Tag Archives: GMO

Why the War on Small Farms is Impacting Your Health

Here’s another informative article on a very important issue, by Vreni at Wellness Tips

Are you not as healthy as you might be due to the politics of food? That statement may seem ridiculous, but it might be quite true for many if you are unable to access food you consider to be healthy. And for the American readers here, your food options are about to shrink even further due to politics.

More and more people are rejecting factory farms, conventional mono-crop farming methods and GMO food and are instead seeking to contract directly with farmers that grow the organic produce and raise the pastured meat, poultry, dairy and eggs that they want .

Big Food sees this trend as a threat to their monopoly, and Governments see it as a threat to food safety.

Food is huge business. Everyone needs to eat, and the huge food companies want you to eat their food, so they are doing all the can to stop the growing interest in farm fresh, local food.

Big Food has big pockets and they are influencing governments to pass regulations that will help them thrive.

Provincial and State governments are prosecuting farmers that form food coops and herd shares in order to supply real food to people that want it, under the guise of not having a retail license, and then making it impossible for the farmers to get the license they require. (People want raw milk which the farmer provides, but the farmer is not able to get a license for raw milk for example).

Farmers that are trying to preserve biodiversity are being prosecuted for such things as keeping “feral pigs”, even though this different breed of pig are not actually wild, but are on a farm.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency slaughtered all of Montana Jones’ very rare heritage sheep despite lab tests showing her animals did not have scrapie. Autopsies afterwards also verified that her sheep were healthy.

(In an effort to save her sheep against an unjust fate, some other farmers “sheep-napped” them which delayed the slaughter for several months, and currently the suspected sheep-napper farmers are in court for that. I know – hard to believe it is true!)

Over 97% of the population wants GMO food to be labeled, and for years Governments have done nothing about that fact, largely because of the overlap between directors of companies like Monsanto and the US Federal Government. Only now are things beginning to change at the State level.


Big Food is putting millions and millions of dollars into the campaign to defeat Proposition 522 in Washington State, that would require food that contains genetically modified ingredients to be labelled. Big Food won in California by a very narrow margin, defeating that State’s effort to label GMO food.

The Big Food campaign suggests that labelling will increase the cost of food, but these same companies supply GMO labelled and GMO-free food to 64 other countries in the world so it would not be that hard for them.

If GMO food is so safe, why are those companies so afraid of letting consumers know what is in the food?  Are you okay with being experimented on without your knowledge or consent?

Why is the GMO issue not being discussed regularly by the mainstream media? Why is it that only after the advent of social media that the issue of GMO food-labeling is suddenly on the radar?

Yes to I-522Because the companies that supply GMO food have huge budgets, and they are very willing to sue any media outlet that says anything negative.Companies like Monsanto can’t do much about social media however, so it is up to us to spread the word …

Governments are stopping people from growing food in their front yards. They are requiring permits for kids that set up lemonade stands. They are stopping people from having potluck community events.

Food Coops are being raided at gun-point by SWAT teams. It is way over the top! Rawesome Food Coop in California a few years ago is a good example. Federal agents in full army combat gear were pointing their guns at people in tank tops and flip flops running the till. They confiscated the raw milk in the fridge, and jailed the owners. And this despite the fact that raw milk is legal in California, and can be purchased in grocery stores.

Now in the US, FDA is implementing the Food Safety Modernization Act, which will probably result in many of the country’s safest farms being put out of business.

For example, in an effort to control salmonella, the new regulations will make it next to impossible for small farmers to have outdoor flocks of chickens, which research shows is far safer than indoor caged chickens.

Funny they are trying to do this in the middle of a chicken salmonella outbreak from Foster Farms, a huge factory farm that has sickened 278 people in 18 States!

The new regulations unfortunately do nothing to address the real problem with respect to food-borne illness – sick animals living in the filth of factory farms. Check out this W5 video exposing the horrific conditions and abuse of factory farms.

Because the animals are held in such crowded, filthy conditions, antibiotics are part of the feed in the futile attempt to keep the animals healthy. The rise of antibiotic resistance that is affecting our hospitals is the direct result. Some believe we are now entering a world where antibiotics will no longer work, and people will once again regularly die of infections.

