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Kimberly Van Der Beek’s Blog: Why Californians Should Vote Yes on Prop 37

11/06/2012 at 04:00 PM ET

Welcome back to our blogger Kimberly Van Der Beek!

Born and raised in Washington, she married actor James Van Der Beek in August 2010 and is mother to their two children — daughter Olivia, 2, and son Joshua, 7 months.

A proponent of healthy living, Kimberly, 30, sits on the parent board of the Environmental Media Association and serves as co-chair of Baby Buggy‘s Los Angeles committee.

Husband James’s sitcomDon’t Trust the B—- in Apt. 23,  premieres its second season on Tuesday at 9:30 p.m.

You can find her on Facebook and @KimberlilyVDB on Twitter.

In her latest blog, Van Der Beek talks to Robyn O’Brien about why Californias should vote “yes” on Prop 37.

Kimberly Van Der Beek's Blog: Prop 37
Joshua’s first meal – avocado – at 6 months old – Courtesy Van Der Beek Family


With Prop 37 on the California ballot asking for genetically modified organisms (GMOs) to be labeled, genetically modified ingredients have become a huge topic of conversation around households all over California. I called Robyn O’Brien and found out why this conversation is important for all of us moms and dads across the country.

Robyn O’Brien is a former financial analyst, author, TEDx speaker, founder of Allergy Kids Foundation and mother of four. If you haven’t seen her powerful TEDx talk yet, you can click this link to watch it.

Before giving me some simple suggestions for my household food choices, Robyn gave me a glimpse into the business of GMOs. “They genetically manipulate the DNA of a seed. They engineered these new organisms into seeds so that they could either start making their own insecticidal toxins within the plant itself, or so that they could spray more of these pesticides, weed killers and chemicals on the plants,” she told me.

“As a chemical company, that was a really smart business model because it helped them sell more of their products. That was the initial reason why it was done.”

“There are no long term safety studies,” she said. “And so when industry says these foods are safe, if you were to ask to see the study, they can’t show you. Those studies don’t exist. And that’s a really hard thing to digest. Because all of a sudden you’re realizing the FDA didn’t have the capacity or the bandwidth to conduct the studies that needed to be conducted and relied on the chemical industry to do their own quote on quote safety studies. With that, GMOs were introduced into our food supply in the late 90s. They just took off and now they are in about 70 percent of our processed foods.”

As a parent, Robyn was initially closed off to the GMO conversation because it was hard to accept that she may be feeding her children unsafe products.

“I think the very first thing that moms need to do is give themselves permission to move into a vulnerable state, and to keep moving through it. It hurts, to think that the FDA did not do the safety testing because we all just think this stuff has been done. How could something be let out without any premarket safety testing? I mean, a car wouldn’t be allowed, so why are we allowing that for our food? You think, ‘Oh my gosh what have I fed my kids?’”

Here are the simple steps Robyn suggested to me. And they don’t include a garden or new grocery store!

1. Give yourself permission to make a change. It’s never too late to reinvent and become something new — to become a part of the solution.

2. Find a friend that cares about food the way you do to stand by your side while you make changes.

3. Take baby steps that work for you with where you are at in life. Start to eliminate those ingredients for which there are no safety tests. GMOs are primarily in corn, soy and canola. So if you’re shopping for chips, skip the corn and get potato instead. Instead of buying soy-based products, buy something else. Maybe one month start dialing back on artificial dyes. (Note: Kraft, Coca-Cola and Walmart don’t use these dyes in the products they produce for many other countries because they are linked to hyperactivity.)

4. Check the frozen food aisle for a budget-friendly way to get organic produce.

As Robyn started making these changes in her own household, she realized she wasn’t at the pediatrician’s office so much for inflammatory conditions like eczema, allergies and ear infections. She was able to shift her budget more and more and says, “You find that you start paying for your health at the grocery store instead of paying for diseases at the doctor’s office.”

Might I add, as I was writing this blog I got a swift kick of renewed inspiration when I walked into the kitchen to grab a snack and saw my daughter Olivia eating a bag of corn chips “baked in soy oil” (as if that was something to brag about)! Well, I guess my first baby step will be to not buy these chips anymore and I’ll have sweet potato fries on hand instead. What’s your first step?

Californians, vote YES on Prop 37!

– Kimberly Van Der Beek

More from Kimberly’s PEOPLE.com blog series:

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Showing 15 comments

joan on

just remember that some kids are going to get allergies, infections and eczema anyway, no matter what changes are made in their diet.

Kim on

Ugh. NO ON 37!!!! I am all for healthy eating and being informed and empowered. I’m a California mom to 3 under the age of 4. Pro 37 is not the way to protect them! There are no legal limits on lawsuits, damages, nor timetable guielines for stores to perform corrective action before facing penalties. All it takes is one money grubbing lawyer to go around and start suing every manufacturer without a label and every store selling a mislabeled item to drive the cost of everything through the roof! More small businesses will close. More large manufacturers will leave our state.

Should we as consumers be informed? Absolutely! But READ the proposition, please! It is so poorly worded and constructed that the consequences of its implementation will be so much more damaging to our bankrupt state than wait until the next election and voting on a safely crafted proposition.

No on 37!

Cammy on

I try to avoid Canola oil, which is mostly GMO. It’s tough because it’s in everything. I only use coconut oil, walnut oil and olive oils (sometimes Sunflower). I try to shop at farmers markets, health food stores, and buy organic whenever possible. If I buy processed foods, I try to only get organic brands.

