Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Eco-litism?

I was engaged in two different discussions yesterday that have led me to write this post. This is in not intended to offend anyone or cause any conflict, but I'm somewhat eager to get some feedback from others, so please read and comment!

Conversation one: I engaged in an online discussion with someone who was questioning different aspects of parenting/child development. These exchanges led to me saying: the only thing a baby really needs is love, 2 arms, 2 boobs, and some cloth diapers. And in actuality, when you narrow it down to needs, you basically need to be sheltered, fed, and clothed. This led to all kinds of other stupidity (why I continued to engage in it, I don't know. Ignorance just gets under my skin and my fiery Scorpio personality comes out) and she was like..."They still make cloth diapers? No thanks, I will stick with my Huggies." So I said "I'm not wealthy, so I'd rather breastfeed, cloth diaper, and put the money in a college fund for my daughter instead of a landfill." At that point, she told me I need to save money for my child's therapy since I'll drive her nuts. We were done at that point!

Conversation two: My best friend growing up lives in NYC. We got into a conversation yesterday about how people in NY take the whole eco-friendly/green-living thing too far. She said there was an unpasteurized milk movement a few years ago that seemed to be dangerous. I have heard from other people that they like to give their children unpasteurized milk. Her point was that it almost becomes a "who can do the most outrageous eco-friendly thing?" contest.

Is there an eco-litism? I have to say, it feels good to share my eco-choices with others. Why? Not to be an elitist, but because I am proud of the decisions I have made for my family and my planet.
  • Shopping for fresh vegetables, going to farmer's markets, etc. is so healthy for my family, supports the local growers trying to produce great food, and eliminates all of the unnecessary waste (e.g. gas to transport food from other places, extra packaging, etc.) 
  • Wearing cloth diapers (something I only began recently) has already saved us money and protected my baby's skin. 
  • Composting reduces the amount of waste we create and helps produce really great soil for my garden. 
  • Using fewer plastic bags helps the earth...and honestly, who wants plastic bags lying around the house with an infant learning to crawl? That's just dangerous! Additionally, a lot of places give a discount now for bringing your own bags.
  • Best of all is the decision to breastfeed. The benefits are endless: building my daughter's immunity, helping her to relax/soothe/go to sleep, saving us tons of money, reducing waste from packaging, gas, etc., and if you want to get technical, saving us money on feminine products as I have not started to menstruate yet.  Besides, it just feels good to know that I provided her with all the nutrients she needed to survive the first 6 months of life, and I continue to provide her with so many nutrients now at 8 months.
Is it pride? Is it elitism? I think I'm just happy with the research I have done and the knowledge I have gained in such a short period of time and the decisions I have made based on weighing the pros/cons... and I just want to share that information with everyone else! Nothing wrong with that, right??

Here's some additional information regarding Raw Milk.

I love raw milk cheese - my favorite being Organic Valley Raw Sharp Cheddar Cheese. I also just tried some raw milk goat cheese from a farm I visited in Central Florida. I know my doctor told me not to eat unpasteurized cheeses during pregnancy, and I listened. In fact, as a first time mom, I avoided a lot of foods while I was pregnant for fear that they would be harmful. But the more I think about it, isn't our breast milk just unpasteurized milk created by a mammal? Isn't that the same as raw cow's milk? And isn't breast milk the best thing for our babies? I decided to do some quick research regarding unpasteurized milk. I came across this raw milk website. Here are some facts I learned about raw milk:
  • Raw milk is cow's milk taken straight from animals fed only fresh, organic, green grass, rapidly cooled to somewhere around 36-38 degrees F., and bottled.
  • Do not drink raw milk that is going to be pasteurized. It is generally mass-produced, and cleanliness standards are not nearly as high as they are for milk that is meant to be raw milk. In addition, milk is often produced by 'supercows' who are given additional hormones to produce more milk. This leads to a condition that many breastfeeding women can relate to: mastitis (I have been fortunate to not experience it, but I have heard it's awful).  Mastitis produces increased white blood cells - which leads to pus in the milk. Great to know, huh??
  • Raw milk has amazing medicinal properties and was used to treat illness for hundreds of years (until midway through the 20th century). Clean raw milk from pastured cows is a complete and properly balanced food. You could live on it exclusively if you had to - kinda like human breast milk for babies!!
I'd like to end this with a quote I've seen on a few websites recently:
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." - Margaret Meade

