Tag Archives: Food

My 7 year old vs GMOs

They say that at 7 years old, we humanoids commence the age of reason.

This is most certainly true of my youngest child, who turned seven this summer.

As we are at the end of Non GMO month, I thought I would share with y’all a funny incident that happened at the grocery store.  Funny haha and funny weird.  Funny embarrassing…   In the week following her revelation that GMOs cause cancer in rats I happened to take my 7 year-old daughter shopping.   As we walked up and down the aisles, she didn’t ask me about buying non-organic candy.  Nope. I was impressed. She passed by those non organic, GMO-laden cereals, bars, and cookies with resolve, without tugging at my sleeve.  For the first time, I wasn’t begged at either vociferously or silently with puppy-dog eyes.  As we made our way to the check-out, I caught a few wistful glances for those conveniently-placed impulse treats that this mom ain’t buying.

DSC_0829“Mom?” she asked as we were putting our groceries on the conveyor belt, “Can we make garlic bread tonight?”  Wow.  This was a promising development. Not sweets!  But I hummed and hawed.  I saw that there was no organic baguette left….  But as she had been so well-behaved, I was feeling inclined to reward her.  (Plus she was asking politely.) My hesitation was that although she wasn’t asking for sugar, at the same time the bread wasn’t organic.   Now wheat isn’t necessarily GMO but it was found contaminated in Oregon.  But even if it were certified GMO free, not being organically produced, wheat is sprayed with toxins such as desiccants.  Again not being labelled, well…. who knows?

As I deliberated with myself she was looking at me, time-ticking, people tapping their toes behind us in line…. I thought about it. I do allow her to eat Pizza at school.  That being one of many exceptions to the rule.  Why not make her fresh garlic bread? Garlic from our garden, fresh organic butter?  “Sure. But you have to get it quick because these lovely folks are waiting.”  I smiled at the lovely folks.

Off she dashed off to the baguettes (it’s a small store) and came back breathless wielding her trophy.

“Happy?”

She nodded enthusiastically grinning ear to ear.

I gave a half-smile. But – I could see little wheels turning in her perplexed face.

“Mom?” she asked, “Does the baguette contain GMOs?”

I sighed, nodded and shrugged.  “Why do you think that I didn’t want you to have it?”

She seized the baguette and violently pushed it aside, indignation heaving her little frame.

“WHAT??!! ,” she yelled for all those lovely folks to hear, “D’YOU WANNA GIMME CANCER!!!?”

gmo omg tee cute kids

Talk about absorbing things.

These are situations I didn’t face with my older daughter when she turned ‘the age of reason.”  Why?  Because we were living in Italy, where GMOs are labelled.  In parts of Europe they even have mandatory labelling of toxic pesticides.  64 countries have mandatory labelling of GMOs.  Canada and the US are the only two developed nations without mandatory GMO labelling laws.  A non-profit organization exists  in N. America called the Non-GMO project, of which Nature’s Path was a Founding Member.  But it is voluntary.  Food can contain other agricultural toxins and residues which are harmful to kids and adults alike can still be Non-GMO verified because they don’t have GMOs.  The Certified Organic seal, on the other hand has both zero tolerance for GMOs plus it is grown sustainably.  So when your food is Certified Organic and Non-GMO project verified, you can be truly confident in feeding it to your kids.

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Certified Organic is the best we have apart from growing your own food.  To truly help your children grasp the everyday miracle of life, why don’t you try your hand at gardening?  If you weren’t fortunate enough to grow up with an organic gardener, there are plenty of people and organizations out there willing to lend you helping hand!  Partake in the symphony of the soil, earthworms wriggling in the healthy compost, drip lines and succulent home-grown berries. In my home, after much trial and error (after moving continents), we are just at the tail end of our Fall crop of golden raspberries.  We have plucked green tomatoes, ripening on the window sill in the kitchen, plus our year’s supply of garlic stored away.  To quote LA’s Gangsta Gardener, “Kids who grow Kale, eat Kale”.  You may wish to try a weekly box of produce from your local farm.  Many of them deliver right  to your door.  We started that when I was pregnant with my first child.

What parent doesn’t want to give their child the best chance for a healthy life?  The learning process may involve an embarrassing incident or two along the way. Such as at the grocery store now and again…  But this is the stuff which family legends are made of!  As Non–GMO month comes to a close, may we all choose systems that replenish the soil, support Biodiversity, and provide us with safe, healthy food.

Let us all make history together and make every month Non-GMO month!

