Archive for March, 2013

The GMO labeling initiative is spreading through our states like wild fire and it gladdens my heart to see support for honest and transparent labeling throughout our country.  This fire is getting to big to simply throw a bit of salt on and I am anxious for the day that the truth is revealed on all labels.  Hell, if I had my wish, I’d want to see exactly every component of anything in the food my family eats – right down to the spelling out of “natural ingredients” and other Trojan horses.

Many people don’t pay much notice to the ingredients listed on foods, however awareness of this issue is catching some attention and more Mothers are scrutinizing food every day.  More individuals are looking behind the veil of advertising to uncover the basic facts of a food product’s ingredients.  If you or one of your children has a food allergy or intolerance, chances are reading the ingredient portion of a label is old hat.

In Washington, I-522 is taking some heat from the NorthWest Food Processors Association.  The scare tactics employed are very familiar having recently gone through the advertising blitz attacking Prop. 37 in California, where I reside.  They’ve already implemented the cost threat, “The cost of compliance will be felt by consumers and will disproportionately impact small- to medium-sized businesses in our region, putting local jobs at risk.”  Oh, I like how they worked the impossible issue of unemployment into this tactic.  Bravo to the PR spinners at Monsanto for this sly twist.

I-522

 

Look, the truth is that cost seems to be one of the hardest issues for many people to get over.  None of us like the threat of spending more on any factor – let alone, when it comes to food – our most basic fuel for human life.  Sadly, I know that it’s hard to overcome the threat of increased cost.  I know, because I feed a hungry five-person army that’s more man-boy-teenager power than dainty rabbits.  If I eat organic I must spend more on food, but I’m going to spend less in other areas because it truly balances out.  We can’t afford to eat healthier, I can barely afford my groceries now.  But you know what, the more of us that switch to organic and GMO free foods, the less costly these items will be.  It’s already happening in my local community.  Now, I can go to my regular supermarket and purchase a growing range of affordable and even diverse organic foods.  I can even find my son’s preferred gluten-free and dairy-free staples there – everything from coconut milk yogurt to lunch meat, breakfast bars, bread, and baking goods.  I even save a few bucks when compared to Whole Foods pricing on several items, so this movement is a positive force!

Since I’ve gone GMO-free I feel much better.  Upon adopting a Paleo diet last Monday, I’ve noticed I feel even better still and I’ve lost twelve pounds to boot.  My carpal tunnel hasn’t been acting up and I don’t feel the stiffness and hurt from arthritis in my hands in the morning.  I feel a little more alert, more energetic in the day.  My nails are even growing – and I haven’t had pretty nails without a professional manicure in over 20+ years!

Here’s the truth as I know it:  Labeling will not raise food prices substantially.  You will not experience massive job loss or hardship as claimed by the Northwest Food Processors Association.  I’m calling BS on that entire statement because it’s not correct or verifiable.  I worked in the packaging industry for over ten years and I know that it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to add a simple word to a package label.  In fact, there are nearly a bazillion ways to identify or label nearly any object.  It’s not as hard as they make it out to be, in some cases, it’s simply a revision to a computerized file that prints labels on demand – or even prints the labeling information directly onto a product’s packaging.  Others can simply purchase a label applicator or install an industrial ink-jet printer to quickly and easily add this information for the consumer.  There are continuous inkjet printers that print in a legible and very small text.

Many of today’s successful food producers already have such solutions in place.  It’s simply a matter of revising a message in the device’s program.  For those companies that may wish to make consumers believe that such in-line production equipment is excessively costly, it’s important that you understand that these solutions range in pricing as low as $3000 and as high as $100,000+.  It just depends on the bells and whistles you choose and most food producers already have some form of identification marking system in place for the printing of expiration dates, batch and lot codes, and other required information for food safety.  It’s a ten minute programming revision, that’s all.  This will not jack up the cost of food, plain and simple.  The real problem is that companies like Kellogg’s, General Mills, and Kashi simply don’t want consumers to know that GMOs are present in their foods.  They already know how to make GMO-free versions and are already doing this throughout much of Europe.

