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December 07, 2019

Organic Food & Anti-Vaxxers - Does The Fear of Safe Food Lead to Fear of Safe Vaccines

The American media and our popular culture both celebrate a fear of safe, nutritious food if it is not labeled “organic.” To be consistent then, why don’t we also celebrate anti-vaxxers’ fear of safe vaccines, which are also not “organic?” To be clear, I am not an anti-vaxxer. I am strongly pro-vaccine. Everyone in my house is vaccinated, and I am appalled at the outbreaks of contagious diseases due to anti-vaxxers. But let’s be clear, a venn diagram of those who obsess about organic food and anti-vaxxers will reveal a major overlap. If you know an anti-vaxxer, he is most likely committed to an organic diet.

Our culture accepts as a scientific fact that organic food is healthier than non-organic food. You can watch TV, read popular magazines, or listen to healthy-living gurus, and overwhelmingly you will be told that organic food is healthier than non-organic food. Recipes tend to call for organic produce and ingredients. And it goes beyond organic foods. Genetically-modified foods are slandered as “frankenfoods” concocted by mad scientists in a laboratory. Further, we are admonished to avoid anything that is not “natural.”

OK then. Vaccines are genetically modified, lab-made, and certainly not natural. Being anti-vax seems a logical extension of the natural, organic lifestyle.

I know several people - including family members - who have so completely bought into the natural-organic hype that they genuinely believe GMO and non-organic foods are poisonous. They would rather starve themselves and their children to death than ingest a gram of non-organic food. They look at the shelves of a regular grocery store and see rows and rows of poison. There is a medical term for this fear of safe healthy food - it’s called “orthorexia.” I am not shocked that some of these individuals are anti-vaxxers. Instead, I am shocked (and relieved) that some of the orthorexics I know actually do vaccinate themselves and their children.

I used to be amused that Whole Foods could gouge its customers and get them to pay a “designer label premium” for regular groceries. Like patrons of Saks or Nieman Marcus, Whole Foods’ affluent customers could feel a sense of affluent superiority to those who shop at mass market grocery stores. But it’s now clear that Whole Foods isn’t just putting a fancy hood ornament on its groceries - its business model also promotes fear – a fear that if you don’t stretch your wallet for “safe” organic groceries, then you are imperiling the health and safety of yourself and your loved ones. That is wicked. And very effective. The organic food obsessives I know include cash strapped individuals who do not have the means to afford the Whole Foods lifestyle. But they shop there anyhow. They have to. Out of fear.

Vaccinations are critical to the safety of our communities, so we must keep striving to educate citizens on the importance of vaccinations. But let’s also stop celebrating the irrational fear of safe, healthy groceries. If we are going to applaud an individual for being terrified of a can of Del Monte green beans, then we can hardly be surprised that she is terrified of injecting her child with a lab-made, genetically modified, live virus of an awful disease.

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posted by Open Blogger at 07:30 PM

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