Monthly Archives: March 2014

The Unintended Consequences of Organic

After I launched this blog, one of my very best friends reminded me that the reason lots of moms make the choices they do, including buying organic, is because they’re trying to do their very best to reduce their children’s exposure to chemicals they see as harmful. She said, “If you can reduce their exposure just a little bit, doesn’t that make sense?”

I agree – it makes perfect sense.  Sometimes.

I’m no different than any other parent. I want to minimize my kids’ risk, I want them to be safe, and I hope that I’m making good, informed choices. One of the most difficult parts of being a parent is bearing the burden of making decision for someone’s long-term future without any input from them. I find that overwhelming at times; it’s scary thinking you might make the wrong choices.

What some people don’t appreciate, though, is that the choices we make have far-reaching effects.  While this is true to some extent in many contexts, this is especially true with food.

on the tractor-1

For many things, like avoiding sun exposure, the only people impacted by your decisions are you and your family. But with food, you’re impacting the entire agricultural system, from the marketers who are trying to say things on the package that consumers might want to hear, to the breeders who make selections based on what they think consumers want, to the people across the world who just want food at all. When you vote for organic with your pocketbook, it impacts a connected system that we share on a global level. Agriculture relies on our shared, finite resources like water and land.

This is where the challenge of making decisions becomes even harder, because sometimes what seems like a no-brainer turns out to be more complicated. The only way to solve it, I think, is to properly evaluate the risk against the benefit. People are willing to take extreme risks with their safety when they can experience a clear benefit. For example, one of the biggest risks we take every day is getting into a car. According to the CDC, accidents or unintentional injuries is the fifth leading cause of death in the United Sates. Motor vehicle accidents make up the largest part of that category; more than 33,000 people died in a motor vehicle accident in 2010. Yet most of us strap our kids into a car almost every single day. We take that risk because we can see a clear benefit.  As consumers, we don’t see the benefit of conventional farming, but we think we can identify a risk, so it seems easy to make that choice.

The benefit is there, but we just might not see it. Conventional farming yields 25 percent more, on average, than organic farming. That means for every acre of land that’s farmed organically, we could be feeding a quarter more people if we used conventional methods. Not only that, but organic farming reduces the efficiency of all the inputs required to grow food: water, fertilizer, pesticides (yes, organic farmers also use pesticide), and fuel (to plant, manage, harvest and to transport the food).

If we had infinite resources this wouldn’t be an issue, but we don’t, and it is an issue. The amount of land that we commit to agriculture is shrinking as our population grows. The FAO projects our population will grow by one third between 2009 and 2050 and predicts we’ll need to raise food production by about 70 percent over that time. This feat will take all the tools we have, and that includes technology. I’m not saying that organic farming doesn’t have a place in that, it surely does. Having the choice to buy organic is a luxury in the United States, and I’m OK with having choices. But we need to be encouraging the overall system to be sustainable and efficient; using the fewest resources necessary to responsibly get the most out of every acre. If a farmer can do that, but doesn’t qualify for “USDA certified organic,” we should be voting for that.

When the choices that we make at the supermarket start a movement that impacts those in other parts of the world who don’t really have the luxury of choice, I’m not OK with it. There are farmers in India that really don’t have the luxury of farming organically; they need every bushel to feed their family. There are starving people in Africa that would love to have our conventionally farmed produce, because it would be food to feed mouths.

I can’t complete this post without harping on another fact: let’s acknowledgecarrots and zucchini-1 the fact that organic farmers also use pesticide. They use organic pesticides, but they’re still pesticides. Classifying a pesticide as “organic” does not mean that pesticide is harmless or even safe.  As with any pesticide, what matters is how much residue is present compared to how toxic that residue is. You simply cannot grow crops without controlling weeds and bugs – any backyard gardener knows this. My first year gardening in the Pacific Northwest, I lost an entire head of romaine lettuce literally overnight to slugs because I didn’t know I had to apply slug repellent.  I’m working on a more in-depth story on organic pesticides, so stay tuned for that, but remember that organic is not equivalent to pesticide-free.

I empathize with parents who choose organic because they’re trying to avoid exposure to pesticide. I understand what you’re aiming to do, but the benefit to your family (if any) doesn’t outweigh the risk to the global food supply. As I outlined in a previous post, there isn’t a real risk when you eat conventional produce, but there is a real benefit: efficiency in the use of our shared resources. And the availability and affordability of food for our children, our children’s children, and children in other parts of the world you will never meet but should probably care about, is a clear benefit.

