A Month Without Monsanto
With this month winding down, I'm happy to get back to more 'normal' ways of eating, I'm also disturbed that I'm looking forward to getting back to them, since I now *really* know what's in the food we often eat. And we're people who try to keep an eye on where our food is coming from generally, which proves to me that GMOs are in almost everything.
Last week the public school germs struck, turning my house into the House of Disease. I think (I hope!) I’ve nursed my family back to health, but we crashed and burned on the Nonsanto front. Does any other child of the seventies crave crap when they’re sick? Like, drive-through-vertical-integration-hockey-pucks-for-hamburgers crap? For some reason, that’s always what I remember my parents getting me to eat when I was sick but well enough to graduate from noodles with butter, and so that’s what I crave when I’m sick to this day. Who knows why I don’t crave chicken noodle soup from a can…
I managed to avoid major junky food while sick last week, and got a decent vat of Nonsanto soup going, but I have to admit I’m tired of cooking at home, tired of thinking ahead, tired of obsessively meal planning. Frankly, tired of trying to feed my family food that I feel is healthy for them without going crazy. But that’s what you have to do to avoid GMOs in your food these days. This point was driven home over the weekend, while I was listening to the radio (and cooking a Nonsanto meal, natch). Marketplace Money ran a story about Prop 37, and the statistics caused the host to say “Really? <sigh> WOW.” I said something similar – though admittedly a bit more colorful. Estimates in California say that between 40-70% of food in grocery stores would need to be labeled. More than 90% of soy and almost 90% of corn in the US are genetically modified, too.
This was on my mind while I ate a burrito a few weeks ago from Chipotle, which markets ‘Food with Integrity.’ Good choice for healthy food if you’re stuck, no? Yeeeahhhh…… not really. I don’t really recommend reading an article about what’s wrong with your burrito while you’re actually eating your burrito. I managed to finish my meal, but talked to a worker later, and found out that soybean oil (you know, that’s more than 90% GMO in this country) is in almost everything warm. As in, the rice, the tortilla fryer, marinade for all the meats except the carnitas, and the fajita veggies. And I love the fajita veggies, darnit. Maybe I’m naïve, but when I go to the grocery store, I don’t even recall seeing soybean oil as an option in the cooking oils aisle. Olive, vegetable (which could be soy, I admit), peanut, canola, sunflower… sure. But it honestly never occurred to me that restaurants would lean on soybean oil so heavily in their cooking. So now I’m sticking to a salad with carnitas and salsa if I go back.
The more roadblocks I run up against in this experiment, the more I appreciate the need for labels. Unless you make it yourself, you just don’t know what’s in your food.
Sources for this post:
Photo: my favorite (mostly) Nonsanto meal of the week. Wild-caught salmon, CSA broccoli, CSA mashed potatoes, homemade applesauce.
I’m through my first Nonsanto week, and holy crap is this hard. Let me repeat that – attempting to avoid GMOs in everyday life is really !@#$%^&* HARD. I did great the first day, but crashed and burned pretty quickly. It didn’t help that on day two, I had to get up for work super early to be home in time for the kid handoff so my husband could teach that night. Of course, I didn’t realize until I was halfway to work that I had forgotten to pack either breakfast or lunch for that day. So much for feeling smug and righteous in my food choices.
Now that we’re a week in, we’re settling in to a better routine. Dinners are usually Nonsanto – roasted chicken with CSA veggies, roasted mushroom soup with a side of late harvest CSA corn, etc. – with lunches either leftovers from the previous day or simple sandwiches with non-GMO cheese and tomato, and breakfast of local eggs and breakfast meats or organic steel cut oats. I’m doing my best to get over my distaste of leftovers, and have found that I’m using my CSA veggies faster (which is definitely a good thing).
