What is New in the World of Natural Products

Organic milk bottles become art


Last weekend was the Natural Products Expo in Anaheim. It is an annual event in California and I believe it is the largest trade show for “natural” products. If you imagine one of Whole Foods largest stores on steroids that is what this  show is like.

As I relaunch SmartLifeways with more regular posts this seemed like a good place to start. Over the next weeks I will be writing more about the show. It was really well attended-mobbed is more accurate, so get ready for some new products to be showing up at your local natural foods stores.

I am sure that it was no coincidence that Whole Foods announced while the show was taking place that by 2018 all products containing GMO’s will be labeled in their stores. This announcement comes as many states across the country are trying to pass legislation or initiate ballot measures requiring GMO products to be labeled. In my opinion five years is way too long for Whole Foods to require labeling but at least it is a step in the right direction. In the meantime the Non-GMO Project is growing incredibly…I will devote a post to their work in the coming weeks.

Based on an overview of the show I would have to say three areas stand out most:

-Products are already being labeled Non-GMO, usually 3rd party verified by the Non-GMO project, by companies that really do care about their products (and their customers) or by companies that recognize consumer demand is huge for this.

-The gluten-free market has exploded. There is research showing that GMO’s can effect our digestive system and I wonder if there is a direct link between consumption of GMO’s and the need to switch to a gluten free diet…more on this hypothesis in the coming weeks.

-Sadly I must report that as the demand for “natural” food grows many companies are jumping on board and we are getting more and more junk food with a natural label. Surely it is an improvement to food with artificial ingredients but I would not consider all of it really healthy and much is made with genetically engineered ingredients. So even if it is in a Whole Foods, a Coop or another natural food market read your labels and watch out for sugar and other ingredients that do not contribute to your overall good health. And until there is real legislation or our government agencies step up to protect us with adequate labeling warning us about GMO’s, beware eating anything with soy, canola, non sugar-cane sugar (sugar beets are often GMO), and corn (this includes corn syrup) that is not organic since chances are good it will be genetically engineered.

2012 was a busy year for me as I spent much of it pursuing another area that has been waiting to come forth for a long time. Now I will be devoting more time to SmartLifeways as well as creating art. Welcome back and I hope that you find the information here helpful to create a more sustainable and health-filled life for you and your loved ones.

And if you are curious about my other work you can see some of it at Notice the Divine.

Thanks for being a part of SmartLifeways…..

New Mexico could be the first state to pass a GMO labeling law.

Say No to GMO
We can demand labeling of our food so that we can choose if we want GMO's

I have not been as active here at SmartLifeways as I would have liked to be over the last months, actually for most of 2012, but it has all been for good productive work in other areas. But…now here in New Mexico a bill has been introduced to require labeling of food containing GMO’s. If this is passed we would be the first state to require labeling. Yesterday there was a press conference to talk about the bill, New Mexico Senate Bill 18 introduced by Senator Peter Wirth of Santa Fe, and I was able to give a statement on the issue.

It ran a bit long, I can get on a soapbox on this issue, but the text is below. If you have questions about GMO’s or wonder what the fuss is all about this will get you started with some information. You can also see some of my earlier posts on GMO’s for more info as well.

This is on avoiding GMO’s

and this is about learning about the food you eat

and this is about Monsanto and what is the problem with them


And here is the text from yesterday’s press conference. Feel free to share it to educate your friends and family. It’s up to us to protect our food supply:

I am here today on behalf of all of my fellow food eaters, which hopefully includes everyone. As an informed consumer I am well aware of which foods more than likely have GMO’s but most people do not even know what they are, let alone that they are probably consuming them every day.

I am also here today as a citizen of the state of New Mexico who votes and who believes that all of us have the right to know what is in our food. Apparently our government also agrees that we have the right to know what is in our food and that is why we have labels that tell us how much sugar, protein and fats are in our food, as well as the ingredients and even if the food was processed in a facility that also processes food with nuts. For good reasons our government has decided that it is important for consumers to have this information when they shop.

So why is it that there has been so much difficulty in having our food labels also tell us that the soy, canola and a host of other ingredients are genetically modified? Polls show that the vast majority of Americans would like their food labeled if there are GE ingredients.

Do the companies that produce GE seed have something to hide? Could it be that they are afraid if the truth comes out about all of the aspects of GMO seed people will not buy these products?

