Chemicals, Kids and what we as parents butt-up against as we try to raise healthy children in a toxic world.
Peppermint magazine is an amazing magazine. Edition 9 has just been released! And it seems like each edition it grows, now boasting over 90 pages (100% post-consumer recycled, naturally!) and is bursting with the freshest green fashion on the planet.
I remember Friday mornings at our playgroup at Brisbane’s Northey St City Farm, Kelley, the editor (and creator) of Peppermint Magazine and I would agonise over ways to get our missions out there in the world – how to grow businesses and balance being mums at the same time (actually we still talk about this!); where to draw the line in product endorsements ie. only certified organic products or naturally derived products or low to no toxicity products; managing and supporting staff; being paid correctly for what we love to do. We haven’t sorted these all out (and more questions continually arise), but its a joy to watch Kelley publish her dream and with such determination and gusto!
This Peppermint edition features a good deal of the indie design scene in Australia, with loads of articles about handmade culture, eco-clothing, and support for lots of local designer-makers. It also features a fabulous chat with Skye Craig from Master Chef who has taken on creating divine, predominately raw desserts and world renowned environmental activist ‘Captain Planet’ David Suzuki. The mag also provides inside information about the new underground economies where consumers are shunning malls for markets.
I was happy to don my hat as the official ‘Ingredient Inspector’ in this edition and write a tid-bit on Mineral Oil, with more chemicals in future editions on the way.
Peppermint Magazine is available for AUD $10.95 from good bookshops and selected newsagents across Australia and online at Leeloo. If you are already a big fan of Peppermint why not subscribe now, and receive 4 issues delivered to your door with free postage! Subscriptions are AUD $44 for Australians, $60 for New Zealanders, and $80 for folk from the rest of the world.
We reached Auckland today on our two-week ‘Chemical Overload’ speaking tour across Australia and New Zealand. At the hotel I met a Maori woman with a deeply etched face and clubfoot. She was clearing the seminar space where we were to talk that evening. She was waving a silver fern and repeating a verse to someone I couldn’t see. ‘It gets so cluttered in here’ she said. ‘The speakers come in here and then leave us their troubles and then I have to spend days cleaning up their grime’.
The seminar space was a natural amphitheatre nestled perfectly out the back of the hotel amongst young redwoods and ferns that looked pristine to me. But I don’t think it was the physical space she was talking about.
‘Are you going to leave us your troubles as well?’ she turned and asked me suddenly.
‘I don’t know. I hope not’, I replied.
‘But you come here to think eh…before the people come in?’ she said.
‘Yes’ I replied. ‘ I’m trying to calm myself before speaking…but I’m also sitting with the overwhelm of juggling speaking at so many seminars, and travelling, and work, and raising my babies and being a good partner….I’m so tired’.
‘I learnt a little something a while ago’ she said, ‘And I’m gonna give it to you free, just so you won’t mess up this meeting space tonight. OK?’.
‘Sure’, I said.
‘You know what…your job is not so much the telling of people the facts about the world and what’s not working’, she said. ‘Nor is it all the stuff we pack into our daily lives as parents…the washing of clothes, or the changing of nappies, or getting to meetings on time, or making your partner happy – although these are sometimes important. Your job here on this planet is raising your consciousness. That is your job. Raising YOUR consciousness.’
‘Consciousness is the most stubborn substance in the universe’ she continued. ‘And the most fluid. It can be rigid like concrete, and it can change in an instance. A song can change it. A book. A movie, a touch, a fragrance on the wind. Think of this when you are trying to make your way through life and speaking to others. It’s all about consciousness. Raising our own consciousness – ourselves. You don’t have to do all the work’.
She left me thinking…
This ‘Chemical Overload’ speaking tour has been put together by Biomedica. The amazing Tabitha McIntosh, a Bondi naturopath, nutritionist, mother, and all-round nutrition guru have been doing this tour together. She has taught me much and I am grateful for her knowledge and companionship during this intense, whirlwind of a tour.