I’ve also found that one of my best allies in this exercise is my grocery shopping adversary. I know I’m not alone in my love/hate relationship with Whole Foods Market. Where I live, it’s the closest major grocery store to my house – but it’s also significantly more expensive than the ‘regular’ grocery store. It’s a Mecca for liberal foodies – but its CEO is a vocal anti-union libertarian who thinks health insurance should have no government intervention, certainly not typical liberal views. It sucks me in with its serene shopping environment – but half the time I feel like a chump for shopping there.
For Nonsanto’s sake, it’s a good source of food for this month. Their store brand (365 Everyday Value) are sourced to avoid GMOs, and according to their website, are enrolled in the Non-GMO Project. The times I’ve been in the store actively looking for the Non-GMO Project label, it’s been easy to find. And their organic selection is one of the largest you can find around here.
I still feel a little dirty when I shop there, though. And I’m not the only one. Critics have described Whole Foods’ support of Proposition 37 as ‘lukewarm,’ and pointed out the hypocrisy of not financially supporting the Prop 37 campaign when they ponied up $180K to oppose the Employee Free Choice Act. And the Cornucopia Institute (who just updated their Prop 37 poster of backers and opponents) also calls out Whole Foods for being ‘conspicuously absent’ in their financial support of Prop 37. For many, it feels like the company is talking out of both sides of their mouth – doing just enough to make the bleeding hearts feel like they’re supporting Prop 37, while not doing too much to anger their food supplies which may contain GMOs. I guess it’s too much to ask to have a company work in its customers’ best interests?
Sources for this post:
Image: Cornucopia Institute
While Monday was the “official” beginning of Month Without Monsanto, last night was the first chance I had to gather with my co-conspirators who are also participating. Each month, Victory Garden Initiative (the organization I work for) throws an open potluck. Those who had agreed to join in the #Nonsanto fun came to the potluck, and I was also able to throw in a plug for others to join us. All in all, we had about 20 people present, though not all decided to jump on the #Nonsanto wagon. I was surprised but pleased by everyone’s reaction to my pitch for the Month Without Monsanto experiment. It turns out that a bunch of people who show up to our monthly Eat & Meet are pretty savvy about the dangers of pesticides, herbicides, GMOs, and Monsanto in general. What ensued was a lively, far-ranging discussion; frombees dying en masse due to pesticide exposure (thanks, Monsanto!), to GMO labeling issues, to the importance of preserving food as a sort of personal insurance policy. You know, just in case we accidentally kill all the bees and there’s not enough food to eat.
I left last night feeling angry at the industrial food system, but also duped. We’ve been lulled into a false sense of security by thinking that regulating agencies like the FDA, EPA, and USDA will protect us from the dangers of products which are toxic to humans—pesticides that we put on our food. Is it just me, or does putting anything with the suffix “-cide” (Latin for kill) on our food seem like a bad idea?
I’m more convinced than ever that going 100% organic is something I’d like to commit to long term (keeping almost all -cides off of my food). For this month, we’re all committing to going as #Nonsanto as we possibly can, and learning a lot in the process. That means researching companies, interrogating farmers about their seed sources, and at the very least purchasing 100% USDA organic foods. I’m personally not throwing anything out—I made applesauce from some conventional apples someone gave me—but as I go through the month I hope to gradually step up my #Nonsanto level.
It’s not going to be easy: Today I got a potato chip halfway into my mouth before I realized it had Monsanto written all over it. For lunches, I’m currently living off a giant vat of #Nonsanto soup made from organic veggies and a local, free range chicken. Breakfast yesterday was carrot sticks, and dinner was….a compromise. I’m still trying to wrap my mind around how many layers of the food system Monsanto penetrates. On the upside, I’m spending more time in my kitchen and not caving to the temptation of eating lunch out.
Best of all, I’m going to have to rely on my #Nonsanto co-conspirators to get through this. Here’s to all of us!
Sources for this post:
A great run-down of bees, neonicotinoid pesticides, and why this is a perfect storm of awful: http://www.occupymonsanto360.
