Friday, December 28, 2012

GMO Free Eggs - How Hard Can It Be?

The old saying goes 'you are what you eat' and we may not want to think about it, but that goes for chickens, too. I realize this makes buying eggs harder, but have you priced out cancer lately? I decided to reach out to Alicia Finley, the Co-Founder of Living Earth Ranch and Farm, out in Potrero, Ca for some expert advice. Alicia's mission is to create a local, organic poultry source for San Diego County so I asked her about GMO free eggs, where to get them, and how Prop 37 has affected her flock. 

Alicia on Prop 37: 

We attended 4 markets every week from April-Oct and had the opportunity to talk to many people. Often we were diffusing confusion brought about by the misinformation from the opposition: explaining why labeling wouldn't cost more and, no, GMOs haven't already been in our foods for a 100 years. I think sales did increase towards the end of the year and that could have been because of the increased volume of the conversation. Many customers were very happy knowing the chickens were fed gmo-free organic corn, soy and wheat. But many of out customers were only interested in the good taste, supporting local farms and the excellent humane treatment the animals receive. 

I have many recipes on our website. Please check them out and use whatever you'd like. We love chicken tortilla soup and adding the feet early to simmer adds collagen and glycosamine.

Alicia's thoughts about how a consumer should ask a chicken farmer what they feed the chickens to ensure the eggs are gmo free:

To be GMO free the feed needs to be certified organic. It is 90% (est) likely that conventional animal feed containing corn and soy and likely wheat is GMO. It may be possible to avoid these ingredients but not likely. At home chicken owners could try raising and feeding black soldier fly larva as a source of protein, fat and calcium.

Alicia's advice on who should we buy eggs from in SD County:

I'd recommend Descanso Valley Ranch or Suzie's. They're a couple more using organic feed. Eben-haezer ranch sells at the Rancho San Diego farmers market and sells an organic Pastured egg.

More About Alicia's Living Earth Ranch and Farm: 

A traditional small-scale family farm grounded on the principles of sustainable organic agriculture and permaculture systems for land management. We raise heirloom and traditional meat chickens on pasture and certified organic grain creating the highest quality meat for you and your family. Our chickens are moved to fresh grasses everyday, never degrading the land or nearby streams, but actually improving the soil and in return creating the healthiest and tastiest poultry possible. You may buy directly from us at or find us at a local farmers market. Follow us on Facebook, too.

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Try My No GMO Crackers For Toddlers

So guess what I was doing for fun last night and then writing about it until 3am? I invented a snack for toddlers that will get them to eat their greens! And after my batch, I decided I want to sell them since they we're so good! Not to mention, California passed the Homemade Food Act AB 1616, which permits someone like myself to produce baked goods out of my home. But, my adventure began so innocently this weekend after reading charges against General Mills for putting GMO ingredients in Cheerios and spending over 1 million to help defeat Prop 37! Now, I don't know about you, but to me GMOs in Cheerios is the ultimate betrayal, because every kids in America has eaten Cheerios! Just image all the daycares and preschools and activity centers, even hospitals --- they all offer Cheerios to kids!

Well, enough is enough! I took wheat dough into my own hands tonight and handcrafted a simple baked cracker mixed with chopped kale, flax and chia seeds, and pink sea salt! I really just want to make something I could take with me on the run that I felt 210% good about feeding them in a hurry! So, then I made a 6 ingredient wish list that would provide my kids with fiber, protein, and greens!

And since I live in San Diego, I figured my main green being Kale should be a no brainer since it grows so abundantly here! Also, the wheat flour,  Kale, and olive oil used are all certified USDA organic! Next, I had to give my creation some character by pressing the dough in the pan without a rolling pin. I'm definitely no Martha Stuart, so why bother making pretty crackers for toddlers who are just going to devour them without saying, 'thank you Daddy'.

You're welcome kiddos. Now eat your greens!
Buy Now

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

GMOs In Trader Joe's: Are You Really Still Eating Farm Raised Fish?

I'm really not looking to pick a fight with Trader Joe's, the grocery chain that exclusively sells in-house items (not really) under a so called "private label," who is largely supplied by Ralcorp (NYSE: RAH), which was ConAgra recently bought the food supplier giant (who also supplies food to Costco) for 5 Billion. Oh, before I forget, ConAgra donated 1.7 Million to the No on Prop 37 campaign in successful efforts to defeat GMO labeling their food in California, but I'm not a conspiracy theorist. I'm just a follow the money kind of guy and explains why Trader Joe's refused to support Prop 37 at all.

