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A Food Fight for our Lives in The Unhealthy Truth (plus giveaway!)

UPDATE: No longer taking comments/entries for this giveaway. I eliminated Lori and Melissa, as they also wrote about the book. That left 12 entries. I used the number generator. The lucky winner is:

#2! Allyson! I’ll be contacting Allyson to get her address information.

Thanks to everyone who entered and shared her food-related challenges.


Have you ever read a book so challenging, so revolutionary that you knew your outlook would be changed forever? I just finished reading Robyn O’Brien’s well-researched and scathing indictment of Big Food in her book, The Unhealthy Truth . I received a copy during a lunch hosted by Stonyfield Farms. Robyn, a mom of four and the founder of AllergyKids, shared her story with a group of moms. Today, some of us are joining hands to relate what we learned. There are giveaways, too!

I’m a mom of kids with allergies, including peanuts, eggs, soy. We also have kids who are sensitive to milk. I easily related to her struggle trying to find answers. As she researched her youngest child’s egg allergy, she was disappointed that resources were few and support was nearly impossible to find. Robyn started AllergyKids in response to a very real need. Not content to adapt to the new status quo, Robyn found herself wondering why there has been such a dramatic increase in food allergies and sensitivities in the past two decades.

Her relentless research led her to uncover startling facts about genetically modified organisms (GMOs), growth hormones, antibiotics, food dyes, preservatives, and other pitfalls of our highly processed diets. The precipitous rise in food allergies correlates with the introduction of genetically modified foods entering the marketplace. The Unhealthy Truth explains the science and history of fiddling with food production in an accessible and engaging way. Robyn admits to being incredibly disheartened by realizations that giant food corporations, university researchers, and our government often look the other way when it comes to food safety.

Greed, lack of funding, and conflicts of interest conspire to make our current food safety situation iffy at best, corrupt to the core at worst.

Peaches: #1 on The Dirty Dozen and #1 in Yumminess

This information can be daunting and depressing—if you let it. Thankfully, Robyn is refreshingly real. She advocates the 80/20 rule. 80% of the time, do your best trying to avoid dyes, GMOs, and foods laden with hormones and antibiotics. The other 20% of the time is for when life strikes, when the drive-thru calls, when it’s time to celebrate, relax, unwind. She enjoys her nachos and beer, too.

Mustard: Friendly, Yellow, and Free of Tartrazine

She writes:

If 80 percent of what we give our kids is healthy—free of additives, preservatives, artificial color, aspartame, MSG—then for the other 20 percent we, and they, get a free pass. The Unhealthy Truth, page 232

I like that Robyn was a reluctant crusader, sacrificing much along her journey. The Unhealthy Truth isn’t just an expose’ on the toxicity of America’s food supply. It’s a first-person account of a mom stepping out of her comfort zone and affecting change, challenging authority and conventional wisdom. Robyn was an inspiring speaker, full of warmth, real. Even if you don’t agree with her science, her research, her conclusions, you can close her book having witnessed a tremendous example of perseverance in the face of powerful naysayers.

I particularly loved a quote she shared from her parish priest, Father Rol, who was battling prostate cancer. She talked to him about her regrets, guilt, and doubts:

“…But when you are truly called to action, you have to let go of that control and really allow your faith to lead you. It’s a fearful thing to fall into faith’s hands.” He smiled, entirely focused on me at that moment despite his own pain. “What happens after that really isn’t up to you.” The Unhealthy Truth, page 181

The final chapter provides real ideas and resources for moving toward more healthy choices. I love Robyn’s Instead Of/Choose This suggestion list. It proves you can find yummy choices that won’t load your kids up on dyes and hormones. She finishes with practical advice, food lists, Organic 101, and shares resources.

