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Thursday, July 19, 2007

Living on the Fringe

If you've chosen to raise your family chemical free, then you already know you've chosen an adventure, one most families will never attempt. Just the mere mention of "I feed my child organic" is enough to receive that wordless stare that speaks volumes. Your peers suddenly alter their opinion of you. You're called a granola cruncher, a tree hugger. And every time you go through the grocery checkout, you have to tell the cashier, "That's kale. Swiss chard. It's tofu, and the sign says it's on special." Then the cashier's favorite question - "WHAT are you MAKING?"

The funniest part is, just 100 years ago, even 50, most everyone lived chemical free and thought nothing of it. Also funny, much of the world still lives that way.

I like putting things into a historical perspective. It clears up a lot for me. For instance, whether you believe the world has been around for billions of years or a mere 6,000, the human race has been doing its thing for a long, long time. For more time than our brains can truly comprehend, mankind has been eating organic produce. No chemical pesticides, no fertilizer more potent than what came out of the back end of a yak. For countless generations, mothers had breastmilk to offer their babies - no alternatives, no controversy. Furniture was magically constructed without the use of formaldehyde, and children slept in pajamas not previously treated with fire retardants.

In so many countries, this is still the case. We could point our fingers accusingly at America and condemn its affluence, but this is just not my bent. Yes, affluence does often couple up with greed and the want for more, but it doesn't have to. This is not the American condition; it is the human condition, and we need to control it on an individual basis before controlling it as a nation or as a world.

As individuals, we can choose to purchase organic food, products with pronounceable ingredients, and paint that doesn't contain VOC's - not to stick it to big, bad "Corporate America," but to improve our own health. Eventually, manufacturers and farmers will follw suit. They'll have to, to stay competitive. If not, well, after awhile you manage to learn which shampoos you like that are free of parabens and lauryl sulfates, and what store carries the most locally-grown produce.

It takes a real effort these days to eliminate chemicals from your daily life. They've become a huge and silent part of most of the items on the store shelves. But trying to change your family's ways, one step at a time, isn't as daunting as most people think. With a little time and research, your family will have a healthier lifestyle.

And don't fear being called a radical. Because what we now call living chemical free, your grandmother simply called living.


Marie said...

I'm an old-fashioned girl and have always been fascinated with the way grandmother lived. I never thought of the fact that she was chemical free. Thanks for pointing this out. You may have just changed my way of thinking on a lot of things.

Vivian said...

I love this! Thanks for all that you teach us as readers and fellow moms- I refer your blog to every one who asks me, "Your son can't have WHAT?" I believe our choices are making a difference, as slowly the prices and quantity of local and organic produce are measuring up to that of their more chemically-dependent alternatives.

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Diane said...

Aw, shucks, Vivian! That's one of the nicest comments ever!

I've also noticed dropping prices on organics. My local grocer's is carrying it now and bragging! I love seeing the changes.

Thanks for reading!

Tracy said...

Amen. I couldn't have said it better.

sahmqueen said...

I have really enjoyed your blogs. I am slowly making more natural choices. We are 100% organic milk and eggs, no hydrogenated oils, and no mineral oil in anything we use. I just stay away from the snack aisles in the grocery store. It is so expensive to eat more healthy, but who can afford not to?

Oh, The Joys said...

I think it is the right choice, just so much less convenient since the world is now organized to give you processed EVERYTHING. You go!

urban vegan said...

Alex Jamieson [wife of Morgan Spurlock, of "Supersize Me" fame] wrote a great book about this called "The Great American Detox Diet." it's not exactly a diet but it does show you how to keep the chemicals from your diet and household--and how to eat whole, ehalthy foods.