All the Drama on the Internets #5: NPR GMO bias?

Every so often I like to give you a bulleted list of some recent “green” stories in the news and why half of the people are excited to hear about the news or study and the other half are super offended by it for some reason. DRAMA ENSUES. Almost 100% of the time, I am somewhere in the middle. I just figured that some of you might want to know what’s out there and read for yourselves. Just in case you aren’t already immersed in social media 24/7 like I am…

Food Babe speaking at ShiftCon | Living Consciously Blog

On Thursday I ignored the article NPR published calling Food Babe an alarmist because I didn’t want to draw attention to it (still refusing to link to it). Yesterday I spent most of the day watching my private Facebook groups of green/holistic/real food bloggers argue over whether the attack on the food movement by NPR was warranted, if it damaged us all in our efforts to raise awareness of the issues with our food system, and whether Vani should really be allowed free speech like the rest of us. OK, so I made that last part up, but kind of not really. Because whether we like her message or not, whether we agree with the way she says it or not, I don’t think we can argue that she has a place at the table (so to speak), just like any of us with a blog.

If you aren’t familiar with Food Babe, go ahead and look her up. She’s so huge I don’t even have to link to her. Do I read her blog? No, not regularly. Mostly because I am orthorexic, and if I read too much about the tiny details of chemicals in everything I start starving myself. But here’s the thing: most people are not like me. In fact, most people are the opposite. The majority of Americans eat the food they find in the middle of the supermarket, the Standard American Diet, which (aside from being woefully nutritionally deficient) is full of so many chemicals, additives, preservatives, and overall fake-ness that our bodies don’t even know how to function properly. What’s worse is that most people actually feel like they are eating healthfully because our government requires pretty much no labeling or explanation of what is really inside our food when it comes to GMOs, synthetic chemicals, and ingredients that are banned in the UK and other industrialized countries.

Food Babe’s value is that she uses the sensational-type headlines that Americans consuming mass media find intriguing. “You Won’t Believe What’s In Your Yogurt – And It’s Not On The Label!” , “If You’ve Ever Eaten Pizza Before, This Will Blow Your Mind (Maybe Literally)“. Are they the kind of blog post titles you’d find on my blog? No. But they work for her and they draw attention to her message. She also has the guts to go after the big corporations and she’s had some very impressive wins – getting Kraft to remove the artificial orange from their macaroni & cheese, alerting us to the yoga mat ingredient in Subway buns, telling us all that the Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte is deadly.

OK, so it’s actually things like that last one that get us into trouble.

Does the Pumpkin Spice Latte have bad ingredients in it? Yes. Should we be putting that crap in our stomaches? Not really. But will one latte really kill us? No. No, it won’t. But…

Here’s the thing: those nasty chemicals like the ones in the Starbucks latte might be small in the latte, but they are in EVERYTHING we consume. Those little tiny bits of chemicals in your coffee creamer, in your sandwich bun, added to your lunch meat, in your salad dressing, in that artificially-colored yogurt with aspartame that you had for a snack, the eggs McDonald’s sells that have 17 ingredients (look it up) — it’s the accumulation of those chemicals that is the issue. And that is what Vani has spent the past several years exposing, one at a time. She is there to teach those who aren’t aware to start thinking about what they are eating, to ask “why?”. I think she has a place. She is good at what she does, and she is drawing our attention to very important issues.

Obviously, my technique in encouraging consciously living and eating is different than hers, but I also don’t grab the kind of attention she does from the mainstream public. I think that a lot of you were probably already on your way to making better choices when you found this blog. She writes the kind of headlines that reach people who aren’t seeking ways to change, and causes them to consider something for the first time.

I am a little disappointed in NPR. We’ve been members of our local NPR station the entire time we’ve been married, and my husband was a member for years before we were married. We will continue to support our local NPR station. It was unsettling to see that there was only one side represented in this article, with heavy quoting from a pro-GMO group but not representation from anti-GMO groups at all.

Just this morning, NPR released another article putting GMO ingredients in a negative light. Because so many vitamins added to processed foods are manufactured using GMO ingredients, the cereal makers who have agreed to remove the GMOs from their cereal are left with cereal lower in added vitamins. I say good! We should not be relying on sugar- and grain-filled cereal each morning to meet our nutritional needs with manufactured vitamins. We should be getting these vitamins from whole foods — fruits and vegetables and superfoods throughout the day. If moving toward fewer GMOs also moves us toward more whole foods, GREAT!

But, NPR…not so great, guys. Not so partial. I would definitely not go so far as to say that there is a NPR GMO bias, but I would like to ask: Where is representation from our side in these stories?