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A Nod to Farmers on National Agriculture Day

USA oranges-1Today is National Agriculture Day, so I thought I’d take a minute to reflect on what that means to me. Sometimes I think we Americans take for granted some of the things we consider the basics: a house to live in with electricity so we don’t have to go to bed when the sun sets, heating and cooling, telephones, refrigerators to keep our food fresh, cars that allow us to live more than a few blocks from work, toilets… I have family that lives in the area of Colorado that was devastated last fall by a flood. Nothing reminds you more of the things you can’t live without until they’re gone.  Putting those services back in place in that area has taken lots of time and hard work. There is a person behind every one of those necessities, someone who worked hard to provide us with heat and plumbing, and sometimes we forget to remember that.

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One of those necessities is food; it’s always there at the supermarket when you need it. This week I’m going to make a salad with tomatoes and peppers, never mind those ingredients don’t grow well in the Pacific Northwest, nor are they in season.  We often forget that every time we go to the grocery store and buy something to eat, there is a farmer behind that food and behind that farmer is the entire agriculture industry from the scientists and breeders to the veterinarians and truck drivers. Whether it’s the dairy farmer who milked the cow for your ice cream or the breeder who spent years perfecting a certain variety of broccoli, there was work that went into you being able to enjoy ice cream at a moment’s notice and broccoli whenever you feel like it.  That’s such a nice, regular luxury that I forget it’s even a luxury. It’s good to have a day to remind us that it is, in fact, a luxury.

Whether you buy conventional or organic produce, whether or not you agree with me on the rest of my posts, let’s not forget all the hard work and thought that goes into providing us with food every single day. It’s not just as easy as putting a seed in the ground and coming back a few months later to harvest a crop. It takes science and technology. It also takes foresight, planning, long hours, and lots of hard physical work to put that meal on your table. It takes worrying over the weather and fretting about what varieties to buy. It takes getting up in the middle of the night to check on a sick cow and going out in a snowstorm to make sure the livestock is safe.

I’d like to say thank you to the farmers and to the agriculture industry that stands behind the farmer for making our lives easier; for doing the work that makes all of our lives possible.

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Saturday Scenery: Spring in the Gorge

spring in the columbia gorge-1Taken from Beacon Rock on the Washington side of the Columbia River Gorge, looking across the gorge at Oregon.

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March 22, 2014 · 2:28 pm

Why My Family Eats Conventional Produce

I can’t tell you the number of conversations I’ve had that go like this:

Me: Let’s go apple picking!

apples-1

Mom-friend: Yes! Let’s find an organic or spray-free orchard, though.

Me: Why?

Mom-friend: I want to avoid pesticides; I just don’t think the government does enough to guarantee our produce is safe.

Me: Really? Do you know what they do during that process?

Mom-friend: Um, no. Do you?

Me: Um, no. But I bet it’s a lot.

When I hear that line of argument against conventional produce (“I just don’t trust the EPA/USDA/FDA”) I want to drag that mom over to the computer and pull up the EPA’s website and walk her through some of the information they have on their website. But, believe me, it’s not very fun. I could write a whole post on why I think the EPA, USDA and FDA need serious help organizing and clarifying the information that’s on their websites. I’ve recently looked through a lot of it, for this and some future articles, and it’s almost as fun as trying to get your toddler to find the shoes they’ve hidden somewhere in your house when you’re late (never mind, you don’t need shoes, let’s go.) Perhaps this is why few consumers actually take the time to look into what the USDA and the EPA do. It’s tedious and science-y.

I thought it would be useful to actually investigate some of the things that I don’t think parents really think about when they toss aside the extensive work our regulatory bodies do to help reassure us that conventionally grown produce (those that are sprayed with synthetic pesticide) is safe. If you don’t read any further in this article (because I am going to talk about studies and use words like “tolerance level s” and “toxicology”) I will try to sum it up for you here: They do a lot. It’s extensive and exhaustive. At the end of the day, I feel very confident that they have looked at it from all angles and have put regulations in place that err on the side of caution to reassure us our produce is safe.

getting rid of weedsBut don’t take my word for it. Let’s take a look at what happens when a company wants to start selling a pesticide. Those companies have to do both an environmental and human health assessment, but I’m going to focus here on the human health assessment. It’s a three pronged approach: toxicology studies, establishing a tolerance level and dietary risk assessment.

