Monday, December 19, 2011

Genetically Modified Organism or GMOs

I first became aware of Genetically Modified Organism or genetically modified foods back in the 1990s. We were living out in the country and a large cereal corporation in Battle Creek was going to be using these modified oats and corn in their cereals. And the few people the knew about it at the time, didn't like the idea. I didn't like it either.

I remember the first time I went into a store that sold everything from clothing to household items and I saw a stack of pizzas in an open frozen container and there was a sign on the tippy top and it read, "Now using real cheese." Yeah. Really. I never thought to check in the ingredients for whether or not real cheese was being used on my frozen pizza. So I stopped buying anything with cheese in it or on it that was made in this country. Especially, if I couldn't be sure nothing genetically engineered was being used to make it. And I found out it had infiltrated just about everything. Even rice. Even Wheat. Adding chemical components to natural foods to create a desired affect, like never feeling full. Ingenious for food supplier. Pretty soon everything can be a chemical compound and we will all be completely reliant on these companies to provide our food for us. I mean one day someone said to me I couldn't drink six cans of water in half an hour. And still want to drink more. Why is that? So on the rare occasion I have a beer I drink a Guinness. Because about half way through I have thoroughly enjoyed my beer and I felt satisfied. I don't think I've ever had a full glass. And I get the smaller ones. I get full when I eat a carrot but could eat a sandwich on wheat bread and not feel full. Gradually I have made changes in what I buy and what I eat. And whenever I deviate from this I always feel, physically feel, different. But maybe that's just me.

I don't ever like it when new, unproved things, are pushed on the people and we aren't given a choice about it. One of the head guys made a comment that was something like, the people don't know what these are and they don't care. Well, this caused a ruckus and got way more attention than the processing companies wanted, who were providing this modified food to the cereal company and so the big guy got fired or relocated somewhere else and the noise quieted and everything went back the way it was. And GMO's were slowly introduced into packaged foods and now, on the store shelves or your fresh fruits and veggies and juices. Like it or not.

I got to thinking about this and was glad I was growing my own food. With saved seeds and without any pesticides. My organic pasture provided for livestock in the area, including my own. And my llamas and donkeys provided plenty of fertilizer the old fashioned way. In the fall I spread hay over my garden and used I used it to help slow down the weeds in between the rows in the spring. Low tech and healthy. And as I worked in my garden I used to notice that the insects seemed to be there and then I'd see them leave and others would come. I went to a really interesting communal house that did gardening and trained oxen and made yolks and they were studying the use of these insects and chickens to keep the insect population down and help fertilize their crops.

I began to further realize why the wild quail that lived on my farm were so helpful and necessary. And then I started to think, I wonder if isolating crops goes contrary to nature. I wonder if I grew areas of certain foods without rows and grew other fruits or veggies and flowers would have a positive affect on the birds that would visit and the insect population. And this turned out to be a good thing. When I moved to Illinois I began with making sure my land was free of sprays and chemicals. After seven years I started adding pretty bushes and trees. I liked pruning them and watching them grow. And then I started adding onions and garlic and herbs. This past year is my tenth here and I decided it was time to start planting berries. So I planted a patch of black raspberries and a couple of blueberry bushes; none of which had been genetically engineered. One of the blueberry bushes didn't make it. But everything else thrived. It got some kind of bug all over it and I didn't want it to spread and didn't know what else to do and it was already dying by the time I noticed it. So I pulled it and got it away from my healthy plants.

Then I found out more about GMO's and seeds and I found out about this great resource.
Here is the link:
Heirloom Organic Seeds

This year I'm planting beans, all kinds of beans, all along my raw wood fence. And I'm going to plant some grapes and tomatoes (from my own heirloom seeds) out front. My goal is to have a front and back yard that looks like a naturally varied source of food.

Through the years of watching my plants, the food, where they were growing best and when to plant them I learned something. Plants are a carrier of bug business, some times its waste and some times its new little bugs in a kind of clear looking goo. The relationship between the two is absolutely symbiotic. I started thinking maybe I was on the right track with random growing. And seeing what grew well together and that maybe this would also keep the insects there but not so much that they took over the garden and ate all of the food it produced. And you know what? Without knowing which bugs went where, between the birds and other bugs, I had healthy plants and lots of happy birds.

