All the Drama on the Internets #5: NPR GMO bias?

Every so often I like to give you a bulleted list of some recent “green” stories in the news and why half of the people are excited to hear about the news or study and the other half are super offended by it for some reason. DRAMA ENSUES. Almost 100% of the time, I am somewhere in the middle. I just figured that some of you might want to know what’s out there and read for yourselves. Just in case you aren’t already immersed in social media 24/7 like I am…

Food Babe speaking at ShiftCon | Living Consciously Blog

On Thursday I ignored the article NPR published calling Food Babe an alarmist because I didn’t want to draw attention to it (still refusing to link to it). Yesterday I spent most of the day watching my private Facebook groups of green/holistic/real food bloggers argue over whether the attack on the food movement by NPR was warranted, if it damaged us all in our efforts to raise awareness of the issues with our food system, and whether Vani should really be allowed free speech like the rest of us. OK, so I made that last part up, but kind of not really. Because whether we like her message or not, whether we agree with the way she says it or not, I don’t think we can argue that she has a place at the table (so to speak), just like any of us with a blog.

If you aren’t familiar with Food Babe, go ahead and look her up. She’s so huge I don’t even have to link to her. Do I read her blog? No, not regularly. Mostly because I am orthorexic, and if I read too much about the tiny details of chemicals in everything I start starving myself. But here’s the thing: most people are not like me. In fact, most people are the opposite. The majority of Americans eat the food they find in the middle of the supermarket, the Standard American Diet, which (aside from being woefully nutritionally deficient) is full of so many chemicals, additives, preservatives, and overall fake-ness that our bodies don’t even know how to function properly. What’s worse is that most people actually feel like they are eating healthfully because our government requires pretty much no labeling or explanation of what is really inside our food when it comes to GMOs, synthetic chemicals, and ingredients that are banned in the UK and other industrialized countries.

Food Babe’s value is that she uses the sensational-type headlines that Americans consuming mass media find intriguing. “You Won’t Believe What’s In Your Yogurt – And It’s Not On The Label!” , “If You’ve Ever Eaten Pizza Before, This Will Blow Your Mind (Maybe Literally)“. Are they the kind of blog post titles you’d find on my blog? No. But they work for her and they draw attention to her message. She also has the guts to go after the big corporations and she’s had some very impressive wins – getting Kraft to remove the artificial orange from their macaroni & cheese, alerting us to the yoga mat ingredient in Subway buns, telling us all that the Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte is deadly.

OK, so it’s actually things like that last one that get us into trouble.

Does the Pumpkin Spice Latte have bad ingredients in it? Yes. Should we be putting that crap in our stomaches? Not really. But will one latte really kill us? No. No, it won’t. But…

Here’s the thing: those nasty chemicals like the ones in the Starbucks latte might be small in the latte, but they are in EVERYTHING we consume. Those little tiny bits of chemicals in your coffee creamer, in your sandwich bun, added to your lunch meat, in your salad dressing, in that artificially-colored yogurt with aspartame that you had for a snack, the eggs McDonald’s sells that have 17 ingredients (look it up) — it’s the accumulation of those chemicals that is the issue. And that is what Vani has spent the past several years exposing, one at a time. She is there to teach those who aren’t aware to start thinking about what they are eating, to ask “why?”. I think she has a place. She is good at what she does, and she is drawing our attention to very important issues.

Obviously, my technique in encouraging consciously living and eating is different than hers, but I also don’t grab the kind of attention she does from the mainstream public. I think that a lot of you were probably already on your way to making better choices when you found this blog. She writes the kind of headlines that reach people who aren’t seeking ways to change, and causes them to consider something for the first time.

I am a little disappointed in NPR. We’ve been members of our local NPR station the entire time we’ve been married, and my husband was a member for years before we were married. We will continue to support our local NPR station. It was unsettling to see that there was only one side represented in this article, with heavy quoting from a pro-GMO group but not representation from anti-GMO groups at all.

Just this morning, NPR released another article putting GMO ingredients in a negative light. Because so many vitamins added to processed foods are manufactured using GMO ingredients, the cereal makers who have agreed to remove the GMOs from their cereal are left with cereal lower in added vitamins. I say good! We should not be relying on sugar- and grain-filled cereal each morning to meet our nutritional needs with manufactured vitamins. We should be getting these vitamins from whole foods — fruits and vegetables and superfoods throughout the day. If moving toward fewer GMOs also moves us toward more whole foods, GREAT!

But, NPR…not so great, guys. Not so partial. I would definitely not go so far as to say that there is a NPR GMO bias, but I would like to ask: Where is representation from our side in these stories?

You have to get up pretty early

You have to get up pretty early: the sun coming up at 7am as I'm headed home | Living Consciously Blog
The sun coming up at 7am as I’m heading home.

How is the part time job going, Jenny? (I teach Lagree Fitness at a local studio – it’s a form of Pilates on the Megaformer)

Welllll, let me tell you.

