You may not understand all of this now, at 10, 7 and 4, but someday you will. Someday, you will know that I fed you genetically modified food for 9 and a half years, and you will wonder why. You will wonder how someone could do that to their children. You may wonder why I didn't know. You may wonder why I wasn't more vigilant to find out. You may wonder why I didn't take you to the doctors more often or sooner and find out why you had so many allergies. You may wonder why you felt so tired, distracted and felt out of control cranky, why you had to go to school with a rash around your mouth and feel embarrassed for weeks. You may wonder why you thought something was wrong with you.You may wonder why I just gave up and basically said " You have allergies and that's the way it is. Deal with it."
You may think that my lack of action around your allergies and interest in what we were eating was some sort of sign that I didn't love you. I am sorry. I am so so so sorry that I did not wonder more myself.
I got resigned. I got doubtful. And I was in denial that there was anything I could do about it. It was just easier to believe that I was doing a good job and your allergies ( to wheat/gluten, nuts, peanuts, eggs, dairy, mushrooms, red food dye and carageenan) were genetic somehow, because I have mold allergies. I justified everything...it's okay if you have a "treat" at your friends house, it's okay if you "enjoy" the birthday party and have the cake and soda. It's okay if you drink or eat food with milk in it ( with RBGH hormones) because I had no idea what that was and "Milk does a body good". I really did think I was feeding you the way I did and loving you by "letting you" eat the sweet, colorful, enticingly crunchy, treats or fast food. I really did think we could trust what was on the shelves and it was our right as Americans to have easy, plentiful, tasty food available to us in two minutes at a drive through. I got cranky when it wasn't. Little did I know that it was the food that was making me cranky and my expectations were blinded by corporate greed brainwashing. I didn't know...and I am sorry for not finding out.
You may wonder, someday, how a whole generation could allow genetically modified foods into our supply unlabeled, and without media notice, when over 50 other countries labeled or banned GMOs when they were introduced. You may wonder why we not only didn't get them tested first, but we funded these toxic crops with billions of our own tax money. You may wonder how we could let organic food get contaminated by GM crops and then let those organic farmers get sued. You may wonder why your mother didn't do anything about such injustice.
Once studies did emerge, you may wonder how we could ignore test results from a 2 year rat study that grew tumors, had 55% of their babies die that were fed GM soy ( versus 6 and 9% of control groups fed no soy and non gmo soy) and those that did survive were smaller and sterile by the third generation. You may wonder how we could go one more day without labeling and banning these foods.You may wonder how we could be so careless and stupid. On behalf of the American people of this generation, on behalf of Moms everywhere, I apologize. With a my whole heart I am so sorry.
Our system is broken, and we, with our endless desire for easy, cheap , fast and tasty, are the ones who broke it. We forgot to value whole, fresh vegetables and fruits. We forgot that home cooking brings families together at home instead of getting the family out and about and busy. We forgot that food costs money to seed,plant, grow, harvest and transport and that our budget should reflect food as preventative health care. We forgot that we have a responsibility to budget, plan, and just buy less junk like electronics and food with toys and more real food like kale.They made it, yes, but we bought it. We forgot that we need to know what is in our food and that we need to speak up and demand truth and health.
So my sons, I write this to you not as an explanation, to defend my laziness, ignorance and blind trust in a broken system, but to let you know that I know NOW. In the late summer of 2012, my life, and the future of your life, altered when I found out about genetically modified foods. And now I have different non-apology for you.
I am not sorry that you will not be eating that birthday cake filled with GMO corn oil frosting and soy lecithin and GM ingredients. ( I will bring non GM cupcakes)
I am not sorry that you will not be eating GM lunches at school. ( I will pack them.)
I am not sorry that you will be bringing all your own food to Cub Scouts and friend's houses. ( I will give you snacks)
And I am not sorry that we will be at rallies to speak up against GMO Salmon and marching on July 4th.
You may feel sorry now, when I say no. But my No means YES. YES for life. Yes for health. YES for this vast, unending love I have for you that fills my soul and overflows into this world that we can create together... that values first...HEALTH not money, PEOPLE and PLANET, not profit. I will give up that "it's hard" and take on that I "get to" be your Mom and provide you with healthy food.
