Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Our Children's Future; Taking Back Our Food!

On July 19, 2014, The CT NOFA Conference, A Summer Gatheing, took place at the beautiful Winvian Resort in Morris Connecticut.

It was humbling to be a keynote speaker with three incredible people, including Taylor Cocalis Suarez, Joan Dye Gussow, and Richard McCarthy.  

 Taylor, founder of the website, spoke about how her life, education, and career plans led her to create a website which now has 55,000 followers and helps thousands of people find jobs in the food industry, particularly the wholesome/healthy/real food industry. Her website, to date, has posted 15,000 jobs.

Joan Dye Gussow, an 86 year old professor, author, food policy expert, environmentalist and gardener, has been called the "matriarch of the eat-locally-think-globally food movement." One thing that she mentioned that really impacted the audience was how truly terrible water bottles are for our world.  She described plastic boulders accumulating on the ocean's floor, destroying our world as we know it.

Richard McCarthy, executive director of Slow Food USA, 
described the core values of the Slow Food global organization – that everyone has the right to good, clean and fair food. He described how American conversation about food is changing and must include topics like childhood obesity, dwindling farm communities and inadequate food safety.  

The final talk (mine) is detailed here:

Activism, Glyphosate, and GMOs 

Native American Women/MOTHERS chose their leaders, monitored their leaders’ performance, and removed leaders that weren't working for their people.  This is a quote from the National Museum of the American Indian, in Washington, D.C.: "Democracy or representative government was a hallmark of some Native societies. The 50 chiefs of the Haudenosaunee Grand Council continue to be chosen by clan MOTHERS who also retain the power to remove leaders based on their performance."   (Thanks to Zen Honeycutt, from Moms Across America for sharing this.)  

The point is: PARENTS need to take our government back.  The American Government is supposed to be for and by the PEOPLE - NOT Corporations. Using our fierce protective instinct and love for our children, we need to take back our government and our food. Seeds should not be owned and sold by chemical companies, period. If we use our voices with intelligence, integrity, and intuition, we can heal the world, one step at a time. 

Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Round Up, is used on 160 foods as a dessicant - to ripen or dry out - things like tea, wheat, sugar, beans and potatoes. To avoid GMOs, sugar, listed on the label, must be "100% cane sugar.” To avoid glyphosate, 100% cane sugar must be “organic.” Avoid tea that is not organic. Bread, and other wheat containing products should be organic. Unfortunately, organic food is an expensive suggestion, and this is not fair. But as more people demand chemical free food, manufacturers will start to provide it, and purchasing organic may not be as necessary. (Organic food is what our grandparents called “Food.”)  Progress will be going back to growing food without dangerous chemicals.

In May, 2014, the EPA - employees paid with our tax dollars- doubled the amount of glyphosate allowed on/in our food. They were petitioned by big ag and big biotech to increase allowable levels, and they did. Now soybean oil can contain 40 parts per million of glyphosate. Recently, a scientist named Monika Krueger, from Lustig University, did a 
study which showed that 1/10 of 1 part per million of glyphosate can destroy beneficial gut bacteria  (Glyphosate is a patented antibiotic, too.) This means that something like soybean oil is now allowed to contain 4000 times the known limit at which glyphosate may impact health. 

Promoting biotechnology has been more important than the health of US Citizens since George H. W. Bush.  President Obama has appointed many people connected with the biotech industry into high level government positions. These include Michael Taylor, second in command at the FDA, in charge of Food Safety, who previously served as Monsanto’s Vice President and before that Monsanto’s attorney.  Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Agriculture (leader of the USDA,) also has ties to biotechnology.

Are GMOs going to save the world and its growing population? No. Better and more equitable distribution will. We throw away approximately 1/3 of the food produced in the United States. There is not a food shortage; there is a distribution problem. This is not something that can be fixed by genetically modifying every food seed.   We don’t need food made in a laboratory, and made to withstand chemical contamination to feed the world.  We need to figure out a way to stop letting real food go to waste.
 Readily available and inexpensive processed food is contributing substantially to the obesity epidemic. EVERY FAMILY SHOULD HAVE ACCESS TO CLEAN, HEALTHY, SAFE FOOD. Not just those who can afford organic. This economic discrepancy is a human rights issue; it is wrong.

Our tax dollars subsidize and support the huge factory farms, which treat their crops with chemicals and grow genetically engineered food. 

Organic farmers, on the other hand, can’t use GMOs and chemicals –yet they must PAY fees to label them as organic and PAY fees to prove that they are safe. This just seems so backwards.

Why don't we in the United States have the same rights as citizens in 64 other countries in the world do - where GMOs are either banned or labeled? Is it because illness is a commodity? We spend significantly more on healthcare in the US as they do in other countries. This is depressing for those of us who love our country. It is also depressing for anyone who gets sick. Do they wonder what caused the illness, and/or wonder if all the drugs they are prescribed will just make them sicker, while making the medical industry richer?

On a happy note, in 2013, CT passed the first GMO labeling law in the nation.  Then Maine passed a GMO labeling law. Vermont passed one with no trigger clauses. More are on the way, thanks to Citizens for GMO Labeling and a lot of hard working GMO labeling advocates. Our spending counts. Boycott GMOs and chemically contaminated foods. When our collective voices are heard, we will make a difference. We must own our planet, own our food, own our government, and protect future generations.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Everyone deserves transparency, and everyone deserves clean ice cream!

   Having spent most of my life going on vacation to the same beach, I have many memories of walking to the Dairy the afternoon when we had had enough sun and sea, or at night, after dinner. 
   It breaks my heart that I don't let my children go to DQ, like I did.  The ingredients,  which include high fructose corn syrup and milk from cows injected with growth hormone, make me uncomfortable and I work very hard to keep them out of my loved one's bodies.  However, having counseled children with eating disorders, I realize how important it is to not deprive children (or anyone) of certain foods, because it only makes them crave them more. 
   So grateful to have a fabulous alternative - Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream!  No sugar containing product is good for us, but in the real world, I would prefer to allow some sweets, made with "real food"  than have my children crave something that they can't have, and then overdo it.
   Jerry, of Ben and Jerry's came to CT last year and lobbied to help us pass the first GMO labeling law in the country. He is a hero and continues to work to get Americans the transparency they deserve.

Today, Ben & Jerry's co-founder, Jerry Greenfield, will deliver over 500,000 of your signatures to Capitol Hill urging Congress not to block GMO labeling laws!

Hi Beth—
It was hot out yesterday – or, as I like to call it, perfect ice cream weather. I came down from Vermont to deliver your signatures to Congress yesterday, and it was well worth the trip.
Firstly, I just want to thank you for organizing for a cause you believe in. It’s something Ben and I have a huge amount of respect for and have always aspired to, which is why we’re in the process of transitioning all of our euphoric Ben & Jerry’s to source only non-GMO ingredients.
Over half a million of you added your signatures telling Congress not to pass the DARK act, which gave us more than enough reason to celebrate. It was a really great vibe, complete with a giant pint to of Food Fight Fudge Brownie (what’s a political press conference without an oversized pint of ice cream?), some of our most inspiring Congressional reps—and, of course, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.
You know what though, Beth? You were the star of yesterday’s event. Because without you, none of this would have happened in the first place.
Over 500,000 signatures is something Congress simply can’t ignore. I’m asking you to do just one more thing, and it only takes a click.
Here’s the link to get the word out about yesterday’s event:
You’re doing great work. Keep it up!
Jerry Greenfield
Ben & Jerry's