Don’t Muddle the Movement: How Can the Real Food Movement Speak with One Clear Voice?


Being part of a movement is empowering and inspiring. Nothing fuels one’s passion and purpose like being surrounded by likeminded people – whether in person at events like ShiftCon or even on a Facebook group or message board. It’s thrilling to see the power of numbers, working together for a common cause.

But what happens when not all of your causes are common? What if something you spend your life working towards gets lumped together with something you don’t even agree with?

Not all animal advocates agree with PETA’s tactics (Hi!). Not all liberal democrats are against the death penalty (Right here!). And not all advocates for real food, GMO labeling, organic farming, and a sustainable, healthy food system are anti-vaccinnation!

In fact, the connection that is made in this final instance has me extremely troubled.

There is a movement against healthy food advocacy and GMO-labeling that labels us all as “anti-science.” These groups use examples of extremist news sources like Dr. Mercola and Natural News to feed the notion that all health and environmental advocates also believe we should eliminate vaccines and can cure Ebola with essential oils and prevent polio with breastmilk. So I can see why they might find us all a little crazy. There’s just one problem. MOST of the folks who want to see a change in the food system don’t agree with these things!

According to a recent study, 93% of Americans show support for GMO labeling. I don’t have any statistics on how many Americans are keeping their children entirely unvaccinated, but it’s probably the vast minority.

I have quite a few friends and colleagues who I deeply respect and who chose not to vaccinate or not to follow the the prescribed schedule. This is an instance where we simply agree to disagree. People and their belief systems are not black and white. I know environmental advocates who carry a gun in their purse and love to go hunting on the weekends. I also know environmental advocates who are so vegan they wouldn’t even be comfortable if I ordered a steak at dinner.

By definition, environmentalists are pro-science. We believe the 99.9% of scientists that say climate change is real and man-made. We think it’s crazy that only a small percent of the 80,000 chemicals used in our products are scientifically tested for safety. We think it’s insane that the food and products produced for other countries are held to a higher health standard than what is sold in the U.S.

And that link brings us to FoodBabe, the subject of so much controversy and ire. There are at least three separate well-followed Facebook pages dedicated solely to making fun of her and “taking her down.”

In my opinion, Food Babe is not the ideal spokesperson for the healthy food movement. I don’t agree with her post on claiming to have food allergies in restaurants and I sure don’t agree with her stance on flu shots. I don’t like her policy of deleting comments from her social media, and she wouldn’t be my personal choice for leader of the food movement. BUT, she has managed to rally people against misleading marketing, unfair health double standards, and horrific ingredients in manufactured food. And by rallying these people, she has produced great change and gained plenty of attention. Do I wish she agreed with me on everything in life? Sure. But I have to be realistic and appreciate her for the good she has done.

It’s the “liberal lumping” that’s the problem. And it goes both ways. Certainly, not all Republicans are pro-life or against marriage equality.

Just because I consider myself a “green mom,” doesn’t mean I don’t take tylenol (and Zoloft). I use air-conditioning. I’ve bought cases of baby formula. I have never, nor do I intend, to brew kombucha. And I was first in line for the flu shot this fall.

Everyone within a movement has their own views and opinions – Occupy Wall Street went to hell in a handbasket because no one could articulate  a clear vision. So as different as we may be, us “healthy  green moms” have one clear vision in common, and it has nothing to do with vaccines or religion or veganism.

Our vision is for transparency and honesty from the food, cosmetics, and other manufacturing industries.

We undeniably agree that products produced for Americans should be held to the same standards as those manufactured for use abroad.

We want more accessible, affordable access to food that has not been genetically-modified or treated with dangerous pesticides.

We want fair farming practices that support the farmers, the environment, and humanely raised animals.

We want to be heard. And when too many other controversial issues get lumped in there, we just become white noise.

Promote any lifestyle you like and shout your beliefs from the mountaintops.

But we have to find a way to make the public hear us speak to these key issues with one clear, unwavering voice.

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