Thursday, November 15, 2012

Keep Voting

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Prop 37 didn’t pass last week, but I’m still convinced there is a growing food movement in the US. Just in the last few months, New York passed a soda ban, schools have started to ban Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, and the Yes on Prop 37 Movement started a national dialogue over genetically modified food.

Its disappointing, but not surprising, that the Prop was crushed by the herd of Goliaths in Big Food and Big Ag. Companies like Monsanto, DuPont, Kraft and Coca Cola poured in $46 million dollars to oppose the bill and dominated the airwaves. Of course they didn’t want it to pass. God forbid consumers know how their food is made, because it may hurt business. I mean, isn’t the fact that they don’t want us to know concerning? 

I’m done ranting. Cross my heart. I don’t want to dwell on the why, although that’s important. There are much better articles written on that (like this one) that you should read if you are interested.

I want to talk about how we can move forward. Elections are important, but we should never forget that we vote every day by how we live and what choices we make. Companies change when consumers do. Here are some of my suggestions for continuing to vote yes on the Food Movement:

1. Vote with your $ & your choices
Choose local over industrial, and organic over conventional when you can. Sign up for a co-op or a CSA, shop at farmer’s markets, start an urban garden. Search for ones near you at Seriously, get a CSA. It’s the best. And no, they’re not paying me to say that.

At the supermarket, you can avoid GMOs and processed foods by following Michael Pollan’s rules (and my interpretation of them):
-       Shop the edges of the supermarket (where the whole foods live).
-       Don’t buy food that your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize (put down the go-gurt).
-       Don’t eat anything with more than 5 ingredients, or ingredients you can’t pronounce (I’m looking at you, xantham gum).
-       Don’t eat anything that won’t eventually rot (gross).

And remember, the “all natural” label has nothing to do with being natural. #clevermarketing

2. Ask what’s in your food
I may or may not be that person. You know the person. The one from Portlandia that asks a list of questions and goes to visit the farm before ordering the chicken. If you haven’t seen it, drop everything and watch it now. I'm not joking.

But honestly, the more we ask our farmers, our grocery stores, and our restaurants where their food comes from and what’s in it, the more accountability there is. Win-win.

3. Use your voice
I’m talking to myself here, because I'm disappointed I didn't do more for Prop 37 other than write a blog post and a couple tweets. Get civicly involved on this issue. The amazing thing about our country is that our senators and representatives actually have to listen to us. Call them, set up a meeting with them, attend a town hall meeting. I’ve done it for other issues, and its not that scary, I promise. If you’re nice and not hostile like most people they speak with, you’d be surprised at how easy it is. 

You can also support an organization, get involved in educating others about food, post some signs in your yard. is a great place to start.

Whatever you do, stay tuned. The Food Movement entered politics, not without struggle, and is growing up. I can’t wait to watch and be a part of what’s next.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

My Take on Prop 37

And just like that, its Election Day. I hope you all are exercising your right to vote today. For my Cali friends, I wanted to write down my thoughts on Prop 37, which requires genetically modified foods to be labeled.

I'm voting yes.

I hope you look into it, and I hope you consider voting yes too. Here's why:

I believe we have the right to know what is in our food, and the right to choose for ourselves. As of now, GM foods are allowed to be marketed and labeled as all natural. That seems much more confusing to the consumer, and it won't outlaw GMOs, just require them to be labeled.

One of the big arguments on the other side is that it has not been proven thaGMOs are bad for you. Personally, I don't buy it. It takes years to do long-term studies on the effect on health, but the US is not requiring that we conduct any, even though numerous studies warn of health effects

I've read that this will probably set the standard for the rest of the country, and that is incredibly exciting. Where Monsanto & Big Food have been able to stifle the conversation in DC, we can start redefining the standard now. 60 other countries who label GMOs, including all of Europe, Japan, Australia, India, and China. Let's catch up.

I don't trust Big Food and their big money. No on Prop 37 is being funded by all the Big Food companies. Monstanto and DuPont alone have thrown in over $12 million on marketing. These are the same companies that told us DDT and Agent Orange were safe. 

It shouldn't hike up prices. Because companies don't want to lose your business. It doesn't change the ingredients companies are using, unless we all stop buying those foods, and the labeling cost will is not significant. 

Aside from that, I'd encourage you to read this fascinating article on 37 from purely and economic angle. It argues that if the current information asymmetry continues between producer and consumer, it will drive down the quality of the product in the marketplace overall. 

There you have it. In either case, do your research and happy voting, friends. Let's all proudly wear our "I Voted" stickers today. Because its cool.