So, the holiday party shopping season is upon us and you have to buy food at least 50 times this month. Well, my questions is simple. Is Trader Joe's hiding behind a misleading statement (given who their food suppliers are)? I raise this question for many reasons. But I will just throw rocks at their label. Please note this image below is a shoppers guide to understanding their private label and meant to ease any concerns you may have.

And yet, for a grocery chain that exclusively sells in-house items (not really), Trader Joe's still sells farm raised salmon and other fish. The management has known this to be on the dreaded "Red List" and on 3/14/2011 in a statement on their website called, "A note to our customers about Trader Joe's seafood," the committed to the following goal: all our seafood purchases will shift to sustainable sources by Dec. 31, 2012. This applies to all formats of seafood we offer. And yet, the science overwhelmingly clear that farm raised salmon have est. seven time the level of PCB's than wild caught, are fed chemicals to give them color, and are fed pellets of chicken feces, corn meal and soy (the two largest GMO crops), genetically modified canola oil and much more good stuff.

But wait a minute! The label clearly says, "No GMOs!" It clearly states on their website that, "Our customer can be assured that all products in Trader Joe's private label are sourced from non-genetically modified ingredients." This nice lady believes it.

Well, then who am I to question Trader Joe's? It's not like I work for them and my name is Pat St. John and my title Vice President of Marketing for Trader's Joe's West Coast Division and I was quoted on the Organic Consumer Association's website for clearly contradicting that Company's quality assurance statement. In the article called "Trader Joe's & US Supermarkets Claim Impossibility of Going GMO-Free," Pat St. John said the chain sources organic products whenever possible (meaning not all), and objects to being targeted by Greenpeace for selling GM foods, when 60% - 70% of the food on anybody's shelf is likely to contain GMOs. "We don't carry, nor do we claim to carry GMO-free products," St. John said. Now here's my favorite line: "Trader Joe's is not going to say we aim to do something that we are not sure we will ever be able to do. To test down to zero percent is impossible now." But surely the CEO Chairman and CEO Dan Bane cares and stands by his company's statements especially after claiming to shift to sustainable sources by Dec., right? Nope. Radio silence. *Note: Dec. 31 is after the holiday rush and this statement was made well before ConAgra bought out Trader Joe's largest supplier of food.

Today, I believe ConAgra controls what Dan Bane will do and won't do and I suspect that new words are being brainstormed now and will be switched on their website in the coming days. The original Joe - Joe Coulombe - is gone and ConAgra is in. Now, don't get me wrong, I would sing a different tune if Dan Bane went to the Non-GMO project to get verified and partnered with Hubbs Seaworld Research Institute to implement their groundbreaking aquaculture program for truly sustainable fisheries management. I also don't blame Joe 100% as it appears he was doing it right in the late 60's and 70's until he left and GMOs entered in the food system big in the 90's. Listen to good ole Joe talk about his story so you can see how far off they've come.

So, if you voted Yes on Prop 37... let's ban together, stay out of Trader Joe's, and force Dan Bane to do something crazy. Either label it (products) themselves or test down to zero, which are both very possible. Or you can Label It Yourself (#LIY)! And in the meantime (for San Diegans and North County Residents), join/demo a CSA, visit the San Diego Public Market, go to the local farmer's market listed by Edible San Diego, go to a farm to table restaurant, download the Non-GMO shopping Guide, eat from a community garden you trust, join my Meetup Non GMO Parenting and Cooking for Moms, Dads, Singles + More, and become a member of Slow Food San Diego.

I swear to google you can find a CSA with 100 miles of you if your town population is more than 5,000.

PS. If I've been shot, we know Trader Joe's put a hit out on me.

A Cool Tweet from ‏@labelityourself About GMO Labeling

Great video about GMO labeling. Watch and share!                                   

Please Retweet below or click share on Facebook.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Prop 37 Effect on Spring Hill Cheese, Barn and Butter

Hi Rachel,

How much has the GMO conversation effected Spring Hill, Barn & Butter? Good or Bad?

Hi No GMO Man,

Good to hear from you.  Sales are up since it is holiday and comfort food season!!
Customers are in their kitchens baking and entertaining this time of year so we do see a bump in sales.

The conscious customer does ask about GMO's but honestly there is still a lack of awareness and understanding in the public and most people still don't really know what it is and why it can be harmful.

Let me know if you have any other questions.
In health and happiness,

Rachel Peter
Spring Hill Cheese
introduces a new culture
Barn and Butter 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Finally! A Non GMO Parenting and Cooking Meetup for Moms + Dads has seemed to completely slip off the radar of social media websites. And yet to my surprise, there are quite a large number of folks that still use the site even though there hasn't been any drastic improvements in comparison to the utter annoyance of Facebook. But then on second glance,  nearly %25 of my 996 FB friends have a Meetup account and many with very little to No Meetup Group attendance.