Picture: Our #Nonsanto Group. Left to Right: Brian, Pamela, Robert, Me, and Pauline (front)
I made it through my first Nonsanto day, with only one slip-up. Not bad, considering Mondays are my family's crazy days, I hadn't sorted anything out for dinner until about 4:30, and the remnants of a GI bug are still working its way through my house (thanks, public school germs).
So here's my food play-by-play for the day:
- Breakfast: fried egg from my favorite local farmer, apple from my CSA
Two and a half years ago I lived for one whole month without eating, wearing or washing with any Monsanto products.
I undertook this admittedly unusual project for one very simple reason. It was not (as I was often misquoted as saying) because I saw Food, Inc. It was also not to put Monsanto out of business by boycotting their products (the idea that Monsanto gives a damn what one woman chooses to eat or not eat is frankly laughable). It was, in fact, that I was curious.
I had recently become aware of Monsanto as a company, and was curious just how much of my food originated with them. I was a new mother at the time, and I was skeptical that GMO’s were as safe as the government said they were, especially since I had heard that many countries in Europe refused to allow them to be sold in markets there. In retrospect, I now realize that the thing I was really interested in investigating was how much of my food contained genetically modified ingredients, but A Month Without GMO’s didn’t have as nice a ring to it, and given that Monsanto is one of the biggest producers of GMOs, I settled on A Month Without Monsanto.
Oh, what a little alliteration can do.
Because, as I now know, Monsanto is so much more than GMO. Yes, that’s a biggie for them, but they have also been buying up seed companies for decades. Even organic farmers, using all organic farming methods, can easily buy seeds from Monsanto subsidiaries, without ever knowing it (if they don’t do their homework). Seeds that are not genetically modified can still be classified as organic, even if they’re owned by Monsanto. What’s more, Monsanto is the biggest seller of cottonseeds, both in the US and abroad. So if you wear non-organic cotton, you’re wearing Monsanto. And that shampoo you spent too much on? That soy that leaves your hair so nice and shiny? Monsanto. And don’t even get me started on the ethanol in your gas tank – it’s made from Monsanto corn. It is ridiculously hard to avoid Monsanto. I mean stupid-hard.
So why do it?
Well, as I said, I was curious. I was also a grad student, with plenty of time to spend talking to farmers and food processors, to trace down the origin of the ingredients in their products. Since then, I’ve had another baby and landed a full time job, making me a working mother of two.
When Cassie and I started the Digging Deep website, we knew we wanted to repeat the Month Without Monsanto experiment, but the right time never seemed to present itself. Instead we focused on building up our team of bloggers to ask other questions about food, and I could not be more proud of what has evolved from our work. But the Month Without Monsanto always hovered close, just waiting for the right time. And it turns out, that time is now.
You see, on Tuesday, November 6th, just five weeks from now, California will vote on Prop 37 – an initiative that would require labels for foods containing genetically modified ingredients. What better way to show how little we know about GMOs in our foods than to struggle to avoid them for a whole month?
So here we go.
I’ll be honest, I’m daunted. As I mentioned, I don’t have the same time to spend on this as I did two years ago, so I’m setting guidelines that work for me. I am committing to cooking entirely #Nonsanto dinners for my family and me for the month of October. I’ve talked with the farmers at my local farmers market to find out which ones buy #Nonsanto seeds. I know which vendors sell meat that was not raised on Monsanto grain. I even know a few processed foods that don’t contain Monsanto products.
I’d like to take this opportunity to invite you to join us. Maybe you’ve been doing the organic thing for years now and you’re ready to tackle the #Nonsanto challenge for a full month. Or maybe you’re like me and the idea of adding anything to your plate (literal or metaphorical) is overwhelming. In that case, set a goal. If a month of #Nonsanto dinners still feels like too much, maybe you commit to just doing Sunday dinners. Even if you just pick one day in October to go Monsanto-free, we’re excited to have you on board and we hope you’ll share what you learn along the way.
I’ll be posting my #Nonsanto dinner recipes as I come up with them. As of right now, it’s looking like it will be mostly Lundberg Rice and veggies, with the occasional Annie’s Mac and Cheese, but I’m hoping that list will expand.
