Sunday, April 5, 2015

State of Denial

A couple of weeks ago I was out in front of my house covering an invasive spiky grass with newspapers and plastic to kill it off when some of my neighbors walked by with their dog. The neighbors asked me what I was doing. I explained about the grass. I told them that I successfully killed all the other weeds in my yard by spraying them with straight white vinegar, but this one persistent grass did not seem to be affected by the vinegar. So I was taking sterner measures. My neighbor (the guy), trying to be helpful, suggested, “Try Round-up. That’s what I use and it works great.”

The poor man had pushed one of my buttons and I went off on a tirade about Round-up. The main ingredient in Roundup is a chemical called glyphosate. Many recent scientific studies provide insights into the effects of glyphosate on the human body. A peer-reviewed scientific study released in April 2013 confirms that glyphosate-based herbicides are toxic and that they directly contribute to gastrointestinal disorders, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, depression, autism, infertility, cancer, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s. (Glyphosate’s Suppression of Cytochrome P450 Enzymes and Amino Acid Biosynthesis by the Gut Microbiome, Anthony Samsel and Stephanie Seneff, 2013.) There is a great deal of research (diligently suppressed by Monsanto, which manufactures Round-up and makes a fortune from its sale) showing the catastrophic ill-effects of Round-up on people, other living things, and the environment. I told my neighbors that you couldn’t pay me to put Round-up in my yard and that it was especially dangerous for children, the elderly, people with compromised health, and pets – like dogs!

The woman-neighbor leaned over and patted her dog on the head and said, “We’ve been using Round-up for years and our dog seems to be just fine.” They then high-tailed it away from the crazy lady putting newspapers on her weeds and ranting and raving about Round-up. One week later I took the newspaper out of the box and read the headline, which was something like “New Research Proves Deadly Toxicity of Round-up.” The article was about an international panel of researchers that issued a report in April 2015 about the extreme toxic nature of glyphosate. They call for an immediate international ban on the use of Round-up. Many countries are acting swiftly to do this; but not the U.S., of course, since Monsanto owns the politicians here. Sheesh, it’s tough being right all the time. I wonder if my neighbors saw the article and if it made any impression on them.

Do I think this new study about glyphosate will inspire thousands of people to change their habits? To stop using Round-up? To eat foods that are clean and not sprayed with Round-up? Absolutely not. Because we live in a state of denial. We are so bombarded by frightening information predicting doom that we become immune to it. We keep doing what we were doing and seem to think somehow we are impervious.

In 1989, I took a job as the executive assistant to a woman who conducted evaluation on research projects that benefitted the disabled. It was the perfect job in many ways. I believed in the projects the company was evaluating. I met terrific disability rights activists. The office was only eight blocks from my house so I could walk to work; and it was in a beautiful new building. On the front door of the building there was a statement that said something to the effect that the materials that had been used to construct the building were new and were still off-gassing toxins at a low level and that the law required that those working in the building be warned that these toxins present inside the building could possibly cause allergies, health issues, and miscarriage. So what did I do after two months at the company? I got pregnant. This was after we already had two children. We wanted a third. I passed that notice on the front of the building every single day, and yet I intentionally got pregnant. I miscarried that baby at ten weeks. Why did I think that I was impervious to the toxins in that building that could cause miscarriage? Perhaps that was not the reason I miscarried at all. There is no way to know. But I keep thinking about the fact that I knowingly entered that building every day and seemed to think that warning didn’t apply to me. Fortunately, the following year, after I left that job and went to another one in a chemically benign building, I became pregnant with my third child and carried him to term.

We humans are endowed with the ability to select what information we wish to assimilate into our psyches, our lives, our modus operandi. Otherwise, we could not survive. We receive too much input. We really must choose what to act upon and what to release from our consciousness. I find it fascinating to reflect on how people make those selections. People smoke cigarettes despite the fact that their risk of death by cancer as a result of this is astronomically high. Plus they suffer so many other health issues that are so uncomfortable and challenging along the way. I wonder how they can live like that, knowing that they would feel so much better if they quit smoking. But then I remember that I walked into that building with the warning printed on the door. Denial. People with inflammatory diseases like arthritis and fibromyalgia continue to eat sugar and refined, processed flours despite the pain, discomfort, and lack of mobility that they suffer. I wonder why they don’t change their eating habits so they can feel better. But I have to remember that I walked into that building. People are well aware of the health recommendations and their poor choices. We know and we deny.

I’m not talking about the people who are simply ignorant, who need to learn the facts. I hope I will have the opportunity to transform the lives of people by teaching them my Eating for Health classes, by providing them with a toolkit of information that will help them make better choices. But right now, I’m not talking about the people who don’t know. I’m talking about the people who have the facts in front of them and ignore them. We all do it. Conservatives en masse ignore climate change because, as Gore says so eloquently, it’s an inconvenient truth. People keep watering their lawns here in Cali when we are in a state of emergency with drought. How much denial do we need for protection, as a buffer, to allow us to function and to remain positive and to continue to enter our days with delight, to go forth with that sense of wonder I have often spoken about; and how much denial is deeply dangerous and could ultimately result in human extinction? I think of that famous exchange from the movie “A Few Good Men” when the character says “I want the truth” and the other character replies “You can’t handle the truth.”

How much truth do I want? How much can I put to use? How much must I deny to survive? I’m thinking.

This much I know is true. If you wish to protect yourself against the ill-effects of Round-up (containing glyphosate) then buy all organic foods and nothing that could possibly have GMOs. Of particular concern, which you should absolutely buy organic, are corn, soy, wheat, sugar, and canola. Animals raised commercially in the U.S. are fed corn laced with glyphosate, so to avoid ingestion of this toxin you should buy organic meats and dairy products from pastured animals. Farm-raised fish are fed corn laced with glyphosate so buy only wild-caught. Your choice. Just saying.

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