Friday, May 15, 2009

Low income pregnant women can't buy organic?!

(repost of my article for the Organic Consumers Association website)

Am I the only one who finds it frightening that low-income pregnant women can't buy organic produce with their WIC allowances? It's one thing to have to be on welfare, and quite another to have people make your food choices for you. I was fuming when I found this out:

The Truth Behind WIC: Organic is NOT an Option!

By Chantal Clement

In February 2009, Washington State decided to remove organic milk from its list of ‘approved foods’ reimbursable by the Women, Infant and Children Program (WIC). Though this decision led to serious backlash from organic consumers and supporters nationwide, what may be a little known fact to many is that slashing organic produce from WIC approved food lists for ‘reasons related to cost’ is currently being practiced in almost every single state. Forbidding organic products from WIC is frighteningly nothing out of the ordinary!

The WIC program, run by the Food and Nutrition Services of the USDA, provides Federal aid to more than 8 million low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and non-breastfeeding postpartum women, as well as infants and children under the age of five who are deemed to be at nutritional risk. In seeking to help these women and children, WIC claims that they do not limit women’s choices or their individual dietary preferences in any way. WIC also states that it “safeguards the health of low-income women, infants, and children up to age 5 who are at nutrition risk by providing nutritious foods to supplement diets, information”. How then, is it acceptable for states to limit if not completely forbid WIC recipients from choosing the healthiest food options available? Organic produce has been proven time and time again to provide individuals with healthier options and higher nutrition levels than their conventional counterparts; why are women being prohibited from their very right of freedom of choice?

Currently, our government allows states to amend WIC approved foods based on their own discretion (a decision they claim is almost always influenced by cost). WIC State agencies are ultimately responsible for determining the brands and types of foods authorized on State WIC food lists. If WIC truly supports optimal nutrition and if aid programs are really seeking to best help those in need, the federal government should disallow states from barring organics from their WIC approved food lists.

By disallowing the purchase of certain foods, WIC is taking away women’s right to choose the healthiest possible option: organic food. So long as WIC recipients are not going over their monthly allowances, it should not matter whether they are choosing to buy organic or not. If anything, the purchase of organic goods should be encouraged! Buying organic products always benefits not only an individual’s health but also the environment’s; it also supports one of our economy’s fastest growing sectors and the responsible corporations and farmers who promote it!

Without the option to purchase organic products, women and their children are being forced to comply to a list of products laden with pesticides, unknown growth hormones, added sugars, artificial sweeteners, and genetically modified ingredients.
gIn light of these current WIC laws, please stay tuned for an Action Alert related to laws dealing with organic produce in WIC. Given, the upcoming revision of Child Nutrition Act in September, let’s tell Congress to stop limiting women’s options for organic foods and allowing states to ban organic products from WIC!

Check out my actual article (scroll down to the bottom) for an actual listing of all state WIC regulations... see for yourself that they don't allow organic first hand!

1 comment:

  1. Cosmic sync going on here; I wondered about WIC and organic foods just last week. I think it is abominable for the government to have this high a stake in our choices. Why can't US practices be more like European practices? And they call this 'the land of the free', why?