Supporters of I-522 stay strong!  Join in the fight and pay a visit to http://www.facebook.com/labelitwa?group_id=0 and give the a Like.  I’m with you and am rooting for all states looking to secure this legislation.  Learn the truth before you make a decision.  Research the issue yourself to understand what lies beneath the hype.

My best regards,

Muckraking Maven

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When I was a child, I remember adults and family members often shared beloved stories of doctors.  Some of their children were even named after a doctor – or at least given associated initials in their name.  These doctors brought babies into the world, performed good deeds selflessly, and were not afraid to find their detective hats when a challenge was presented to them.  They made house calls, were an active part of the community, and genuinely cared about their patients.

Today, our medical heroes are often found on television.  Gone are the days when you could phone your doctor in the evening hours or even have a lengthy discussion on any medical matter of concern.  Gone are the days of finding the root cause of ailments.  Now, this investigative method has been replaced with prescription after prescription to treat a running list of symptoms.

Few doctors discuss the benefits of dietary changes.  Most jump to the easy conclusions and prescription medicines.  I have witnessed this flippancy myself, before I ever had to go to bat for my own son.  For years I suffered from severe intestinal pains and undiagnosed G.I. problems.  I asked multiple doctors for help.  I described the pain I encountered each month and even begged some of these doctors to simply order a few tests.  None were willing to help me.

I was told that I simply had to toughen up since this was just part of womanhood.  I was told that it was all in my head.  I was offered Vicodin, but not tests.  Finally, after nine plus years on my journey, I found a doctor who agreed to an ultrasound exam.  I was in tears on the table with validation when the ultrasound tech asked me what I’ve been doing for pain and then laughed when I said I take a lot of ibuprofen.

I was informed that I had a nearly seven pound fibroid tumor in my uterus.  The fibroid had been present for years and was not a problem during my pregnancy, but for some reason, it grew like gangbusters after my Wyatt entered the world.  The doctor believed that my painful episodes were labor-like contractions because this fibroid had grown so large my uterus decided it needed to go.  Could a seven pound tumor cause G. I. disruption and pain, you bet – especially when it’s mingled with lots of scar tissue from my previous emergency Cesarean!  Why did this take so long to get a simple ultrasound?  Why wouldn’t any of these other doctors listen to me?

Now I was looking at surgery – robot surgery at that.  At least I was on the cutting edge, quite literally. DaVinci Robot meant a more precise surgery with faster recovery.  The surgeon was sharp on his skills with a poor bedside manner.  For weeks my husband called me Captain Morgan’s because I had five little patches on my stomach where incisions were made.  Let me tell you, surgery hurts, but I’ve never regretted my decision to do this and love the fact that my life no longer revolves around such terrible pain.  It’s not been an easy recovery.  However, I’m much improved over where I was at a couple years ago.  I feel better and better and no longer experience labor pains on a regular basis.

Flash forward to the birth of my son Wyatt and his plethora of medical mysteries.  Add a dash of Autism with delayed communication, food allergies, food intolerances, and awkward motor skills and you’ve got a recipe for medical mayhem.  Oh, and you can’t forget about sensory dysfunction and OCD with anxiety.  When my husband was laid off his job, several years ago now, we lost our family’s health insurance.  Luckily, we were eligible for Medi-Cal during this time.  This meant we needed a new pediatrician.  Do you know that I spoke to over thirty-five doctors before I found one that would actually take the time to listen to us about our son?!  My son had a lengthy history that started at birth. He had food allergies, intestinal bleeding, and hospital stays.  Each incident was exacerbated when he received his immunizations and often resulted in a hospital visit; if not admission within three days of the administered vaccines.  Since this time, I’ve found out that numerous vaccines actually contain milk proteins – this is what he was terribly allergic to – it’s what caused his intestinal bleeding.

