Last week, my husband, Ralph, and I went to a local theatre to watch a screening of Jeffrey Smith’s thought-provoking film, Genetic Roulette. (If you haven’t seen it yet, I strongly urge to you find an hour and a half to do so. It will be the start of changing how you think about GMO’s. If you don’t know anything about them, it’s probably the best place to start, as Jeffrey has been researching them since they first came out in the mid-90’s.)
Anyhow, after the film, there was a 5 member-panel to field questions, and we took part. I was pleased to see a few of my farmers’ market customers in the audience…although not as many as I would have hoped. A few days later, at the market, one of my customers, who had been at the film showing, came up to me and said, “I didn’t know you were such a food revolutionary, Julie”. To which I replied, “The time has come, when you are either part of the problem, or part of the solution”.
My words summed up how Ralph and I feel about the environment we find ourselves in today. With turmoil in politics, social issues, agriculture, health, etc., the time has come to take a stand. Following through with our own advice at home and walking our talk is very important to us. However, at this time, it is not enough. Action is required to help out the many who don’t know where to start. That’s why I am constantly posting articles I feel are important on my Facebook page. It’s why Ralph started writing a blog, after all these years. It’s why I take whatever opportunity I can to engage in conversation and discussion about the importance of being proactive about our health, and that includes steering clear of GMO’s.
It is only when I speak to someone who knows little, or even nothing at all, about the pitfalls of genetically engineered food, that I realize how far I’ve come in educating myself. There appears to be a huge segment of the population that really doesn’t know much about GMO’s. I came upon a very interesting article and graphs that depict this very clearly. It is easy to explain why there is such a void in understanding, what with the constant demands of our daily lives. But (and here’s when I start to get worked up), this is our health we’re talking about. And not only is it our health that’s at stake – what about our children?
Another great read this morning was about a mother’s goal to feast through the holidays, without relying on processed food. She came to this decision when she realized, as a new mother, that her child’s health was being directly affected by the diet/food she was providing. She offers a great perspective on how she will rise to her challenge here.
One of the arguments I hear about eating a non-GMO diet, is that “it costs too much to eat organic food”. I have three things to say about this. First off, even if it WAS more expensive, item per item, wouldn’t you rather re-budget your spending habits from your souped up Blackberry and take out coffees and lunches to be able to eat healthier food? Secondly, how much of the average person’s diet is made of processed food? I would argue that cooking from scratch and eating foods in their whole state will ultimately save us money at the checkout counter. And last of all, if you compare some of the items that can be interchanged for organic, there are many that are priced virtually the same. (okay, you have to count out the No Name or bulk buy brands). However, I can buy a bag of organic blue corn chips, that actually taste like corn for cheaper than the Tostito brand chips that taste like cardboard. I also buy organic crackers (because I want to avoid GM canola and corn oils), and they are about the same price as conventional crackers. Where I do spend significantly more is on my dairy products.
I buy organic milk, make my own yogurt out of it, and buy organic butter. In Canada, we are fortunate to not have to worry about the rBGH growth hormone in our milk, although I recently was told that it does cross the border by virtue of a black market. Organic milk, at this time, IS more expensive, almost double the price of “regular” milk. First off, most stores sell milk as a “loss leader”, meaning they sell it as a loss, in order to get people in to shop for other higher-priced items. Secondly, organic milk makes up a smaller volume of sales, and the costs of transportation, preserving organic identity and marketing, are all higher. It’s a price I am willing to pay. I am just not ready to commit to milk a dairy cow or goat twice a day at this point. (Hats off to all the dairy farmers who do!)
The whole point of this blog was that we all have to make a choice …now. Changes don’t all have to come at once. Start off by cooking a few more of your meals from scratch (maybe start with the weekend meals). Try growing your own food (my most urgent recommendation), or buy from someone local that you know and trust. Start learning about GMO’s and start eliminating them from your diet. You don’t have to do it all in one week. You will probably hear a bit of moaning and groaning from your family, when you eliminate some of their snacks and treats, but it will be an opportunity to try out some new and healthy recipes. There are so many great menu ideas online, and in popular magazines. One of my favourite food writers is nutritionist Julie Daniluk. She puts the fun back into healthy eating. Swap recipes with your friends. Start discussing your new lifestyle changes with them, and maybe you can inspire them to join you on your quest for healthier choices. It all comes down to choices…
So which are you? Are you part of the problem? Or part of the solution?