As our lifestyle shifts from a place of careless mass consumption into a more thoughtful conscious consumerism, it is important to reacquaint ourselves with our values and become more considerate of the brands we are directly supporting. Where we spend our hard-earned money allows us to take back the power from big businesses that we gave up a long time ago because let’s face it, there is nothing more effective than a good old-fashioned boycott.
Because a recent poll released by ABC News found that 93 percent of Americans want the federal government to require mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods those same 93% probably want to know the companies pouring millions of dollars into fighting against GMO labeling while using their ‘organic’ brands to deceive the public. The most significant Monsanto ally also known as the most evil company in the world is the Grocery Manufacturer’s Association (GMA). They are the “vocal advocate” for over 300 conventional food, beverage and consumer brands like Kellogg’s, Kraft, Starbuck’s, Pepsi, Coke and General Mills. The GMA and their brands have plenty to lose if foods are labeled especially the right to use the word “natural” in their marketing. This one word holds so much power and taking it from them would be devastating to their profits.
If a company opposes GMO labeling, they support suing states like Vermont that look to enforce such labeling. They agree with bullying small farmers and bankrupting them. They support polluting our planet’s precious eco-systems, encouraging factory-farming, using massive amounts of toxic chemicals needed with GMO crops and ignoring studies exposing the severity of health risks associated with them. They do this merely because of their greed and so the sicker we get with cancer, diabetes, infertility and obesity, the richer they get.
It is challenging to learn a whole new way of doing things that you trusted were fine up until now but if we are fed up of our own despair then we have to step up and actively participate in action. While it may begin with you no longer frequenting Starbuck’s because of their GMA association it could lead to other positive endeavors, and this my fellow readers, is the beauty in getting out of our comfort zone because by doing so, we get to see ourselves in a whole new bright light, standing up for something we believe in and inspiring others around us to do the same.
KNOW YOUR BRANDS
Kashi and Horizon Organics are two perfect examples of why a healthy dose of skepticism when shopping for food goes a long way. Kashi’s website says all the right things: Their NON GMO Project Verified stamp of approval is comforting and words like “organic” and “progressive nutrition” along with the deliberately chosen soft yellow, green and orange colors work well to evoke feelings of trust, warmth and nature. It’s easy to see how anyone could believe that Kashi is a brand dedicated to our well-being but do we really care about their NON GMO certification when we learn that Kashi is owned by Kellogg’s, the biggest and baddest member of the Grocery Manufacturers Association with a mega budget that allowed them to spend a WHOPPING $46 million to defeat California’s Prop 37 and also donate to the GMA’s own anti-labeling efforts with profits from the Kashi brand? Consumers also sued Kashi for deceitful and false advertising in their Go Lean and TLC brands, which they claimed were “natural” and won.
Kellogg’s also owns: Carr’s, Famous Amos, Morning Star Farms and Mueslix.
Dean Foods, another GMA affiliate owns Horizon Organics and though they may be your go-to organic dairy brand in December 2013, Horizon started testing the market with their “classic” varieties of macaroni and cheese, which are not organic and contain synthetic ingredients that would never be allowed in a USDA Certified Organic product. To make matters worse, they add milk protein concentrate (MPC) “a controversial product, often imported and of dubious quality, that substitutes for fresh milk.” Family Farm Defenders has fought against importing massive quantities of MPCs from countries that don’t meet the same health and sanitary standards of U.S. dairy production. “Milk protein concentrate is the lowest grade dairy byproduct left after milk processing.” So, Horizon believes it is suitable to feed the “lowest grade of foods and by-products” to children! We don’t even buy pet food anymore that contains animal by-products but Horizon will feed them to little children.
For Horizon “to devalue their exclusive organic brand status, after gaining the trust of the organic consumer who believes after so many years on the market that Horizon is a brand they can trust is trickery on every level” but this was not the first time. In 2009, they introduced yogurt marketed to toddlers and though it was made with organic milk, it included non-organic pureed fruits and vegetables listed on the dirty-dozen list of produce containing the highest amount of agro-chemical residue. Horizon clearly has no consideration for our babies and so we should be just as coldly indifferent to them and choose another brand like Clover, Strauss or Organic Valley while also sharing this information with other parents who are uninformed. This type of community and “It Takes A Village” attitude are the exact values we need to reconnect with.
There is plenty of good news though. Just last week The Supreme Court ruled 8-0 that though Coca-Cola, another GMA affiliate, complied with FDA regulations (exactly why an FDA endorsement means very little), can be sued for false advertising of its pomegranate/blueberry juice which contains, get this, LESS THAN 1% of each juice in the product. The rest is grape, apple and raspberry juice but these are listed nowhere on the front of the packaging and “looking at the bottle, the Supreme Court ruled, you’d get the sense that this is primarily a juice made of pomegranate and blueberry, two trendy antioxidant-heavy (and expensive) fruits.”
