Tag Archives: Nature’s Path

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!

Academy Awards of Organic Food

Last night, I attended the OTA awards recognizing Leadership in the Organic Foods Industry.  Organic became an industry started by idealists like my father, as a response to farming with toxic chemicals. These committed few believe, as I do, that poisons don’t belong in the food supply.  Ask any mother and she’ll tell you that she doesn’t want to feed even trace amounts of carcinogens and hormone disrupters to her children.   Several joined the caravan and the few became an “industry”.  Fast forward several years and things are looking brighter as the industry has grown from a seed into a sapling.  But we now have to contend with unsustainable GMO agriculture. Instead of decreasing their use, GMOs have exponentially increased pesticide and herbicide use in a misguided mono-crop disaster.

But here is hope for our planet and our health.  Side by side studies with “Conventional” Vs Organic show that Organic yields are equivalent and organic yields are greater in times of Drought.  Organic methods are the gold standard for healthy soil, clean water, and the food Mother Earth intended for us to eat.  For those of you wondering about organic standards, please see my blog post with answers from Dag Falck. https://thedeepersideblog.com/2013/09/15/dag-falck-replies/

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The first award was presented to my parents Arran and Ratana Stephens, of Nature’s Path Foods.  They were honoured with the Growing Organic Industry Award.  When recently asked if Nature’s Path was a non-profit activist group or a consumer foods company, Dad answered “Both”.  I’ve copied his and mom’s inspired acceptance speeches below.

The Second Award was presented to Kyle Mathison of Stemlit Growers for Organic Farmer of the Year Award.  In a rousing speech which made my mouth water, Kyle spoke about his quest to grow the best, most juicy, luscious fruits.  He has helped advance solutions in orchard weed control, organic fertilizer, integrated pest control etc etc.  Kyle, a fourth generation farmer from Washington, made me salivate as I flashed though my most memorable fruit experiences.  That peach I bought in Montreal, those figs from Florence, the sweet muscat grapes from France that tasted like candy, ripe mangoes from India that defy description.  The Apples dad has espalliered.  I wish I had the text of his speech so I could make you salivate too.

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The third and last award of the evening was presented to Karen and Colin Archipley: the Rising Star Award.  Colin is a war veteran who founded the Veterans Sustainable Agriculture Training program.  Helping veterans, who face employment hurdles after leaving the military, Karen and Colin create a link between jobs for vets and organic agriculture on Archi’s Acres in California, their organic hydroponic farm.  Talk about literally turning swords into ploughshares!  They recently helped plant the White House’s Organic garden.

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During their acceptance speech, Colin made everyone in the crowded room raise their hand and pledge to be Semper Fidelis.  This is a Marine Motto.  Always Loyal.  It was a lovely gesture.  From a former marine leading the pledge (whose opening I solemnly swear reminded me of the marauders map), it was powerful.  If anyone had been unsure about the zealous commitment to Organic farming, this dispelled any doubts.

I saw Bob Quinn the KAMUT grower on my way out.  Bob and I spent many years bumping and into each other at European Trade shows.  No matter where I was or what my mood was, Bob made me smile with his killer smile dressed in his cowboy boots and hat with two sprigs of Kamut in its band.  Kamut (heirloom wheat found in an Egyptian tomb and subsequently planted in the midwest) has higher protein content and superior nutritional content to modern wheat.  It also doesn’t cause bloating.  Only organically grown, Kamut, which is trademarked, is growing literally by leaps and bounds since I last saw Bob.  Bob tells me that over 70,000 acres are dedicated to the organic sowing of Kamut!  That is great news for Kamut growers, happy tummies and the planet.

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Below is the inspiring speech mom and dad gave:

OTA Growing Organic Leadership Award ACCEPTANCE SPEECH, Sept 26, 2013, Baltimore, MD:

RATANA:
Dear friends, family, OTA Board Members and Fellow Travelers,

Thank you for bestowing this honor upon us. We are privileged to be recognized.   This journey has been a labor of love. It is to create a better world for our children, grandchildren, and the children of the universe.

This has not been a solo play. So wonderful to see many familiar faces who have been a vital part of the organic movement for years, and together we have nurtured and grown this into an industry. What is the power of a committed few? According to Margaret Mead:

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

Rather than talking about what has happened over the past 45 years that Arran and I have been together (and believe me, we have seen a lot), I would like to pass along some advice in building a successful legacy enterprise, and what we have learned from our mentors:

Never sacrifice quality for money or for any other consideration

Always do your best, and leave the rest

A success is a failure that never gave up. There’s no substitute for patience and persistence.

Never compromise core values and principles. Business and the market are in constant flux, VALUES never change.

Be humble.

Now, I’m going to turn this over to Arran…

ARRAN:

On behalf of the many, Thanks for the Award!

