Friday Faves + discussion

Hi friends! Happy Friday! Have anything fun on the horizon this weekend? I’m excited to hang out with the fam, make dinner at home (so.much.takeout.this week), and make a beach trip. It will be the same as pretty much every weekend, and it sounds pretty glorious. Also, did you know National Margarita Day is Sunday? I’ll be whipping up a concoction to celebrate and share with ya. 🙂

Here are some of the things I’m loving from the week and around the web:

Salt lamp

The salt lamp that madre brought. She’s very familiar with my obsession with salt lamps (we have this one, which we used as a nursery nightlight when Liv was teeny, and lots of these candle holders) and she saw the above one at the gem show, and picked it as a gift. I LOVE IT. Romantic, hippie and beautiful; all things that are good. 

Dinner at Travail. During our blogger trip this week, we were treated to a legendary dinner at Travail, which is one of Food Network’s top 10 restaurants. They opened the restaurant for our group, and the chefs surprised us with course after course of delightful dishes and drinks. Here are some of the courses we enjoyed:

Travail Since they originated as a Kickstarter, they have their supporters’ names written on the wall.

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It was an incredible meal, and if I find myself in Minneapolis again, I’d love to make my way back. It’s gourmet and whimsical fare that would also be perfect for a date night. 

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While I was there, I also joined Kim for a lovely breakfast at French Meadow. Blue corn pancake, we must meet again.

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Because being healthy means not always being healthy (a.freakin.men)

20 Amazon shopping tips

36 hilarious responses to perfectly innocent signs.

BODYPUMP. This is definitely one of my true workout loves. The exercises and tempos match the music so well, and as someone who loves to dance, it seems to be the perfect hybrid of dance and strength training, as it’s choreographed iron pumping. It’s also a very different way to train (muscular endurance, focusing on lower weights and LOTS of reps to reach fatigue) and an awesome complement to my usual 3 sets of moderate-heavy workouts I do on my own. It just makes me happy… and so sore.

Bodypump stuff

Why everyone needs to stop saying yoga doesn’t count as a workout.

Your awesome comments on this post! I loved reading them. 

[If you want to skip the food/political stuff below, I hope you have a wonderful day. If you’d like, please leave a comment with something you’re loving this week!! xoxo]

Minneapolis

Your concerns and questions on this post. This one of the things I love so much about blogging: it generates discussion. It’s not a one-sided thing, and I love when we have the chance to really talk, connect, and learn from each other. Many of you also let me know that we shared the same thoughts and concerns. As you guys know, I went to visit the General Mills headquarters this week, something that I was hesitant about doing. I let them know my thoughts (I have a pretty strong anti-GMO stance, and I’m not an advocate of processed foods), declined the invitation and thanked them for the opportunity. Shortly after, they wrote back to let me know that my concerns were the reason they wanted me to come. They told me they genuinely wanted to hear my feedback and wanted me to ask the “tough questions” because they were certain many people felt the same way. I have to say, it was kind of refreshing to hear. I feel like many companies are set in their ways and aren’t receptive to criticism or feedback. So, I went for it. The very first discussion question I asked was about Prop 37, a proposed California state law that would require foods with GMOs to be identified as such on the label. General Mills, along with a handful of other companies, paid a significant amount of money to defeat this proposition. As a consumer, I was FURIOUS when this happened. “Why don’t they want me to know what’s in our food? What are they hiding?” In my mind, these companies were instantly villainized; it’s the day I stopped buying Larabars and reconsidered our purchasing habits.

I asked the President of GM’s cereal division about Prop 37 (“Why did they spend so much to defeat it? It made me feel like you didn’t want me to know what was in my food, and it drastically changed my opinion of General Mills”) and he had an interesting response (please note that all of this is paraphrased):

He said that they have unique labeling laws for each state/territory. This means, they have 52 boxes for each type of cereal, and making such a drastic change to one (and potentially more if other states followed suit) would be a significant expensive, logistical challenge. However, they wholeheartedly support federal labeling to indicate whether a food contains GMOs that would standardize regulations and reduce the workload involved in keeping up with the laws of 52 different states/territories. He admitted that the entire thing wasn’t handled and communicated appropriately, and if he could go back in time he would, but he said they want consumers to know what’s in their food; it should just be on a federal instead of state-by-state level. They say they’re working to make changes that consumers will appreciate. The cool thing is that because they’re such a big company, they have the potential to make a huge impact if they follow through. One thing that I found interesting is that they acquired a few brands that I really love and purchase regularly: Cascadian Farms, Food Should Taste Good, and Annie’s. They claim that they didn’t buy these companies to change them, but they are learning from them so they can implement positive changes within their own products.

