From Struggling to Secure: A New Perspective on Organic 

Is Organic Food Only for the Wealthy?

I grew up in poverty. 

I remember frequenting food banks regularly growing up, accustomed to the limits on certain specialized food items (like fresh fruits and vegetables) and toilet paper rolls.

Wherever we were living at the time, the local corner stores knew our family and we usually were in debt to them for the various times we “just needed milk and bread” and they gave it to us out of the goodness of their hearts. I thought that it would be amazing to be an owner of a corner store when I grew up because of all the money they had in their cash registers.

I escaped the cycle of poverty as an adult, but becoming a mom brought on a whole other level of mom shame surrounding food. 

I was simply proud of the fact that I fed my children, that we always had food in the fridge and often had home cooked meals. We were in debt to nobody and while we weren’t wealthy, we had enough.

I vividly remember the first time I went to the grocery store and did not have to add up each item as I walked through the store.

It didn’t stop the near anxiety attack I would have at the cash register when it was time to pay by card, because no matter how much money I KNEW we had, I had grown up seeing *declined* more times than I can count. 

In this blog you will find

  • My lived experience and its effects on my perspective of the organic food industry 
  • A behind the scenes glimpse into some of Stonyfield’s organic dairy farms
  • Some of the things I’ve learned about my preconceived ideas about organic dairy
  • A ridiculously simple busy moms breakfast recipe is Stonyfield yogurt
  • A realistic takeaway for those of us who care but think “I can’t do it all”
 
Picture out of airplane on route to Stonyfield’s organic dairy farms

I’ve always wanted to use my story to do good in the world and if you follow me, you know I do this through supporting moms- especially the ones who are struggling.

I went on an organic dairy farm tour hosted by Stonyfield Organic recently and if I had told that to myself 8 years ago as a new mom, I’d have laughed hysterically.

This might sound harsh, but after growing up how I did and how many children are currently growing up, how their food is produced is unfortunately the last thing on their parents’ minds and the least of their worries. I have written about my exposure to various traumas and for people living in volatile and unsafe situations, it’s hard to find the time or energy to think about organic. But like with many things, my own experiences have shaped my mindset and it’s taken me a long time to move past “I’m safe now, let’s just eat” to “how do my everyday purchases affect the health of my family and also the world we live in?”.

This post is sponsored by Stonyfield but is 100% my true and authentic experience and opinions.

Rhonda and Myles of Mollybrook Organic Farm

The Impact of Organic Dairy Farming On People, Animals & the Environment

When we arrived at Mollybrook Farm, which recently won Vermont Dairy Farm of the Year 2022, the owners Rhonda and Myles were smiling ear to ear. Hearing Rhonda speak about her cows with more joy and pride than I’ve heard a grandmother speak of her grandkids was the highlight of my trip. Her love for them was infectious and nothing short of obvious, not just in how she spoke but how healthy the cows were. 

 

They shared so much about the dairy farming process. Everything from how hard they have to work to create enough certified organic feed for all the cows, to the daily routine and the in workings of the milking machines to the anecdotal personalities of each individual cow on their farm 

 

The farm has been in Myles’ family for generations and they were the ones to make the transition to organic, a process that takes 3 years. They literally know all the cows by name, and when they give birth, the calves are named with the same first letter of their mothers name. THE SWEETEST.

 

I had the most delightful time meeting two farming families and hearing their origin stories, seeing their hard work and determination to provide for their families, listening to the struggles they’ve had to face particularly since the pandemic and even getting to pet a 1 day old cow.

Visiting the cows at Molly Organic Farm

Fun fact: I lived on a hobby farm for a few years as a teen and raised some cows from calves. So it was really special to get up close and personal with some again.

Here is the thing: I never would have denied that having less herbicides, pesticides, toxins, antibiotics, hormones and harmful chemicals on or in our food would be better for us.

But, it seemed like just a small thing in comparison to the world’s other problems. After taking the time to learn about Organic farming regulations and how they not only benefit the health the humans, but also the welfare of cows, the health of the soil, the air quality, the livelihoods of farmers and their surrounding communities I’ve come away seeing just how important it is to be intentional about what types of food production I am supporting when I walk through the grocery store. 

