World Food Day: Sustainable Food and no GMOs
Today is World Food Day, and many people are focusing on what each of us can do to help feed our hungry planet. It’s also a good day to learn about genetically modified food, because October is Non-GMO Month.
One solution to eating more sustainably, proposed by Oxfam America (an international relief organization), is the GROW solution. There are five basic ideas of GROW:
1. Save food. No waste.
2. Shop seasonal. Buying food that’s in season saves energy and can help local farms.
3. Eat less meat. More resources go to raising meat than into other foods.
4. Support farmers. Small farms are more sustainable.
5. Cook smart. Use less water and less energy when cooking.
I think these are also just great ways for families to save money on food!
For some ideas on how to put GROW into action, check out Oxfam’s GROW Method Pinterest board for recipes.
In light of California’s Proposition 37 to label all products that contain genetically modified foods, I think World Food Day is also a good time to consider avoiding genetically modified foods. GM foods have been altered genetically and use a greater amount of chemicals like pesticides and herbicides, which kill good pollinators like bees and butterflies, and which end up in our soil and water. And then people and livestock eat that food! My family has recently become more aware of GM products and has tried to avoid them by not buying products made by the companies that have paid to fight the California Proposition 37 labeling. I feel that by not giving our money to companies that don’t want to label what we’re eating, I am sending the message that is not what we want. We don’t want food that has been changed and developed new proteins that have caused allergic reactions because the body doesn’t recognize them. We don’t want food grown with undue amounts of herbicides or pesticides. But we definitely do want to know what’s in our food and how it was made. With my oldest son having six of the top 8 food allergies — and the rise in food allergies linked to genetic modification of foods — this is something we are especially concerned with. (There have never been clinical trials of GM food.) Unfortunately, this has meant giving up some of our favorite natural and even organic foods like Cascadian Farms frozen vegetables and gluten-free Larabars because their parent companies have donated millions of dollars to fight GM labeling. We have given up IZZE soda, juice by Naked and Odwalla, and Honest Tea. No more Alexia sweet potato fries that we used to love. Nothing by Smuckers or Silk. Instead, we look for food companies that don’t use GM ingredients and that are happy to say so, like Rumiano Cheese, the first cheese verified as non-GMO, Lundberg Farms rice and Nature’s Path EnviroKidz snacks.
Fortunately, Oxfam states on its site that GM food hasn’t been the answer to feeding the world’s hungry people, as the industry had promised — although it “takes no policy position for or against GM technology.”
Oxfam is asking people to “make simple changes in the way we grow, cook, eat and store our food to be more sustainable.” I think this is a great idea! For example, my sons and I have been growing our own vegetables since this spring (easy to do when you live in southern Florida — and if you follow me on Instagram you’ve probably seen some garden pictures), and this fall we planted even more vegetables. We have also added three new fruit trees to our yard this year. I think teaching kids where food comes from and involving them in the process of growing, cooking and eating food gives them a basis for eating healthy and sustainably the rest of their lives.
Another thing my family does to help people who don’t have enough to eat is support communities and families through organizations like World Vision and Compassion International.
Helping people directly, eating with the GROW Method and shopping for non-GMO food are good steps we can take to promote more sustainable food and a better environment and world.