Discussion

I want you guys to know that I am not standing up for them (and I personally dislike their page regarding their stance on GMOs), but many of you asked me to share this information, so I wanted to do so. For our trip, they had zero posting requirements about it; they just wanted us to come and see the headquarters, enjoy some awesome food and company, and participate in discussions about the food values and characteristics that are important to us. During one discussion, we talked a lot about the Standard American Diet: how Americans eat and how our actual eating habits can differ from our aspired eating habits. Three main factors come into play: commitment, finances, and availability. While I’m not a fan of processed foods, the reality is that many Americans can’t reasonably afford to constantly eat organic or fresh foods. It’s expensive, and the fact that unhealthy food is significantly cheaper than healthy food is an issue in itself. Sometimes it’s a problem of accessibility. Food deserts affect people who don’t live near, or have the means to get to, farmer’s markets and fresh produce. Finally, some people just like and enjoy processed foods, and that’s cool, too. All I can worry about is what I feed myself and my family, and we’re not perfect by any means. If GM can make changes to their products that doesn’t dramatically increase the price, especially for those who rely on them, I think it would be a huge benefit. 

I would love to hear your thoughts below. I also know that you’re a classy group of ladies (and dudes); we’re all doing the best we can with what we have.

xoxo

Gina

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Comments

  1. Currently there are about 12 fruits and vegetables that are approved by the USDA for genetic engineering. Of those 12, only 2 are actually being produced. This is mainly due to lack of consumer approval of genetically engineered food. The 2 foods are corn and soy which are pretty much in every single processed food item (this is why I avoid processed foods) However, since corn in open pollinated (by bees and wind) it is nearly impossible to separate genetically engineered corn from non GMO corn while its being grown in the field. This is leading to nearly 90% of all corn (both for animal feed and for people) to be GMO. Unless growers stop using genetically engineered corn and soy, and replace it with non GMO options, they will be here to stay. If we stay away from processed foods the majority of the time then our consumption of genetically engineered foods drops to almost zero whether its labeled organic or not.

  2. Hi Gina! Thank you for discussing this! I love the other bloggers, but none of them are willing to discuss the hard stuff. They post pics and rave about GM, but you’re the only one who acknowledged their GMO connection and connection with Prop 37. I appreciate your stance, and honesty 🙂 🙂

  3. I don’t really understand each state’s labeling laws, but if the legislation is changed on a federal level, then won’t GM have to change all of their boxes anyways? Why not change all of their boxes now to be as transparent as possible? That way they’ll be ahead of the curve.

    I guess I can understand if they’re concerned about cost and logistics if they changed their boxes to be compliant with Prop 37 and then the federal law changed the boxes again. However, from a PR standpoint, wouldn’t it be more beneficial to GM to be one of the first major multinational food distributors to make the switch?

    • I don’t work for GM, but for a different consumer products corporation so I can explain a little bit here.

      It is not so much that GM has 52 different cereal boxes, but that every time they make a change to any portion of any box, they have to recreate this change 52 times. They have 52 old boxes to run out of inventory, 52 new boxes to produce art for, 52 new boxes to build inventory on, etc. For every flavor, every size, every type of cereal, they have 52 boxes. Having to have a separate box for each state probably costs them millions and millions of dollars each year. It’s a huge deal. Federal labeling requirements would be a big win, logistically speaking.

      Now GMO labeling requirements? Not sure about that, except that every processed food is going to be in the same boat and seeing “GMO- xxxx” on a label will be about as frightening, for the average American, as “partially hydrogenated xxxxx.” Probably just part of the deal.

    • I was coming on here to say pretty much the same thing. To me it *sounds* very much like corporate spin which I am used to encountering in my professional life. It’s a lot easier to say why something “can’t be done” than to actually develop a thoughtful solution for doing it, especially when a company wouldn’t see immediate “benefit” from it and often has Wall Street as their “chief constituent” rather than their consumers.

    • ha, I also thought it a bit hypocritical of GM to cite economical concerns as they host bloggers at expensive restaurants.

  4. I think no matter what they day it’s healthy to keep a little bit of skepticism that they might not want consumers to know what’s in the food. Companies aren’t likely to admit their wrongs and make an excuse for them often.

  5. Hey Gina,

    Thanks for posting about this topic – I think there is a lot of confusion out there about it and as Diane pointed out, many bloggers don’t touch this topic! I’d love to hear more about your thoughts on GMOs if you are willing. Love your blog!

  6. I need to go to that restaurant! Oh man it looks fabulous!

    I think we all deserve to know what’s in our food and then make our own decisions from there. I don’t buy a lot of processed foods but Honey Nut Cheerios are one of Josh’s favorite foods. (And I’ve now fallen in love with them again too.) It’s the only thing we can’t buy at Whole Foods that we have to go to Costco to pick up. haha

  7. Very interesting Gina. I have a lot of mixed thoughts about companies like GM and Monsanto. They’re very big and very powerful, and so you’re right about the potential for them to make a positive impact on America’s food system. I also think it’s mostly about money for them, so I question their willingness to make those changes.