For the past 2 years, I have been teaching a class or two on the weekend and 2-3 morning classes during the week. It works great for me, because on the weekend the kids get some alone time with Daddy and I get some adult interaction doing something that I love! The mornings have also been nice because the kids are still asleep, and just getting up as I arrive home. Some days Daddy gets them completely ready and even takes them to preschool. You can read more about my philosophy of working out in the morning in my post about working out as a SAHM.

And for the last 2 years, morning classes have been verrry slim.

As in, 1-2 people in a class with a 10 person capacity.

And more than 50% of the time: no one.

No one was dedicated enough to their fitness routine to get up at 6am to work out.

We changed the time to 7am.

Still no one.

We have changed days all over the place: every day of the week, Tuesday/Thursdays, MWF.

Nope.

It is totally understandable that the studio finally actually cancelled morning classes altogether this week. And that, therefore, I’m not really technically “working part time” anymore. Because is working 1 hour a week even enough to call part time? Probably not.

So many times on this blog, I take the middle road. I respect all peoples’ choices even if they are different from my own. But I have had enough of the following constantly recurring conversation and I am taking a stand.

Here goes:

Stranger/casual acquaintance/current studio client: “Wow, your arms are amazing. I wish I was that strong. I would give anything to look like that. What kind of workout do you do?”

Me: “[insert explanation of Lagree fitness], I teach morning classes twice a week at 6am [or 7am]”

Stranger/acquaintance/client: “OMG I could never do that! 7am! That is waaaay too early, haha, you must be joking!”

Often there is a pause where they are waiting for me to tell them some other way of getting in shape. I have nothing else to say because, um, I just said it. Get up & DO SOMETHING.

Does no one else see the problem here?!

Intrusively remarking stranger, if you were truly interested in a radical change in your muscle mass and strength, as you say that you are, why do you put restrictions on yourself? If I told you, “Just buy this pill, drink this powder, say this magical incantation under a full moon”, would you do it? Trust me, some people would. But if I am telling you to just get up an hour earlier a few times a week? SURELY NOT, YOU MUST BE JOKING. THERE MUST BE ANOTHER WAY.

Obviously, this is a very specific type of person I am talking about here. There are plenty of us who get up at 5am or 6am to get some fitness in at the beginning of our day. There are others of us who get up that early to read, meditate, or (let’s be honest) are woken at that hour or earlier by a small human. Many other Lagree studios are completely sold out at 6am and 7am. Yoga studios often have maxed out classes at that time too (I know, because I go sometimes).

I AM talking to the people who say that getting up at 5am is impossible.

I AM talking to the people who want to see results without any sacrifice.

I AM talking to the people who aren’t willing to take the risk and therefore, unfortunately, will never see the gain.

I am sad for you. It’s just one little “no” the night before.
No, I won’t watch one more show.
No, I won’t get started on Pinterest or Facebook right now.
No, I won’t pick up that magazine.

So that you can say “yes”.
Yes, I will go prepare a healthy morning snack now.
Yes, I will set out my workout clothes.
Yes, I will register for that class.
Yes, I will go to bed now, even though it is early.

Yes, I will see a change in my energy level, strength, and stamina.

Because, you will.

Conscientious Consumerism: Things to watch for when shopping for anything

You know that you’ve reached some kind of crunchy-person dilemma when you are standing in a giant store with an aisle full of options and do not find any acceptable choices for the item you came to purchase. I’m not just talking about food, although I certainly struggle with orthorexia in that area — but any item!

Small or large. Bed sheets. Slippers. Hand lotion. Paper towels. Wrapping paper. Everything.

When I say that I practice conscientious consumerism, what do I mean?

Questions that go through my head: where was it made? Were the workers treated fairly? What are the chemicals in it? What active chemicals will it leach when not in use? Were there pesticides used in it? Are there genetically modified (GMO) ingredients? Is there gluten or dairy in this? Can I make this instead of buying it? If so, is that crazy/do I even have enough time? Should I be purchasing something with this much unnecessary packaging? Is this made of plastic? If so, can I get a glass or stainless steel version?

Yep, all those things really do go through my head. And it’s true that I have walked out of even Target empty-handed because  I couldn’t answer some of those questions satisfactorily about the item I came for.

While you are pondering just how crazy I might be, I will provide you a list of things I look for when shopping and things I avoid. Follow at your own risk!
Conscientious Consumerism: Things to watch for when shopping for anything | ConscientiousConfusion.com

Avoid:

Phthalates (also called “Fragrance” in ingredients list)

Plastic

Trans fats (partially- or fully hydrogenated oils)

Soy or canola oil with unlisted source (likely GMO)

non-organic corn (GMO)

high fructose corn syrup

corn syrup

leather (when possible)

PVC (leaches phthalates/endocrine disruptors)

Single use items

Unpronounceable ingredients

 

Prefer:

Fair trade (better)

Purchase benefits a marginalized group (best)

Recyclable (better)

Reusable/refillable (best)

Small business

Workforce responsibility

Organic

Certified non-GMO

Handmade

 

That’s my short lists for now — have I left anything out that you look for or avoid? I’d love to hear your additions!

