GMO’s: The Top 10 Myths


By Shannon Keirnan, Contributing Foodie Bitch

Last night, I attended the screening of “GMO OMG” held by Veg Lakeshore at the Herrick District Library, followed by a discussion with Ryan Kelly of No GMO 4 Michigan. The movie was lovely and informative – if you haven’t seen it yet, I recommend checking it out!

In his talk after the film, Ryan talked further about GMO’s, and what we can do to educate ourselves and others on the issue, especially in regards to Monsanto-specific products. He also mentioned the top ten myths he encounters about GMO’s, which I thought were worth discussing below.

1) No one has proven that GMO’s are harmful. 

That may be true, but there are several issues with this. The studies done surrounding GMO’s are short-term studies (3 months), run by the companies that produce the product. They are not peer reviewed, and the research is not released to the public. Other studies on the matter are shut down, or are forced to retract their findings (as was the case of a 2-year study done in France).

2) GMO’s are the only way to solve world hunger. 

While GMO and pesticide-treated crops initially perform better than organic, over time, organic yield proves equal to, or in some cases higher, than conventionally grown crops, as long as proper management techniques are practiced.

Besides, the world is proving that is doesn’t want GMO crops. Even places like China and Russia are rejecting GMO imports. After a major earthquake damaged poverty-torn Haiti, Monsanto send them thousands of tons of seeds – Haitians burned the seeds in protest.

3) GMO crops use less pesticides. 

Initially, this was true, but the sales of pesticides are now skyrocketing. Insects and weeds are adapting to the pesticides implanted in genetically modified corn, and are becoming harder and harder to destroy. Read more about the increasing sales of pesticides here.  

4) GMO is comparable to cross-breeding and selective breeding 

Humans have been crossbreeding and using selective breeding for thousands of years, to produce stronger, hardier, or even just different-looking plants and animals. People often confuse hybridization with GMO’s. Even Neil deGrasse Tyson pointed out that we should “chill out” regarding GMO’s, because people have been practicing artificial selection for tens of thousands of years.

And that’s true. However, genetically modified organisms are not selectively bred. This isn’t just a matter of moving pollen from one plant to another, or re-breeding a few good specimens. This is a laboratory process, which splices and inserts genes or DNA from entirely different organisms – like bacteria and viruses – that would have no natural business being combined on an intrinsic level.

For example, certain corn from Monsanto (BT) has been genetically altered with the insertion of a bacteria which causes the plant to produce its own pesticide. The corn itself is labeled with the EPA as a pesticide.

5) GMO’s are approved by the FDA and USDA, so they must be safe. 

I’ll just assume that as a Foodie Bitch, you have an idea of the many failings associated with the FDA and USDA when it comes to product safety, with food and medicine.

6) There is no nutritional difference between GMO products and organic ones.

Studies are showing without doubt that organic foods are better for us. Higher in nutrients, vitamins and antioxidants (almost 30% higher!), organic products pack significantly more nutrition than those genetically modified and treated with pesticides. Often genetic modifications are designed to make the product grow larger, faster, which results in a higher water content but lower nutrition.

Animals fed their natural diet (unlike factory-farm animals, which are fed GMO corn, hormones, and antibiotics) are also higher in nutrition and much lower in fat – obviously this is especially true if they are allowed to roam, and grow at a normal rate.

7) GMO’s are impossible to avoid, so just give in!

Yes, GMO’s are everywhere, and odds are you’ll be eating them now and again (especially if you go out to restaurants). However, you can be an informed buyer, “vote with your dollars,” and make sure you are purchasing organic products, or products that have been non-GMO verified. If you have a question, call the company! They may be difficult to avoid, but by being a smart consumer you can still minimize them in your diet, or eliminate them entirely.

8) Monsanto has our best interest at heart.

Oh, please.

9) GMO’s don’t harm the environment!

Increased pesticide use? The disappearance of our bees? Monoculture and soil depletion? The degradation of our water supply? It’s all tied together here, folks. This is a ripple effect we can’t afford to let continue.

10) GMO’s are here to stay!

Though it’s a slow movement, most especially in the U.S., people are beginning to fight back against GMO’s. Education is key – many people don’t have any idea what GMO’s are, and how prevalent they are in our food system, because the companies producing them want to keep it quiet.

The U.S. is behind over 60 counties in demanding the labeling of GMO’s, which can make it much more difficult to make informed decisions when purchasing, if one is not paying attention.

Promote labeling, buy non-GMO verified products, and remember that the market is consumer-driven. Original Cheerio’s made the switch to using non-GMO ingredients based on consumer demand, and others will too. But first, we have to demand!

What other questions or concerns do you have about Genetically Modified Organisms? Feel free to comment and discuss!

Is Your Olive Oil Really Olive Oil?

My favorite authentic olive oil - from Casa Cabrini in Tuscany, Italy

My favorite authentic olive oil – from Casa Cabbrini in Tuscany, Italy

By Nancy Smorch, Foodie Bitch

Have you read about the big olive oils scam?  I’m embarrassed to say, I just recently discovered them, myself.

Is Your Olive Oil Really Olive Oil?

While reading an email from Dave Asprey, the Bulletproof Executive, I quickly learned about the deception and money-making scandals going on in this huge olive oil scam.

You see, olive oil is best consumed just after it has been harvested and pressed (unlike wine).  However, most olive oils shipped to the U.S. get shipped months after being pressed.  The taste and health benefits start to fade within three to six months after bottling.

In addition, many olive oils have been fraudulently sold as “extra virgin” and imported, when in fact they have been adulterated with cheaper oils like soy (which is mostly likely genetically modified), canola, hazelnut or sunflower seed oil.  It may also be adulterated with food coloring to make it look fresher.  The labels will also be misleading in terms of the country of origin.

Apparently, the profits are pretty large when pushing sub-standard olive oil.  According to an investigation done by New Yorker, olive oil was the most adulterated agricultural product in the E.U. (European Union).

Authentic extra virgin olive oil has a number of health benefits, including reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s, lowering blood pressure, reducing your risk of diabetes, helping cool inflammation, and protecting against cancer, among many other things.  Unfortunately, the olive oil that most Americans are consuming, most likely does not contain these health benefits.

For a full article on this scam, check out this New Yorker article, “Olive Oil’s Dark Side.”

What can you do to make sure your olive oil is authentic extra virgin olive oil? 

One thing is to look for a production date to determine its freshness, not the “use by” date.  Many bottlers in the U.S. leave off the bottled date purposely, knowing that buyers may opt out of buying an olive oil that was bottled months before they see it on the shelf.

Also, check out Tom Mueller’s site, Truth in Olive Oil.  After years of researching and reporting on the olive oil industry, he has not only written a book about it, Extra Virginity, he has also started a website dedicated to his research and investigations and to helping the consumer find great quality, authentic extra virgin olive oil.

He also dives into introducing readers to skilled olive oil makers and discusses and celebrates the history and culture surrounding olive oil.  He wants to start, as he puts it, “nothing short of an olive oil revolution.”  So come join the party!

If you’re wondering which supermarket brands get Tom’s approval, here’s the link for his best olive oil picks.

Here, also, is the link to the offer that came through the Bulletproof Executive for an olive oil club, which directly imports authentic extra virgin olive oil into the U.S. from the harvesters and artisanal producers.  I signed up!  I’m looking forward my first shipment of, literally, fresh off the press, extra virgin olive oil.

We really need to amp up the Foodie Bitch efforts!  Here’s another example of how we need to ask questions, demand the truth, and do our own research to seek out the best food for our health and the health of our family and friends!

Organic Farming – Beyond the Grocery Store

why organic matters

By Nancy Smorch, Foodie Bitch

I know a lot of people still don’t give much credence to organic food – they say it’s too costly to produce and buy, and that it really doesn’t make much of a difference in their health.

First of all, I’d like to just point out that most agriculture was considered organic before the 1920s.

Then came the industrialized agricultural movement.  With the development of chemicals to control pests, and synthetic fertilizers to replenish depleted soils, there became the need to distinguish between organic and conventional.

You have an idea of how the rest of the story goes, but the part you may not hear much about is the extent to which industrial agriculture is effecting the earth.

Below is a link to an article about the effects of industrial agriculture, especially fertilizers.

How Organic Farming Could Release Us From the Curse of Fertilizer 

And below is a link to Dr. Mercola’s interview with a soil expert, Dr. Elaine Ingham, where they talk about sustainable soil and organic farming.

Getting to the Root of How GMO Plants Harm Food Production and Your Health

Scan the article, listen to the interview, and become educated.  That’s the first step in starting to put the pieces of the puzzle together for yourself.


