Awesome mom: Robyn O’Brien, fighting against bad food

Last week I was invited to lunch by the folks at Stonyfield Farm yogurt. We are big consumers of their products in my house and I was happy to go. The guest speaker was Robyn O’Brien, and her story moved me.

Robyn talked about how a couple of years ago, as a busy mom of four kids, she felt that just feeding her clan was hard enough and that she didn’t need to beat herself up over what they actually ate. She tried to keep their grocery bill in check. Blue tubes of yogurt were frequently on the menu.

One day, her daughter had a frightening allergic reaction to eggs. As she started researching food allergies, and discovered the lack of free information, she decided to create a resource for families who face them, and a few months later AllergyKids was born.

But wait, there’s more.

Robyn kept learning more and more about what exactly is in our foods and discovered a bunch of unhealthy and upsetting truths. A self-described patriotic Conservative, she felt devastated to discover that the United States permits a whole bunch of ingredients in our food that are not allowed in other countries. Even nations that rely on the U.S. for food assistance do not allow some of these ingredients because they are not proven safe. It’s no wonder our little kids are demonstrating allergies at rates unheard of when we were growing up.

I am half-way through Robyn’s book, The Unhealthy Truth, and it’s kinda rocking my world. I am glad to have met her and heard her story straight from her mouth, a mom who was moved to action because of a gut-wrenching journey she experienced. She said that to realize her child had suffered from food that she herself had prepared and offered her was simply heartbreaking.

To make it real for you, let me share this example that I came across on Healthy Child Healthy World. It’s a US vs UK: Mac ‘n Cheese Smackdown. Basically, in the UK, Kraft makes a different, safer Mac and Cheese formulation. Take a look:

U.S. Version of Kraft Mac & Cheese:

Enriched Macaroni Product (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Ferrous Sulfate [Iron], Thiamin Mononitrate [Vitamin B1], Riboflavin [Vitamin B2], Folic Acid), Cheese Sauce Mix (Whey, Modified Food Starch, Whey Protein Concentrate, Cheddar Cheese [Milk, Cheese Culture, Salt, Enzymes], Salt, Calcium Carbonate, Potassium Chloride, Contains Less Than 2% of Parmesan Cheese [Part-Skim Milk, Cheese Culture, Salt, Enzymes, Dried Buttermilk, Sodium Tripolyphosphate, Blue Cheese [Milk, Cheese Culture, Salt, Enzymes], Sodium Phosphate, Medium Chain Triglycerides, Cream, Citric Acid, Lactic Acid, Enzymes, Yellow 5, Yellow 6).

U.K. Version of Kraft Mac & Cheese:

Macaroni (Durum Wheat Semolina), Cheese (10%), Whey Powder (from milk), Lactose, Salt, Emulsifying Salts (E339, E341), Colours (Paprika Extract, Beta-Carotene)

HMMPH! I fear this blog is not the place to go into detail about the implications of this comparison, but I wanted to bring it to your attention.
Food dye = bad. Do not buy it.
Blue yogurt? Skip it. Look for one that gets it’s color from actual fruit, or extra beet puree for a pretty pink.
I truly appreciate Robyn’s work in this arena.
How about you? Is this a situation you’re concerned about or do you feel irritated when people tell you what not to feed your kids?