If the farms that provide the healthy food are out of business, US citizens will have no option but to eat the unhealthy stuff.

Big Agribusiness and Big Food are using the Government “food safety” regulations to control our food. There is a double standard when it comes to food safety – one for the factory farms, and another for the smaller farms trying to produce nutrient-dense food.

So, the question begs. Is this okay with you? Do you care enough about your health and wellbeing to do something to protect your health by protecting your food supply? Are you willing to help small farmers survive by going out of your way to seek their food out?

Do you shop at farmer’s markets or participate in community-supported -agriculture programs? Do you refuse to buy conventionally-raised food from big agribusiness sold at your grocery store? Are you choosing to spend your money on food now or on medicine that may or may not work later?  Is buying cheap food worth the consequence?

What we choose to purchase will have a huge impact on our environment, food supply and the health that our kids and grandkids will inherit. Please choose wisely.

Copyright 2013 Vreni Gurd
Reprinted with permission
Wellness Tips

Chemicals in Our Personal Ecosystem

Right on the heels of reading the article Our Toxic Body Burden, a friend posted a link to the online documentary Genetic Roulette, which discusses the well documented (but not well publicized) effects that genetically modified foods are having on our digestive systems and health.

Vreni Gurd’s Wellness Tips article talks about the many sources of chemicals  we may be unwittingly ingesting. Some you’ll be aware of, but some may surprise you, such as cleansers and moisturizers. “If you put it on your skin you are drinking it.”

The documentary carries the theme further, exposing the chemical nature of the majority of processed foods and the marked increase in a wide variety of diseases linked to the digestive system and inflammation. As the digestive system is our first line of defense for our immune system, it makes sense that problems in our gut are going to lead to problems elsewhere. The scary thing is, once GMO enzymes and bacteria are introduced to your system, they can replicate and continue wreaking havoc.

More than ever our bodies are subjected to a myriad of chemicals in all forms and it takes some focused effort to reduce the effects. One of the key elements is keeping your liver healthy so it can do its best to detoxify your body from our environment. When I was diagnosed with skin cancer it became a priority to me to support my liver in cleansing my body. I believe our bodies are made to heal themselves and can do quite a good job if we support them by taking care of what we put in into the delicately balanced ecosystem of our bodies.

Please take the time to become more informed and make more informed decisions for your health and the health of your families.

To GMO or Not to GMO

To GMO or not to GMO, that is the question.

There’s much controversy about genetically modified and genetically engineered food. Do you know what GMO really means and the impact it may be having on your food and health? Here are some of the basics:

A genetically modified organism (GMO) or genetically engineered organism (GE or GEO) is an organism whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques. These techniques, generally known as recombinant DNA technology, use DNA molecules from different sources, which are combined into one molecule to create a new set of genes. This DNA is then transferred into an organism, giving it modified or novel genes. Transgenic organisms, a subset of GMOs, are organisms which have inserted DNA that originated in a different species.  (Source: Wikipedia)

Genetic modification itself isn’t new. It used to be done via selective breeding. This has always seemed a fairly natural method to cultivate the best of any plant or animal species. Remember grade school science class and Gregor Mendel’s pea plants? It was all about furthering the best, hardiest, tastiest genetic make up possible.

The discovery of DNA, however, has brought far more frightening and unnatural-seeming shifts in genetics, like the splicing together of plant and animal characteristics such as fish and strawberries.

“…the gene from a fish that lives in very cold seas has been inserted into a strawberry, allowing the fruit to be frost-tolerant.” (Source: Disabled-World.com and Mavis Butcher)

What About Choice

Okay, so eating strawberries with fish DNA is weird and may be objectionable to some. What’s more objectionable is that there are no labeling requirements allowing consumers to choose whether they want to eat GM or GE foods or opt out of the experiment. With the jury still out on the benefits of genetically engineered food, I’d like to have a choice thank you very much.

Steps to Avoid GMO/GE Food

There are things you can do to avoid genetically modified foods in your diet.

