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Can we talk about GMOs?

Climate Justice and Environmentalism, Gardening By April 14, 2016 Tags: , , , , , , No Comments

Having trouble with the GMO debate? Me too. Lets talk about it.

The point when I first made up my mind about GMOs was in a college biology class in 2010, when a student brought up GMOs in class, and the professor said that we should be very concerned about GMO technology, indicating that it was a troubling practice that we should all be wary of. This same professor had discussed other crunchy philosophies with me that I felt on the fence and maybe a little skeptical about, such as vaccine refusal and raw milk, and I felt pretty confident in the things she said about those, vaccines are safe and effective, raw milk is a waste of money, etc., etc. So when she straight up said in class that GMOs were bad, I figured that sealed the deal. I became pretty hardcore in my opposition to GMOs.

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Climate friendly diet: How and why we prioritize our dietary choices

Climate Justice and Environmentalism, Home cooking By February 17, 2016 Tags: , , , , , , , , 7 Comments

If you are concerned with how your diet impacts the environment, there are a lot of things you can do to have a more climate friendly diet. Most of these things are also good for your health, and believe it or not, many of them will actually save you money. Here is a list of what we do to prioritize eating sustainably, in order of most important to least. You might not be able to do it all, but you can do what you can in the moment. This isn’t an all or nothing thing. Everything helps. Reject AllOrNothingism in your dietary choices.

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Healthy Halloweens are bullshit

Holidays, Social Justice By October 20, 2014 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , No Comments

As culturally embraced sizism becomes more and more prominent in society, I’m starting to see a big trend towards healthy Halloweens.  My first exposure to the concept of healthy Halloween was when Elijah was a baby, and I had joined the local chapter of a national club for crunchy moms.  These moms were mostly concerned with pesticide residues, genetically modified organisms, and trans fats in treats, maybe a little with the working conditions of the people working the cacao farms, and all of that seemed reasonable to me.  I could envision a future in which all Halloween candy was fair trade and organic, but I still bought my sacks of Hershey’s and Mars sugar and hydrogenated fat because, really, who can afford a ten pound sack of fair trade mini candy bars?  Not lower enlisted, single moms, that’s for sure.

Over time, however, the concern out and about as well as in the group became primarily sugar, and how sugar is just like cocaine and is killing us all very slowly.  I was all for trying to get away from the crappy candy I still begrudgingly bought even though I knew that doing so was supporting slave labor, and even making the holiday a little healthier with some home made treats, but this movement advocated for no treats at all.  Or, rather, lousy treats that only the most sheltered and deprived kid could truly get excited about.  A clementine with a sprig of celery in the top to make it look like a pumpkin is no treat at all, especially given that they aren’t in season yet in October and most likely will taste like crap.

Look, I get it.  Sugar is not great for you.  Especially all that highly processed crap, packaged up with hydrogenated oils and gmo soy lecithin.  I don’t like that shit either.  But it’s one night a year (and maybe a few days afterwards), I swear to god it’s not going to kill your kids.

It’s no coincidence that the rise of healthy Halloweens have coincided perfectly with our culture’s war on obesity.  It is our great fear of the worst fate ever, being fat, that drives this trend.  Better to ruin a holiday for our children than to, god forbid, have them grow up and possibly have love handles!!  Oh, the horror!!  The agony!!  Why, given that inevitability, letting your child have even one fun size Snickers on Halloween is tantamount to child abuse.

The whole idea of healthy Halloweens is steeped in fat shaming and fear mongering.  It is not even based in any kind of reality.  Here are some facts, if you are paranoid about letting your children have treats on one measly holiday.

  • We don’t know what causes people to be fat or thin.  The reasons are likely a lot more complex and multifaceted than just calories in, calories out, or even more complex issues like insulin resistance and inflammation.  Therefore, we cannot assume that fun sized candy bars are the culprit either.
  • Fat is not necessarily a health risk.  There are plenty of healthy fat people out there.  In fact, using our current BMI standards, the people with the longest life span are those in the overweight range.  Obese people and healthy weight people have about the same lifespans, statistically speaking.  The very obese have slightly lower life spans than the obese or healthy weight.  Underweight people have the lowest lifespans of all.  Given this knowledge, if what you are trying to do is ensure your child the longest life possible, it might be in their best interest to gain a little bit of “extra” weight.
  • Even the most calories in, calories out focused doctor would concede that a few treats one night a year is not going to make your kid fat as long as they are eating a balance diet the rest of the year and leading an active lifestyle.  In fact, your kids will probably be safe from the dreaded fat menace even if they eat candy on Halloween and cookies on Christmas!
  • Fat people are at lower risk for many health conditions, including depression (which, yes, takes lives every single day).  I would hypothesize that children who don’t get to eat candy on Halloween are at higher risk of depression, so maybe letting them gorge on chocolate one night a year could actually be good for them!

More importantly than all of this, fat people are human beings who deserve to be treated with the same dignity and respect that any other human being should be treated with.  Striking fear of becoming fat into our children’s hearts is setting them up for being sizists and cruel bullies to those who are fat, and increasing their risk of having their own body image issues.

Look, I get it, I do.  I’m all about feeding kids a healthy diet.  I just think that some occasional splurges are part of an over all, holistically healthy diet.  I’m not saying let them gorge on nothing but candy all night Halloween, and all day for as many days afterwards that it takes them to run out of candy.  By all means, fill your kid up with a healthy dinner before you go out trick or treating, ration treats on November first and beyond, arrange a visit from the Switch Witch or donate the bulk of your candy to the troops (I can tell you from experience they love that shit, even though most of them do have access to all the candy they want at the PX) or the homeless or something.  But let them have Halloween night as it traditionally is, because while candy might not be good for your kid’s health, cramming your own issues with fat and body image problems down your kids’ throats is worse for them.

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