First, the company (who is really called the registrant) must do toxicology studies. The goal of these studies is to show what effect the pesticide could cause, and to establish a level at which there is no adverse effect in animal testing. The studies systematically expose different mammalian species (such as rats and mice) to the pesticide at varying amounts and measure the effect. The EPA outlines extensively how this must be done; it’s not left up to the registrant. They must measure toxicity arising from acute exposure, chronic exposure, and sub-chronic exposure. They measure inhalation toxicity, oral toxicity, dermal toxicity, carcinogenicity, reproductive toxicity, immunotoxicity, and neurotoxicity, just to name a few. Look here for the full testing requirements.  The goal of these studies is to literally uncover the worst possible outcome from exposure to the pesticide. They take extensive tissue samples, analyze them all and determine the dose level at which there are no observed adverse effects, called the NOAEL. Then, because the studies aren’t actually done in humans, and because sensitivity can vary across individuals, a safety factor is applied to the animal NOAEL, which lowers the dose level anywhere from 100-1,000 fold less than the observed level. Using the NOAEL and the safety margin, the EPA establishes what is called a reference dose. A reference dose is an acceptable amount of exposure to a substance that has reasonable certainty it will cause no harm (also known as the safe exposure level).

The registrant also has to do field trials to establish a tolerance level. A tolerance means, assuming farmers use the pesticide according to the legal label (EPA-approved pesticide use instructions), we shouldn’t find produce with pesticide residue exceeding that amount. I don’t think the term “tolerance” is a great one, because I feel like it implies an impact to your health, like how much your body can tolerate. Tolerance is really talking about the maximum anticipated amount of residue on produce. Think of it like a speed limit, only one that you rarely even reach, and even if you go over by a teeny bit, it does not mean certain death. The EPA establishes that level by reviewing extensive registrant-conducted field trials in which the pesticide is sprayed at the maximum labeled rate and the produce is sampled at the shortest interval before harvest. For example, if pest control requires that the pesticide can be sprayed at a maximum of two pounds per acre and no later than seven days before harvest, the field trials will use those conditions. In practice, most farmers will likely not use the full two pounds (pesticides are expensive, they’ll use as little as possible to be effective). The scientists collect all the produce samples from the field trials (done over  one or two seasons throughout the US growing region) and they establish a method to measure the pesticide residue (parent compound plus any metabolites that the pesticide may have been turned into as a result of its interaction with the soil and plant.) The samples are analyzed to determine the concentration of the pesticide residue in the samples collected from all the trials, which may range for example, up to four parts per million (ppm).  Lots of factors affect the residue levels (rainfall, temperature, crop variety, etc.) and they often vary up to 10-fold across all the trials, due to these factors.  The EPA then uses these results in a statistically-based calculation to establish a tolerance, such as five ppm in this example.  The intent is to set a tolerance that is high enough so that it won’t be exceeded if the pesticide was used properly, but is still close to the maximum level measured in the trials.

So now we have the tolerance level (the pesticide shouldn’t occur in the produce above this amount) and the reference dose (people shouldn’t consume more than this in one day.) The only unknown is how much produce do people actually consume? How many apples, for example, do people eat on a daily basis? The EPA uses something called the Dietary Exposure Evaluation Model to figure that out. This database contains survey information for different age groups (infants, young children, teens, elderly, etc.) over different periods of time documenting how much of different foods they ate. The initial dietary risk assessment assumes that everyone is eating the produce for their whole lives that contain residues at the tolerance level. This means that they’re assuming every single acre of apples has been sprayed at the maximum rate and the shortest interval before harvest, and that there is no residue reduction from processing, apples 2-1washing, or cooking. They make the very conservative assumption that every apple you eat has the highest allowable pesticide residue on it, which the USDA knows from the Pesticide Data Program doesn’t happen (more on that in a future article on the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen List.) Assessments are made for both acute risk (a single day’s consumption) and chronic risk (a lifetime’s consumption). Acute risk assumes that you eat a very large (95th to 99.9th percentile of surveyed consumption) amount of apples in a single day. Chronic risk is based on average daily apple consumption over a lifetime. The amount of apples eaten under both scenarios is multiplied by the tolerance level to give the worst-case pesticide exposure, which is compared to the relevant reference dose (acute or chronic) to determine if the potential exposure is safe (below the reference dose; don’t forget that the reference dose incorporates a 100-1,000 fold safety margin). It’s especially important to note that these dietary risk assessments are not limited to exposure from a single food (e.g., apples) but are for aggregate summed exposure from all approved food uses of that pesticide, plus any potential exposure from drinking water. Total exposure must fall below the relevant reference dose (with its conservative safety margin) before a pesticide can be approved for use.

