The Real Foodie

Tag: GMO

Hershey’s Ice Cream: Not Real

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I couldn’t help but laugh to myself when I saw this Hershey’s ice cream truck parked in Southampton, New York. Their motto read:

‘Real Ingredients. Real Ice Cream. Real Smiles.’

Here is a typical example of false marketing. Hershey’s ice cream and its ingredients are definitely not real. I know because I contacted the company to ask if their milk comes from cows treated with the growth hormone rBST and they replied that they do not require rBST free milk from their sources, in other words, yes.

Their website reads:

‘Welcome to Hershey’s® Ice Cream, proud producers of REAL, quality ice cream and other delicious novelty items! Since 1894, it’s been our pledge to produce the very best products by using only the best ingredients.’

Examining the ingredients of two popular flavours, vanilla and chocolate, the first five ingredients are genetically modified, followed by two natural ingredients (vanilla extract and whey or in the case of the chocolate flavour, cocoa and whey), followed by four emulsifying additives. They do use cream as a first ingredient, which is better than most conventional ice creams, however it is from cows treated with hormones as well as from cows eating GMO corn and soybean, instead of grass, which is what cows were designed to eat. The second ingredient is nonfat milk, again from cows treated with rBST. The third ingredient is high fructose corn syrup: a highly concentrated form of fructose, responsible for the alarming rate of heart disease and obesity in the U.S. The fourth ingredient is sugar, which now comes from GMO sugar beets unless it is labeled as ‘cane sugar’. The fifth ingredient is corn syrup from GMO corn. The last four ingredients are a combination of natural and synthetic emulsifiers: mono and diglycerides, guar gum, polysorbate 80 and carrageenan. Mono and diglycerides contain trans fats and are used to extend shelf life. They are replacing hydrogenated oils in processed products because they don’t need to be labelled as containing trans fats. Polysorbate 80 is a synthetic surfactant and emulsifier used in cleaners and personal care products, which is contaminated with the carcinogen, 1-4, Dioxane. In a recent study by Nature it has been proven to cause colitis and metabolic syndrome (obesity) which leads to chronic digestive disorders such as type 2 diabetes, liver and heart disease.

I doubt any of these ingredients were used to make Hershey’s ice cream in 1894. The only real ingredients are vanilla extract and cocoa. While Hershey’s may be better than some other ice cream brands like Carvel, as you can see, Hershey’s ice cream is everything BUT real.

False Health Food Marketing

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://www.nongmoshoppingguide.com

http://www.nongmoproject.org

http://www.responsibletechnology.org

http://geneticroulettemovie.com (There is a free screening of the movie this week only—highly recommended)

http://www.organicconsumers.org

http://gmo.mercola.com

Could We Be Winning the War Against GMOs?

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Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps is the largest contributor to the Yes on 522 campaign to label genetically modified foods.

Mexico has just been added to the list of countries and regions across the world to ban GMOs (genetically modified organisms), banning GMO corn, citing ‘risk of imminent harm to the environment’. Also last week, Hawaii gave preliminary approval to a bill that would ban the growing of GMOs (unfortunately excluding their GMO papayas) and prohibit biotech companies from operating there; along with the island of Kauai, which passed a law that mandates farms to disclose pesticide use and the presence of genetically modified crops, requiring a 500-foot buffer zone near medical facilities, schools and homes, among other locations.¹

On 5th November, the final ballots will be cast for Initiative 522 in Washington state, which would mandate the labeling of genetically modified foods. If the bill is passed, many more states will follow, with 25 states already discussing GMO-related legislation.² Monsanto and the junk food industry have poured over 17 million dollars to try to defeat the bill, which they were successful in doing in California last year with Proposition 37 after spending 46 million dollars on a misleading advertising campaign. However, 93 percent of Americans are in favour of knowing what’s in their food and 64 countries already require the labelling of GMOs³ so it won’t be long before there is an end to the deception. The companies’ desperate efforts to try to defeat the labelling of genetically engineered foods, sends a clear message that they don’t want people to know that they are harmful to our health.

For twenty years biotech companies have marketed their genetically modified seeds with promises of higher yields and less pesticide use but GMO crops have turned out to be a devastation for farmers, requiring massive doses of herbicides and pesticides with their creation of superweeds and insect resistance, as well as higher costs. Hopefully these failures along with the growing demand for the right to know what consumers are eating, we are reaching the end of the war against GMOs.

Update: On 5th November 2013, Initiative 522 to label genetically engineered food in Washington state was defeated by just two percent after Monsanto and major food corporations spent an extra five million dollars at the last minute on deceiving advertisements, making it a total of over 22 million dollars and breaking the record for the most money raised opposing a ballot initiative in Washington. In the words of David Bronner, CEO of Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, the initiative’s biggest donor, however, ‘Win or lose, this is a long war. Labeling is inevitable.’

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1. Robbins O, Huge GMO News. Available from: http://www.huffingtonpost.com. [19 October 2013].

2. Organic Consumers Association 2013, Legislative Update: 25 States Working on GMO Labeling Laws. Available from: http://www.organicconsumers.org. [3 April 2013].

3. Robbins O, Huge GMO News. Available from: http://www.huffingtonpost.com. [19 October 2013].