Anyone Else Living An Organic Lifestyle?

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From Lisa Barnes

We just received this comment on our blog site:

I have always been a very good eater, but it was only upon becoming pregnant with my one and only daughter that I went organic. She is four years old now, and her and I have never looked back. I can tell you, however, that it has not been an easy road as one might expect it to be. No, not due to overpriced organic food, as it really is usually the same as, or pennies more than conventional, but rather due to the world around me. “Am I the only one who lives an organic lifestyle on this planet?” I ask myself. When I feel this way, I simply take a ride to the nearest Whole Foods and I finally feel at peace, and at home!

It is a sad fact that most of the population has no idea what they are putting in their mouths and that of their children. And, as religion and politics goes, always respecting the other person’s opinions is only fair. But for some reason, people find out a person is following an organic lifestyle and suddenly you become the enemy. They look at you like you are the antichrist who has come to rob their children. I have actually had people speak to me as if they were spitting fire at me for my choice which is shocking as it is not a choice that affects them.

But wait; does it? Yes, I suppose it does as it then shines a spotlight on the possibility that they perhaps are not feeding their bodies or their children in the best way possible. I don’t believe that anyone purposely feeds their children or themselves with the intent to harm, but one only needs to take the time to read a label, do a very small bit of research to get a good, general idea of the best food to eat. The challenge of living organically doesn’t end at the party conversation. Once an organic person steps out into the world it is a challenge. If I don’t have a bag packed of organic food for my daughter and myself, there is no guarantee that we will be able to find orgnanic “on the go” food while we are out and about. Some chains have started carrying a few organic odds and ends. Wawa has stepped up to the plate and they carry probably 3 organic products now. Grocery stores do have an organic “section” which may consist of 1/2 an aisle, but it is outrageously priced and sadly not the best quality.

Then there is the school system. Public or private, this is a serious issue that needs to be addressed. The menus at most schools across the country are horrifying; consisting of hotdogs, tacos, pizza, mac and cheese, a “fruit” cup and chicken nuggets. Does the government or anyone for that matter realize that teaching children to eat well at a young age will save millions in health care down the road? What would be so difficult with replacing that menu with items such as granola and yogurt parfaits, grilled veggie sandwiches on whole wheat bread, pasta salads, real fruit cups, whole grain bars, whole wheat soft pretzels?

One could go on and on with healthier choices than what is offered our children. And finally, to hit home, literally, the dinner table. We, as a nation, have got to take family dinner time back. Too many children are involved in 2 or more sports that take away valuable family time, including the dinner table. Perhaps setting aside at least 4 nights a week where all sit down to eat together, in a meal that was talked about and planned together as a family with healthy elements in mind would bring not only peace to the body but to the home as well. I know that it sounds as if I am coming across as judgemental, but I am not. I realize how much work it is to live a lifestyle this way but I can honestly say that having done it, I could never go back.

Jennifer Murphy
Springfield Township, New Jersey
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Yes, many are trying. I can understand Jennifer’s feelings. Sometimes I want to shout at another parent “how can you be feeding that to your child?!” With all the facts, media, studies, products, farms, experts and more telling us the importance of healthy organic foods for our children and families I wonder “why aren’t more people subscribing?” On the other hand I live in the San Francisco Bay Area and most of the people I meet on a daily basis are doing something for an organic lifestyle and trying to keep harmful foods, chemicals and pesticides away from their children (while also driving hybrids and using the latest green building materials). The Bay Area is not the whole country and for some, achieving an organic meal or school lunch is more difficult.

As an educator I’ve learned that some people just get overwhelmed. By that I mean many people want to be healthy, more environmentally conscious and live a greener lifestyle, but they’re not sure where to start. People also believe it will cost more — either more money or more time. That may be true in the beginning of a change, but will pay off in the end. For instance it will take more time to read food labels at the grocery store, but once you know which products are safe, tasty, and your family enjoys, you can make your list of family staples without thinking or hesitating on subsequent shopping visits.

I find another problem with starting a more organic mealtime is the threat of failure. Many clients have told me they never started to make their own baby food because they wouldn’t be able to do it all the time. I say “So don’t. Just make it this time”. Everyone needs to do what works for them, their family, and their lifestyle. Just try to make the food once. I find most people realize how easy and convenient it can be and then they continue. There’s no need to feel guilty if you substitute a jar of food for homemade baby food one week. You’re doing your best and should feel good about those small changes and efforts.

Speaking of changes and efforts here are a few websites that may be able to help some get started with small changes and efforts to a more organic table and lifestyle. These are also helpful resources for those looking to do more.

Find a farmer’s market and CSA in your city and state here at LocalHarvest.com.

Learn about how you can help school lunch programs with the Appetite for a Change Campaign.

Get small everyday tips for making your life greener at IdealBite.com.

And of course continue to read and blog with us here! We love hearing from you.
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Lisa Barnes is author of The Petit Appetit Cookbook and lives in Sausalito, California.
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