Why is that?

My theory is any Meetup nowadays has to be both really fun and really on topic or you will see messages from the organizer saying, "What do we want out of this group?" with no meetups planned for months.

For me, starting this was easy! I was reminded how much fun talking about kids and food can be after seeing these photos from this past Mother's Day. I was reminded that I had no plans nor reservations at fancy restaurants and yet our good friend called me up and said, "Let's meetup at the Park (near Morley Field) and hang out with the kids!" And when we got there, the food was amazing... quinoa salad, organic fruit, healthy snacks, and beer! Everyone there were health nuts, or back yard farmer's with chickens, and at one point were all part of a small gourmet food club.

To us, the ingredients really did matter. Our kids ate what we ate without thinking twice. We talked for hours because the weather was perfect, and kicked the balls around, and chased the kids until they passed out. All the elements were just right!

So, how do I recreate that magic?

Simple! Meetup allowed me to select the following interest tags to bring like minded folks to the page: Cooking And Recipes, Parenting, Organic Foods, Playgroups with Moms and Dads, Parents of Food Allergic Kids, Healthy nutrition, Health, Fitness and Wellness, Natural Organic Living, Healthy Lifestyle, Organic Gardening, Organic Farming, Sustainable Farming, Fresh Organic Local Food, Take Action Against GMO's, Label GMOs

Next we're going to meet for lunch and swap Non GMO recipes. Visit community gardens and volunteer, and perhaps throw a huge summer picnic to show others you can eat Non GMO foods in this town on a budget!

Are you not on the same page yet? Want to get your kids started on the right track? Click here. And stay tuned! My next few posts will be about Growing food with your kids, Party planning with all Non GMO ingredients, Great Craft Beer choices, and Shopping for the right CSA box! 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

A Non GMO Gift Idea For Teenagers Against GMOs - #CyberMonday

Let's face it, buying great gifts for teenagers this holiday season will be challenging to say the least. And unfortunately there's nothing substantive from the No GMO movement offered on Black Friday, Small Saturday, nor this Cyber Monday, which is a total surprise to me and missed opportunity. Especially in California where 4.2 million registered voters (many with kids) voted in favor of Prop 37's labeling requirements for genetically modified processed foods! So what do you do? Well, let me ask you this... do your teens play sports?

Do you buy your teen athlete supplements (vitamins, fish oils, fiber products, etc)? Are they GMO free?

Did you know that teenagers are just as worried about GMOs as adults are? The problem is they may not show it or talk about much as they feel helpless to do anything about it. They don't control the money and what and where their parents buy food. In fact most teens are beginning to ask their parents to purchase healthy organic foods, since the battle to label GMOs became heated in local politics across the Country, even if it means spending a little more cash and altering family favorite recipes.

Here's one teens wake up moment that her favorite cereal was made with high-fructose corn syrup(GMOs) and now's she taking a Non-GMO challenge:    

Teenagers are now seriously getting involved in the debt to label GMOs in droves and 2012 will be looked back on as the tipping point for the youth becoming educated about this issue! Here's another 15 year old teen getting focused and crying out for attention to get parents to listen:

They even launched a Facebook page called... Teens Against GMOs:

So, what's a solution? Support these bright teenagers and consider purchasing them GMO free supplements made by the world renowned Science based nutritional leader, USANA, which is made in the USA and uses no genetically modified materials in its product line. The product can be personalized and I can recommend a few great USANA products that 600+ world-class athletes including the US Ski and Snowboarding Association and the Women's Tennis Association already rely on without breaking the budget.

Click the picture to buy yours today and share this gift idea with your friends!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving - Giving Thx to Non GMO Project, Label It Yourself, and Yes On Prop 37 Staff

A sticker template for labeling foods with GMOs!
I don't think I have enough words to describe my appreciation this Thanksgiving for the people on the ground who organized, strategized, and campaigned against Monsanto (and all the other Big Food Corps) against all odds to label genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in California. I want to give thanks to all the hard working folks at Food Democracy, the Non GMO Project, and to Jeffrey Smith and the film makers for Food Inc., Fresh, and Genetic Roulette for elevating the conversation to the highest point ever.

So, what we lost on Prop 37. I'm thankful for the anyway. So what's next?