Saturday April 2nd, 2-4pm, Brisbane Independent School Library, 2447 Moggill Rd, Pullenvale, RSVP 07 33785466
Children Welcome! Refreshments provided, www.bis.org.au
By Dr Sarah Lantz
Sunday morning at our local, organic market I like nothing more than watching my kids (and kids generally) forage in the children’s garden – dig their hands into fresh compost, pull out weeds, dig holes, plant seeds. In mulberry Season I watch them shamelessly climb the purple laden branches for the juiciest berries at the top.
It got me thinking about how it is that we have cultivated a culture of ‘battery kids’ – an industrial kid factory. Why it is that we produce and market, more processed, preservative packed, low (or no) nutrient food for our kids than any other time in history. Then we fatten them up (often unintentionally) on these products[i], drug them when they get sick from these foodstuffs[ii], and then put them in cages (professionalized structured and supervised environments) where we train them to be good citizens, dependant consumers, compliant patients, obligated workers. And like the battery hens in cages where 10% or so do not endure the stress and simply die (which is built into the cost of production), I think about the rising mental health rates among our children and young people, depression, anxiety disorders, learning difficulties, body image issues, and suicide.
It makes me think about the lack of soul it takes to build (and feed) an industrial kid factory in this way. And yet the fine line (and almost contradiction) of the economic impulse to take this path, given that this system also needs enough ‘healthy’ kids to grow into workers and to continue to support this industrial kid factory.
I think about the vigilance people extend to investigating the credentials of their house cleaner or their accountants, but rarely extend that same kind of vigilance to the people growing our food or the quality of the food we are consuming. I think there would be nothing better for the integrity of our food chain than the gaze of the consumer on the very farm in which our food is grown. To ask the farmer directly about the crops she grows, the way he treats his animals, how much life (nutrient density) is still in this food that we take home. This implies, as Michael Pollan says ‘…not only a new kind of food producer, but a new kind of eater as well, one who regards finding, preparing, and preserving food as one of the pleasures of life, rather than a chore’.[iii]
It makes me realize that the raw/slow/local/organic food movement doesn’t seem like an unreasonable response to the existence of such a wickedness. It gives me faith that alternative food systems are rising up on the margins.
What do you think our world look like if we threw away our microwaves, limited the use of our ovens and stove tops to only a few times a week, and instead fired-up our blenders, juicers, nut and seed grinders, and dehydrators more. What would the world look like if every household had their own vegepatch? That we opened up our kids cages and let them fly free? Fattened them up with them local, organic, raw foods, fermented foods, superfoods, cold-pressed oils, raw honey. I know when I do this my chicks come back to me laden with grimy covered clothes, berries stains on their faces, dirt under their finger nails. They ask me when mango’s are in season and when are the mulberries coming back. They tell me they don’t want kale in their smoothie this morning, only goji and acai berries, almond milk and a vanilla pod today. All of this is instinctive to them. Raising rawsome free range kids is awesome. And it’s a choice!
BLEND. It’s that easy. And depending on who is making it, more or less of the ingredients will be added to taste (and varies depending what’s in the pantry)
[ii] Childhood obesity in Australia is rising at an annual rate of 1%, a trend which suggests that half of all young Australians will be overweight by the year 2025 (National Obesity Taskforce, 2005)
[iii] Pollen, Michael. Omnivore’s Dilemma, pg, 259
The average Australian shopping basket contains food that, combined, has travelled up to twice the Earth’s circumference – over 70,000km!  Common items like oranges, sausages, tea, baked beans and tinned fish have journeyed great distances before they finally land on your local supermarket shelf. This is one of the reasons we have supported Organic Farm Share! (In which I have posted about previously).
And we visited our farm today! (along with other members/owners). We soaked up the panoramic view of our 265 acre farm. Stood in awe at the majestic backdrop of Mt Lindsay. Walked barefood on the earth. Envisage our organic food growing. Listened to whipbirds. And when everyone else was gone, we nipped down to the fresh water creek running through the farm and swam naked in the cold, clear waters. After a visit to the farm, it’s hard to believe that we live in such a material, plastic, consumer world. There’s a great Cree Indian Proverb:
If you would like more information about becoiming a member/owner contact the gorgeous crew at Organic Farm Share or give us an email.
 Abraham, A.B. & Gaballa, S. Food Miles in Australia: A Preliminary study of Melbourne, Victoria, March 2008.
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