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.
***Monsanto Corn Plant Losing Bug Resistance
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
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.