Hidden Cameras, Hidden Foods

Yesterday, Whole Foods got a big, fat reality check, courtesy of NaturalNews.com’s Organic Spies.  The first nationally certified organic grocery store was caught in a lie – several lies, in fact – and now it’s backpedaling to keep its place as the king of the health food industry.

Don’t get me wrong, I love shopping at Whole Foods.  It’s paradise for the holistically-minded, with aisles lined with organic goodies that seem to stretch to forever.  But between the organic produce and the chemical-free soaps are products like Kashi cereals, Silk soy milk, and “all-natural” tortilla chips: products that contain GMO ingredients.  I’ve known about this for as long as I’ve shopped at WF, and, in my experience, they’ve never tried to hide these facts from their customers.  But the Organic Spies visited 30 stores in California and asked WF employees if they carried GMOs, and a surprisingly large percentage said no.  That is a blatant lie, and if you watch the video, you’ll hear some pretty creative lies from these employees.  I’m not saying that WF coaches them to be dishonest, but I do find it hard to believe that this many employees are simply mis- or uninformed about their company’s policies, especially about a subject as crucial as GMOs.

Here is WF’s response to the video, posted on their blog today:

At Whole Foods Market, we believe consumers have the right to know how their food is produced and this includes whether or not it contains Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs).

The YouTube video showing our store Team Members giving conflicting responses to a question about GMOs reminds us that while we try to keep all our 70,000 Team Members up-to-speed on the latest information, clearly we need to do more. Some products in our stores DO contain GMOs – just like any other food store in the country, due to the pervasiveness of GMOs – and we need to do a better job of making sure our Team Members understand this so they can provide customers with the facts.

I hope you don’t believe the claims that Whole Foods Market is coaching its Team Members to give false information to its customers, because it’s completely untrue. The idea goes directly against who we are as a company – for years, we’ve worked hard to provide as much information as possible about our products to our customers.”

The post goes on to list some of the positive actions taken by WF in the fight against GMOs, including its support of Prop 37, the initiative to label GMOs which will appear on the November California ballot.  It fails to say, however, that it has not donated any money to support the bill, nor did it lend its support quickly.  The bill was introduced in May of 2012 (and the Right to Know campaign has raged even longer; I went to a rally in DC last October) and WF only announced its support of Prop 37 on September 11, 2012.  So while I don’t believe WF is in bed with Monsanto (who, might I add, has donated a whopping $7 million to defeat Prop 37) I don’t believe it is the glorious leader of the green movement as it presents itself to be.  WF has its own interests at heart, nothing more, nothing less.

Here’s the breakdown of who supports and opposes Prop 37:
In Support
-Mercola Health Resources (an awesome resource on holistic health!) – $1,100,00
-Organic Consumers Fund – $770,00
-Nature’s Path Foods – $610,709
-Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps (Fabulous products, especially for those with sensitive skin) – $344,445
-Wehah Farm, Lundberg Family Farms (Their Fiesta Lime Rice Chips are my favorite snack)- $250,000
-Amy’s Kitchen – $100,000
-Clif Bar & Co. – $100,000
-Annies’s Inc. – $50,000
-Cropp Cooperative, Organic Valley – $50,000
-New Chapter
-Eden Foods

In Opposition
-Monsanto – $7,100,500
-E.I. Dupont De Nemours & Co. – $4,900,000
-DOW Agrisciences – $2,000,000
-Bayer Cropscience – $2,000,000
-BASF Plant Science – $2,000,000
-Pepsico, Inc. (Izze Natural Sodas, Ocean Spray, Tazo teas, Sobe, Naked Juices) – $1,716,300
-Nestle USA – $1,169,400
-Coca-Cola North America (Honest Teas, Odwalla, Simply Juices) – $1,164,400
-General Mills (Cascadian Farm, Muir Glen, Larabar) – $908,200
-Kellogg Company (Kashi, Morning Star, Garden Burger, Bear Naked) – $632,500
-Hershey Company (Dagoba chocolates) – $498,006
-The J.M. Smucker Company (R.W. Knudsen, Santa Cruz) – $388,000
-Council for Biotechnology Information – $375,000
-Sara Lee – $343,600
-Dean Foods Company (Horizon Organic milk, Silk Soy milk) – $253,950
-Campbell’s Soup – $250,000
-McCormick & Company – $248,20
-Mars Food North America – $100,242
(a more comprehensive, though not complete, list can be found on Wikipedia)

Check out the Right to Know campaign’s website for more info on the campaign, including the full bill and lots of facts on GMOs.  Another great site that I stumbled on accidentally is Rodale, which has a great list of the 10 worst labeling lies to help you make informed decisions.  GMOs are pretty scary things – check out the new study on Monsanto’s GMO corn, sold at your local Walmart but banned across Europe and Asia – and so labeling them is a very important step in food safety.  If Prop 37 passes in California, then it won’t matter whether or not Whole Foods carries GMO products; eventually, they will be labeled nation-wide.  Everything has to start somewhere, though.

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