We had such a good time. Just wanted to share some pics. Food Front Cooperative Grocery in NW PDX is definitely a friend to everyone that considers them part of the GMO-Free Portland family, or otherwise wants some clean food. 12375 NW Thurman St., Portland OR 97210. We plan to table there again soon.
In case you can't tell, our doggie who is wearing a non-GMO logo bandana is very spoiled and happy. He is cool, meets other dogs, gets petted, and got many dog cookies for himself and to share with other doggies thanks to Val. He says "Arf!"
We have a lot of irons in the fire- and quick turnarounds whenever possible because everything is happening right now. Its a good time to be impatient- at least from our angle. We have other people that work magic over longer scales- the big dogs. We're the little ankle biter dogs and when I say we- I mean Ernie and I, and you. Not all our friends are on this website. We've been connecting with people left and right. And when we do, doors open- some fast, some slow. Quite often what we end up doing is making friends and introducing them to each other. That's part of the mission- to build this community so we can stick together and provide for ourselves what no one else is going to hand us. In fact, we have to defend our right to non-GMO food and anything that isn't the industrial global food model. That big phood industry isn't good for anything but taking from this world and giving nothing back. Right now the ideas are flowing, the opportunities are knocking and we go with whatever is working best at the moment... but we always keep track of our commitments. What's better than making a promise to someone - especially if they are already feeling its a lost cause- and then making it happen?
A friend asked how I could think we could make a difference when this industry is so powerful. I didn't have an answer- I just think we can. It's seemed pretty obvious this whole time about what is wrong and what small things need to be done here and there to move the boulder. Sometimes you just have to flick away the pebble next to the boulder and it falls on its own. We just try lots of pebbles! Sometimes we recruit pebble flickers. Wow - gotta call Time of Death on this analogy. What went wrong? Anyway, it wasn't that she was a pessimist or a quitter. She and everyone else like us are getting pummeled blow after blow and it seems like it will never stop. But I told her- I'm sorry but I can't hear you talking when you say I can't do something. And we laughed and that was that.
Here's what we're going to do. Goliath will keep smacking us and our food safety soldiers will keep fighting back. We'll keep winning in court, they'll keep influencing our increasingly wayward regulatory agencies to ignore law. They'll keep putting genetically violated life out in nature to conduct this experiment on the world and her inhabitants and we'll keep making them look more obviously foul until they become so much of a liability that the government does some housecleaning. That isn't a great plan in it of itself because we are talking about a lot of influence that they have- more every day- and we know that the balance of nature and our health and everything that is being corrupted is like a fire that is eating acres with every minute we are not ahead of it. But keep in mind that while as this is all going on, we're going to sneak around the side and keep flicking pebbles and We- us, and you, will drop this boulder right in the middle of the fight. All we need is to be a catalyst. After that boulder starts moving it will come down by itself.
Every day we are defending ourselves in court, the USA citizens are learning about how we're being victimized. Judges are becoming more disgusted with both the FDA & USDA and Monsanto. That Triad and any of the other drug/chemical/seed companies taking advantage of the climate these 3 are making for them have to be more overt in their inappropriateness in order to fight us. The plan could succeed indefinitely I suppose if the GM crops were doing well and their promises were panning out, but as it turns out, farmers are starting to see this was all a big shine-on. These crops are failing. When the farmers finally make that collective decision to send the snake oil salesmen packing, the industry will lose its grip on the nation because they can't control the food if the farmers won't do business with them anymore, period. Then, all they'll have are their deeds and long record of impropriety. That is why the boulder is perched on a pebble right now. And all the opportunities we ankle biters have to take these nips are coming from the big battles in court and in Washington where our allies fight, which is why we send everyone we can to their websites. In this project, we just need to keep going and take the opportunities as we see them- because any one of them might be the one that does the trick. But Ralph can express this idea much more eloquently than I ever could. I give you the wise words of Ralph Hinkley, the hero in the 1981 TV series The Greatest American Hero, in his pep talk to Tony, Episode 4 Season 1:
"You can’t predict what’s gonna happen. All you can do is keep making yourself ready for the best things. Gotta aim high insteada low. That way when the good things do come along, you’re better equipped to cash in. When the bad things happen, you’re better equipped to deal with it. And in the end, the quality of your life just keeps improving."
Well said, Ralph, well said.