I also saw that organic dairy and other organic products weren’t created just to be food for the elite, they were actually created TO do good in the world and actually ARE helping to solve a multitude of problems in the world. Namely: 

  • fighting the effects of climate change
  • reducing carbon emissions
  • creating healthier soil & surrounding waterways
  • creating healthier food for humans to ingest
  • driving rural development
  • stimulating the local economy as a whole 
  • and so much more. 

 It’s not more expensive because it’s trying to be fancy. It takes more work and costs more money to produce quality without chemicals, so at the rate people are buying organic it has to cost more.

Organic dairy cows also live much longer, healthier and happier lives because regulations ensure their welfare. Not only are they fed organic feed, they must get time outside everyday, be out to pasture 120 days a year, they are not given hormones or antibiotics (unless as a last resort) and so much more. Organic farms are also generally smaller because they require more work to run, which leads to healthier cows who get more attention. 

 

As a values driven person who has walked through many hard things and sees the struggles of many people, I am determined to leave the world a better place than I have found it. After taking the time to really dive into what Organic ACTUALLY means, and not what social media has twisted it to mean and make you feel, I can’t know what I know now and not do anything.

Busy Moms’ Breakfast Recipe

Busy moms have so much to think about in a day. We are on information overload. We want to do what is right but there are often 5000 versions of “right” coming from every direction and we don’t have the time or energy to decipher what is the most reputable information or important thing to focus on. I am all about supporting moms in what they value. The tour of Stonyfield Organic dairy farms has shown me much organic does align with my values and so I present to you: an easy breakfast recipe for busy moms. 

 

A recipe for busy moms: Yogurt & Granola

 

  • ½ cup of Stonyfield organic probiotic vanilla whole milk yogurt
  • ¼ cup fresh sliced strawberries
  • ¼ cup of sliced ripe bananas
  • ¼ cup of homemade or store bought granola

 

In all seriousness, how we feed our kids is a hot topic in modern day mom culture and how the media advocates for Organic can unfortunately cause mothers to feel judged and stop listening. We all want to be good moms and nourish our children and when it’s suggested we are doing something other than that, it hurts. Many of us want to contribute to making a difference to the health of our families and to the world around us but it can all get too overwhelming sometimes.

Making Small Changes to Do Good in the World

Cows at Organic fairy farm eating hay.
Close up photo showing three pho

“The health of soil, plant, animal and people is one and indivisible”

When I sat down with Co-Founder Gary Hirshberg at dinner on our last evening of the tour, I explained to him the predicament I have a

Stonyfield yogurt is delicious and it’s free from pesticides and other harmful chemicals. If someone said that to me not long ago, I likely would have agreed and then thought I had better things to spend my money on or worry about. I want to help other people, not just focus on my own family’s well-being. But I now see the values behind Stonyfield, and the wider organic community. Organic is not just sustainable and good not just for people, but for animals, for business and for the planet.  

 

I’ve decided to make little changes where I can to support this type of food production, and not because I have felt shamed or guilted into doing so, but because I have seen first hand the positive effects it has on the world around me. 

 

Let me know what you think in the comments and drop any questions you have about the tour! And don’t forget to follow along on Tiktok and Instagram. And if no one has told you lately, you are doing a great job. 

As an advocate for struggling mothers: across North America many families don’t have the choice to buy everything organic even if they wanted to. His response was filled with genuine understanding and empathy. He said “we’re not asking everyone to change everything, we just ask that you do what you can”.

That is manageable, I thought. We can’t do it all, but many of us can do something.

Stonyfield yogurt is delicious and it’s free from pesticides and other harmful chemicals. If someone said that to me not long ago, I likely would have agreed and then thought I had better things to spend my money on or worry about. I want to help other people, not just focus on my own family’s well-being. But I now see the values behind Stonyfield, and the wider organic community. Organic is not just sustainable and good not just for people, but for animals, for business and for the planet.  

I’ve decided to make little changes where I can to support this type of food production, and not because I have felt shamed or guilted into doing so, but because I have seen first hand the positive effects it has on the world around me. 

Let me know what you think in the comments and drop any questions you have about the tour! And don’t forget to follow along on Tiktok and Instagram. And if no one has told you lately, you are doing a great job. 

-Libby

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Libby
Libby
I’m Libby, a relatable mom of 2 but also a recovering perfectionist, anti-mom shamer, mental health advocate and generational cycle breaker! I don’t take myself seriously and want you to know that you are a good mom.

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