[written my Karen Jensen, October 31, 2009, reposted with permission]

Shortly after Scout was born she began to have some serious health problems. The only thing that I could do as her mother was to take her to the doctor - time and time again - and use the information that they gave me as a springboard for learning . . . I dug and I dug deep.

It all began with DHA/ARA. Everywhere you look baby formula and food says that is has added dha/ara for brain and eye development. Actually, it has a synthetic form of dha/ara in it - it is grown in a lab by Martek industries using mold, fungus and a neurotoxic chemical (hexane) which they claim is mostly eliminated after the process. Further research indicates that lots of babies have reactions to this - digestive issues, etc. There are over 100 complaints filed with the FDA. Even organic baby formula has these synthetic ingredients in them - which is not so organic if you ask me.

This was my first step in learning about the food industry and what, exactly, is being put into our food - or on it. There are a myriad of chemicals put in, and on, our food. Much of our corn, soy, and other products are now also being genetically engineered to make them "better". The only problem is, there is little research done before these products are added into the marketplace.

This then lead me to do some research on vaccines - a controversial issue to be sure. For me it is not about autism. There is the fact that no long term studies have been done to determine what kind of effect the number and types of vaccines have - on the cumulative effects. Then there are other areas of concern: serotype replacement, th1 vs. th2 immunity, what type of effect - if any - the fact that most vaccines are grown in animal cancer cells to keep the cost down may have on dna/rna, and the various numbers of toxic ingredients we are injecting directly into our blood stream may have on immunity and neurological development. A simple perusal of the VAERS database indicates that there are, in fact, numerous cases of vaccine injury. There is, in fact, no way that any medicine can be 100% safe for all people all of the time. And if vaccines are in fact so safe, then why did the government need to pass legislation that made it impossible for the public to receive compensation for vaccine injury?

We are putting a lot of faith in the very organizations who have later come back and said the vaccines such as the original dtp and the original rotovirus vaccine were dangerous. Not to mention vioixx, ddt, and a history of other recalled drugs that you can join in a class action lawsuit against. Heck, new research is even indicating that tylenol is causing more problems than we previously imagined.

Parabens, bpa, pthalates - everywhere you look we are manufacturing goods (chemicals) that may be convient, but not necessarily in our best interest long term. Some days I feel that we are in the midst of a great science experiment and we are not being given all of the details.

In the last 30 years there has been a tremendous increase in autoimmune disorders, neurological disorders, cancer, asthma, allergies, type 1 diabetes, etc. And if you look around enough you can hear doctors raising concerns about the toxicity of our environment - from the food we eat, to the chemicals we create, to the waste we produce. All of it seems to be working together to poison us, and the world we live in. We are sacrificing our children, ourselves, our world, and our future for greed and convenience.

For me, this knowledge has brought about a tremendous sense of conviction. If my body is a temple, then I must take care of it. And teach my children to do the same. And if I am to have dominion over the Earth, then I must take care of it. So this slow journey of knowledge is prompting life changes - and they are not easy. I am trying to take in only the healthiest of foods, to minimize the toxins that I introduce to both the planet and my body, to decrease the amount of non biodregadable waste I produce. Packaging is a pain. Yep, organic products are more expensive. This week I read about how factory farming is bad for the animals, bad for the environment, and putting the small independent farmer out of business. I wrestle back and forth with whether or not I should go vegetarian (but then my chronic anemia kicks in and I give in to my meat craving). It's a slow process, but a process none the less. The thing with knowledge is that it often requires action. If I know that something may be damaging myself, my fellow human beings, my earth - then I must let go of the selfishness of convenience and greed to make way for the greater good.

And I keep digging.

And yes, I support healthcare reform. I can not sit idly by while the least of these suffer and die from treatable diseases because they could not afford healthcare. As my Bible says, whatever I do unto them I am doing unto God himself. I don't know what shape that reform should take - but at the end of the day I think that having health insurance be a nonprofit industry is a good start. But as a person who cares deeply for my fellow mankind, I do want to see us work together to eliminate suffering. It's not a bad goal.

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