Well, the Label It Yourself (#LIY) movement is full swing in which controversy is yet to seen in the mainstream media, but I also want to give thanks to the local farmers. My local farmers like Don, Phil and his son Justin at Sage Mountain, to Suzie's, Homegrown, Seeds @ City, Taj, Living Earth Ranch, SoCal Shrooms, and my Farmer's Market organizer friends like Catt and Dale. I'm also especially grateful for Rachel at Springhill Cheese for making a killer FireHouse Jack, Forager Mike for making his killer hot sauce Dang!!!, and to Greg Koch for keeping it real at his bistros and for brewing #EnjoyBy!

Now, I'm off to finish shopping at the San Diego Public Market! Happy Thanksgiving!

Check out my new Facebook page & my new website for GMO Free supplements!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

I Don't Watch Him But I Know Women Do - DR OZ on GMOs

While I'm happy to see Dr. Oz talk about GMOs, I wish he would have done more for Prop 37 and more talk about things other than foods like supplements. I also think I'm going to try to reach out to Jeffrey Smith and read/ report on his book, Seeds of Deception, for a future post.

I'm also choosing to use the GMO Shopping Guide (and they offer an iphone app):

Monday, November 19, 2012

Men And Our Meat - The No GMO Way

There's just no doubt that Beef prices are about to get whacky in early 2013. And with GMO, hormone injected cuts projected to be the most economical choice, well then maybe it's a good time to quit.

Now I'm not going to tell someone to stop eating red meat. I still eat it from time to time and it's un-American to tell people what to do.  However, meat eaters must beware of the new normal created by the devastating realities of Climate Change. The Great Drought of 2012 by in large will change how and where you buy your next prime and if you choose to shop at the big box stores, you better believe your "Choice" won't be GMO free.

So, let talks about What you should buy and how you do it. A buddy of mine once joked that Whole Foods really means Whole Paycheck. While that may be funny now, no one will be laughing over the rise of food cost by 3% - 4%, and Beef to rise by 4% - 5% (not to mention the pending bacon apocalypse)! But I'm determined and joyous after searching around San Diego for solutions.

First, I can join a beef CSA. My new buddy, Justin Noble, works for his Father Phil Noble at Sage Mountain Farm and they both tout that their steers only eat grass and vegetables and have never even seen corn or dry grains. These are good people selling local certified organic food and their prices are reasonable. I believe that buying into a CSA now will lock in the price for 2013 but you'll have to check with my boys.

Also check with Edibles San Diego:

The other way to do this is to find a good ole fashion butcher who sells Grass Fed Beef where the cows graze on native, organic grasses (aka a GMO free diet) like our new friends at Homegrown Meats up on Palomar Mountain.

I recently tried a Chuck Roast (top picture) for a beef stew and it was amazing! Their selection was great, their hours are convenient, and their prices are decent considering we might have another Dust Bowl on our hands.

By the way, did anyone see Ken Burn's The Dust Bowl on PBS? It was awesome!

Read more about their cows and take a trip over to see them before the lines look like a Black friday sale!

I also recommend a good GMO free Digestive Enzyme

Friday, November 16, 2012

Happy Movember - Mo Bros over GMOs

It's time to get serious about GMOs this Movember. And I want to start with my Bros and I leading the charge to be the change we want to be. After spending 10 or so days scrubbing the bitter taste of defeat from my mouth over Prop 37 not passing (California elections) I've found myself more engaged than ever and commenting on every Facebook post I could, trying to keep the conversation alive. I've become a voracious advocate and I want to move the battle to label them square into the domain of men's heath.

Why men's health?

Men want to be 'cool' and do cool shit. But do you know what's really cool? Becoming a 'foodie', drinking craft beer, and eating local organic food. Yeah, that's me and I'm all about that! But not all of my Bros are up on that and if they somewhat are... its not like we're talking about GMOs like we should be. Not to mention, if you're lucky enough to have kids like I do, they learn from you. They watch what you eat and they'll do what you do and not what you say. That's why I believe my daughter's favorite veggie is Kale (because we grow it together in our community garden)! So to get serious, I chose to sign up on today and for the rest of the month I'm going to blog my talks with my Mo Bros and about what I'm doing starting with my supplements.

I think all men have to start with questioning their supplements like I just did recently. And make it black or white... Are they GMO Free? I can't begin to tell you how many friends I have that are avid runners, cyclists, ball players, etc and not once can I recall a conversation on the topic of supplements where the concern of GMOs even came up!! We talk about surfing and riding our bikes, but not this? Well, I just changed that and ordered USANA's HealthPak with active calcium, mega antioxidants, chelated mineral. And of course, I did it because USANA made a corporate commitment to not use genetically modified organisms in their product lines. Don't believe me? I swear to Google.

Game. Set. Match.

And from now on it's Bros over GMOs.

Follow me here:

I will also participate in Fight Back Friday on Food Renegade!