(Note the tee-shirts are from Seedling kids.  Please see my post  https://thedeepersideblog.com/2013/10/03/style-diet-shot-seedling-kids/ for more info about this great little company)

Compassion Into Action


Let’s turn our compassion for others into action. Let’s feed the hungry. Let’s do it by giving away delicious organic food. Food that’s as pure as can be. May this inspire others to open their hearts and wallets.

This is the basis for Compassion into Action that my dad Arran started a few years ago after being inspired by the Dalai Llama. All the talk of compassion fuelled him to do something about it. Let love be your rocket fuel as Robyn O’Brien says. Here’s a pictorial recap of this year’s Compassion Into Action.

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Let’s set the stage with some music: Corey from the Peak 102.7 was the Compassion Into Action dj for the day.

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Candice and John from the Greater Vancouver Food Bank:

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Let’s kick off with some Coffee from Ethical Bean! Fair trade certified.

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Maria with the Milks. Soy, Cow, Almond.
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Organic toaster waffles, courtesy of Nature’s Path.

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Cooper from Happy Planet pouring out organic juice. And Happy Vibes.DSC_0138

Volunteer with the food bank who were collecting donations.

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Arjan, Rimjhim, Jyoti, dad, et moi.

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Brent – pretend-eating a monster spoon of Chocolate chips a la Cookie Monster.DSC_0148

It was hoppingly busy!

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An organic hot and Cold Breakfast was served: From organic and fairly traded Ethical Bean Coffee to Happy Planet Organic Juices to Nature’s Path Organic Cereals and Waffles. You could come back for lunch, including Que Pasa Organic tortilla chips and salsa, Silver Hills Gluten free Grilled cheese and Save On Meats Vegetarian Chilli. Once your tummy was full, you could do your grocery shopping with a 25 dollar donation. Ons reusable bag could be filled up with organic goodness.
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Dad live on the radio with Corey from the Peak!

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Bowl of delicious Vegetarian Chilli anyone? Served with a smile from Save-On-Meats.

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Darren and Rex.

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Joes No Frills donated organic produce as did Save on Foods.

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Nature’s Path donated Love Crunch cereals, Evirokidz cereals, Bars and granolas too. Que Pasa donated their scrumptious whole grain tortilla chips.

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Arjan with Corey from 102.7 the Peak,DSC_0159

Marketplace!DSC_0167

Eatmore donated organic Sprouts – with a 25 dollar donation you could fill up a reusable bag of organic groceries.DSC_0176

Tanya and John. Tanya held several bake sales in her office to raise funds for the food bank. She presented it to John of the Greater Vancouver Food Bank in an envelope. Brava! The Food Bank relies solely on donations to feed 28,000 people per week. No donation is too small.DSC_0191

Anthony from BCIT. Along with Breakfast News and the Weather Channel they were one of several Media covering the event.DSC_0196

Jyoti and Jason cooking up a storm:

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Thomas modelling an organic Pumpkin. Nice pumpkin.DSC_0206

Arjan, Rimjim, John making delicious Silver Hill bread Gluten Free Grilled Cheese.
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Silver Hills Organic Breads (also Gluten Free) was there with smiles!DSC_0232

These were amazeballs vegan and Gluten Free from Two Daughters Bakeshop http://twodaughtersbakeshop.com/DSC_0145

Organic Pears from Witzke’s Farms:

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Happy Shopper! Organic veggies galore.DSC_0175

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More Happy Shoppers – with such an array of fresh organic veggies, bread, chips, juice, and cereal who wouldn’t be happy? DSC_0177

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Positivity is infectious. Get in line, Get infected!

Letter From My Niece


“Dear Auntie Gurdeep,

In my school, we have these presentations that we stand in front of the classroom and read a non fiction article under 2 minutes. One of the kids brought a letter written by Monsanto because his dad works at a cereal company and was curious about gmo’s. I was sickened by this letter explaining how wonderful gmo’s are and how they help so many people in the world who can’t buy expensive food. Once the kid finished presenting, I stood from my chair and shouted out the truth about gmo’s. My teacher was amazed at my ability to debate any situation from different perspectives, ( but  I also got in trouble for being negative about a kids presentation  and standing up from my seat). I have always been interested in gmo’s and the thought occurred to me, why not find an article that explains the other side of the story. Then I thought of you and your blog, and your strong active hope to inform people about gmo’s. I was wondering if you had any written (kid friendly) articles written by you, or in mind I could use for my presentation.

Thank you so much!”

girl guides

My intelligent, talented and bright niece sent me this email last night.  (She is about the same age as the girl guide in this photo wanting GMO free Girl Guide Cookies.)

