We all know we should be feeding our children better foods. In this era of processed and pesticided (not an actual word but seems right here) everything, you’d have to live under a rock to not know that “clean,” organic foods tend to be better for our health than the alternative. (But are they really? Just look at all the fruit and vegetable-based illnesses that have popped up recently.) For those of us living busy lives with hectic schedules — not to mention those of us without ginormous amounts of expendable income to throw at the organic food industry — it’s often easier said than done. But the latest news related to the Monsanto RoundUp lawsuit just might be the push necessary to rid our pantries of harmful foods once and for all.
A USA Today article reports that glyphosate, the main cancer-causing ingredient found in RoundUp and other weed killers, has been identified at dangerous levels in many popular breakfast items — items more than a few of us likely have sitting in our cupboards at this very moment.
According to the Environmental Working Group, which conducted a study of 29 oat-based products, the harmful chemical was found in all but 5 of those products, with some of them labeled as being “potentially dangerous to children” and others labeled as containing “safe amounts” or “no amount” of glyphosate:
Potentially dangerous to children
-Back to Nature Classic Granola
-Quaker Simply Granola Oats, Honey, Raisin and Almonds
-Nature Valley Granola Protein Oats ‘n Honey
-Giant Instant Oatmeal Original Flavor
-Quaker Dinosaur Eggs, Brown Sugar, Instant Oatmeal
-Great Value Original Instant Oatmeal
-Umpqua Oats, Maple Pecan
-Market Pantry Instant Oatmeal, Strawberries & Cream
-Cheerios Toasted Whole Grain Oat Cereal
-Lucky Charms (without marshmallows)
-Barbara’s Multigrain Spoonfuls, Original, Cereal
-Kellogg’s Cracklin’ Oat Bran oat cereal
-Nature Valley Crunchy Granola Bars, Oats ‘n Honey
-Quaker Steel Cut Oats
-Quaker Old Fashioned Oats
-Bob’s Red Mill Steel Cut Oats
Contains safe amounts of glyphosate
-Back to Nature Banana Walnut Granola Clusters
-KIND Vanilla, Blueberry Clusters with Flax Seeds
-Kellogg’s Nutrigrain Soft Baked Breakfast Bars, Strawberry
-Nature’s Path Organic Old Fashioned Organic Oats
-Whole Foods Bulk Bin conventional rolled oats
-Bob’s Red Mill Organic Old Fashioned Rolled Oats
Contained no glyphosate in any tests
-Nature’s Path Organic Honey Almond granola
-Simple Truth Organic Instant Oatmeal, Original
-Kashi Heart to Heart Organic Honey Toasted cereal
-Cascadian Farm Organic Harvest Berry, granola bar
-365 Organic Old-Fashioned Rolled Oats
Thankfully, I have only a handful of these lining my shelves, including Lucky Charms and instant oatmeal, but the findings are still terrifying. (As a side note, does General Mills even make Lucky Charms without marshmallows? And how would ingesting the marshmallows alongside the cereal itself suddenly make the levels of glyphosate less dangerous? Are they just suggesting people eat the marshmallows and leave the rest? I mean, that’s what most kids do anyway, but it’s still confusing, and I’m not going to risk it.)
So what do we do? Obviously avoid buying these products and throw out any we may currently have in our possession. But as a working mom with 3 kids, I’d be lying if I said this doesn’t have me shook.
For one, I live in a neighborhood with an HOA, so farming my own food is out of the question. And I’m a teacher, so I don’t exactly have the income that switching to an all-clean, all-organic lifestyle would require. Finally, there’s the whole time problem. When am I supposed to squeeze in locating unquestionably safe products and home-cooking them every day? By the time I get home from work and the kids get home from school, there’s barely enough time to bathe and read a bedtime story. Those pre-packaged foods are often a lifesaver (while apparently also killing us slowly, so yayyyyyyy!). Perhaps most disturbing of all is if these products, many of which (oatmeal) honestly seem like healthy-ish options (the Lucky Charms obviously notwithstanding), are just poison packaged in fun little containers, what else is unsafe to eat? Even foods labeled as organic are not necessarily regulated to the extent we may think, and in reality, we might be shelling out more for only slightly less toxic versions of what already fill our grocery lists.
What we really need is for the FDA, USDA, and other organizations responsible for regulating the food industry to get their act together, ditch the food politics, and make public health a priority — while making living a healthy lifestyle affordable a priority as well. I won’t hold my breath.
For its part, Monsanto contests the accusations that glyphosate is carcinogenic, citing the EPA’s statement that “the draft human health risk assessment concludes that glyphosate is not likely to be carcinogenic to humans. The agency’s assessment found no other meaningful risks to human health when the product is used according to the pesticide label. The agency’s scientific findings are consistent with the conclusions of science reviews by a number of other countries as well as the 2017 National Institute of Health Agricultural Health Survey.”
Still, I’m gonna have to pass on many of my favorite pre-packaged convenience items. I’m not a food expert or a “crunchy mom” by any stretch of the imagination, nor do I have a problem with feeding my kids fast food and other junk in moderation. But I do recognize my need to get it together a
bit lot better.
And maybe the need quit my job, move to the country, start my own mini-farm, and live off the grid. Because at this rate, that might be our best chance. 😭😭😭