  1. Get educated on which foods are typically genetically engineered and choose not to eat them
  2. Eat 100% organic (sadly, organic may no longer guarantee non-GMO)
  3. Look for products specifically labeled non-GMO and/or non-GE
  4. Eat 100% grass-fed beef
  5. Shop local and know your farmer

We may not yet be able to do away with GMO/GE altogether, but we can surely limit our support of the industry.


Organic Used to Mean Non-GMO

If you think eating organic means you’re safe from genetically engineered food, think again. Now that Whole Foods, Organic Valley and Stonyfield Farm are hooking up with Monsanto, it just got harder to keep GMO food off your plate.

In the Organic Consumers Association recent article, The Organic Elite Surrender to Monsanto, details of the sordid little affair have now been made public.

In the wake of a 12-year battle to keep Monsanto’s Genetically Engineered (GE) crops from contaminating the nation’s 25,000 organic farms and ranches, America’s organic consumers and producers are facing betrayal. A self-appointed cabal of the Organic Elite, spearheaded by Whole Foods Market, Organic Valley, and Stonyfield Farm, has decided it’s time to surrender to Monsanto. Top executives from these companies have publicly admitted that they no longer oppose the mass commercialization of GE crops, such as Monsanto’s controversial Roundup Ready alfalfa, and are prepared to sit down and cut a deal for “coexistence” with Monsanto and USDA biotech cheerleader Tom Vilsack.

Read the full article.

I guess even the best of organic companies can lose sight of their roots and sell out when fame and fortune go to their heads. What a blow for local and sustainable food systems.

Is Organic Meat Worth It?

While chatting about trends in organic food, my friend Sandra boldly declared, “I don’t care if it’s grass fed or spoon fed. I just want to know if it tastes good.”

She has a point. If it doesn’t taste good, the discussion ends there. However, organic meat does taste good, very good. So if that’s all you need to know, consider the issue resolved. If you still aren’t sure why you’d want to pay more to get the good stuff, you may want to know a bit more about what you’re actually eating when you sit down to that nice, juicy steak.

As I’ve become more aware of what’s involved in meat production, I’ve also become much more keen to source organic, grass fed beef for the occasions I choose to eat it.


On the organic side of the equation it boils down to this: the last thing I want entering my body is genetically modified corn, pesticides (sprayed on the corn), hormones and antibiotics, passed down to me in the form of beef.

  • Cows in the industrialized meat industry are fed GMO corn.
  • Corn is a grain, which cow stomachs are not designed to digest.
  • Mass-produced cattle are also fed animal by-products. Note: cows are herbivores. Feeding them their kin is messed up on many levels. Remember “mad cow” disease…
  • Cows are ruminants, they chew their cud. In the industrialized food process, cows are kept closely packed together and cannot lie down to chew their cud.
  • Cows are kept in such close quarters and in such great numbers that disease is easily spread, hence the heavy dosing of antibiotics.
  • The only priority in commercial farming is profit, so cows need to fatten up quick. That’s where the growth hormones come into play.

Cutting out the carcinogenic chemicals and going organic was a no-brainer, especially when I learned that all the nasty stuff collects in the fat of the animal. Fat is also what gives food its flavour so if you want tasty meat, you are eating fat.

Grass Fed

Then there’s the “grass fed” part of the equation. Why  not choose beef that’s organic and be done with it? Or choose “naturally raised” beef?

Well, if you’ve never seen how mass-produced cattle are raised, just wonder for a moment why it’s called “factory farming.” Really, it’s just like that. No pastoral scene of mother and calf, this.

  • Grass fed cows eat grass. Not grain and not other cows. That’s more healthy.
  • Grass fed means a cow has had access to grass. In a field. At liberty. With other cows, doing what cows do.
  • Cows need to chew their cud to digest their food. It’s what nature intended. In a field, there’s room for a little ruminating.
  • Stockyards used to be where cowboys drove their cattle after life on the open range. Now, they may live almost their entire short life there. To me, that is inhumane.
  • Cows are animals, not machines. The research is very clear — they have feelings, they need to socialize, they develop bonds. Providing them an opportunity to live without undo stress seems the least we can do.

