I had the privilege of starting my career in Washington D.C. as staff for a House of Representative Committee. My congressman was the Ranking Republican for both the House Committee on Rules, and the Post Office and Civil Service Committee. I watched from my front-row seat, Democrat and Republican leaders, from both the House and Senate, come together to solve a problem. Granted, it was a problem of their own making, and it directly impacted their future retirement program, but it taught me the inner workings of the legislative process and the art of collaboration and compromise. And like everything else, the success of the work relied on relationships.

It was not uncommon for my boss to get a call from President Reagan. The call often coincided with the First Lady’s travels and included an invitation to join the President at the White House for cigars and scotch. Speaker Tip O’Neill was also invited to this "bipartisan" event. It was not unusual for a certain trio of Members to swap suits! Don’t get me wrong, there were some badly behaved men back in those days, and scandals that even by today’s standards were outrageous. Still, things have changed dramatically since my days working on Capitol Hill, at the expense of collegiality, commitment to the institution, and a genuine desire to serve one’s constituents.

As I write this, 21 Republicans have announced they are leaving the House of Representatives at the end of this Congress, a voluntary exodus never seen before. It’s distinctly possible that the leadership of the House of Representatives could shift back to the Democrats after the November elections. It’s distinctly probable things will not get any better when it comes to collaboration in the next Congress regardless of who is in charge. 

Staying positive, in light of the intense political animosity displayed by our locally elected representation, is hard.  It’s easier to turn off the TV and shun social media until the dust settles; assuming at some point the dust will settle. That said, we don’t have the luxury of sitting on our couches and watching the world go by. We are an industry committed to the health of both the planet and its people. We work hard as manufacturers to ensure what’s on the label is in the bottle. We have incredible brands that take enormous pride in the quality and integrity of the ingredients they use. Our independent retailers spend an enormous amount of time educating their customers on the power of the products they carefully curate for their shelves.

Abandoning our role as advocates for the natural products industry is not an option. There is too much at stake. Here are some ways you can take action now:

Mandate SNAP Benefits Include Vitamin D3

We already know achieving a vitamin D level between 40-60 ng/ml can reduce preterm birth by almost 60%. A newly published randomized controlled trial (RCT) by Kabuyanga et al demonstrated the effects of vitamin D supplementation among pregnant women in the Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. The study enrolled 1300 women from 14 different hospitals and health centers.

Compared to the women who did not receive vitamin D, those in the vitamin D group experienced a:

  • 64% decreased risk of preeclampsia (there was nearly a 3 times greater risk of preeclampsia in non-supplemented groups!)
  • 50% decreased risk of preterm delivery
  • 57% decreased risk of low birth weight
  • 37% decreased risk of cesarean section

To make vitamin D available for SNAP recipients, write your Member of Congress at All4VitaminD.com

STOP the World Health Organization (WHO) “Pandemic Treaty”  

There is currently a proposal to greatly expand the authority of the WHO to dictate health policies affecting all Americans during public health emergencies, while also expanding the situations that can be considered public health emergencies. Centralizing such authority by empowering a group of typically un-elected privately funded individuals and bureaucrats to make these decisions, jeopardizes our democratic process and medical autonomy (one of the four pillars of universally accepted medical ethics).  

Visit the Alliance for Natural Health site to write your Member of Congress

The Creation of My Health Alliance

The two initiatives above exemplify why your legislative engagement is essential. We are doing this work for the sake of our collective, future health. This is grassroots at its best and this is why we have created “My Health Alliance.” The Alliance for Natural Health, American Grassfed Association, Moms Across America, Organic Consumers Association, Organic and Natural Health Association, Natural Grocers, and SENPA are deeply committed to this new advocacy collaboration.

Not everything political is bleak. At Expo West, we had the pleasure of meeting Assemblyman Vince Wong who is a sure bet to take the California Congressional seat of Former Speaker Kevin McCarthy. Wong is smart, and experienced, worked for McCarthy on the Hill and then ran his District office. He asked great questions while we walked the show floor, and I believe will rise in the House leadership quickly. There is a song that says “Meet new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other gold.” This is how we invest in our future.