A long time ago, over on Jon Taplin’s blog I was scolded by no less a person than T-Bone Burnett. He told me “People don’t consume music; they listen to music.” Well, a recent article by the Cornucopia Institute brought that back to my mind just now. With apologies to Joan Cutuly—it seems there might be a parallel to be drawn here: “You don’t consume food, you eat it.” T-Bone’s point was (I think, I’m routinely scolded for my lack of comprehension of matters musical) that, purchasing decisions aside, music is there to be listened to because it nourishes your soul. My point is that, purchasing decisions aside, food is to be eaten because it nourishes your body (and sometimes your soul too—ask Proust).
If you are eating food and the results are going to have a direct impact on your body and soul, wouldn’t you want to make the best choices you possibly could? Why waste your time and money eating, watching, listening to garbage? I mean, sometimes a little garbage can be OK. I will admit a weakness for Pillsbury orange rolls in a tube and Hellcats. But long-term garbage generally has piss poor long-term effects—on your mind, your waistline, and your dental enamel (among other things).
What’s my point? Well, unless you’re growing/raising your own, before you eat food you have to buy it. And some big corporations are spending serious time and money to thwart your efforts to make informed purchasing decisions. Recently a California ballot initiative to require labeling of foods containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) failed because of their work. (Such labeling is common in the European Union and other countries around the world.) As you can see from the chart (above right) many of these companies own popular (and large) organic brands. Source: The Cornucopia Institute
Here’s another Cornucopia Institute chart that shows “Who Owns Organic”. If you can’t read it and want to I highly recommend taking some time to browse the Cornucopia Institute’s site or to “Like” their Facebook page.
The same companies are most likely the ones trying to make it legal to use non-organic synthesized nutrients in food bearing the organic label (the article that started this Crazy Train of thought).
I’ve mentioned before that I think it’s important that people make mindful purchasing decisions; decisions based on their own values (priorities), tastes, and budget. For example, one of the reasons I buy much of my produce from local or regional growers (whether organic or conventional) is because of the energy costs involved in trucking food from ‘far far away’—both in terms of the price of gasoline and greenhouse gas emissions. Fortunately for me, I live in an area with abundant local farming and in a region where, when willing to eat ‘in season’, I can get almost anything my little heart desires. Maybe for the size of your family your budget doesn’t allow for organic food. Or maybe you simply know you won’t cook or eat it. I get it. Trust me. I . Get. It.
What’s important here is not me (or anyone else) passing judgment on someone else’s food (or music or TV) choices. Rather, it’s your ability to make an informed decision. These (highly profitable) companies are using a lot of big excuses (cost of compliance is always one of them) to deny you your right to know what you are putting in your body (and your kids’ bodies if you’re doing their shopping and cooking). I encourage you not to let them.
For now, in addition to the links and information in this post, I’ll give you this: “What do PLU codes say about your produce?” It’s a link to an article by Consumer Reports magazine that tells you how to tell if your produce is commercially or organically grown or if it contains GMOs. As noted in the article, PLU codes aren’t mandatory, so companies can label GMO-containing foods as ‘conventional’. Also, the food industry routinely fights efforts to appropriately label food with GMO ingredients. For example, most commercial corn contains GMOs. So anything you buy that is made with corn or corn oil probably contains them (Fritos, Cheetos, and even food that is marketed as ‘healthy’).
The problem with GMOs (besides their link to Monsanto—the company that makes the pesticide Round Up) is that there is no data on the long-term effects of consuming them. And by the time such data are available and have been validated through proper use of the scientific method, we may have a really big problem on our hands (more likely on our arses or in our intestines).
It was only recently that the problems with trans-fats and high-fructose corn syrup (both chemically altered foods) became widely acknowledged. It makes me wonder if recent increases in lactose and gluten intolerance as well as many other food allergies (many, many more food allergies are now being reported) have their root causes in food that has been messed with (usually good intentions with unintended consequences, but sometimes it’s just greed). Allergies are one way our immune systems respond to threats. Food shouldn’t be a threat. Immune responses to food should be rare. They aren’t.
Anyway, food for thought (pun intended). As always be mindful, but don’t stress yourself out (that doesn’t do you any good either).