Week In Review – Midterm Week


2c5df1044590efa7417cbc782df1f9c3 Wowwee, what an interesting week it’s been. Two years ago during election week, I probably alienated several friends on Facebook, so this week I took it easy and kept my mouth mostly zipped, as I’ve learned that Facebook and politics don’t really mix. But still, politics in general both fascinate and simultaneously depress me, so I spent much of the week prepping my ballot for Tuesday and then the last couple of days, reading up on several measures and candidates all across that country that passed and who were elected.

In Berkeley, a city tax for soda passed with a solid victory. The conservative in me is rolling my eyes at more taxes and big government, but my recent education on diet and nutrition over the past year is giving the city a high five and round of applause. Did you know a new study was just released showing soda can also cause premature aging, akin to the same damage done by cigarettes, and daily consumption can shorten your life by about 4 years? True story.

I’m telling you guys, I didn’t set out to be this neurotic health nut, but when I had to immerse myself into learning this stuff over the past year for my writing gig at Babble, it became sort of hard to ignore the facts and figures you read on a daily basis. Junk food is being demonized in this nation right now, and while some stuff goes way over the top (not everything causes cancer Food Babe), there is a lot of legitimate truth being learned about the junk we’ve been feeding ourselves the past 20-30 years.

GMO labeling failed in Oregon, despite a pretty heavy handed campaign in favor of it, from food advocacy groups all over the nation. I don’t talk or write a lot about GMO’s because of the controversy surrounding the discussion (the one time I did write about GMO’s, I fielded emails and facebook messages for days from groups on both sides of the debate, and it became irrationally dramatic, so now I just stay away). While I personally am against GMO’s from more of an ethical standpoint and think the whole idea is just strange, I don’t freak out if we consume them on occasion. If you are concerned about consuming GMO’s though, you don’t need a special able to avoid them. Here’s what you do:

There are currently only eight crops being grown and distributed for consumption (more are being grown but are not currently on the market): corn (field and sweet), soybeans, cotton, canola, alfalfa, sugar beets, papaya and squash. The majority of genetically engineered plants – corn, canola, soybean, and cotton – are typically used to make ingredients that are then used in other food products. Such ingredients include cornstarch in soups and sauces, corn syrup as a general purpose sweetener, and cottonseed oil, canola oil, and soybean oil in mayonnaise, salad dressings, cereals, breads, and snack foods.

To avoid GMO’s, avoid packaged foods which aren’t organic, don’t have any above listed ingredients, or carry the non- GMO verified label. I’m not saying it’s easy, and isn’t overwhelming, but once I grasped the concept and understood that the majority of packaged food for sale in conventional supermarkets, produced by the big brands, contain GMO’s, I just stopped buying them. The majority of packaged foods sold at stores like Sprouts are non-GMO verified. I just hate it when the health food industry tries to twist things,as they’re playing the same games as big food. I read the other day that gluten is genetically modified, which is just absurd. Gluten is a protein, found in wheat, which is absolutely not genetically modified. Drama, I tell you.

Not election-related, but still in the realm of food and politics, Mark Bittman wrote a response to the sociology study released a few months back, basically calling for an end to the home-cooked meal. The study sparked an intense debate online. Bottom line, the study found that the cooking mainly landed in the hands of women. Kids and spouses were often ungrateful. Many families struggled to afford to buy healthy food, and struggled even further to find the time to cook healthy meals, often due to intense work schedules and working more than one job. Some didn’t even have kitchens or the necessary tools to cook. I wrote a pretty mild response to it on Babble. The debate pretty much went like this:

A feminist writer lobbed onto the story and wrote a piece calling the home-cooked family dinner tyrannical. Oy!

In response, a conservative writer wrote a rebuttal and brought in lots of talk morals and family values, still though, I got her point, but double oy. Even dinner time conversations are now a basis for political back and forth.

This writer details it out in perfect unbiased fashion with her article titled Feminism Starts In the Kitchen, published on Bloomberg News.

