Tag Archives: GMO

About cows, milk, and the “all natural” lies told by Chobani to build brand loyalty

For those of you who are regular readers of my blog my writing about cows may seem off brand – it’s not, please stay with me

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The gentle lovely things we assume will always be such when we are children take on a different level of clarity (or denial) as adults.  If you (I, we) hold onto your childlike wonder – a good thing in many regards – there are some rude awakenings to be encountered.  I have a theory that any kind of awareness, real thoughtful and thought provoking awareness, sneaks up on you and then slaps you upside the head. And, then, YOU GET IT! (Thank you PETA advocates for all of your efforts for so many years!) 

“The only way I can pay back for what fate and society have handed me is to try, in minor totally useless ways, to make an angry sound against injustice.” ― Martha Gellhorn

containersWhen I was in 1st grade my beloved teacher Mrs Dwyer took us on a field trip to a dairy farm (well at least I only remember the cows, there might have been other animals). I distinctly recall the aqua blue and white insulated container that my mom put my favourite lunch in, leftover chicken croquettes, for the trip. And, I remember the smell of the cows, pfew-y! But what I also remember was the way that the farmer introduced us to them, each one, a name (like us) not a number on a yellow tag hanging on their ears. I had forgotten about this until recently but it’s important to our collective connection to other sentient beings and our food systems and global food security.  

milkWhilst many prefer soda pop (diet or otherwise) I am a milk drinker, never so satisfied as a tall glass with a couple of ice cubes to make it even colder to drink. I also recognise the benefit this beverage of choice has made on my bone density and my teeth (at 53 still not a single cavity or filling, nor root canals).

As a native of New York state the homegrown Chobani once had my unwavering patronage in purchasing its yogurts (particularly Blood Orange, Passion Fruit and Pomegranate flavors) – and then the dedicated and passionate folks at Whole Foods and the Sum of Us outed Chobani for using milk from cows fed GMO grain (consider signing the petition) and my heart sank, and then outrage kicked in. I used to think ‘watchdogs’ were unnecessary – naïve, I know. But greed does stupid things to some people and taking the long view of impact on our planet, our health and that of the welfare of the animals with whom we are so indebted seems irrelevant when faced with ‘untold and vast riches’.  So, a product developed to not only create jobs, positively impact local economies, promoted as being “all natural” and generally leveraging its brand in positive ways (Olympic chobanisponsorship, Shepherd’s Gift Foundation) turns out to be another big corporate lie designed to build brand loyalty!  When you reach a level of success such as Chobani there is a moral imperative to do the right thing, and in doing so legitimately earn even greater brand loyalty in the process: I don’t take Corporate Social Responsibility and sustainability lightly – in for a penny, in for a pound. If Chobani were really serious about “nothing but good” and the impact on our health they would also be concerned about the sourcing of the milk used for their yogurt, and driving an industry shift back toward the healthful origins of yogurt – something founder and CEO Hamdi Ulukaya purports to have mirrored in the creation of Chobani (yet another lie?) This isn’t (entirely) about Chobani’s business decisions, it’s really about cows – and us.

cowI go back to my experience as a six year old, blue skies and sunlight, a split rail fence and a beautiful cow’s eyes meeting my own and snuffling my hand; how a cow should live – foraging on sweet green clover, alfalfa and hay, a salt lick nearby and a cool stream of water to drink.

On Facebook recently someone posted a video of a man in Spain and a cow – it was so beautiful it unhappy cowsmade me weep (it turns out that Santuario Gaia is an animal rescue not-for-profit).  The contrast to the cows (in the picture at right) and the cows of my childhood and the rescued cow at Santuario couldn’t be more extreme.  In Germany, Kuhrettung Rhein, a thoughtful group dedicated to rescuing cows who would be destroyed when their milk production vs the cost of maintaining life ‘forces’ a farmer to make economic decisions – if you haven’t seen their “cows out of the barn videos” you simply must!  

If we as consumers and those working in the food industry do not recognise our extreme power to foster change – why not? This is old “news” as Upton Sinclair wrote in The Jungle:

“Into this wild-beast tangle these men had been born without their consent, they had taken part in it because they could not help it; that they were in jail was no disgrace to them, for the game had never been fair, the dice were loaded. They were swindlers and thieves of pennies and dimes, and they had been trapped and put out of the way by the swindlers and thieves of millions of dollars.” 