Perhaps because I lived in Europe for many years I have a more global perspective on GMOs than most.   Canada and the USA are the only two developed nations that don’t label or ban GMOS.  64 countries in the world ban or label GMOs.  GMOs are not proven safe.  Prior to their release, the only experiments done were by the companies making them.  3 month-long rat studies. A rat has a two year lifespan. GMOs have not been tested for human safety.  These companies have refused to release their raw data.  What are they trying to hide?  Every single independent, long-term study shows major cause for concern.

GMOs use millions upon millions of pounds of pesticides and herbicides to grow.  They cannot grow without these chemical inputs.  These chemicals are carcinogens, hormone disrupters.  Worst of all we can’t even avoid them in N. America since they are not labelled.  Along with the chemicals, which are inextricably linked to their existence, GMOs are poisoning us and the planet.

All this to say that GMOs are not wonderful and my niece Bianca was right.  However, she brings up a point that I too struggle with.

How strong a message to deliver?

Dag Falck, the Expert, Replies

As the saying goes, let other people advise but never let them decide for you.

Yesterday, while gathering signatures for the GE FREE BC Petition, I met a working scientist with 3 biology degrees including a PhD, who only bought organic local food and was carrying his precious sleeping baby in a baby bjorn.  Guess what?  He was reluctant to sign the petition.  He knows the data about fertilizers creating a dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico, the data about glyphosate toxins in fetal blood, the poisoning of water by atrazine, the death of bees by GMOs since the seeds are coated in neonictinoid pesticides.  He knows that and accepts that but was still unwilling to sign.  The GMOs we accept and grow right now in N. America – not the theory of them, not the hope of them, not the promise of them – are terribly catastrophically wrong for our planet, bees, health and society.    This scientist holding his baby said that he was holding out for the possibility that GE technology was in theory helpful (for Africans, Asians, for a remote possibility that they would solve future problems).  Again, we said that GMOS that are grown right now were not solving anything especially given that over the long-run organic yields are higher that GMOs!  He hummed and hawed.

But Victory!  After a 10 minute debate – we convinced him to sign.  It was the hardest-earned signature from yesterday!

I wanted to formally address Amy’s reply from yesterday.  Not only Amy brought this up but several others too – Amy is a political scientist.  She asked important questions that were also asked by thinkers and scholars, University Professors who are using their powerful logic and splendid gifts of deduction to understand GMOs (as they are currently grown in N.America for N. Americans).  I asked Dag Falk, Organic programs manager at Nature’s Path if he would respond to questions several of you asked me following the film screening about Organic.  He has spent his entire life advocating for organic methods. He answers Amy’s questions point by point.

Dag Falck, Organic Programs Manager, Nature's Path Foods

Dag Falck, Organic Programs Manager, Nature’s Path Foods

do you know for sure that certified organic does not include GMO? What about GMOs in grain that found its way into the food chain — feed that is given to cows/pigs/chickens?

What we know for sure is that Organic does not contain any GMO that was knowingly allowed to enter the product either through growing or handling.  Unfortunately we live in a polluted world where these pollutants in the last 17 years have started to include GMOs.  Imagine whale fat containing DDT which was banned in most developed countries decades ago?  So there is no safe place, there is no way to build a wall tall enough, As Arran Stephens said many years ago, “there is no wall tall enough to keep out GMO”.  We are all very sad that this is the case, and after we grieve for this most terrible and unforgivable fact, we need to shake our heads and take a hard look around and ask ourselves, what is the best protection I can give myself and my family from GMOs?  And the answer is that certified organic food, and food with credible standards and oversight like the Non GMO Project, are the best ways to do that.  Is it perfect? — no, but it’s the best there is, and let me tell you exactly how much better it is than conventional non organic food, or food where no effort has gone into protecting it.  Organic food production has strict rules about not using prohibited materials like pesticides, herbicides GMOs etc. ect.  Buffers are required towards any neighboring crop that uses any of these.  Harvesting equipment, silos, trucks etc used to handle crops must be either used exclusively for organic, or it must be cleaned and documented according to a very high standard.

Can contamination still happen?  Yes it can, and there is pesticides in millions of public wells in America, groundwater is polluted many places, rainwater contains industrial particles that fall out in rain.  It just simply cannot be avoided 100%, even if we really really want to.  But what organic does do is two things: A) it does not add any more to the pollution, because its forbidden to use any of the materials that pollute like pesticides, herbicides, GMO’s etc.  B) the contamination of organic products is miniscule compared to conventional crops.  Consider potatoes, sprayed routinely 12 times between planting and harvest, consider GMO corn or soy that is “stacked” and contain both BT toxin (a pesticide) in each cell of the plant including the corn and soy we eat, and Round Up Ready®, which means that every cell of the plant including what we eat is impervious to the pesticide Round Up ® or Glyphosate.  And it’s not just a little bit, it’s 100% present in entire fields- as a matter of fact it’s in 100% of over 80% of all cotton, corn, soy, canola and sugarbeet that is grown in North America.