And then it occurred to me that just as with mother's milk, all of the healthy germ and disease fighting stuff we had taken a life time to develop in our own bodies and was passed along to our babies, well, just maybe we needed these bugs in our gardens to do the same thing for us. There are lots of people in this country who have all kinds of immune deficiencies and ailments. Maybe from looking at plant life through the lens of a lab, all separated and sterile, we are causing harm, not only to the plants and insect life, but to ourselves as well.

I decided to see what others were saying about GMO's and I was SHOCKED to see what is going on today. These are some very good videos that will help to inform you. There is a reason why other countries do not want crops from our country. There is a reason why so many people in this country look like cows. Everything is corn fed. I mean everything. Shrimp. Beef. Pork. Chickens. And it makes its way into our cows milk too. And it isn't just corn, its also soy and all kinds of other foods. Monsanto is a huge company that has been working on this for years.

In order to make better decisions we need to know more. One thing we can do is write our congressmen and make sure that all of our food that has been genetically modified has a clear label saying its ingredients contain GMO's in them. But another way is to make sure we get good seed and we don't pollute the land we are lucky enough to live on, even if it is a small bit. And we can grow our own food. Even if it's just herbs in the beginning or one tomato plant or one berry bush. It is a start. And good starts grow into trends. And maybe farmers will find they do better when they use good seed and dry a portion of the seeds from their crops themselves so they can ensure their seeds are not polluted by GMO's. Empowerment is more about the choices we make to take steps toward making our lives, the lives around us and the earth a better place.

It's like this, I was raised to look in a room when you enter it. And make sure it looks the same or better when you leave it. So if you bring a glass in the room with something to drink in it, when you leave the room, pick up the glass and clean it in the sink. When I lived in a communally, years ago, this basic principal worked. We all cleaned up after ourselves and nobody had to tell us what to do. And by doing the right thing ourselves, we all lived well together. I miss those days.

I've seen documentaries and heard tales of farmers getting bullied into buying genetically modified seed and pesticides and how feeding the crops that grew from these seeds has had an effect on the infertility of their livestock. I've seen a documentary about how six months after a farmer stopped using these seeds and corn and soy, their pigs went back to producing young the old fashioned way.

Silk Soymilk Labeling
GMO FREE Food Brands
Informative Site and Monsanto Documentary

Wherever you live, you have the power to make it better. You have the power to take care of it. So many people choose to be lazy. Oh they are whirring around, texting and using smart phones. While they buy processed foods, filled with GMO's or eat out so they don't have to cook and clean up after themselves. But what they are missing is that when you buy it fresh, it tastes better and you actually feel full. And in the long run it is way cheaper to eat less and put good healthy food in your body than the alternative, which leads to all kinds of nasty diseases and cancer. And your kitchen smells good when you cook something yummy in it. And you get to anticipate how it will taste. Power to the people is a nice catch phrase, but it requires involvement, personal involvement in the choices we make too. I'm not tellin, I'm just sayin. You don't have to change everything in one day. But little by little it is amazing how much you can accomplish in a year's time. If you want your grocery store to carry organic foods ask them to carry more. If you can't get them, start growing your own. If you don't have a yard use a ceramic container (not plastic - that's another story) and string and sticks and make your own garden.

When you go to the store you can figure out for yourself whether or not the food you want to buy has been genetically modified.

How? Every product has a paper label with a PLU code number. For produce that is regularly grown it is a four digit number. But Organic and GMO's have an extra number in front.
If the PLU starts with an 8, it's a GMO.
If the PLU starts with a 9, it's Organic
So remember, if you like:
8 Ain’t Great
9 Is Fine
The government may not require the FDA to specifically label our food when it has been or contains food products that are Genetically Modified Organisms. But we can read the difference between 8 and 9. 9 Is Fine Now you are empowered. Do what you want to do.

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