Why is it that in the European Union and in many other countries including Japan, India and even China there are mandatory labeling laws for food with GMO ingredients? The U.S. is one of the few industrialized nations in the world that does not require labeling of GMO products. How can this be? Isn’t America the hallmark of democracy and a free market? What could be more important to a democracy than the right to know what we put in our bodies, and isn’t transparency an essential element in a free market?

This last fall the voters in California were told that the costs associated with GMO labeling would increase annual food costs for the average family by $600, but when a company decides to add a new label of “natural”, or associates their product with the latest blockbuster film there are no increases in costs to the consumer.  Why is it when a study was done in the UK on GE labeling price increases they estimated increases to be less than 0.17%. And how is it when the US government mandates labeling for ingredients, sugar, fat and other information on our food packaging our food costs don’t increase?

Perhaps part of the $45 million that was spent to oppose Proposition 37 misinformed the cash-strapped public to vote against this ballot initiative that would have mandated labeling of food with genetically engineered ingredients. How else in these challenging economic times do you change public opinion. In September over 60% of Californians favored the proposition, but after a media barrage that cost over $1 million per day some voters changed their minds perhaps worried about how they could afford the extra $600 in food costs.

Just as I have the right to choose buying something manufactured in America or overseas I should have the right to know what went into the food that I put in my body. I am able to buy organic when it is available but when I have to step into the waters of commercial food I want to know if the product has genetically modified ingredients.

You might ask what is the big deal when we are told that there is no significant difference between GMO food and non-GMO food. And I would answer that it is because the verdict is not yet out on the health effects of eating this genetically altered food and the impact on farmers and our ecosystem is not something that I want to support.

I want to support the farmers of America because they are crucial to the survival of our nation, to the survival of all of us on the planet as healthy citizens.

When farmers buy GMO seed they are not allowed to use the seed for future plantings which is the way farmers have grown food since the beginning of agriculture. This puts farmers at the mercy of rising seed prices from seed suppliers. Just as one example, from 2002-2008 GE soybean seed prices rose 7% annually. By 2009 Roundup ready soybean seed-Monsanto’s seeds, cost twice as much as conventional seed.

Over the last decade companies like Monsanto (now the largest seed supplier in the world) have been buying up smaller seed companies decreasing the availability of non-GMO seed.  We need to support our smaller businesses for a healthy economy and a healthy democracy.

GMO seeds are patented and I disagree with the patenting of life and the seeds that grow the food that feeds us are the basis of life. This is a dangerous situation when a handful of corporations control the global seed supply which translates to controlling the global food supply and if I can do anything to slow this down with my shopping dollars I feel that is my responsibility.

Shopping for food or any other item I buy is an effective way that I can use my shopping dollars to voice my opinions. Just as I have the choice to buy a tee shirt from a sweat shop or from a company that I know pays fair wages I should have the right to buy food that supports farmers or puts them in bondage to big Agri-Business.

I want to support my farmers to not need to use dangerous herbicides that can make them, their families and their workers sick. These herbicides also pollute our precious groundwater. GE seed suppliers have claimed that their seeds require less herbicides but how can that be the truth when these seeds are developed to withstand massive spraying of chemicals that kill all other plant life?

Monsanto’s Roundup Ready contains the chemical glyphosate and there is much evidence that it is harmful to animals and humans not to mention what it does to the water supply. If you could spray a chemical that kills everything but your crop you might use it too. Another problem that has arisen from the excessive use of glyphosate is that farmers now have to contend with super weeds that have become tolerant to the herbicide and so now other stronger more toxic herbicides must be used. Is this the future we want for our farmers? for our food?

As a consumer I have the right to know that the soybeans, corn, sugar or canola listed as an ingredient came from GE seed because that also means it probably had excessive herbicides used in growing the crops.

Monsanto is not the only corporation involved and that is important to know. As super weeds have developed that are glyphosate resistant other companies are stepping up with their even stronger, more toxic chemicals to use on our food supply. Biotech companies such as Syngenta and Dow are patenting and selling their versions of GE seed that are tolerant to their particular herbicides. Unfortunately Syngenta’s herbicides contain atrazine, which is banned in the EU and is a known endocrine disrupter. And Dow’s herbicide has 2,4D in it and this was a major ingredient in agent orange…and this is to be sprayed on our food! Ask most veterans from Vietnam if they feel agent orange was safe, but I can tell you what their answer will be.

We all have the right to know if the farmers that grew the food we buy used toxic chemicals and if the food is genetically engineered chances are good that they received massive doses of herbicides.