Also with more awareness being raised about the link between health and eating a quality fresh food diet, there has been an upsurge in families growing their own food and organic farming. I see so many homes on my walks with gardens loaded with zucchinis, tomatoes, strawberries, string beans, kale, lettuces, lemon and orange trees. People have chickens and bees for eggs and honey and farmer’s markets are popping up everywhere. The jig is up and this kind of mass awareness is exactly what the GMA and Monsanto fear the most. Labeling GMO foods is about our right to choose and to think that a company would fight to take away that right and instead force-feed me ingredients I do not want is completely outrageous.
Doubt and suspicion are not negative emotions when used to protect what is sacred to us. Apathy and careless buying of “stuff” is so 80’s does not move in the same with us as we shift into a higher consciousness and find ways to afford organic food no matter our income because we understand now the urgency to safeguard our health and the planet for future generations. For too long our careers and financial demands left us distracted and now we need clarity and action to make up for lost time.
- READ Labels – Whether at a conventional market or a health food store, read the BACK of the box! Soy isolate (processed soy, the kind that is not good for you) is in chocolate, salad dressing, cereal and bread. Corn syrup is in jams, jellies and whey and milk in bread. Thought you were dairy free?
- Shop in stores like Trader Joes, Whole Foods, Co-Ops and health food stores. There is a wider selection allowing for more healthy options and the bigger the store the better their capacity for sales. Find coupons and seek daily specials.
- Shop at Farmer’s Markets and access the freshest and most nutrient-dense foods that are also less expensive than buying them in the supermarket (for the most part. I recently came across a post from the Union Square market in NYC and heirloom lettuce I buy at my farmer’s market for $1.50 per head was $15 per lb.! Please do not be deterred if you see this. It is not the norm.)
- Know Your Brands. Along with Kellogg’s and Dean Foods, take a look at my list below of the biggest advocates against GMO Labeling and click on the links for a complete listing of their brands.
- Con Agra Owns: Bertolli, Blue Bonnet, Gulden’s, Hebrew National, Jiffy Pop, Swiss Miss and Slim Jim
- General Mills Owns: Cascadian Farms, Cheerios, Chex, Gold Medal Flour, Haagen Dazs, LaraBar, Muir Glen, Nature Valley and Yoplait
- Pepsi Owns: Aunt Jemima, Aquafina, Frito Lay, Gatorade, Lipton, Quaker Oats, Sabra and Sun Chips
- Nestle Owns: Carnation, Dreyer’s Ice Cream, Gerber, Lean Cuisine, Nespresso, Perrier, Poland Spring and Pellegrino
- Coca-Cola Owns: Bacardi, Dannon, Dasani Water, Evian, Honest Tea, Odwalla, Minute Made Glaceau Vitamin Water and Smart Water and Illy.
- Know More. We are on our computers 24/7 so let’s put that to good use and become better acquainted with organic consumer like Cornucopia, Food Democracy Now and Organic Consumers Association are key resources.
- Organic food is more expensive but everyone can afford them if they cut corners on Non-Food Consumables. For those go to the 99 cents store.
- Follow Your Gut – Trust yourself when you read a label. You don’t need to be a food scientist PHD Laureate Fellow to know that what you are reading is wither good for you or not. If you see endless ingredients in something that should have just a few, move on. Follow your gut and trust your inner voice because in the end, it’s the only one you will ever need.
This is a lifestyle to be approached with enthusiasm and a positive energy so you can really bring all that you have to offer to your efforts. Fear, worry, doubt, confusion… They don’t belong in this process because there are enough resources out there for any of us to eliminate each and every one of those feelings. Remember, we may not have a choice about governments going to war or societal and financial pressures imposed on us but we do have a choice everyday how to spend our money. Like Al Gore said, it’s an inconvenient truth but what’s a little inconvenience? Surely we can handle that.
Elisha Reverby is founder of Elique Organics, a beauty and lifestyle brand dedicated to simply luxurious skin care collections while demystifying organic and making the lifestyle accessible and affordable for all. Elisha’s customers rely on her straight to the point advice and endless resources for living the lifestyle of their dreams.
Elisha has been featured on CNN, ABC News, The Huffington Post, The Los Angeles Times, Jewish Woman Magazine, No More Dirty Looks, Vogue, WWD, Allure and Lucky Magazine and maintains a cutting-edge blog and social media presence dedicated to beauty and wellness.
Elisha is a farmer’s market groupie, honeybee champion, philanthropist and advocate for food transparency and other environmental causes. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.