Saturday, January 30, 2010

Is all press really good press?

I've contacted the Washington Post several times with press releases trying to get our moms group on their radar. Before we started the local chapter, we (my co-leader and I) were interviewed for a story in the Post on non toxic toys. It was great fun, and the article turned out well although it did make us look like we had spent a fortune on things for our kids that, at the time, people thought were crazy. Well, fast forward a few years, and the Post has finally taken heed and one of their columnists attended another local chapters event. From what I gather, she worked the room, talked to many of the event attendees, and voila - we were on the front page of the Metro section! Which would be great if it weren't such an unbelievably scattered and unflattering article.

The author highlighted some of the chapter members who are very into specific food preferences and diets, and while we do have many members with varied eating habits, not everyone has food at the top of their priority list. We also came off as being a group of rich, white, SAHM's, who all bake brownies with black beans in them and could care less about poor hungry people as long as we get our organic raw goat cheese. Honestly, I think black beans belong nowhere near brownies, and if I've said it once, I've said it a million times - IT IS CHEAPER TO EAT HEALTHY! The cost savings of buying food instead of "processed food products" is huge. In addition, the saving on health care costs, prescription drugs, and days off work is huge as well. As far as being rich, many of us do the things we do in part because they are cheaper - cloth diapers are cheaper, growing your own veggies is cheaper, using regular plates vs. paper plates is cheaper, using cloth napkins is cheaper, purchasing meat in bulk from a farm and sharing it with friends is cheaper!!!!!

This article just perpetuates the myths that:
1) it is impossible to be healthy if you are poor,
2) that people interested in health are kooks,
3) that people interested in their own health are not at all invested in other people's health, and
4) if you don't do all of the "holistic" things (whatever those are) then you are not "holistic enough" to be in the Holistic Moms Network.

The author feels like it is impossible to make changes in her food choices, and is intimidated by this group of women who have done and continue to make small changes towards a healthier life. After a odd discussion about obesity and Mexico, the author gets to the main point, buried in the last few lines - " 'It's about taking small steps,' Elliot told me. 'Make one change at a time.' " None of us have gotten where we are today in a moment. It's been a lifelong journey for me - I got interested in health in high school, and have changed and tweaked my workouts, diet, environment, and life since then. I would not have made half the positive changes without the support of my peer group - people who made me feel like I and my family are important enough to try something different and new. People who don't smirk or blow off the idea of eliminating grains to see if it makes a difference in your energy level. People who have tried pastured beef vs. grain fed beef and can also taste the difference. People who will share seeds with me so i am not shelling out lots of cash each year to start my garden. People who have supported me in learning how to can at home to preserve my harvest and, yes, to save money.

The whole point of the Holistic Moms Network is to be supported in making positive changes without judgement. To be judged by this reporter as a group of self centered, food snobs is hurtful personally and for the group. I do hope we continue to have a diverse membership with people who are just beginning their journey as well as folks who are well on their way. Sadly, I think this article would have turned me off to the group a few years ago, and I would have missed out on knowing and learning from these wonderful women and families. Now to repair the effects of the press...

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