Two and a half years ago I lived for one whole month without eating, wearing or washing with any Monsanto products.
I undertook this admittedly unusual project for one very simple reason. It was not (as I was often misquoted as saying) because I saw Food, Inc. It was also not to put Monsanto out of business by boycotting their products (the idea that Monsanto gives a damn what one woman chooses to eat or not eat is frankly laughable). It was, in fact, that I was curious.
I had recently become aware of Monsanto as a company, and was curious just how much of my food originated with them. I was a new mother at the time, and I was skeptical that GMO’s were as safe as the government said they were, especially since I had heard that many countries in Europe refused to allow them to be sold in markets there. In retrospect, I now realize that the thing I was really interested in investigating was how much of my food contained genetically modified ingredients, but A Month Without GMO’s didn’t have as nice a ring to it, and given that Monsanto is one of the biggest producers of GMOs, I settled on A Month Without Monsanto.
Oh, what a little alliteration can do.
Because, as I now know, Monsanto is so much more than GMO. Yes, that’s a biggie for them, but they have also been buying up seed companies for decades. Even organic farmers, using all organic farming methods, can easily buy seeds from Monsanto subsidiaries, without ever knowing it (if they don’t do their homework). Seeds that are not genetically modified can still be classified as organic, even if they’re owned by Monsanto. What’s more, Monsanto is the biggest seller of cottonseeds, both in the US and abroad. So if you wear non-organic cotton, you’re wearing Monsanto. And that shampoo you spent too much on? That soy that leaves your hair so nice and shiny? Monsanto. And don’t even get me started on the ethanol in your gas tank – it’s made from Monsanto corn. It is ridiculously hard to avoid Monsanto. I mean stupid-hard.
So why do it?
Well, as I said, I was curious. I was also a grad student, with plenty of time to spend talking to farmers and food processors, to trace down the origin of the ingredients in their products. Since then, I’ve had another baby and landed a full time job, making me a working mother of two.
When Cassie and I started the Digging Deep website, we knew we wanted to repeat the Month Without Monsanto experiment, but the right time never seemed to present itself. Instead we focused on building up our team of bloggers to ask other questions about food, and I could not be more proud of what has evolved from our work. But the Month Without Monsanto always hovered close, just waiting for the right time. And it turns out, that time is now.
You see, on Tuesday, November 6th, just five weeks from now, California will vote on Prop 37 – an initiative that would require labels for foods containing genetically modified ingredients. What better way to show how little we know about GMOs in our foods than to struggle to avoid them for a whole month?
So here we go.
I’ll be honest, I’m daunted. As I mentioned, I don’t have the same time to spend on this as I did two years ago, so I’m setting guidelines that work for me. I am committing to cooking entirely #Nonsanto dinners for my family and me for the month of October. I’ve talked with the farmers at my local farmers market to find out which ones buy #Nonsanto seeds. I know which vendors sell meat that was not raised on Monsanto grain. I even know a few processed foods that don’t contain Monsanto products.
I’d like to take this opportunity to invite you to join us. Maybe you’ve been doing the organic thing for years now and you’re ready to tackle the #Nonsanto challenge for a full month. Or maybe you’re like me and the idea of adding anything to your plate (literal or metaphorical) is overwhelming. In that case, set a goal. If a month of #Nonsanto dinners still feels like too much, maybe you commit to just doing Sunday dinners. Even if you just pick one day in October to go Monsanto-free, we’re excited to have you on board and we hope you’ll share what you learn along the way.
I’ll be posting my #Nonsanto dinner recipes as I come up with them. As of right now, it’s looking like it will be mostly Lundberg Rice and veggies, with the occasional Annie’s Mac and Cheese, but I’m hoping that list will expand.
It’s going to be a long month.