Posts Tagged ‘GMO’
Whatever happened to the good old days when deciding what to eat didn’t have to be a political statement or involve enough research to qualify for a doctoral dissertation? Now, if you want to be sure that you are consuming food that is free of pesticides, genetic modification or the influence of big agribusiness, it’s necessary to be hyper-vigilant about what goes into your body. Among the major offenders to the environment, small farmers, and decency in general, is Monsanto, the maker of Roundup and a number of GMOs that have infected other crops, created superweeds, and potentially affected the health of millions around the world.
From its poisonous pantry of industrial seed stock, Monsanto boasts a wide variety of “Roundup Ready” crops — including soybeans, alfalfa, corn, sugar beets, canola and cotton — whose DNA has been altered to withstand heavy doses of their own trademarked herbicide. This allows farmers to spray their fields with toxins, eradicating the weeds and leaving behind nothing but their cash crop, albeit laden with Roundup®. These Roundup Ready crops grow prolifically in the United States, although they have been banned throughout the European Union and much of South America.
Here at Bambu Batu, we like to wear our hearts on our sleeves and our convictions on our shirts. We are now featuring a proudly organic (and non-GMO) cotton t-shirt that cheekily proclaims, “Roundup: Its whats for dinner!” For each shirt we sell, we will donate one dollar to Millions Against Monsanto, run by the Organic Consumers Association. The front side sports the chemical composition for glyphosate, the weed-killer sold as Roundup®.
Make a strong statement by using a little sense of humor! Start a conversation and a revolution to take back control of our food supply. Roundup may be what’s for dinner, but Monsanto will get their just desserts.
NOTE: Although our parody of Monsanto is protected by the Fair Use Act, we have opted not to list this t-shirt on our website, due to biotech behemoth’s notoriously aggressive legal practices, regardless of what side of the law they are on. Please contact us directly to order a “Roundup” shirt, and we’ll gladly send one your way.
Sadly, you can’t win ’em all, and this past election cycle California’s Prop 37 to label GMO’s went the way of so many rotten tomatoes. However, all is not lost, and there are ways that you can avoid genetically modified foods with a little research, vigilance, and by asking the right questions.
Go organic: Anything certified organic is also free of genetically modified materials. Look for the label on processed foods, at your farmers markets, and opt for heritage breeds of fruits and veggies where you can find them.
Label it yourself: The website labelityourself.org is a decentralized, grassroots campaign that uses #LIY to show fellow consumers what contains GMO ingredients via the web. The site allows you to download and print your own labels, and encourages activists to stick them on products, snap a photo, and upload it to their Tumblr account.
Use your phone: For a little help identifying GMO’s, use your smartphone and the True Food Shopper’s Guide for android and iPhone, brought to you by The Center for Food Safety. The application is constantly updated to bring you the newest list of GM foods, activist campaigns, and tips on how to buy healthy, non-manipulated foods. Other programs include ShopNoGMO, and the Non-GMO Project Shopping Guide.
Buy whole, local foods: When you can, take a trip to your local farmers markets and buy whole, local produce. Make sure that the produce is grown to your standards, and do not be afraid to ask a couple of questions. We put our trust in Jerry Rutiz and the Rutiz Family Farms in Oceano. One of the best ways to avoid hidden GMO’s in processed foods is to bypass the frozen dinners altogether, and cook with fresh ingredients. Tastier, more nutritious, and supporting your local economy, opting for local fare is a healthy choice all around!
It is that time of year again. The leaves are falling, the Halloween decorations are getting swapped out for hand-turkeys and cornucopias, and sample ballots are being mailed to homes across California. This season, citizens of the Golden State have an opportunity to make history with Proposition 37, a measure that will require genetically modified food to be labeled for consumers. As a business that supports transparency, responsibility, and the rights of customers to make the decisions based on accurate information, Bambu Batu would like to support passing Proposition 37. Before voting, here are a couple of things to consider.
· Who is funding the proposition and who is against it? Turns out the major force against Proposition 37 is Monsanto, donating over $7 to stop the law from being passed. Other opponents include Pepsico, Syngenta, DOW, Nestle, ConAgra Foods, and Coca Cola, all massive corporations that either produce or use GMO’s. Those in favor of the bill are a collection of health food brands, family farms, and organizations such as the Organic Consumers Fund, The Center for Food Safety, Amy’s Kitchen, Clif Bar and Company, UFW, California Nurses Association, and the Sierra Club.
