Fear & Loathing on Facebook

by Sally on May 22, 2013

Here’s what I’ve been learning lately on Facebook:

  • Packaged bread is poison so you should make your own. But wheat is also poison, so don’t bother.
  • You should never, ever, ever drink milk. Unless it’s raw, then maybe it’s okay. Never mind, it’s bad.
  • If you’re feeding your kids non-organic fruit while slathering them with drugstore sunscreen, you may as well be giving them cigarettes for dinner.

My Facebook news feed has become a very scary place, filled with dire and sometimes conflicting warnings about the poisonous food we’re feeding ourselves and our kids.

But it’s not just the usual suspects–like soda, fast food, and candy–that are being targeted. When I posted this photo of my son with a giant bag of frozen mango I got at Aldi (for the bargain-basement price of $3.29!), one reader immediately asked “Is it organic?” (No it’s not, I replied.) Another accused me of buying a bag full of GMOs. “This isn’t nutrition, sorry,” she said. So now food doesn’t have any nutritional value unless it’s organic?

Frankly, I’m worried about the climate of fear I’m seeing on Facebook about food, a place where eating fruits and vegetables isn’t enough unless they’re local and organic–or better yet, grown in  your own backyard (because we all have the time and acreage for that). A place where food is routinely labeled as “toxic” or “poison”. A place where you can instantly feel bad about your choices because even though you’re trying really hard, it’s not hard enough. (I know that some children have serious food allergies and intolerances that make certain foods dangerous for them. I empathize with parents who have reason to fear the food their kid gets at school and camp and church. That’s not what I’m  talking about.)

I’ve long considered my eating habits and my family’s eating habits works of progress, but I generally feel pretty confident in my choices. I’m concerned about synthetic pesticides, antibiotics, and growth hormones. I’m increasingly concerned about genetically modified organisms and support labeling. I shop at the farmer’s market when I can. I buy some organics when I can–and try not to feel inferior when I can’t afford it (read “Organic Mom“). But when our budget is feeling tight, I also have to reign in some of my food spending. And I know some people just don’t have the access to or budget for local meat or organic farmer’s market fruit.

I’m also okay with my kids having processed junk food on occasion when they’re out and about (read: “My Kid Likes Junk Food and That’s Okay“). I advocate for improving the snack culture for kids because the junk food is excessive (and I don’t think it’s healthy to associate achieving in sports or gathering in a group with eating junk). But I don’t think Fruit Roll-Ups themselves are “poisonous”–otherwise, I wouldn’t let my kids have those foods occasionally at a party or a friend’s house (read: “The Mom I Can’t Be“).

These are my choices. They may not be yours. But we both love our kids and are trying. I’m continually learning–and tinkering with the way I feed myself and my kids as I learn more (read: “Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes“). But I’m tired of the one-upping. I’m tired of the fear mongering.

I just want to enjoy my toxic mango smoothie without being judged. Is that too much to ask?

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