Here’s just one excerpt from an INFANTRIX GlaxoSmithKline product insert, “The diphtheria toxin is produced by growing Cornyebacterium diphtheria in Fenton medium containing a bovine extract.  Tetanus toxin is produced by growing Clostridium tetani in a modified Lantham medium derived from bovine casein.”  How did his doctor never consider this potential reaction?  I’m straying off topic here, and for sure, vaccines are a deep issue for another blog post, but I’m sure you get an idea of where I’m coming from.  Do you know the kind of look you get today, if you request a copy of the actual vaccine package insert?  Luckily these are all available online! Shouldn’t the fact that DTaP vaccine is cultivated with casein (milk protein) be present on the CDC’s Vaccine Information Statement?!  Perhaps Wyatt’s doctor might have noticed this VERY important fact if it were listed on this information sheet.  While I’m busy digressing, I also need to sneer at the telltale statement underlying the Severe Problems (Very Rare) section of this handout.  It states that serious allergic reaction, long-term seizures, coma, lowered consciousness, and permanent brain damage are, “So rare it is hard to tell if they are caused by the vaccine.”  Can you say “Cover your ass?!” Yup, that’s what I think of that!

Our current doctor is okay, but she’s still resistant to playing detective in her medical role.  Autism is simply a mystery, but it’s one that the smart detectives are chipping away at – little by little.  I believe that this disability is caused by a myriad of insults, which include genetic and environmental causes.  Some children are more predisposed to be affected by environmental toxins and experience a regression into Autism that isn’t present at birth.  Other children are afflicted with genetic Autism and experience developmental delays from the start of life.  Finally, since Autism is a spectrum disorder, children are impacted to varying degrees along this spectrum and may be impacted by both genetic predisposition and environmental factors.

We pay out of pocket for a specialist that is very knowledgeable in biomedical treatments for Autism.  He also happens to be a microbiologist and M.D. with an emphasis in infectious diseases.  He has been a cautious guide through many biomedical treatments we’ve implemented for our son.  There are many times that we need to discuss his recommended tests or course of investigation with our pediatrician.  She can be quite resistant to listen to his recommendations – even though he’s a licensed and practiced physician. When she is not cooperative we simply pay more out of pocket expenses.

Where is my Dr. Gregory House?  My Dr. Heathcliff Huxtable?  Seriously, where is Doogie Howser when you need him?  These are the types of doctors our children need – the ones who are never afraid to take the road not taken – those who put on their detective hats and get to work at finding the root causes behind our children’s symptoms.  In real life these doctors don’t seem to exist – at least they don’t for those of us without endless financial resources and comprehensive insurance.

All my best,

Muckraking Maven

Last Friday I received a truly magical box in the mail.  I could hardly wait for my son to get home from school so that he could open it.

Wyatt opens the exciting box of goodies sent by Disneyland.

Wyatt opens the exciting box of goodies sent by Disneyland!

The wonderful execs at Disneyland HQ were kind enough to respond to my recent letter with sincere concern.  They expressed their heartfelt apology that we had such difficulty in obtaining our son’s GAC and made a commitment to improve training efforts for all of their cast members.  In fact, they even stated that they planned to use my letter as a training tool to emphasize exactly how such unintended bias can enable this type of discrimination and hope that its emotion will reach City Hall cast members while creating more awareness.There is a new president at Disneyland, since this February, and I feel hope that he realizes this is an issue that he should champion.  I am also hopeful that my message was truly heard by many leaders at Disneyland HQ and am overjoyed that they also see these concerns as a means to do more good, becoming heros to all children with disabilities – whether physical, visual, auditory, or neurological.

He has not stopped playing with this cool McQueen car with interchangeable parts!

He has not stopped playing with this cool McQueen car with interchangeable parts!

Not only did Disneyland send my family a set of tickets for a “do-over,” they also forwarded a care package full of special goodies for my son Wyatt.  I was touched deeply by their sincere desire to make this right and their willingness to continue working on the issue – so that future trips to this amazing park are not fraught with skeptical glares from City Hall cast members.

A soft & fuzzy blanket from Car's Land!

A soft & fuzzy blanket from Car’s Land!

I’m so glad to find out that even one of the most profitable corporations still possesses so much heart.

Sincerely,

Muckraking Maven

Last, but not least, some awesome Mater teeth!

Last, but not least, some awesome Mater teeth!