January 15, 2013

Best Guess: 60% of everything in Whole Foods is GMO.

Correction/update: Steve Hoffman said 20-30%, not 60% or whatever, which is my guesstimate. I apologize to any friends/colleagues of his who may have been confused! In any case, this is more about nearly all conventional products being gmo’ed, not about Whole Foods being evil. As I’ve covered many times, they’re a leader, so it’s natural they get pointed at too often. ~ ed.

This isn’t a knock on Whole Foods, particularly—they’re among the best.

Last night, I was at the always-awesome Naturally Boulder gathering in Boulder, Colorado. While I didn’t see a lot of our local legends, there, I did see two of my mentors-from-afar, Bill Capsalis and Steve Hoffman—folks with guts, integrity, knowledge, and virtual rolodexes bigger than mine, and mine’s bigger than yours (at least in the “mindful” LOHAS space).

Steve and I got to talking about how folks are always asking for connections, but at the end of the day, don’t give much love back. I’ve written about that before. It’s a sad irony that the troublemakers among us are too few, they do more good than most of the squares who just want to, at best, build something up and sell it to The Man, or at worst just work in a cubicle for The Man. It’s a sad irony that these too-few troublemakers, too often, are lucky to ever make middle class incomes, while their work benefits entire communities and creates wealth for countless entrepreneurs and, perhaps most importantly, helps preserve what little chance Mother Nature has left to provide abundance for the next seven generations.

So, anyway, to step off this here soapbox and return to last night’s Naturally Boulder networking party: while it may not have been full of Boulder’s Green Giants (the founders of various huge natural products companies who’ve made millions, and changed the national foods landscape), it was full of movers, shakers, entrepreneurs…maybe 200 folks were packed in there over the course of a few hours. It was fun, and it was helpful in terms of connections, and Shine has the best/healthiest food ever, so that was nice.

So at one point Steve and I were talking, and I asked him:

Hey, so what percentage of food at Whole Foods do you think is GMO?

You mean conventional?

Well if it’s not organic, it’s pretty much always gonna be GMO, no? And most products aren’t 100% organic, so…most have GMOs.

Yes. Well, if it’s not certified organic, or a member of the Non-GMO Project, it’s GMO.

Steve talked about how many businesses obfuscate and (lie) when asked if their “all natural” products are GMO.

We settled on a (rough) rough (rough) estimate that 60% of the products at Whole Foods have gmos. This isn’t a knock on Whole Foods, particularly—they’re probably among the best, in terms of percentage of organics. Vitamin Cottages have all-organic produce sections, and mainstream groceries have small organics sections. It’s a dying breed.

So, the takeaway: “all natural” means nothing. It’s just a made up expression with zero legal definition or certification. So does the recycle symbol, btw.

“Natural” means only three things:

> the company you’re buying from doesn’t respect your intelligence,
> and is willing to lie, a little,
> and the product isn’t natural (ironically).

Takeaway: let’s remember organic isn’t fancy. It’s simple, as God/Mother Nature and farmers intended food to be. We can shop in the bulk section (bring our own containers) and garden or get CSAs to save money.

Takeaway: here’s 10 reasons why GMOs suck.

Takeaway: read labels. Don’t trust that a product is healthy just because it’s expensive or has pictures of leaves on it or says “natural.”

Bonus: On a lighter note, this, which you’ve probably already seen but if you haven’t you should.


Via Steve Hoffman, the Godfather of Natural Products, in a comment re Cheerios (which are GMO):

Steven Hoffman If it’s not Non-GMO Project Verified (look for the seal), or certified USDA organic, you can rest assured it’s GMO, as 90% of the conventional corn crop in the U.S. is now dominated by GMO seed. Fyi, high fructose corn syrup, too, is mainly derived from GMO corn. GMO sugar beets are the source of 60% of the table sugar we eat, too. Oh, and according to The Organic Center, GMO agriculture has INCREASED the use of pesticides by nearly 400 million pounds over a 13 year period from when GMOs were first introduced in the mid-90s.

For more info, download the free report, GMO Myths and Truths: http://earthopensource.org/index.php/reports/58

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