It’s also important to understand that the decisions of the EPA are legally binding.  It is a federal crime to promote or use a pesticide in any manner that is not approved by the EPA and printed on the label. When a pesticide use is approved, the EPA reviews the exact text of the label that will be printed to describe its proper use, which cannot be changed without prior re-approval.  States also have authority to review and approve pesticide labels. The residue tolerance levels are enacted by the EPA through rule making, and are printed in the Code of Federal Regulations; food containing residues in excess of the tolerance is adulterated and may not legally be sold or distributed. Only after both federal and state approvals of all these documents are complete is a pesticide “registered” for use.

Whew.  See? Not as flippant as you might think.  Not just one or two studies, not conspiracy theories about pesticide companies hiding data, not just someone from the EPA having dinner with someone from the chemical company and shaking hands about money-making over some scotch while they cackle ominously about the fate of our children’s health. I hope no one actually thinks that, but it would make a good caricature for the op-ed section, no? Real scientists doing real studies that actually try to guarantee safety. This is why I feel confident feeding my family conventional produce, and why I’m calling momsense on being afraid of conventional pesticides.

If you’re interested in the real data, and want to follow the registration of a pesticide from start to finish (ala “How a Bill Becomes A Law” only not animated, and not really fun to watch) follow the below progression. I’ve arbitrarily chosen the pesticide fluazinam, which is a broad spectrum contact fungicide often used on potatoes.

  1. Click here to view the CFR entry for fluazinam tolerances
  2. Open the PDF file at this link to see an example of an EPA dietary risk assessment for fluazinam
  3. Click here to see the Federal Register Rule arising from the fluazinam dietary risk assessment
  4. Click here to see the EPA approval of the fluazinam label based on the above decisions
  5. Click here to view the final printed label translating these regulatory actions into a real pesticide use label

* I have to give extensive credit to my dad for helping me with this article. He spent much of his career working on pesticide label registration and has expert experience navigating the regulatory websites and databases.

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Sometimes I Lose Friends Over My Opinions

friends-1Moving to Portland from the Midwest has been an interesting journey. When we moved here we didn’t know a single person, and I misjudged how hard that is. When you’re at home with two little ones, it can be very isolating, even with a support group of friends. Without them, it’s even harder. So one of the first things I did, before we moved here, was to join a few Mom groups through Meetup.com. That way I could hit the ground running when we got here (literally, one of them was a group called Running Mamas that proved very useful in finding flat-ish routes to run in Portland with a double jogger.) Almost immediately I was introduced to what I’m going to call Momlandia.

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Portland is pretty notorious for being an eccentric, foodie, and liberal city. So much so that there’s a very successful show that pokes fun at Portlanders. This stereotype-that-is-kind-of-true is one of the many things that make it so interesting to live here.  Nowhere is that stereotype more ubiquitous than among moms. I’m not sure if it’s just Portland, or if this movement of every-conversation-must-evolve-around-what’s-bad-for-our-kids coincided with our move, but it sure became amplified when we moved here. We went to playdates where it seemed everyone was an expert in something: what kind of “milk” you should feed your child (I put milk in quotes because I don’t consider hemp milk to actually be any kind of milk, it’s really just hemp juice), how much processed food they should or shouldn’t have, how close cell phone towers should be to schools, how long you should nurse your baby, and of course, whether or not you should eat organic. How did all these moms become experts? At no time during either of my pregnancies was there a mandatory education on flame retardants used in children’s pajamas. No one gave me a test to see if I knew where to find pesticide residue data on the USDA’s website. In fact, I don’t remember feeling any smarter or more informed after the birth of my children. I felt like I knew nothing at all. I was super panicked when the nurse left my husband and me alone in the hospital room with our first born. “Wait, what? You’re going to leave us alone with her?! What if we don’t know what to do?”