Because of the visible stand that i and my family have taken against the artificial genetic modification of our food supply, And our fight to have GMO foods properly labeled in California and Washington State so people can make an informed decision about whether or not they wish to feed this stuff to their families, I received a tongue-in-cheek question, “Are you a packaged consumer goods company, or an activist group?” I happily answered, “Both!”

2 1/2 years ago, lying in the ICU ward, my life was dangling from a very slender thread, hovering somewhere in the void between life and death. It seemed then, in some strange way that I had a choice—to go into the Beyond or stay on and complete some unfinished aspects of this existence. I chose, or so it seemed, to live on.

Having been granted a life extension, I re-dedicated whatever time was left to serve the Creation in some small way—on the one hand to nurture and protect the fragile earth, to help fulfill the destiny of our enterprise, Nature’s Path and ensure its smooth succession to the next generation, to be there as a loving father and husband, and on the other hand, to continue to evolve as a human and spiritual being.

In ancient times, it was said, “Honor your heavenly Father and your earthly Mother that your days may be long upon the earth, for from one mother proceeds all that lives; therefore he that kills, kills his brother, and from him will the earthly mother pluck her quickening breast.”

I have always felt a kinship with this spiritual, but non-religious Father-Mother aspect of existence.

Over the past seven decades. I have been much blessed to have been raised by loving parents on the family farm on Vancouver Island; to have lived in India; to have married one of her daughters; to have been blessed by her Saints, to have been constantly involved in the organic movement since 1967, before there was an industry, to have, with my dear wife of 44 years, and our four children–Shanti, Gurdeep, Jyoti and Arjan) built an inter-generational legacy of Nature’s Path, without selling out!  For our friends in the investment community, no part of NP is for sale, just to save your and our time.

We have made many good friends over these decades, many of whom are in this hall tonight. We honor you all, we love you all.  To all who are part of the burgeoning organic industry, starting with our unsung heroes: family farmers, suppliers, the hundreds of Valued Nature’s Path Team Members, wholesalers, retailers and last but not least, our millions of customers, we salute you, for without you, we wouldn’t be here.

The world we all share and love, is in crisis. Nature is under serious attack, and she’s beginning to revolt. It’s up to us to nurture and care for what is left. Our generation has made a terrible mess of polluting the nest; let us hope and pray the next generation is wiser. My dad told me, his ten year old son, as we hand planted a field of corn together to “Always leave the soil better than you found it.”

With modern methods of chemical agriculture, using fossil fuel based fertilizers and attacking pests with massive amounts of pesticides and herbicides, we are short-sightedly destroying the long-term fertility of our soil bank, depleting it at the expense of future generations. In less than 20 years, since the first GMO crops were introduced, more than 90% of soy, cotton, sugar beets, canola, and Hawaiian papayas now contain alien gene traits. There have been no long-term safety GMO trials, which makes us part of an unprecedented feeding study, but we are not lab rats! Nor are GMOs even labeled, yet they are in 80% of supermarket foods. GMO crops are failing their maker’s promise to provide greater yields, toxic herbicide use has gone up 15 fold, allergies have increased three fold in the short two decades since GMOs were introduced into the North American agricultural system. Predicted super weeds have developed resistance to herbicides, contaminating more than seventy million acres in North America, now requiring even more deadly chemicals to eradicate them. Thousands of unique species of plants and creatures are lost every year.  Instead of cooperating with nature as we should, as guardians or trustees of our land bank, modern science and short-sighted consumerism is waging war against Nature. And this has many of us disturbed.

Biotech companies are interfering with evolutionary processes that have taken thousands—even millions of years to perfect. Genetic modification is not a continuation of selective breeding, but the significant alteration of life forms. And the outcomes are haphazard and unpredictable.

Organic agriculture and soil conservation is the only bulwark against this tsunami of ecological mismanagement.

Because we are concerned that good organic farmland is being lost due to ageing farmers retiring with no heirs to take their place, we have begun to buy good farmland, with a cooperative crop-sharing model. It is working, but with the rate of demand exceeding supply, we desperately need more young organic farmers. We are grateful to be a part of the organic solution. You are, or can also be a part of the solution. A new, caring economy is needed. A fresh paradigm of conscious capitalism, if I may borrow the term, a new generation of idealist-entrepreneurs is much needed. There is hope, and I am an optimist.  I will fight for the good of the earth so long as I live, and until the I that is my body becomes the earth, while the I that is my soul soars free from its temporal fetters to merge the lesser light with its Source in the greater Light.

Let me share one of my farmer/songwriter/father’s songs:

Across the plain, my yellow grain
Lies restless as the sea,
How could this all be given to a guy like me?

To fill my need I sowed the seed,
And now repaid I’ll be,
How could this all be given to a guy like me?