    I personally do not prefer a lot of processed foods in my diet, but I understand the need for them. There are a lot of people who are not as fortunate as people like you and me–we have access to healthy food and knowledge/experience with food prep. Food accessibility is a major problem, and it contributes to the obesity problem in our country for sure. I know your blog isn’t about food politics, but I appreciate this post, and hope that people are reading it, and other blog posts like it.

    On a lighter note, my Friday Fave is that I’m taking the afternoon off work to meet my hubby for a day date 🙂 Have a great weekend Gina!

  8. I’m a food economist who has spent a lot of time studying food access issues, so I’ve developed a really ambivalent stance on GMOs. This is going to be kinda verbose…

    I think, like so many things, the average consumer has a really tenuous grasp on how many different things the term “genetically modified” encompasses. Some of these methods pose real environmental drawbacks — especially reduction in biodiversity — a few pose potential health hazards — like gmo soy — and some are basically just a faster way of selective breeding, which is what farming has done since its start. Some are also really important! Citrus greening has been plaguing the US citrus industry, and a gm method might be the best cure for it.

    Giving something a label that says it contains a food which has been genetically modified only provides so much information; and because most people have limited knowledge of what this means, they generally see it as a skull and crossbones. Jayson Lusk, an ag economist at Oklahoma, ran a survey asking people if they supported labeling foods that “contain DNA.” A MAJORITY ANSWERED YES. People also love to talk about “chemicals” in foods without thinking about the fact that um, EVERYTHING IN NATURE is a chemical.

    TL; DR: I think more than labeling, I support better education about agriculture, food systems and nutrition. When people are armed with more information than conflicting propaganda, consumers will be better able to influence the market through smart purchasing.

    • Good points. I agree about Lusk and his insight and I also suggest you (you being Gina) look into Grist writer Nathanael Johnson — a strong food and ag skeptic who has actually done a deep dive into GMOs and other ag systems.

      Also, “food desert” doesn’t just mean lack of farmers markets and co-ops. People in your backyard are food insecure.

    • These are really excellent points. I have a scientific background – – indeed your most salient point is how farmers throughout humankind have promoted genetic manipulation in seeds/plants through old-fashioned methods (breeding, selection), GMO just occurs on a molecular-, rather than, macro-level.

    • Well said, Paula. As a biologist who also finds this topic interesting, it really bothers me when people only see the “bad” side of GM foods. Yes, there are definitely bad sides! But like you pointed out, genetically modifying a crop can be neutral, or even beneficial in some cases. There needs to be a way of separating out the case like GM soy from the neutral ones. The same thing bothers me to NO END about the term “organic”. Even if something is USDA certified organic, it doesn’t mean that it’s the best option. People see the word organic and assume (like they see GM as a skull and cross bones) that everything is wonderful. In reality (I have a friend who’s a dairy cow vet), some of the practices that organic farmers use to treat their animals are less humane in order to avoid any chemicals from entering the milk. As someone who’s passionate about animal rights, I would rather buy the milk where I know the animals are being treated well. I’m not saying that what I do is the BEST option, but just that because of economics these terms become a catch all that the public sees as either “good” or “bad”, but we don’t have a way of defining what REALLY is going on.

      I also think that the processed food issue gets lumped in with the GM issue, and it shouldn’t be. Food availability/food deserts/the American diet, are all huge problems that Americans are facing right now, but they are not intrinsically tied to GM foods.

  9. What a fun trip! I am with you on the GMO issue! We have changed how we eat and what we buy drastically!
    That salt lamp is awesome! I have one that looks like a big pink rock, I love it!

  10. Hi Gina,
    I have been a long time reader and your response to the whole GM debate, made me love you even more. I am a Masters in Nutrition student and currently have my BS in Nutrition (working towards becoming an RD), and feel you hit the nail on the head when you mentioned how not all people can afford (or want to eat) non-processed foods. Thank you for mentioning food deserts, as well, as this is a HUGE problem in this country that not many people are aware of.

