Breaking up (with Lärabar) is hard to do …

  

I never saw it coming.

I thought our relationship was better than fine. We’d been through so much together. She’d stuck with me through major life changes. She was reliable, trustworthy; the kind that would scramble to help even if I called at the last minute.

She didn’t tell me herself. No, I found out on-line, through a mutual acquaintance. I guess that’s how break-ups happen in the 21st century. Pain and humiliation, on public display. Ouch.

I thought I knew her. I’d been committed to her for what, now, three years? I thought we had the same goals, the same values, were headed the same direction. But there was the cold, hard truth in black and white. The bubble popped when I read “Of the $23.5 million donated so far to fight Prop. 37, here is the breakdown, by brand/corporation... General Mills (Cascadian Farm, Muir Glen, Lärabar): $520,000”.

My hands felt numb. My head felt fuzzy. Wait a minute. I knew Kashi was owned by Kellogg’s. I knew Coca-cola owns Odwalla. But General Mills owns Larabar? I thought Small Planet Foods, Inc. owned Larabar! And General Mills is fighting against my right to know if I’m eating genetically modified food? I read the sentence over and over searching for - and then hoping for - a misunderstanding. Not Lara. Please, anybody but Lara!

When my son’s neurological and digestive problems were linked to gluten and dairy, I had to scramble to readjust our diet. So many “normal” foods were now off limits. What triggered reactions? What didn’t? Which brands had hidden ingredients? Which didn’t? We met Lara during our food upheaval, with that distinct rectangular shape and packaging that screams to Americans “convenience” and “comfort”.

Her ingredient list was short, pronounceable and, thank God, free of anything that triggered reactions. She was so different from many of the other foods that I’d added to our diet - foods that require soaking, sprouting, fermenting and twice-weekly trips to the farmer’s market. Lara needed no prep time, and as the mom feeding this active, on-the-go family, sometimes I needed that!

Lara went with us on hikes, road trips, scout camp, bike rides and the beach. Honestly, could you expect me to keep sand out of our raw milk homemade organic blueberry yogurt? Please. Just give me a blueberry muffin Larabar.

I sat for a full 10 minutes, digesting this new information about Lara’s significant other. As the shock wore off, I began to soothe myself. It’s OK if I continue my relationship with Lara, I reasoned. Really, she was the only processed food we still ate. We already buy our meat - (grass-fed and local), our milk (raw and local), our honey (organic and local), our fruits and vegetables (farmers-market fresh), olive oil (from the ranch the next town over) and nuts - well, nuts, we go to the orchard and pick them up ourselves!

We do so much for the food cause! I’ve made so many changes already! I deserve this one luxury. Surely it won’t matter if I stay with her? It’s not going to hurt anyone, my little clandestine relationship. I don’t even spend that much money on her! Well, not that much. I mean, like only four bars a week. That’s only $8, which is only $32 a month, which is only $384 a year. Which is to say, if nine other people make the same choice to stay with Lara, or any of the other two-timing brands of “natural” foods fighting Proposition 37, then that is only $3,800 a year. Which is not that much.

But if 99 other people and I continue cheating, the total becomes $384,000, a revenue large enough to get a company’s attention should it disappear. That, my friends, is how voting with your dollar exactly works, and that is why my relationship with Lara was officially over. Every dollar I spend on Horizon, Silk, Kashi, Knudson’s and Ms. Lara is funding the defeat. It was time to say goodbye.

Well, I’m certainly not the first one that’s been through this. So how do people recover? I searched the all-knowing Internet to find advice on “How to Survive a Bad Breakup”.

1. Accept responsibility for your part, but don’t take all the blame.

I did not do my research. I made assumptions. Maybe I got lazy? And I was played a fool. I made a mistake, now I can change and move on, because I don’t like being used. There are bad words for someone who courts two people at the same time. You can’t take the money and buying power of non-gmo consumers, then turn around and stab them in the back by defeating a bill they want passed.

2. Do not go out and initiate another relationship straight away.

My husband immediately decided to switched to Clif bar, which is supporting Proposition 37, but I’m a little more cautious. Now I want to know things like who owns their company? What is their position on GMO’s? Time to lean on my support system, like The Cornucopia Institute (www.cornucopia.org) and their “Who Owns Organic?” website.

3. Don’t look for your ex around town, and don’t make excuses to contact your ex.

This one is so hard! She’s everywhere! I purposefully skipped the Larabar aisle today at my local natural foods store. With my husband, son and daughter all camping this weekend, I thought it might be a little too tempting to go back to her “just for this weekend”.

