Or just call me fed up, but for me, the image of a quaint Vermont farm on my milk carton is no longer enough, I need to know which farm: who runs it, what they do on it. To actually see where my food is coming from, what it’s eating, how it’s living and being treated (Hey chicken, are you happy? Did you really run around today or just have your tiny cage moved onto a cement driveway for ten minutes??). I want—no need, to do this before I put one more egg, one more sip of milk or bite of hamburger into my children’s mouths.
I’m not exactly sure how it started. I can’t honestly tell you that I always knew I’d be the kind of mom who made her own baby food. In fact, I can’t even honestly say I knew for sure that I’d even be a mom.
And when the Blessed Event happened, I, like many moms I know, followed the trend toward all things fresh, local and organic.
But it stopped there for a while and like most people that seemed fine, great, more than good enough.
I was paying top bucks for top organic brands, trying to honor free trade and carefully choosing fresh and local over processed. And after all, we’d survived fluff-n-nutter sandwiches, hadn’t we??
But then there was a murmur down the ‘enlightened’ parents’ grapevine that I’d previously rolled my eyes at: Biphenyl A and cling wrap were leaching toxins into our food, microwaves were killing good enzymes, fluoride in the water supply was acting as a neurotoxin. Ok, so I switched to BPA-free bottles, got a fluoride water filter and had another baby.
And then the murmur from the grapevine became a scream (ok, ok, drama overkill, but i couldn’t resist) and leaped onto the national radar: One study a few years ago found contaminants (including DDT, PCBs, dioxins and something called perchlorate, a component of rocket fuel) in the majority of human breast milk around the U.S. It also found perchlorate in about 90 percent of lettuce samples and 97 percent of cow’s milk.
In January 2008 the NY Times reported that laboratory tests showed tuna from a sampling of Manhattan’s sushi restaurants had high levels of Mercury, some very high. And we’ve known for several years that pregnant women and small children should limit their intake of canned tuna. Then in March, reports re-surfaced that pharmaceutical medications, including hormones, insulin and heart drugs, were found in drinking water across the U.S. Later that month, Buffalo mozzarella from Naples, Italy was discovered to be contaminated with elevated levels of dioxins and the very next day news hit of a viral epidemic among the salmon farms in Chili (the treatment of which included levels of antibiotics termed “excessive” and including types not allowed in this country, growth hormones, and the use of pigments associated with retina problems in humans).
Wait, and these were from the so-called eco-farmed salmon???
I said to myself (and probably everyone within a fairly large radius. Yes, I can be loud), “What the HELL can I eat???”
And then it hit me, and I mean in a way that for some reason (probably having to do with a natural aversion to wanting to think about the unpleasantness of a contaminated food chain that is slowly poisoning us), it hit me in a way it never had before;
If this is what we are hearing about, what, in God’s name, was the full extent of it?