On the November 2012 ballot was Proposition 37, which would have required foods containing genetically modified ingredients (GMOs) to be labelled. The proposition did not pass, falling by a vote of 53% No and 47% Yes. John Lawrence wrote about Prop 37 in the lead up to the election with some good thoughts and information you can check out here and here.
The battle over Prop 37 drew a lot of national attention, and dollars in support and opposition poured in from all over the country. According to Ballotpedia.org, the final financial tally was $8.7 million supporting and $45.6 million opposing. The largest contributors to the opposition were Monsanto ($8 million) and DuPont ($5.4 million) followed by PepsiCo, the Grocery Manufacturers Association, Dow, Bayer, and a host of other primarily corporate entities. Spearheading the funding for the supporting side was Organic Consumers Fund ($1.3 million), Mercola Health Resources ($1.1 million) and Kent Whealy ($1 million).
It’s difficult for any proposition to overcome long odds in the money race, but not impossible. Perhaps in the next election cycle Prop 37 will be on the ballot again in California or in another state. Consider my fingers crossed.
In the meantime people still have to eat, and as the growing market for organic foods continues to grow it’s clear that at least a portion of the population desires to know more about their food and/or make healthier choices for their bodies and their planet. If you fit this description and would like to avoid GMOs in your food, here are a few suggestions for your future shopping trips.
Per the USDA organic certification regulations, any product that carries the USDA organic seal can not contain GMOs. In addition to avoiding GMOs, you will be helping to support agriculture that does not use pesticides or herbicides and espouses other sustainable farming practices.
Read and Be Informed
Read and learn more about agriculture, the environment, etc. The New York Times Green blog is a great source of information, as is the Environment section from Mother Jones. This being the Internet age, I’m sure in the time it has taken me to write this there are numerous new bloggers, tweeters, etc. out there with great insights too. Bottom line – be informed and always keep learning.
Know Your Produce Stickers
If you didn’t already know, the little stickers on your produce at the grocery store serve more purposes than just refusing to work on the UPC scanners at checkout. The numbers indicate how the produce was farmed. (Also see guide at bottom.)
- 4 digits (most common) = conventionally farmed, likely subjected to herbicides and/or pesticides
- 5 digits, beginning with 9 = organic certified, no GMOs, pesticides, or herbicides
- 5 digits, beginning with 8 = conventionally farmed and GMO, almost certainly subjected to herbicides and/or pesticides
Grow Your Own
In addition to being fun and educational, growing your own food ensures you know what went into it while it was growing. Choose organic seeds (look for the organic seal) to be sure the seeds aren’t GMO or otherwise altered.
Join a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Program
I like to call local organic farming Organic+. Not only are the farming methods sustainable and better for the earth, purchases from local farmers help to support your local economy and often reduce transportation and packaging environmental impacts. Additionally, you have the chance to connect with others in your community, helping to strengthen the farming and food communities in your area.
A CSA is a box of produce from a farm that can be purchased on a regular basis, usually weekly. The predictable income stream helps farmers to better forecast and plan their crops, and your purchases help to keep fresh, seasonal, local produce on your table.
I hope this information is helpful to you. Remember that voting doesn’t just occur at ballot box or during election years. Every purchase you make is your vote on the type of agriculture you support and dollars in the coffers of the companies or farmers that produce it.
John was an accountant in a former life and now devotes his time to child-rearing, reading, writing, and working to ensure that San Diego is truly America’s Finest City. Interested specifically in environmental issues, John is always interested in learning more and connecting with others that want to improve the health of our world and community.