Unless you’ve been living far away from civilization, you’ve probably noticed a trend of folks avoiding grains or more specifically, gluten. While we can debate the merits or harmful effects of gluten/grain consumption, one thing is certain, there are those that simply can’t eat gluten. Who are these people? Well, two of them are my friends; a mother and daughter, who for years suffered from unexplained stomach, digestive, and other “IBS” systems. Last year, they were finally tested and and low and behold, were diagnosed with celiac disease. For those of you who may not be aware, here is what celiac disease is:
Celiac disease is an autoimmune digestive disease that damages the villi of the small intestine and interferes with absorption of nutrients from food. What does this mean? Essentially the body is attacking itself every time a person with celiac consumes gluten…Left untreated, people with celiac disease can develop further complications such as other autoimmune diseases, osteoporosis, thyroid disease, and cancer.
- National Foundation for Celiac Awareness
Um, I don’t know about you, but the thought of a bagel causing my body to “punch itself” sounds downright miserable. My friend on the other hand, is feeling better than she has in years. Even though it is difficult finding her way through living a life and raising her daughter without gluten (aka pasta, beer, bread, pastries, cookies, cake and essentially every other addictively delicious carb), finding an explanation for all her intestinal issues is such a relief. Note that people with celiac cannot tolerate any gluten. Even a few crumbs can have an effect and trigger an internal attack.
I have a family member who is also gluten-free. He doesn’t have celiac disease, but notices a marked difference when he eats gluten and when he doesn’t. He’s always been prone to having nose-bleeds and won’t have one for months, accidentally eats some gluten and voila, his nose starts dripping. He has chosen to skip the gluten completely and since he visits regularly, I’ve gotten used to checking packaging for hidden gluten.
Apparently, I’m not there quite yet. We needed some more garlic salt and picked up this jar at Whole Foods. It is their store brand, 365. On the label is says “Garlic Salt,” which to me, should be mean garlic and salt. One would think it would be so simple (remember my Lawry’s Garlic Powder post awhile back? What is it with this seasoning!). Here is the actual ingredient list on the Whole Foods 365 Garlic Salt jar:
Ingredients: sea salt, garlic, breadcrumbs (unbleached wheat flour, calcium carbonate, salt, leavening [ammonium bicarbonate]), onion, silicon dioxide (to prevent caking), parsley.
Sea salt – check. Garlic – check. Breadcrumbs – check…wait, what the heck? Why oh why would there be breadcrumbs in garlic salt? The only reason I can think of is it is cheap. It’s a filler, one that makes this 6oz jar look like a great value. Except, I’m not really getting garlic salt, it’s more like I’m buying ground-up garlic bread. While it irks me that I’m getting bread in my seasoning, it makes me more annoyed that people like my brother and especially people like my dear friend and her daughter, could be eating gluten without realizing it due to sneaky practices like this. The Whole Foods garlic salt is only one example of hundreds of “hidden” gluten sources in packaged foods. This reminds me yet again, that the only true way to know what you are eating is to make it from scratch, grow it from seed, and only buy from farmers/vendors/sources you trust and always, always read the label.
Quick Tip: Buy plain garlic powder (be sure to check the label!) and mix in your own sea salt to make basic garlic salt.
As one of the top grocer chains when it comes to natural and organic products, Whole Foods has finally taken action in regards to labeling for GMOs. But what exactly is a GMO, and why is this important?
A GMO, or genetically modified organism, has been manipulated via genetic engineering. In doing so, changes to the structure of the DNA have been made. Products of all kinds can contain GMOs. While there are advocates for GMOs out there, much of the population remains concerned about their safety. To be fair, we should be aware of what is in our food and whether it’s natural or not.
Whole Foods has finally announced that all products in their stores in the U.S. and Canada must be labeled if they contain GMOs by 2018. Of course, this change in production comes at a very interesting time. In November, a vote occurred for Prop 37 which would mandate the labeling of GMOs. However, the initiative didn’t pass to the dismay of many. Even still, a recent poll conducted by The Huffington Post revealed that 82% of Americans would like to see products labeled if they contain these genetically modified organisms. With this outstanding number of people who appear to be concerned or at least curious as to what their foods contain, I think it’s safe to say Whole Foods is the first national grocery store to be taking a step in the right direction.
According to the President of Whole Foods, A.C. Gallo, products with a “non-GMO” label have increased by 15-30% in sales in recent times. Gallo also states that organic products and those without GMOs are the two fastest growing areas when it comes to non-perishable grocers. Again, this shows interest in this kind of labeling as well as non-GMO products in general. And as a chain which boasts natural and organic products, it only seems fitting for Whole Foods to be taking a stance.