We must be the change we want to see, each of us must “make an angry sound against injustice”.  If we desire sustainable practices then we must vote with our wallets and yes, make hard choices (at least for now) to purchase products that are more expensive yet GMO free, that can be documented as being free of cancer causing recombinant bovine growth hormone, aka (rBGH) whose words of “all natural” and “organic” means just that and aren’t simply slick taglines developed to foster brand loyalty. To which end Chobani will never again find its yummy flavours in my shopping cart, Stonyfield’s will be getting my yogurt business once more (Whole Milk French Vanilla) and my milk drinking business (yes, I am hemorrhaging at the price of a 1/2 gallon) is going back to whole, organic and based on the ethical treatment of the cows themselves with the hope that my (drop in the bucket) changes will be met with those of others whose awareness precedes my own, and those of you who might just join us as a result of reading this post.

 

If you enjoy my blog please share it with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschiTo order my book, please click on the cover art of my book below, thank you! 

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Nostalgic and guilty pleasures found in marshmallow Peeps, honouring Mrs. Dwyer

I am a hypocrite in my food choices for the span of time each spring that it takes me to eat one four pack of Just Born (always the yellow ones) Peeps. I succumb to this guilty pleasure to remember and honour Mrs Dwyer.

Argh, sugar, corn syrup, gelatin, and various food dyes – but I don’t care (though I wish I KNEW IF the sugar was GMO-free). 

Mrs. Dwyer was my 1st grade teacher.

Easter-time 1967, I was 6 years old and had a stabbing pain in my right side and a slight fever. Mrs. Dwyer sent me down to the nurses’ office. I remember hobbling the seemingly endless distance over the terrazzo floors, wincing with every step. Within the hour I was in carnation chairthe Emergency Room and headed for surgery to remove my appendix which they later told me had nearly ruptured. When I woke up Mrs. Dwyer had sent a bouquet of flowers – peppermint striped and white carnations, a couple of red and white paper straws bent to ‘take a sip’ all served up to resemble an ice cream soda. It was the first time (and obviously memorable) I had received flowers! I remember that they smelled like cinnamon, and to this day I can’t see red and white striped carnations without having my heart clench, getting a lump in my throat and thinking of Mrs. Dwyer. I have a chair that I reclaimed and refinished in my early twenties that I finally recognised years later was a tribute to her love – I am about to sell it after living with it since 1983 – but what is in my heart and head ties this to her and who she helped make me.

In retrospect there is no doubt in my mind that I was one of her favourites (after all the woman also came to my wedding and rushed the altar to bestow her blessings and kisses and hugs when I was pronounced a married woman at 23) but then, I was a scared little kid with a huge bloody incision laced with cat gut  who had just been soothed and affirmed as special by someone I thought (still do) extraordinary.

When I came home from the hospital three or four days later Mrs Dwyer magically appeared with an enormous (to me, at the time) Easter basket and amidst the floss grass were speckled eggs, jelly beans, a chocolate bunny and PEEPS!  I am pretty sure she had taken the Peeps out of their cello wrapper because I remember their being just a littlemarshmallow_peeps crunchy on the outside. The yellow sugar coating and the evaporating moisture of the gooey middle forming a crust. It is still the only way I can eat them – poke a hole in the package wait 24 hours and devour! Each one makes me 6 again and knowing fully and completely that someone (outside of my family) loved me. I was (and still am) the single yellow Peep in the sea of pink, purple and blue Peeps, utterly unique and special because Mrs. Dwyer made me so!

Our childhoods are filled with such sweet pleasures that we rarely recognise for just how special they are at the time (or later) and whilst I don’t live in the past, sometimes these extraordinary moments appear like a rainbow with all the associate blessings and I am so very grateful.