Three weeks ago, we went to the Thursday Portland Farmers Market, located at NW 23rd and Savier. There we met lets of people who were interested in learning more about the GMO-Free life. Some were new to the idea and wanted to know what they were. Others were already familiar with them and just wanted to know how to avoid them. We had lots of literature to give away that covered both topics. We had the Non-GMO Shopping Tips Guide and the Health Risks Brochure from the Institute for Responsible Technology. We gave these out as a set with our business card attached. We also had a brochure from the Oregon chapter of the Physicians for Social Responsibility Campaign for Safe Food (Email the Director, Rick North, to get on his mailing list for his funny and shocking up-to-the-minute newsletter) about the rBST in milk and other dairy products. See the link on that page for "Know your milk" which you can view or write to us for a printed copy- a very well done booklet. We had post cards on hand from the PSR addressed to Dreyers and Breyers/Good Humor ice cream companies, asking them to discontinue the use of rBST in their products. People can just sign their name and mail. We even have the stamps on hand to make it easier for them!
On the fun side, we had menus for our patron restaurants, Cravin Ravin, Paga G’s and Proper Eats. We also had store flyers from patron Alberta Co-op Grocery, plus Food Front Cooperative Grocery (remember you don't have to be a member to shop at our co-ops, but there are neat unexpected benefits) and really neat things from New Seasons Market, including a new sustainable seafood brochure including the wallet card Seafood Watch from Monterey Bay Aquarium. There was a flyer from our newest patron, Dave’s Killer Bread, listing all of their products. Bob’s Red Mill joined in with a flyer for their products and a coupon for Steel Cut Oats. Lots of options to let people know where to go to find GMO-Free food in the Portland area.
For the kids (or kids at heart!), we gave away stickers from Dave’s Killer Bread and temporary tattoos from Alberta Co-op Grocery. How cool of a grocery do you have to be to have a tattoo!? We also have a gumball machine filled with organic jellybeans! Oh and although this is organic junk food, the jelly beans have no non-GM or GMO high fructose corn syrup or the abomination "organic" high fructose corn syrup because Alberta Co-op grocery doesn't carry ANY Hfcs!) An added attraction that brought children (and their parents) over to our booth was our very soft and huggable dog Austin. He doesn't eat GMO's. He is a "huggle" - a husky beagle mix.
We had a great time talking with everybody. We will be out there in NW PDX again this coming Thursday, September 9, from 3pm to 7 pm. We were next to Food Front and the Portland Farmers Market info both right when you come in and we really enjoyed making new friends because they are so nice and helpful. We had FF's fresh gaspacho samples and laughed at the funny PFM tee-shirts. We also had a lot of amazing fruits and vege's that day. We will have a booth sometime at People's food co-op's own farmers market they've confirmed (the year-round farmers market!) and we will be at the Tigard Farmers Market 10/17, 10/24, and 10/31 (boo!) from 9-2pm. We will add more to the calendar which also gives links. We hope that you will take this opportunity to meet us in person, enter drawings if we have gift certificates again (it's ok if you know us or are even family- they're just little prizes), get a tattoo, and ask questions or tell us what you want on this site. We would love to see you there!
Our booth at Portland Farmers Market, right next to Food Front's booth.
Ernie and Austin in front of the booth.
Mary at the booth, giving away flyers and menus.
Sunday we met our new friend, the Irrepressible April Scott of salem-news.com. She learned about us from the Oregon PSR newsletter. We're still having great things turn up from that exposure. And because we left business cards around town, we'll be in the Green Living Journal for their Fall issue (free paper mag in stores, and online at www.greenlivingjournal.com). We're already connecting many people together- resources, organizations, businesses, shoppers, diners, activists, experts... every exposure for us means new friends of ours and therefore new friends of yours that are proving to have so much to offer. We need this local GMO-Free community. And for everyone not so close, read on because we're here to help you get your shopping circle educated too so you have it easier. That's what happens when you start telling the grocery stores what you can and can't get there to eat. We took a field trip to Salem Oregon. How far could we go- who could we help make their town better for their shopping and dining health? We don't know- we're just getting started. Send us an email about yourself and thanks for reading!
So because of April, who is in the pic below with her Organic-eating, future conservation arborist daughter, and Ernie, we're going to write up LifeSource Natural Foods of Salem and that is super because they deserve a round of applause. They had a lot we could eat and they take pride in everything they carry. The manager, Jeff, said the GMO-free niche is complex - so maybe we can make it easier. That's what we try very hard to do is help them help us. We'll definitely be back. They truly want to help us eat non-GMO food. By the door is 2-food sign for the Non-GMO Project! Pictured here by the Equal Exchange poster above a beautiful healthy coffee plant.
