October Right To Know Champion – Leah Segedie
This month we got to speak with Leah Segedie, queen of the mommy bloggers and GMO labeling champion.
Leah is a food activist and social media consultant who founded Mamavation to teach “digital moms” healthy living practices. She has access to 10,000 bloggers in the Bookieboo network, which connects bloggers with brands to create wellness campaigns.
Leah has been recognized for numerous feats in her professional and personal life, including being named “Mom of the Year” by Shape magazine; being ranked the fourth most Influential Mommy Blogger by Cision Media; being compared to Lady Gaga for her unique social media tactics in The Huffington Post; and getting cited as Fitness magazine’s Favorite Weight Loss Blog. Her story, communities and work have been featured by CNN, ABC, NBC, The O’Reilly factor, The Talk, Yahoo, Ladies Home Journal, Fitness Magazine, Shape magazine, The Huffington Post, Women’s Day, Fitness RX and others.
Check out our full interview with Right-to-Know Champion Leah Segedie, Mamavation.
What first made you become passionate about the issue of genetically engineered food and an advocate for mandatory labeling?
I have three small children, and the idea that this technology was being forced upon us without consent seemed very wrong to me. I like to be in control of the decisions made for our family, especially when it comes to health and education. But the issue of GMOs fundamentally changing the food we eat was something I felt the public had a right to know about and be given a choice. Even if that choice was to purchase GMO products, I don’t care; I still believe they deserve a right to know. Most of the people I knew were completely unaware our food has been altered to this extent with this technology. And because I am a trusted voice in health and wellness for digital moms, I realized it was my job to learn as much as I could and teach others what was happening.
I first started researching GMOs when Prop. 37 qualified for the California ballot over two years ago. After weeks of learning, I fired off an email to the campaign and offered my services as a pro bono consultant, including access to my network of 10,000 bloggers, for them to create educational digital campaigns. I wanted to help because it was the right thing to do. Educating masses of digital moms in social media was the beginning of awareness the opposition didn’t count on. Within minutes of me sending the campaign an email, I heard from them after they checked out my credentials and realized I was an industry leader that could effectively help them reach the everyday mom online. Within months I helped them organize over 650 bloggers across the United States and Canada, and the only thing we asked them to talk about was, “Do you want a right to know?” Seemed like whoever you talked to, that was a solid YES! Later that year, I officially revamped my blogger network and announced we will no longer be taking any clients with GMOs in their products. It was a radical decision and I had to avoid about 85 percent of my previous clients, but it felt like the right thing to do – standing for health. Today, we are the only blogging network working exclusively with brands free from GMOs. We stand for real health.
Do you think there are any potential benefits to biotechnology?
Right now I think the focus needs to be more about containing than allowing them to expand.
What can the blogging and online community do to help in the effort to label GMOs?
The blogging community excels in having frank conversations that are trusted by their audiences and creating viral buzz with savviness. So what I’m encouraging bloggers to do within their own communities is use all their talents to spread the message of us all having the right to know. And as this message spreads like wildfire online, I also encourage them to break the news to people in their offline lives as well. It’s really about talking to as many people as you can about safeguarding the health of our children, families, ourselves and the health of our earth. As we are taking control of the conversation within our digital spaces, just like with the French and American revolutions, the tide is turning to a grander feeling of empowerment for families and concerned citizens. Labeling will happen; it’s just a matter of how much time it takes to get there.
Can you tell us a little bit about this week’s ShiftCon Eco/Wellness Social Media Conference and what you hope it can accomplish for GE labeling and other similar causes?
The ShiftCon Social Media Conference was created for bloggers and other content creators who are passionate about the food movement and natural products. It’s about training bloggers to be more effective in communicating our messages to the everyday person and make these topics relevant enough to change consumer patterns. It’s about us taking the conversation back from the people who have kept us in the dark for so long. As bloggers continue to talk about avoiding GMOs in their homes and the reasons behind that, everyday people are increasingly taking notice and changing as well. We hope to accelerate that shift in perspective by collaborating and networking. ShiftCon is one of our strategies to achieve this end.
Do you personally try to avoid eating GE foods? How?
We eat about 80/20 in our home. I control the vast majority of the ingredients used inside our kitchen by eating organic, but we allow at least one meal outside the home per week. Therefore, I’m ensuring the vast majority of the nutrition is superior and perfectly safe, but I’m also allowing my kids to celebrate special occasions with family and friends.
Whom do you admire for their leadership on GE labeling?
I admire Robyn O’Brien for her effectiveness in reaching everyday moms with this message, because at the end of the day moms control the supermarket and thus the food supply. In order to change things, we need as many of them in this movement as we can get spreading awareness and making better decisions.
What other causes are you involved with?
Other than being active nationwide promoting labeling of genetically modified ingredients, I’m also involved in educating parents on dangerous chemicals in food and other consumer products that cause health problems, the effects of fast food marketing to children – like eating disorders and lifetime unhealthy food preferences – discouraging weight-bias messages in the media and pushing our government for safer and stricter laws governing chemicals in our schools, homes and environment.
What would you say to others who are hoping to start and lead a movement around positive change?
I would say, welcome challenges and hard work with a grateful heart and you can accomplish anything.
Would you recommend any good resources for others hoping to learn more about GMOs?
Yes, I love the Non-GMO Project, Institute for Responsible Technology, Non-GMO Shopping Guide, Earth Open Source, GMO Inside and Friends of the Earth. And, of course, Mamavation, my own site.