The future belongs to us. The future of food belongs to all of us. As a Mom, I know now that 85% of the food is bought by Moms, so 85% of the responsibility is on us. It is up to us to fix this.
As a respresentative of many Moms, we say, " We're NOT Buying it!" We are not buying GMO food. We are not buying the lies of safety. We are not buying the stories about feeding billions. Because we see the one or three children, that are worth more to us than billions of dollars, RIGHT IN FRONT OF US, get worse on GMO food and drastically improve when they are not eating them.
I am sorry for you, Monsanto and FDA, but the jig is up. Moms are finding out everyday. You may have the money, but we have the golden gift of gab and hearts that are bigger than your wallets. Ignoring that GMO food doesn't work for humans or our planet, no longer works. Find another way.
Boys, I love you. I always did and I always will. Forgive me for the past. Let's create a healthy future together.
Organizer of Moms Across America March July 4th 2013
Kathleen is the blond lady in the middle in the vest near Howard Vlieger at Mother's Market.
It was after 9 pm on election night and I was standing on the sidewalk outside of Mother's Market after the Prop 37 loss, sobbing. I held my face in my hands, and my body shook as I hiccuped breaths of night air. Suddenly, a blond peppy lady came rushing over. We had met briefly inside but suddenly she was saying with the familiarity of a long lost best friend," It's not over, it's just the beginning! Don't worry, we are going to do this! In just a couple months all of a sudden millions of people said Yes to labeling! We can do this!" She patted my shoulder and I looked at her with a flicker of hope. How could she be so optimistic? I thought I was...but this woman, whom I have grown to know, love and admire literally was my beacon of hope that night. She called to me with her faith and pulled me from the depths of despair.
Kathleen Kelly Hallal is an Irvine Mom, like you and me...busy.. three boys, Den mother, PTA member, Mom extraordinaire and yet ordinary too. She just loves her kids as we do. She grew up in CA but spent a lot of time in the farming communities of Northern Idaho. She gets the value of of a farmer and the important of how food is grown and raised.
I have to say I didn't totally get it at first when, over the next few weeks of getting to know her after the election loss, she cooked up the idea of hosting Howard Vlieger, a 3rd generation Farmer from Iowa come talk to the OC about food, farming and health. I seriously wondered, how are we going to get Moms to care what a farmer has to say? Our culture is so removed from farmers....they are like the designers of our clothes, we hear about them and know they are doing something good but we never see them and don't ever expect to. We don't need to know how our clothes are designed, we just want to wear them.Same with food.
But Kathleen had seen his talk, and it had made a huge difference for her and her family. See, one of her three boys, who was excelling in school, suddenly, in 2nd grade began acting very strangely. He hid under his desk at school, lost his ability to right or draw, forgot his math and wouldn't listen or follow the simplest of directions at home. His behavior was completely different from who he used to be and all their doctors wanted to put him on medications that Kathleen was just not going to accept. Finally a therapist said "If you take his tonsils out, I think this will go away." Kathleen though she was crazy, but after further blood testing and discovering that he had an imperceptible ( from swab tests and sight) STREP infection which was impacting his brain and behavior. It is called PANDAS. Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcus.
They removed his tonsils, put him on antibiotics and he got completely well. They have their happy, successful boy back! But Kathleen was of course committed to keeping him healthy and using antibiotics as little as possible, so she researched nutrition madly, and went to Howard's talk in October. There she learned that genetically modified foods, because they occur as a foreign protein in the body, weaken the immune system from constantly trying to keep the foreign protein out. When the immune system is weak from fighting off these foreign proteins, it cannot fight off other bacteria like STREP as easily as it once could have. Infections become stronger and our kids are become sicker and their behavior and ability to perform tasks are being affected. Further blood testing also showed her kids had 26 different food intolerances, in addition to a serious peanut allergy, which also are caused by the immune system reacting to what they perceive as foreign proteins a weakening of the immune system. These intolerance's did not show up as rashes, they were invisible on the outside. But on the inside her son's immune systems were struggling to fight these foods as they were unknowingly exposed to them and surely attributed to their irritability, inability to focus or make good decisions. When a body is in defense mode, the person is going to feel out of sorts and defensive, maybe even aggressive.