What many people don’t know is that the newer generation of GE seeds actually modify the plant so that it creates its own internal pesticide factory so that if an insect eats that plant it dies. It does this by actually producing a toxin which is poisonous to insects, the Bt toxin causes the digestive system of insects to be damaged and then the insect dies. The verdict is still not out on how this affects humans when that GMO crop is turned into our breakfast cereal or some other food we buy unknowingly at our neighborhood market. Farmers in India, who let their sheep graze on Bt cotton plants after the harvest, saw thousands of sheep die

I have to mention that many people who have experienced serious intestinal issues have had them disappear when they switch from a commercial food diet to a strictly GMO free diet.  The same results have been found in livestock when their feed is changed from GMO to non-GMO feed. I think this says that humans, and animals, just might be having their health compromised from GMO’s.

I am not a guinea pig and I have the right to choose if I want to be a part of this mass experiment. Doctors used to appear on cigarette ads and commercials and we know that the public had been deceived about the safety of smoking for years, and we know the result of that-increased cancer deaths. Do we face the same situation with GMO’s in our food? WIth rising health care costs and rising rates of disease we have the right to protect ourselves and our families from food that might be harmful, but without labeling we cannot do this easily.

The companies that produce GMO seed have their beginnings in the industrial chemical world and the success of organic farmers around the globe have shown that organic farming is viable and often far more productive than chemical farming, and less costly too. We need jobs in this country and organic farming provides far more jobs, and safer ones than industrial agriculture with its high seed costs, high herbicide costs and high pollution and health costs.

If farmers want to grow GMO seed that is their choice but consumers need to know what they are putting in their bodies and their families bodies. When I go to the store and want to buy chicken or meat I want to know whether or not the animal was fed GMO seed and today that is not possible, unless I buy organic, and for many people they do not even know what questions to ask. When they are told a product is “natural” they assume it is.

Imagine, natural can mean GMO seed and GMO ingredients, and if it is truly natural how can Monsanto or Syngenta own the patent for the seed? How can a corporation own the rights to a seed that feeds us, this is the essence of life for humans. As these huge Agri-Business/BioTech corporations patent more and more seeds they literally ‘own’ our global food supply and that sounds pretty risky to me. And don’t forget, this is all driving sales of herbicides that the same corporations produce that patent the seeds.

If farmers want to grow GMO crops that is their choice but what about the farmer that does not want to grow these crops? When seeds from a GMO farm blow in the wind and begin to grow in someone else’s field those farmers are being sued by Monsanto and other seed companies for patent infringement. It seems to me that the GMO farmer and seed company are responsible and need to be held accountable rather than the innocent farmers having to defend themselves. We need to stand up and protect these farmers from this abuse. Many farmers have had to settle lawsuits because they did not have the money to defend themselves in court against these mega Agri-Business/BioTech corporations. If I can choose to not support companies that are doing this that is my right as a consumer so that I can support more ethical companies.

In the end this is a simple request, let us know what is in our food. If there is nothing wrong with GMO’s then what are these companies afraid of? Surely the excuse of higher costs for labeling is not the truth when you just look at all of the information already on our food labels.

In New Mexico we have an opportunity to be the first state to mandate labeling of genetically engineered ingredients in our food. This is good for consumers, local farmers and local business. It’s also good for our environment and our water supplies. And, it’s good for democracy.

Please support Senator Peter Wirth and Senate Bill 18 which has this important labeling amendment and let NM be the first state to require labeling of GMO’s. Call your representatives and join us at the Roundhouse when this bill moves through the Senate and hopefully then the House.

Ending GMO’s…we are just getting started.


California just came very close to passing the first statewide initiative in America that would have mandated the labeling of food if genetically modified organisms (GMO’s) were an ingredient. Prop 37 was known as the “The California Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act.”

If Proposition 37 had been approved, it would have:

  • Required labeling on raw or processed food offered for sale to consumers if the food is made from plants or animals with genetic material changed in specified ways.
  • Prohibited labeling or advertising such food as “natural.”
  • Exempted from this requirement foods that are “certified organic; unintentionally produced with genetically engineered material; made from animals fed or injected with genetically engineered material but not genetically engineered themselves; processed with or containing only small amounts of genetically engineered ingredients; administered for treatment of medical conditions; sold for immediate consumption such as in a restaurant; or alcoholic beverages.”

