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And Men Have Lost Their Reason

Yesterday, March 26, while I was happily biking to my local farmers’ market to buy dinner ingredients from local organic vendors, Obama signed into law bill H.R. 933, which contained the rider known as the Monsanto Protection Act.  This bill gives Monsanto and other biotech companies complete immunity to any safety act in place on either the federal or state level.  It grants the Department of Agriculture the ability to veto any judicial ruling that halts the planting or sale of GM seeds due to safety concerns, effectively overturning the principles of judicial review and check and balances.   Hoping to avoid the furor it knew would arise, Big Ag quietly attached the rider to a budget legislation meant to prevent a government shutdown when the previous budget expired.  Faced with the coming budget crisis, the legislation was certain to pass, along with any riders attached, and Monsanto took advantage of that fact.  Despite a petition circulated by Food Democracy Now that garnered over 200,000 signatures, Obama failed to veto the rider when he signed bill H.R. 933 into law.  Obama, who promised during his first campaign to label GMOs, whose wife is a health food activist, who eats from his very own organic garden on the White House grounds, has given Monsanto dominion over his countrymen and their food.

The news is even worse for Marylanders.  The rider was introduced anonymously while the bill was under review by the Senate Appropriations Committee, which is chaired by our own Senator, Democrat Barbara Mikulski.  Instead of forwarding the rider to the Agricultural or Judiciary Committees, whose branches are directly affected by its contents, Mikulski allowed it to slip through without even reviewing its language or provisions.  It’s easy to criticize the president, so far away behind his white walls and bodyguards.  Betrayal from your home state is harder to ignore, and wounds much more deeply.

What does this mean for us, the people?  It means that the purses of biotech companies like Monsanto, Dow, and DuPont are more important to our government than our safety.  It means that not only are we denied the right to know what’s in our food, we are denied the assurance of that said food is safe to eat.  It means that eating organic is more important now than ever.  Most importantly, it means it’s time to get angry, get active, and get LABELED.

Food Democracy Now has started another petition expressing their outrage at Obama’s betrayal and demanding that he protect his constituents by labeling GMOs.  While I’ve lost any trust in our government that remained in my being, I can’t give up hope yet.  This country was built on the will of the common people; if one revolution can start a country, surely another can save it.  If not, well, I hear the waves are great in Australia – and so are the labeling laws.  Maybe I’ll learn to surf.

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Monday Inspirations

Happy Monday folks!  And it is indeed a happy one this week.  The weather is gorgeous, spring is almost officially here, and for once we can start the week off with some good news.  Last Friday, at the Natural Products Expo West, Whole Foods announced that all products on its shelves must be labeled if they contain GMOs by 2018.  Hoorah for taking such a huge leap forward!  Whole Foods is not only the first grocery store chain to carry over 3,000 Non-GMO Project verified products, but now they’re the first to demand labeling.  Now if only they’d put one closer to Salisbury…

To celebrate, I want to share this awesome video from TED with you.  (Thanks to Allie for sharing it with me!!)  See how one man from LA got tired of “driving 45 minutes round trip to get an apple that wasn’t impregnanted with pesticides” and planted a “food forest” for his neighborhood.  As if that isn’t fabulous enough, Ron Finley also invented some of my new favorite terms, including: “ecolutionary” and “gansta gardener.”

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To Strive, to Seek, to Find, and Not to Yield

A lot of disappointing decisions were made last week, and one of the most disheartening was the failure of California’s Prop 37, the GMO labeling bill.   It just goes to show you how powerful Big Ag really is, and how far they’ll go to keep Americans in the dark about the foods they’re serving our families.  (NaturalNews claims that Prop 37 lost to voter fraud; as of Friday 11/9, over 3 million California votes still had not been counted, and yet Prop 37 was declared a failure early Tuesday night.)  While this legal battle was lost, the war is still on, and you can still fight for your right to be healthy.  Here (again) is a list of the companies that supported Prop 37:

While some of these companies are owned by larger, less ethical companies, these are some of the brands to look for if you’re avoiding GMOs.  Also look for the Non-GMO Project seal, because any product they endorse has gone through a rigorous and continual testing process.  Sadly, there still are no national guidelines for GMO ingredients, and so the Non-GMO project is the closest thing we have to a USDA seal.  So don’t give up, fellow health seekers!  This was a huge setback for the organic food movement, but the war is definitely not yet over.