She also learned that Glyphosate ( the active chemical ingredient of Roundup herbicide) which is being sprayed on many GMO crops, kills off good bacteriain the soil Glyphosate also promotes the growth of opportunistic organisms in the soil which causes more disease in the GMO crops. This leads to the development of molds and mycotoxins in the environment and the grain raised for the food supply. These micotoxins even at very minute levels cause a wide range of health problems to those eating the grain or foods made from this grain. Whether it is our kid’s breakfast cereals, chips or tortillas. So on top of a weakened immune system from the GMO foreign proteins, they are getting inundated with bad micotoxins, molds and potentially super bugs in the environment. The rates of kids with walking pneumonia have skyrocketed according to her pediatrician and bugs like MSRA are killing our children.
GMOs are attacking our kids. A whole generation of children, whose immune systems are much more susceptible than adults, are being experimented on, and their health, moods, relationships, confidence, behavior and performance in school is being affected...some without visible physical symptoms.
Since Kathleen learned this, she has had her children largely on a GMO Free diet and has seen remarkable improvements. She has heard of many children who have had sudden erratic behavior changes and inability to perform in school and they parents are convinced to put their kids on drugs or even lock them in psych wards. She believes a blood test of underlying STREP may explain and resolve this behavior. So she is committed to educating and empowering Moms Across America about this condition and the solution.
To do this, Kathleen went to extraordinary measures and sponsored/hosted farmer and GMO expert Howard Vlieger to come to Irvine, and Orange County and speak for 6 days. She made calls for weeks and scheduled speaking engagements at PTAs, schools, Moms groups, an Ecology center and many more . She arranged for a video to be made and a restaurant to host a talk. She drove him to every single speaking engagement, 17 in all, 5 in one day some days, spoke to the Moms about PANDAS and GMOs, and provided pamphlets at her own cost. She managed lunches, sports and even brought her kids to Howard's talks ( and they asked when he was going to speak to kids?). She was tireless.
After seeing Howard's talk I got why she wanted this farmer to speak to American Moms. His perspective is groundbreaking. Her generosity and commitment to bring his perspective to us is exactly what is going to transform the future of food from one that is making our kids obese, have weakened immune systems, burdened with allergies and behavioral challenges, to one of healthy happy and successful kids who can eat organic food where ever they go on life's adventures.
Because the greatest gift a Mom can give is to let go and bless their children's adventures in the world... and Moms like Kathleen are doing whatever it takes now to ensure that that world is one where they can thrive.
Thank you Kathleen! And thank you to Tom, her supportive husband and three understanding boys.
You can see Howard Vlieger's extraordinary DVD soon on MomsAcrossAmerica.com
For more info on PANDAS:
Most of us will be calling for stricter gun laws in the next few months. Many of us will be pushing for greater access to mental health care. That will be a source of glee for pharmaceutical companies, who just want to drug every kid that acts fidgety but is not the solution. Many may scoff, but the solution to who we are, to how we behave, to our reactions to situations of stress, is most often our food. " We are what we eat" is literally true.
Yes, I agree. Get those gun laws enforced NOW. There is no reason what so ever for anyone to own an automatic weapon. And no one should own any kind of gun without frequent training and extensive psychiatric screening.
But as far as mental health care, rather than push for our kids to be drugged into complacent walking comas, I propose we educate the public about the affect food has on behavior. From Barbara Stitt's book " Food and Behavior: The Natural Connection";
"Ask any hyperactive child, depressed, angry teenager, violent adult or criminal what they eat and you'll find they "live" on junk food — sweetened boxed cereals, candy, carbonated drinks, potato chips, fast foods."
You may want to argue that feeding kids soda, chips and fast food is nothing compared to a kid with a chemical imbalance. Not your kid. A few sodas and chips won't hurt... parents are not that bad guys! Some kids are just born with serious chemical imbalances and that's that.
