Becoming an “Organic-Ready” Consumer

Recently, while pulling weeds from my tiny Tokyo garden, I flashed back to my childhood when my mother gave me the onerous chore of plucking weeds from our brick walkway.

Being a precocious (and lazy) kid, I went to the hardware store and invested a few week’s allowance in a bottle of Roundup, an herbicide from Monsanto that obliterates everything it contacts. Roundup became my weed-slaying hero—freeing my time to spend on important pursuits, like listening to music, playing air hockey, swimming and brushing up on my cannonballs at the pool, etc.

Each summer, when my family rode to the Eastern Shore for vacation, we would pass by farm fields with signs advertising they were being genetically engineered by one of the big chemical companies. Little did I (or the small farmers who welcomed the GM crops, apparently) realize the evil that was lurking, and if you’ve read or seen “Food, Inc.” you know what I’m talking about.

Seeing Fast Food Nation Turned Me Vegan!In a nutshell, Monsanto, Dupont and a few others have genetically inoculated corn and soybeans (cotton and others) with traits to resist their herbicides, so their GM-crops are all that survives once they’re applied. While it reduces farmers’ work dramatically (GM corn takes 5 hours/acre to maintain vs 500 hours for conventional corn, according to Cornell University’s David Pimentel), it has also given a few companies enormous powers they are increasingly using against the small farmers and non-GM seed producers.

For example, Monsanto sues farmers if its patented “Roundup Ready” GM soybeans are found among a farmer’s non-GM crops, and prohibits farmers to replant the GM patented seeds. Meanwhile, prices for GM-seeds keep increasing–garnering Monsanto a half-billion dollars in royalties/year. The chemical companies also confiscate equipment that allow farmers to clean seeds for re-use. Is that fair?

I haven’t always been a believer in organic foods, because I didn’t fully understand their benefits, nor the risks of GM foods. One reason organic foods are more expensive (on the surface, at least) is because they’re rare (now more than 90% of soybeans, and almost as much corn, is genetically modified).

Just ponder the alternatives, with food prices and your health controlled by a few large chemical conglomerates. Buy organic, and protect your right to choose in the future!

To get started now, check out Hungry for Change’s  10 Simple Tips for making positive changes in your eating habits.

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