Recently another iconic brand of my childhood has been making quite a bit of social media noise for its “Wholesome” ad campaign launched a month ago (today). Honey Maid Snacks produces the ubiquitous graham cracker used for S’Mores and cheesecake crusts (like my Aunt Wanda Novak made) and made so famous (for a certain generation of us) by Bill Cosby in his routine on Kindergarten (timestamp 2:00). And, like many of the nearly 6 million people who have watched the commercial on YouTube and witnessed the ‘haters’ response to it, I applauded and cheered (and yes, Tweeted) when their response to the ugliness of a (very loud) but narrow minded minority hit the circuit about a week ago – entitled LOVE. But to the two artists whose efforts turned all the comments on the Wholesome ad into art – a special shout out. I noticed that the ugly comments you rolled inward, while the beautiful responses you rolled outward, yeah, I noticed. Love, should always be radiated outward and (though it pains me) let the ugliness destroy itself in its own shadows. We are one, and your art united all of our hearts – thank you.

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bunny smore

 

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I know it seems like I got off track from Mrs. Dwyer and Peeps – I have not, I assure you. Because while I have been thinking about graham crackers and Peeps, and the joys of childhood and nostalgic longings for what ‘was simpler’ I found a S’Mores recipe – made with Peeps! Coined S’meeps! And I thought OMG that is SO COOL – so I Tweeted that out as well!  Now, a tower of smushed, melty chocolate and Peeps is a far cry from Bill Cosby’s Kindergarten but truly, emotionally anyway, as intrinsically innocent and perfect as my long ago Easter basket.

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No Peeps or Bunnies were harmed in the writing of this blog post!

I wish you beauty in everything that touches your life, and hope that today (and every day) you will find a way to bring some memorable sweetness to your own and someone’s life who least expects such. Go forth and Peep!

Sending you love in Heaven Mrs. Dwyer, and an enormous heart filled with gratitude.

 

If you enjoy my blog please share it with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschiTo order my print or ebook from Amazon, please click on the cover art of my book, ebook also available through Barnes & Noble and Lulu, thank you! 

 

The Four Freedoms vs Super Bowl Sunday

WARNING: This is my 100th blog post. I am grateful for readers in 87 countries.  This going to be uncomfortable, but you should read it. You should take the time to click through each link and understand and then you should share it on Twitter and Facebook and via email because the sporting event you are so excited to be watching is a wasteland of ethical depravity. 

Today is the annual excuse for $4m USD to be spent on a 30 second ad (before actual production costs), and approximately 30 million pounds of junk food to be consumed (you know the stuff that has virtually zero nutritional value and is basically ‘fake food’ Imagelargely made from GMO and unpronounceable chemical combinations) which represents a whopping 1,200 calories and 50 grams of fat in snacks alone per person (before beer, cocktails, and main event eating such as pizza, chicken wings, ribs and sliders.  To put this into perspective the average person in Eritrea consumes not only less than ½ of the calories per day as the average American but less than the RDA of 2000 calories and has to spend a greater percentage of their annual income on their food – 55% vs 6.9%

Today also realizes, as 400,000 men arrive in the Greater Metropolitan New York City Imageand New Jersey Area, sex-trafficking ~ as U.S. Sen. John McCain’s wife, Cindy, has been speaking out, […] the “largest human-trafficking venue on the planet.”  More than 27 million people in the world today are enslaved. (The average age a girl enters into prostitution in the U.S. is 13.) I ask you to watch this video brought to you by the END IT MOVEMENT – take their pledge – and realise it’s all too easy for this to happen to your sister, daughter, niece, mother and your wife but also your son, nephew and brother.

And, last year found some $99m USD circulated as bets on the outcome on the gridiron – yes, today is The Super Bowl. I want to hit the PAUSE button, Big Time. Just think about what $99million USD could do to eradicate hunger with real food for kids with too little to Imageeat – in a country where 1 in 5 kids is hungry and shouldn’t be!

It’s not that I don’t appreciate a ‘good time’ and I do realise that everyone’s definition of such is different but it strikes me with the immergence of various Change.org petitions calling out the inequities, injustices, and tax exempt status (which I didn’t know about and I ‘bet’ 300 million other Americans didn’t either ) of the $9b USD National Football League there is something very wrong about all of this excess and special privilege.

ImageOh, I know, what I am writing about makes me a wet blanket on what amounts to nearly a national holiday – but when did we stop caring about EVERY PERSON actually realising a life based upon Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s ‘rights of mankind’ in his 1941 State of the Union speech?

Nearly 75 years later, how is it that our collective cycles of growth and development that Freedom of Fear has not been banished from the experience of everyone of the worlds’ citizens?