LoK on

She’s awesome. I’m in Virginia and I hope Californians vote “yes” on prop 37 because it will affect the entire country. GMOs should at least be labeled if nothing else.

mary on

all ingredients should be placed on labels and on the food products, period. And Let ME decide what I buy and what goes into my families belly. No hiding of ingredients either.

valerie on

Kimberly Van Der Beek comes across as a flake and a complete nut job.

linda on

I’m glad to eat nothing else but organic

JRW on

What KIM said. Word for word!

Sahnya on

GMOs need to be labeled. Studies need to be done. While some people are very aware of GMOs and even how to avoid them many are not. Thank you for your article that may help begin the GMO discussion for some. We need awareness, education, and long term studies. Given the power and might of Monsanto and cronies we need a massive army of concerned people to shape the food politics in our world.

Na'eema on

I am very disappointed that this proposition was not passed. But, I received an email from a social movement group that sends me emails with updates about the GMO labeling movement, and in it it said that 47% of voters chose “yes” so they think the issue is making ground. In addition, apparently President Barack Obama had said in this first campaign in 2008 that he would move to have GMO’s labelled. It is important to know if what you’re eating is really what you think you’re eating.

Na'eema on

In addition, MANY other nations that are ahead of the United States in many areas like education, healthcare, and other areas of food safety (like England) label GMO’s. The big companies like Monsanto have lost a lot of profit due to their fake genetically engineered foods being outed! People in California were tricked into thinking their basic right to know if what they’re eating is legitimately what the label says it is. Salmon that has been genetically altered with eel in order to keep the price down is NOT natural salmon! But yet, they still tell you it is salmon. How is that right? The US needs to get with the program.

GMKnow on

Dearest Kim:
Money grubbing lawyers? Mislabeled items? Poorly worded? All for being informed and empowered…and it will bankrupt the state? Your advocating voting NO on 37 helped fulfill the wishes of Kraft Foods, Conagra, Coke & Pepsi…which you very well may be feeding to your young children. Advocating NO also may meet the quarterly profit projections for the chemical & pesticide manufacturing companies Monsanto, Bayer, DuPont, Dow and Syngenta, all of which feed GMOs into our food supply, who can continue to promote their wares without fear of most US consumers rejecting them. You may have helped your bankrupt state but what about your children and your friend’s children? Is bankrupting people’s health really worth it?

Marky on

GMKnow, you don’t seem to understand that unlimited lawsuits over foolish ideas that the government should tell us what to eat, what to drink, how to do everything, and that it should be just fine for a team of lawyers to make billions suing manufacturers for exorbitant amounts which they keep half of, is truly bankrupting our country. I’m just nauseated when I think about how those lawyers couldn’t give less of a damn about what’s going down with the food, food products, meds, or any clients. What they care about is the next mansion, next boat, or gigantic bank account they want for themselves.

In the meantime, people fall all over the latest crock thrown out there by whatever person, or group claiming there is a new way for us to be poisoned, or we shouldn’t drink a large coke, or take Tylenol. The latest thing that just really shows the nonsense of this thinking has resulted in Tylenol being removed from shelves, while big bottles of Acetaminophen (main ingredient of Tylenol) remained available for purchase, all because of the latest group of greedy lawyers telling one and all to call 1-800-bad-drug! Good grief! Aren’t all of you capable of making sensible decisions and taking responsibility for those decisions?

I know how to read and research, and so do pretty much all the people I know, young and old. Really? We need shifty attorneys to be able to take over and “make sure we are safe from canola oil”?? All it took for me was to get a headache the first 3 times I sauteed anything in Canola Oil, so I chose to move on to Olive Oil, coconut oil, and sometimes peanut oil. I didn’t need to sue someone or blame them for forcing me to buy it.

As a free people, we should have the right to choose our food, drinks, or which vegetables we eat in our homes. Enough with the idea that the government, friends, or the actress on our favorite TV show, or better yet, the wife of our favorite actor, knows better than anyone what should be on our tables tomorrow. We don’t need laws by the bucketload; we need common sense and education, as well as having the right to make our own choices.

I make my own bread, can and freeze food from a garden raised without pesticides, and buy from those who are raising their produce the same way I do, so it is not that I don’t care; I just don’t think we need to pass laws that govern the food or anything else, without making certain there are law suit limitations, and/or prohibitions against lawsuits. Lawsuits have not benefitted the average person, to speak of, and driving companies out of business just makes life hell for those working for the company–people like all of us.

Why not have standards and require the companies to meet them, then accept responsibility for your own decisions?

Catca on

GMKnow and Marky, you both miss the point of what Kim said. Her criticism of Prop 37 was not a criticism of labels or transparency. It was a criticism of the wording of the proposition in that it didn’t allow for businesses to take corrective actions and other reasonable safeguards to allow businesses to comply properly. Regulatory/statutory changes like this are almost impossible to implement overnight and they add costs so giving time to create a compliance plan as well as the ability to mitigate is standard practice and accomplishes the goal of alerting consumers. Marky, you seem to propose the “no regulation” argument which is the opposite extreme of Prop 37. There is a middle ground.

Mel on

Oh that baby is so adorable! He looks just like the gerber baby. So cute!

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