Taking small bites: Ask Quaker to stop funding GMO Labeling opposition

What to elephants and GMO labeling efforts have in common? | Living Consciously Blog

Have you ever heard the old proverb about how you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!

OK, so elephants are majestic and in some religions, even sacred, so we wouldn’t really eat an elephant. But you know what most of us probably do eat regularly? Oats. If you are someone who consumes grains, this is a major one. Quaker is a company that made it’s name known by selling oatmeal, something most Americans ate nearly every day a generation ago. Now that they are owned by Pepsico, they are one of the largest corporate influencers in politics. Many of us have actually moved away from their oats since they do not currently have a gluten-free version. As a company, Quaker has also moved on to many other products like cereal bars, sugary snacks, and processed foods with little to no nutritional value. Away from where most of us reading this blog are probably headed.

The fact is, Quaker/Pepsico has significant political and monetary influence in the U.S. And right now, they are using that influence to fund anti-labeling effort for genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Organizations like Just Label It are working to convince our lawmakers to give every American the right to know what is in their food, while companies like Quaker/Pepsico are throwing a huge amount of resources toward keeping us in the DARK — read more about the DARK Act currently being debated by our legislators here. It’s intimidating how much more funding is on the anti-labeling side of this fight. It’s such a large disparity that it’s easy to get discouraged. What can we do as individuals? We don’t have millions of dollars to make our voices heard!

Back to the elephant. What we can do is work hard to convince corporations to stop funding the anti-labeling legislation. Maybe we can’t convince every corporate entity. But we can approach one corporation at a time with an ask, and we can keep asking until they respond.

The facts: The vast majority of Americans (92 percent) support mandatory GMO labeling and want to know what’s in their food according to a recent Consumer Reports national survey.

We want large food companies to stop blocking our right to know through the DARK Act or other anti-mandatory labeling initiatives. We also want to call upon Congress and the FDA to institute mandatory GMO labeling.

How: Go to www.JustLabelIt.org to ask Quaker to:

1) Publicly support mandatory FDA labeling of GMOs

2) Stop funding anti-mandatory labeling efforts

3) Stand up against the DARK Act

The Vision: Working together, we will hold food companies accountable for refusing to support mandatory FDA labeling of GMOs, expose their contributions to anti-mandatory labeling efforts, and show overwhelming support for mandatory labeling. Consumers will know that GMOs have dramatically increased the use of probably carcinogenic herbicides and will be able to choose foods with all the information they deserve.

On the positive side: to support companies that are actively contributing money from their bottom line to promote GMO labeling, buy from this list.

Will you join us?

 

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?

GMO Labeling is NOT impossible: picture proof

If you live in a state that has proposed labeling Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) in food, if you stand up for #LabelGMOs on social media and have been attacked by anti-labeling trolls, or if you have had any conversation at all with someone who is anti-GMO-labeling, you will have heard this claim: GMO labeling is prohibitively expensive and time consuming for companies. The argument goes like this: companies will have to do allll this extra work to identify GMOs in their products, then oh nooooooo, all the ink it will require to print the labeling! So prohibitive! All that ink! All that knowing-where-the-ingredients-come-from! It will make even the largest companies fold under the sheer prohibitive cost! It’s anti-capitalism!

Well, I’m here to tell you that all the “expensive”, “difficult”, and “prohibitively expensive” work has already been done by many of these major companies who are leading the charge against labeling in the United States. GMO labeling is NOT impossible, pictures are below. Leah of Mamavation (and founder of Shiftcon) is currently on a European trip and was kind enough to send back pictures of the GMO labeling and altered ingredients found in the UK versions of popular products here in the U.S. She has posted them on her Facebook page over the past week or so, and I thought I would compile them for those of you who do not follow her.

Popular US products with GMOs removed or labeled in the UK versions. Note that many are actually manufactured in the US! | Living Consciously Blog

Notice in these pictures that the several of the products with GMO labeling are manufactured in the U.S. It’s not that these products are manufactured in the UK for the UK, as special products only to be sold in Europe. They are made and labeled here, right alongside the product sold to Americans unlabeled. U.S. families are the only ones left in the dark as to what is actually in our food products. Not labeling these products here in the U.S. is conscious choice, one that is requiring companies to actually produce multiple lines of packaging (often in the same facility) to keep GMOs hidden from Americans.

Another interesting fact noted on the graphic is how the FD&C artificial colors have been removed from the UK versions of food. You might be wondering why there rarely artificial dyes in the UK versions of food. Artificial food dyes that have been found to cause hyperactivity and to exacerbate nervous conditions such as ADHD in children (PDF of study summary here) are forced to contain a warning label in the UK stating “may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children”. In order to avoid having to include this warning on their foods, companies who sell products in EU countries have self-regulated and removed artificial food dyes, substituting natural dyes (Mercola report source here).

I get particularly annoyed that the same products are manufactured without artificial food dyes overseas, because I have talked to several of these large brands at the Expo halls of major blogging conferences and have been told over and over that they “can’t” remove the food dyes because “it would change the quality of the product”. Apparently those were all lies, because these products already exist without the food dyes in the UK!

I guess it’s not surprising that marketers lie to us. But, I think it is time to hold them accountable. The next time you hear the argument that GMO labeling is prohibitively expensive or too laborious, help me spread the truth!

#shifthappens and what happened there

 

#shifthappens ShiftCon social media conference

As I mentioned before, I spent the last weekend in Los Angeles, California with an amazing group of women (and I heard there were some men attendees, but I never directly spoke to any except Gary Hirshberg). We all have different areas of focus; real food, organic, living waste-free, toxicant avoidance, pesticide reform, fitness, wellness, or nutrition. But what we had in common is the desire to shift the paradigm in this country. You can see our social media conversations by searching the #shifthappens hashtag on your favorite social media platform (we’re everywhere!).

I learned from the speakers, discussions, and side conversations this weekend that what we need to do is ask for what we want. It’s that simple. It’s so simple that you can do it too!

We are all in different places on our journeys to live more consciously. When we learn that the things we eat, what we put on our skin, what we buy for our children contain toxins that are making us sick, we can choose to be more and more afraid, to withdraw further into fear and paranoia… OR… Or we can vote with our wallet and seek out alternatives. We can choose not to participate in this cycle of cheap chemicals.

But it doesn’t even have to be as difficult as changing brands: we shouldn’t have to stop going to Starbucks. Instead, we need to be asking Starbucks to change(I did this weekend and I got some Twitter flack for it, as did several others involved in the Starbucks #organicmilknext campaign). I heard over and over from people like Robyn O’Brien and Vani Hari that when enough consumers ask a company to make a change, they respond. Chipolte did. Kraft didSubway did. Disney did.

You might notice those are not small companies, but they changed their ingredients. Why? Not because of regulation or legislation — but due to consumer demand. Of course, we will still work on the legislative front. Right now there are GMO labeling initiatives in Colorado and Oregon. If you are in those states, please vote for labeling!

I, however, am not in a state that is ever likely to vote to label GMO’s. So all I can do is vote with my dollars and ask for change. I’m hoping to document a little more of both sides of my ongoing journey for conscientious change in the next few months, so stick with me!

I’d like to close this post with the trailer for a movie that ShiftCon founder has been working on. I will keep you posted on places you can see this film when it begins showing!

“A New Resistance” Teaser Trailer from Unacceptable Levels on Vimeo.

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!