It’s going to be a long month.
It’s almost October. That means I’m about to go as #Nonsanto as possible for an entire month, starting with my food. And October isn’t even one of those mercifully short months. Nope, I’m about to commit to a full 31 days of going without GMO products. A couple of days ago this all hit me, and I kind of panicked. What a lonely 31 days! No going out to dinner. No grabbing lunch from the coffee shop with my coworker. Since I’m kind of new to the whole GMO issue, to be perfectly honest, this whole experiment is thoroughly out of my comfort zone.
I had an idea. What about getting others in my community to join in the fun? I’ve learned that almost anything can be fun when a community of people gets involved, so I posted my plea for co-conspirators in the fight against GMOs on a couple of foodie- and “green-” themed Milwaukee listservs. Thus far, five people have agreed to give it a whirl. Not only will we be able to share tips and resources, but I’m also hoping we’ll be able to gather together for at least a couple of meals to share our experiences, and maybe even enjoy ourselves!
We haven’t had a chance to decide on our “rules” yet. The dazzling complexity of our food distribution system obfuscates the processes by which food (or in some cases, “food”) is produced, and this is becoming an issue in my search for GMO-free food. For example, can I eat honey? I have no way of knowing whether the bees that made it were hived near a cornfield. Does contaminated pollen mean contaminated honey? And don’t even get me STARTED on trying to sort out what Monsanto subsidiaries have made their way into the natural food aisle. These are some of the questions I’m hoping to discuss with my Month Without Monsanto community; it’s going to be a long, steep learning curve for this blogger.
It’s no coincidence that the sustainable food movement has a very strong communitarian element, and I think this experiment reveals a great example of why that is. For instance, if our communities were strong enough to feed themselves, then maybe I wouldn’t be so worried about finding reliable sources of #Nonsanto grub. We would already know the food because we’d know the people who grow it and what kind of farmers they are. Luckily for me, the farmers markets in my area largely run throughout October. That means I’ll be able to meet the people who grow my food (or at least meet people who work for the people who grows it.) Being able to meet producers face-to-face will save me quite a bit of research and time. Any farmer worth her stripes will know exactly what kind of seeds she is using, or what she is feeding her livestock.
Here’s another reason community is important to the sustainable food movement. Eating sustainably—and that includes avoiding GMOs—is not easy. Maybe you live in California, are a member of two organic co-ops, subscribe to a year round CSA, and have access to fresh #Nonsanto food out of your garden year round. Unfortunately, that’s not how it works for most of us. Eating sustainably is HARD, but it’s a heck of a lot easier when you can rely on your community to help you. Beyond the mutual benefits that can be gained through resource-sharing, there’s a lot to be said for enjoying the companionship of folks who share a challenge with you. We’re all in this together, right?
Sources for this post:
Although corn is pollinated by the wind, bees still “work corn” according to this article:
April’s post on how Monsanto is pretty much everywhere, including organics:
Most of the responses to my call for co-conspirators came from Transition Milwaukee. If you haven’t heard of Transition, check out this global movement here: http://www.transitionnetwork.org/
In prepping for next month’s Month Without Monsanto (starting Monday, and I am so not ready to do this), I’ve reviewed April’s original posts and realized this is going to be harder than I thought. I already have given myself a pass on things in my home (and no, I’m not going to go buy a ton of junk food on Saturday, although the thought did cross my mind). I’ve got decent amounts of non-GMO meat and eggs, my CSA came through and confirmed they don’t use Monsanto-sourced seeds, and I still have some tomatoes, lettuce, cilantro, and cucumbers hanging around outside that are homegrown with non-Monsanto sources. So far, so good, right?
Then I started thinking about organics and the USDA certification. As April pointed out near the end of her original MWM, just because it’s organic doesn’t mean it’s not Monsanto. UGH. Plus – organic is different than 100% organic. Don’t believe me? Here it is straight from the horse’s mouth (the horse in this case being 7 CFR Part 205, the federal regulation defining the organic certification process).
