You know how having a baby is supposed to put things into perspective? Like you look at their face and get so overwhelmed and humbled by the responsibility that suddenly everything makes sense? Life, the universe and everything? Politics, religion, activism, atoning for your own bad behavior and past mistakes and just that overall making-the-world-a-better-place-type crap?
That happened to me, but not technically until my second baby was born. Oops. I was so determined NOT to let having children change who I was — no way, man, I’m gonna stay cool and awesome and stuff! — that it took a long time for me to have that moment of SERIOUS BIZNESS IS SERIOUS clarity.
Our specific moment of clarity was mostly centered around…well, food. Going organic and sustainable and humane and local and all that, as much as possible. We’d always been super into food, particularly the “eating” part. But mostly at restaurants. And carry-out. And delivery.
When it came to stocking our own fridge we still mostly defaulted to convenience foods and unexamined labels and ingredient lists. Cooking was a chore and baby food came from a jar at the store because science, probably. I dunno. Using a food processor is hard. I had no idea if I regularly bought products that contained partially hydrogenated oils, HFCS or artificial food dyes. (SURPRISE: I did.) I had never sought out objective information about suspect foods and ingredients — or the expensive, “healthy” superfood-miracle stuff that’s mostly just good marketing. I had never really thought about preservatives and pesticides and genetically-modified-hormone-fueled-mucked-around-with foods and whether maybe — JUST MAYBE — there was a happy medium between the all-food-is-evil-except-acai-and-goji-berries conspiracy theorists and the soda-n-nugget-n-lunchable crowd.
We started out small, in the “can’t hurt, might help” camp: we switched to organic non-RBGH milk and yogurt, we stopped buying anything with hydrogenated oils and HFCS and started shopping at farmer’s markets. We actually, you know, read stuff about food and the food supply and where it all comes from and why it’s important. We learned that cooking at home can be awesome and fun. Plus BPA, phthalates, parabens, oh my! The day I stripped Red 40 and Yellow 5 out of my special needs preschooler’s diet and saw a huge, overnight and sustained difference in his ability to process the world was the day that the ceiling came down on my previously blase attitude about whether or not this stuff matters. It did. A lot.
It’s one thing for me to decide to drink that can of Coke — I know it’s not good for me, but I’m a grown-up who can make my own choices, plus ZOMG COKE I LOVE YOU — but it’s quite another for me to shrug my shoulders and saying “whatever” about the things I put on the table in front of my children.
When my second baby was born I looked into his eyes and realized I no longer cared about being cool or awesome. I cared way, way more about keeping his little body healthy and safe.
Having children turned me into an organic-shopping label-reading vegetable-gardening composting baby-food-making bread-baking crazy person. And I love it. Thanks, children!
A big thanks to YoBaby for sponsoring this campaign. Click here to see more of the discussion. And prepare yourself to watch me geek out and post recipes here in the coming weeks like the crazy person I just told you I was.
More from Amalah’s West: