Giving Thanks for Food Fighters

by Ken Greene

When we sit down to eat, on Thanksgiving or any other day, we’re not just eating. Food is an all-encompassing experience. It’s sensory, interactive, cultural, nutritional, pleasurable, and necessary. It’s also an economic act. If you are one of the many Americans being thankful for having food on the table on Thanksgiving, we have a few more things you can be thankful for: the food companies, consumer organizations, and seed companies who fought to try and get GMO labeling passed in in California and continue to fight against GMOs.

According to Organic Consumer Association, "Nearly half of the $46 million contributed to NO on 37 came from huge multinational food and beverage companies – companies whose subsidiaries make billions of dollars every year selling some of your favorite organic and “natural” brands." Of course, most of the rest came for the even larger corporations like Monsanto engaged in genetic engineering and chemical manufacturing for industrial agriculture. We were outspent 5-1 on Prop 37. In the end, the millions that were poured into untruthful and misleading ads swayed the vote. Despite the defeat, it was still close and the campaign brought national attention to the fact that although GMOs are in our foods, we don’t have the right to know which foods. This election brought more attention to the fact that corporations can buy a vote to protect their profits over the health of people.

Here’s a chart showing some of the folks you can be thankful for, and some of the corporations you can steer clear of.

Now we’re bringing attention to the fact that, in many cases, the foods and seeds we buy, no matter how natural or organic the brand, are often owned by or purchase from the same corporations that defeated our right to know if we’re eating GMO foods.

Here’s a short list (believe it or not a very short list, you can see a longer list here) of some of the places you may usually feel good about purchasing products from, but that are owned by, or purchase from, the very places you would not want your food or seed dollars supporting.

Naked Juice, Tostito's Organic, Tropicana Organic: Owned by PepsiCo (Donated $2.5M):

Boca Burgers and Back to Nature: Owned by Kraft (Donated $2M)

Honest Tea, Odwalla: Owned by Coca-Cola (Donated $1.7M):

Muir Glen, Cascadian Farm, Larabar: Owned by General Mills (Donated $1.2M):

Kashi, Bear Naked, Morningstar Farms, Gardenburger: Owned by Kellogg's (Donated $791)

R.W. Knudsen, Santa Cruz Organic: Owned by Smuckers (Donated $555k

Horizon, Silk, White Wave:Owned by Dean Foods (Donated $254k)

Seeds of Change: Owned by Mars Food (Donated $498k)

A few of these places can easily answer the question, “Do you carry GMOs with a simple, yet deceptive No.” But if you ask the right questions, “Are my food or seed dollars that I spend with your company supporting corporations who are engaged in genetic engineering?” The only honest answer from everyone on the big list is “Yes.”

Seeds are the current battleground for control of food. The biggest financial backers behind the defeat of the Right to Know GMO labeling bill are the largest owners of seed resources on the planet. This is why we are so careful about where our seeds come from and why we are dedicated to increasing the number of independently grown seeds every year. We’ve been told that we’ve taken on an economically impossible mission. That if we stopped saving seeds and would just buy seeds from the biggest seed wholesalers and repackage them, like conventional seed companies, that we’d be more profitable. But, for better or worse, we’re not primarily profit driven. There’s more to our business model than money, just like there’s more meaning in your Thanksgiving meal than food.

So, while you are sitting down to eat, on Thanksgiving or any other day, be thankful for friends, family, togetherness, and surviving hardships. Be thankful for your food and the hardworking farmers and producers who are growing, baking, and cooking responsibly. Be thankful for seeds, the foundation of food. And be thankful for the individuals, groups, and businesses that are fighting to keep food healthy, diversified, accessible, organic and GMO-free.

We started the Hudson Valley Seed Library to protect seeds from the folks who put the most money into defeating prop 37. Please help us continue our work by shopping small, shopping conscious, and knowing what your food, gift, and seed money is really supporting. Thank you for helping is keep seeds where they belong: out of the slick pockets of chemical corporations and in the dirty hands of caring gardeners.

We are thankful for your support every day!

Right now, our Holiday Gift Catalog is up and, to show our thanks for your continued support of the Seed Library, we’re offering Free Shipping from Friday the 23rd – Monday the 26th.  Just use code "thanks" at check out.

Our full catalog, with many more varieties and more info, will be up in January.

Have a happy, grateful, (and seedy!) Thanksgiving weekend.