Capitalizing on Crunchy

February 3, 2011

Lately I’ve realized something. After I’m done reading the many articles on my FB about organics, new studies on genetically modified food, and how pregnant women are passing toxins onto their unborn children – I feel worse.

Some of the time, I’m using/eating/buying the products that these companies are talking about. I took a look at my wall one day and realized it was FILLED with warnings, new studies about something that causes cancer, and ominous questions like, “Is your sunscreen safe?” “Does your child have toxins sprayed on their clothing?” “Do you eat genetically modified food – without even knowing?” “ARE YOU KILLING YOUR WHOLE FAMILY WITH SARAN WRAP?”

::head explosion::

I’m not sure what to do about this. I’m all for learning about what we can do to leave less of an impact on the earth. To make sure our children grow up healthy and strong. To gain knowledge, and therefore power, over companies like Monsanto and McDonalds that want to sell us the, “It’s all ok, just shut up and smile” package. To understand the choices I make for my family. It’s important to me.

But part of me thinks that perhaps we’ve taken “natural parenting” to a level that is becoming unachievable to most regular people. People who make a middle class living and have a limited amount of time to study and buy food and products. 

With the dire warnings usually follows the companies new product. A way to save yourself and children by spending an inordinate amount of money on something different, more earth friendly – just better. With a hefty price tag. But, you’re saving your family. So isn’t it worth it?

Isn’t being eco-friendly and more conscientious about our choices also about cutting back? Making some sacrifices? How come all of the sudden, you have to be rich to do *truly* be a natural parent? Or, that’s what it seems like anyway. My wall rarely mentions thrift stores. Coupons. Clothing exchanges. Everything that isn’t filled with poison costs 5x more.

Maybe I haven’t liked the right pages.

But maybe, just maybe, these companies are capitalizing and cashing in on our fear of “What if I feed my child the wrong kind of food? What if I don’t know about what’s in the next product I buy and it gets recalled? What if my parenting choice is wrong?”

We can’t protect our kids from everything, yet many eco-friendly, natural companies don’t even consider this an option. If you’re not making sure that ever.single.thing in your home – from paint to potatoes – is toxin free, then you’re not really doing your job as a parent.

How exhausting. How unrealistic.

I spend so much time trying to figure out if what I buy will evenutally cause us all to grow a third leg. I love being crunchy, but it’s SO hard not to get caught up in the race to be the most crunchy. At what point do you just say, “Good enough” and hope for the best, while still staying responsible and informed of your choices? Or do you ever?

I think I just find it odd that while some eco conscious companies scream about the commercialization of “bad” products, they use the fear they’ve created to get us to buy theirs.

Oh. And to save the world. 1 $2,000 eco friendly crib at a time.


  • Jen

    February 13, 2011 at 1:03 pm

    I approach it from the perspective of we can only do what we can do within our means. Some environmental practices and goods are just not economically feasible for us right now. We have our priorities and spend our money on those things.

    Some people who come off as more crunchy than I am make me feel like crap sometimes because I am not doing xyz or I use abc product but I realized that being crunchy is such a relative term.

  • Natural Mama

    February 10, 2011 at 11:49 am

    I liked this post. Our family is very different from most. We do not eat any processed foods. I make everything from scratch. We grow some of our own veggies and we grow our own free-range meat (no hormones, abx or vaccines but the feed isn’t always organic). We changed our life not to be cool or crunchy but because certain things affected some of our children’s behaviour. We are in a position that most people are not. We have land to grow our own stuff. I recently got rid of all the plastic food containers in our house. I didn’t go buy new “green” products, I used the 1200 or so quart sealers I have acquired from friends and family over the years. I make my own laundry, dish and hand soap that costs a fraction of the price and is more green than most “green” products you buy. We use vinegar, lemon juice and baking soda to clean. I use herbs/weeds that grow on our farm to help when either we or our animals are sick. I don’t buy “green” healing products. I make my own salves and tinctures. I buy raw honey straight from the bee keeper. Does this mean I do so because of fear… no. I do this because it is way cheaper in the long run and will probably be healthier for us overall. We live on a farm and my kids are outside almost all the time especially in summer playing in fields(complete with manure) and climbing trees so I don’t parent based on fears.

    It is not a competition at all. I do this because I feel it is in the best interest of my family and I don’t care if anyone else does it or not. I do not buy premade “green” products. The cost is way more than when I make from scratch and if you still read up on many of the ingredients they aren’t all that great anyways.

    My crunchiness is based on money and what is best for my family.