The measure was defeated when over one million dollars a day were pumped into deceptive advertising in the final 30 days of the campaign. Just to throw some figures out, Monsanto donated $8,112.867, Dupont donated $5,400,000 and Pepsico, the Grocery Manufacturers Assoc, Dow Agrisciences, Bayer Cropscience, BASF Plant Science and Syngenta all donated $2 million or more to the No on Prop 37 campaign. Kraft Foods Global came in just under $2 million donating $1,950,500 (maybe they thought we would not notice if it was under $2 million) and Coca Cola North America donated $1,700,500.

The Yes on Prop 37 campaign raised $8.7 million dollars, just a little more than what Monsanto alone donated to defeat this measure. You can read the full list of donors both for and against the proposition here. Over $45 million was donated to defeat a measure that would have given us the right to know what is in our food. Why don’t these companies, and many more, not want us to know that our food has been genetically modified?

I am not going to even address the many health concerns about humans, or animals, consuming GMO’s. At the end of this Huff Post article  you can read about “the health risks of GM food.”  The Institute for Responsible Technology has a lot information about the dangers of consuming GMO’s. Check out the film Genetic Roulette to learn more.

Even if the evidence on GMO’s for human consumption was glowing, and it is not (and since what we eat is a pretty important issue ‘experimenting’ with our food seems fraught with dangers especially when some studies show GMO’s might be causing tumors, cancers, digestive issues and other ailments worthy of further investigation), there still are a many reasons to eliminate their use. Here are a few I’ve put together…

-GMO’s contaminate other crops. This means organic crops are no longer organic. GMO’s cross with “natural” seeds including indigenous and heirloom varieties that have been cultivated in some cases for centuries They also reduce bio-diversity, which can be very dangerous since a monoculture crop is inherently more vulnerable to pests and extreme weather conditions compared to diverse crops. Plus, nature flourishes in its diversity, why should we narrow the crops available to humanity?

-With the introduction of these laboratory produced seeds herbicide use has also increased. A large portion of GMO crops are immune to the toxins of particular herbicides (manufactured by the very same company creating the GMO seed) but everything else is killed, that is unless you are talking about the super weeds that have developed resistance to the herbicides and require stronger and stronger chemicals to control them.

Dow Agrisciences (aka Dow Chemical) is seeking approval to re-introduce 2,4D  to kill those super weeds that have grown resistant to Monsanto’s RoundUp. Of course Dow has a genetically modified corn seed that is immune to 2,4D. Dow’s plan is for farmers to use a cocktail of both RoundUp (created by Monsanto) and 2,4D. Unfortunately us humans, as well as bees, other insects, mammals and fish are not immune to these chemicals. Did I mention 2,4D was a major ingredient in Agent Orange? Dow usually forgets to mention this too.

One of the selling points of GMO’s to farmers was that you could “kill weeds but not your crops”….and the use of herbicides increased. Herbicides are now in our water supplies and in our bodies. As their use increases, as it has with the introduction of GMO’s, there is more and more herbicide pollution harming the general public, our water supplies and especially the farmers growing our food. It is important to remember that these are chemical companies and they increase their revenue and profits by selling more chemicals.

Perhaps pesticides are even more dangerous than the GMO’s, although who really knows which is worse and that is the point. We must demand more independent studies and halt the use of GMO’s in the meantime, too much is at stake. For example, glyphosate the main ingredient in Monsanto’s RoundUp is an endocrine disruptor, as is Dow’s 2,4D, and both have been linked to a host of serious illnesses including cancers.

-Instead of farming being an occupation that can support a family and steward the land, the introduction of GMO’s and the industrialization of farming favors chemicals and big equipment, environment and human health be damned. The social structure of large swaths of this country are being dismantled as family farms sell out unable to support themselves. Plus now farmers face the wrath of Monsanto’s legal departments.

-Since GMO’s are not a product of nature the corporations creating these seeds have patent rights on them and can decide how they will be used. In fact, farmers are not permitted to re-use their seed for future crops (as is usually done) and have been sued by Monsanto for doing so. Monsanto maintains very vigorous policing divisions and they take samples from crops to be sure that if any farmer is growing Monsanto’s GMO crops they are paying for them.

Unfortunately farmers who do not want to be growing Monsanto’s GMO crops, or GMO’s from other chemical companies, are having their fields contaminated by seeds blowing in the wind or dropped by animals, and Monsanto is suing them. Organic crops are being contaminated by the GMO seed and the organic farmer is being sued by Monsanto…when Monsanto should be held liable for destroying years of careful care of the land and crops. Monsanto’s legal pockets are deep and it is the rare farmer that has the financial capacity to battle a giant like Monsanto. This film, David v Monsanto outlines the battle of a few farmers fighting back.

