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November 21, 2012 / Tracy Fernandez Rysavy

Green Your Holidays: On Prop. 37 and Greening Your Thanksgiving

I just returned from the Los Angeles Green Festival, inspired and energized by an entire weekend of being surrounded by wonderful Green Americans who choose to spend their free time working for a better world.

One of my favorite moments was from the Festival was when I attended a panel session moderated by Green America executive director Alisa Gravitz on California’s Proposition 37, or the “right to know” bill that would have required food and beverage companies to label food products containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs). As you may know, Prop. 37 was defeated during the last election.

However, instead of the handful of downtrodden die-hards Monsanto and its ilk might have expected in the face of that defeat, I saw a standing-room-only group of energized activists ready to continue the fight for truly wholesome, healthy food that doesn’t do more harm than good to our bodies.

Panelist John Roulac, CEO of Nutiva, called the 47-53 vote an “historic victory,” despite the measure’s defeat, noting that the vote was close enough to trigger a recount, even though Monsanto and its corporate cohorts spent over $50 million on a campaign to prevent consumer’s right to know what foods contain GMOs.

This wasn’t a failed bill, the panelists noted. It was the spark that’s igniting a widespread grassroots movement supporting our Right to Know. We came close to defeating Monsanto this time, despite being outrageously outspent, and we’re only going to go up from here.

Panelist Pamm Larry, the self-titled “p—ed off grandma” whom many credit as being the driving force behind California’s anti-GMO campaign, reminded the audience that if we can spread the word and turn just half of America against GMOs, corporations are highly likely fold under that consumer pressure.

(Want to know what got Pamm so upset about hidden GMOs in her family’s food in the first place? Here’s a rare free link to the digital version of our “Frankenfood” issue of the Green American. Oh, and you can ask Kaiser Permanente, which is obviously starting to see the health problems likely associated with GMOs as impacting its bottom line. The insurance giant released a statement in its Fall 2012 newsletter advising against eating GMO foods. “Despite what the biotech industry might say, there is little research on the long-term effects of GMOs on human health,” the company noted.)

And so the fight goes on. When asked what’s next, all of the panelists threw their enthusiastic support behind Green America’s new campaign, GMO Inside, which will fight against the corporate disinformation campaign against GMO labeling. In addition to Green America, the GMO Inside steering committee includes Food Democracy Now!, the Institute for Responsible Technology, FoodBabe, Nature’s Path, and Nutiva.

We’ll be spreading the message far and wide as to why everyone should embrace precaution and avoid GMOs. We’ll also be bolstering upcoming efforts in Washington, Oregon, and Vermont to introduce GMO labeling laws. And when California is ready to reintroduce its GMO right to know bill, we’ll be there.

So what does that have to do with greening your holiday? A lot, as it turns out! One of GMO Inside’s first efforts has been to urge people to avoid GMO-laden foods when preparing your holiday meals. Popular Thanksgiving dinner items that contain genetically engineered ingredients include Wesson Canola Oil, Bruce’s Yams, Pepperidge Farm Crackers, Kraft Classic Ranch Dressing, Ocean Spray Cranberry Sauce, and Kraft’s Stove Top Stuffing.

Fortunately, avoiding these GMO foods is as easy as buying organic or looking for the Non-GMO Project label, a third-party label that appears on products from companies that have pledged to avoid GMOs. You can also visit the GMO Inside website to find GMO-free Thanksgiving alternatives.

Here are some other ways to spread the word during your holiday dinner:

  • If you’ve decided to make your Thanksgiving meal lighter on the Earth and kinder to animals by choosing America’s most popular vegetarian “turkey,” Tofurkey, rest easy. While most of the soy ingredients in the US are genetically engineered, Tofurkey is made from organic and GMO-free soy.
  • Donate a couple of Tofurkeys and other GMO-free foods to your local food bank or homeless shelter.
  • Make placecards or menus for your guests (on recycled or tree-free paper, of course), and use them to let them know that the meal you prepared is GMO-free.
  • Did you already buy Thanksgiving items containing GMOs? Check to see if the product has a money-back guarantee. If it does, send it back to the company and let them know you won’t buy their products until they stop using genetically engineered ingredients. Then, head back to the store, if you choose, for organic replacements. Don’t forget to plan ahead for GMO-free December holidays.
  • Post a photo of your GMO-free meal on Pinterest or Facebook. You can also post it to the facebook.com/GMOInside page.

Green America is ready to continue the fight against GMOs. Are you? What are you doing to get GMOs out of your holiday feasts?

GREEN GIVEAWAY: Comment below in answer to the questions above to win an Artisan Tea Blending Kit from one of my personal favorite tea companies, Numi Tea.

Numi offers organic, Fair Trade, and GMO-free artisan teas, including its popular flowering teas and puerh teas. The Artisan Tea Blending Kit allows tea aficionados to create their own tea blends, and it includes a total of ten teas, herbs, fruits, flowers and spices, plus tea sacs and a glass teapot. It makes a lovely gift, or use it to indulge in your own “creativi-tea.”

Congratulations to last week’s winner of the solar hopping frog toy, Jeannine S.! Come back next Thursday for another wonderful (and useful!) green giveaway!

5 Comments

Leave a Comment
  1. Rick / Nov 21 2012 8:07 pm

    No way on the “TOFU” Turkey.

  2. Heather / Nov 22 2012 11:28 pm

    The way I avoid GMOs is just by not using prepared, packaged foods. I’m not 100% yet, but when I do buy anything prepared, I try to buy organic, and to check for things like “GMO free,” “BPA free”, etc., so I know what I’m getting. It took a little more time at first, but once I formed new habits, it’s effortless. And unfortunately, organic still usually costs more, but it’s worth it to me to know what we are eating.

    • TracyRysavy / Nov 29 2012 12:57 pm

      Congratulations to Heather for winning the artisan tea blending kit! Heather, please email editors (at) greenamerica (dot) org with your full name and address for shipping directly from Numi Tea.

  3. Dorien / Nov 28 2012 3:12 pm

    We had a tofurkey on our table this year. I’m really a pretty good cook but it’s almost impossible to mask that “fake hot dog” taste. I’m open to suggestions!

  4. TracyRysavy / Nov 29 2012 1:02 pm

    Heather, I completely agree with you about avoiding processed foods. It can be somewhat difficult if you hate to cook, like I do, but I’m forcing myself! And yes, organic ready-made foods will do in a pinch, but it’s so much cheaper to make your own stuff from scratch.

    Dorien, About.com has a ginger/garlic Tofurky recipe that you might try, here: http://vegetarian.about.com/od/specialoccasionrecipe1/r/garlictofurky.htm

    For me, garlic fixes just about anything. : )

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