  • Evie

    February 9, 2011 at 6:18 pm

    Thank you so much for this! We are a low income family and I try my best to make eco-friendly choices for OUR WALLET! It seems like everywhere I turn though, I am getting the evil eye because the carrots my child is munching on are not organic or the outfit I made my baby is made from non-organic fleece. Yes I use cloth diapers and have started to make cloth wipes and I try to make lots of meals that are wholesome, but our budget also says “remember, you still have to pay the rent this month!” Its so irritating to hear other mothers bash me because the homemade chicken and rice soup I made WOULD be good if only it was organic so I wasn’t pumping my children full of toxins. Guess what? It ain’t McDonalds and I feel good about that! *Sigh sigh* Yeah, we low income moms just don’t LOVE our kids as much as the wealthy ones, right? Sorry, I don’t believe it for one second. 🙂 Thanks for this article. It was a breath of fresh air!

  • Leanna

    February 9, 2011 at 12:36 pm

    I think a lot of the problem that is overwhelming is food… we make and buy it all the time and, of course, cost matters too. And really, the root of that is if labeling was required for GMO’s and irradiation, etc. If the US had labeling requirements like the entire EU, we wouldn’t have to be expert on what may contain what, at least not as much so. I’m a fan of organics but I’d be ok with non-organics much more so if I knew it wasn’t a GM crop. GM crops have not be proven to produce better yeilds or a more cost efficient process – all they offer is for companies to patent the seeds and, therefore, control the food market to their financial advantage.

  • Katherine

    February 9, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    Sadly there are some of us who have to be this way to survive. What I think isn’t fair is that companies think so little of the people who are buying their products that they don’t care if their pampers made with toxic cotton and bleach literally send some of us to the hospital because our systems have been so overloaded by all the crap that we’re literally being killed by these things. I hate that I have to be that parent who doesn’t let her kid touch things or be hugged by people or eat things. I can’t let him, however. The perfume from the person who hugged him (toxic ingredients) sends me to the hospital. The scent and petroleum that’s in soaps everywhere to wash his hands, sends me to the hospital. The chemicals that come out of his body in poop and pee from eating non-organic foods, send me to the hospital if I touch it (he’s still in cloth diapers, starting to potty learn). Why can’t companies quit doing business with the most shortcuts and cheapest ingredients that are slowly poisoning everybody, but killing some of us much faster than others? *sigh*

    1. Natural Mama

      February 10, 2011 at 3:53 pm

      Have you ever heard of healing yourself through diet? Since most of our immune system comes from our guts restoring good gut health can help with so many things. Look up some information about that. We have done a mix and match of a few things and so far problems that I have had for years (similar to yours) are actually starting to clear up.

  • wkh

    February 9, 2011 at 11:50 am

    I take *everything* including “warnings” with a skeptical eye as well. I remember being around 5 and Jane Fonda going on about how our microwave ovens are going to kill us all. *rolling eyes*. I’m not a fan of big farming at all (having grown up on a family farm) and I’m also not sold that organic farming is the only way your family won’t die. I take information and make decisions based on what makes sense. And while feeding baby formula carefree for fun doesn’t make sense, neither does freaking out over every single little freaking thing science has brought us. Perhaps as someone who has congenital abnormalities and again, who grew up on a farm and saw nature up close and personal, I’m not so easily convinced nature/natural is always the best and most perfect option.

  • Tweets that mention Capitalizing on Crunchy | —

    February 4, 2011 at 2:47 pm

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Erika, Diana. Diana said: Blogged: Capitalizing on Crunchy […]

  • Erika

    February 4, 2011 at 2:23 pm

    (I’m not sure that’s really the right use of the word, but it’s the best one word response I could think of at the moment…which I just ruined with this explanation! hehe)

    1. Diana

      February 5, 2011 at 12:58 pm

      Lol, 🙂 I know what you meant.

  • kim

    February 4, 2011 at 11:13 am

    Diana, you are so on target here. With unlimited money we could be totally green. Except, what is green? One day product 1 is safe and the next it isn’t. I feel your pain. And don’t even get me started on the whole chemicals being linked to autism etc. I *think* I’m finally comfortable where I am: cooking from scratch more than I could possibly want, avoiding sugars/hfcs, buying organic when I can and washing stuff when I can’t. That being said, in a household of 3 kids I’m totally addicted to bleach. So, not so green there. And if I had more kids? Oh, the new produts I’d have to buy to ‘stay’ green. I think you do an amazing job!

