Introducing a new feature to The Sunday Dinner Revival: Table Talk, because life happens at the table. I wanted a way to cover topics that come up at our dinner table, with friends and family. A lot of change begins with fork and knife in hand, over casual conversation about life’s goings on. So here’s the first installment. Take a seat, and by all means, feel free to join the conversation.
I learned some stuff recently that completely re-ignited my commitment to cooking with organic food. I mentioned in my last post that James has some food sensitivities. I noticed right away when he was a newborn that he became uncomfortably gassy whenever I ate corn. At around 3 months of age my happy little guy began to grow more and more fussy, arching his back and crying out during and after feedings. Within a month he was spending nearly every day fussing, uncomfortable, moaning, grunting, etc. I thought it might be acid reflux, but as a last ditch effort before putting him on prescription drugs, I omitted cows milk from my diet. Within a week he was my happy little guy again. Most recently, he developed a mild, come-and-go eye rash that definitely went away when I stopped feeding him oatmeal. I guess this kind of thing is somewhat common, and most kids grow out of it as their digestive enzymes develop. I’m seeing a lot of improvement recently, as he nears his eighth month and eats more and more solid foods. Nonetheless, all the detective work and diet changes have taken up a lot of my mental real estate and I wanted to learn more about it.
I came across this TED talk (above) while I was looking at information on food sensitivities in children. Doesn’t it seem like there are so many kids with serious food allergies these days? Way more than I remember growing up. Well the fact is there are more food sensitivities and allergies, both in children and adults. So the obvious next question is: Why?
One theory is that Americans are too clean. Our anti-bacterial, germaphobic, antibiotic-riddled lifestyles may be diminishing the healthy flora that lives in our bodies, causing our immune systems to over-react to the mildest of toxins (which are found in many foods, both naturally occuring and synthetically introduced) in the form of allergies. At least, that’s what this CNN article suggests.
Another theory is that the rise in food allergies has paralleled the introduction and full-saturation of GMO’s (genetically modified organisms) into our every day foods. The US doesn’t require any special labeling for products containing genetically modified crops. Most of the rest of the developed word has outlawed them. Last I heard, something like 70% of what’s on the grocery store shelves in the U.S. contains GMO’s. The US also didn’t conduct testing to make sure they were safe. The whole shenanigan has opened a Pandora’s box of potentially food-related illnesses, in the name of profiting big business, and supporting our heavily subsidized industrial agriculture model. The system is getting a lot of stink-eye from foodies and families and basically anyone who wants to be nourished vs. poisoned by food. I’m guessing you fall into that category.
If you want to know and understand more about this, watch Robyn O’Brien’s TED talk (above). She breaks it down in language we can all understand.
You can also read about it here:
The whole business is very upsetting, and the reason I get so grouchy at tax season. We should be protected by our government, not treated human guinea pigs in the name of profit. Period.
In terms of food, there is one ray of hope, or one simple solution. It’s not perfect, and we all know it costs more, but if you feel driven to action by what you learned here today it’s this: Eat ORGANIC.
Foods that are labeled organic cannot, by law, contain genetically modified ingredients. For now, it’s the only way of knowing you are protecting yourself from food that is quite possibly making us ill– and not necessarily just in the form of food allergies, but other auto-immune disorders, inflammatory disorders, digestive disorders, behavioral disorders, mood disorders, and who knows what else.
Spring is a great time of year to consider making a change– like growing your own salad greens in a container garden. Maybe you could join a CSA, or a local co-op. You could enjoy sunny weekends shopping at your local farmers’ market. Even if you don’t live in a crunchy place like Missoula where organics are abundant, there are things you can do. Even Costco has an impressive and growing selection of organic products. It really does start with what is on the plates in front of us.
I certainly can’t claim perfection or a 100% organic diet. And I know the issues raised here are more question marks than facts– oh how I would love for my worries to be proven wrong. But don’t you think it’s important to open our eyes and try to make the most-informed choices we can? At the very least, let’s talk about it, because idle talk is so rarely just that.
So, what are your thoughts on the matter? I’d love to hear. Please, have a seat and join me for a little Table Talk.