IG post: Satya

I’m experimenting with something today (and for the next week or so). I notice that I haven’t been posting to my blog as often as I should, but  I post what amounts to mini blog posts on Instagram regularly. I can’t seem to find a way to automate the transfer of those posts into WordPress, but for now I’d like to try simultaneously posting the more thoughtful posts here.

~~~

Here is one from earlier this week. It’s part of a yoga daily challenge, which is where I find a lot of inspiration and attempt to pass it on!

#IndependenceARMy Dolphin Plank. Honestly, I didn’t feel strong today. After taking a 3 & 4 year old clothes shopping without success, I was drained. But I had a convo with a friend at the pool about how some days we feel strong & some days we don’t. The yoga yama for that is Satya, or honesty even to yourself.

Added: being honest with yourself (Satya) in fitness includes both recognizing your limitations and taking it easy (which is difficult for me!) and also realizing when you are strong enough to take the next step forward, push yourself more.

Where does a SAHM part-time worker fit?

image via memgenerator

When someone asks me “What do you do?”, it isn’t an easy answer. Do I answer, “I stay at home with my kids” or do I list off my various part-time jobs as a fitness instructor and blogger? Usually I do both. It’s such a weird place to be, a SAHM part time worker, right in the middle of both “mom” categories.

As someone whose significant other earns almost all of the income for our family, are my part time endeavors even significant enough to call “working”? Even combined, none of the jobs pay much. As someone who only works part time, I am definitely thankful for the flexible schedule that I get in exchange for the lower pay. I love that I can work a few days a week at 6am, part of one weekday, and then a few hours on the weekends doing things I love. It is all a huge blessing.

But there’s also the parenting part.

As a part-time worker, I don’t get the financial benefits or structure of full-time professional childcare I would have as a working mother. I know, because I’ve been a full time working mother. When I worked full time, we had a nanny who came during set hours. If I worked full time right now, the kids would most likely be in preschool. In both situations, they would benefit from the experience and training of a professional educator and childcare expert. Someone who would teach them to read before they even go to kindergarten, most likely. They would be taken care of during set hours, during which I would be free to do my work (unless they or the nanny were ill, of course — been there, done that!).

Instead of a professional educator and childcare expert, they have me. Well, part of me. Because I spend the majority of my “spare” hours in part time work, I am not using that time to scour Pinterest for worksheets, set educational goals, read about the developmental milestones they’re supposed to be hitting and target their activities accordingly, as most of my other mommy friends do. We have fun together, sure! We go somewhere almost every day, but it’s most often the pool, the museum, the zoo — somewhere that they can run freely and play, not learn specific things. The goal is to be physically tired so they’ll take a nap. My poor second child still doesn’t know any of her letters. Neither of them understand the days of the week. I think about what it takes to do all that, the extra hours that I can’t seem to pull from thin air, and I just want to take a nap too.

It’s only due to our food intolerances that I spend as much “homemaker” time as I do: making our own bug repellant, soaps, bread, and toothpaste. In fact, that’s probably how I am using the time that I should probably be teaching my kids valuable things like Scripture memory or full moon intention-setting. That illusive time goes to hand-making things to keep Little Sir from getting diarrhea due to stomach irritation. Driving to the chiropractor. I have to make a conscious choice every day not to feel bad about how much more I should be doing.

There’s the mommy guilt, but there’s also the career guilt.

As a part time worker, there are a ton of opportunities to take it a “little further”. Getting my RYT200 is one of those. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about it, but I also know that it’s just not realistic right now. Taking that kind of time and financial resources away from our family while my children are this young is not something we are in a place to do at this time. But then another client or friend asks me to teach them what I know about yoga and I just want to do it SO BADLY!

If I am honest with myself, having one foot in the working world provides some welcome gratification in contrast to the endless energy suck that is my precious children. Not once will they say “thank you” to me (except when Daddy makes them!), but my clients and friends do say positive things about my part-time work. It takes a conscious act of the will every time to step back into those unappreciated Mommy shoes and away from the seemingly fulfilling fitness instructor/blogger shoes.

As I was writing the first draft of this post, my daughter came into the room three times asking for me to sing songs. It has taken me about 3 days to complete this post, due to interruptions of the same kind.

I know in my heart that these are the best kinds of interruptions. That singing all the songs is what life is made of, and not the Facebook-ing, the Pinterest-ing, the 6am classes, the handstand practice, the Sanskrit pronunciation.

My friend Janelle was speaking today of a kind of selfless support, of having a job that consists of supporting others: being the wind. I love that analogy. As a feminist, it’s important for me to remember that I can choose what work I do, and that one kind of work is not exclusive of another kind. I CAN be a SAHM and a part-time worker, and neither one is “not enough”. Both are exactly what works for me right now, regardless of how I answer the, “So, what do you do?” question.