    I have had the opportunity to visit a few of these areas and meet with people that live in food deserts, to teach them how to cook healthy with the foods accessible to them. Many of these people live over an HOUR from the nearest grocery store, which is either a Wal-Mart or their local 7-11. Despite everything, they are the kindest and most selfless people I have met. In fact, many are caring for a number of children that aren’t even related to them (due to parents on drugs, poverty, etc). Education is big in this case, as they WANT to eat well and are OPEN to learning, but frankly, can’t always avoid having processed foods, (not to mention, some don’t have a microwave, working oven, or electricity…).
    Through this experience and interning at NO KID HUNGRY, a non-profit organization fighting to end childhood hunger in America (PLEASE PLEASE check out this WONDERFUL organization), I have realized that not everyone can be as fortunate as us to have the option of avoiding processed foods. While I do not agree with GMOs or all of the junk that goes into our food system, not everyone has the option to avoid these foods, thus these companies will always be in business. I agree with you in the hope that these companies can make positive changes without raising the food prices. It would not only cut down on healthcare in the long run, but make America a little healthier!
    xoxo

  11. Very interesting! I will be interested to see the ingredients in gluten free cheerios.

  12. I am a fellow Californian who, like you, was horrified when the GMO labeling initiative was stopped cold. It made me look at so many products differently and absolutely changed the way I shop. I agree with you, though, that just a personal boycott doesn’t do as much good as something like you openly communicating with companies like General Mills. I want change, and to get it we need open communication. Thank you!

  13. Thanks for the thoughtful post, Gina. I appreciate that you’re opening yourself up to criticism by visiting GM and writing about it, and am happy that you were willing to hear what they had to say.

    My “elevator pitch” feeling about this is that while it is great that large companies are in favor of identifying the ingredients in their food products, the big picture goal should be for them to eliminate fake ingredients and unhealthy practices. This is of course a WAY larger issue that involves politics, agriculture, and economics. Advertising plays a huge part as well and, I think has made people believe that words like “all natural” and “whole grains” mean that their foods are healthy and not processed.

    Education of adults and children is essential if we hope to create a healthier population. I think a simple way to achieve this is to go back to something you always promote…moderation. If I was told by a doctor that I could never eat sesame chicken again because it would make me extremely sick, I wouldn’t eat it. In reality sesame chicken, while not healthy, is not the best thing to eat but it’s not going to kill me. I enjoy it. I eat it sparingly. I fill most of my meals with the good stuff.

    Best,
    Rachel

  14. I’m an RD and I think it’s important to understand what the average American diet looks like… you can probably imagine it based off of the current health issues in our country. It’s important to make healthier options of processed foods for people who aren’t able (or heck, don’t even care) about things like GMOs. I hope we can get to a point where the processes in which food is grown and produced are much better but at the same time we have to comrpomise and deal with what is going on health-wise and nutrition-wise in our country right now. I am glad you asked them the hard questions and I really hope they make the changes they say they’re working towards.

  15. I just want to applaud you for being up front and honest with General Mills and then, when they insisted you join them for their media tour, remained true to your intentions and added another, much-needed viewpoint to the discussion.

    I agree with you whole-heartedly — we should know what is in our food, where it is coming from, etc. I am a big advocate for eating cleanly, naturally, and healthfully, but I also am a working (part-time) mother of twins, married to a husband with a demanding, yet not high-paying job, and we receive WIC. We unfortunately have to rely on some of the “standard American” fare, the processed items to eat every day.

    I try to buy the best produce, but I can’t afford organic (usually), so I just rejoice in the fact that we are getting our 5+ servings of fruits and vegetables a day. I would love to buy local, sustainably-raised meat, but I cannot and likely will not ever be able to afford it, so I buy very little meat and opt for vegetarian or meat-light dishes instead. We use regular peanut butter and boxed cereal and granola bars, but we try not to get the stuff with too much sugar, although that is hard to avoid.

    I guess all this to say that I think we all have to do what we can, when we can, with what we have and from where we are. I hope companies like General Mills can be a positive part of this change in the SAD and make better-for-you foods available at affordable prices, so families like mine can make the best decisions for their health and well being.

  16. Hi Gina, What is that first pictured dish from your dinner at Travail? It looks so interesting with that foam!

  17. I’ll bypass the heavy discussion…
    What is a salt lamp??? Is there a practical purpose/ or use, or is it just aesthetics?

  18. Great response and discussion, friend!

  19. Thank you for talking about this!! I am a RD and went to a national conference this past fall in Atlanta (called FNCE). This conference had an “expo” where hundreds of food companies had booths with information, samples, and coupons for their products. There were small companies with amazing products I had never heard of, and then there were very large ones for companies like GM.

    When talking to the people that were representing these booths, all they wanted to do was talk about the fiber, protein, vitamins, etc. that was present in their food. They boasted something that was “gluten-free” or had no trans fat, but no one wanted to answer the tough questions about things like GMOs. I’m so glad you had the opportunity to discuss it with GM and were able to communicate that with us, as I left that conference frustrated with these companies (more than just GM).

  20. All I wanted to say today is THANK YOU for the link to the article on being healthy by not being healthy. 🙂 I’ve lately been surrounded by people cutting things out of their diets, calling food “bad” and, much to my surprise, it made me question my habits. Thanks for keeping it real and reminding us that guilt and shame have no place in healthy behaviors! Happy Friday and have a wonderful weekend!