7 CFR §205.301(b)
Products sold, labeled, or represented as “organic.” A raw or processed agricultural product sold, labeled, or represented as “organic” must contain (by weight or fluid volume, excluding water and salt) not less than 95 percent organically produced raw or processed agricultural products. Any remaining product ingredients must be organically produced, unless not commercially available in organic form, or must be nonagricultural substances or nonorganically produced agricultural products produced consistent with the National List in subpart G of this part. If labeled as organically produced, such product must be labeled pursuant to §205.303.
And if you’re really geeky like me, you want to see the National List referenced in this document – that is, The National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances.
7 CFR §205.606
Nonorganically produced agricultural products allowed as ingredients in or on processed products labeled as “organic.”
Only the following nonorganically produced agricultural products may be used as ingredients in or on processed products labeled as “organic,” only in accordance with any restrictions specified in this section, and only when the product is not commercially available in organic form.
(a) Casings, from processed intestines.
(b) Celery powder.
(c) Chia ( Salvia hispanica L. ).
(d) Colors derived from agricultural products—Must not be produced using synthetic solvents and carrier systems or any artificial preservative.
(1) Annatto extract color (pigment CAS #1393–63–1)—water and oil soluble.
(2) Beet juice extract color (pigment CAS #7659–95–2).
(3) Beta-carotene extract color, derived from carrots (CAS #1393–63–1).
(4) Black currant juice color (pigment CAS #'s: 528–58–5, 528–53–0, 643–84–5, 134–01–0, 1429–30–7, and 134–04–3).
(5) Black/Purple carrot juice color (pigment CAS #'s: 528–58–5, 528–53–0, 643–84–5, 134–01–0, 1429–30–7, and 134–04–3).
(6) Blueberry juice color (pigment CAS #'s: 528–58–5, 528–53–0, 643–84–5, 134–01–0, 1429–30–7, and 134–04–3).
(7) Carrot juice color (pigment CAS #1393–63–1).
(8) Cherry juice color (pigment CAS #'s: 528–58–5, 528–53–0, 643–84–5, 134–01–0, 1429–30–7, and 134–04–3).
(9) Chokeberry—Aronia juice color (pigment CAS #'s: 528–58–5, 528–53–0, 643–84–5, 134–01–0, 1429–30–7, and 134–04–3).
(10) Elderberry juice color (pigment CAS #'s: 528–58–5, 528–53–0, 643–84–5, 134–01–0, 1429–30–7, and 134–04–3).
(11) Grape juice color (pigment CAS #'s: 528–58–5, 528–53–0, 643–84–5, 134–01–0, 1429–30–7, and 134–04–3).
(12) Grape skin extract color (pigment CAS #'s: 528–58–5, 528–53–0, 643–84–5, 134–01–0, 1429–30–7, and 134–04–3).
(13) Paprika color (CAS #68917–78–2)—dried, and oil extracted.
(14) Pumpkin juice color (pigment CAS #127–40–2).
(15) Purple potato juice (pigment CAS #'s: 528–58–5, 528–53–0, 643–84–5, 134–01–0, 1429–30–7, and 134–04–3).
(16) Red cabbage extract color (pigment CAS #'s: 528–58–5, 528–53–0, 643–84–5, 134–01–0, 1429–30–7, and 134–04–3).
(17) Red radish extract color (pigment CAS #'s: 528–58–5, 528–53–0, 643–84–5, 134–01–0, 1429–30–7, and 134–04–3).
(18) Saffron extract color (pigment CAS #1393–63–1).
(19) Turmeric extract color (CAS #458–37–7).
(e) Dillweed oil (CAS # 8006–75–5).
(f) Fish oil (Fatty acid CAS #'s: 10417–94–4, and 25167–62–8)—stabilized with organic ingredients or only with ingredients on the National List, §§205.605 and 205.606.
(g) Fortified cooking wines.
(h) Fructooligosaccharides (CAS # 308066–66–2).
(i) Galangal, frozen.