If you’re not paying attention, it’s a foregone conclusion that each and every meal you eat contains large portions of 100% GMO ingredients.  The EU, and the Non GMO Project agrees on a threshold of 0.9% GMO contamination.  Anything above that is not allowed.  Organic foods don’t have the threshold, but attain a similar level through all the practices mentioned above.  It’s actually pretty good that we can limit our exposure by 99.1% just by choosing organic.

But I agree, it’s a crime and a terribly sad world to live in where there is no way to escape even this.  That’s why (besides eating organic) that I’m doing everything I can to set this straight,.

On a practical point, organic standards prohibit feeding animals anything that is GMO, so the only thing that could get into an animal feed would be unwanted contamination at the low levels mentioned.

 How can organic farmers be sure the food scraps they feed their chickens and the like are GMO free? 

Organic standards do not allow food scraps or anything else to be fed to certified organic animals unless it can be demonstrated and documented that the feed is not GMO.  So for instance a bakery could not have their waste used by an organic farmer as feed if the bakery used non certified organic corn soy or Canola oil at all.

How about GMO contaminated soil (from household composing) in which otherwise perfectly organic tomatoes would be grown in peoples backyards?

Organic standards do not allow composting of GMO substrates, and neither should any backyard gardener who is concerned about organic and non GMO.

It’s difficult to fight back, and to do everything to protect ourselves from GMO and pesticide pollution, but it is possible to make a huge difference, and one of the easiest ways is to support organic agriculture, the only system with a strict standard, an annual third party inspection, and a serious fine for fraud (people are in jail right now for breaking the organic rules).  Also this is a repeatable system than anyone can learn, and it leaves the soil more fertile after use than before.

Sometimes it’s tempting to complain about that which we love the most, because we are so disappointed that it’s not perfect.  Think of how much we often expect of our spouses, or children.  They already are the most beautiful creatures to us, but when they slip up (in our eyes) even a little bit, we can’t help but notice, and heaven forbid we sometimes open our mouth and say something….  (don’t try this at home…)

It’s precisely because we love them, and we want them to be perfect to help us feel like we are protected by them also, that we hold them to such a high standard.  A stranger walking down the street, we don’t have very high standards for at all.

Let’s curb our tongues with our loved ones when we get disappointed or scared when we feel that they fall an ¼ inch below our standard, and lets curb our tongues when we want to cry that even organic isn’t able to protect us 100.0%.  We all know what the right thing to do is; support your loved ones, share your love for them, with them, and they will become more of what you love.  Support organic, it will do more to save  the world than any other single thing you could possibly do.  And love an organic farmer!

Organically,

Dag Falck

On Mange Bien a Paris

“There is no Sincerer Love than the love of food.”

– George Bernard Shaw

Below are images from a typical summertime family lunch in Paris.  Fresh almonds, fresh figs, Chanterelle or Girole mushrooms, ratatouille, the sweetest juiciest melons ever, salade de tomate et mozzarelle, and sweet -not spicy – radish.

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The French have a wonderful cuisine, due, in large part, to regional specialities.  Just like accents change every 20 or so kilometers, so does the food.  Like wine, as the terroir changes, so do the subtleties of flavor.   For everything.  Each town has at least one speciality cheese made only in that town, by a farmer or producer who is damn proud of his cheese.  And he has the right to be. Ben Oui! It’s the pride in diversity, the celebrated differences which make France a culinary haven.  Vive les diferences!  Vive la France!

On this trip, I learned about a group in France called “Les Faucheurs de OGM”.  The GMO harvesters.  The faux is a scythe.  The faucheurs are activists/eco-terrorists who clandestinely organize to destroy GMO crops.  This happened in the United States for the first time this Spring.  This event didn’t hit mainstream media, so you may not have heard about this.  I do not condone eco-terrorism.  However, the misguided mono-crop culture that GMOs embody is the absolute opposite of a healthy, thriving ecosystem.   GMOs are the death of diversity.  GMOs are grown with huge amounts of pesticides and herbicides which destroy life, poison the water, poison us, and deplete the soils.

The French have much to protect.

So do we all.