they don’t understand what YOU have to deal with being the owner of said business.

I get it. Being humble is hard. It’s really difficult to listen to someone bitching at you. Listen anyway. Because really, that’s what most of us truly want: to be heard.

Most of the time, when I was dealing with a person who was really hot, my silence while they vented was all it took to cool them down. I would say, “I hear you. This is my understanding of what happened. What would you like the result of this conversation to be?” If they interrupt you, let them.

If you are providing a service, you may believe that your customer needs you and your knowledge, and therefore when they have a complaint they couldn’t possibly know what they are talking about. You’re wrong. You don’t know what your customer has been through that day, that week, or that month, or even that year. That’s when you allow yourself to be a blank slate. They can call you any name in the book. Let it roll off your back. Get to the heart of the problem, do your best to fix it, and then move on. As often as possible make certain that the customer leaves the conversation feeling like they’ve been heard.

The root of the word service is serve. Did you know there are two definitions of serve? One is to perform duties and services for a person or organization. This is the second definition:

be of service to, be of use to, helpassistaid, make a contribution to,do one’s bit for, do something for, benefit

As a business owner, success depends on you embodying both definitions.

 

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Imperfectly Perfect Family Photo

Perfect family.

Pffft. Back in December, I had an epiphany of sorts.

We went tromping through muddy, melting snow with friends to pick out a Christmas tree. I forgot my “good” camera, so our phone cameras had to do.

Here is the picture we took of our “perfect family:”

perfect family

It captures us totally. Ok, fine. I did a little edge burn on the sides of the photo, but this is us.

I wanted to send it for our Christmas cards this year, but it was frowned upon by an older family member. I caved. And I’m sorry and kinda mad at myself that I did. In previous generations, the pressure to appear like everything was fine must have been intense. It permeates all the way down to our Christmas cards in 2014. “What will the neighbors think?”

I’ve decided that I don’t really care what the neighbors think. This is who we are, warts and all. Please note: not actual warts. I’m talking about the metaphorical kind. I think when the warts are out in the open, we’re all better able to understand that messiness is life. And that’s ok to let it stick out.

Say, for instance, on your Christmas card photos.

And truthfully, that’s what I want people to see. Not my shiny ‘everything’s FINE!’ Christmas card picture. I want people to see that there is joy in the mess. That there’s a mess in the joy. That you’re going to forget your good camera, that you’ll step in a snow puddle up to your knee, that only two of the four of you will be facing the camera at any given moment, and that’s life. And that’s a life I’m really proud of. Faking it is exhausting. And I also think that faking it eventually makes it all crumble down around you because you can no longer figure out what’s the real messy family and what’s the fake perfect family.

Boy Child went to school last week in pajama pants. He was happy as a clam. And comfortable. He didn’t care that they were pajamas. He was totally himself and full of joy that day because he didn’t have to fake being perfect and comfortable.

We could learn alot from Boy Child.

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#PrayForReynolds: Yet ANOTHER School Shooting

I wrote a post shortly after the Newton tragedy. And then, when there was a shooting earlier in the year in Colorado, I published it again.

Here I am. Sharing it once again.

Live civilly. Teach civility. Love on another. Lead your children with love. Show them. Prove to them that they mean something to you. And if they are hurting or troubled, get them help. Denial of trouble can lead to tragedy.

We can talk all we want about gun control; we can argue until we’re blue in the face about whose fault it is, what’s wrong with kids, what’s wrong with parents, what’s wrong with us…..as if there was one simple answer to the layers of sadness and desperation that surround us. Maybe there is a simple answer, but it won’t be legislated or broadcast on cable news in a split-screen debate.

There Is No Absolute

Children, who were essentially the same age as my children, were gunned down in school yesterday. We scream and cry, “how could this happen?” As parents, our greatest fear bubbled violently to the surface of our consciousness on Friday, and we are left fumbling in the dark for answers.

I don’t think there are any.

How could there be? It defies logic to any person whose brain is working the way it’s supposed to. And there’s the divide: brains working the way they’re supposed to.

I’ve seen so many say, “Gun control is the answer!” I’ve seen others say, “Evil reigned yesterday because we have become a Godless society!”

But the raw, ugly truth is that there is no absolute solution. You can’t force a person to believe in God. You can’t legislate sanity or courtesy. People are messy. We are all different.

At the same time, though, here’s what we CAN do: Love one another. Think before we speak. Teach civility, live civilly, and act on the impulse to reach out to others who are hurting. The people we reach out to may not reciprocate. Reach anyway. It’s worth the effort. People, no matter what their circumstance, are worth the effort, regardless of whether or not your efforts are appreciated. Try. Teach our children to try.

Peace in all of our hearts and minds will come when we truly understand that the essential nature of human beings is connection. Love combined with action drives out darkness. The person you avoid because they are so very different than you, could be the person who needs you the most.

“The good you do today,
people will often forget tomorrow;
Do good anyway.”

~Mother Theresa

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When Becoming A Parent Is Painful

postpartum depression

Remembering Postpartum Depression

We were digging through a drawer looking for something in our bedroom this weekend, and underneath the junk in the junk drawer, a piece of paper with my handwriting on it caught my eye. I didn’t recognize the paper at first, so I couldn’t remember how it got there or what was written on it.

I pulled it out of the drawer and then sunk down to the bed when I saw the date: 8/1/03.

I knew exactly what was on it. A long-ago forgotten letter I had written to myself when Girl Child was 11 months old. This was during the peak of my lingering bout of postpartum depression. All the feeling I poured out into this letter is totally foreign to me now. And yet, at the same time, achingly familiar.