  21. I’d like to clarify, first and foremost, that I’m a scientist currently working on a PhD in biology. GMO foods and health are both topics very close to my heart.

    There is no evidence that GMOs alter human DNA. None at all. And this research has been conducted by scientists at universities with no affiliation to major corporations or financial stake in the state of affairs regarding labeling.

    I, personally, believe that a lot of Americans take an anti-GMOS stance because they want their food to be as natural as possible, ignoring the positive things we could gain from genetically modified foods. For instance, I have a friend working to engineer wheat that is safe for people with celiac’ disease, and another trying to increase the efficiency of soybean crops to provide cheap, healthy food to the third world. Golden rice is another example that comes to mind, although I have no connection with that project.

    I also want to clarify that this does not mean I think that some major corporations commonly associated with GMOs are good companies- Monsanto especially has a long history of steamrolling small farmers, ultimately making American agriculture more contentious and less productive because of their greedy nature. What I’m trying to say is that it’s possible to think that the technology is potentially capable of changing lives, and there are lots of people doing work that doesn’t get press.

    My question for you, then, is why have an anti-GMO stance? I sincerely believe that all of the independent research I’ve seen points to GMOs being safe, and I’m genuinely interested in hearing alternative opinions on this beyond the generic “I don’t like them” I’ve heard so much. Additionally, if you have questions that you’d like answered from a scientist whose day-to-day job is working on things like this (yet who bears no financial stake in labeling projects or prop 37) please let me know. I’d be happy to put you in contact with them.

    • Hi Karin,

      I totally agree with you. I am a geneticist with a masters degree in plant biotechnology and next year I will start my PhD in plant biology.

      I think that the main problem is the lack of communication between population and the scientific community, because as you have said, there is no evidence that GMOs affect negatively human health.

      • Marta,

        I agree with you re: communication. I think many scientists struggle with communicating that supporting GMO science does not mean that you agree with the ethics of large companies like Monsanto. It can be difficult to distinguish the difference between the two out in the world or when making food choices in our grocery stores. I think in many ways the GMO debate is a red herring for corporate control over our food supply, which is what we really should be more aware of.

        I also understand that this is a complex and heated topic for most of us, but we all have the same goal: a safe, healthy, and sustainable food supply for ourselves, our families, and the world.

        Best of luck on your PhD! It’s a long road, but it’s worth it.

        I understand that it’s a complex and heated topic,

        • Hi,
          I just wanted to say that I found your comments really interesting, so thank you!
          I don’t have much to add to the conversation that anyone would really want to read- I pretty much eat anything that I feel like eating! Luckily, it’s usually something more healthy, but not always. 🙂

      • Katherine K says:

        Well said! With the speed that (mis)information can be disseminated these days, it can be difficult for people to understand the science behind things (e.g. food or vaccines). Add in the issue of detangling science from ethics, and it can be really tough for a reasonable voice to be heard. A peer-reviewed, logical article in a professional publication is much less sexy than clickbait screaming “She cut out one food and YOU’LL NEVER BELIEVE WHAT HAPPENED!!!”

        Way to go Gina for addressing these issues, and to GM for wanting to host you precisely because of your doubts – the world needs more people who are open-minded enough to be willing to have a reasoned discussion about this stuff!

    • I’m currently pursuing a PhD in Plant Pathology and this is also a topic that we tend to focus on a lot in our department/lives.
      We do many outreach events at biotech fairs and such- and this is a huge point of contention for the general public. It seems to be a (rather large) miscommunication. I think as scientists we have a hard time educating the public on what exactly GMOs are and how they help agriculture as a whole. Most of the problem is a lack of understanding what DNA actually is (and that all our food contains DNA…).
      In September of 2013- there was a longitudinal study (on over 20 years of data) released on the effects of GMOs on livestock (since most livestock feed contains GMOs) and they could not find any negative evidence regarding GMOs in the diet. If you read the link General Mills provides regarding their stance on GMOs its quite accurate in how the addition of GMO crops help boost production, limit water usage ect. Not to mention GMO crops provide more nutrition than “heirloom” varieties.

    • I have a Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and I have published numerous articles in highly ranked peer-reviewed journals (albeit not on plant pathology or food science). This has afforded me a solid background in what genetic modification entails. I completely agree that as scientists we have utterly failed at educating the public about DNA and molecular engineering. On the other hand, some of the fault lines in a public that would rather believe unsubstantiated internet stories. I think that – quite unfortunately – the GMO discussion is similar in facet to the vaccination discussion – consumed by a culture that lacks the necessary critical thinking skills to evaluate their sources efficiently combined with a loss of trust in those experts working in the field. We all need to work to remedy this situation.