If you’d like to win a copy of Robyn O’Brien’s The Unhealthy Truth, plus coupons for free YoBaby and Oikos Greek organic yogurts, leave a comment. That’s it! A mostly hoop-less giveaway. Share what food integrity issues concern you the most. I’ll tally comments until September 13th at noon, MDT. Disclosure: I was treated to lunch, introduced to Robyn, and given a copy of the book, but the opinions shared above are solely mine. The book is a keeper.

14 comments to A Food Fight for our Lives in The Unhealthy Truth (plus giveaway!)

  • Pix

    So excited to see what you bloggers are doing! I’m going to pick up a copy of Robyn’s book too, because she’s preaching to the choir. I’ve been vegetarian for almost 20 years and very concerned about food issues ever since. Of particular concern to our family is trying to avoid items with “natural flavors” (nearly impossible) and high fructose corn syrup.
    Pix–Cheese Curds and Kimchi

  • Allyson

    I’ve been using the 80/20 rule for my kids, though I had never called it that. I load them up on mostly organic fruits and veggies, little sugar, little processed foods at home, then I don’t have to feel so guilty when they eat junk on vacation or at birthday parties. This sounds like a book I would really enjoy!

  • I love that you brought in her feelings of regret and doubt, and that you reminded me that Chuck E Cheese or Casa Bonita once in awhile won’t doom anyone. Good enough is, well, good enough.

  • Robin M.

    I would like to read this!!

  • This is such a good review of the book. The information is so important and Robyn’s easy-going style makes it difficult not to jump on her bandwagon. We’re all in this together. Oh, and I love it that she has beer and nachos on occasion. =) The more you know about the food industry, the more you need to take a break from it all and relax!

    Thanks for a great blog post!

  • I guess I can’t keep putting my head in the sand. So far we have no food allergies or sensitivities (which seems remarkable, considering we have six kids and eat all kinds of food that I now know is filled with stuff we don’t need), so I have been reluctant to do much. But I can’t keep ignoring it. I think a lot of research needs to go into how this junk is affecting the fertility of women.

  • I felt the same way after I read “Real Food” by Nina Planck. It forced my hand. And now I’ve become something of a wide-eyed zealot about the food I feed my family. I would love to add this book to my collection.

  • Mandi

    I’m mostly concerned with hormones and processed foods. We’re celebrating baby #4 in December and I’d love to get a head start on the New Years Resolutions with the ability to make wiser choices for us and the kids. Her book sounds like exactly the tool I could use to do so!

  • gillian bliss

    I always read labels, manufacturers are sneaky with their labels wording and designs. Have been eating clean for several years and have a clean bill of health no doctors visits in 10 years except for pregnancy related. I love Vitamin Cottage as they read the labels for you and have an extensive list of banned ingredients/additives.
    Would love to win and read the book.

  • I’ve received my own crash course in food sensitivities this year. Thankfully no anaphylactic responses, but strong enough reactions that gluten. casein, corn, pork & soy have been eliminated from my diet and gluten & casein from my girls’ diets. I’d love to read this book!

  • I like this 80/20 approach. I try really hard to feed my kids well, and hope that someday they will appreciate it. I need to be more vigilant about what I eat though.

  • edj

    I tend to bury my head in the sand about this issue because our grocery bills are high enough. But it would be good to learn more. I sort of have the 80/20 approach on junk food and calories and stuff–although for us, junk food is trader joe’s corn chips on taco night, or home made cookies. We only buy pop when we have guests.

  • I’ve had to read labels on everything due to my teen’s allergies to tomatoes, peppers, and even black pepper (not the same family as other peppers). Paprika is in almost everything! Her reaction is a quickly appearing rash and burning! Too much can cause a breathless feeling 🙁

  • We’ve been really lucky when it comes to food allergies. None of us really have any so far (knock on wood). Personally, I think moderation is the key. I don’t think Junk Food is evil. I love it as a treat every now and then. Growing up, nearly everything we ate came from the garden or our farm. Living in such an urban setting was an adjustment for me, but I think we’ve found a good balance. 🙂

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