 

“8/1/03

It’s been a really long time since I kept a journal. I started on my first journal (that were written in non-third grader complete sentences) here in 1986. I was 16. I kept them for several years – through college and even a little beyond, but stopped in about 1995. I just lost the desire to write about my life. When I look back on those journals, especially the early ones, I kind of laugh. It was pretty much all about boys. I wrote down poems that I liked, and song lyrics, too. Sometimes other writers could express the feelings that I was feeling.

A LOT has changed since I last kept a journal. It’s some of these changes that are compelling me to start again. I’m married to a wonderful man, and we have a little girl. She will be one in three weeks. To say that becoming a mother has changed our lives is probably the understatement of the century. I knew that I wanted a child, but I was unprepared for the rigors of what being a parent entails. It’s changed everything. I love my daughter more than anything. She is so beautiful and sweet natured. What I’m struggling with right now is that I feel somewhat like I’ve lost a sense of myself. I’m not working right now – I’ve taken the last year off. I’m finding that my days stretch out in front of me. As much as I hate to admit this, being with her is boring for me sometimes. I crave company.

Here’s the problem: I don’t have a job to focus on, I’m not a big hobby person, and I’m finding it difficult to NOT feel sort of lost. [My husband] has hobbies that take him away from home, like waterskiing, golf, etc. I don’t. I like to exercise, and want to focus on that, but I have to find childcare, which is a big pain. Juggling her schedule can be tough, too. I look at these obstacles and talk myself out of doing things that make me more ME. The weight of the responsibility feels very heavy.”

What I couldn’t find the words for, or maybe couldn’t handle seeing written on black and white, was the conflict I could feel tearing me apart inside. I had everything I had ever wanted, really. Why did I feel so trapped and heavy? Why did I feel so sad?

Shortly after writing this, I basically hit bottom. I went for several days either crying or nearly crying. I knew I needed help, so I made an appointment with my doctor. I told her, weeping, “I have everything I’ve ever wanted. Why do I feel like this?” She handed me a tissue and told me, “Because you’re depressed, and it’s not your fault.” We talked some more, and then I agreed to start taking antidepressant medication and come back for follow-up.

Within a few weeks, the fog had begun to lift, and I started to make a plan. I realized that prior to the medication, I wasn’t even able to make a plan. I was stuck.

How did I get myself back? I exercised more, I got a part-time job that involved doing something I used to love but had lost in the preceding years (singing) and started a slow but steady climb out. Looking back, I know that it was the combination of those three things that began my rise out of the dark.

Eleven years later, sitting on the edge of my bed remembering the pain in my words, I got a sense of just how far I had come. The next years weren’t without setbacks, to be sure, but I am healed. I may have times of sadness and depression again, but the difference today is that I know what to do about it: lean on my tribe. Take action. Ask for help. Reclaim something that I enjoy. Ignore the voice in my head lying to me, telling me “I can’t.”

I can. And I did.

If you’re reading this and think you may need some help, you’re not alone. Here is a link to postpartum depression resources. Please reach out.

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Growing Up GirlChild: Body Image

“Media Literacy” is a buzz term around OpEd pieces that discuss the raising of girls. I’ve been watching and learning about it for a few years now, lying in wait for the day that Girl Child begins to turn inward and worry about things like her looks, what she’s wearing, when she’ll be developing, etc. I want very much to make sure that she’s guided through the gigantic maze of body image issues. I had plenty myself, and looking back, I was FINE. Better than fine. Pretty, even. I’m hoping to spare her the same self-torture by educating her on what’s real, and what’s unequivocally NOT real.

Girls and women are assaulted on the daily with what I call “Girl Mud Flap” body:

body image

image:http://www.flickr.com/photos/notionscapital/

What’s so insidious about trying to make this body type come to life is that it’s not even real or attainable, yet it’s presented that way through manipulation. So, here are two videos I’ve shown Girl Child recently giving her a bird’s eye view of what really goes on after the pictures are taken, and how it can affect a woman’s body image.

Love your body, ladies. Not so much for what it looks like, but what it can do, be, and endure.

(video: iGirl Television)

And then here is the one I showed her where four perfectly lovely women were photographed and subsequently given The Photoshop Treatment. Watch their reactions to the changes made and how it may affect their body image going forward. (For the better!) Suddenly who they ARE crystallizes.

(video: BuzzFeedVideo)

I am hopeful that because she was born with an imperfection and now has scars (which I tell her, “scars are stories.”) that she embrace all that she’s been through, and realizes that life is too short to not accept who you are inside and out. We are all so much more than the size of our breasts and what the tag says in our jeans. My hope is to guide her through these years and help her see herself as a whole entity, not simply the sum of her parts that she has compared to an impossible standard.

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Otterbox Giveaway….and the WINNER IS…..

First, THANK YOU MY PEOPLE. First ever giveaway on my blog, and I so appreciate the entries and see your favorite birthday presents. You guys are awesome!

I took the total number of unique responses (one per commenter – those were the rules for me) and plugged that into Random.org.

Next: the winner. Drum roll please…….

random.org

 

Jo Blyskal….COME ON DOWN!

(in case you forgot…here is Jo’s comment:

jocomment

You rock, Jo. I’ll get in touch with you via email and make arrangements. Enjoy your practically-bullet-proof Otterbox, my friend!

Huge shout out to Andy Colley at AT&T Wireless for providing me this fun opportunity. :)

So fun! Stay tuned next week for my newest installment of Growing Up GirlChild.

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