Maybe this feeling is what drives parents to dive head-first into the internet for information. And I guess once you’ve read a few CNN and Huffington Post articles, you can speak like an expert about certain topics at a playdate. Thirty minutes of googling something is certainly enough information. Frankly, that’s probably all the time most parents have to commit to a topic. Especially when there are 800 topics of concern. We can’t all be experts on everything. And most of us are experts on nothing at all, so let’s make sure we’re aware of our limitations and keep an open mind. You never know, though, when someone actually does know what they’re talking about.  If you’re going to have a conversation with another parent about something you feel strongly about, make sure you actually listen to what they’re saying, instead of just waiting for your turn to talk.

This conclusion hasn’t come easy to me, though. Poor assumptions were made early on. I was probably too arrogant about my own beliefs and spewed out smug sounding information about why I thought it was a waste of money to buy organic produce. Which is why I attracted the attention of a certain friend who believed adamantly that it was important to buy organic. I’d like to think I wasn’t judgy and that I kept an open mind, although I can’t be sure. I certainly remember recognizing early on that she and I were probably never going to see eye-to-eye, but that was ok with me. I have a really close friend who is very religious and she knows I’m not, and we’re both ok with that. We just don’t really talk about it, and I figured this would be the same. But I was new to Momlandia.

My friend started emailing me “information,” and it felt like every conversation we had ended in her questioning my approach. At some point I told her we’d just have to agree to disagree. Then one day she forwarded me an email from her mom’s CSA about organic produce being more nutritious than conventionally grown produce.  “You should really think about this,” she said. There was a chart that appeared to compare nutrients in organic produce versus conventionally grown produce, a study done by Rutgers University. The CSA was using it as an example why you, good organic customer, are doing the right thing. Turns out, the study was done in 1948 (you know, back in 1948 when everyone was thinking about the organic vs conventional debate …) and compares produce grown in soil with a high organic content to produce grown in soil with a high inorganic content (like rocky soil.) And, to top it all off, Rutgers has included a sectiontable about why this study says nothing about the nutrition of organic versus conventional produce. They explicitly say the findings do not support that and people often mis-quote their study that way. Weird… So, in the heat of the moment, I emailed my friend’s CSA and blind copied her, letting them know of their (certainly well-intentioned) mistake.  My friend did not appreciate this, and that was the end of our friendship. She basically told me she didn’t need science to know she was right about pesticides, and she didn’t want to be friends with someone who didn’t respect the earth. I didn’t think our difference of opinion was a deal breaker for our friendship, but she did. Which is too bad, because otherwise we got along great and I really liked her. Our kids enjoyed hanging out and we had a lot in common. But sometimes we moms are so convinced that we know what’s best that we don’t even want to hear what you have to say.

I learned a few things from that experience. I’ve learned you can’t take it upon yourself to “educate” someone if you’re not really interested in listening to and actually thinking about what they have to say. I’ve also learned that I need to be sure to respect everyone’s opinion. You’re entitled to your own opinion, even if it sucks and is based on pure emotion. I try now to pick my battles and listen more than I lecture, but it’s hard. Especially when I see friends post just inanely inaccurate stuff on Facebook or when I see a list posted on a friend’s refrigerator of foods to avoid because Monsanto makes them. (Since when does Monsanto package food and sell it to consumers?) I come face-to-face with mis-information and ignorance all the time. When I was filling out paperwork at a temp agency for some contract work I do for Monsanto, the woman who was processing the paperwork looked at the company name and said, “Monsanto? Who would want to work for them??” Um… obviously me. I’m sitting here filling out the paperwork, and PS: they’re a client of your agency. (To be up front, this is my personal blog, I write what I want and it is not connected to or compensated by Monsanto.)

I feel like I’m smarter about how I voice my opinions now, but it has cost me some friendships. That’s life, I guess.  Fortunately, I’ve also found lots of great friends. Some of them only serve their kids hemp milk or raw milk cheese, but that’s ok. And I definitely still meet judgy moms who look down on me for throwing caution to the wind and not shopping at Whole Foods. But I hope I can approach it better now. It doesn’t only apply to food, either. I also get the judgy look sometimes when my kids aren’t wearing a coat when it is too cold by someone else’s standard and sometimes I wonder why parents are out to dinner with their kids at 9:00 at night, but everyone has their own reason for doing what they do. We need to make sure we choose our judgy thoughts (and conversations) carefully. Let’s all be open-minded and use our Mom Sense.