If you are still one of the few who believe the treatment of animals is no big deal, you can hold to that opinion and still recognize the value of grass fed beef. When I thought that way, I still couldn’t believe there was much nutritional value in a cow eating food it was never meant to eat, in an unnatural environment.

The Final Word

Don’t take my word for it that. You need to know enough to decide what matters to you. Just don’t stay in the dark about where your food really comes from.

The resources are endless, but here are a few to get you started:

Our Daily Bread the Movie
FRESH the Movie
King Corn the Movie
Food, Inc. the Movie
The Food Revolution by John Robbins
The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan
Ecoholic by Adria Vasil

Readers, I welcome your comments on books, movies or other resources you’ve found helpful in understanding all that goes into choosing healthy food. Please leave a comment and share…

October 2010 Designated Non-GMO Month

by Eric Fairwind
Member, Gabriolans for Local Food Choices
Reprinted with permission

This October has been designated the first ever Non-GMO Month.

The Campaign for Healthier Eating is designed to achieve the tipping point of consumer rejection of genetically modified foods in the US and Canada. The campaign begins October 10, 2010 and runs until November 11, 2011. We hope you’ll be part of this North American movement.

Everyone has the right to an informed choice about what they eat. In Europe, all products containing more than 0.9% GMO are labeled by the government. But in the US and Canada, government has obstructed giving consumers information about which food and products contain GMOs, by not allowing the labeling of GMO food. It is estimated that GMOs are now present in more than 75% of the processed foods in the average grocery store.

Many people are concerned about the potential health risks of products made using the technology of genetic modification. In fact, the American Academy of Environmental Medicine has called for a moratorium on GMO foods, long term safety testing, labeling, and education of their patients concerning the consumption of GM foods. They state that several animal studies indicate serious health risks associated with GM food consumption including infertility, dysregulation of the immune system, cholesterol synthesis & insulin , accelerated aging, changes in the liver, kidney, spleen and gastrointestinal system. More independent scientific studies around the world are finding similar startling results.

A large and growing body of scientific research and on-the-ground experience indicate that GM crops:

  • Can be toxic, allergenic or less nutritious than their natural counterparts.
  • Can disrupt the ecosystem, damage vulnerable wild plant and animal populations and harm biodiversity.
  • Increase chemical inputs (pesticides, herbicides) over the long term.
  • Deliver yields that are no better, and often worse, than conventional crops.
  • Cause or exacerbate a range of social and economic problems such as forcing farmers to pay exorbitant prices for seeds and then paying them poorly for their crops, feeding in to a far-away industrial food system, and causing farmer suicides in India from an inability to pay for GM seeds & chemicals.
  • Are laboratory-made and, once released, harmful GMOs cannot be recalled from the environment.
  • Degrade the topsoil, destroying valuable nutrients in the soil.
  • Pollute groundwater by chemicals used in GM agriculture.

Most vegetables and fruits are not genetically modified, with the exception of Hawaiian papaya (more than 50%), and a small amount of alfalfa, zucchini, yellow crookneck squash and tobacco.

When buying packaged food, be sure to keep a lookout for common GMO ingredients such as: corn oil, corn syrup, corn starch, soy protein, soy oil, soy sauce, lecithin, cottonseed and canola oil. If your package lists one or more of these ingredients, these foods are genetically modified, unless labeled organic or non-GE (non-genetically engineered).

What crops are most often GMOs?

  • SOY (89%)* Chocolates use soy lecithin; Breads use soy flour; Shakes use soy protein concentrate; Baby formulas use soy milk.
  • CORN (61%)* High fructose corn syrup is found in sodas, cereals, cookies, candy, salad dressings, spaghetti sauces, and 1,000 other products. Baked goods use cornstarch; Vegetable oils use corn oil; Breads use corn flour.
  • CANOLA (80%)* Fried products use canola oil; Baked goods use canola oil; many health products use canola oil.
  • COTTON (83%)* Chips use cottonseed oil; Fried snacks use cottonseed oil.