(j) Gelatin (CAS # 9000–70–8).
(k) Gums—water extracted only (Arabic; Guar; Locust bean; and Carob bean).
(l) Hops ( Humulus lupulus ) until January 1, 2013.
(m) Inulin-oligofructose enriched (CAS # 9005–80–5).
(n) Kelp—for use only as a thickener and dietary supplement.
(o) Konjac flour (CAS # 37220–17–0).
(r) Orange pulp, dried.
(s) Orange shellac-unbleached (CAS # 9000–59–3).
(t) Pectin (non-amidated forms only).
(u) Peppers (Chipotle chile).
(v) Seaweed, Pacific kombu.
(1) Cornstarch (native).
(2) Rice starch, unmodified (CAS # 977000–08–0)—for use in organic handling until June 21, 2009.
(3) Sweet potato starch—for bean thread production only.
(x) Tragacanth gum (CAS #–9000–65–1).
(y) Turkish bay leaves.
(z) Wakame seaweed ( Undaria pinnatifida ).
(aa) Whey protein concentrate.
(I have no ideas what those CAS #s are – but didn’t want to delete them from the list since they may delineate a certain type of product from another.)
So – twenty-seven nonorganically produced agricultural products may be used in products labeled as organic if the product is not commercially available in organic form (plus a whole subset of coloring agents under (d) of this list). Some of these sound familiar, some of these you may never have heard of. But there’s at least one that I’ve been looking for recently that pops up in a lot more ingredient lists than I anticipated.
Yep, Mr. (p) – Lecithin, de-oiled. I first noticed this on a chocolate bar that my son was writing about for a science project (he had to write the ingredient list out). The only chocolate we happened to have in the house was an organic bar, so silly me, I didn’t realize it wouldn’t have all organic ingredients in it. He was chugging right along with organic cane sugar, organic cocoa, etc. The only ingredient not listed as organic was soy lecithin. Not having such a substance in my spice rack, I didn’t know what it was for, so we had to look it up. Turns out, it’s an emulsifier (a binding agent) and is ubiquitous in processed foods. It’s even in the organic peanut butter crackers my kids had for a snack yesterday. And since it’s on the official list up there, it and its 26 other friends are probably hanging out in a certified organic food product near you.
However, there is hope. USDA’s National Organic Program has a Q&A posted specifically about the types of lecithin allowed in organic processed products, where fluid lecithin must be organic, and nonorganic de-oiled lecithin may only be used if organic is not commercially available. So the lecithin issue, at least, is inching closer towards organic.
And the last question on the Q&A is helpful, at least:
Can non-organic, de-oiled lecithin be used if it is produced from genetically modified sources?
No. All ingredients used in products labeled “organic”, “100% organic”, or “made with organic (specified) ingredients or food group(s))” must be produced without the use of excluded methods as per § 205.105(e).
Just for additional geekery, here’s the definition of excluded methods:
Excluded methods. A variety of methods used to genetically modify organisms or influence their growth and development by means that are not possible under natural conditions or processes and are not considered compatible with organic production. Such methods include cell fusion, microencapsulation and macroencapsulation, and recombinant DNA technology (including gene deletion, gene doubling, introducing a foreign gene, and changing the positions of genes when achieved by recombinant DNA technology). Such methods do not include the use of traditional breeding, conjugation, fermentation, hybridization, in vitro fertilization, or tissue culture.
So, what I learned is this: Organic doesn’t automatically equal Nonsanto. But not because of the non-organic ingredients in certified organic products. Check with the company to make sure they’re not a subsidiary of Monsanto, and if it’s USDA organic, you should be safe. I think. Man, my brain hurts.
Sources for this post:
Question: What does the “average” American really know about GMOs?
Answer: Not a whole lot.
Over the past few days I conducted a highly unscientific survey of approximately fifteen of my friends and family members. I asked them three questions about genetically modified organisms.
1) Just what are GMOS anyway?
2) Do you care if you are consuming genetically modified food?