      • I just want to hug all of you! As a biologist I find it frustrating that my peers are so soft spoken about these issues. Most people are not on pubmed searching through peer reviewed articles, etc, but are getting disseminated information that has been sometimes heavily altered to support one side or the other. It’s our responsibility to effectively communicate the real data.

        I find the topic of food deserts and the American diet SO important, but I can’t stand that it gets lumped into the discussion of GMOs.

        • I’m feeling some serious warm & fuzzies from reading this little comment thread today. Simultaneously caring about health/fitness and defending GMO science sometimes feels a little lonely, it’s nice to see so many people who feel the same

          • My husband is a patent lawyer (with a PhD in molecular biology) and he hates it when anyone brings up GMOs…my mom is really anti-GMO and it drives him crazy. He agrees that there is no proof GMOs have any affect on anything. Glad other scientists out there agree with him.

    • Hi Karin (and all of the other biologists, etc. who have responded to this post): my understanding is that a lot of the GMO crops have been specifically engineered (by Monsanto et al) to withstand higher levels of pesticides, which is where a large part of my concern lies regarding eating GMOs. I try to take most things I read with a grain of salt, and take a look at both sides of the stance, but can you address this at all, given your expertise?

      For example, here is some information from a popular website: “About 85 percent of all genetically engineered plants are herbicide-tolerant—designed to tolerate very high levels of herbicides, glyphosate in particular. These are the so-called Roundup Ready crops…It’s important to realize that glyphosate is not “just” an herbicide…it was first patented as a mineral chelator. It immobilizes nutrients, so they’re not physiologically available for your body.” Any insights?

      • Hi Erika,

        To some extent, you’re right – with the notable exception that a lot of these “crops” are not actually in our food chain. And I think this is part of why it’s on scientists to help people distinguish between “good” GMO and “bad” GMO (which I like to think about more in terms of ethically sound v ethically questionable). Many of the products Monsanto produces are designed to only improve Monsanto’s profit margin and promote their litigious nature – concepts I, personally, take major issue with. However, there is an even larger group of people working to use GMOs in a way that could drastically improve our food system, and a blanket statement of “I’m opposed to GMOs” is going to be detrimental to us all in the long-term.

        Also, GM corn is used exclusively as a feed corn, mostly for cattle. While extensive research (including longitudinal studies in livestock that have lasted 20+ years) suggests that there is no impact on the cattle’s health when eating GM corn, I avoid corn-fed beef because it’s the easiest way to avoid supporting Monsanto’s “roundup ready” line of crops and the questionable ethics that surround it.

        My biggest issue, personally, comes from the blanket statement that GMOs are bad and not worthy of our trust, especially when it comes from a relatively influential voice. I’m all for discussion, even debate, without the use of data.

        I hope you end up being able to read this and that it provides some insight. Health and nutrition is such a complext issue that varies so much from person to person.

        (Gina, I hope you don’t see any of this as a sign of frustration or closed-mindedness on my part. I sincerely would like to know the reasoning behind your statements, because my food philosophy otherwise tends to align closely with yours. I just also believe that we need to think about nutrition and health on a population level, especially moving in to the future, and am curious if that’s something you think about when discussing your beliefs)

  22. Thank you so much for sharing your discussion with us, Gina. It was very eye-opening to read and it makes me think about my own stance towards companies. I really love that you are making this a discussion for us all to participate in and to use your trip as a way to help us learn more– thank you!

  23. Gina, I totally respect you for sticking to what you believe in and value! You are such a compassionate person that sticks to her morals regardless of others. Thank you for explaining this (although I am still not sure that I completely believe that the re-making of boxes was the ONLY reason they paid for this not to pass). Thank you for being so genuine and honest!

  24. I love that salt crystal bowl! I have a salt lamp (that I love) and on a recent trip to Chattanooga I stopped by a store that sold salt crystal bowls, lamps, and even shot glasses. It would have been awesome had the creepy proprietor not gone on a spiel about how they cure *every* ailment, lecturing me on why I should keep my lamp on 24/7, an then wanting to look at my nose and telling my dad I was pretty. I think I’ll find a less creepy place to buy one of those bowls because they’re so pretty! Also, I loved Anne’s article. My favorite quote was, “Guilt is the enemy of good health, my friends.” SO TRUE! Given my eating disorder history I know that guilt for me has certain really dangerous implications. It’s not that I never feel it, but I’ve learned how to have a healthier relationship with it and I always appreciate people like you and Anne advocating balance and respect for your body. <3 Have a great weekend!