The seasons change with splendor,
My ceiling is the sky,
The earth, my master, happy man am I

Two arms that gladly share my toil
Or hold me tenderly,
How could this all be given to a guy like me?

GMO OMG LA PREMIERE

September 19th was the LA premiere of Jeremy Seifert’s film GMO OMG.  This was the very same day that BC’s Mayors and councillors voted YES for a GE FREE BC!  I was so excited that I was barely coherent! Having already seen the film, written a review about it and a post about the wild success of the UVIC campus screening… I was wondering what to say about the LA screening at the Landmark Theatre.

First of all what does one WEAR to the Premiere of a Documentary Film dealing with serious GMO issues? In Los Angeles?  Long? Short?  Glittery? Revealing? Funky? Jeans? Following the Style-Diet Principles, my outfit would be Locally-Made, and/or Ethically-Sourced and/or Re-Purposed.

Photo-op with Director Jeremy Seifert, Producer Jill Howerton, and Producer Joshua Kunau.

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I was hoping to see a bevy of Seiferts barrelling down the aisles at the Landmark Theatre.  Those little kids stole my heart with their poignant and funny one-liners.   Out of the mouths of babes… But the mini Seiferts who stole the show, were at home in bed.   Jen, their beautiful, adorable mom was there;  she starred in the film as herself, the loving, concerned wife and mother every parent can relate with.

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Pretty much a packed house, the theatre boasted celebrities like Colin  Farrell who came out to see the film.   In fact, at every point I turned there was a familiar face!  Other notable guests included Cenk Uygur from the Young Turks, Topher Grace from That 70s show, Robyn Lively, Charlie Day from the film “Horrible Bosses”, the cast of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”, Kaitlin Olsen, Rob McElhenny, Glenn Howerton, Molly Sims, Mike Bronner, Laurie David and Maryam Lieberman.

When I got back, I told my friend Misty that Laurie David was there and Misty, she got all excited.  Laurie David produced “An Inconvenient Truth”. That got us talking about Larry David and the potential for comedy and GMOs.  What if Larry David wrote in a character who was striving to be GMO free?!  How many goofy sitcom moments could this character get into?  Just throwing it out there to the universe….

Below, with Mike Bronner of the Dr Bronner’s Soap Family.  Dr Bronner’s family and everyone who saw the film and everyone who is concerned about our food wants  GMOs labelled.  Even if you think that GMOS are good for you, you should want them labelled so you can choose them.

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One of the journalists I spoke  to at the after-party said that she was surprised that the film didn’t talk about pesticide poisoning and herbicide poisoning of farm-workers and others.  There is just so much compelling, irrefutable evidence for that.  Toxic Pesticides and herbicides like atrazine and other agricultural toxins aren’t strictly a GMO issue. However, GMOs and pesticides are inextricably linked.  Thus they are directly related, and entirely co-dependent. You can’t grow one without the other….  Again, it brings us back to the irrefutable declaration that people have the right to know what they are eating and what they’re feeding their families. Note Mike’s tee-shirt and support  YES on 522.  Dr Bronner’s family have contributed significantly  towards Washington and California’s labelling campaigns.  Mike announced the they are going nearly double that amount.   However, this is not even one tenth of the what Big Ag and biotech companies will spend fighting people’s right to know.  It’s incredible!  Even if you’re not in Washington, please send in a donation if you can.  If you are able to volunteer with the phone banks please do.  Your help is needed.  Here’s how you can get involved http://yeson522.com/

Below is Director Jeremy Seifert being interviewed by a California TV Station:

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Below, I’m introducing the film.  My outfit is made in India bought in India, brand is Petticoat by Debyani and Divya.aG cropped

Producer (and Model and Actress and Activist and TV personality and fellow blogger http://thedailytonic.wordpress.com/about/ !) the beautiful  Jill Latiano Howerton with her husband, actor Glenn Howerton.  He stars in, writes for, and produces for the TV show “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.” What a stunning and charming couple!a Jill and Glenn Howerton

Associate Producer Daniel McCoy,  Location and Post-Audio for GMO OMG (left) Editor Terry Yates (right). 

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Happy Noah Smith!  Animation and Graphics.   I like the way his smile makes his eyes close 🙂
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Below is a glowing, expectant mom and supporter of the film Amy Boyer Colgan and her partner. Her foundation is http://www.hopefulfilled.org  She said that it’s her mission to make dreams come true.  What a great mission to have.

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Audrey Smith and Amanda Valloza-Hlavaty below appeared in Director Jeremy Seifert’s first film “Dive”.  About dumpster diving, “Dive” was an eye-opener to the amount of beautiful, healthy and safe food that is wasted in N. America.  (BTW we currently produce enough food to feed the world twice over.)