3) Do you think that genetically modified food should be labeled as such?
The responses were fascinating. I confess I sent the questions to friends who do not work in the community food movement and just a few whom I thought would be able to respond to question # 1 correctly and succinctly. It may be useful to note that all of the people who responded are college educated, thoughtful and progressive men and women who care about what they eat. However, the majority of the respondents did not recognize the acronym “GMO” and there seemed to be a lot of confusion about the purpose, safety or quality of genetically modified food. One person wrote that “maybe the food is made in a lab”. Scary!
While most of those surveyed leaned toward not wanting to consume or prepare genetically modified food, a few pointed out the benefits of GMO enhanced product. “Breeding for genetic vigor in plants has really reduced the amount of pesticides that we have actually had to use on our food in this country”. Interesting.
What everyone agreed upon 100% is the need to label genetically modified food and beverages. Over and over, people said “it’s the consumer's right to know” and people need to “be free to make their own choices”. That said, several acknowledged that while they would prefer to avoid GMOs altogether (even if they didn’t quite understand what they are), cost and time are barriers to doing so. Shopping at stores like Whole Foods is expensive, and farmers markets may not be conveniently located. The reality is that going GMO-free in this country is at best, very, very challenging, and at worst, impossible.
The bright news is that more and more people are beginning to explore where their food comes from and how it is prepared (or made in a lab!). As we nourish ourselves and our families, we understand the importance of knowing what we are consuming and how it will impact our health and wellbeing. And we recognize that freedom to choose --- what we eat and what we feed our kids – is critically important. Like most people, I eat some genetically modified food and some GMO-free foods. I buy organic when possible, but a quick look in my pantry tells me I make plenty of other choices, too.
I look forward to a time when making the healthy choice is the easy choice.
Photo thanks to: http://foreverlookinggood.com
You might have noticed a theme around my posts this month - although I do enjoy thinking about GMOs for fun, I have a greater purpose in mind. We're gearing up to repeat April's Month Without Monsanto project in October. We're doing this because 1) it's been a while since she did it, and more of us are up for participating this time around, and 2) with Proposition 37 on the California ballot in November, the potential to have GMO labels on food in the United States is a real one (since as many pundits say, if it happens in California, it will happen in the rest of the country sooner or later).
Since there are a few of us signed up for this challenge, we're working out our own versions of the rules, and how they will work in our different life situations. I'm still sorting out my details, but this is what I've come up with so far.
- I'm not tossing all the food currently in my house and starting from scratch. Frankly, I can't afford to rebuild my freezer contents or my spice rack (nor do I know anyone who can!). I do intend to research what I currently have and see how Monsanto - or Nonsanto - I am without realizing it.
- Most of the meat my family consumes - beef, pork, chicken, and turkey - comes from a local, CNG farm that uses GMO-free feed and pastures their animals, The Farmer's Wife. A longtime friend, I’ve met Maggie’s animals – my kids have helped collect her eggs – and I know what you see is what you get with her. I'm reasonably confident that I can manage my husband's carnivorous ways without cheating.
- All of the seeds I bought this year to grow myself (though I didn't grow as much as I wanted to) are confirmed #Nonsanto seeds, either through April's research or by finding out on my own. So the contents of my pickle jar are safe.
- I’m working on checking with my CSA producer and the farmers I frequent at the weekly farmer’s markets to find out their seed sources. (Keeping my fingers crossed that this is ok because my CSA box goes through Thanksgiving!)
- I declare that it’s ok to have a cheat meal once in a while, both because I know I will cheat unless I get a break, and since my birthday is in October, I fully intend to have a dinner out with my family. Though I will ask my favorite restaurants about their food sources.
- Since I’m a glutton for punishment, I’ve also signed up for the October Unprocessed challenge. You know, because one challenge isn’t enough.
I fully expect this to be challenging, and I know I’ll need some support. My intent is to tweet about my food-related travails and successes (@foodmeonce) as often as I can, with weekly posts here too. Feel free to offer suggestions or moral support anytime!