    1. Diana

      February 5, 2011 at 12:58 pm

      It’s amazing the amount of stuff you have to keep buying to be green. We just can’t do it.

      At least you knit. That helps out with all the tiny newborns that are hatless in the world. :p

  • allison

    February 4, 2011 at 7:09 am

    ugh, I know where you’re coming from. Even worse, I get that we have to make choices because there isn’t time or money to figure out and buy the *best* thing. BUT I still feel guilty not buying it and, if I’m totally honest, it’s in part because I worry about being judged by someone who is more *natural*than me. Mommy guilt is a powerful thing and I hate that it’s used against us to make a sale.

    1. Diana

      February 5, 2011 at 12:56 pm

      I ALWAYS am feeling like that – judged and then full of Mommy Guilt. It’s no one’s fault but my own that I keep doing it to myself, but man is it hard to get past.

  • Janelle

    February 4, 2011 at 7:08 am

    I couldn’t agree more. I had to quit reading a blog when the writer posted a picture of her daughter pining over a pineapple in Whole Foods – the caption said something like “Looks tasty, eh? Too bad it’s not organic – no pineapple for your!” Seriously? Eating a few pieces of non-organic pineapple isn’t gonna kill ya. It is frickin’ pineapple, not a Twinkie or other crazy processed junk! Perspective people…

    1. Diana

      February 5, 2011 at 12:56 pm

      ZOMG. :/ Wow, that poor kid. Can you imagine?

      And seriously, pineapple is one of those things you can eat as non-organic and it doesn’t really matter because of the hard skin.


  • Desi

    February 3, 2011 at 10:41 pm

    I totally agree with this. I wouldn’t call myself exactly green. I do try to feed my daughter natural foods, but consider myself to not go overboard. It makes me feel inadequate sometimes when I see everyone using cloth diapers, only using green cleaning products, and shopping all organic. However, like you said, its probably better not to get too caught up in having it all.

    1. Diana

      February 5, 2011 at 12:55 pm

      It’s hard not too – and it seems like it’s that what no matter how you parent. :/

  • Summer Davis

    February 3, 2011 at 9:58 pm

    This is a seriously ingenious post. It’s exactly the way my family thinks and why I’m the “Rebel Crunch Mama”. My hubby and I want to raise our family in the most natural way possible but it’s absolute IMpossible to do without being loaded rich. We use ziploc baggies, plastic (BPA free) snack and sippy cups, we don’t eat ALL organic food – just (most) of our produce and of course our milk. My kids eat Go-Gurt (Simple), Gerber snacks, AND organic snacks. We wear organic clothing when it’s on super-sale.

    I breastfeed, we use cloth diapers, I make my own baby food, we eat organic produce, drink organic milk, use organic butter (but not ALL of the time).

    I feel the same way about discipline, birthing options, parenting tactics, schooling options, etc…. There is no one-size-fits-all answer. It is our job as parents to do the very best that we are equipped to do, to care for our little ones. We must be educated on all options and tailor our parenting to each individual child, each individual situation, and each season in our lives.

    You really took the words out of my mouth on this post and I WILL be sharing it.

    1. Diana

      February 5, 2011 at 12:54 pm

      Thank you lady! I love when stuff I write gets shared.

      I also really like the “no one size fits all” that you put. I have a hard time with that, because I constantly compare myself to the “ultra crunchy” moms. Not that they are wrong, but because I can’t do what they do, I feel bad.

      Your comment puts it in perspective.

  • Laura

    February 3, 2011 at 8:28 pm

    i agree. and in my opinion, investing more in our children’s lives (activities, education, etc) than in what they eat/use is way more important. that’s primarily where we are lacking in today’s society anyhow – not enough parents are fully invested in that because they’re freaking out about the other “junk.” obviously we need to be educated on “good” foods and products in order to promote healthy living, too, but if the focus is more on building the person rather than the body, i think we’ll be way more successful as parents. (but i’m sure still just as stressed!) 🙂

    1. Diana

      February 5, 2011 at 12:52 pm

      A frickin’ MEN. You took the words right out of my mouth. I feel like we are encouraged to spend so much time making sure our kids bodies are healthy that we forget about their minds and souls.

      I LOVE this comment. You are awesome.

  • Angela

    February 3, 2011 at 7:49 pm

    So true! I used to think about it and feel guilty until my head hurt. We all have to just do the best we can, and I think that for most (regular) people, that means picking and choosing a little.

