Eartha Steward: Don’t you want to know what’s in your food? |

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Eartha Steward: Don’t you want to know what’s in your food?

Dear Eartha:

Have you heard about Proposition 37, which would require labeling of genetically engineered foods in California? I think this is a great opportunity to educate our

community about health and

environmental issues concerning GMOs and what we can do to fight it.

– Kathy, Frisco

There is a huge battle going on in the farming world and it’s not restricted to California. Genetically engineered foods (GE) or genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are threatening our food system and our health. California’s Proposition 37, on the ballot for Nov. 6, would require foods containing GE/GMOs to be labeled. This could potentially impact the rest of the country, including Colorado. Don’t you want to know what’s in your food?

Genetically engineered foods are not a new concept. They’ve been around for decades. GMOs or GE crops go through a “transgenic” process where DNA from one species is shifted to another species that can result in a mixture of plant, bacteria, animal and viral gene pools.

GEs have become a hot topic in the last couple of years because of several reasons including concerns for the nation’s health and out-of-control obesity rates; loss of biodiversity; the underground food movement of community gardeners, young farmers and local food campaigns; and the outcry of many local food heroes that have worked tirelessly to get the word out about the dangers of a GE planet.

What is alarming is that GEs are already prevalent in the food system. Genetically modified foods are on the shelf and we’ve been purchasing and eating them for years with little understanding of what they do to our bodies and our environment. Corn, soybean, cotton, alfalfa, zucchini, canola and sugar beets are GE crops on the U.S. market. The most alarming of these products are the grains – corn and soy. GE grains are fed to the majority of livestock in the U.S. (according to the “Just Label It” campaign).

In addition, high fructose corn syrup (now being disguised as “corn sugar” on some labels) is genetically modified. According to Colorado State Extension, “Because many processed food products contain soybean or corn ingredients (e.g., high fructose corn syrup or soy protein), it’s estimated that 60 to 70 percent of processed foods in grocery stores include at least one GE ingredient.”

Proposition 37, the mother of all food fights, is not only about the labeling of GE ingredients, it includes an ingenious educational campaign that will hopefully be a “wake-up call” for those who were unaware of the unsustainable side of our food system.

Proposition 37 has also unveiled the ugly side of agribusiness calling out such giants as Monsanto, DuPont, Bayer and Dow. Detailed charts have shown us diehard, organic shoppers that you can’t always trust the label or the company. Unfortunately, many organic brands have been gobbled up by larger, not-so-organic companies that are now confirming their allegiances to GE and Monsanto. Such brands as Muir Glen, Kashi, Cascadian Farm and Horizon (just to name a few), which can be found at our favorite natural food stores, are now under the wings of General Mills, Kellogg and Dean foods.

Currently, “USDA Organic” regulations do prohibit the use of GMOs. Nonetheless, the organic label and livelihood is being threatened by large agribusinesses supporting GE food (not labeling). The only true to way to know your food is GE-free and GMO-free is to support a national labeling campaign (Proposition 37 is a good start).

Support local ranchers and farmers that are choosing sustainable growing/

raising standards and purchase products from businesses that stand for what you believe in (not the other way around). Small companies that are spending money fighting GE and Monsanto need your dollars! Companies such as Organic Valley, Nature’s Path, Amy’s, Annie’s, Eden, Earthbound Farm… that we recognize and have come to love.

You can also sign a petition in support of Proposition 37 while educating yourself, your family and your friends. Some great resources to get you started include The Cornucopia Institute, Food and Water Watch and Just Label It.

Finally, support organizations in your community that are always working on a local and sustainable food programs. High Country Conservation Center’s fourth annual Harvest Dinner is tonight at Vinny’s Restaurant in Frisco. At the Harvest Dinner, you can find fresh, GMO-free ingredients brought to you by local farms and community gardens. HC3 is taking reservations for the dinner and all proceeds benefit our conservation programs. Call (970) 668-5703 or visit http://www.highcountry

Ask Eartha Steward is written by the staff at the High Country Conservation Center, a nonprofit organization dedicated to waste reduction and resource conservation. Submit questions to Eartha at