I almost made a mistake today. Ok, I probably make mistakes every day, but this one was wrapped up in fear and overreaction.

I read a facebook post about the new Food Safety Act. I became afraid. The post provided a link which led me to believe I wouldn’t be able to buy some vitamins after the Act went into effect. If I believed the post, it also seemed as if all organic farms, seeds and backyard gardens would be  in jeopardy. No vitamins? No organic backyard gardens? An outrage! Imagine only being able to consume mass manufactured / grown / modified foods. It is simply too Big Brother horrible to imagine.

Unfortunately, I continued to read the comments under the article. “How can the government do this?” I thought, as I read on and on. My heart raced. I noticed my own fear building.

I then made a mistake. I posted the link on my facebook profile, without research. Reaction without foresight or calm.

How could I have dealt with my fear?

Lesson #1. Feel fear, but without immediate reaction. Fear is natural. Suppressing it is not helpful. Allow the energy of fear to build in your body and escape, like a hole in a balloon or bubbles in a carbonated soda. The reaction is separate from the energy of fear.

Lesson #2. Take a deep breath. Breathing allows perspective, space. It separates you from feeling so tied to the situation that you can’t think straight. Breath to bring yourself back to your own body, out of the situation.

Lesson #3. Analyze the facts. What report did the article reference? Read the report. Read other editorials and articles on this issue. Is this article reporting facts, or doing fear-based rumor-spreading? I almost did the latter by leaving a link on facebook without knowing all the answers.

So, I missed step one – I reacted immediately. Fortunately step 2 and 3 kicked in with some online research.

And what did I find? Articles (recently printed – this Act has had many changes) from news services such as the  Huffington Post and the Houston Press, as well as a comment from Snopes, the online site which discusses internet rumors and urban legends. There are concerns about this new Act, but most concerns are unfounded, at least at this point.

After I had the facts I wanted to respond to my own post, but in the end deleted it altogether.

Lesson #4: Happiness is being able to undo a mistake. This option isn’t always available. If I sent an email or text, or left a voice message somewhere else, undoing isn’t an option. That is the sort of mistake worth being scared about.

Lesson #5: The biggest lesson I learned is the importance of forming an opinion based on facts, not fear, not hype. But fear can be useful. When the facts lead our society down a dangerous path, it is up to us to respond to that danger in any way possible. With fear as momentum, it is easier to act. However, facts make it easier to pass on a compelling and rational argument. Government changes require fact. A passionate public spurs them to act.

PS. Though initial fears were unfounded, there still is concern that the wording in the HR2751 FDA Food Safety Modernization Act leaves the FDA with too much power to regulate farms and producers with more than $500,000 in sales. (What new regulations must a farmer with $500,001 in sales follow, for example? I would still consider them a small business.)

What do you think of this new act? Are fears justified? Now that Obama has signed it, what can we continue to do to hold the FDA accountable to its residents and citizens?

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  • Carol And Stacy Posted January 20, 2011 11:36 pm

    We all must take the time to get informed and make informed decisions. Great article. I dig Obama but do not like how the FDA has so much power. I watched a movie recently called "The Beautiful Truth." Incredible movie. The top execs from Monsanto said it does not matter who is elected President they are already in place and part of the system.
    Leigh, have you seen how you can add your blogfrog community directly to your blog? Here's my newest post about it all. http://www.intentionalconsciousparenting.com/2011/01/theres-something-big-happening-in.html
    Namaste, Carol

  • Leigh Harris Posted January 21, 2011 3:40 am

    You are so right. The world is ours to nurture…our decisions and actions are important. That movie is on my list to watch. Not long ago I watched "Food Inc." which seems to be a precursor for "The Beautiful Truth."

    I'll pop over to read your blogfrog article. I have a widget for it at the bottom of my blog, but I'd like to get more involved.

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