If you had trouble pronouncing the last word in the title of this article, you are not alone. It’s quite the tongue twister. In fact, it sounds like the name of an industrial chemical used in the plastics and rubber industry. Oh wait, it is. So why do I care about it? Because the same chemical is also used in the baking industry for things like hamburger buns and bread.
Commercial bakeries use azodicarbonamide to bleach the flour, making it whiter. In addition, this additive changes the structure of the dough, strengthening it and adding elasticity. Apparently, these are desired traits for Big Food companies like Subway, Sara Lee, McDonalds, Wendy’s, Arby’s and Starbucks. This issue with this chemical is whether or not it’s actually safe to consume. The US FDA (Food & Drug Administration) classifies this additive as GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) and allows it in baked goods and flour up to the limit of 45 part per million. Sounds like a miniscule amount; but then again, if this additive might cause respiratory issues and possibly even be a carcinogen, should there really be ANY of it in my food? The European Union, Singapore, Australia, and New Zealand all think this food additive is not worth the risk and have banned it’s use as a bleaching agent.
Vani Hari, aka The Food Babe, did a little investigation and found that Subway uses the additive in at least eight of their popular sandwich breads including: 9-Grain Wheat, 9-Grain Honey Oat, Italian White, Italian Herbs & Cheese, Parmesan/Oregano, Roasted Garlic, Sourdough, and Monterrey Cheddar. It is interesting to note that Subway does NOT use this additive in their restaurants overseas because they can’t (because they’re banned!). This really got under the Food Babe’s skin, but what really pushed her over the edge was when the First Lady, the American Heart Association and several Olympic athletes began touting Subway as “fresh” and “nutritious” meals. After repeated requests for a response, she decided to launch a full-scale petition to get Subway to remove azodicarbonamide from their breads.
We give kudos to the Food Babe for launching this campaign and for pointing out the hypocrisy of Subway having two versions of the same breads (the crappy one from all us Americans and the “clean” version for those abroad). Click here to sign the petition and ask Subway to remove azodicarbonamide from their breads.
Today, I will walk into an auditorium. I’ll be greeted by several senior-aged volunteers who proudly manage my polling place. They’ll hand me my ballot and direct me to that plastic booth where I’ll fill in the bubbles and cast my vote. As an American and a Californian, I consider voting my right and my duty. When I make my mark for Senator, School Board Member and the President of the United States I am sending a message and making a choice. Yes, the system is flawed. Yes, I wish politics wasn’t so slimy and smeary. But at least I can be part of the process.
I am extremely nervous for tomorrow. As a proud Californian, I will be waiting with fingers and toes crossed to see what happens with Prop 37. Will California once again be the progressive leader for the nation? Will we be the first state to require mandatory labeling of GMOs? I hope we’ve done enough to pass this historical law.
If you haven’t already done so, vote. Unless you’re in a swing state, I understand the “my vote doesn’t count” mantra that many of us deal with when talking about the presidential race. But when it comes to the propositions and local leadership, my vote and your vote absolutely does count.
Join me today. Let’s make history and hopefully, I’ll be celebrating Prop 37′s victory with a glass of local Syrah this evening.
PS. In the off chance you are still undecided about Prop 37, please visit www.CARightToKnow.org.
Troy Roush agrees with the majority of Californians who believe consumers have the right to know what’s in their food. He is in favor of Prop 37 and supports required labeling of genetically modified foods (GMOs). None of this is moving until you find out that Troy is a farmer who grows GMO corn and soybeans. Surprised? I definitely was. Here is Troy’s quote from this 90 second video everyone should see:
“As a farmer, I invite labeling, I encourage labeling, I’d love to see labeling. Labeling is a win for farmers and a win for consumers.”
Feeling warm and fuzzy yet? I love his practical and direct way of looking at this complex issue. Please share and make sure all your California friends, family and colleagues vote YES on Prop 37 in November.
For more information on California Prop 37, visit http://www.carighttoknow.org/.
“Whole Foods Market supports California’s Proposition 37 requiring mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods by July 1, 2014 because it has long believed its customers have the right to know how their food is produced.”
This honestly shouldn’t be news. The fact that a health food store like Whole Foods wouldn’t support mandatory labeling of GMOs (genetically modified organisms) is preposterous. Or is it?
Whole Foods Market announced this week that they are in support of Prop 37. They even created this nifty green image to show their Prop 37 love. My question is, what took em so long?? With election day only weeks away, Whole Foods should have been on this wagon months ago.
Turns out that while they do support Prop 37, they have a few reservations. Specifically, they think the upper limit for processed foods containing GMO ingredients should be 0.9% instead of the 0.5% in the proposition. Their reason? To keep it in line with “the long-established international labeling standard.” Secondly, Whole Foods was hoping for California Attorney General Office’s oversight. They explain their fear in the press release:
“…manufacturers could be compelled to label products with ‘May be Partially Produced with Genetic Engineering’ even if it is not the case to avoid costly litigation and protect themselves. This could result in consumers receiving inaccurate information, which is contrary to the intent of the proposition itself.”