That the indigenous people of the United States, abused and murdered, condemned to tiny patches of Earth of what once was theirs to revere and tend, denied their beliefs of holding the spirituality of Mother Nature in trust for seven generations in the future by the very Europeans who fled persecution and set about building a new life and embrace another of the Four Freedoms which is to be able to worship. Abuse that continues to this day in the denial of Indian Treaties and the use of offensive racial stereotypes – yes, I am pointing out the use by the NFL team the Washington Redskins. 

We, The People (everywhere) have had enough! The suppression of speech, in combination with all the other ills that demand that we ‘take to the streets’, isn’t an issue in Norway or in Iceland which only tells me that special interests are controlling more of what makes a society weak than what our Founding Fathers envisioned “in order to form a more perfect union”.

Those of you who are sitting in your Lazy Boy, standing in the local sports bar or are actually at New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium screaming at the game between the Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos will probably never even see this – one of you who does should make they do, and help them to understand what their cheers really mean in the broader aspect of our society.

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What do their families eat? Arsenic and GMO in the food chain – guest blog for Ethical Value

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Concurrently published with Ethical Value

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Highland cows at Ardalanish Farms, Isle of Mull

A decade ago, on the Isle of Mull located off the western coast of mainland Scotland I had the very great pleasure to meet Minty and Aeneas Mackay at their, then, Ardalanish Farm (now owned by Andrew and Anne Smith). A ruggedly beautiful sweep of pristine earth where handsome Angus and Highland beef and rare breed sheep happily co-mingled and grazed on land that ran from a natural bay highlighted by a white sand beach with stunning purple accents (caused by indigenous mineral deposits) to heightened elevations with unobstructed views to Ireland on a clear day. Marked by Soil Association signs Ardalanish is certified to be thoroughly organic. Brambles run down to the sea and yielded abundant fruit for jam and cobblers, milk thick with cream from another local farm made our breakfast tea white, it was idyllic in a way that few places can claim to be.  I think of this place in its perfection and in wonder that the simplicity and reverence for living in harmony with every beast, the land and sea isn’t widely held as the standard – it is, in my opinion, simply common sense we should all be embracing. It is also what David Abram wrote in his Spell of the Sensuous of ecological philosophy living in close observance to the land and giving more than we take.

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The multi-nationals that control almost everything about our food chain.

We SHOULD BE having a global crisis of conscience but it is still a very small minority that would, or could, live this way; those who might choose to hoard heirloom seeds from year-to-year to ensure their independence and sustainability. A slightly larger percentage of the population understands GMO stands for ‘genetically modified organisms’ and these are essentially ‘designed’ to control world food supplies for the benefit of shareholder stock values but are having horrible effects on the genetic makeup of all living things. (Not all companies shown on the map are nefarious; the image is provided to illustrate the control of our food chain.  Consider – not represented on map – Rishi Tea and Tchibo which serve as beyond exemplary models for sustainability and transparency.)  Those that understand that cultivating our own food supply as well as knowing what is actually “in” the food we purchase – anywhere – is swelling but it is a finding-a-needle-in-the-haystack quest for food integrity unlike any time in human history.  Have we moved so far away from our hunter-gatherer and early agricultural history as to leave us numb as well as stupid?

Of late we discover that, in the United States, the Federal Drug Administration has been rather lax about the inclusion (or rather enforcing the exclusion) of arsenic in our pork and poultry (and what else?)  – don’t we already have sufficient poisons in our environment to create an epidemic of cancer globally?

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Join the movement! Click to learn more about GMO foods and labeling!

A piece of legislation that would be the equivalent of the universal bottle bill for labelling is in the centre of a smack down of laundered money and secret slush funds, with a list of big agra-business spending $22 million USD to defeat legislation in the state of Washington alone that should make every person on the planet be outraged out of their state of perpetual complacency and immediately (at minimum) start reading labels of their pre-packaged food purchases and clean out their portfolios and retirement plans of the violators.

I cook from scratch.  I shop at farmer’s markets which are vetted to be organic and I don’t purchase food with ingredients I can’t pronounce at the grocery store but without GMO labelling, and as a result of genetic contamination, that broad term that means that the buffer zones designed to keep GMO foodstuffs within bounds don’t work, I am fighting the same battle that we all seem destined to lose. I have to ask – what are the employees and executives and shareholders of these companies feeding their own families? Why are they NOT fostering change from within to achieve value and profit in conjunction with transparency and integrity around their product offerings? What kind of people put profit above the protection of our food supply and water? What kind of people carry this kind of ethical wasteland around inside their being and, god-forbid, is it contagious?

