America has been in a health crisis for over a decade. Heart disease and cancer have each been killing nearly 2000 people a day, long before COVID. At this rate, we are set to bankrupt our nation with health care costs in less than 8 years (unless we keep printing money of course). Either way, our society is being severely impacted by the cost of health issues.
And yet, the number one disagreement when we at Moms Across America insist that organic, regeneratively grown food is essential for creating healthy communities and local food security, is that it “costs too much.” A common argument of GMO proponents is that educating low income people about the benefits of organic leads to them feeling “embarrassed and ashamed because they cannot afford it.” This implies that our mission for everyone to have access to healthy organic, regeneratively grown food is somehow insensitive and maybe even discriminatory.
First of all, a new paper by the Rockefeller Foundation shows that when health and environmental impacts are included, our current conventional food system is costing us 3 X more than what we currently are paying. So claiming that conventional food is cheaper is actually completely inaccurate in the long run. And that’s what we are talking about here - the long run, the health, and safety of not only this generation but future generations to come.
Secondly, we have heard from many mothers (one example here), many on a low income, some single mothers, some of Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) heritage, that they found a way to switch to mostly organic food. They did this by budgeting more carefully, cutting out sugary foods and packaged foods, eliminating electronic purchases, buying consignment clothing and household items, taking camping vacations instead of resort stays, and supplementing their diet by growing some of their own food. In this article, several of our moms worked together to cost out the differences between organic and conventional meals and we are thrilled to share this research* with you.
Thirdly, although preferable and safest, not ALL foods have to be organic to make a difference in our health. A new study by the Heartland Health Research Alliance show that 98% of the pesticides consumption and dietary risk could be eliminated by switching out only our conventional vegetables and fruits to be organic. Because most pesticides are used just before harvest on conventional fruits and vegetables, they contain higher levels than on most meat and dairy. The paper shows that a person eating 4-5 servings of conventional fruits and vegetables is almost certainly eating 10 different pesticides day in and day out. Pesticide Action Network showed as high as 47 chemicals on an apple.
Reducing our pesticide consumption by 98% would drastically reduce the risk of a myriad of health issues, including the weakening of our immune systems, which could lead to severe COVID symptoms, shutdowns, and economic crises.
Moms Across America asserts that taking advantage of an underprivileged population's disadvantage, by continuing to promote only “more fruits and vegetables” (many GMO) that are conventionally grown, with as many as 47 different toxic chemicals on them, is discriminatory. Promoting cheap toxic food to low-income people because that is the best they can hope for is like promoting a liquor store or Jack in the Box ( big chain corporations benefit, not the locals) to be built in the projects instead of supporting a community garden. Does a community garden take work? Yes. Can they do it? Yes. Look at Detroit; a reported 20,000 volunteers come out every weekend during the summer to work on community gardens and they now have a thriving farm-to-table food movement.
We assert that ALL communities deserve access to organic, regeneratively grown food. Settling for anything less is exploiting their circumstances, and being a part of exposing the most vulnerable, most underserved population to toxins. We can no longer trust that the food that the FDA approves and the chemicals that the EPA allows on our food are safe. They have known for decades that GMOs and related toxins are harmful, but continue to allow them because “consumers have a choice to purchase organic.”
We agree that most low-income people have a very difficult time affording organic, so we are advocating that our networks partner with us in sharing education, the importance of getting access to organic food (either purchasing or growing) such that the prices can come down and be more affordable for all.
The low-income population is least likely to be able to have access to health care insurance or therapies to support the learning or health issues they will and have obtained by consuming unhealthy, toxic food. It is a matter of national health security and our future prosperity to support the health of all people.
Now that we know that 98% of pesticide dietary risk is coming from fruits and vegetables, we see the reality. Encouraging low-income people “ just to get more fruits and vegetables in their diet,” as is common by many health practitioners, nonprofits, and government agencies, is actually exposing them to high levels of pesticides and is not supporting their health. To truly support everyone’s health, we must advocate for all people of every socio-economic background to have access to healthy, safe, organic, and ideally regeneratively ( reduces environmental impact) grown food.
How do we do this?
- Encourage everyone to educate themselves about the food supply by watching such movies as Kiss the Ground, Secret Ingredients, Modified, Genetic Roulette, Communities Rising, and Food Inc.
- Encourage the purchase of organic bulk grains, rice, flour, beans and fresh, local organic fruits and vegetables instead of processed foods.
- Encourage growing their own organic food regeneratively.
- Plan ahead and make meals at home instead of eating at restaurants. By doing so you can eat healthy nutritious, organic meals for LESS money than eating out.