Sunday, August 29, 2010

Conversations with Julie Daniluk: A Follow-Up

(Update 05/01/2011): The blogging "rule" of mine that I initially wrote that I "broke" in this post has been amended. Now that eight months have gone by and I've had the chance to go back and read, I've come to a conclusion. Disagreeing with people and voicing my opinion isn't a bad thing, as long as I do so respectfully, which is what I feel I did in my encounter with Julie. I strongly disagreed with her video on Etalk, but then I also gave her the benefit of a doubt and posted the follow up here, which as you can see as you read, showed that her and I really were on the same side. My goal is to be fair, and that is what that "rule" meant.

If people are going to give advice publicly, then they should expect that people will disagree with them publicly. I was recently asked to remove both posts (8 months later) and have refused. I do not regret what I said, and it should be noted that I had responded with my opinion to a television interview that was aired across the nation. I am not responsible for how that show was edited nor for what was said.
I am responsible for my words, and this space. Personally, I think things were handled fairly and accurately. I was very proud of my readers for responding in a fair and kind way as well. There was no mudslinging as you can see, but rather, discussion. Which is how it should be.

In conclusion, the point is that what you say in media, no matter who you are, lives on in infamy via Google. At the end of the day, you alone are responsible for your words.

I don't regret, nor will I retract, mine.

So as you all saw the other night, I broke one of my blogging rules. Not usually one to publicly call someone out, I took Julie Daniluk to task on this spot she did for ETalk.

It's really easy to just see someone on TV and forget that they are a living, breathing, feeling person. To be very honest, I had no idea who she was until she responded to me. None. I didn't research at all, I just found her Twitter handle and let her know my displeasure.

Sometimes, I admit, my passion gets the better of me. Anyone who knows me in real life and had to deal with me being Mama Bear knows. Heh.

It's also really easy to forget that those TV programs edit the hell out of everything and that what she "said", maybe not be exactly what she said, know what I mean? Actually this made for great dinner time conversation, and Jake made one of the wisest assessments of all. I was skeptical at first, and then he pointed out,

"Mom, editing isn't really fair. You might want to say something, but if they edit it they change it, and then you didn't get the chance to really say what you wanted after all."

That kid is smart, huh?

Julie, to her credit, came here and replied in the comments, and then we ended up exchanging some e-mails. She gave me permission to share with you what we talked about.

"The peak of the segment showed me rejecting an apple for fruit candy. This was taken out of context. I started the interview taking about the wonderful health benefits of fruit. I suggested dipping cut up fruit into a honey sweetened tahini dip and all of that ended up on the cutting room floor." (Julie Daniluk)

Okay, that's fair. Editing can be brutal. I know bloggers who have been victims of that too.

"I just want you to watch the tape again and see the jump cut. I suggested the apple chips not the candy and then it cut to another part of the interview where I was asked, If your kid wants candy, What is a good suggestion?

They blended my two points together." (Julie Daniluk)

I went back and watched, and sure enough, she was right. They did. So the reality isn't that she recommended candy from fruit over apples, but when they edited the interview, it looked that way. What she told me was that in answering the question about the candy, she said,

If you are pushed to buy your kids candy for birthday parties and special treats, then it is critical that the candy be natural. My reason for my enthusiasm was not the candy itself but what it DOES NOT CONTAIN- Red Dye. I spoke in great length about the dangers of cold tar dye for children’s mental focus and that natural fruit candy uses carrots for orange colour and beets for red and pink colouring." (Julie Daniluk)

Fair enough. Red food dye makes Jake seriously ill, and if I was going to buy Easter candy or something I'd go that route. I'll still say I doubt that any antioxidants are in it as she suggested in the interview, and the idea of antioxidants don't make me more apt to buy it or consider it any healthier. In the interview it appeared like it was being suggested as an alternative to fresh fruit.

