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Published on Jan 6, 2011
When a mother and father with limitations of their own needed to go organic to address their son's health issues, top-level guidance and expertise were required.
YOUNGSVILLE -- In Angela and Joel Mooney's small family, son Steven, is everything.
Beset with seizures, severe food allergies and what his mother describes as mild autism, 4-year-old Steven is the reason the family turned to pesticide- and hormone-free foods. He's the reason they began growing their own food, and the reason they turned to Cooperative Extension and N.C. A&T State University for help with what they grow and how they grow it.
For a family moored by the special needs of a preschooler, maintaining a sustainable, safe and affordable food supply is more than just a matter of lifestyle. For the Mooneys, quality food is a veritable lifeline. "His food has to be gluten free, casein free, GMO [genetically modified organisms] free, with no preservatives, no additives, no dyes and no high fructose corn syrup," Angela Mooney says of Steven's diet. "He has three anti-seizure medicines and nine different supplements. Most everything that he eats is from scratch."
Born in 2006, Steven went home from the hospital one day and was rushed back the next, suffering from seizures after what his mother says was an allergic reaction to a vaccine. He was comatose for a week and has since had developmental challenges. His pediatrician recommended an organic diet. As the Mooney's began their retail shopping for fresh, pesticide-free food, they quickly realized how expensive it was to eat organically.
The next realization was that they could and should grow their own food.
"We decided we could do this," says Angela Mooney. Never mind that both the adult Mooneys have their own physical limitations. Angela Mooney was horseback riding on a roadside 22 years ago when she was thrown from the saddle onto a passing vehicle when her horse was spooked. Although she is able to walk with great effort and great pain, she mostly gets around in a wheelchair. Joel Mooney was driving a dump truck on the I-440 Beltline in Raleigh when he swerved to avoid a young driver who had suddenly pulled in front of him. Instead of crashing into the back of the teenage motorist, he slammed into the side of a concrete median. His back has been damaged ever since.