-Some GMO’s are created so that the plant itself can synthesize a toxin within the plant that is a pesticide. So basically you will be eating something that was a mini pesticide producing factory. Monsanto’s version contains a gene that allows the crop to produce Bt-toxins and this toxin then breaks open the stomach of certain insects and kills them.

Now insects are growing resistant to these toxins and Bt-toxin is being found in human blood. We are not sure what it is doing to our digestive systems, but many people who have had digestive problems no longer have them when they eliminate GMO’s from their diets. Interesting isn’t it? There are studies suggesting the growth of intestinal and digestive issues are related to Bt-toxins in our blood. Who ever heard of IBS 20 or 30 years ago before GMO’s were introduced in the 90’s?

-Monsanto, DuPont, Dow, Syngenta are all chemical companies and their mission is to sell chemicals. Do we want these companies controlling our food supply? These are the same companies who told us DDT and Agent Orange were safe. With such a huge proportion of crops being GMO, and a desire to increase these GMO crops, we are in jeopardy of turning over a large proportion of our food supply to these companies, who have in the past been irresponsible when it comes to protecting the public.

There are many more good reasons that we need to be worried about GMO seed but the bottom line is we should be able to choose. 50 other countries require labeling and from France to Russia many GMO’s are banned or very closely regulated. Did you know that part of what Wikileaks exposed was how the US was pressuring other countries to allow GMO’s?

The ballot initiative in California was just the beginning of the public’s demand that our food be labeled. Over a million people have signed a petition asking the FDA to require labeling. Learn more about this important issue and to really be sure you are avoiding GMO’s eat organic especially if what you are buying contains corn (that includes corn syrup or any other corn derivative), soy, canola or aspartame. Also zucchini and yellow squash have been genetically modified. And be sure any dairy that you eat is rBGH free.

Here is a comprehensive list of GMO products and you can even download an app to help you make better choices at the market.

And finally here are some web sites to help you learn more:

Center for Food Safety 

Institute for Responsible Technology

Organic Consumers Association   

Yes on 37 – Right to Know 

The Cornucopia Institute

The Non-GMO Project

and a few earlier articles at SmartLifeways on GMO’s

Confused About GMO’s?  

Millions Against Monsanto-What’s the Problem with Monsanto? 

Joining Together to Save our Food Choices   

Can we Live Without Monsanto?  


Wishing you well and I am glad to be back after quite a long absence from writing about SmartLifeways.

Who is Tim DeChristopher?

Tim DeChristopher-Environmental Hero and now a convicted felon for bringing attention to an illegal auction. Something is wrong here.

This is a great interview of Tim DeChristopher from Chris Hedges. I wanted to share it since these words are what inspired me to organize a day of solidarity for Tim after hearing him speak last week.  I hope that it proves inspirational to you. Tim does an excellent job at connecting the dots when it comes to the issues that we are facing today.

So much of what we are challenged with today are inter related and basically come down to the priorities most corporations use for decision making (profits at any cost) and the refusal of our government to put us citizens, who elected them and who they are supposed to represent, first. Whether we are looking at energy policy, our food system, medical care or the collapse of our educational system we can see that something is very wrong, unless of course corporate profits are the reason that we all exist.

I think that this is why I see the decisions that each of us make every day to be so important. We have an opportunity to pay attention to what matters most to us and then act accordingly. If we are concerned about the environment what are we doing personally, no matter how small the act may seem.

Do we support local farmers or shop at a commercial market to save a few dollars. I know that times are hard but cooking a meal at home costs so much less than buying prepared food and with that savings you can buy organic. If you have an errand nearby could you walk, ride a bike or take the bus rather than jump in your car? There are so many ways we can all make a difference-just turning off the lights you are not using saves energy and that means less demand for coal or oil or nuclear energy.

Are you on overload or do you take a little time to learn about what is really going on in the world? For a democracy to exist its citizens must be informed and hold the government accountable. Unfortunately this is not happening. Corporate influence in elections is becoming more and more obvious and yet little is being done to change this. In fact the Supreme Court actually gave corporations the same rights as people! It is projected that President Obama will spend one billion dollars in his re-election campaign. This just seems wrong to me. Isn’t this merely seeing who can outspend to convince the American public who to vote for rather than focusing on the real issues and solutions to the problems the majority of the country is facing, not the 1% on the top of the heap.