9 comments:

goinggreenthumb said...

yes, it is elitism. You're doing to "environmentally friendly" what christians did to christianity. You're obsessing, you're preaching, and you're making it into something more than it is. If you feel so strongly for the earth, get politically involved! That will make a difference. Using cloth diapers isn't going to save us all from chemical spills and greenhouse gases and icebergs melting and eating up islands. It's a nice gesture, but it's a grain of sand on a beach. You need to think bigger than harassing other mommies to think more like you.

Alicia said...

I do think those are all good things to do--my point wasn't even so much about parenting, because I am sure that as a parent
you want to do the very best / healthiest things you can and that you start having a greater interest in the future sustainability of the planet. But don't kid yourself, there is definitely a level of elitism. It doesn't take away from the results of your actions, but it's an element that can turn some people off. Not every mother has access to the information that you may have about raw milk, breastfeeding, whatever it may be. And in general, a lot of people don't have the money or don't even live in areas where they have the option of shopping at Whole Foods or places like it.
I don't think all elitism is wrong or that the information that leads to certain decisions is coming from a bad place. I'm elitist about a lot of stuff, too. But while people like you and I may try not to make it be a competitive thing, for a lot of people that is ALL it's about. And that can be damaging to an entire movement. I wish the whole world were discerning, and we are not going to solve all of society's problems on a blog, but at this point in time, with so much corporatism having such an easy time convincing people to behave in certain ways and pitting people against each other based on how they shop, it's almost impossible to not have elitist or competitive attitudes about anything you do.

Dina said...

i do think there is elitism, but im not sure you take it to that extreme. its so fashionable to be "green" these days everyone is in on it. I think small grassroots changes are how big things happen,but I agree a little with the first comment. There are a lot of holier-than-thou greenies out there. People need to do what they can and feel good about the choices for their families. Not everyone is going to be a political activist.

PVDela said...

I totally understand where you are coming from, I also have a hard time keeping my mouth shut or my fingers quiet when someone says something that is incorrect or misinterpreted. I don't think you are an elitist, they certainly do exist though, I saw one man who was all about eco and green everything and yet he didn't really understand any of the whys, he was really only doing it because it made him feel superior. That is clearly not you, you are only sharing what you think and why you think it so that others can make their own opinions.

Don't worry about what anyone else thinks, you know who you are and why you do what you do, as long as you are at peace with yourself and god then it's really no one else's business.

Huppie Mama said...

A few things - with anything, you have moderates and extremists. I am not preaching to anyone that they should do what I'm doing. I'm just saying that you don't HAVE to do things the way they are done in most of the parenting magazines. You don't HAVE to do exactly what your pediatrician says. You don't HAVE to just buy what's at your grocery store or babies r us. You can explore more options, and then pick whatever works for you. Be an informed consumer who makes choices because you realize choices exist.

As for shopping at Whole Foods (and similar establishments)...
1. If you buy from the bulk bins, you actually (generally) end up spending less because you don't pay for packaging and such.
2. If people don't have access to Whole Foods, it's probably because they live somewhere rural, and they have real access to freshly harvested veggies, grass-fed beef, free-range chickens, etc.
3. I thought about the idea of Whole Foods being more expensive, and considered this..

Meal #1 - Salads from casual restaurant:
2 Salads @ $10 each = $20
Tax/Tip = $5
Total = $25

Meal #2 - Salad with ingredients from Whole Foods:
Hydroponic Lettuce - $3
Free-range chicken eggs - $4
Heirloom tomatoes - $4
Organic cucumber - $2
8 oz good cheese - $5
Whole grain bread - $3

Total :$21 + tax, and enough for at least 3 salads and leftovers for breakfast the next day

Shopping for organic groceries is still cheaper than dining out at your average Chilis, TGIF, Applebees, etc., which offer decent-quality food at best. Just some things to think about!