4. Do something positive and keep yourself busy.

I took this advice to heart.

The first positive thing I did was to go to the Proposition 37 website and make a Very Large Donation. And I do mean Large, as in the most I’ve ever donated to a political cause, more than I spend on groceries in an entire month (and I have a pre-teen son!) and enough to make me wince a little.

I don’t know about you, but we don’t have large sums of money just laying around right now, so it was enough to make me wonder if I was a little crazy.

Maybe I am, but it is crazy to think that his proposition will win because of its innate rightness and goodness, and still more crazy to “wait for national food labeling standards” (a line some companies are using to justify their anti - labeling stance). In fairy tale land good triumphs over evil regardless of lacking wealth or power. But in reality, it costs money to run a campaign, to buy air time, purchase magazine ads, maintain a website, absorb political fees. Monsanto has donated over 5 million dollars to defeat this measure. They and other food conglomerates are very serious about keeping food cloaked in secrecy. If you haven’t made a donation yet, then you are not serious about supporting your right to know if you are eating genetically modified food. If you haven’t made a donation, stop reading this and do it now! (www.carighttoknow.org)

The second positive thing I did was to track down yard signs. I put two in my yard and asked friends if they wanted some for their yards. I made note of who to call to get more.

I was feeling better already. Then I started on the “keep yourself busy” part.

I wrote my “dear john” letter (or, in my case, “dear lara”) to Small Planet Foods and to General Mills, telling them that since they are fighting my right to know what I am eating, I no longer trust their companies and they have lost my business. And I started talking, with friends, colleagues and even complete strangers while standing in line at - guess where? - Whole Foods Market. Speaking of Whole Foods, why have they not made a sizable donation to support this proposition, especially when they have placards on their checkout stands stating they support it? Hmm, add that to the list of letters to write!

There’s so many other ways to “do something positive and keep busy”. Write a letter to the editor. Host a fundraiser. Clapping our hands and wishing, boys and girls, kept Tinkerbell alive but it will not work for Proposition 37. Only getting involved and giving till it hurts will make sure it passes. This is true even if you do not live in California! Food processors need to know this proposition has support across the nation. They are watching to find out the direction their companies should go. We need to tell them we want to know what we are eating, and we want to eat non-gmo food.

And, their final piece of advice...

Remember that although the breakup is sad, it’s not the end of the world.

That’s right, it’s not the end of the world.

It’s only the beginning of the end of the world. A slow, stealthy, furtive decline to the point where our irrevocably altered ecosystem is unable to produce the foods we need, in the variety that we need them. Very subtle. Very slow.

Unless it happens like it did in India with cotton (**) Unless the rootworm keeps destroying monsanto corn in Iowa (***).

Unless we do something.

If you need any more impetus to take a loud stand supporting this proposition, then please read the research report that was recently published on rats fed Monsanto round-up ready corn as part of their diets. I read it, yes, all 10 pages, every word of its very small print. You can find it here: www.research.sustainablefoodtrust.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Final-Paper.pdf).

It is quite disturbing.

I am an oncology nurse, and enjoy reading research reports. You may not find reports as interesting as I do; if not, I’ve listed at the end a few sites that explain it quite well. Here are some results of this two year study, simplified and summarized for you.

Rats fed genetically modified corn started dying hundreds of days before a single rat in the control group died. Not just a few days. Hundreds of days. In fact, up to 50 percent of the males and 70 percent of the females of the test groups died prematurely, compared to only 20 - 30 percent in the control group.

Rats that ate genetically modified corn - even at the lowest level - were filled with tumors, starting as early as 4 months (prior research testing genetically modified safety only required 3 months of testing). The tumors were in the kidneys, mammary glands, pituitary glands and liver. The tumor incidence in one group was 80 percent, compared to 30 percent of the control group.

Rats fed genetically modified corn had an astonishingly high level of organ disease or failure. There was no difference between the rats that had the lower level of genetically modified corn or the higher level of genetically modified corn in their diets, and actually, the rats that had the most problems were female rats that only had roundup in their drinking water at levels below half what is allowed in agricultural standards.

Now, one has to ask, had these types of studies been required BEFORE Monsanto’s genetically modified corn was approved, would it have been allowed? I hope not. Nothing with this type of startling results should ever be approved into our food system. At the very least, I want to be able to choose whether or not to subject myself and my family to these crops. I’ll be able to make that choice - and you will, too - if California passes Proposition 37, if you donate your time, your money and your Facebook page, if you post signs in your yard and write letters to the editor and talk to your neighbors and grit your teeth and break up with the companies shoveling out money to defeat it. You’ll survive the breakup. And you’ll have been part of an incredible movement of people standing up for their right to know what they are eating; a movement that is, quite possibly, the last viable opportunity to turn around food production on a heroic scale in America.