· 61 other countries have labeling requirements for GMO’s. Labeling would occur at no cost to consumers and create no new bureaucracy.
· The Union of Concerned Scientists give Monsanto an “F” grade in sustainable agriculture, citing their value of the bottom line and production of engineered seeds over conservation and long term viability. Not only are they falling short on feeding the world, their products and practices foster chemical resistance, spread gene contamination, encourage dangerous monocultures, reject alternatives that are more expensive, suppresses research, and direct enormous amounts of time and money lobbying congress. Not surprisingly, the gigantic company is the largest opponent to Prop 37.
· GM foods have caused a number of problems in the environment and for small farmers. Those who do not wish to support the actions of agribusinesses should have the right to opt out of buying these goods. For example, there have been peer reviewed studies that have shown GM plants have contributed to the rise of genetic resistance to certain pesticides, and to the decline of certain plants and animals.
· Some who disagree with Prop 37 believe that if consumers were aware of GMO’s in their foods, they would shy away from those brands because of a negative stigma. If GMO’s are as safe as we are told, why should these businesses worry? If we label trans fats and sodium, we should be able to let consumers know other ingredients are in their foods, where they come from, and how they are cultivated. The foods are not banned, just labelled.
The orderly and hardworking good people of Germany recently had the pleasure of welcoming me as their guest and kin, and it was with due interest and Wanderlust that I admired their seasonably verdant landscapes and observed their distinctively indigenous customs. Coming from a land of wide open spaces, perpetual sunshine and shameless consumption, I can’t help but marvel over the northern European’s congenital capacity for sensible pragmatism and efficiency.
With our sight-seeing ambitions stifled by inclement weather, I resigned myself to spending most of my short stay immersed in quotidian Germanic living, viewing rural and urban scenery from the front seat of an immaculate Audi station wagon and sampling the beers, breads and bon mots around various dining room tables.
While I would have liked to have stayed abroad at least twice as long, I did my best to perk my ears and eyes to detect all of the most subtle cultural nuances, with a particular nose for attitudes and practices that reflect a more sustainable way of life. Quickly I discover many pertinent examples.
No sooner were we out of Frankfurt (home to central Europe’s busiest airport) and en route to the Hinterlands, than I am struck by the ubiquity of roadside windmills. It’s only been a year and a half since my last trip to Germany, but the increased presence of wind generators is as conspicuous and impressive as the stable of German-engineered horses that power our Audi swiftly down the Autobahn.
Moreover, the construction of these renewable energy platforms represents far more than a mere symbol or Quixotic gesture against petro-hegemony; Germany has in fact committed to closing all its nuclear power plants within the decade. This decision came in response to the Fukushima disaster, but would have been undreamable without Germany’s longtime commitment to renewable alternatives like wind and solar. Giant swaths of photovoltaic panels also appear throughout the country, oftentimes right alongside the Autobahn, areas that are uninhabitable but very accessible. (It’s like they actually put some forethought into this.)
Even so, weaning off of nuclear will not be an easy transition. They’re already complaining — complaining is one of their great national pastimes, after all — about the imminent rise of energy prices. And the fact that neighboring France hasn’t leaked so much as a whisper about closing any of its 59 nuke plants has many Germans feeling like they’re getting the sticky end of the Schadenfreude.
Gassing up the Audi at the filling station we get another stultifying reminder of high energy costs. 1.47 Euros per liter. That’s about 8 bucks a gallon! European diesel burns somewhat more efficiently however, and the benefits are reaped when we hop on the Autobahn and do 220 km/hr, or 135 mph. Whee. Fortunately, German drivers are mindful to use luxury items like turn signals and slow lanes appropriately, and roads are very well maintained, so we feel perfectly safe, even with our one-year-old Wunderkind in the back seat. As far as diminished fuel economy at high speeds is concerned, standard manual transmissions on new German cars now have six gears (plus reverse), and seven-speed automatics are not uncommon.
