Open Letter to “100 Days of Real Food”

22 May

In this post, you will read an email I wrote to the authors of 100 Days of Real Food, a popular blog about cutting processed foods out of our families’ diets, after they blocked me from commenting on their Facebook page. What did I do to get blocked? I responded to this comment: “I just had lunch with my daughters at school, and it’s amazing how some of the ‘packed’ lunches are FAR worse than what the cafeteria provides. Makes me sad for those growing, active kids who get very little (or no) ‘real food’ all day long.”

My comment, which they hid from the Facebook page within an hour, was along the lines of: “This sounds very judgmental. Many families don’t have the access you do, and you are making gross assumptions about other parents.” I’d like to  post my actual comment along with this email so that you know exactly what I said, but they deleted it from their page and blocked me from ever commenting again. Their Facebook post really bothered me because the assumptions white women make about “other people’s children” aren’t fair and don’t take into consideration systemic issues related to racism and poverty.

So I sent 100 Days of Real Food an email to voice my concerns, and this is what it said.

Mrs. Leake,

I’m writing because you blocked me this morning on Facebook because of a comment I wrote regarding your FB post about the lunches your daughter’s classmates eat. I’m disappointed about that because I feel that I have some valid points that I would love to see you talk about on your blog.

I write a blog called White Mom Blog that discusses parenting and white privilege. It’s a side project I work on in response to the massive number of mommy blogs on the Internet run by white women that rarely or never discuss race. Please feel free to check out the blog to understand more about white privilege and the role it plays in our country.

I felt that your post was judgmental about other families. You were judging them. It’s a natural reaction considering what you do for a living. To deny or block anyone who said you were is ridiculous. Having a blog opens you up to lots of people’s opinions, and it’s troublesome that you can’t take some criticism for it. I like the goal of your blog and I especially like the systemic avenue you have taken towards big corporations about the artificial dyes and chemicals in our foods. This is very important and I acknowledge the work you are doing in that area. With that said, I want to explain why I was so offended by your comment and parts of your blog.

      1. You write in your blog about adhering to a $125 budget a week for groceries. This may be completely out of reach for many, many families. You even claim that food stamps would give you even more money. Have you ever been on food stamps? Because I haven’t, so I never assume I know what I’m talking about from reading a government brochure. Also, in Washington state, where I live, you have to have a social security number or be a citizen to receive benefits. Many immigrants  do not have a legal status in the USA. They do not qualify for help and usually work two jobs to stay afloat. Minimum wage in Washington is $9.19. That means it would take 13 hours of work in order to feed a family on your budget.
      2. Time is a privilege. You have time to go to farmer’s markets, speciality grocery stores, etc etc. You also plant a garden that you eat from. It takes time that many people do not have to grocery shop in several different places or tend to a garden (this assumes you live in a place that supports a garden).
      3. You write a blog full time about eating real food and you still claim to struggle with it. This is offensive. According to your blog, your husband works for you and you employ five other employees all devoted to this work. This means you have six people helping you in some way. What about people who don’t have this kind of help?
      4. Your list of kitchen “essentials” are luxury items for most people.
      5. You run ads on your blog that pay you. For example, you currently advertise for Crest toothpaste. Crest is owned by Proctor & Gamble. Jon Moeller, the CFO of P&G, is on the board at Monsanto. You are essentially advertising and being paid by companies that support Monsanto, a company that you have called “the enemy.” Do you realize this?

I’m really looking for an honest conversation that digs deeper about race, racism, systemic racism and the realities of white privilege on your blog.

Buffy

I doubt they’ll reply to me, but if they do I’ll be sure and follow up with their response.

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16 Responses to “Open Letter to “100 Days of Real Food””

  1. Rachel Gall May 22, 2013 at 3:36 pm #

    I really like that blog, and use a few recipes from the site. Using these recipes help me to cut out some packaged food, and actually save on some money (waffles, biscuits, refried beans– my fav). I AM privileged though, I know that.

