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Difficulty Loves Company

Written by Jazz Glastra on 28 September 2012.

Monsanto_patent_pending-300x212It’s almost October. That means I’m about to go as #Nonsanto as possible for an entire month, starting with my food. And October isn’t even one of those mercifully short months. Nope, I’m about to commit to a full 31 days of going without GMO products. A couple of days ago this all hit me, and I kind of panicked. What a lonely 31 days! No going out to dinner. No grabbing lunch from the coffee shop with my coworker. Since I’m kind of new to the whole GMO issue, to be perfectly honest, this whole experiment is thoroughly out of my comfort zone.

I had an idea. What about getting others in my community to join in the fun? I’ve learned that almost anything can be fun when a community of people gets involved, so I posted my plea for co-conspirators in the fight against GMOs on a couple of foodie- and “green-” themed Milwaukee listservs. Thus far, five people have agreed to give it a whirl.  Not only will we be able to share tips and resources, but I’m also hoping we’ll be able to gather together for at least a couple of meals to share our experiences, and maybe even enjoy ourselves!

We haven’t had a chance to decide on our “rules” yet. The dazzling complexity of our food distribution system obfuscates the processes by which food (or in some cases, “food”) is produced, and this is becoming an issue in my search for GMO-free food. For example, can I eat honey? I have no way of knowing whether the bees that made it were hived near a cornfield. Does contaminated pollen mean contaminated honey? And don’t even get me STARTED on trying to sort out what Monsanto subsidiaries have made their way into the natural food aisle. These are some of the questions I’m hoping to discuss with my Month Without Monsanto community; it’s going to be a long, steep learning curve for this blogger.

It’s no coincidence that the sustainable food movement has a very strong communitarian element, and I think this experiment reveals a great example of why that is. For instance, if our communities were strong enough to feed themselves, then maybe I wouldn’t be so worried about finding reliable sources of #Nonsanto grub. We would already know the food because we’d know the people who grow it and what kind of farmers they are. Luckily for me, the farmers markets in my area largely run throughout October. That means I’ll be able to meet the people who grow my food (or at least meet people who work for the people who grows it.) Being able to meet producers face-to-face will save me quite a bit of research and time. Any farmer worth her stripes will know exactly what kind of seeds she is using, or what she is feeding her livestock.

Here’s another reason community is important to the sustainable food movement. Eating sustainably—and that includes avoiding GMOs—is not easy. Maybe you live in California, are a member of two organic co-ops, subscribe to a year round CSA, and have access to fresh #Nonsanto food out of your garden year round. Unfortunately, that’s not how it works for most of us. Eating sustainably is HARD, but it’s a heck of a lot easier when you can rely on your community to help you.  Beyond the mutual benefits that can be gained through resource-sharing, there’s a lot to be said for enjoying the companionship of folks who share a challenge with you. We’re all in this together, right?

If you live in the Milwaukee area and would like to be a part of the experiment, email me This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Sources for this post:

Although corn is pollinated by the wind, bees still “work corn” according to this article:

April’s post on how Monsanto is pretty much everywhere, including organics:

Dig Deeper:

Most of the responses to my call for co-conspirators came from Transition Milwaukee. If you haven’t heard of Transition, check out this global movement here:

Picture source:


0 #1 Alicia B. Johnston 2012-09-30 10:16
Jazz- great idea to reach out to the community for "co-conspirators" this month. Mainstream America has moved away from interdependence and community, especially when it comes to food production, and these are two huge assets of the local and sustainable foods movement. Think of the produce swaps you can do with other #nonsanto friends! Good luck with the month, and I'm looking forward to reading about it here.

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