On Friday I went through a box marked “summer clothes” when I came across a pair of cut off shorts. I remarked to my husband the shorts were a staple for me in the summer when I was at my fattest. I was about to throw them away when I decided to try them on. After looking at myself in the mirror, I decided to keep them as a reminder of where I came from.
Throughout my life I have been an activist for all sorts of social change: single payer healthcare, reproductive rights, peace, and eliminating the death penalty. However, my most profound act of civil disobedience was not writing a Letter to the Editor calling for condom distribution in schools when I was 22, it was not being on TV talking about no male taking away my right to choose if, and when, to bear children when I was 24, nor being arrested protesting NATO when I was 40. No, the most profound act of civil disobedience I have participated in, and continue to participate in (and advocate others to do so) is realizing that Big Ag has not, nor ever will, solve the global food crisis or the health crisis in America. Making simple changes such as making a meal plan each week, shopping at the farmers market when I can afford to, signing up for a CSA, and shopping only in the outer isles of the grocery store has made more of an impact than all the hours protesting I have done over two decades.
The process of eliminating processed foods has not been easy. To overcome the chem-food and the physical and mental feelings that kept me mired in obesity and depression, I used the most powerful tool available to me: the power of education. It has not always been easy to find information — I suppose it’s the one good thing that’s come out of the long-term unemployment — to help juice my brain on information rather than on high fructose corn syrup or Red Dye #5.
But you don’t have to do all the digging I did. Kindly, Huffington Post corralled much of the information I’ve cobbled together over the years in a concise piece Food TED Talks: The 8 Best Lectures On Eating And Food Policy. Though I had seen most of the eight, it was good to watch them again, to reinforce what I had already learned. The most important lesson I re-learned is this: Big Ag uses marketing, psychology, and our basic human instincts to addict us and poison our food system. The only protection from Big Ag is to be civilly disobedient: do not buy the food put on market shelves. By not eating the “food” one does not participate in the destruction of Mother Earth, of corporate profits over humans needs, of unsustainable farming practices, of continued use of petroleum products, of GMOs, of labor violations, amongst so many other ills.
Recently I was asked how we lost the weight. I responded with “it’s not rocket science. We simply changed what we eat.” Then I was pressed for more information “My husband and I have a few basic principles” I said “They are 1. If our great-grandmothers would not recognize it as a food, we do not eat it. 2. We do not eat any food that has a commercial. 3. We make (almost) everything from scratch. 4. We make the time to make dinner each night. 5. We eat at the table thus we talk to each other. 6. We walk everywhere now.” By not eating food produced by Big Ag I weigh 65 pounds less than I did. I no longer feel the depth of depression I once did. I no longer have the chronic GERD and diarrhea. I no longer need to visit the doctor thus my healthcare bills have significantly decreased. In short, I am thinner, happier, and richer.
I’ll be the change I want to see in the world. I will continue to inspire my friends and family and those in my community who ask me “how did you do it” when I say simple slogans like “if you continue to eat the same foods you will continue to weigh the same” and “you are what you eat”. I will continue to be civilly disobedient using the tool I know best: the fork.