The CA Right to Know camp has responded to the costly litigation claims, in general, by saying, “There is no reason to believe companies will violate the law as most companies honestly label their food for calories, fat content, allergy risks and other information consumers want to know, whether or not that information is favorable to product sales. One can expect that companies will comply with the law and there will be little if any need for lawsuits.”
Regardless of their few reservations, I am quite frankly relieved that Whole Foods has supported Prop 37. This is an issue close to my heart and one that I expect certain companies to embrace.
Be Food Smart is a proud supporter and partner of California Right to Know and Yes on Prop 37. To learn more about Prop 37, visit: CA Right to Know.
Image Source: Whole Foods Market
The California Right to Know campaign sent its partners this ad from the No on 37 camp today. If you are just tuning in, Proposition 37 is an initiative in California which would require genetically modified foods (GMOs) to be labeled. For obvious reasons, the giant food and beverage companies and GMO seed producing companies like Monsanto, oppose this Prop and are spending millions trying to defeat it. With all that money, it’s downright funny that this ad was the best they could come up with. In all honesty, would this ad ever sway you to think labeling GMOs was a bad thing? What is the deal with the huge steak and unrecognizable can of dog food? This ad is so confusing I barely understood what they were trying to get at. If this is the best they got, things are looking good for mandatory labeling in California.
To see the full article and witty response from the Right to Know folks, click here.
Photo via the CA Right to Know blog
California has issued numbers to all the propositions which will be on the November ballot. Prop 37 is the California Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act. That’s quite a mouth full (extra pun intended). In November, I, along with other Californians, will cast a vote to decide if we have the right to know if our food is genetically modified. Should Prop 37 pass, many speculate that other states will quickly follow and hopefully, we’ll have labeling on a national level soon after.
Polls across the US show that more than 90% of the public supports labeling of genetically modified foods (GMOs). With near unanimous support, you’d think this would be a done deal. Except for the fact that we are going up against Big Food and Big Ag who desperately want Prop 37 to fail. Soon you will start to see the airwaves filled with ads and false claims about why we shouldn’t label our food. Here are a few tactics to expect (taken directly from the CA Right to Know website):
Cost inventions: Allegations that labeling genetically engineered food would raise the cost of groceries by “hundreds of dollars” a year are false. There is absolutely no evidence to back up these claims. If the California Right to Know initiative becomes law, there will be no increased cost to consumers. The initiative simply requires adding a little bit of ink to existing labels. Companies have 18 months to comply with the new labeling law, and they typically change their labels within this time period anyway.
Language lies: Claiming that “the language is confusing” is a standard approach of opponents. In this case, the opposition is working hard to convince people that the Right to Know initiative will prevent non-GMO foods, such as canned olives, from being marketed as “natural.” This is false. The initiative applies only to genetically engineered foods. The California Attorney General’s office has already rejected the opposition’s claims that the initiative could be applied to non-GMO foods. The AG’s summary of the ballot initiative clearly states that the initiative applies to genetically engineered foods, not other foods.
Lawsuit boogeymen: Whipping up fears about trial lawyers is a key strategy of the opposition. Their website claims the initiative will authorize “bounty hunter lawsuits.” This claim is false and makes no sense. The California Right to Know initiative does not allow bounty hunter fees, so there is no economic incentive for lawyers to sue. Furthermore, the labeling law is easy to comply with – it merely requires labeling food that contains genetically engineered ingredients. There is no reason to believe companies will violate the law. Just as they accurately label their food for calories and fat content, companies are likely to disclose genetically engineered ingredients.
Americans can’t handle it? The opposition website opens to a photo of a confused looking elderly gentleman staring at a grocery store shelf. This implication is that American consumers won’t be able to understand labels that include information about genetically engineered ingredients. This is insulting. The truth is that the overwhelming majority of Americans want to know if their food is genetically engineered. Several polls indicate that 9 out of 10 voters want mandatory labeling of GMOs (Mellman 2012, Reuters 2010, Zogby 2012). A recent poll of 500 California adults by San Francisco television station KCBS found that 91% backed labeling.
Currently, more than 40 countries already label GMOs; I suppose we’re just a little behind as one of the only remaining developed nations to not label. “Prop 37 is about our fundamental right to know what’s in the food we eat and feed our children,” said Stacy Malkan, a spokesperson for the California Right to Know campaign. We fully agree and urge everyone to spread the word. YES on Prop 37!
Be Food Smart is proud to endorse the California Right to Know Campaign.
Californians will have the unique opportunity of deciding whether or not they want genetically engineered foods (GMOs) labeled. This historic measure will be up for a vote on the November ballot (see summary below). The initiative needed over 550k petition signatures to qualify and county election officials will be validating signatures over the next 30 days.