Diet Confusion

IMG_3034(Me and my big brother enjoying good food and good company at a Farm to Table dinner)

By Nancy Smorch, Foodie Bitch

Should you switch to a raw foods diet?

How about Paleo?

Maybe gluten free?

Or vegetarian?  Or maybe one step further – vegan?

What about macrobiotic, Ayurvedic, or juicing?

There are soooo many dietary theories out there these days, and tons of people that are passionate and vocal for all of them.  Trying to figure out which way of eating is best can really be confusing!

Why is it like this?  I don’t imagine early American settlers were sitting around a fire (or maybe in a tavern) debating the merits of one diet over another.

But today, friendships are abandoned and relationships are torn apart due to a difference in food preferences.  Have we gone a little too far???

My answer to that is a resounding YES!

Not so much in that we experiment with different foods, or enjoy a certain way of eating and how it makes us feel.  But I do think our lack of tolerance for others’ preferences needs to be reevaluated.

Sometimes we just need to agree to disagree.  And that’s OK.

But why are there so many different ways of eating, and which one IS the right way?  That’s a tough question.  Let’s dive in a bit here.

There are so many variables that come into play with food and the human body.

First of all, let’s look at the human body.  Every single person is unique in terms of their DNA, their biochemistry, their emotions, their environment, their blood type.  So, even though one person is doing fine on a vegan diet, another person, for various reasons, may need nutrients or nourishment that would be difficult for them to get on a vegan diet.

Also, our bodies are changing all of the time.  So what works for you this week, may not work for you next week, next month, or next year.

When you’re looking at the foods in the various diets, quality is obviously pretty important.  One person on a vegan diet may be doing just fine, but another person on a vegan diet may be having various health issues.  If you looked more closely at exactly what foods each person was eating, you may find that one of them is eating lots of fresh vegetables and fruits, while the other is hardly getting any fresh vegetables and fruit, but is eating mostly processed vegan foods, void of nutrients and full of artificial “stuff”.

And then there is the person that just plain eats like crap and is perfectly healthy and has lived a long and prosperous life.  Then you see a person who is meticulous about eating all the healthy foods and who makes sure everything they eat is organic and that they are getting a variety of nutrients in their diet, yet they look sick, are low energy, and don’t have a spark in their eye.

What’s up with that?  I’ll tell you what’s up.  Our emotions play a crucial role in our overall health.  You can eat all the healthy foods you want, but if you are miserable or feeling unfulfilled in various areas of your life, or worse yet, are stressed about eating right, it’s going to affect your health!

Add to this that the quality of food today, in general, is terrible.  With GMOs, chemical-laden produce, antibiotic and hormone-packed meats… imagine what all of these are doing to the millions of biochemical processes that occur in our bodies.  Much damage has for sure been done, and the repair usually isn’t as easy as popping a pill!

I totally get how confusing this can all be!  I’ll read stories of those who have had major health problems, and when nothing else has helped, switching to a Paleo diet, has dramatically improved their overall health and life.  Then I’ll read similar testimonials of those who have become vegetarian and juice regularly, and the various health issues they had have miraculously disappeared.  There’s definitely no shortage of stories and strategies and diets and supplements that have lead to healthier bodies and minds.

So what is one to do?

First, tune into your own body.  Notice how you feel when you eat different foods.  Listen to your instincts.  If you feel you need to eliminate a food, try it for a while and make note of any changes.  If you feel you need to add something, listen and add it in and, again, notice how you feel.  No one should know your body better than you, but this means that you have to pay attention to your body – don’t totally leave it to the care of others!  Partner with trusted experts, physicians, alternative healers, therapists.  But don’t give away your power.

Second, accept others’ way of being with food.  Understand that what works for you may not work for them.  And the flip side of that is to understand that just because your best friend is eating a certain way, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you should eat that way too.

Third, enjoy life!  Let yourself feel all of the emotions that life sends your way.  Process them.  Learn from them.  Let them go, and then move on.  Let yourself be happy.  Laugh a lot.  Share yourself with others and allow others to share themselves with you.

Finally, enjoy good food!!!!  Don’t deprive yourself of what nature has so perfectly created.  Allow yourself to be creative with food.  Cook more and invite those you love and those you want to know better to share in food with you.  The nourishment you’ll get from these kinds of connections is almost as important as the nourishment from the food itself.

Life is a journey, and so is our relationship with food.  May we all be so fortunate as to allow it to take us to a happy and peaceful place.