There are so many critical issues confronting us today that I do not think we can sit back and just wait for someone else to fix it for us. We are all responsible. I hope that Tim and others like him will inspire and EMPOWER you to start your own private revolution to live a life that is more in calling with what you believe. Don’t think that any action is too small-they all matter and you are not alone in this.

If you didn’t read the earlier post on Tim check this out and if you think that it is a good idea sign the petition to ask President Obama to pardon this brave, young man who actually is a hero and should never have to serve time…at least as long as we live in a democracy.

Solidarity with Tim DeChristopher

Last Monday I had the privilege to hear environmental activist Tim DeChristopher, give a talk here in Santa Fe, NM.

Tim DeChristopher… environmental, and human, hero. Let’s rally in solidarity for this brave being. Photo by Jennifer Esperanza

Tim’s activism took a more committed turn when he attended a BLM auction in December 2008  that was selling pristine wilderness for oil and gas development. Tim had thought that he might interrupt the auction to bring attention to the fact that the government had not followed its own rules when it fast tracked this auction as one of outgoing President Bush’s final acts. However when Tim arrived he was asked if he was a bidder and he replied yes, and with that simple act his life was changed dramatically. Tim bid, and won, many parcels of land saving them from being purchased by oil and gas companies.

To make a long story short Tim now faces a guilty verdict on two felonies, in spite of the fact that auction was later ruled to be illegal. His sentencing was originally scheduled for this coming Thursday but has now been postponed until July 26. This is a dramatic example of someone putting themselves on the line for what they believe, with the desire to bring more attention to the calamity we are facing with climate change, and that we all must starting doing more to make a difference.

We can no longer wait for the government to take effective action, we see it just is not happening. Each of us are being called upon to act and to act now. This is a call to love ourselves, each other, our planet and all of those that we share it with…plant, animal, waterway, mountain. We are all connected and face a perilous future if we don’t take a realistic look at what we are doing to the planet and each other and make some big changes. When the driving force is no longer power and money many things will change and we can lead the way to this new paradigm that can improve everyone’s life on the planet.

I have started an online petition asking President Obama to pardon Tim DeChristopher so that this inspiring young man does not have to serve prison time. If you support this idea please join me and sign the petition. Tim seemed quite peaceful with the idea that he could face ten years in jail, and more realistically four and half years could be his sentence, however I feel that he could be more effective doing what he is doing now and that is inspiring others to take some sort of action as they feel inspired. He acknowledges that each of our actions need to come from ourselves, not someone telling us what to do, so each of us may come up with a variety of actions.

The organization that I think was created as a result of Tim’s action is called Peaceful Uprising and they advocate “defending a livable future through empowering nonviolent action”.  We must become empowered to act to save our future and the next generation’s future.

Peaceful Uprising is supporting actions across the country on Tim’s new sentencing date of July 26. You can read about Tim, the trial and actions on this day here.  In the meantime they also are asking for a show of solidarity this Thursday the 23rd, Tim’s original sentencing date.

Join me to stand in solidarity with Tim at the New Mexico Federal Courthouse, 106 S Federal Place, Santa Fe 87501 (here is a map) June 23, 2011 from 4-5:30. If you are in another state check the website to see if an action is planned near you or start one.

Empower yourself to stand up for what you believe in….taking action is one way to create the change that we want to see and be. I hope to see you on Thursday.

Let's reclaim our power.


Live as if the future matters…..because it really does.

Join a Revolution where we all matter.

This Mother’s Day a global mobilization is taking place, organized by youth to bring attention to the realities of climate change and the future they could face if things do not change, and change soon. You can read more about this exciting and inspired organization that was started by 16 year old Alec Loorz, a climate change activist since he was 12! He started Kids vs. Global Warming after watching An Inconvenient Truth and his life, and his families, has not been the same since. He has spent much of the last four years speaking to hundreds of thousands of youth and adults about this.

I was lucky enough to see and hear him at last years Bioneers conference. You can hear him too. He was introduced by Dr. James Hansen-pretty inspired company for a 16 year old, and I think that Dr. Hansen would say the same about Alec.

Many of us are aware of the changes that we are already experiencing as a result of climate change, and if things continue without significant shifts life could be drastically different on planet Earth in just a few decades.

Who will have to deal with these new realities the most?

The youth of today and it is for this reason that more and more young people are mobilizing to create real change on a local level and also letting politicians know that we must do something to stop the climate changes that we are experiencing.