Witness, and by all means actively participate in, the rise of  the ancient wisdom of indigenous people such as the Iroquois Nations Great Binding Law in the form of Seven Generation Sustainability and have hope but a groundswell is needed – desperately. YOU!, reading this, foster positive change by making small choices based upon your own family – what will the planet be like for the children of your children’s children?  In the world of social media it’s easy enough to find critical influencers to ‘follow’ and begin your own education and then, choose some organisation to support even if you aren’t the ‘activist’ type yourself. 

If you enjoy my blog please share it with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschiTo order my book, please click on the cover art of my book below, thank you! 

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Reinvention

Today I applied for roles in two Scandinavian countries, one as a consultant for an IT deployment and the other handling corporate communications for a firm in the global textiles industry. Both, as I see it, are opportunities to leverage my communications skills within spaces where I have considerable work experience but to do it outside of my comfort uprootzone.  Each company has been in business at least 165 years; which got me to thinking about reinvention and staying relevant. The ‘synergy’ of my desire to uproot, disrupt and cull the best of my first 52 years and move to a foreign country where I know absolutely no-one and I don’t speak the language and the most certain cycles of reinvention of these two companies have embraced to stay vital seems worth exploring on a more macro basis.  Disruption and migration is as old as mankind – a chief example being our history of being hunter gatherers for millions of years to ‘suddenly’ turning to settlements and agriculture about 12,000 years ago.  Setting down ‘roots’ as it were, someplace that we ‘make’ home versus wandering.

Anyone that reads this blog, or personally knows me, has already come to understand that I am a ferocious gardener.  In making something grow we nourish our souls, our bodies and (if done with reverence) also the Earth.  As ‘we’ (an ever larger segment of thinking society) school gardenFINALLY GET that our kids should know where food comes from and should be able to pronounce everything in it, that they can create beauty at the same time as they become stewards of the planet by digging in the dirt with their own hands, that an earthworm is a critical part of the ecosystem and should be regarded with a kind of spiritual partnering toward human-kinds’ very existence, that there is an opportunity to reclaim blight and turn it toward sustainable urban farming.

World Food Programme cites 870 million people in the world do not have enough to eat. No one should be hungry – ever – not when the richest 10 percent of adults in the world own 85 hungerpercent of global household wealth and 2% of the world’s population ‘use’ more than 50% of our collectively available resources.  In an attempt to provide foodstuffs and reclaim urban areas suddenly there are plenty of people very excited about vertical gardening.  The MacArthur Foundation, in its Fellow Program (aka Genius Awards) back in 2008 included Will Allen for his Growing Power efforts.  Stephen Ritz received a standing ovation at the 2013 Social Innovation Summit at the United Nations for his efforts with Green Bronx Machine.

ImageBut any little girl over the age of 9 or 10 who has read Frances Hodgson Burnett’s wonderful The Secret Garden understands that walls planted with espaliered trees thrive in the longer ‘season’ offered by the sun warming the brick or stone walls.

Espaliering is an ancient horticulture practice dating back to the Romans but brought to artistic merit by the Europeans during the 17th century.  ImageEspalier is French, but originates from the Italian spalliera, which means “something to rest the shoulder (spalla) against,” is the process of controlling plant growth in a flat plane, usually against a wall or fence, sometimes formed into a hedge by training the trees against a free-standing trellis or fence that eventually becomes redundant.

So, the idea that vertical gardening should be tied to left wing liberals, the über-intelligent and hippie dropouts is utterly ridiculous – for goodness sake it doesn’t take a genius to recognise that our planet is only so big, with finite and diminishing resources, GMO being thrust upon a hungry planet and a population desperate to survive.  To stretch our capacity to grow foodstuffs by espalier or vertical gardening is common sense thousands of years old. And so with companies like Green Living Technologies and folks like Will Allen and Stephen Ritz filling a void our stomachs and consciousness. I am reminded – Everything old is new again     

If you enjoy my blog please share it with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschiTo order my book, please click on the cover art of my book below, thank you! 

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