Additional Resources - What else can you do:

I especially implore you to listen the 12-minute video at this site: http://gmoawareness.org/2012/09/21/toxicity-roundup-gmo-maize. (I say “listen to” instead of “watch” because the images of the rats are too disturbing to me.) http://www.cornucopia.org

Go to www.cornucopia.org/prop37-petition to sign Cornucopia’s petition telling anti-Prop. 37 corporations that you won’t give them your business, thanking pro-37 companies and asking noncommittal companies, such as Trader Joe’s, to provide financial support.

Sources:

**India and Cotton crop failures: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1082559/The-GM-genocide-Thousands-Indian-farmers-committing-suicide-using-genetically-modified-crops.html

***Monsanto Corn Plant Losing Bug Resistance

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424053111904009304576532742267732046.html

Explanation of the rat study: http://sustainablepulse.com/2012/09/19/criigen-study-links-gm-maize-roundup-premature-death-cancer/

Monsanto’s Response to the rat study: http://www.monsanto.com/products

http://www.generalmills.com/en/ContactUs.aspx

http://www.kraftfoodscompany.com/contacts/contact-us.aspx

Tina Hoover, RN, is an oncology nurse at Enloe Infusion Therapy who hopes for a cancer - rare society one day where her nursing skills are no longer needed. She believes changing the food we eat as a society is a huge step toward that dream; when it is obtained maybe then she will have time to pen the novels floating around in her head. Until then she can usually quell her wanna-be writer by staying busy with marriage, mothering, nursing and spending lots of time cooking in the kitchen.

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19 Responses »

  1. Now, I will have to call the manufacturers of Silk the soy drink and tell them I will no longer buy their product. Like the Larabar, my chocolate Silk has been an indulgence and a relationship I may have to give up.

  2. nice twist on relationships ... AND ... informative as well.

  3. Please send this to Larabar! I think they would be interested in this important feedback!

  4. The study was extremely flawed and inconclusive, please read the following:

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/stevensalzberg/2012/0...

    • yes, and please do read the many intelligent and informed comments on the thread made by individuals calling out and refuting the extremely biased perspective of the article's author.

      "The study was extremely flawed and inconclusive, please read the following:"

      this is the opinion of the author only.

  5. Whole Foods is a Joke! They just pressured YouTube into removing a video that showed WF employees stating that the stores did not carry GMO foods at all, which is far from the truth.

  6. Hi JT,

    Thank you for taking time to comment and I apologize for taking so long to reply. I wanted to make sure I read your link, and then I read the 4 pages of comments that followed, and then I felt like I should read some of the references in the comments. So it took a while to find time to do all that.

    The comments after Mr. Salzberg's article sufficiently rebut his claims - not really on the first page, but the third page quality stuff is brought up. For me, any objectivity on his part (or Forbes) was nullified by the not one, not two, but 4 anti-37 ads on his site.

    So, the Forbes article was not a great one to cast doubt on the rat study, there are other ones that do a better job (you'll notice that I did put in my extras section the response from Monsanto). Call it flawed if you want to (the main issue seems to be the sample size), but I don't think you can call it inconclusive. It showed a difference in morbidity and mortality between rats that ate gmo corn, and rats that did not. It showed that 3 month studies and two year studies yield very different results. Just those two issues raise enough questions that I think the scientific community would be saying "Whoa! What is going on here? This is serious - we need to look into this further," (which, of course, they won't do, because they have already reached their conclusions from the propaganda Monsanto has put out for years.) So, I still hold to my original claim, that because gmo's are not proven safe, they need to be labeled so that I can make a decision for myself and my children whether to expose myself to gmo food or not. You'd think that in light of this study Monsanto would at least give up their "gmo's are perfectly safe" line - well, actually, maybe I wouldn't expect that from Monsanto, seeing that as recent as 2004 they still have company spokespeople saying Monsanto should not be liable at all for injuries or deaths caused by Agent Orange, and that "reliable scientific evidence indicates that Agent Orange is not the cause of serious long-term health effects." So you can understand why I am hesitant to believe their "reliable scientific evidence that genetically modified foods are not the cause of serious long - term health effects." Same procedure, same lie, different product.

