What do pumpkin spice lattes, the right to carry a gun, and a store’s decision to stop selling cigarettes have to do with each other? Social media is all abuzz with these three topics this week. They’re all hot buttons in our public conversations, our collective story…our narrative, if you will. And they have a powerful principle in common.

A wildly popular, if not slightly dubious food blogger called Starbucks out on the carpet this week over the ingredients in their Pumpkin Spice Latte. I personally included the infographic from this piece in my social broadcasts on Facebook and Twitter because I thought it was excellent food for thought. (No pun intended.) While inclusion of this graphic doesn’t imply I am a fan of this blogger, nor do I agree with every point of her very public platform, I do advocate both knowing exactly what is in what you consume, as well as sanity in our national food supply.

The automatic weapon debate is a passionate one for both sides. It has been inflamed furiously recently by the tragic accidental shooting of a firing range employee by a 9 year old who had been given an Uzi to shoot, as well as a nationwide advertising campaign by a mom’s group:



The images are powerful and I think do an effective job of giving us all pause. No matter what your position on gun “rights” and freedom in this country I do think we can all agree that automatic weapons are lethal. More about them later.

The third in my triumvirate of linked subjects was the exciting news that a national drugstore chain has rebranded itself and realized that the sale of cigarettes is counter to its mission to help people care for their health. Bravo, CVS.

So what do these national conversations all have in common?


Each of us has a choice to make in life about whether to support or hinder our health. I’m no monk, nor do I advocate monk-like living or addiction to perfection in what we eat or our personal habits. What I do advocate at the top of my lungs is choose your narrative. Choose what you support with your energy.

I choose not to smoke. Not to keep guns in my home since I live in a relatively safe area. And to be as healthy as I can possibly be with what I choose to eat and drink. My body has clearly illustrated to me what happens when I don’t. I don’t attempt perfection, I simply steer my thoughts, my lifestyle and my habits in the direction that I wish to go.

We all know that what we focus on expands.

This thought is no longer thought woo-woo, nor relegated to Oprah fans. The latest discoveries in medical science are steering us there – if even metaphorically.

The recent discoveries that “we are literally the architects and builders of our own brains” has far reaching implications. The brain is so malleable that it responds to input, lifestyle, and experience by growing new neural pathways in response to what we feed it. The same is true for the rest of our bodies and minds.

My friend Doctor Julie hits on some of this in a blog post on the microbiome and neuroplasticity. In fact, our lifestyles and what we eat affect the delicate balance of the millions of bacteria that make up our “second brain” – as the gut is now called by scientists.

So what does all of this mean for Starbucks lattes, guns, and the eliminations of cigarettes from store shelves?

No matter our positions politically, nor our dietary habits, it seems a simple matter to state that automatic weapons are lethal and suited to their design as killing machines for the war field. So are cigarettes and caramel coloring. The fact that our governmental regulatory bodies haven’t yet decided to take a stand that small doses are dangerous to your health, why in the world should ANYONE need to use something that has been proven a carcinogen in larger doses just for the sake of coloring a drink ingredient light brown before it being added to a brown liquid!

As someone who has been forced by age and circumstance to learn more about the immune system and how it functions, especially its tendency to run amok as autoimmune disorder and disease as we age, I can’t see it. Nor can I see why a grocery store needs to make a political statement by focusing on the strict adherence to state law over the comfort and peace of mind of its customers.

CVS isn’t pushing to have cigarettes declared illegal. They’re just choosing what to focus on – what to grow in their corporate narrative.

Can’t we do this as a culture?

We began doing this when cigarette smoking was recognized as such a public health threat that it’s now outlawed in most states in any public building or restaurant, and on airplanes. We’re all breathing a little easier even if we personally support a cigarette smoker’s right in choosing to smoke in his or her own home.

Why do corporate profits make genetic modifications to essential food staples, lethal chemical colorings, and other additives so important to our national food supplies that it’s becoming downright hard to trust the food we find at the grocery store, let alone the local coffee shop.

Likewise, why is political correctness worth the minuscule hit of adrenaline I would be subjected to, as would most other human beings with properly functioning autonomic nervous systems, as I rounded the corner at my local grocery store to see a fellow shopper with an uzi slung over her back.

I for one am looking forward to the time when these frenzied public debates about our national food supply and guns are handled in similar fashion to the handling of cigarette smoking. Why should they need to so publicly accepted as “normal” when the evidence for the threat they pose us is so crystal clear.

Finding polluted artificial food and people carrying uzis should be a lot harder than in our local shopping centers.

These are simple conversations. I can live without an uzi, suspected carcinogens in my food, and cigarettes. So can you. So why not choose health.

Your body will thank you for it.


Photos ::  Latte illustration cropped from a Morguefile photo courtesy of Scott Lidell. #GroceriesNotGuns illustration broadcast worldwide by Moms Demand Action.