These young activists may not be able to vote yet but their voices are loud, strong and filled with passion and determination….they see a potential future very different from today and know that we must do more today to prevent such a future. These changes will be to everyone’s benefit. OK maybe not beneficial for big Oil, big-Agriculture, and few other industries, but for the rest of us…..well, we would have a much better world to live in.

Here is a link to learn more about the iMatter March and you can see if one is already organized where you live, and if not you can organize one, and here are the steps on how to do just that. Events are planned all across the globe including New Zealand, Ghana and even here in Santa Fe, NM. So join in to show that you care about youth around the globe, the future and all of us who will live in that future.

Join the Revolution….

It was Thomas Jefferson who said, “Every generation needs a revolution,”  so be a good American and join this one.

We really need it and need it now.

We all matter...and it's time to do something about that.

The BP oil spill, Fukushima, GMO’s….

Say No to GMO
We can demand labeling of our food so that we can choose if we want GMO's

We have watched the oil spilling, no gushing is more accurate from the exploded deepwater drilling rig. We cannot see what is spewing from Fukushima, but we know that it is dangerous and potentially deadly. We see these events in the news yet there is something else potentially equally dangerous, and maybe even worse, and that is genetically modified organisms in the seed that is used to grow our food.

You can watch a very short video about it called CAP THE GENE SPILL from NO GMO on Vimeo.

And you can learn more about why this is so dangerous here in this short piece, What’s the Problem with Monsanto. Slowly but surely over the last twenty five years or so GMO’s have silently made their way into our food supply in the US. Many countries around the globe ban these genetically modified seeds and/or have laws that demand proper food labeling so that consumers can chose if they want to eat these scientifically unproved changes to our food.

This link will take you to a very informative talk on GMO’s that was organized and moderated by Deepak Chopra-it provides a wonderful discussion of the reasons that we need to retreat from this form of agriculture, and at the very least have the right to chose……..

Learn more and join the growing numbers that are saying NO to GMO’s.

Confused About GMO’s?

Say No to GMO
We can demand labeling of our food so that we can choose if we want GMO's

If you are wondering what all of the fuss is about GMO’s (genetically modified organisms) in our food then this video will tell you much of what you need to know to learn about what they are and how dangerous they are.

Watch live streaming video from deepakhomebase at livestream.com

You can learn more at the Center for Food Safety web site and also there are a number of stories here at SmartLifeways if you search GMO.

Millions Against Monsanto-What’s the problem with Monsanto?

Be one of the Millions Against Monsanto

I am in the process of organizing a last minute rally in Santa Fe, NM to participate in the Millions Against Monsanto -Rally for Our Right To Know. This is an event to bring attention to the widespread use (and rapidly growing) of genetically modified organisms (GMO’s) in our food supply.

These are the “Rally Demands:

1. We have the right to know and want genetically modified foods labeled.

2. We want factory farmed animal and genetically modified animal products labeled.

3. We want independent, transparent, long-term studies done on the safety of GMOs for animals/plants/humans.

4. We want the organic industry protected from cross-contamination and law suits to organic farmers.

The FDA currently considers GM foods “substantially equivalent” or GRAS (generally recognized as safe) and therefore doesn’t require labeling. There is a growing body of evidence that show health and environmental concerns, Corporate control of world food and seed supplies, monopolization through patents and government lobbying interest over human interest and safety. Monsanto is the leader in GM patents.”

So what’s wrong with Monsanto, and the other companies selling GMO seed including Syngenta and Dow?

Here are my top issues and I don’t bring in scientific research which does not show that GMO’s are safe. I am not happy with the “generally recognized as safe” attitude of the FDA-most of the submitted studies have come from the companies producing GMO seeds, and how many times have we heard this at first only to learn that our health has been compromised…how about cigarettes?

-GMO seed is often created to withstand larger doses of the herbicide RoundUp (also manufactured by Monsanto), it kills all other plant life as well as insects and poisons birds, and then more contaminated runoff poisons our waterways and ground water, not to mention the workers who grow our food. Many believe the over use of such chemicals will have dire consequences such as infertile soil, non productive crops and less nutritious crops. The use of this chemical also is producing super weeds that are becoming resistant to the herbicide. Another type of genetic modification creates plants that actually produce a pesticide.

-These GMO ingredients are in so many products, and in effect much of this does not need to be in our food, think corn sweeteners. Farmland could be better used and without pesticides and herbicides.

