Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Is it truly possible to avoid consuming anything harmful?

I was at a big box grocery store yesterday and had three employees examining my purchases. One was ringing me up, while the other two people were bagging. I occasionally get questions about what is in my cart since I try to buy only organic or natural items from the grocery store. I’ve even had other customers stop me and ask questions about what I’m buying, which just reinforces how confusing labels (aka marketing) can be.

But yesterday, the young man bagging my groceries started a conversation that left me feeling like a hypocrite…

He was eyeing my White Oak Pastures ground beef when he asked…”does grassfed mean organic?”

“No,” I said, “it just means they were fed grass instead of fed corn their entire lives. They shouldn’t eat corn, they can’t digest it properly. It’s better for you.”

The cashier pipes up and says “we shouldn’t eat corn either”. Which is an entirely new subject about GMO’s, corn syrup, diabetes and I could go on forever, so I told her “I could get on a soapbox about that subject” and left it alone.

He asked “does it (the meat) taste better?”

“Yes, I think it does” I said.

Then the moment of disgrace happened…I had my two boys with me and I allowed them to pick out a pre packaged, mix and bake, molten chocolate cake. Most of the time, begrudgingly, they are forced to buy all dry snacks and cereals from the organic isle. They are definitely getting used to it and realize that it’s the same stuff, just made with organic ingredients. However, yesterday I made an exception. When the young man went to bag this particular purchase, he called me out.

“Is this good for you too?” he asked.

“Well, no, but when you have kids you have to allow a little of the bad stuff in…” I stammered.


I felt like a total hypocrite, but then I thought, even if I tried, I couldn’t remove all of the bad stuff from our diet if I shopped only at a grocery store. I’ll never see how or who grew the food I’m consuming. And I’ve tried to buy a grocery cart full of food without high fructose corn syrup – it’s near impossible. The chicken at our store has “no added hormones or antibiotics.” “Added?” Which means it must contain some to begin with - how much?  Well, they don’t have to tell us that (among other critical details). Thanks USDA/FDA!

The choices are too confusing for consumers and they’re left to believe that the marketing hype printed on the label is true. I remember when “Corn Fed Beef” was actually marketed as a good thing. Even some recent advertisements claim that high fructose corn syrup must be good for you, because it comes from corn, and what’s more natural than corn! Look at your choice of eggs in the grocery store…Organic, Cage Free, and Free Range… What does that really mean? Well Organic doesn’t mean they were fed grass and bugs - It just means they were fed organic feed. A chicken can be labeled organic, cage free and free range, but still be raised in an ammonia filled chicken house walking around on their own feces all day.

So I ask, can we avoid all of the harmful stuff completely?

It is possible, but not without a lot of education, hard work and serious sacrifice. And in our day of bigger, better, faster, cheaper, not a lot of us are willing to do it.  And frankly, I think we've lost a little confidence in how capable and strong we really are.

I wouldn't trade the time I spend with my family tending to the garden and caring for the chickens.

My challenge - make my own organic molten chocolate cake!

- Nicole


  1. Great Blog "The Wife". I completely agree.


  2. I saw the article in today's Citizen newspaper. We live in Peachtree City and we want to volunteer on your farm!! If not that, then we want to support you by purchasing your foods. We share similar concerns and values. I gave my husband the book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle for Christmas and it has us excited to attempt such a venture. We have two small children and one on the way. Small hands make quick work.

    You can reach me at or on Facebook. If nothing else. I want to extend a big Thank You for being brave. I am proud of you.

    Michelle Simpson

  3. Great post (and nice writing)! It *is* hard at the grocery store. We try to be conscientious of these same things, but they don't make it easy, or cheap, for us. I am so excited for you guys and happy to be in touch again (even if only electronically). Love the blog and you guys, too!