    I get what you’re saying though– it’s a “first world problems” blog, and is sometimes exhausting. BUT it does have an audience, like many many other “first-world” things.

    The reality is that people in poverty (which includes a lot of minorities) don’t have access to better foods. I was talking about food issues recently and at the end was like “does it really matter if there are starving kids in Africa?”– that got a good belly laugh from everyone. Not sure why, lol.

    So while I DO like the blog, I like any sentiment that calls out first-world problems for what it is: truly ridiculous.

    Try the beans thoughhhh!!!

    • White Mom May 22, 2013 at 3:48 pm #

      I like the blog too, I just wish I could have an active conversation with the authors! It really bothers me they censored me. It’s so easy to chalk this up as a first world problem but I’m really wanting them to think about this on a deeper systemic level. They have the time and man power to do so. Thanks for reading Rachel!

  2. anna May 22, 2013 at 3:51 pm #

    Not to play devil’s advocate, but in reading the first comment, I didn’t think there was anything inherently racist about it? But, I don’t know the background of the site. I do think it takes some things for granted, though, like people might not be knowledgeable in what is nutritious or not. I grew up as an immigrant and subsisted on mac and cheese and spam, just because it was cheap and you can buy plenty. But, I also know other people from all sorts of racist who grew up similarly… perhaps it’s not necessarily about racism, but socioeconomic privilege? Your last point about her advertisers is very interesting, definitely let us know if she responds.

    • White Mom May 22, 2013 at 3:58 pm #

      I get what you’re saying. This isn’t the first time I’ve felt this way about a post she’s written so I’ll mention that. I think it’s the judgment and assumptions she’s making about other families. She’s judging how much other kids parents care about them by what’s in their lunch. How does she know? Thank you for reading!

  3. Andrea May 22, 2013 at 6:42 pm #

    I really like how you’re pointing out areas where people are blind to their own privilege. Your comment was worthy of discussion and someone who was truly secure about her opinions and want to engage in dialogue might have responded, “Thank you for your comment. I hadn’t realized that my comment came across as judgmental. I think that there’s plenty of room for discussion about how privilege affects our food choices, and sadly, how privilege serves as a racial divide in terms of access to quality food choices.”

    I hope that the “100 days of real food” woman responds in a way that is not so defensive.

    Deleting your comment wasn’t the right choice of action. If one person is leaving a comment, there are probably 10 more who agree but are silent. She could have non-defensively explained herself or she could have engaged you in a way that would’ve been a credit to her mission.

    Great post again, White Mom.

    • White Mom May 22, 2013 at 7:33 pm #

      “I think that there’s plenty of room for discussion about how privilege affects our food choices, and sadly, how privilege serves as a racial divide in terms of access to quality food choices.”

      YES! I’m genuinely curious- how can we change this? I’m hoping they can start talking about it through the lens of race too. They have a staff of people with the time and means to explore this stuff and I think it would really deepen their discussion. I hope they respond.

  4. Robert Connolly May 24, 2013 at 5:28 am #

    Enjoyed your post. Deleting posts to avoid engagement is a very bad strategy.

    Certainly here in Memphis food deserts are huge issues. Responses include a farmers market in one desert and a bus that has been repurposed as a mobile farmers market that follows a regular route through the food deserts – predominately in communities that are 90% African-American.

    Of note, when the downtown farmers market that is a “good place to be seen” on Saturday mornings had some vendors that qualified for accepting EBT vouchers, because of the response – folks waiting in line for up to 45 minutes to buy fresh produce – those stalls were moved to the margins of the market for crowd control, with the side effect of not upsetting the ambience of those who came to buy 6.00 per pound granola, organic greens, etc. etc.

    So in Memphis, yes, it is largely a matter of race.

    • White Mom May 25, 2013 at 10:33 pm #

      Robert – thank you for reading and commenting and thank you for sharing a real life example. This kind of stuff is happening all around us and it’s really helpful to call it when you see it. Thank you!

