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Apr 30, 2013

Responsibility...A Rant

Forgive the length of this post.  It's more of a rant than anything else, but I know many of us struggle with the same thing, so I decided to put it out there. 

Sometimes, in some areas, the weight of parenting is frustratingly burdensome.  Mostly regarding things I have little control over. 

Behavior, discipline, affection, boundaries, fun, compassion, faith, eduction, consequences, love...these are all heavy issues to be sure.  And I struggle with some more than others.  But Rich and I have control over these things.  So even though some are difficult to navigate, they are within our reach as parents to change, guide, teach, enforce, etc.

The thing I seem to struggle with most lately is what goes into and onto my children's bodies.

When Rich and I were first married 10 years ago, we joined Weight Watchers to help us lose weight.  We didn't realize then that Weight Watchers was really an educational tool more than a weight loss tool.  It taught us to read labels, that what a product is made from directly affects how your body reacts to it.  It made us more aware and responsible consumers.  And it changed forever how we both think about food. 

Our ideas about food have evolved greatly from those first days.  We changed from low fat eating to whole food eating several years ago, concentrating not on calories and fat (although we are still aware of those things), but instead on quality, less processed, real foods with short ingredient lists and little to no ingredients we can't pronounce.

My final wake up call came one day a couple years ago when I heard a news story about how the honey sold by most grocers was not actually honey. It had been so processed during manufacturing, taking out the pollen that makes honey good for you, that it no longer could be qualified as honey.  It was now just sugar syrup. 

I had just started using honey as my main sweetener at the time, thinking I was making a good decision for my family.  Hearing that information made me feel duped.  I felt betrayed.  Honestly.  But it opened my eyes wide. 

I couldn't depend on anyone else to provide safe, healthy things for my family anymore.  Corporate America is out to make a profit.  And rightly so.  I don't fault them for that.  It's every American's right to create a livelihood, make money, pursue their goals and dreams.  It's just a sad byproduct that in doing so, many times it's at the expense of others. 

So now it's all on me.  No one can advocate and watch out for my kids better than Rich and me.  So it has become our responsibility to search for pure and safe and good things for them. 

I'm not fanatical about it.  If I had more money, I could very easily be full blown crazy about it. But that's not an option.  So I use reason and common sense coupled with my independent research and knowledge.  And that has led me to Trader Joe's as my main grocer now. 

Like me, they are not fanatical.  They offer non-organic products that are still socially and environmentally conscious (and more affordable) right alongside their certified organic options.  They are responsible with their products and how they are made.  They offer sustainable seafood, buy many fresh products within 100 miles of their regional warehouses, eliminated GMO's from their private label products, offer no hormone/no antibiotic/grass fed/no fillers/no additional ingredients/minimally processed/cage free meat in addition to their organic meat, boast short ingredients lists even on processed foods like their crackers and cookies, etc.  Their food is real and crazy tasty...

And their honey has pollen.  Hallelujah!

They are not perfect.  Neither am I.  But I can't afford to shop exclusively at farmers' markets and Whole Foods, so expanding our summer garden and shopping at Trader Joe's are my answers.  I know exactly what's been done to my fruits and veggies from my yard.  And shopping at Trader Joe's calms most of my fears about what we offer our kids for snacks and the ingredients we use in our meals. 

This year I've also become aware of potentially harmful ingredients used in things I put onto my kids, like sunscreen and soap and shampoo...ugh.  I am fearful of even venturing down that road.  But I will.  For my kids' health and happiness, I will. 

It comes down to this.  I'm not some crazy woman wearing hemp shoes and washing my face in bottled water, bashing corporate America and my government.  No, that's not me at all.  I'm just a mom who seeks the truth and wants to do the right thing.  And the truth is that the meat and veggies and products we buy today are much different than what my grandparents provided for their families. 

So armed with that truth, we try to do the right thing.  We bake bread, garden, limit juices and empty sweets, cook with real ingredients, buy local when we can.  There are some things we do that I'm sure grandma never dreamed of, like make our own fruit snacks (thanks to Rich).  And there are many other things I need to do much better.  But our goal is just getting back to the old way of providing. 

Organic.  Non-organic.  That doesn't matter to me in and of itself. 

I simply want what I'm buying to be very close to what it started out as and not to have anything in it that doesn't need to be or shouldn't be in it.  Because I don't know what all that extra shit is doing to my kids' bodies and minds.  And ain't nobody got time for 'dat! :)

It's just about getting back to basics.  And being real.  Who knew such a simple concept could be so difficult to incorporate into our lives...

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