Welcome back to our blogger Kimberly Van Der Beek!
In her latest blog, Van Der Beek talks to Robyn O’Brien about why Californias should vote “yes” on 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