Danielle said...

On going green: There are a lot of people out there who merely think going green is tres chic. There is certainly an attachment between having money and being eco-friendly. That's not the case with you, I know. However, when offering you opinions on this particular subject, I think you have to tread lightly. Our country is in a sad state and unfortunately that takes being green out of the equation for many people. I think perhaps you need to take a trip to a rural town. Been there - where home addresses are shared with about five neighbors and it's just: "Route 20, #3" and you have to use a P.O.Box to collect your mail. I can promise you there is no abundance of fresh markets. I shouldn't say there are none but rather that this is not the norm.

Raw milk is very interesting. I'm weird about milk... in fact, the whole puss comment is definitely going to keep me from eating my cereal tomorrow morning. I think perhaps why it may be a concern to people is because cleanliness is a factor. Not to mention there was that story in the news - Amish girl or her baby died from unpasteurized milk... I don't have a link because I'm lazy but if you want green/organic, look no further than the Amish and look what happened. Doesn't take much to spook people. Also, where would you even go to find it? Grocery stores are making strides to offer organic food and organic milk seems to be a much easier solution. Not to mention I don't have to worry about bacteria and it only costs a few cents more.

Plastic bags - I have a dog, I can't do without them. Ikea has a lovely plastic bag dispenser that you can mount on your wall for $1.99. Also, don't buy the hype. People recycle plastic bags. I prefer the big insulated bag. Keeps things cool and you don't have to worry if you need to make a stop between the grocery store and home.

As for Maren's baby - I think yes, there are cases where we want to believe things just because but beyond passion and taking it personal, it's not impossible. My friend Katelynn - she was on a little show called real world - was born with a tooth, spoke and walked early defying everything that is normal by the standard of "What to expect when you're expecting" and the like. My little cousin Bianca, at 7 months was spouting words all over the place. I had just gotten a puppy at the time she was born and at this point almost our whole family was living together in one large house. My other Aunt and Grandmother cared for her during the day and read to her vigorously and taught her all kinds of things and at 7 months was able to distinguish mama from dada and one day: dog! As I picked up my then puppy Pebbles in front of her. She's now at the top of her class (8th grade) in Middle School - already wants to be a forensic pathologist and was considered for the children's scholarship fund; one of very few prestigious middle school level scholarships offered but unfortunately, FL sucks and relocating was not an option. I feel as though anything is possible. It depends on the child and the dedication of teaching being received in those 8 hours a day.

"All children are born geniuses, and we spend the first six years of their lives degeniusing them."
~ R. Buckminster Fuller

Huppie Mama said...

Danielle - I don't want to disregard your comment, but I don't want to focus so much on the child development end. I'll save that for another post ;-)

As for the raw milk...I don't know that I would ever drink it myself. In fact, I don't drink milk ever, especially since breastfeeding (it has created a strong aversion). The raw milk is just something to think about. And I do love my raw milk cheese.

If you look at my previous post about Crone's Cradle Conserve, I frequently find interesting, rural locations to visit. I prefer to buy veggies from a real farm or a small vendor on the side of the road. That's a challenge in suburbia, however...

All of it goes back to being informed, making informed decisions, and being a realist. I am not going to change the world with a cloth bag or my boobs, but I can try my best to make my little microcosm a safe place for my family :-)

Danielle said...

Whatever works for you and your family. There are a multitude of things that get overlooked in the quest to be green. The simplest of things at that but little steps everyday are imperative. It's possible that maybe whilst held hostage in various small towns, I just missed the markets or we're not traveling in the same places. There was the Yam & Ham fest in NC but I wouldn't count tons of yams as variety.

I assumed you had tried the raw milk. It's interesting... something I didn't even know you could purchase. I would be willing to try the cheese. I do love a good cheese. If you appreciate fine fromage, check out "The Cheese Course". http://www.thecheesecourse.com/index.cfm

Very decently priced.

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