Circling back to Bittman’s piece, titled Fight Poverty, Not Cooking, he brings up the studies initial concerns about income equality, privilege and advantage, and making nutritious food and supplies more readily available for the  millions fighting hunger in this country. His piece brought up some feelings I’ve been gnawing on for months now. What if we (I say we meaning me, but we meaning anyone who wants to join or offer ideas) started community movements that gave assistance to families struggling to put home-cooked meals on the table. Help via providing kitchen tools and basics like pots and pans, hot plates and knives. Help via providing transportation to inner-city families who live in food deserts and don’t have access to fresh food. Help with basic cooking classes held on a monthly basis. Help via donated gift cards to markets so they can buy their own food. Basically, basic tools and resources that could bring some empowerment and dignity to families struggling. How would even get started with something like this? I’m just putting this out there because I’ve been thinking about it for months, too nervous to let it out, but maybe someone out there reading this has some experience in this field, or knows someone who could help me get started next year with a project, who could help me put some shape into this blob of an idea??  Speak up if you may be that someone 🙂

This has  been the longest week in review ever, so I’m going to close for now. But of course, I have one more thought. I brought up the whole Lena Dunham mess on my Facebook page earlier this week. Bottom line, I don’t think she sexually abused her sister, and her sister doesn’t seem to think she was abused. But, I think we can all agree that she did some pretty weird shit, and her initial reaction to the whole thing was pretty damn troubling. She acted like a spoiled brat instead of a thoughtful adult and I think she was genuinely surprised at the backlash she got, and that the average American couldn’t really just pass this off as “weird Lena being weird Lena.” It’s like she was shocked she wasn’t living in some bizarro Wes Anderson movie. I’m wondering too why the thousands of people who read her book in the last month didn’t find these passages troubling, and a conservative site had to bring it up, calling for her head on a spike basically. Are those who read it a little entranced with rose colored Lena glasses? At any rate, this piece was one of many I read, which sort of put a timeline to all of Lena’s troubling behavior, outside of the scope of her book, and I’m wondering if this chick can just go away now?

When I brought up my agitation about the situation on my Facebook page, a reader commented that my reaction was outside the scope of my regular online persona,which I found to be an interesting statement. I may be helpful and nice most of the time, providing tips on cooking and eating well on my Instagram page, and writing about crafts and style and babies. But I am a person, not a persona, and while I don’t reveal all my thoughts every second of the day online, I still have plenty of them and if you’ve been reading me for a while, know I’m fairly opinionated and vocal on stuff I care about. In other words, I don’t keep my mouth shut to keep up appearances. How dull and sad would that be?

Have a good weekend everyone?

Andrea is the founder of For The Love Of, a lifestyle blog dedicated to approachable, modern living. She writes about style, her love of DIY, and living a healthier life through wholesome, nutritious cooking. She is also a regular contributor at Babble. Get in touch: Facebook, Twitter You can find Andrea on Instagram @andreavhowe and @gwynethmademedoit

  • Laura says:

    Oh man. I feel you on the election and alienation. For the past 4 years, I’ve worked at faith-based non-profit where my political views were decidedly in the minority, so I mostly kept my mouth shut. (The one time I did speak up was when co-workers were bashing Obama on a personal level with “He is our president and deserves some respect.” And HOOO. BOY. did that ever not go over well. But I stand by it, even if I don’t agree with everything he’s done.)

    Now that I don’t work there, I did let myself tweet out one funny little moment, but I’m wading slooowly into expressing my personal views online. Always better to have the “safe circle” you can grouptext anyway. That’s where the really great stuff happens.

    And I read Lena’s book because it was $5 for kindle one day and kept getting raves, but I kept waiting for it to get good. I definitely read the part about her sister and thought it was beyond the scope of normal kid behavior, but she has so many moments like that. It’s not even really that the stuff with her sister happened, but that she felt the need to include it in her book at all. When I finished her book, I remember thinking “Well, the good news is, at the rate she overshares, she’s quickly going to run out of stories to tell.”