While it’s news to us living in North America, the United States and Canada are not the first Whole Foods stores attempting to mandate this type of labeling. In fact, seven stores based in the United Kingdom already require labeling of GMO products, and as a result, most products do not contain those type of genetically modified add ons.
Patty Lovera, a representative of Food and Water Watch (a group that advocates for the environment and consumers), has stated her opinion in that this change by Whole Foods was a “smart move.” She continued to state that, “We’re continuing to work to make this label mandatory because everyone deserves to have that label, not just Whole Foods shoppers…but I think it’s smart on their part to start giving consumers what they want, which is more information.”
So, for Whole Foods, this may be a direction they are heading in. While the grocer is recognized as one containing many organic and natural products, there are items which contain genetically modified organisms at the store. With this labeling initiative, we may soon see results such as what has occurred in the United Kingdom. Products with GMOs may slowly fade away, and Whole Foods could truly go all-natural.
- Elizabeth K.
I desperately wanted Prop 37 to pass. I posted countless Facebook status updates on it, proudly displayed my yard sign, wore a “Vote Yes on Prop 37″ button on my purse, and furiously blogged about it on this very site, but in the end, the money won out. I’ll admit I was pretty down yesterday and feeling a bit lost about where we go from here. Then, I saw this message from one of our followers:
I Woke Up Angry
I’m sure plenty of people are happy that Obama has another 4 years instead of the other guy and his magic underwear but not me. For me these two are too similar (well I’m sure that depends on which version of Mitt you get on any given day) and for me, the only thing I really cared about was PROP 37. I say vote with your wallet!!
These companies will NOT get my money any longer. It will take some time but I will know this list by heart and as difficult as it will be, the Grocery Manufacturers Association will feel my wrath. I may have to drive a little further, plan a little further in advance and pay more, but I will not step foot in or buy from their businesses any longer. My voice is but one, but it’s mine and it will be heard.
You guys keep “fighting the good fight!”
- Just Some Random Guy
At the bottom of his note was link to a list of all the companies that contributed to the No on Prop 37 campaign:
“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
It should be a rule never to have a Spring-forward, daylight savings time change in the middle of a two-day conference. I was exhausted from both the information packed day on Saturday and the evening gala, and didn’t expect 9:45am to feel so early. I was determined to ignore the tiredness and focus as it was day two of the Edible Institute (“EI” – click here to read Part 1 and Part 2 of this three-part series).
Note: The second day of EI, included several video and film viewings. Rather than include them all in this already too long blog post, we’ll be devoting next week to videos. Visit each day to watch these fabulous food-related video clips.
Telling Sustainable Meat Stories
I have to admit that the title of the first panel, wasn’t rocking my world. I was, however, impressed that the EI staff had managed to secure Chris Arnold, the Director of Communications for Chipotle. Also gracing the panel was Jeff Tripican, CMO & EVP of Sales for Niman Ranch, Will Harris who is president of White Oak Pastures and finally, Whole Foods Markets’ Meat Coordinator, Dave Ruedlinger. Boy was I in for a meaty treat.
The Chipotle story is truly fascinating. Founder Steve Ells essentially threw out the fast food restaurant model and started from scratch when he opened the first Chipotle restaurant in 1993. Over the years, the chain has grown and evolved to include: organic black beans, no dairy (sour cream and cheese) from cows treated with rBGH growth hormones, only antibiotic-free chicken, and are working towards a higher percentage of naturally raised beef and local suppliers. Arnold notes that, “We have the highest food cost of any restaurant [chain] in the industry and the highest profits…while we’re far from perfect, it’s surprising that more restaurant companies haven’t followed our model.” In 2000, Chipotle decided to move to all sustainably-raised pork and this meant a $1 increase to the carnitas for the customers. Arnold explains that many of their customers eat at Chipotle because they like the food, not because of any social message.
pounds of antibiotic-free chicken
There is a big announcement from the windy city this week and this time it relates to school lunches. Chicago Public Schools (CPS) announced that on November 1st, they would begin serving antibiotic-free (ABF) chicken too all 300,000+ students i their 473 schools. The deal with main food service provider, Chartwells-Thompson Hospitality, will bring 1.2 million pounds of locally grown ABF chicken to Chicago schools.
On October 1st, we participated in the second annual SOL Food Festival in Santa Barbara, California. This festival is more than just a celebration of Sustainable, Organic and Local food. The goal is to delight and educate. It was in this spirit that we were challenged by the event organizers to come up with a fun activity where people might actually learn something. The outcome?
SOL Food Jeopardy
For 8 hours we hosted virtually non-stop jeopardy games. Dina’s voice was the only thing slowing us down!