Open thread: Overwhelmed and down… but not out!

I saw How do you cope with toxic information overload? over on Healthy Child, Healthy World and it resonated with me. Having just watched Food, Inc last weekend, bad food, good food, ugly food has been on a loop over and over in my mind ever since. I thought that the movie wouldn’t bother me, but it hasn’t been that easy for me to move forward.

It’s really hard to keep all of that information contained in my brain and know what to do with all of it. I like how the author of the blog post on Healthy Child, Healthy World said, “No one can do everything, but everyone can do something.” It reminds of Oprah Winfrey’s saying, “When you know better, you do better.” I agree and I do better (what I can with what is under my own power). But I still admit to feeling totally flummoxed by the complexity of many of the issues regarding school food reform and education.

Recently I asked a friend, do you sympathize with children and babies more since becoming a mother? She answered with a resounding yes. That’s part of how and why I started this blog. Once that switch is turned on, it’s just not something you can turn off. Where I work I hear a lot of stories about children at my school. I could cry a thousand tears. One of my former coworkers once worked at a very rough school. She told me that when she became a mother she had to leave because she could no longer witness the neglect and feel powerless to change it.

How do you move on with knowledge that makes your head explode? I remember reading about the “fight or flight” response in a psychology class. Sometimes I want to fight, but sometimes I just want to run away….

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19 thoughts on “Open thread: Overwhelmed and down… but not out!

  1. Some books that have changed my life: Fast Food Nation, Animal Vegetable Miracle, The Omnivore's Dilemma, In Defense of Food, Fateful Harvest and the film Food Inc. Anyone who eats food should read these.

  2. I felt the same way when my daughter was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at the age of 8. It was overwhelming and scary and there is only so much you can do at one time.

    I found that it helps to tackle little bits at a time. Do what you can. You are already making a difference by creating this blog and getting the conversation going. You are supporting others in this fight, too. It takes more than one person to change things. As a group we are stronger and have a louder voice.

    Keep up your efforts, support others and things can change.

    After the conversation on Food, Inc., I watched it and then I watched The Future of Food, which is just as scary but goes more in depth into the genetic engineering of food. Definitely feeling the overload and it makes me think even more about what we eat.

  3. I was going to say, that first you start with yourself…but you did that second . You started this blog first…
    1. Start with yourself, educate yourself, read those books, watch Food Inc., get in the loop.
    2. spread the word…you've done this in so many ways, starting with this blog, interviews, magazine interviews…you have done so much in such a short time. Yea Mrs. Q!!!
    3. Keep doing what you are doing. Please!

    Suddenly, I am seeing a lot of news locally as well as nationally about school lunch. On Weds. the local paper had a Huge article about both the public and private schools in the area and what they are doing to boost nutrition and the use of locally grown produce in the lunches they are serving. The public schools, because of the USDA rules, have to jump through hoops of course but they are trying very hard to improve the foods they are serving to the children.
    One of those hoops is that both the both the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the local school system require 3 price quotes for all food purchases…but sometimes only one farmer has enough of a surplus to offer a reasonable price.
    two steps forward, one step backward.
    Lets play mother may I with the rules.

  4. I think it's important to cut yourself some slack on a regular basis. You plug along, doing what you can for whatever you care about. Sometimes you make steady progress, sometimes you don't. Tomorrow is another day. I often think nothing changes without lots of money and that bums me out the most. But I don't have that to give! I have time and brains so I use them as best I can.

  5. Some of the things I wanted to say have already been said. I agree with The Little Recipe Box comment. It's important to be informed.

    I had a really hard time watching food inc. I think I may have cried the first time through. Movies like Food inc and Two Angry Moms are great because they get me pumped up, but they can also be overwhelming and scary because it's such a huge problem and these companies seem so powerful.

    Do you know what I figured out that made me feel better? These companies are powerful, and do you know where their power comes from? US!!!! The consumer is the one telling the company what to produce! I see change and it makes me feel good, but it's slow. I love the phrase "vote with your fork". Maybe I won't topple such and such industry overnight, but I feel good knowing that each purchase I make is a vote. I'm telling those companies what I want. That makes me feel good. I vote with my fork, I blog a little, try not to get down when people ridicule us for the way we eat. I keep it up, because it's something I really believe in. Although I have know psychic powers, having read your blog, I think you believe it too. You are making a difference. 🙂

  6. Mrs. Q, I'm sorry to hear that you are overwhelmed! I can definitely see how that can be the case with so many competing priorities in your life. I definitely feel that way as I started my holistic health counseling practice while full-time at an office job. I find that the biggest help for me is to be able to find people who not only can I confide in when I feel overwhelmed, but also people who motivate me to take that emotion into action. When I was attending my training to be a holistic health counselor, there was a speaker who said a really thought provoking quote: "Overwhelmed is about your not being up to speed with what you asked the universe for." Hope this little thought helps!