  • Sheena Jones says:

    I feel as though I should respond just to clarify what my original comments meant because it seems as though they went largely misinterpreted. I LOVE that you are opinionated, it’s one of the main reasons I enjoy your posts so much. What I found disappointing in the original Lena Dunham piece was that you had not actually read her book to form your full opinion. I (as well as thousands of others I’m sure) have come to trust your blog, IG feed, and Facebook account because you have always done your homework and are very well informed regarding the topics of conversation. If you had read the book and had the exact same opinion, I wouldn’t have commented at all because I respect differing viewpoints. The last thing that got me was reading everyone else’s comments (none of whom had actually read the book either) to your post because of the mean spirited name calling (she’s disgusting…)and justification of sheer negativity with a lack of knowledge of the book. There. Now I feel that I have clearly stated my piece. I still count myself a fan of yours and hope there are no hard feelings.

    • Andrea Howe says:

      Hi Sheena, I absolutely hear where you’re coming from, and I appreciate you taking the time to speak up in the first place, as well as comment here. No hard feelings at all 🙂

  • Heidi says:

    I agree with you on Food Babe… I have been researching different product information and inevitably her site almost always comes up in my searches. It worries me how much she says can give you cancer, and I often wonder, well what is it that you DO/CAN eat? I can’t see how she’s helping anyone with her “the sky is falling!” mentality. Sure there are things we should avoid, but most of what she says I find wayyyy over cautious to a fault.

    I don’t have much to say about Lena Dunham, I’m not really a fan of hers. (Tried watching an episode of Girls once and found myself saying “Get over yourself” out loud to the whiny entitled characters on there.)

    Keep doing you, I read your work all the time and I love your social feeds.

  • Jenifer says:

    Just had to say, I would definitely participate in helping the needy community with food and cooking g, etc. I’m local (in long beach!) and would offer up whatever I could to help. I think it would also be a great opportunity for my 10 year old to help in!

  • Jessica says:

    I am glad that you feel free to be a real person instead of retreating behind the lines of a white-washed online persona. I enjoy reading your blog particularly for that reason. You are insightful and refreshing to read. I’ve never commented before, but I wanted you to know that your voice is appreciated.

  • Drake says:

    There are a lot of great programs in this country that fight hunger, the problem is that they aren’t adequately funded. SNAP is one of the most dignified ways to end hunger, and has one of the lowest fraud rates of any assistance program. People receive benefits on what are essentially debit cards, and many co-ops and healthy retailers offer incentives for usage (a co-op in my area gives a 10% discount for SNAP purchases). We also have a program where SNAP customers get double their purchasing power at farmers markets. There are so many wonderful things going on in this country to battle hunger, but when programs are slashed it’s extremely frustrating, especially when they make a proven positive impact on hunger and food insecurity. I could keep going, but I’ll restrain myself.

    I think it’s great that you’re interested, and would suggest that you research anti-hunger advocacy groups in your area. You may find that they are working toward the same ends that you are, but on a larger scale, or they can refer you to a group that is more in line with your interests. Political views aside, I think that many people can agree that hunger is unacceptable in this country and something should be done about it.

  • Caitlyn says:

    I would be so interested in what we can do as a community to make healthy eating a reality for those in need. I live in Baltimore and I often think that our city is the definition of a food desert! We have food stores all over – but so few of them are FULL grocery stores that have a comprehensive produce section. Without a car, it’s difficult to get access to more than the most basic produce.

    I would love to help, but I’m clueless about what to do so I would be very interested in seeing more about this topic on your blog!

  • Miranda Stratford says:

    Lots of good topics brought up here. Mainly writing to comment on the Lena Dunham issue- I’ve read half of the book, yes it makes me squimish – I’m a total prude! But, I love that she is an empowered, strong woman, writing, acting and producing a successful show at such a young age / she is unapologetic about being a sexual woman. Does she over share her experiences in her book -yes. But I thought it seemed more from a perspective of “girls learn from my mistakes!” then “look at me”. I want my daughters to grow up in a world where woman can speak their minds and show their talents are with the kind of gumption she had shown.

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