Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Weight of Our Food Choices

We began this blog two and a half years ago with the idea that we wanted to make our small impact on the world, or rather, NOT make an impact on the world, by supporting local agriculture, growing some our own food, and making a concerted effort to be more aware of what we ate, where it came from, how it was produced, how it lived.

Now we are faced with a crisis that is forcing us to fully acknowledge all aspects of our food: Monsanto is successfully attempting to introduce a Round-up resistant alfalfa seed; has already introduced "suicide seeds" whose plants are unable to produce viable seeds of their own, preventing seed collection, which has allowed the human species to survive for thousands of years; farmers are being strong-armed into buying from Monsanto; those that attempt to go it alone will have their fields compromised by genetically engineered seeds, eliminating organic and heirloom and all other non-Monsanto crops from remaining pure; and to top it all off, we have no labeling legislation to inform the public when they are buying food that does contain genetically modified ingredients.

Just in the past week, Whole Foods, Organic Valley, and Stonyfield Farms pulled their dogs from the fight to prevent genetically engineered crops, saying, in effect, that it was hopeless, yet, ironically, remaining hopeful that if the USDA has some regulation, it's better than nothing, so we should celebrate! You can read here what they actually said, but I think I'm summarizing it fairly accurately, though admittedly snidely.

The New York Times had an article, which you can read here, saying that Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack caved into pressure from Monsanto.

There is a very interesting organization I have just learned about this week, called The Organic Consumers Association, and they are a wealth of information about this topic. Whole Foods feels wronged by them, and they have an interesting comeback on their blog

This article explains the whole story in better detail than I do.

I could go on, siting interesting reading, but the point is, we need to do something. This is one of those times that if we choose to ignore the problem, it will not go away, now, nor ever.

My overall impression is that first and foremost, we need to do all we can to get labeling legislation passed and try to prevent Monsanto from being given carte blanche to grow GE seeds wherever they like. At first I felt very angry at Whole Foods, Organic Valley, and Stonyfield Farms from caving, but I'm backing off my original intent to boycott them. They are not sticking their noses out farther than they need to, but they are also not the problem. Lack of regulation is the problem.

So, I have volunteered to be a distributor and collector of the Organic Consumer's Association petition to get labeling laws for our congressional district (8th district, Massachusetts). I ask you to please sign this petition if you see it. If you, too, want to help distribute it, please do. Ask your friends in other parts of the country to do so, as well. Here is a link for more information. I also am asking any local stores, especially food oriented, though any store would be great, to allow me to put petitions up on your premises. This affects us all. 

This is probably near-impossible to succeed, but if we don't try, it definitely won't, so please take a few minutes to read some of these articles and do anything you can to help.