*Percentage of GM soy, corn  and cotton in the US and GM canola grown in Canada.

For more extensive lists of GM ingredients found in food please visit Seeds of Deception and the Non-GMO Shopping Guide.
Please join us in making safer buying choices and not buying genetically modified foods.

For additional information on the GMO issue, visit the Non-GMO Project.

Locally Engineered vs. Locally Grown

I recently came across a new concept in food production masquerading as a local food solution. The way I see it, it’s just industrialized food from the corner manufacturing plant vs. the one thousands of miles away.

Okay, technically that does make it “local”. Scratch the surface, however, and there’s lot more to the notion of eating local than simple geography.

Here’s a summary of the Agropolis idea:

  • Employ robots and technology to grow food
  • Utilize GMO’s to improve production
  • Use artificial — but, hey,  low energy consumption — lighting
  • Create a “powerful consumer experience” that’s more funky and far sexier than anything you can find that incorporates, say, dirt

I have so many issues with an engineered version of “urban farming” it’s hard to know where to begin. Okay, not that hard. Let’s start with the list above:

  • Robots and technology — Sure, who wants people touching your food
  • GMO’s — Absolutely. Hellooo, we can’t have Nature running the show
  • Artificial lighting — Brilliant, now there’s no need to rely on the nasty, carcenogenic sun
  • Farm “experience” vs. actual farm — Great, it’ll be just like the Disney California theme park; super clean and once you’ve been, you’ll never need to visit the state

The whole premise gets off to a rocky start with the stats Agropolis tosses about to portray food as an enemy of the earth, prefaced by “Food subjugates the earth.”

Whoa, Nellie. Food subjugates the earth? No, more like messing with natural food systems messes with the earth. More like, taking plant-based food that would feed 10 people and feeding it to one cow so a handful of folks can eat steak, that messes with the earth.

The local manufacture of food, while accurate on the geographic technicality, in no way constitutes a farm and misses the locavore boat.

Genuine Food

A big part of eating local is about eating food. Real food. Not a reasonable facsimile thereof, even if it was just picked this morning. I mean food that has soaked up the nutrients it needs and gives us the nutrients we need and then gives nutrients back to the earth when we’re done, in a beautiful, self-sustaining cycle. Just as it has for millennia, well, right up until we started messing with it post-WWII.

Science actually knows relatively little about the complexities of how real food works it’s wonderful magic, but we can see the effects when we behave as if we can manage it better than it can manage itself. Let’s face it, food’s got a huge head start on the evolutionary sustainability track.

Food Security

Another huge part of the “eat local” trend is focused on food security. Unlike the image that phrase initially conjures up, food security is not about locking down food so production is in the hands of a tech-savvy few. It’s quite the opposite. It means opening up the guide book, learning how we can each produce our own food, and creating systems to ensure everyone has secure access to quality food, no matter their income or location.

Forget the pleasure and satisfaction that’s derived from growing your own food, and let’s just look at the value of being able to eat quality food, when you’re hungry, even on a pauper’s budget. Stop. Ponder.

Respecting the Earth

In addition to a desire for improved taste and nutritional quality, embedded within eating local is a recognition that what we’ve been doing to the planet with industrial food production isn’t actually working, and it’s time to clean up our act. That includes growing practices, water conservation, multitude forms of pollution (including pesticides, cattle feedlot waste…), carbon footprint, and a great many other activities not related directly to food at all.

Does re-engineering food’s fabrication help solve the problems re-engineering created in the first place, or just create different ones?

Eat + Local

Eating local is just what it says…and more than the sum of it’s parts. It ripples into every segment of our lives. Food is our lives. We must recognize that humans are part of a system, not the creators of it. And let’s face it, we haven’t exactly earned a bonus for our management skills.

When our food got off track, a  great many other things jumped the tracks as well. I’m thinking it might be a good idea to go back to where things started going sideways and begin repairing the damage. Maybe by first figuring out how to fit ourselves back into the greater ecosystem, instead of trying to subjugate the system to humankind.

Agropolis Concept Store

Related Post:

Technically Local, But…