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Mommy in a Strange Land

When I was in journalism school, particularly when I worked for the paper as a photo editor, we talked about the “Cheerio factor”: would people want to see this picture or read this story while they were eating their bowl of Cheerios in the morning? Well, are you reading this while eating a bowl of Cheerios? Do you know where those Cheerios come from?  Are they local and organic? Do you care? I’m not sure I even considered that as part of the “Cheerio factor” until recently, but I do now.

Strawberry picking

Hi, I’m Sara, I’ve been a stay-at-home mom for almost six years. I live just outside the city of Portland, OR with my husband of over ten years and our two kids. We moved here to Portland in 2011 from the Midwest. I grew up in St. Louis, MO, and lived in Kansas City for three years before we decided to leave everything and everyone we knew and move to Portland. Well, it’s not like we just up and decided that. We’ve been talking about moving to the Pacific Northwest for our entire relationship. I’m not even sure why we started talking about it, but it’s sort of always been “what we will do someday.” We both had a desire to get out of the Midwest and try someplace we’d never been. One time on a Southwest Airlines flight we pulled out the little napkin they give you with the map of the United States on it and crossed off every state we didn’t want to live in. I might make some enemies here, but when we were done we were left with much of the Pacific Northwest and Colorado. (Kansas and Missouri were only semi-crossed off. We have family there; we can’t completely rule it out forever.) The North is too cold, the South is too hot, and the East coast is… well, too crowded. Anyway, we liked what the Pacific Northwest offered: access to the mountains and the ocean, a liberal crowd, and a moderate climate. We settled on Portland mainly because it’s the most affordable big city in the Pacific Northwest and my husband got a job here. Plus, it’s cool, right?

So, here we are. It was a bit of a shock when we first moved here. I don’t want to come off sounding un-cultured. We lived in Vienna, Austria for a year (we both had internships at the United Nations) and we’ve both traveled a lot. It’s not like I thought everyone was like the people in the Midwest. But, still. Much like when you have kids, you can understand conceptually what it’s going to be like, but youPortland aerial tram-1 can’t really understand it until you do it. Moving to Portland from the Midwest is like that.  And I’m not only talking about the rain. You’ve seen Portlandia, right? It’s really not that far off base. I’m not saying I don’t love living here, I really do. But the people can be hard to take at times. I used to think I was liberal in the Midwest, and I probably was by those standards. I’m not liberal here.

Among other things, what stood out to me was the focus on food. Everything is about food. Where it’s grown, who grows it, what’s put on it, how it’s packaged, how it’s transported, where it’s sold, how you prepare it, what you use to store it in and what you do with leftovers. Everyone seems to care about every part of it. The variety of options is literally mind-boggling. I read that Portland has one restaurant for every 118 people, more restaurants per capita than San Francisco. In Kansas City we had regular grocery stores, Whole Foods and Trader Joes (and TJ’s had only JUST opened when we moved). Here we have (in descending order of smugness and price) Zupans, New Seasons, Market of Choice, Whole Foods, Trader Joes and regular grocery stores. That’s right, there are three local chains that are (in my opinion) more expensive and exhaustive in their selection of “natural” options than Whole Foods. And then there are the farmer’s markets. I would bet money that just about every municipality in the Portland Metro has a farmer’s market. The Portland Saturday Market is the largest continually operating outdoor market in the United States. Then there are the CSA’s (community supported agriculture) and community vegetable gardens; everyone’s got their own raised vegetable gardens, backyard chickens and bee hives for fresh honey. If it’s not local, it’s crap.

I don’t actually think it’s just Portland. There is a huge movement among our generation to find out more about where our food comes from. Maybe we have Michael Pollan to thank for that, and I’m not saying it’s a bad thing. I think it’s a good thing. I also think Portland is like an amplified caricature of that movement. I’m not sure what to call people who live here: Hipsters? Hippies? Locavores? Whatever, they’re here and they’re obsessed.

This is my blog about what it’s like being a stay-at-home mom in a city like Portland, where the focus on food is, in my opinion, exaggerated and extreme. I often find myself on the other side of many issues that my fellow SAHM’s discuss. After over-hearing and participating in lots of conversations centered on misinformation and fear mongering about food (probably largely based on our sensational media), I thought I’d make a concerted effort to really look into things that I think parents worry about. And, since I have a background in journalism, it seemed natural for me to document my search for information and share it with you. I hope you find that part of it useful. I’m also going to just write about being a mom, because it’s such a surreal journey that it’s hard to avoid writing about it. I hope you find that part of it entertaining. Let’s begin.

 

 

 

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