March Against Monsanto Dallas, TX

March Against Monsanto DallasMarch Against Monsanto, Dallas TxYou can't own Mother Nature #MarchAgainstMonsanto#MAM DallasThe Honeybee Guild says "Where my bees at?" #MarchAgainstMonsantoMarch Against Monsanto Dallas
Greed Kills from Occupy Baton Rouge at #MAM DallasMarch Against Monsanto DallasMarch Against Monsanto DallasGreed Kills: Dallas March Against MonsantoThe Dallas March Against Monsanto
The only thing more expensive than organic is CANCERThe President of McDonald's sits on the baord of MonsantoGathering after #MarchAgainstMonsantoOur fearless leader #MAMMy first protest march! #MarchAgainstMonsanto
March Against Monsanto Dallas, TX

Today was my first (peaceful!) protest march – March Against Monsanto. These marches took place all across the globe in major cities to protest Monsantos ubiquitous barrage of GMO’s in our food supply. I was so encouraged to see the diversity of people and march together with a common concern. Above are links to my Flickr photoset because there were too many to upload via WordPress. Valerie and I went together and she created this awesome video of our impressions immediately after the event {video here}:

Let’s keep up this fight and push for (at the VERY LEAST) labeling of GMO foods and GMO-derived products! Thanks also to everyone who came out!

March Against Monsanto with me in Dallas, Texas

March Against Monsanto, May 25, Everywhere
March Against Monsanto, May 25, Everywhere

Genetically Modified Organisms, or GMO’s. What do you know about them? Should we be eating genetically altered variations of what-used-to-be-food when the results of that genetic modification have not been tested on humans? Did you know that we are eating plants that are actually classified by the FDA as pesticides themselves (not covered in pesticides – they are the pesticides!)? Is it OK for a super-company to create and patent seeds that grow our food and sue everyone who isn’t using them? What about the super-bugs that have evolved in response to these unnatural plant formulations? Most of all, is it OK to hide GMO’s in all the foods we eat and deny us the right to even know what is going into our own mouths? Did you know that even China labels food containing GMO’s, but not the United States?

First of all, I recommend watching Food, Inc. if you haven’t already. In that documentary, you will meet farmers who have been sued for planting their own seeds rather than buying genetically altered seeds from super-company Monsanto. And Monsanto won. Monsanto won again earlier this month in a similar case.

Think you aren’t affected because you eat pretty healthy? How about these facts:

Up to 90% of U.S. soybeans, corn, cotton, canola, and sugar beets are now genetically engineered and routinely inserted into human and animal foods with no labels or safety testing.

Approximately 80% of current grocery food items contain GMOs; while according to U.S. Department of Agriculture statistics, the majority of beef, pork, poultry, dairy, and eggs come from CAFOs.

Considering the growing concern over GMOs and CAFOs, all food packaging should clearly identify all non-organic ingredients containing soy, corn, cottonseed oil, canola, sugar beets, alfalfa or GM growth hormones with a label or shelf sign that says “May Contain GMOs” and identify all meat, dairy, and eggs that come from CAFOs with a label or shelf sign that says “CAFO.”

I’d like to say that there is a political party who stands with us against Monsanto, but unfortunately there isn’t. Monsanto executives are now in nearly every branch of the government, successfully blocking legislation that would stop this company’s monopoly. The only thing that is left is the voice of regular people like you and me.

If you’ve read my blog long, you know that I strive to be balanced and moderate in my recommendations of action. I have never marched in a protest before, but this weekend I will. All across the country, people like you and I will be participating in the peaceful March Against Monsanto in Dallas, TX to protest Monsanto’s shameful disregard of our personal rights and ask that those in power in our government take notice.

Here are the details about the Dallas March Against Monsanto:

Where: Dallas City Hall – 1500 Marilla Street

When: promptly at 1:00 PM (CST)

What: A peaceful 2 mile walk

If you can’t walk with us, please consider signing the Millions Against Monsanto petition stating that we have the right to know what is in the food we eat.

What is The Green Sisterhood and #greensisters?

Green Sisterhood logo

If you follow me on Twitter, you might have noticed an avalanche of tweets this weekend with the hashtag #greensisters. I do apologize for the volume of grouped tweets, it should only have happened once. When you see tweets or shares with the hashtag #greensisters, you can know that I am sharing something from another blogger who is a member of The Green Sisterhood with me. You might be asking, “what is The Green Sisterhood?”. The short answer is that we’re a group of bloggers who blog about green living, the environment, various forms of low impact living, handmade and DIY, and who are all passionate about making positive changes for our future.

What does The Green Sisterhood do?

If you are a blog reader or someone interested in green living, climate change, or environmental advocacy, The Green Sisterhood is a great place to learn! Subscribe to our weekly email to receive summaries of what each sister is blogging about this week. Or, visit the main GS blog on Fridays for a weekly reading list of the best of the sisters’ posts each week.

If you are a blogger (green or not), The Green Sisterhood hosts free blogging-related webinars regularly. Today at 12pm CST we’ll be hosting Lara Galloway for a webinar entitled “Blogging is NOT a business”.

If you are a business or PR professional, The Green Sisterhood is a great way to reach people who are interested in your product, service, or book. With a combined 2 million page views per month, all the green sisters function as a unit to reach a relevant audience through our individual blog voices and social media channels. You can contact us for rates and options by emailing info {at} greensisterhood {dot} com!