  5. Balancing Jane May 25, 2013 at 10:04 pm #

    I read and enjoy 100 Days of Real Food and believe in the mission of getting healthier food for our children, but I believe in a lot of missions, especially when it comes to parenting. I believe in the mission of breaking barriers of gender stereotype in clothes. I believe in ensuring children from all racial backgrounds see positive representations of themselves in media. I believe in making sure that mothers feel the societal support to breastfeed when and where they need to.

    Sometimes when we have a mission we can become blind to how that mission intersects with the rest of the world around us. It sounds like you brought up one of those intersections respectfully and thoughtfully, and I’m really disappointed that you were silenced and blocked because of it. Access to healthy food is an essential and basic need, and ignoring the way that it is tied up with race and class doesn’t do anything to make it more accessible.

    • White Mom May 25, 2013 at 11:09 pm #

      I like the blog too. I think it’s really helpful and I like seeing the creative lunches she packs her kids. We eat whole foods in our house and not a lot of processed food- we are also middle class, college educated, employed and privileged. I really like the way you worded your comment- we all have our missions but we have to be aware of how they intersect- it’s not as (no pun intended) black and white as she seems to see it. One thing that really fueled my frustration about the post were the comments like, “These parents are in denial, these parents need to figure out that this food is bad, etc”. These kind of conversation, when worded this way, create more “we’re better than you” mentalities. Being a parent is hard enough, we’re all doing the best we can with the cards we’ve been dealt. Thank you so much for commenting!

  6. melissa nechvil November 30, 2013 at 11:03 am #

    Maybe she feels that the mindless bs you spout doesn’t deserve an intelligent response. Its her blog to do with as she pleases its not you right to shove your beliefs on anyone and they owe you no explanation.

    • White Mom November 30, 2013 at 11:37 am #

      Is this mindless? Perhaps next time- take the time you spent writing this useless comment and write a letter to your local government asking them to pass laws that support families and children. If you’ve expended all of your efforts writing this- then perhaps volunteer your time in a local garden or pea patch where the food goes to kids to learn how to cook (FEEST is a great one here in Seattle).

      Just a thought.

    • robertlfs November 30, 2013 at 6:13 pm #

      I disagree with your comment. If one does not want to respond to comments or they cannot stand to have a comment present on their blog with which they disagree, they should not allow comments at all. Personally, I would be upset if I spent the time to articulate a thoughtful response to a blog post only to have the original poster remove same. Ditto on Facebook.

      Social media is just that – social – not simply a megaphone for the producer. Clay Shirky in his book Cognitive Surplus, and lots of others in lots of other places, discuss this point at length.

  7. MamaLove December 12, 2013 at 10:47 am #

    I followed 10 Days of Real Food on Facebook for a while. I found the blogger to be extremely defensive when anyone commented on or questioned her choices. Not good. Also, in addition to the really good points you made above, the glycemic load in the meal recommendations is crazy. One meal she recommended for her kids was 3 muffins, graham crackers, granola, and sweetened yogurt with fruit (ALL SUGAR)… and a small salad. While her recommendations are certainly healthier than eating fast food every day, I fear that many people following this blogger may continue to have or develop serious health issues due to the disproportionate focus on wheat, grains, fruit, and sugar (even “natural” sugars …. the body processes it as sugar). For people who are serious about real health, real balanced diets, and real nutrition, this is not the blogger to follow.

    • White Mom December 31, 2013 at 4:19 pm #

      I totally agree- we don’t eat a lot of wheat in our house so I’ve thought the same thing when I’ve read her blog!

  8. Rae July 29, 2014 at 7:16 am #

    Really late post to this. I think she puts some very valuable information out there. But she is abrasive rather than engaging with her audience which is why I stopped following her.

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Bicultural Familia

Celebrating familia & culture in South Texas.

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