A trip to the supermarket yields more surprises. For one thing, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is not the leading ingredient throughout the store; in fact, it is nowhere to be found. USDA farm subsidies have yet to flood European markets with this dubious sweetener. They still rely on good old sugar, generally derived from native sugar beets, as opposed to the cane sugar that Americans extract from the Third World (and Florida). Neither does HFCS’s partner in crime, the super-sized soft drink, appear on the scene.
Other evidence also suggests that corporate policy makers do not run the country. Bound by government regulations, bio-chemical companies can’t stuff your groceries with genetically engineered constituents without stating as much on the packaging. Europeans have expressed an interest in knowing what sort of ingredients and technologies go into their foods, and food producers have been made to comply. Even where profits may be jeopardized, the public interest comes first.
Banking regulations, as further example, make it harder to get credit cards and for non-residents to open bank accounts. Consequently, Germans do not see the same sort of predatory lending practices and Ponzi pyramids to the sky, nor the kind of billionaire investor class that we have, all of which conspire to drive a deep wedge into the socio-economic strata and widen the yawning wealth gap. But statistics do suggest that Germans’ personal debt ratios are quickly gaining on ours. Despite their pragmatic proclivities, the temptation to indulge now and pay later can be difficult to resist, especially in times like these.
Finally, returning home from the market, we cram our groceries into the fridge, a moderately-sized kitchen appliance that many Americans would confuse with a dish cupboard. And yet there is ample room to accommodate our fresh produce. For some reason, the German fridge is not overflowing with odds and ends boasting decade-long shelf-lives, and so does not need to be the size of a walk-in closet.
Smaller cars and smaller refrigerators. Larger wind and photovoltaic power stations. Narrower traffic lanes and waistlines (though growing). Wider selections of beer and finally, of preeminent importance to the beleaguered globetrotter, bathtubs deep enough to get your neck wet. And now that we’ve reached the bathroom, I could launch into my polemic on the superiority of German toilets, but alas, no. All I can say is: tanks but no tanks.
If I’d had a little more time, I probably would have visited a doctor for a regular check-up, maybe seen a dentist. Might have even enrolled my daughter in a good multi-lingual pre-school. But no. I’m a product of the Central Coast, a victim of the slo life, and have not the temperament for efficiency, discipline or weather. Remove me from the happiest city in America for more than a week, and I’m utterly helpless.
With all the world’s events unfolding, there’s a lot of hubbub in the air about change and democracy. Between Egypt, Bahrain, Iran and Wisconsin, Amy Goodman has plenty to talk about. And Michael Pollan is somewhere in his office wondering, “Why haven’t they called me? It’s been so long!”
Well, don’t worry, Michael. We still have issues with GMOs and Monsanto. So today’s blog is for you.
In the spirit of today’s revolutions, it’s time for we the people to stand up and say, “Step down, Monsanto!” You years of tyrannical rule over our food supply must end, and we demand our freedom. Careful, or we’ll tweet about you.”
So with the giant, over-powering food dictator that Monsanto is, do we the dietary-oppressed people have a way of changing anything? I think so, I really do.
There is a movement being put in to motion now. It’s called the Millions Against Monsanto Campaign. This month they’ve decided to do a little bit of ‘Guerrilla labeling.’ The idea is to place stickers containing the question, “Oh no, is it GMO?” on grocery items that are likely to contain GMO’s. It’s a very simple and harmless gesture, telling your grocer that you’d prefer to see something that won’t give you intestinal cancer on their shelves. (Or least to be told what’s in your food so you can made informed choices when you shop.) This is what happens when voting with your dollar just isn’t enough.
If you’re uncomfortable with idea of displaying your disapproval of these products, you can always go in to your pantry and find an item you suspect may be GMO infected, label it, take a picture and send it to the grocer you purchased it from. However, I think the defiant method is kind of fun.
If you’re unsure what foods might be tampered, you can always see the non-GMO shopping guide.
If you have any other ideas on how we can see to it that organic foods are being put on our shelves, please chime in. We could always use more optimistic strategies. After all, they are the Goliath of the food world, and we are but Davids, trying to obtain whole foods at reasonable costs. Monsanto is well-known for giving us Agent Orange and openly expressing their wish “to control the world food supply.” To them it’s about making billions out of millions (of dollars); to us it’s about the freedom to plant, grow and eat the wholesome foods of our choice.
By the way, if you are unable to print out your warrior stickers, we plan to have some available here for your stickering needs.