What does The Green Sisterhood mean to me?

On a personal level, I feel really privileged to be a part of this group of women. I would not be tweeting out links to these ladies’ posts if I wasn’t truly interested in what they have to say. They encourage me daily to keep up a greener lifestyle and to advocate for change when I might otherwise be silent. I’ve found that The Green Sisterhood encourages me when I get discouraged about blogging or making positive changes in my own life and the lives of others. It can be difficult to “be green” when no one around you is doing it. I don’t know how many times I’ve had friends ask me a question about green living that I can answer by passing on a link to a post from one of my green sisters. Some of us are greener than others in various areas. Together, we have experience in nearly every area of sustainable living, or we know someone who does.

I feel like we also serve as sounding boards for each other when it comes to blogging decisions. For example, if I have a question about how to handle the business end of blogging, I ask these ladies. We had a great discussion just last week on working with PR reps, the points which we discussed will likely come up when I speak at BlogHer in Chicago in July. When Google shut it’s RSS reader shut down, there was Karen Lee with a post about alternatives to Google Reader. They’ve recently encouraged me to (reluctantly, awkwardly) embrace Google Plus.

I hope that you love The Green Sisterhood as much as I do and that you’ll follow along with us as we move forward for a greener future!

Women in the U.S. and China work together for #green consumer impact

Have you ever stopped to consider the impact that living an ever-greener lifestyle has on our economy? If you have followed this blog for long, I hope that you do consider the impact that your personal consumer behavior has on what kind of products are offered in the marketplace. I hope that you remain aware that each product you buy (or refuse to buy!) is sending a message about what kinds of products we want companies to make (or stop making) in the future.

Since women influence at least 80% of all consumer purchases in the U.S., we are in a position to really influence change in our country. Beyond our own country, the #1 largest importer of goods into the United States is China. It might surprise you to know that women in China, who contribute about half of all household income and influence and make more than half of all purchasing decisions, are equally concerned about consumer decisions and how they impact our shared climate.

U.S.-China Greener Consumption Forum

It is for this reason that The U.S. – China Greener Consumption Forum is taking place on March 22 in Washington, D.C. Through my membership with the Green Sisterhood, I have met Diane MacEachern of Big Green Purse, a leading green consumer advocate and an award-winning entrepreneur who is both organizing the event and speaking. Together, we are urging all women to get involved in this forum by attending, listening in via social media, and spreading the word.

Why join in?

At first it might all sound very distant and far away, but did you know that you, too, can listen, participate, and benefit from this international forum on conscientious consumerism? If you choose to follow along, whether by attending in person or from home (see “How can you join in?”, below), you will learn from the speakers:

  • why our purses have so much power to make a difference
  • how McMansions, meat-based agriculture, and toxic chemicals in common household problems affect our health (agenda item “The impacts of consumption on the environment and human health”)
  • how lack of equality between women and men undermines sustainability
  • obstacles that make it difficult for people to shift their spending and habits to greener products and services
  • strategies to reduce consumption (focusing on the sharing economy, a really interesting project in China to help communities come up with a mission and vision around sustainable consumption, and energy efficiency)

The afternoon workshops will focus on new green products and services that have been introduced to meet the demand of women and mothers. In the behavior change set, we’ll be highlighting campaigns to reduce the use of plastic, helping people to become more energy efficient, and reduce consumption.

The product innovation set will include a group on home renovation and cleaning products, food and drink featuring the VP of Honest Tea, MOM’s organic market, Green America, and the CEOs of an organic cosmetics company and an organic skin lotion company (full speaker list).

How can you join in?

If you live in D.C., you might actually consider registering to attend the event. There are fabulous speakers and practical consumer tips throughout the event that will be particularly engaging in person. There will be simultaneous translation for all of the plenary sessions, and on-site translators in the workshops. There will be opportunities throughout the day for Q&A between the audience and presenters, but also among all attendees.

Follow along on Twitter. All of The Green Sisterhood bloggers will be re-tweeting segments and links from the forum with the official hashtag #USChinaGreenForum, but specifically be sure to follow @dianemaceachern and @biggreenpurse. Our Green Sisterhood hashtag for this event is #GSGF13 if you want to follow only Green Sisters tweeting about the forum. Make a special list or stream on Hootsuite for those hashtags in preparation for the day!

Make sure you are following The Green Sisterhood Facebook page and The U.S. – China Greener Consumption Facebook page. If you hover over “Like” and check “Notifications”, you’ll be sure to get links to great content on the day of the event, allowing you to follow along.

Help us spread the word!

Since you already follow me on Twitter (of course you do, right? Cause you really want to hear about how many times my kids wake up at night or see Instagram photos of my food…), you can just retweet my messages from the forum, or you can click here to tweet a pre-formatted message about the forum! You can also share the things you learn from the Facebook page posts with your Facebook friends.

Most of all, just tell someone one thing you learned about the forum or from the forum!

For today: learn more about how pollution in China affects us here (thanks to ecokaren for the link!).