Since posting “Go Check Your Shampoo Label,” I’ve heard concerns from a number of folks, online and offline. Of course, we’re not only talking about parabens in shampoos, but the entire sea of synthetic chemicals in which we’re immersed—known and potential toxins in our personal products, food, air, water, building materials, and pharmaceuticals. What can we do about it?
Well, we can contact our congressional representatives. The problem with that, though, is that so many of them aren’t our representatives anymore. My hundred dollar campaign contribution doesn’t influence them as much as the hundred thousand dollars handed them by Avarice Unlimited and Carcinogens-R-Us. Did I say “hundred thousand?” Lordy, that’s just a tip these days. That is, I’m sorry to say, we’ve pretty much lost our democracy.
On the other hand, The Market really does work. If we want toxic products to go away, we need only buy healthy ones instead. That means doing our individual research, which isn’t easy, yet more and more a survival requirement.
The industries that peddle toxic crap or oppose honest labeling need their products boycotted. For example, I wrote to Yoplait last year, asking whether their yogurt is made with milk from cows fed bovine growth hormone. They replied, “Studies show BGH is harmless to humans.” I take that as a “yes.” OK, no more Yoplait for me.
Government being useless, it’s up to every single one of us to get educated and act. To promote this notion, I’m developing a strategy:
Maybe you’re tiring, as I am, of waving a sign from a freeway overpass or getting tear-gassed on city streets. Though that might be useful in organizing opposition to the sick-making corporocracy, it’s starting to feel quixotic, and in need of a Next Step. OCCUPY YOURSELF means realizing it’s up to us to feel our anger and frustration; decide that this system’s material rewards are chicken feed compared to its injury to our souls; unplug the TV, the corporate spigot into our homes; and behave as though every act is a vote.
It works. For example, for years now our family hasn’t purchased any product whose ingredients include high fructose corn syrup. We’re not the only ones. Evidently a lot of folks have become aware of the link between HFCS and type two diabetes. The Corn Refiners Association, which had promoted it as a “natural” product, recently petitioned the Food and Drug Administration to start calling it “corn sugar,” evidently hoping we might miss that when we read labels. So they’ll push “corn sugar” till buyers catch on, then maybe try “maize sucrose,” but sales will continue to drop until this nonfood finally vanishes from the market.
In becoming more healthily proactive, we’ll be fulfilling the prophecy of John Knowles, M.D. (1926-1979), who was president of the Rockefeller Foundation and Medical Director of
Massachusetts General Hospital:
"The people have been led to believe that national health insurance, more doctors, and greater use of high-cost hospital-based technologies will improve their health. Unfortunately, none of them will. The next major advances in the health of the American people will come from the assumption of individual responsibility for one's own health and a necessary change in the life style of a majority of Americans."