I have to live vicariously through April as I read her poignant rants and good advice- so full of links and references. My strategy is to say we will work with anyone and forgive and forget if you stop the madness and save the darned planet from being eaten by GMO's. Just STOP DOING IT! (and then fix it, and stay out of any business requiring our trust.) But April writes from the perspective that people are preying on us and making us sick, period. She also gives you direct sources and interesting links to check out and gives you what you need to protect yourself and your family. When you read her articles, its very obvious she is just trying to defend you from predators and that feels good after the beatings we take day in and day out just trying to eat real food and keep nasty stuff away. Take a look.
I just sent my new letter to conservationists to the AZA, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. (If you don't know how involved zoos are in conservation now, take a look at the Oregon Zoo's conservation page. Don't be fooled by the modest layout- you can spend a whole day in the programs and information nested in this conservation directory page). Instead of "conservation organization" and "members" the letter says "AZA" and "member zoos and aquariums."
The website confirmed my web-form email frankly that they have a small staff and must prioritize inquiries from members- to the extent that there is nothing that makes me expect they will ever be able to reply. But who knows? We'll keep you posted and if we get no reply we'll try snail mail. We would like to find more organizations that have conservationist members. Please let us know of more. It only takes a few seconds to do and it might make this happen somewhere. Our mission is in part to get consumers to care what is in the food because once they do, GMO's won't be.
You'll notice I picked palm oil as my example. As a side effect of avoiding GMO's, and only equitable trade chocolate and coffee, and buying from GMO-Free companies and Organic companies much more than organic or non-GMO lines of large GMO companies, our food circle doesn't have a lot of things with palm oil (a Vitamin A source known by dozens of names) from orangutan and elephant killing farms. For one thing, its mostly phoods that think they have to add vitamins. We all eat real food that has vitamins in it. Meanwhile I can't just keep throwing everything out of my pantry while they keep thriving from doing these horrid things, edging out the good guys. Lets get other people aware too so the products that exploit fail and the ones that choose not to succeed!
By the way, please remember that GMO's are going to blow up as a health and environmental disaster. Before every John and Jane knows how insidious they are we need to get consumers in the habit of shopping with power- buying only positive food and supporting only companies that deserve money that we actually want to see continue doing what they're doing. It may seem indirect but if we get this in place, then in a few short months when GMO's are on everyone's ugly list the entire nation of shoppers will be behind the mass-rejection. Right now, people still buy food that has ugliness in and around it because they have been lulled into thinking they are powerless, when they are anything but! This is why we are now working on positive food as a whole. If food is ugly at heart, (and I'm preaching to the choir here) we don't have to eat it! Saying you have no control over what you buy and eat is insane. This ugliness we take in and pretend we don't know eats at our souls. Every time you eat a pure-of-heart food, your health in the largest sense improves. Every consumer that turns away from any shady dealings and sends a message to companies that we are watching closely is getting us in a good position when the cascade effect of GMO consumer education begins to really avalanche. The good position is power. If we don't show people they have the power- including willpower and influence both, then this avalanche will just come down on top of us making everyone give up and take whatever they're given (unless the people learn of consequences of eating GMO's that are so frightening we have an all-out revolution)... but if people are empowered already, then the avalanche will cause a mass-rejection and GMO's will be outlawed and the Eradication begun. You don't have to reject every shady thing at once 100% of the time to have an effect either- but the more you do it, the more you'll see its actually a better way to live by far.
Someone offered us a chance to reach general readers once. We said no thanks. Because its nice to know I'm talking to people that know they can do it and to the friends and family and anyone else they want to show the fact that they can do it too. Anyone is welcome here on this site- but I am writing to you, shopping soldiers, whether you're new to the life (like us or even newer- or even just thinking about becoming that picky and demanding consumer we need more of) or perhaps you have always been an empowered shopper. Good for you! And when it gets tough out there, we are on call all the hours our BlackBerry is set to beep at us that you're writing. Email us or take our survey to start the conversation right now about strengthening your game (even if you just are in the store wanting to know what tocopherols are*). Thank you from all of us for demanding better choices! :) I've heard from enough of you to know one thing about our audience... You guys rock.
