Hi there! You’re reading this because someone you love/respect/fear sent this to you in the hopes of making some changes in your lives to reduce exposure to some pretty nasty things manufacturers are putting in our products. This means that there may be some changes on the horizon in your home, and this post is meant to smooth the way for you both as you navigate these changes as a family.
I want you to know a little bit about me and how this has worked in our life, but not because I’m like that guy in the airplane seat next to you who won’t shut up. In fact, I will be short and sweet.
My wife and I did not start out as “true believers” in organic food, non-toxic products or anything of the sort. McDonald’s and Coke were my comfort foods. I used Drain-o, a hammer and/or duct tape to fix almost everything. I don’t think my wife had ever bought organic food before we met.
But, as we have gotten older, we started to get a little smarter about reading the labels of the things we buy, eat and use in the house. One day, when my wife was pregnant with our boy, she picked up a bottle of baby shampoo, because she was pregnant and a planner. She read the ingredients and didn’t understand them. She took a picture of the ingredients and then started researching them online when she got back home. What she found was alarming in ways I won’t bore you with here. But it started a conversation that hasn’t stopped, and which grew into the blog you are reading now.
Essentially, in the U.S., manufacturers are now using over 80,000 different kinds of chemicals, the vast majority of which have not been studied to see if they are safe. (This is up from about 62,000 in 1976.) At the same time, cancer, autoimmune diseases, allergies, and other debilitating illnesses are on the rise, and doctors don’t know why. Is there a link? Maybe or maybe not, but more and more people are starting to conclude that they don’t want to end up a statistic for reasons they can’t explain. If you are reading this, you are involved with one of them.
What I want to convey to you is this. This new lifestyle upon which you may be embarking is not all that different from the one you enjoy now. There will be some adjustments, and moments when you will want to roll your eyes or shake your head, but the feeling will pass quickly.
Here are some of the bigger adjustments we made; if you can survive these, the rest will be easy.
First, food, because food. We eat mostly organic and non-GMO foods. At present, they are a little more expensive, so we had to learn to budget for that. Fortunately, once you know where to look, it is not as hard to find as it used to be. “Organic” means that it is certified by either the USDA or another certifying agency (here in California, we have the CCOF) that the food is produced free of pesticides, genetic engineering, etc. Although a bit more expensive, organic food tastes better, because it is made the way nature intended it, and is like the food that our parents and grandparents ate.
A lot of restaurants (including, but not limited to, upscale restaurants) are using more and more organic ingredients. You’ll have to do a little research when picking places, and some of your favorite restaurants may not make the cut. Also, when traveling, you’ll have to do a little advanced research and planning. It’s not hard, though. You can search Yelp for “best organic restaurant” in your vacation destination, but then you’ll have to go through the resulting list because not everything that comes up on Yelp will be organic; you’ll have to click on the restaurant website. Look for restaurants that say that they “try” to use organic ingredients “as much as they can,” and for restaurants that claim to use “farm to table” type produce and ingredients. And feel free to call them and ask if they use organic ingredients. If they do, you will know it in about five seconds. They may also say that they will check with the chef, but after doing so, the chef usually says no. That’s OK, move on.
I will say this, though – when you find a restaurant that cares enough about the ingredients it uses to use organic ingredients, the food is usually delicious, and is well worth the five minutes you spent researching. Let’s just say that at one restaurant we found recently, we ordered a sushi roll called the (I am not making this up) “Panty Dropper” and leave it at that.
Also, when vacationing, we have been renting more and more condos, Airbnb’s and timeshares with full kitchens so we can prepare most of our vacation foods organically. Whole Foods Markets are everywhere, as are other organic grocery stores (although not everything at Whole Foods is organic, so read the labels). One idea that has worked for us is that we went to a great restaurant on vacation and bought their cookbook. Now, when we head back there, we take the cookbook and make dinners from that book, using fresh organic ingredients we buy when we land. So we are eating organically, local recipes made with fresh local ingredients. Yum.
And don’t be afraid to reach out to the places you plan to visit. We recently made reservations at Disney, and were disappointed (but not surprised) when they were not willing to work with us. On the other hand, we just got back from Legoland, and had contacted them ahead of time just asking about organic ingredients. To our surprise, the chef, Michael Pinson, had some organic ingredients already, and bought others especially for us, and insisted on making our dinners himself. The food was delicious, and this was at a restaurant for which we had no expectations – the restaurant at the Legoland Hotel. Go figure. We will definitely be going back, and when we do, we will be in touch with Michael again.
We have been able to find just about every type of food we love in organic form. Wine is a little harder; look for wines made with organic or biodynamic grapes (or anything made in France or Italy, where food is not organic or conventional; it’s just food made the right way). Winemakers usually add sulfites to assist in the aging process, making it impossible to certify wine as organic, but you can still look for grapes grown organically. We have also found really good organic tequila and vodka, and even really good organic beer.
One other small matter regarding food: I had to learn how to cook pancakes on cast iron – much easier than I had thought. Non-stick pans are out; cast iron and stainless steel are in, and are much easier to clean and cook with than I had previously thought. I actually like them a lot better, and I feel like a lumberjack when making my “flapjacks.”
One last word about food before we move on. As with everything else, we do not go overboard. Sometimes, especially while traveling, we “cut corners.” (Don’t tell my wife I said that! She has her reputation to uphold, haha.) But even doing that, we have still cut out about 95% of our exposure to pesticides, etc., in our food, and that has to help a lot. And the food we are eating is a lot more delicious and nutritious, making it a lot easier to budget for.)
After that, there’s not a lot to “worry” about. One bigger adjustment for me was taking off my shoes each time I enter the house. My wife points out that lots of chemicals (including petroleum by-products, etc.) is tracked into houses. That took a couple of weeks to get used to, but now, I feel strange if I walk in with shoes, so I have definitely adjusted.
Other than this, it should be a pretty smooth transition. My wife has done a lot of the research for you on this blog and continues to do it on a full-time basis. Your significant other knows this and is going to be making some recommendations and trying out products for your home. You may see things like plastic containers mysteriously vanishing and being replaced with glass. You may not notice that your dishwashing detergent changes. You may not even see your partner washing the kitchen counter with vodka bought in bulk at Costco (and saving a lot of money in the process). You may notice that your deodorant will change, but don’t worry, you’ll still smell as fresh then as you do now (which may not be very fresh). And that’s true for a lot of the products you may be using – they may change from time to time, but they will still be effective.
Thanks for reading. Now, to prove you read this, go give your partner a kiss, and tell them that you love/respect/fear them and that you’ll try to be a good sport about what lies ahead.
And if you have any questions, be sure to reach out.
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