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Below: Dan Braun from Submarine, the film’s distributors.  Submarine’s last big documentary was “Chasing Ice”.  Wow.

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Here is Ben from Submarine, Dan’s son.  These two Braun men were among the snazziest dressed men at the premiere.

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Lovely Kyla from Nature’s Path !

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Kind server from the catering company.  Note the cloth napkins on the tray.  Along with with the heirloom tomato soup, the caterers were super green and cool.

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Below is Nisha Vida (left), She’s a Fulbright Fellow and Associate Producer for the film.  She is working to Make LA a GMO free zone.  It will happen!  Just a matter of time.  The momentum GE FREE BC will carry over and this film will awaken those not yet in the know.  Here she is with fellow law student Scarlettah J Shaefer.

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The timing of this film couldn’t be better.  People are starting to understand that GMOs – that are currently produced in N. America and the rest of the world, not the hope of them – are causing deleterious effects on our health and planet.  We’re not talking about the promise of GMOS; we’re talking about actual reality here.  Folks asked the panel afterwards, “Well what can we do about it?”

There is a simple answer: Support with your dollars  systems and companies that are doing the right thing.  With every meal.  That’s all there is to it.  Support labelling efforts, get involved.  And if you really want to be truly defiant, grow your own food.   As Jeremy’s son Finn said in the film (I’m paraphrasing ) if nobody buys them, companies will have to stop selling them. In Europe, multinational companies reformulate their products to be GMO Free.  I’m talking big companies like Coke, Nestle and Kelloggs.  Already 64 countries ban or require labelling of GMOs.  I was happy to hear of Costa Rica last week declaring they would prohibit GMOs.  Yay Costa Rica!  The US and Canada are the only two developed nations which don’t require labelling of GMOs.   This is going to change and I see change happening.

This film is awakening the multitude.

Video of My First Rally Speech

“Courage is about doing what you’re afraid to do.  There can be no courage unless you’re scared.”

– Eddie Rickenbacker

Until May 25th 2013, I had never addressed a crowd at a rally.  I was scared and prepared my speech for days.  Speaking at a rally is something I had never seen myself doing.  I like to sing songs in front of people, stir up lyrical and melodic beauty, make people laugh (or cry) – with song.  I have never considered myself an activist.  But I suppose I am becoming an activist if it means that I want to know what’s in and on my food that I then put in my body.   At this time in history, we are activists in N. America if we want to know whether our food has GMOs in them.

64 countries in the world either ban GMOs or require them to be labelled.  There are countless compelling reasons for this.  I realized that if I didn’t do something, how could I rely on others to speak for me, address my concerns?  More selfishly, if I didn’t take some kind of action, I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night, knowing that our bees are dying, our waters are being poisoned and our soils destroyed by GMO agriculture.  Every independent study shows that toxins from GMOS are in our blood and our urine.  These are known carcinogens, hormone disruptors   These are poisons.   They are toxic.  They are in our foods because the companies making them did 3 month-long rat studies saying that they were safe for humans.  This ‘scientific evidence’ was rubber stamped by the FDA.  Europeans and others did similar studies and came to drastically different conclusions.  GMO have never been tested on humans.  The promise of GMOs reducing pesticide use was quickly deconstructed.  I was speaking with two young French biology students yesterday who told me that GMOs were necessary to reduce pesticide use.  What they were not being told was that even with plants that have a pesticide spliced in the gene, farmers still dump copious amounts of pesticides.  I’m going to send them the data this morning to convince them.  The use of pesticides is ever exponentially increasing.

Like the Moms who are marching across America (Moms across America March to Label GMOs) to demand mandatory labelling of GMOs I see Canadian moms following the common sense of our American sisters.  We must stand up for our poisoned soils and waters.

Someone posted this 12 min clip of my Speech at the March Against Monsanto

There are a couple errors.  For the record, I have an Honours BA in Biology from the University of Chicago.  I have an MA in Biopsychology also from The University of Chicago.  I began Doctoral Studies in Cellular Biology in Neurobiology at the University of Barcelona but left after a year.  I have one co-authored scientific article on Rat Behaviour.  All that said, I dont consider myself a “Biologist” not being an academic and not having completed my doctorate in Neurobiology.  Also the bug study In the GMOs versus organic fields wasn’t an independently reviewed study.

My favourite part of the speech is at the end when my daughter leaped into my arms, wearing her favourite green GMO shirt with three armholes.  She likes to put her leg through the third armhole.  The T-shirts, made by Nature’s Path Foods say, “GMO shirts are easy to spot, GMO foods aren’t.”

Demand labelling, demand your right to know what is in your food.

If it’s scary and you feel like you’re becoming an activist, welcome to the club.  What can be more important than how we treat others, how were treat our Mother Earth?  What we put on our bodies?  What we put in our bodies?

You tell me.