  7. I have all of the Michael Pollan books, seen Fast Food Nation, and Food, Inc, and Fresh. All of these movies and books bring to light the things that must be brought to light. As you said in your post, your power begins with knowledge and action comes after. You choose your power by using your money and fork. I am on board with this idea for the most part.

    Where the disconnect is for me is the most vulnerable part of the population (poverty stricken families and their children, you know, the ones that eat the free/reduced lunch)never gets access to fresh food, ie farmers markets, organic produce. They unfortunately stick to the inside aisles of the stores, because it's cheaper. I have caught much flack for arguing my point. I've been called a foodie food nazi because I've argued with some foodie food people of the food movement. I get very irritated when they say those that go to costco and buy the natural meat or the organic chicken are doing NO good for the food movement. I even added that you have to take it to the streets, ie congress/senate, local officials. I was told that would do no good. So, I am a bit of a fringer i guess. Keep doing what you're doing, Mrs Q!

  8. Thank you all for your kind thoughts. I'm doing better. Lisa, I definitely talked to my husband who always makes me feel better.

  9. How do you *not* move on with knowledge that makes your head explode?

    "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? Your playing small doesn't serve the world. There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we're liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."

  10. Embrace the knowledge and do what you can. Whether you're ignorant of a fact or not, it's still true.

  11. Mrs. Q, I feel your pain! Sometimes it's just plain hard to keep up the fight.
    I've always felt that if you get some kind of knowledge that will help others, you shouldn't keep it to yourself. But I've lost friends (I thought they were friends), been disciplined, humiliated, gossiped about, you name it – just for sharing information that I thought would help my students. Everything I've said or done has been exaggerated or made to sound completely negative or radical.
    I watched Food, Inc. quite a while ago, and it only encouraged me to try and keep changing things at my school – in my little world. It's an alarming movie for sure, but it has opened up a lot of eyes.
    I am encouraged by reading your blog and all the others out there. Just remember the difference you've made!

  12. It sounds a little silly, but when I feel like I can't possibly make a difference and I might as well give up, I inevitably wind up singing this little song from Finding Nemo:

    "Just keep swimming! Just keep swimming!"

    We forget how much of a difference it makes to just continue and not give up when the world tells us we're crazy and our dreams are impossible.

    I live on a small farm/ intentional community, and my husband farms full time. Some days it's glorious as we enjoy a bountiful harvest and have plenty to share with friends; and some days (like tonight when a newborn calf is struggling for life in the pouring rain, and my husband is out there uncertain in the darkness) I just want to give up and go back to something easier. But then I remember that little song, and it makes me laugh a little, and together we keep on swimming along, trusting the current to carry us through.

  13. "A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." Margaret Mead

  14. I agree completely. Knowing that you can change yourself for the better is always great, but there is always that part of us that wants to do more, and feels bad that we aren't the ones in power to make the decisions. Luckily a little at a time works. This blog is one of those small steps in the right direction. Kudos to you for taking that step instead of just saying "there's nothing I can do".

    I don't feel as though I have much power either. The one thing I can do is read your blog and provide moral support!

  15. My name is Alexandra , I am a student at the University of
    Michigan. I am conducting research on student health in the lunch
    room, in regards to foods offered, and the sustainability of school
    lunches. I am interested in your concerns and thought in school
    lunches and child health. Are you satisfied with the lunch option
    offered at your school? Do you believe students make health choices
    when it comes to lunches? What are you happy with, and what would you
    like to improve upon? Are there areas of concern in regards to
    nutrition and getting students to eat healthy meals?

  16. "But I still admit to feeling totally flummoxed by the complexity of many of the issues regarding school food reform and education."

    Mrs. Q, I'm actually glad to read that! As a food service worker, it is easy to feel the same way. Sadly, it can be even more disheartening to hear or read comments that may say something along the lines of "I don't understand why they don't just…"

    When one realizes the complex issues involved, It's my humble opinion that we can start to make changes.

    You are right, it's hard to know where to start. I think changes need to come from everywhere. Changes to rules, regulations and funding from government levels can make a difference. Recognition of the meal programs as an important part of the day by teachers and administrators would be a great step. And at the kitchen level, making the changes that we can in the current structure, no matter if they are small.

    Yes, some days I want to quit too, because I get tired of hearing how bad it is. But I'll keep doing what I can, and have faith.

  17. Yup, I can totally relate. Its not easy when you've swallowed the 'red pill' as you know….

    Its basically impossible to go back to sleep once you have had the wake up call. There are days I wish I could.

    Don't let it get you down for long. Keep on blogging and tweeting. Our kids need you to and our children's children and their children will thank you for taking this stand for their health and wellbeing.

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