We all know bugs exist, and not just the itsy bitsy spider we find in the basement. We’ve got them in our beds, our intestines, our mouth, under our nails, in our attics, under that wet rug on the patio…. Oh, we’ve got bugs! But if you open an ear of corn to find a worm smiling back, we automatically believe we’ve gotten a “bad” ear. But do you ever think that the corn that the worms avoid JUST MIGHT be the real bad deal?

And we all know that the old woman who swallowed the fly didn’t actually die, but only an extreme survivalist would consider an insect as a viable lunch option. How do we decide what counts as “normal” food? The reality is not a simple leg count, slime factor or even chemical composition.

As a nation, we eat pigs, cows and chicken, but horses, dogs and kitties are morally and ethically off limits. What’s the difference between Babe and Benji? What is healthy food, and what is a pet?  Thanks to Chick Fil A, the cows are selling the chickens out on billboards everywhere, but no marketing campaign would dare ask the family cat to endorse puppy dog tails.

Cows milk is served in every restaurant, yet human breast milk makes people squeamish. When I was nursing my four kids, if I had a bottle made of my own “special” formula, most people instinctively sh’uddered at the sight. Yet once the kids moved to “regular” milk, no one thought twice of borrowing a squirt to cream their coffee. What was so gross about my milk? This begs the question, do you know where dairy milk comes from? Do you know what an udder is? Spoiler alert: cow boobs. So next time you crave a milk mustache, consider the source!

There is a disturbing paradox between what we willingly put into our bodies as food and what we shun. And this extends beyond the animals our culture designates as ‘meat’ and into the chemicals we use to process and prepare. Ninetly nine percent of our food comes from crops that are grown conventionally, which means that what we find on our tables has been grown in fertilizers, pesticides, insecticides and herbicides. And that’s after they genetically manipulate the seeds to meet specs. And these are some severely caustic concoctions…so much that farm workers must wear HAZ MAT suits to ‘water’. So we’d rather pollute our bodies, rivers, soils and air and ruin our planet than risk a worm showing up when we shuck the corn? Essentially we are casting a vote with our dollars that vast amounts of toxic chemicals are ok, but little worms are out. I guess if we can’t see it, it’s not really there.

Oh, but it is! Our food is contaminated with all sorts of “defects”. And if your diet contains processed foods, that ‘worm’ is nicely ground up–so no worries–out of sight and out of mind. The FDA Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition has established an acceptable level for all things nasty like rodent filth (pooh), insects (whole, larvae and eggs), mold, parasites and even foreign matter like cigarette butts and burlap sacks. The FDA acknowledges that small levels are natural and unavoidable contamination present no significant health hazard.

So we all know we accidently eat spiders. We just don’t want to “know”. Gotcha. Wink. Wink.

But it’s not the inicidental spiders and worms that we should be concerned about. We can no longer turn a blind eye to the ‘unseen’ chemicals that are present in our environment, food and bodies. On the one hand, we demand cheaper, easier and more convenient food. And by demand, I mean BUY. And then at the table we discuss the extreme weather patterns and debate global warming over hamburgers and fries. Dessert may be organic cherries, but if you check the label, they were shipped from Argentina.We acknowledge that our rivers and lakes are “too dirty” to swim in, shake our heads at the oil spills, plastic reefs and toxic pollution, but then we continue to buy disposable products made in foreign countries and shipped across the globe.We feel sorry for people who have cancer and children born with birth defects, and we want the BIG MEAN corporations that are responsible to pay! But when stock prices fall and gas prices rise, we panic, blame the government and then grab a bag of potato chips or some ice cream to comfort ourselves, and drive to the drug store for a copy of the latest diet suggestions to combat the fat, bloat and sluggishness we just can’t loose.

It’s time to wake up. How we feel, what we eat, how it’s made, where it comes from, how that process effects the environment…it’s all connected! It’s time to understand that if the food and consumer items we purchase are not produced in an organic and sustainable way, we are part of the problem, not the solution. Reaching the goal of sustainability is the responsibility of all system participants. Farmers, corporations, government, retailers… most significantly, it rests on We the People, who’s buying habits make or break a business.

Sustainability rests on the principle that we must meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. We must exercise stewardship of both natural and human resources. We all understand the threat of the increasing national debt and how it will affect future generations. But trust me, there won’t be much to worry about if we’re still drinking chemical kool-aid.

I’ve started by making sure the food I buy is from local farmers who practice sustainable if not organic farming. And if there is a worm in my produce, I hope it’s still alive, and not dead from toxic poison. And while eating foods that are chemical free increases our personal health and vitality, it’s SO MUCH BIGGER than that.

Do what you can today–even just one thing. Stop looking at price and start reading labels, even if that means buying and using less. Research a brand of earth friendly cleaning products and buy only their stuff. Find a non-profit that supports a passion you feel and volunteer your time or money. Share what you learn with your neighbor. Spread the word. Spread the consciousness. Wake Up.

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