That may be true, in a few cases. I am not a brain scientist. I am however a Mother that can smell a cop out when I see one. We can no longer chalk up violent behavior to genetics or chemical imbalance. Studies have shown that genetically modified food does not just alter one gene independently by the insertion of a bacteria harboring a pesticide into the DNA. The forcing of a foreign protein instigates unforeseeable, unpredictable and uncontrollable mutations in that living being. And when we ingest that information, it gets transferred to our DNA. *
We also know now that genetically modified food has an impact on hormonal balance through the studies of RBGH bovine growth hormone in milk. Hormonal balance, allergies and inflammation, all cause the bodies to act in defense of a foreign invader, create Cortisol and affects chemical imbalances.* A body which experiences being constantly under attack by foreign invaders is a body which is going to be defensive and aggressive. It doesn't take a scientific study to figure that out.
But if you want evidence, Dr. Barbara Stitt did studies for 16 years on school children and behavior. See excerpts below from reviews of her book.
"An astute medical detective, Dr. Stitt looked for hypoglycemia, food allergies, adrenal gland fatigue, heavy metal accumulation, and B vitamin and other nutritional deficiencies. She knew these five problems led to distortions of thinking and decision--making. When these were addressed the results were astounding: Even though it is common for over half of arrestees to be drug dependent and for recidivism rates to be as high as 77% - over 80% of her probationers stayed out of the criminal justice system during the last twelve of her 20 years of work in Ohio. The Wall Street Journal featured her success in a front-page story titled "Can Chocolate Turn You Into a Criminal? Some Experts Say So" June 2, 1977. Numerous scientific studies have also found high success rates of probationers staying out of crime, including CARA's own program in the Sacramento County Drug Court, wherein (over a 10 year period) 87% of the addicts were successful in staying free of addiction - saving the County $22-million in the process helping thousands of people have happier, successful lives.
Barbara Reed Stitt eventually turned her focus to prevention, reaching out to schools in the hope of changing the future for students and for society that suffered from the consequences of their biochemical imbalances. For 16 years, beginning in 1983, Dr. Stitt and her husband underwrote a 'school healthy eating program'. They owned an all-natural whole grain bakery and provided whole grain bagels and a flax drink high in omega-3 that was given to students in 30 - 40 different classrooms each morning and afternoon in Wisconsin, Illinois, and Minnesota. They provided newsletters each month teaching teachers, parents, and students about healthy eating. After 6 - 8 weeks of the healthier foods they required the teachers to hold a 'junk food day' when the students returned to eating as they were doing before starting the program. Repeatedly, the teachers found that after about two hours of eating the typical donuts, sweet rolls, and other 'junk foods,' the teachers lost control of their classrooms. The parents reported the children were more argumentative and had trouble sleeping and behaving. One teacher who was in the program for 12 years followed up with her students who were in college and found that the experience had a lasting influence on their lives and their ability to better learn and concentrate.
In 1999 ( note, this is after GMOs were put into food supply) they were invited to provide the foods for Wisconsin's Appleton Central Alternative High School, which was so out of control they had a full-time police officer on staff! The Stitts replaced soda machines and refined and processed, sugar-artificial-color-corn syrup-laden cafeteria food with water and wholesome fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. Within less than two months of being provided with healthier foods, the school had NO discipline problem. The high school students' behavior changed dramatically and was so consistently good the Superintendent extended the wholesome foods to the entire school system of 15,000 students. While the high school drop-out rate was considered fairly low at an average of 450 students per year, after two years this number had dropped to an average of 16 per year! (See the 5-year story on a 14 minute DVD - "Impact of Fresh Whole Foods on Learning and Behavior" - www.naturalpress.info or firstname.lastname@example.org"
So in the aftermath of Newtown CT, hug your kids today, cherish them, and look in the pantry at what you are feeding them. High fructose corn syrup, food dyes, preservatives, GMO's in corn and soy ingredients, highly processed foods, fried foods and sugary foods, all cause chemical imbalances to the body and deprive the body of the important proteins, nutrients, vitamins and minerals we need to be physically and mentally balanced. Rather than just telling the government what to do (but please do that) we also need to look to our own families and be responsible for what we are feeding them.
To be the kind of society that we can feel completely safe sending our kids to school, we need to also reach beyond our families and ask our school communities to feed our children healthy, whole, fresh, GMO free, high fructose corn syrup free, preservative free, food dye free, and pesticide-free food.
If every Mom spoke up, we would alter the future for our children through food.
Here's what we can do:
Speak to our PTAs about Food and Behavior. Quote Barbara Stitt. Quote Jeffrey Smith from "Genetic Roulette".
