Having lived in Oregon has given me an automatic label amongst even my most inner circle: vegetarian. Friends that have watched me eat meat half-jokingly say it. I don’t take offense, by any means, but it is confusing, since the only time I’ve spent as a vegetarian was a handful of months nearly ten years ago. Apparently that kind of thing sticks with people (especially if you then move to the West Coast), but I fairly quickly came to the conclusion that it just wasn’t for me. And that was a tough decision, because I’d done a heck of a lot of reading about how meat is produced in this country. I’m positive that I’m not alone – that others, too, must struggle with the juxtaposition of compassion for other living creatures and consuming them.
Let me make this explicitly clear: I am not denouncing vegetarianism or veganism. If it’s working for you, super. But it doesn’t work for everyone, and that’s who this post is for. If you’re wondering how to juggle a deep love for animals with the prospect of eating them, maybe my perspective can help you. Maybe my opinions will push you to be vegetarian, and that’s okay too. That’s what this post is: my opinion and perspective.
I have always been deeply attached to animals, domestic and wild alike. When I started to learn about the horrors of the meat production industry (and it is most certainly an industry) and how it affects us, I took some time off from eating meat. My protein came primarily from soy products, beans, nuts, and the other standard newbie-vegetarian fare. However, it didn’t take long for me to decide that keeping meat products out of my diet wasn’t for me. Here’s what’s going on for me. Read the rest of this entry
If you haven’t heard of Monsanto before, here are some things you should know as an educated citizen. Monsanto is an enormous corporation responsible for RoundUp pesticide and a variety of patented vegetable products. Read that again: patented vegetable products. Monsanto is a purveyor of genetically modified organisms (GMO), which the US government allows them to patent. (For those of you not picking up on what I’m trying to say, I’ll make it clear: when you patent a food plant, you are allowing the owner of that food to make it as expensive or as hard-to-come-by as they want. You allow monopoly. ON FOOD.)
Monsanto has a history of buying up seed companies and getting farmers to throw away their own hard-collected seeds by suing them when Monsanto’s GMO products are found randomly growing in their fields. Again: Monsanto is creating a monopoly on vegetable seeds. That we eat. Right now.
“Monsanto’s control of the seed market is so high that 93% of soybeans, some 82% of corn, 93% of cotton and 95% of sugar beets grown in the U.S. contain Monsanto’s patented genes.” (FDN) Which means that you’re eating GMO corn and soy every single day of your life. GMOs are created by inserting genes from other things (and by ‘other things’ I mean non-plant items like fish) into the cells of the vegetable plant. These genes also include things like genes from antibiotic-resistant E. coli, and there hasn’t been enough testing to determine if any of these GMOs cause health complications in humans like an increase in antibiotic resistance (which is the last thing we need).
Monsanto and other GMO producers have slipped people right into Congress and the EPA to fight their battles for them. GMO companies, despite huge public outcry, have stifled any laws that would force GMOs to appear on food labels. If it’s on the label and it causes an illness or reaction, the GMO company can be held responsible; if it’s not on the label and you have some reaction, there’s no one to blame, so GMO companies get off scott-free.
The GMO industry is insidious, and Monsanto is their king. In the film Future of Food, GMOs are explained in greater detail and Monsanto’s offenses are better described. I highly recommend this documentary – it’s presented in a down-to-earth way and it’s critical information for the informed person to have. In fact, everyone has the right to know this information, and the GMO companies don’t want you to know it because they’re making a shit ton of money off of our uninformed selves.
Besides that, Monsanto is involved in Terminator gene technology. Terminator genes disallow the plant containing them to make viable seeds. Which means if you want to grow corn, you have to buy the seed every single season; you can never harvest your own.
Moreover, these plants can interbreed with other plants, passing on the Terminator gene and destroying viable seed worldwide.
Ethical Investing has rightfully called this technology one of the greatest “threats to humanity” and stands against investing in Monsanto.
Look, I can’t make you care, or watch this film, but you should care, and you should watch this film. Why? Because you eat food every day. Because it’s unconscionable to allow corporations to own our food and seed supply. Because it’s unconscionable to allow these companies to load our foods with unknown-entities, without proper research, and to disallow us to force labeling restrictions. What could possibly be more basic than having equal access to food?
If you’re as impassioned as I am about this battle for equal food access, you can go to Food Democracy Now to sign a petition telling the Department of Justice that it’s time to break up the megalith that is the Monsanto Corporation. It will only take a minute to take a stand for our food supply. Spread the word and if you can take a couple hours to watch Future of Food, I highly recommend it. As always, the strongest voice can be heard through actions: talk to your local grocers about GMO labeling, contact food companies about GMO labeling, educate others you know, and if nothing else, make an effort to support non-GMO foods. You may pay a little more, but it’s worth it for the sake of our children’s future on this planet. (Whole Foods and other natural food stores sell lots of products with voluntary GMO labeling.)
Thanks for reading everyone.