Friday, July 12, 2013

Pushing Back on the Perception of Organic Snobbery

Another Great Response for Those Casting Judgement
Unless you're surrounded by friends and family who follow the same organic lifestyle, sooner or later you will find yourself in a sticky spot between maintaing your path and imposing your path on others. I always preach proactivity- Read your labels. Pack your lunches. Ask your questions - because the moment you take back control of your food, you regain control of your body, your happiness and your life. 

However, unfortunately, many people remain in the dark when it comes to the toxicity of the typical American diet and therefore regard those of us who reject their lifestyle as  crazy hempseed freaks or organic snobs with "all of this extra money" who stick their noses up at anything that isn't OrGaNiC...  It's sad, really. You've made the decision to protect your body from the toxins, chemicals, scary genetically modified Frankenfoods, and lies ubiquitous in the American diet and food supply - and yes, to be skeptical of anything that isn't organic. And at times it feels like everyone and their brother want to steer you off path and away from the organic life that has corrupted you (or however it is they perceive it). The worst is when its your own family or
your boss or your best friend...and you don't have the heart to correct them, or hold a firm opinion about where to go to dinner, or stand up for yourself and your body. Now, one of the only times I will beg: Please, please, please - Have the heart. Hold firm. Stand up for yourself! 

No, these situations aren't the most comfortable, I've been there - and I didn't do any of the things I'm asking of you. At the time, I didn't want to come across as that organic food snob either. But looking back, I regret my decisions not to take the opportunity to politely spread awareness on these issues and potentially put one more person on an organic path toward health and happiness. Again, no, it won't always be comfortable, but as I promised from the onset, I am here to help you. I'm going to give you a couple of tricks and tips to help you navigate, stay on track and have a positive impact on those around you.

Situation #1: Your in-laws are having you over for dinner. You know for certain that they do not stock their kitchen with organic foods. You aren't sure what kind of dairy  or meat products they buy. And panic ensues.

Fear not! I have a couple different ides for you:

-If you need a quick reply, immediately offer to bring something or even bring a meal or picnic to them. Ultimately, it is your warm company they are seeking and they will undoubtedly be grateful for your offer. If you only bring one dish, then at least you know for sure there will be an organic option at the table. If you go a step further and pack a whole meal or bring groceries to cook for them at their home, you can stay 100% on track and give them a break from juggling hosting & cooking. Either way, it is a fantastic opportunity to converse about your dish or meal, praise the lovely local farmers who supplied everything and perhaps lead into a discussion about organic food and the toxicity in the American food supply.

-If you have some time, I highly suggest doing this: Go on over to and type in their City, State or Zip Code. You will be met with a list of all the nearby farms, farmers markets, bakeries, restaurants that practice sustainable or organic farming (you can even set the filters to only display USDA certified organic farms). Once you locate a farm or farmer's market - suggest making a day of it! You can go as a family to the farm, many of which now allow you to go into the fields with baskets and bags and pick your own produce! Many farmers also have a wonderful variety of grass-fed hormone-free meats and cuts from local farms. At the end of the outing, you will have a beautiful, organic grouping of ingredients and can spend the afternoon or evening talking about your experience, while preparing an amazing nutrient-rich organic meal together as a family!

Situation #2: Your coworkers ask you to grab pizza with them on your lunch, their Friday ritual. 

I faced this one everyday when I started my organic journey, so I have a few tips and tricks that have worked for me first hand and that I continue to utilize today.

-Always, always, always pack your own veggie-filled lunch. It is much easier to decline these tempting offers when you know you took the time to prepare a healthy meal. 

-By packing your lunch, it gives you an easy out "Sorry guys, I packed my lunch, it will go bad if I don't eat it since I'm not going home right after work" (or some variety of that)

-You can take this one step further and say, "I packed my lunch - but if you guys want to grab your pizza to go, I know a park where we can all eat together and enjoy being outside for a little" (Most people will take you up on this!)

-Another option is to decline but plan another day to maybe introduce them to a place you would be OK eating at. For example, you can say "Aw, you know what, I actually packed lunch today. But, on Thursday I am going to check out this local place that is supposed to have the BEST hummus around - want to to check it out with me?" 

The last two points help you keep a balance between maintaining work relationships and maintaing your lifestyle. By enjoying the foods that you know are good for you on every level, with others, it gives you a beautiful opportunity to explain to them why you are so conscious about what you put in your body. (I almost always get asked why I pack lunch, how I can manage to pack everyday, what I do and do not eat. I have a feeling you will too!) Take advantage of these opportunities. Never be judgmental, even when others judge your choices. Be mindful that many (most) still view food in the colors painted by marketers of corporations and big agribusiness. Simply share your information and experiences with those that are curious. You just might recolor the way they see food and set them on their path toward organic living!

Situation #3: You ask the barista behind the counter what organic options they offer and are met with a blank stare, and if you're really lucky, an impatient sigh from the person behind you in line.

This situation, while very specific, is one that I have experienced personally and one that I regret not defending my position. After much thought, this is how I will handle this in the future:

-Whether you ask them to list their organic options or you ask if their milk or coffee or fruits are organic, remember you have every right as the customer and as ruler of your body's health and safety. If you are met with blank stares by a barista or cashier, follow up by asking to see their nutritional information material (most places will have this on hand). If it is a small, local place, ask to see the milk carton or bag of coffee they are using. I've been pleasantly surprised to find that more local joints use hormone-free milk than I ever would have expected. They also, in my experience, have many more instances of having at least one organic coffee or espresso option. But, always ask - and don't let  an individual's uncertainty stop you from getting the answers you deserve. 

-To the person sighing in your ear because you're being "that guy" asking about organic options. This one is tough. You could just ignore them. That's not really my style, though. I've put a lot of thought into this one and I've decided that next time, I will glance back at them with a smile and say, as though they hadn't sighed with blatant aggravation, "Can't be drinking milk with pus in it, you know!? The thought of it just makes me sick!" or "With all of that evidence showing a direct link between reproductive issues and hormones in conventional milk - I can't imagine drinking anything but organic, you know!?" Big smiles. Honest concern mixed with enthusiasm for the topic. Even if they ignore you or just give you a polite "Yeah" in reply, I bet you that little seed of info you planted in their mind mill resurface next time they are in the milk aisle or on Google. 

What situations have you found difficult? What do you think about these suggestions? What, if anything, would you do differently? Share your thoughts in the comment section!

Keep It Real This Weekend,


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