Hopefully the letter campaign idea will reach someone that tries it and becomes a real outreach somewhere that helps in our fight to get more consumers involved like you are. Email us with those suggestions!
*tocopherols are found in food usually to add Vitamin E, and now they primarily are derived from GMO soy.
We have been out doing so many things that we got behind almost 3 weeks of writing except for a scribble here and there. If you're with us on Facebook or Twitter you know we were at Farmers Market 8/12 and we'll be out there again 9/9 in NW Portland (see the calendar for details) but a lot more has been going on. First, though, lets talk about what's been added to the site!
I just wrote the first of my letters series (on the home page tab). This one is to conservationists to help them back companies doing positive things without running into problems of playing favorites. There is no such thing as "brand-neutrality" in conservation.
Just before that, Ernie published his GMO-Free Guide to Portland. He adapted it from sources such as the Non-GMO guide from the Center for Food Safety, the Institute for Responsible Technology, and the Non-GMO Project, and he put not just the dirty dozen and the clean 15 but all 49 fruits and vegetables looked at by the Environmental Working Group. He adapted the Monterey Bay Aquarium's seafood watch to avoiding farmed fish that eat GMO's as well and we made sure to encourage people to add their name to the credits if they adapt the guide to another region.
Ernie also published his guide to shopping at Uwajimaya which you can also get to easily from the smaller paragraph on the Stores page. This is exciting because it expands our stores page to include the West Side where we both hail from.
I'm in the process of editing his drinks guide which is another specialty page in the Ready? tab. It's a challenge. Gosh Ernie, you wrote all this hard stuff and backlogged me on proofreading & publishing. I told you guys he's been writing too!
We got our statistics updated so you can see we're still meeting new readers here and on Facebook and Twitter, and we added a wonderful $7 quick pizza from heaven to the RecipesPlus tab.
But if we just got back to writing, you might ask, what have we been doing for the last 20 days? Well, you'll just have to stay tuned because we're in the process of writing about that! ;)
Half information, half shout-out to our new friend, Devana. We went to Clackamas, our second-closest Fred Meyer for wild-caught sushi grade tuna. She updated our knowledge on what Frozen fish means- what they thaw for the cases. Its fresher than fresh used to be because its vacuum packed and frozen on the boat right when its caught. Plus she said if you let it thaw only half-way you can slice it really thin. We roll ours in Nori with American-grown sushi rice and California organic avacado. (Cheating by using a slicer thingie like they make for slicing bread. Resale store brand new $4 or $5.) Now there's still frozen fish in a bag you can buy- but ask the Seafood counter people. We've said it before- the people in the departments like Meat, produce and Seafood know their stuff. Including one of our favorite questions, "is this <weird new organic fruit> ripe?"
I have to make separate posts today. We've been so busy because of the doors the PSR letter is opening for us we haven't added any content in 3 days. First, Thanks to the Oregon PSR Campaign for Safe Food / Director Rick North (everyone should get on his newsletter, firstname.lastname@example.org), we had 90 new visitors in 2 1/2 days to our site- many of them reading a long time our stats tell us, and we then doubled our Facebook "likers" from 23 to 46. For those of you who don't know these folks, they got a bunch of that nasty cancerous inhumane GMO milk hormone out of the milk supply - including ALL milk from Oregon and Washington? Now they're going after ice cream. If you want to send Dreyers and Breyers a postcard saying they'd better get it out of there, come pick one some up from the Farmers Market table 8/12- details on the calendar page. In the interest of keeping this the fun blog, I'm inserting a divider for where I get snotty. But I am having fun. Sometimes you just gotta be "sticking it to the Man!" (Although at the end I get all positive and happy and give really cool links I should tell you.)
We heard from Rick that he is mentioning us today in his newsletter. That may be why some of you are here to read this message. This is especially for you:
A Precautionary Principle Haiku, by Mary Wright
"Safe until proven
unsafe" is absurd when a
mistake would mean doom
Ok. There are a couple of things we'd like you to know about this site. A lot of you are professionals and used to good causes having slick websites and non-profit status, etc. We don't have either yet. That said...,
Thank you and welcome!
Proper Eats joins us as a Patron displaying our window cling which James, the owner, helped us word. In fact, the website idea came to us during our first meal at Proper Eats, and we met soon after to see if he'd like to participate. He works in the store like many small business owners we've met with so it was a matter of being out there when he was in but not swamped. We finally did it and now we have four.