False Health Food Marketing
by Daniela, The Real Foodie
I have yet again been the victim of false health food marketing. With genetically modified foods permeating the U.S. food supply, it is nearly impossible to avoid it. Countless times I have eaten what I thought was real food only to have been fooled, along with the majority of Americans today. The saddest part is that, although GMO labelling campaigns are educating millions, most Americans still don’t even know what GMO food is. I always feel sorry for the people who go to Wholefoods for dinner thinking they are being healthy, because Wholefoods supposedly sells only ‘whole’ food, when in reality nearly every single item at the hot bar contains at least one GMO ingredient, usually in the form of canola oil. I’ll never forget the time I fed my then one year old daughter half a papaya and watched her proudly as she made her way through it all, only to see after the fact, that the sticker on it read ‘Hawaii’. Papayas from Hawaii are genetically modified. I called the company to confirm and sure enough, it was. Or there was the time I ate GMO grits at Yardbird, thinking that because it was stone-ground from a specialty company, Adluh, it must be organic. Then there was the summer I drove for miles every other day to buy raw milk from a dairy farm in Bridgehampton, Long Island, who raise Jersey cows on pasture. After an entire summer of feeding the milk to my baby and making yoghurt and kefir from it, I found out after seeing soybeans on the ground of their barn, that the cows are fed GMO soybeans while being milked, twice a day.
As there are so many genetically engineered foods to remember to avoid, and with more increasing, still unlabelled, it gets confusing and sometimes even a person like myself who I consider to be well educated on the subject, forgets. Or I naively trust the waiter of a restaurant or the owner of a store who claims the food I am eating is organic. Now I am more cynical after being fooled one too many times and realise that you literally have to go to the farm yourself to believe it. My latest incident involved eating meat (and feeding it to my daughter) from a specialty store in Miami who market it as being grass-fed, not only on their menu but also when I called and asked. They claim their pork is from a small family farm whose free-range pigs are fed a diet of apples, carrots and acorns; and their beef comes from cows fed grass and supplemented with sugar cane and orange peel. This sounds idyllic but it is not the case. I discover after calling the pork farm, which is not one farm but a network of farms, that the animals are fed a GMO grain-based diet. The same goes for the beef farm. The moral of the story is, if you want to avoid eating genetically modified foods or feeding it to your family, buy certified organic or non-gmo certified products, learn about which foods to avoid and never believe what the waiter of a restaurant/owner of a food store, tells you. Find out what farm the food comes from, call the farm yourself and ask what diet the animals are fed or call the company of a food product and ask whether they use genetically modified ingredients.
Below are some resources for learning about GMO foods:
http://geneticroulettemovie.com (There is a free screening of the movie this week only—highly recommended)