    I always think it’s funny to hear certain celebs espouse on environmental issues, when you see them photographed all around the world, using all sorts of energy, wearing all sorts of designer goods that aren’t particularly “green”, etc!

    1. Diana

      February 5, 2011 at 12:51 pm

      Oh yes. I hear you on that. It’s funny how they talk about “eco friendly jewerly” while boarding a private jet. :/

  • TheNextMartha

    February 3, 2011 at 4:56 pm

    I wish all products had a “This cost “X” amount in energy” to produce this item. I bet not all these green eco products cost us less in energy used to create them. I pick the items that mean the most to me and stick with those.

    1. themanager

      February 3, 2011 at 6:32 pm

      I’m with you on this one!

    2. Diana

      February 5, 2011 at 12:50 pm

      I wish that too, because I know that sometimes the green hype is just that – hype. And we pay extra and more for things that hurt the environment to make, or really don’t have any different effect than a regular product.

  • Manda

    February 3, 2011 at 4:55 pm

    You’ve put into words what I couldn’t. Trying to research and understand does make my head want to explode. We’ve adopted a moderate strategy in our house. We buy organic when we can and cook from scratch. We’ve almost eliminated processed foods all together. There’s no way you can avoid everything – it’s everywhere. My bigger kids go out and eat things at events and schools and I just can’t monitor everything. Excellent post and very thought provoking.

    1. Diana

      February 5, 2011 at 12:49 pm

      I feel like instead of even focusing on our home as best we can (like what you’re doing) we’re all supposed to monitor everything. EVERYTHING.

      We do just what you do too, and I feel like there has to be a point where I just say, “I’m doing the best I can.”

  • Elle

    February 3, 2011 at 3:47 pm

    I feel the same way, especially about it being more expensive and having time to research everything. At some point it DOES get insanely ridiculous and I’ll admit that I think some moms take being crunchy to a scary level.

    I feel like I’m middle of the road (such as: we buy organic foods & cleaning products, but also disposable diapers) and I’m happy with the choices I’ve made. I can’t let it consume my life, we’re all going to get cancer and/or die of something anyway – there’s just no point in being extreme about it.

    1. Diana

      February 5, 2011 at 12:47 pm

      LOL. Love your outlook – and it’s true. While I’m not going to purposefully live so that I get cancer from my choices, I feel like some people are in such fear of anything like that they go overboard.

  • Stephanie @ Confessions of a Trophy Wife

    February 3, 2011 at 2:55 pm

    I’m totally with you on this! All the greenwashing and scare tactics out there coupled with trying to figure out what’s REALLY a concern and worth your worry are enough to make anyone’s head explode!

    You have to be an informed consumer and question everything ON BOTH SIDES! Conventional products/food can be bad, Organic/Green things can be a waste of time and money.

    It’s SO HARD to know what the right choice is and I definitely find myself feeling frustrated at times.

    1. Diana

      February 5, 2011 at 12:45 pm

      Yes! Both sides I feel like I have to constantly research. I never, ever know because something that says BPA free comes out later with traces of it, or other chemicals. :/

  • Sol

    February 3, 2011 at 2:03 pm

    It is a lot. I decided to focus on one thing at a time. I make an effort to make frequent meals from scratch with wholesome, whole foods. I find this helps cut down on the amount of preservatives, food dyes and other artifical ingredients. It also helps cut down on packaging and even though sometimes the upfront cost of fresh food can seem like a lot I’ve found we do end up saving more in the end. I’ve worked on cutting down on the amount of chemicals in our home. There are a long list of goals that I have but I’ve decided it is better for us as a family to make small steps together (and discuss why we are making those changes) than getting bogged down with ‘everything’ being crunchy.

    I think educated changes that resonate with us is a better, more honest approach than just doing/buying things because they say “Organic” on them.

    1. Diana

      February 5, 2011 at 12:44 pm

      I love your answer, because this is what we are doing. I just feel myself getting caught up in the “BE CRUNCHY OR DIE” race and it feels overwhelming.

  • melissa

    February 3, 2011 at 1:43 pm


    So true and I am right there with you. I reached the head explosion part a long time ago. I do my best at keeping poison consumption to a minimum in our house. Make allot of our food from scratch. But mainly? I just want parker to remember that I was a fun mommy who loved him and made some mean apple muffins. Ya know? Forget all that noise!

    1. Diana

      February 5, 2011 at 12:59 pm

      See – I want that too! We think so much alike. I want Bella to know I did my best but wasn’t an overbearing, omgdonttouchoreat that kind of mom.

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