Doing Homework

I’m glad the title of this post didn’t scare you off, because I really DO mean it’s time for many of us to do some homework…

This month I read a very interesting book called “Seeds of Deception“, by Jeffrey Smith, founder of the Institute for Responsible Technology.  The book outlines how GMO’s came to be – that’s “genetically modified organisms”  . From their creation in the  mid 90’s to the multi-billion dollar industry it has become today, profits have been lining the pockets of many Monsanto and FDA executives.  As I read the book, I became concerned about the corrupt practices that allowed GMO’s into our food supply, through financial transactions (aka bribes), or even the witch hunts that occurred when concerned scientists tried to warn the public about how dangerous these foods are.  Let’s face it, most European countries have outright banned any GMO crops, unlike Canada and the U.S.A.  My main concern, however,  is that most people don’t have a clue about what GMO’s are and what crops/foods are grown using GMO seeds. Even worse, there is no mandatory labelling, to enable the consumer to make their own decision about whether they want to eat GMO foods or not, even though the majority of the population is calling for it!  The best we can do at this time is buy certified organic, which has rules to ensure that no GMO products will be used.

For those of you who have been following my posts, you know that on our farm,  we are proud of growing healthy crops, and right now, that means no GMO seeds on our fields.   We have read the information, and heard the stories from many people.  The “canaries in the coal mine” with GMO’s are the animals who are offered GMO crops.  Our neighbour had some dried cobs of grain corn in his shed, on top of an  old freezer.  Some hungry mice came upon them and feasted til there was only the shelled cob left…but ONLY on the non-GMO cobs.  The GMO cobs were left, uneaten.  Another good friend told us how raccoons and deer will not touch the GMO corn, but rather, will eat only non-GMO corn in his field.  He also noticed that groundhogs were not even tempted by fields of GMO soybeans. It has given him some cause for concern.   These are people we actually know telling us they saw this themselves.  If animals refuse to eat the stuff, what do they know that we don’t know?  That was the final straw that convinced our family that we will not be eating foods that contain GMO’s, either in their whole form (ie. corn, soybeans, canola), or indirectly in processed foods, such as cereals and baked goods.  I will not be spending more time here bashing Monsanto and GMO’s….  Instead I will tell you to go to Jeffery’s website,  where you can learn all the basics about GMO’s and why they are so unhealthy, how to avoid them, and what we can do to stem the tide.  He also has a Facebook page, “Institute for Responsible Technology”.

An offshoot of the GMO lesson is the whole sad story of “factory” farms, usually beef, pork, laying hens and meat birds.  There have been a few graphic films made about the deplorable living conditions these animals must suffer,  cramped into inhumanely small cages/pens, many times without ever seeing the light of day, and being constantly kept on a diet of antibiotics which are required to keep them alive in squalor.   Food Inc. was the first mainstream documentary to show just how terrible this was.  The GMO connection with these factory farms is that not only are the animals living in bad conditions, they are being fed an exclusive diet of GMO corn and soybeans.   I am currently reading “Righteous Porkchop“, by Nicolette Hahn Niman, a lawyer who worked side by side with Bobby Kennedy Jr. in a battle to protest the sordid factory farming of hogs in the States.  I was warned that it would be a difficult read, and that I would certainly be more discriminating about sourcing meat for myself and my family.  Anyone wanting to learn more can Google her or the book and read more.  Please don’t turn a blind eye to these practices just because “out of sight, out of mind”…Suffice it to say, I am happy that I have access to all the sustainably raised beef, chickens, pigs and fowl we need, all within our local community.

All is not doom and gloom, friends.  There are options, there is hope, there is a growing tide of farmers and producers who want to farm in a sustainable manner, with diversity of crops and livestock on their farms.  We recently purchased a video called “Fresh“, which tells the story of American farmer Joel Salatin.  He has found a way to raise food for his family in a uniquely old-fashioned way, a way that treats the animals with respect and allows them to live with dignity and good health.  (I do realize that some vegans may argue that there is NO way to raise animals for food in an ethical manner, but I will not be addressing that topic at this time.)   Look up Joel Salatin, and be prepared to be encouraged…

So what can we do with all this information, with so much to learn?  Where should we be getting our food?   Well, my first suggestion is grow your own!  If you have never had a vegetable garden, be prepared to be amazed at the flavour and satisfaction of growing your own food.  If space allows, build a chicken coop and get your own laying hens!  Two other readily available options for most of us are farmers’ markets and CSA’s (community shared agriculture).  I sell our mushrooms and seasonal garden vegetables at two local markets, Inglewood and in Elora.  I know of 3 people/families who run a CSA farm.  Aside from fresh vegetables and sometimes, fruit, many include eggs, meat and honey.  Check out my friends on Facebook at Landman Gardens CSA, or Howlett Farm.

Consumers need to do some homework.  Find out where these markets and CSA’s can be found in your communities.  Use your library, use your computer, talk to people….Many changes have occurred in the food industry while consumers were complacent, and trusted the big companies to be doing the right thing.   Now is the time to take responsibility, to educate yourself and find out exactly what you have been eating, and what you can do to change your eating habits (if you need to !)   Do your homework and you will never think about your food in the same way, I guarantee it!

(…I’ll get off my soapbox now)


6 responses to this post.

  1. Thanks for sharing. I haven’t seen the film you mentioned but I was move by food inc, and have since joined a CSA program and started my own garden. To see what lovely fresh, local produce I receive each week check out my weekly post…


  2. Great soap box. I think with people like you sharing, it becomes easier for consumers who really have no idea that there are issues with the things they are eating sometimes. I am going to spend part of this weekend in my garden!


  3. Thank you both for you comments! Welcome to my blog, as I believe you are both new to it 🙂 Julie


  4. Posted by Jaime Howlett on March 30, 2012 at 8:38 pm

    Great post! thanks for the mention:-)


  5. Posted by Genevieve on March 30, 2012 at 10:15 pm

    Im so glad you are helping to educate others Julie! Great information. I bought a whole chicken from a local farmer recently and it tastes absolutely out of this world.


  6. Good article! It’s really great to see more and more people are beginning to get the picture of GMOs. But there is a feeling of helplessness when the maker of GMOs is such an enormous monopoly named Monsanto! Yet consumers were able to get some sort of labeling on dairy products for people who want milk or cheese products that do not come from hormone-ingesting cows so all is not hopeless! Consumers must unite!


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