Though much is taken, much abides; and though
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
-Tennyson

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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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Welcome Back, My Friends

It’s been quite a while since my last post, and I apologize deeply to the thousands of loyal readers who patiently wait for my updates.  Peak farmers’ market season at the farm + peak personal excitement (I’m engaged!) = not a lot of time for blogging.  To make up for my absence, I’m going to tell you about some of the news highlights of the past few weeks.  Brace yourselves, folks, some of it is pretty scary.

I’ll start with some good news.  On August 15, Johnson and Johnson became the first major pharmaceutical company to pledge to remove many dangerous chemicals – including phthalates, parabens, and formaldehyde-releasing preservatives – from their products by 2015.  They still test on animals, but at least they won’t be poisoning innocent babies.  Not as badly, anyway.
NY Times: J&J to Remove Questionable Chemicals in Products

In case you haven’t heard, the US government and the European Union are at war with herbal medicine.  Back in May, the EU banned dozens of herbal remedies, and those that made the cut face serious labeling and licensing changes.
Hundreds of Herbal Remedies Now Outlawed Across Europe

The US government is following suit.  I happened across a link to this story in another article, and though it’s a few years old, it still needs to be shared.  This chilled me to the bone, more so than any other Natural News article I’ve read.  Greg Caton is the owner of Alpha Omega Labs, an herbal remedy company that sells anti-cancer medicines made from Ecuadorian herbs.  In 2003, he was convicted by the FDA of selling “unapproved drugs” and spent 33 months in federal prison.  After his sentence, his presiding judge agreed to lower his 3 year probation to 18 months, after which he moved to Ecuador to escape further persecution by the FDA.  In 2009, he was arrested at gunpoint by US police in Ecuador and sent to a local jail to await a hearing.  Three days before that hearing, US official took him from the Ecuadorian jail and forced him onto an American Airlines flight to Miami.  Ecuadorian police were forced back when they attempted to reclaim him to ensure a fair hearing.  In order to kidnap him, the FDA had contacted Interpol, claiming he was convicted of “drug-related crimes and fraud.”  He was therefore given a “red listing,” the highest possible alert in the Interpol database.  Because he, like many of us, believes in the power of nature over the toxic soup Big Pharma wants to feed us.
FDA Dupes Interpol to Achieve Illegal Kidnapping and Deportation of Herbal Formulator Greg Caton

If that isn’t enough to make you fear for the health of healthcare, let’s take a deeper look at Obamacare.  Everyone has heard the debates on the costs, the options, the taxes, etc.  But no one mentions how much it benefits Big Pharma, who now has an entire nation forced to buy its services.  Or how much it will hurt the holistic health industry, whose practitioners are not covered under the new insurance policies.  And this is only the beginning.  If health insurance can be forced on us, what next?  Forced immunizations?  Forced “vitamin” regimens?  I know that sounds like something out 1984, but look at the world around you.  Natural medicines banned or prescriptionized in Europe.  Herbal medicine sellers subjugated by the government.  Mandatory health care run by companies selling toxic, deadly drugs.  It’s enough to make me vote for Romney, simply because he will overturn Obamacare.
Obamacare, the Great Swindle

There is a war being waged in the food industry, also.  Dozens of natural/green organizations and companies have fought to get the “Right to Know” initiative on the November California ballot, and if Proposition 37 is voted through,  GMOed foods will have to be labeled in California.  Of course, Big Ag doesn’t like this, because they don’t want you to know that their frankenfoods are poisoning your body, your genes, and your environment.  Many companies like Kellogg, General Mills, and Smucker have donated millions of dollars to the effort to crush Prop 37.  If this initiative is voted through, these companies will no longer be able to hide their GMOed ingredients behind labeling terms like “all natural” which have no legal definition and are used to trick consumers into thinking cheap products are healthy.  Sadly, these companies own many smaller natural food companies, and buying these delicious and often organic products means giving money to the parent company as well, which is something I am not ok with.  For example, General Mills owns Larabar (my fav! aaah!), Muir Glen, and Cascadian Farms.  Kellogg owns Kashi, though I’ve already told you why you should never buy their products anyway.  Smucker owns R.W. Knudsen and Santa Cruz Organics, both of which make excellent juices.  So while I’ll be very sad to give the products up, I can’t support a company who fights against such basic things as healthy food.
Natural Brands Betray Consumers Over GMO Labeling

I’ll end on a good note.  I hope at least some of you have heard of the website Natural News, a wonderful resource for the latest in the green world.  It announced recently that it’s opening an online store which will feature natural supplements and personal care products.  I’m curious to see how expensive their products will be, and how wide a selection they’ll offer.
NN to Launch Online Store Featuring Superfoods, Supplements and Green Living Solutions

I hope everyone is up to date now.  And I hope all this bad news wasn’t too depressing.