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There’s been a lot of buzz in the food world about Proposition 37, a proposed legislation in California that would require the labeling of all genetically engineered foods. While food advocates have been adamantly pushing its enactment, major food companies like PepsiCo have put forth millions of dollars against the cause. Do they have a chance?
Why Should We Care?
Despite claims that genetically engineered foods are safe for human consumption, an overwhelming amount of research suggests the opposite. The American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) has linked genetically modified food to infertility, immune problems, faulty insulin regulation, and changes in major organs and the gastrointestinal system. The European government required the labeling of GM products after Dr Arpad Pusztai, a UK scientist originally hired to create a safety procedure for GM foods, announced the dangers of GM foods. And if the health hazards don’t convince you, several environmental concerns surround these products—cross contamination of GM crops with natural growing crops threatens altering entire ecosystems and the use of these products has already proven deadly to animals in surrounding areas.
The amount of support growing towards the movement is immense. Recent polls predict the law’s passing, and you can’t go to a single organic newspaper or food blog without hearing about the push for labeling. However, the food industry has money and power on its side, and has already spent nearly $10 million against the campaign. With that money will come some excellent lawyers, along with some serious local advertising against the campaign.
Labeling and Freedom of Speech
In the United States, one case has been cited as working against Proposition 37: International Dairy Foods Association v. L. Amestoy C. In that case, a Vermont statute required dairy manufacturers to label milk products made using the growth hormone rBST. The 2nd circuit court concluded that the law was unconstitutional under the 1st amendment, as it compelled food companies to choose speech instead of silence. If voters enact Proposition 37 in California, lawyers working for the food industry will surely use this case to strike down Proposition 37 in court. Fortunately, International Dairy only serves as persuasive (not binding) authority, which means that California is not bound to follow that same logic. But since this type of case is unprecedented in California, lawyers for the campaign will have the task of showing why Proposition 37 is unlike the Vermont statute, or alternatively, why it would go against the interest of the California courts to follow Vermont’s logic.
How Can You Help?
The big push in the organic world is to boycott. While I am all for boycotting products that are donating against against Proposition 37, it seems that the people of California will vote for this law. A greater concern, in my opinion, is what will happen after (and if) the law passes–once everyone stops paying attention, and once PepsiCo and Monsanto bring a lawsuit against the state of California. Although precedent is not in our favor, a loud buzz created up until the day of the trial may be able to influence the court’s decision when deciding whether or not to uphold Proposition 37. Public politicization of courtroom decisions can have a profound effect on judgments made in court–just look at Brown v. Board and Planned Parenthood v. Casey (which upheld parts of Roe v. Wade). So create that political fervor surrounding labeling organic foods by tweeting and writing to California judges and legislators, staying vocal through social media outlets, and volunteering your time to get the word out. And if you’re part of an official organization, business, or political group, endorse the campaign online.
In the meantime, keep yourself informed on the campaign and its developments.
I used to be a huge milk and cheese lover. And let’s be honest, dairy products are pretty yummy. But just because you’re vegan doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy that taste—or at least something very close to it! Here are some of the dairy alternatives that I consume regularly.
Almond milk can usually be found at most grocery stores. But if you don’t like the taste of almond milk, or if all the extra ingredients in it (carrageenan, added sweeteners, etc.) freak you out, you can make nut milks in a matter of minutes at home. All you need is a fine strainer, a blender, some water, and your favorite nuts of choice. Place 1 and ¼ cups of nuts in a blender and fill the rest with water–you can even use coconut water if you like your milk super sweet. Blend well and then strain in order to make delicious nut milk. I like to also sweeten with vanilla extract and stevia.
Nutritional yeast is an inactive yeast that is rich in b vitamins and vitamin b-12, which usually is difficult to get for vegans. It has a cheesy taste that is great to put on salad dressings or as a topping to gluten-free pasta or pizza!
Dr. Cow’s Nut Cheeses
These are a bit pricey, so I only get them once in awhile, but they are so delicious. They are dairy-free, gmo-free cheeses that are made with cultured nuts, sea salt, and probiotics. Most store-bought cheese alternatives like daiya and tofu-cheese have tons of additives and “natural flavors” (which really means chemical flavors) and usually leave me with an aching stomach, but Dr. Cow’s cheeses have four ingredients max and are easy to digest. They come in several flavors, like macadamia, hemp, cashew, and brazil nut. I recently used the aged cashew flavor to make a vegan, gluten free pizza and it was delicious!
Homemade Parmesan Cheese
If you’re looking for a quick way to make parmesan cheese to add to the top of your salad or a pasta dish, you can simply blend garlic and brazil nuts or pine nuts in a food processor. So simple, yet so delicious!
Vegan pizza made with Dr. Cow’s nut cheese. Yum!