  25. I’m so glad you posted about your GM experience. I was wondering about that after you mentioned it in your earlier post. Being in corporate america myself, I do agree with the financial & logistics of making a relabeling change. It would cost a lot of money. Imagine if every state jumped on that band wagon. The bottom line is our entire country needs better food labeling and it should be standardized so no matter what state you live in, it is the same for everyone. It’s too confusing for the consumer. Unfortunately there is too much bureaucracy that prevents it from happening. It’s up to people like us to be the voice of the consumer & tell the companies what consumers need. I applaud you for doing that & not swaying from what you believe.

  26. I just wanted to say that I love the way you addressed this. I definitely noticed quite a few of the healthy living bloggers I read daily visited GM this week, and my first instinct was WHAT? This is NOT a company I associate with healthy living. But it’s so great to hear that you were true to your self and your viewpoints while also keeping an open mind. Its something we should all strive to do more of. Everyone’s situation is different. You do a great job of discussing these potentially hot button experiences and issues with your readers while keeping the conversation light and as non-controversial as possible. THANKS for going there and always keeping it classy 🙂

  27. Amber Schumann says:

    I love how mindful you were about making the decision to go. I am on the same level as you with your beliefs, and I feel proud that you were there standing up for them.

    I live in a very split household–I am mindful of what I eat and what my daughter eats, but my husband happily rides the Frankenfood Train. It would be an amazing thing for GM to start a movement.

  28. Thanks so much for sharing this. I too was furious when prop 37 failed and made it a personal mission to “vote with my wallet” and stop purchasing from GM and other companies who shot it down. Like everything, there are always two sides to the story. I see why the different regulations would seriously affect their business processes. But yeah, they should have communicated that better and fought for federal labeling… Idk, I still don’t support them or GM food.

  29. We are going to be in Minneapolis in July & can’t wait to try Travail! Thx so much for the recommendation!

  30. I really love Anne’s post on being healthy – such a refreshing perspective. I have really begun to try intuitive eating within the past few months and I feel so much better. No worrying about everything, no binging thanks to guilt (like she mentioned), etc.

    Secondly, I really appreciate your posting about your trip to GM. It really is sad to note that cheap, not so great for you food is so much cheaper than good-for-you whole foods, because, as you said, that makes it a lot harder for many people to actually have abundant access to the foods our body is really meant to run on. I think education regarding nutrition and health is also desperately needed to be made more accessible to the average American, as there are so many misconceptions about what it means to eat and be “healthy.” I think it speaks to our power as consumers that a company like GM is actually even interested in changing their ways at all and invited you and other “healthy living” bloggers to come talk. Thanks again for really talking about it!

  31. I just bought my first salt lamp this week. I love that bowl-style one!

  32. Hi Gina! First of all – you know I love Les Mills classes too. I just taught BODYATTACK today, and I hope you get to try that one day too. Second of all – your statement about us all just trying to do the best we can with what we have is so true. Healthy is not perfection. It’s an ongoing daily lifestyle to make the best choices, most of the best. But not all of the time. I’m glad you went on this trip and brought back all that information from GM. Thank you for sharing!

  33. Hi Gina! This is why I love your blog the most. You’re open, smart & provide the facts without judgement of what others choose. It’s not just a “this is what I ate” and the hotel bed I slept in..which is why I’ve continued to read your blog for many years!! 🙂

  34. I understand GM had do you guys sign an NDA. My concern, not with you guys as bloggers, but with a company as big as GM, is with the fact that they sponsor a trip to hear the concerns of their consumers but not allow those consumers who have large followings to share the company feedback with their readers. And let’s be honest – their big announcement isn’t ever going to be that they are finally removing harmful additives and gmos. It’s about profit. With all due respect, it seems like GM wants to give the impression of being concerned through a large audience. I’m just curious what your take on this is, since I know from reading that you are the one most public ally outspoken against gmos from that trip.

  35. That is an interesting response to GMO labeling and one I haven’t thought about. I think a lot of companies are starting to reconsider what is put into their product. Not necessarily because they are environmentally or health concious, but because that is what the consumer is demanding and without the consumer, they have no profit. To say most people cannot afford to eat a healthy and unprocessed diet is a bit tricky. I think a lot of it is about making choices. My annual household income (2 people) is roughly $35,000. I budget $100 a week for groceries and eat organic as much as possible. I rarely dine out and keep other non-necessary expenses to a minimum. I manage to eat a healthy organic diet by eating what is in season, buying in bulk at the farmers market in the summer and freezing produce, growing some of my own food in the summer, shopping the bulk bins, and eating less meat (so I can buy better quality). Eating healthy is doable for the majority of America….it simply comes down to choice.