-Farmers cannot use the seed that is left at the end of the season (as has always been the practice) and must buy new seed each year from Monsanto. This puts farmers at the mercy of the company should prices rise on either the seed or the chemicals needed to grow the seeds. This also has created a dangerous dependency on one or a very few companies that control the vast majority of the seeds that grow the food that feeds much of this county and in fact most of the world’s food supply….Scary isn’t it?

-Monsanto has taken an aggressive stand and has been suing farmers who have had their fields “infected” with Monsanto seed. Most farmers cannot afford the costly legal battles and settle with the corporate giant, others fight on for years against the billion dollar company. Hundreds of farmers have been sued by Monsanto.

-Most animals raised in America are eating feed containing genetically engineered ingredients…and no one knows what this can mean for humans and the animals.

-In the European Union genetically modified ingredients must be shown on food packaging. Genetically engineered crops are banned in much of Europe and the use of these seeds has reduced exports. In addition a recent British study states that GE crops have cost American taxpayers $12 billion in farm subsidies in the past three years.

-Monsanto is the creator of Agent Orange (remember they said that was safe too), PCB’s  and their bi-product dioxin. Do you want them controlling the world’s food supply?

90% of Canola, Soy, Corn, Cotton are genetically modified.

If it doesn’t say organic it probably has GMO ingredients.

Don’t you have the right to know?

Join in the rally to demand accurate food labeling. You will find tools here to assist you in taking action letting our government and markets know that this matters to you.

For more information on this important subject check out these web sites and search “Monsanto” on SmartLifeways.

Organic Consumers Association

Center For Food Safety

Cornucopia Institute

Not all Organics Are Alike

Is this really organic milk? Synthetic additives have no place in organics.

For many who have recently transitioned to eating organic food (and even for many who have been eating organic for years), it can seem like an easy change…just buy products that are labeled “Organic”. Sad to say but today not all organics are really what many of us, myself included, would consider organic in the true sense of the word.

Most of these “quasi-organic” products come from companies that once may have been organic in theory and in fact but are now owned by major industrial food suppliers like Dean Foods, M&M Mars, and General Mills-not quite the quant little farm you imagined from the label. If you want to see how knowledgable you are about the food that you are buying here is an earlier post with a test, brought to us from Planet Green, of who owns what brands…you may be surprised who actually owns some of the most popular organic brands.

One area where there is much controversy surrounding organics is milk, and this heated up in January when GMO-alfalfa was approved by Tom Vilsack, the head of the Department of Agriculture. The potential for cross-contamination of organically grown alfalfa is greatly increased since this was passed and the consequences could be huge for organically fed cows.

Beyond the GMO controversy, which is something more citizens need to become aware of (did you know that GMO crops use more pesticides because they have been genetically altered to withstand more spraying while the surrounding weeds and insects are killed) there is also the issue of what is truly organic. This article from Tom Philpott at Grist about Horizon brand milk, owned by Dean Foods and the largest selling brand of organic milk in the US, and their use of synthetic DHA in what is labeled organic is right to the point about the differences in organics.

Synthetic additives have no business in anything labeled organic and in fact the USDA “recently acknowledged that it was “incorrect” to allow synthetic DHA in organic products in the first place”. But such products still carry the USDA organic label.  When cows graze on grass they naturally have healthier fats including the Omega-3’s that Dean is adding in synthetic form. So much of today’s food is just messing with what nature has provided for centuries and instead uses chemical additives that are being shown to be harmful to humans and animals as well (over 70% of all antibiotics in the US are used on farm animals, and that means you are getting the antibiotics when you eat those animals). It’s time to get back to food as nature makes it not mega food corporations, that don’t really care about your health just your shopping dollars.

Our food supply is something that is necessary for our survival and in fact beyond mere survival, for us to flourish as human beings and not be hampered by recurring and chronic illness. What many in the food industry have done is replace good, healthy, natural food with more and more synthetic compounds that our bodies are not meant to ingest. It is no coincidence that since the widespread introduction in our food supply of industrially grown, pesticide sprayed and synthetically created compounds health problems have sky rocketed in the US, not to mention health care costs.

Many have thought that anything labeled organic would protect them, however with the USDA’s labeling and bowing down to corporate interests not all organics are really organic anymore. Here is another post that can help in making more informed decisions when you shop, and more on Dean Foods, they also own Silk soy milk.

So while switching to organic can be a tremendous benefit to your health we all could  be a little bit more attentive when we shop rather than just picking up anything labeled organic. Unfortunately government standardization of organics diluted rather than strengthened what organic really means.