Show the 10-minute version of "Genetic Roulette" or Robyn O'Brien's Ted Talk. Explain how a person riddled with allergies, inflammation, autism, ADHD and deprived of nutrients, cannot focus, perform well, feel confident or successful in school and this leads to depression and aggression.
Offer a solution like http://revfoods.com/our-food/.
Grow a garden at your school and get the kids involved in planting, weeding, and harvesting. Kids will eat veggies when they have helped grow them.
Lead by example. Speak up. Have your kids write letters to the government too. Make a video, song or presentation for school.
This is our country. These are our kids.
We are all their Moms.
The other day, my friend said that she has a friend who eats everything off the shelf from a regular grocery store, loaded with GMOs and she just doesn't know how to talk to her about it. Her voice was sad and laced with anxiety. She thinks her friend would be really resistant and wouldn't want to hear anything bad. She's a super busy Mom and just doesn't want one more problem to think about it. I could hear that my friend didn't want to upset her or cause a rift in the friendship.
Ohhhhhh....I could feel her struggle. I have shared about GMOs with thousands of people, but still have a hard time with a few people, when I am concerned about what they think and hurting the relationship. I got a bit confronted when she asked me to blog about what to say to people and yet , I appreciate the request so much because it really does make me think. How have I done it? How do I do it?
Here are a few tips:
1) Give up that they are doing anything wrong.
I really mean this one. We need to shift our thinking. This is not always easy to do. But think about it, before you knew about GMOs, were you doing anything WRONG when you fed your kids the food your were feeding them? No. You were doing what worked for you. And you didn't want anyone to tell you what to do. If you approach them like they are doing anything wrong, it's game over.
2) Be Curious.
Listen to them, ask them questions about how they are dealing with things. When they feel gotten, they will be much more receptive to listening to you. People who just start telling people what to do are annoying. People who listen are cool and safe to share with and we care about what they think. Ask them if they have heard of GMOs and what do they think.
3) Don't try to fix. Just Share.
Get rid of "You should try..." and replace it with " I really didn't want to even think about this at first, or know anything about it, but I found out about Genetically modified foods and I tried...." Share about you, not them. And keep it short.
4) Be Authentic. Don't be Rah Rah.
I am a very optimistic person and have the passion of ten people sometimes. But no one wants a cheerleader to be shouting and bouncing around about something they don't even want to do. Just be authentic. "Changing the way I thought about food really sucked at first. I cried for a day. I was pissed off for three. I still am sometimes. Sometimes I hate these chemical companies and I think about taking a blow torch to the cereal aisle. But this is about the health of my kids...and the truth is I will do anything for them...and if it means switching to buy different brands, even if it takes a little longer or costs a little more, I will do that. I want them to be healthy and be able to have their own kids someday. "
People get that...or whatever is there for you in your heart, for real. When you get present to how much you love your kids, they will too. Nothing is too hard when you are present to that love. Love is unstoppable.
5) Give them support.
Give them a NON GMO shopping guide. Send them an email with a few easy tips. Share a video with them. And then keep listening.Here are some tips:
1. Replace corn/canola oil with Grapeseed oil ( no taste, good at high heat) and only use 100% Olive Oil or they could sneak GMO canola in it.
2. Only eat organic fruits, veges and meats if at all possible. Especially only eat corn or soy/Tofu if it's organic. Replace soy sauce with Bragg's.
3. Buy all breakfast cereals, crackers, corn tortillas and snacks organic or NON GMO Project Verified. Nature's Path has great cereals.
4. Buy products with CANE sugar, not Sugar from Sugar beets. This is the hardest one for me. I confess I am not 100% here.
6.Email them short videos
Genetic roulette 10 min version http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TB5EBFUwaw0
Robyn O'Brien "Patriotism on a Plate" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T6WpMM1FR8g
"It's about progress, not perfection" says Robyn O'Brien. Be their partner, not their preacher. We are all in this together. The best thing about it is that we are all in this together and the bonds we can grow by Giving Up That There Is Anything Wrong, Being Curious, Being Authentic, and Giving Support, will make you so glad you stepped out side of your comfort zone and shared something that matters to you...and even if they don't know it now....to them too.