  36. I know scientifically there hasn’t been much or enough evidence that they’re harmful, and I understand how this benefits the producers on so many levels, but I would just prefer my food to be made without much intervention. The US has a policy that essentially states you need to prove its unsafe for us to not do it/regulate it, while other countries, primarily European, need evidence that it is safe to allow it. The FDA does whatever will bring them the most money, hence things like approving the stomach “pacemaker” device recently that is seen as a tool to fight obesity, but they won’t make trans fats illegal.

    Overall it just reflects how health is not a priority in the US, especially considering how much we spend on healthcare compared to other things.

  37. Thank you for this discussion, Gina and staying true to your beliefs! I do my best to keep clear of processed foods (I’m not perfect but do what I can). The thing I don’t understand about these companies is in other countries they offer the same products with four ingredients (all identifiable) but here in the US the ingredient list is long and unidentifiable, why is it ok that we get sub-standard ingredients?! I was disappointed when I heard GM bought Annie’s and that they own Cascadian Farms, so I am hoping they are true to their word and don’t make any changes there. Again, thank you for being so open with GM and your readers as well, we truly appreciate it.

  38. The entire GMO discussion is so confusing to consumers because it seems like no matter what you do, you can’t avoid them. After following the Food Babe’s blog, she shed light on food companies, which was great, however, she also had posts about some how organically-labeled food isn’t 100% organic. While I didn’t totally give up as a consumer, it’s extremely tough to ensure that I’m making the right decisions. I’m terrified to be a mother because I don’t want to feed my children neon orange drinks and chemically filled snacks but not only can you not get a 100% guarantee about non-GMO/organic food but it’s crazy expensive too. And to hear that some apples are even waxed to appear shinier….ugh.

  39. Hi Gina,
    As an avid blog reader, I just wanted to comment on how grounded this post was by you. I’m a cardiac nurse and deal with people who need a healthy diet the most but most often can’t afford it, don’t have access to it, or can’t even psychically make it to a grocery store. These aren’t just old people either! A lot of them are 20-40 years old! I feel like most other health/fitness/wellness blogs tend to shame people if they aren’t eating “organic, grass-fed, etc” or don’t have the latest cold-pressed juice in hand. I applaud you for how humble you are in approaching such a hot topic and recognizing that most of our population need realistic health goals and that this really is a bigger issue (ie: healthy food being more expensive than fast food..what?!). Good job girl, keep up the good work:)

  40. Christine Y says:

    I do think it is important for these large companies hosting bloggers for essentially free publicity to hear someone ask the hard questions. Kudos to you for attending and speaking your mind!

  41. As a biological engineering PhD candidate, I was hoping you’d be able to share your anti GMO stance. I for one have no idea why GMOs have such a bad rap. GMOs encompass a wide range of foods. Every single crop in America is technically a GMO. Corn as we know it today is not actually corn. It has been cross bred to form the staple that it is today. There is absolutely no evidence that GMO have any detrimental effect on health or the environment. Please share your evidence explaining why you’ve come to your anti GMO conclusion.

    • Fitnessista says:

      my problem isn’t with the foods themselves -though it does make me uncomfortable that we don’t know the long-term effects of consuming them- but it’s mainly the pesticide and herbicide use with GMO crops. this study was particularly alarming, when they found pesticide remnants in women’s blood from GMOs: https://www.uclm.es/Actividades/repositorio/pdf/doc_3721_4666.pdf i’ve read a few studies about glyphosate and its effects on the digestive system and hormonal functions. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23756170
      another interesting one: http://www.organic-systems.org/journal/81/8106.pdf
      this is a big enough reason for me to stick with certified organic whenever possible, or even better: buy from the farmer’s market and talk to them about what they use on their crops. of course, it’s not that we NEVER eat gmo’s (we like to go out to eat, and sometimes we eat packaged food containing soy and/or corn), but if i have the choice and ability, i try to skip them.
      i would love any insight you may have about the increased use of GMOs and the increase in food allergies, too. http://responsibletechnology.org/media/images/content/Press_Release_Gluten_11_25.pdf

      • There is no link between GMOs and food allergies. The ‘hygiene hypothesis’ is the consensus among scientists. Parents are overly protective and the parents and children hand wash regularly with antibacterial soap, alcohol hand gel and the children don’t go outside and eat dirt, lick the dog etc.
        This has also caused an increase in autoimmune disorders such as Crohn’s and Coeliac Disease.
        The other reason why this is occurring is because parents are so fearful of these allergies that they are not eating these food during pregnancy and not introducing these foods when the child is beginning on solids.

  42. Nikki Fahey says:

    Come back to Minneapolis and I will show you where the average person eats and hangs out!! A real experience for the Minnesota culture:)

  43. Ive read a lot about the GM trip from the other bloggers and I think it is really cool that there were no conditions to the trip. They seemed genuinely interested in feedback and in educating you guys as well, so overall it looks pretty awesome. Thanks for sharing the info from the cereal president (awesome title)!

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