Saturday, November 28, 2009

"I Make Milk. What's Your Superpower?"

At a Halloween party, my friend saw a new mom wearing a shirt that said "I make milk. What's your superpower?"


But this post is not about the awesomeness of breastfeeding or of breastmilk--another time. This post is about health changes, specifically eating organic foods. I'm going to make it short and sweet and easy for men to understand, since they are ones that I find are the biggest skeptics.

  • Most people would agree that certain foods are superior to others (health and nutrition-wise). For example, a roasted carrot vs. a french fry.
  • If you agree with that, then you agree that people who eat mostly superior foods are healthier than others.
  • And if you understand that vitamins and nutrients as well as most chemicals and toxins are passed through breastmilk, then it makes sense that women (and other mammals) fed superior food will have healthier breastmilk.
I once heard a friend of a friend who is both a holistic doctor and an MD, say that "if you can make only one health change, switch to organic dairy." This surprised me. He did not say exercise daily or any number of things I can think of that would seem like really important health changes. He said switch to organic dairy.

  • Not only does milk from organic cows eliminate harmful antibiotics and hormones, it has also been shown to contain higher amounts of nutrients-- omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E, beta carotene and other antioxidants--than from conventional cows.
  • Children are most vulnerable to the impact of synthetic chemicals. Think about it, if you accidentally eat a gram of poison, you might be okay, but a gram of poison is a lot more deadly if your body weight is 10 lbs.

I understand that organic foods have a reputation for being expensive. In reality, organic fruits and vegetables don't cost much more, and sometimes less, if you buy them in season and from local growers at farmers markets, or if you are lucky enough to have one near you, at Trader Joe's.

Organic dairy, however, is often twice the price of regular milk. There are a few reasons for this. The food that the cows eat has to be organic, pesticide and chemical free, and the cows themselves have to be free from growth hormones or antibiotics, so it is organic on two levels. It is also more expensive because organic dairy farmers don't get subsidies from the government.* Therefore, it is doubly important that we support organic farmers with our dollars. I know that everyone can find a way for their budget to accommodate it, if they want to. As my friend James, the healthy chef, says, you can pay it now, or you can pay it later--to the health care system.

(*If you would like to know the political milk scandal, I highly recommend watching The Corporation. It is a very well researched documentary. There is also a great story in there about a high school for "bad" kids which was put on an organic lunch program and the kid's behavior and grades improved markedly.)

If you want to make further health changes, try to eat as organic as possible, but if that isn't practical for whatever reason, it is good to know which conventional fruits and vegetables are the safest and which ones you and your children should try to avoid or eat organic.

Highest in pesticides:

  • apples
  • bell peppers
  • celery
  • cherries
  • grapes (imported)
  • nectarines
  • peaches
  • pears
  • potatoes
  • red raspberries
  • spinach
  • strawberries

Lowest in pesticides:

  • asparagus
  • avocado
  • bananas
  • broccoli
  • cauliflower
  • corn (sweet)
  • kiwi
  • mangos
  • onions
  • papaya
  • pineapples
  • peas (sweet)

I am convinced that the increased use of pesticides and synthetic fertilizers in conventional farming is one of many reasons that our prophets have counseled us to grow a garden. Of course, if you live in an apartment, this isn't going to happen--at least not on a large scale. But no matter how urban your city, there are community gardens and farmer's markets near you. If you have never been to a farmer's market, they are great fun. There is usually some form of wholesome entertainment for kids and free samples of all the fresh food. The growers can also give you good cooking or recipe ideas.

To find a farmer's market near you, visit this website:
And here is a cute Friend article about a community garden.

Me at farmer's market. 8 mos pregnant.

1 comment:

  1. I have a friend with dairy cow who'll start making milk once she calves. She wants to share the bounty, and I can't wait. In the meantime, I think I might try to convince my husband that organic milk is worth the price tag, especially since I'm trying to get my body's hormones back into balance by avoiding environmental estrogens.

    And I think maybe you've inspired me to have another go at our backyard garden. It grew fabulously our first summer, not so great the second summer, and then I gave up when the squash seeds I had been watering for weeks somehow disappeared out of the ground. But there's nothing better than fresh out of the garden produce.

    So thanks for this little nudge in the pants.



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