If I learned one thing from the Midwest Organic & Sustainable Education Services (MOSES) organic farming conference, it’s that one of the most powerful and effective things we can do to further the organic movement is to tell our stories- our stories of farming, of eating, and of changing our habits to do the right thing for our families and the earth.
While I was a health-minded college student in 2000, even looking to studying holistic health and nutrition, I was also still a teenager. I enjoyed an average of a pint of Ben & Jerry’s a night and could drink my weight in Dr. Pepper. I had a decent knowledge of healthy food, but wasn’t exactly putting it into practice.
My turning point came during a presentation by the Women’s Cancer Resource Center at St. Catherine University. They pointed out that while genetics do impact our risk of cancer, focusing on genetics doesn’t exactly spur anyone into healthy behavior changes- to the contrary, it can make us feel doomed or invincible. And the reality is that for breast cancer, less than 10% of cases are due to genetics. That means that 90% of breast cancer cases are due to our environment.
Whether it’s our food, our water, our air or our stress levels, environmental factors of cancer are the ones we have a chance of changing. That impacted my thinking about my lifestyle profoundly.
I returned to my dorm room and threw out my junk food. I got rid of the makeup, perfume and household cleaning products that I now knew contained risky chemicals, many of which were actually classified as “probably carcinogens”. I stopped using caffeine. I stopped microwaving plastic Tupperware. I started exercising and I started thinking critically about all of the products I used- whether I really needed them and whether I could use a less-toxic version.
And one year later, I started working at Mississippi Market Co-op and eating organic food.
I’m thankful every day that I have access to fresh, organic and minimally-processed foods that support the kind of lifestyle I envisioned that day when my eyes were opened. Since then, I’ve been able to dive much deeper into the world of organic and local foods through my work at the co-op and my own experiences with gardening and preserving.
This weekend, my job at the co-op brought me into a room with thousands of people, from all walks of life, who gathered together to learn about organic farming. Some were old-timers in the organic movement, sharing what they’ve learned over the years, and others were filled with new enthusiasm for changing the world, soaking up every word. I couldn’t help but wonder what brought them here. The young boy in a smart-looking suit, brave enough to ask the keynote speaker questions at a microphone? The worker from a bio-tech company in the front row? The patch-worked, dreadlocked trio in front of me?
What’s their story? What brought them to the world of organic agriculture? What’s your story?
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to share your story about how you started eating organic. We’ll publish it on our blog!