For instance, at one point Jones Soda asked me if I would buy soda more often if they added vitamins to it. Personally I think the whole adding vitamins to junk food is a ridiculous marketing ploy, and I am astounded that people actually fall for it. I told Jones that we consider soda a treat, and adding vitamins would not make any difference in our buying habits. Also that we'd never buy soda with vitamins. I'd rather have my kid eat an apple.

What had made me so upset, and ultimately take Julie to task, was the suggestion that kids just want to fit in and treats in their lunches might accomplish that. Jake had trouble in elementary school socially, and I know that no amount of candy would have helped that. He needed food that would keep him on an even keel and able to handle the day, and I didn't care if it was colorful lunch box treats or not. On the other hand, it didn't even occur to me that Julie might have had a different experience herself.

"Please understand that my mom pioneered the belief that colours, preservatives and white sugar was the cause of ADD in 1978. I was taken off all refined food and it saved my life. I was in the lunch room, desperate to fit in. In those days there were no flashy fun options for health food. I had waxy carob wrapped in paper and was teased and felt terrible. I would hide from my mom the left overs from my lunch and eat out of my friend's lunch box and it would make me sick but I just wanted to belong." (Julie Daniluk)

I never thought of that. I grew up at the same time as Julie, and I had a friend who went through the very same thing. Years later she told me that she even went so far as breaking into the neighbor's house and eating their Fruit Loops! I pointed out to Julie that parents are always slogging through advertising that uses emotional blackmail to get us to buy their products, and while her statement may not have been intended that way, it sounded as though she was plugging those products.

"I watched the tape over and over and cursed myself for putting the apple back instead of holding it and saying, "Of course fresh fruit is the best option, but if your kid is leaving fruit in their lunch box then apple chips are a great choice." (Julie Daniluk)

Well, we all mess up occasionally. I made mistakes too-emailing Julie privately instead of public flogging would've been a far better choice. On the other hand, I pointed out to Julie that apples were a terrible lunch example. They don't pack well at all, they are cumbersome, can take a long time to eat, and go brown. I suggested kiwi, oranges, grapes (cut in half), pineapple, mango, melon, carrots, broccoli, snap peas, cherry tomatoes, and lots more. I don't think that I personally would go with apple chips, but then I haven't read the package. I really don't know. (note: I hate dried apples. Also, dried fruit is bad for your teeth, high in calories, you miss out on the fiber, and often has sulphites)

On the juice, Julie admitted that she grabbed one that looked similar to the ones in Starbucks. Odwalla, it turns out, is owned by Coke.

"For the record I did remind people that juice is high in sugar and that it is best to cut all juice with water. 1 part juice to 3 parts water is enough to give kids flavoured water but not enough to spike blood sugar. " (Julie Daniluk)

This is true. Thing is, I doubt parents are going to take the time to dilute those convenient little juice bottles. Even diluted, it's still a heck of a lot of sugar. (Edited to add: Julie did contact me again and made an excellent point.. "I do suggest water but the media does not find that interesting enough for TV." )

That's probably why I haven't been on TV. I would just tell them to shove it and suggest water anyway.

In the end, I think Julie and I understand each other. I did really get the sense the she cares, and she regretted how the piece came out.

"The moral of the story is: I had way too much content for a short fun piece for Etalk. In future, I will cut down my content to exactly what I want them to use to try and safe guard my message. I need to avoid assumptions. I assumed that my praise for fresh fruit would make the edit.

I want people to know that I am a true advocate for whole food nutrition. I made the mistake of trying to reach the standard North American Audience with a compromise and it appeared through editing that I preferred the refined food option to the whole healthy apple, one of my all time favourite foods! I understand it is my responsibility to focus on whole food first and in future will do everything I can to protect the message."

We talked forming an alliance of sorts, because we really are on the same team after all, and I think that she's a pretty cool person. It takes a lot of guts to face your critics and admit where you messed up, as well as point out what really happened. I really appreciate it. Well done, Julie.

The thing is, this experience really illustrates to me that you can't believe what you see on TV. Even if it's not the expert's intention, things can (and are) edited to the point where the message is completely lost, twisted, or changed altogether.

Now if that doesn't confuse parents, what would?
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