  7. Try KIND Healthy Snacks instead. You won't be disappointed! http://www.kindsnacks.com

  8. Tina, I stumbled across your article looking for evidence of Larabar being pulled from the shelves at Whole Foods. I noticed, today after checking on my own product (Bearded Brothers Energy Bars) at the Flagship Store in Austin, that two entire shelfs of Larabar product had been pulled. Not sure yet if it's a corporate decision or not, but my main purpose in commenting is to let you know about the product I have created.

    18 months ago my business partner and I launched Bearded Brothers, a Wholesome Snakfood Company. We are currently producing 4 flavors of organic, raw, gluten free, vegan friendly energy bars. Almost all of our ingredients are organic too! Just thought I would share. It may be a good replacement for your Larabar fix.

    Much Health

    Caleb (of The Bearded Brothers)

    • CALEB! I'm eating one of your Bearded Brothers bars right now. (Purchased from Crooked Tree in Dallas) When I saw the list of real ingredients, I wondered how it would compare to Larabars, my go-to simple ingredients bar. A Google search "Bearded Brothers vs Larabar" brought me to this blog, and the decision has been made.

      I lived in Austin for a bit and am glad to support the community down there. Your mango coconut bar is delicious. Thank you, Tina, for taking the time to write this. I hate that we can't trust what we buy, but I'm glad to join in fighting for transparency!

  9. Thank you for your perspective on prop 37, it was well reasoned and thought provoking.

    I have been frustrated with advertising for the propositions in general, wondered about the credibility of anti-37 ads. I was happy to see some analysis done by a class at McGeorge school of law, which I recommend - see the California Initiative Review (CIR) is a non-partisan, objective publication of independent analyses of California statewide ballot initiatives.here.

  10. We stopped buying them (about as regularly as you were) when we first heard the news, too. Alas, my wife is now pregnant and craving them. We've been getting them for the past several weeks, much to my chagrin. I'm on the lookout for a recipe for a homemade version now. Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip is her favorite.

  11. It disturbs me to see people like you, who are apparently so concerned about where their food comes from, and yet have no problem with killing animals to satisfy their most trivial wants. Why don't you put the same effort you put into finding out where your energy bar comes from into researching the problems with the "local-grass-fed-free-range-organinc" illusion. It only takes a few questions to start: what happens with the male offspring of the cow slaves in dairy farms? Are they sold to the veal industry? Are they killed as soon as they are born? What happens with male chicks, since they are useless for the egg industry? What happens to the slaves once they go into menopause and their reproductive cycles cannot be exploited anymore?

    It's sad to see how so many people are proud to say they eat "happy meat". It's like a fairy tale they choose to believe in, because knowing the truth would require them to change. There's no such thing as humane slaughter. When you cut the throat of an inocent animal who clearly wants to live, that is murder, plain and simple. I wonder if they also believe in humane child abuse, humane slavery, humane rape, humane genocide.

  12. I can understand why everyone is upset that General Mills now owns Lara bar. I was shocked myself. But I wanted to write and assure you all that "breaking up" would be making the decision based solely on the politics and not on the nutrition.

    I live in Colorado and my fiance just interviewed at the company that manufactures Lara bar. Yes- General Mills/Small Planet Foods doesn't directly make the Lara bars. They are outsourced to Fresca Foods- a leading natural foods manufacturer. They also manufactured Justin's Nut Butter (until they became too big a company for them) and they do many other small natural brands as well.

    So just because it is now owned by General Mills (they were purchased in June 2008), does NOT mean that is being processed next to the Cheerios machine. It's manufactured at a completely different place, where only natural foods are processed, and to strict standards. I'm pretty sure Lara bars have always been manufactured at Fresca Foods (but don't quote me on that one)- they just don't put their name on the packaging.

    Not sure if this changes your views about your "ex", but I'm not basing my nutrition on politics alone. It's hard to find any processed food that's great for hiking/on-the-go but only has 5 pronounceable ingredients! I'm still loyal to Lara!

  13. Hello! I own an online continuing education company for nurses based in Redding. We'd love to have you on our site as a guest writer. Loved the article! Please contact us: http://www.clickplayceu.com (email: dea@clickplayceu.com). Thanks!

    Dea Kropp

  14. Thank you! I came here because I was looking for sustainable brands I trust (for homework assignment) and Googled LARABAR. This changes everything! I was fooled.

  15. But why? If you like something, why should it matter so much what company owns it? Big businesses will always crush small businesses, it's how our economy works. I love Larabars and I will continue to eat them.

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