Late last night, once 95% of the votes were counted, California voters defeated Proposition 37 (53%-47%). Prop 37 would have given consumers the right to know if the foods they buy contain GMO. The no side ran a fairly shady campaign which, when combined with the wacky wording of the prop on the ballot, landed them a victory of sorts. But only of sorts. If you’re feeling depressed about Prop 37 not passing, below is some good news.
Positive aspects of Prop 37 – even though it didn’t pass
1) The race was very close, showing that many consumers and companies do support consumer choice.
2) Hopefully the fact that the No on Prop 37 side spent a whopping $46 million to defeat GMO labeling will make people sit up and take notice. That’s an insane amount of cash to spend simply to make sure consumers don’t get a little label on their food. It seems like it would have been less expensive to just label the food.
3) Prop 37 was an excellent step forward, and no matter what, I think it should have passed, but Prop 37 wasn’t perfect. The fact that it didn’t pass this time around gives supporters a chance to re-word, redesign and fine tune it.
4) I think this experience showed us just how crazed the no side can be. As noted above they spent $46 million on their campaign. They lied in their ads. They got most of the media on board with their crazy antics. I think that the yes side was unprepared for the war the no side waged, but next time a prop like this kicks off, we’ll have our ducks in a smarter row, have more funds gathered, know to watch for ad lies early on and overall run a more effective campaign.
5) BEST OF ALL: As Non-GMO Project points out, “Prop 37 has exponentially elevated the GMO conversation, not just in California but across the country.” I’d have to agree. Rarely does a state prop result in so much discussion across the entire country. It’s amazing how involved people got, especially consumers. The no side was run almost entirely by huge companies. Very few actual consumers got heavily involved in promoting No on Prop 37. However, all kinds of consumers got involved with Yes on Prop 37, not just in California but everywhere. The fact that Yes on 37 was so consumer driven is extremely impressive.
You can still vote yes on Prop 37
The official voting may be over, but as the No on Prop 37 side showed money talks. The no side cares more about money than anything else. They care more about $ than health, safety and most importantly, your right to know what’s in your food. If money is their main priority, fine, but as a consumer, you have the power to take that away from them.
If you’d like to vote yes on Prop 37 and make sure companies know you demand the right to know what’s in your food, do the following…
- Buy organic. Right now, federal law prohibits GMOs in any food carrying the USDA organic seal. Every time you buy certified organics, you take a stand against GMOs – among other issues.
- Educate yourself about food labels. Buy fewer products labeled, “Natural.” Buy more products labeled with the Non-GMO seal. Get to know which food labels are trying to trick you. Being an educated consumer is one of the best ways to keep your family safe and healthy and allows you to stick it to lame companies.
Most of all, buy from companies who support your right to know!
A slew of companies DO believe you deserve to know what’s in your food. The absolute best way to support GMO labeling is to buy food from ethical companies who believe in consumer rights. Below are companies who not only believe consumers are smart enough to handle what’s in their food, but who also gave fund to help support Yes on Prop 37 – these are the companies you DO WANT to buy from.
- Dr. Bronner’s
- Clif Bar
- Nature’s Path
- Annie’s Homegrown
- Frey Vineyards
- Seed Savers Exchange (store)
- Organic Valley
- Food State
- Earth Balance
- Suzannes Specialties
- Earthbound Farm
- Traditional Medicinals
- Wholesome Sweeteners
- Newman’s Own
- New Chapter
- Marys Gone Crackers
- Aubrey Organics
- Mamma Chia
- Tropical Traditions
- Pacific Foods
- Whole Soy & Co.
- Alter Eco
- Late July
- Hain Celestial
- Organic Ville
- Health Force
- Edward & Sons
Above are just some of the awesome companies who supported Prop 37 financially and socially, thus you really should support them buy purchasing their products. I’m sure I missed some of the Prop 37 supporters though so you can see a better list or print out a shopping guide infographic at Cornucopia.
Also, consider buying from smaller, locally owned co-ops. Many small co-ops gave a lot of money to Yes on 37 and socially supported efforts to get GMOs labeled. See a list of ethical retailers here. Also see a list of GMO-free verified products.
Do NOT buy from the following companies…
Many companies think consumers are too stupid to understand GMOs, organics and other labels. They also don’t want to see GMO foods labeled and gave a ton of cash to make sure Prop 37 wouldn’t pass. Below are companies (and their brands) who financially supported No on Prop 37. When you can, and as much as possible, avoid these companies, brands and retailers below.
P.S. Feel free to look these companies up and send them a email telling them what you think about them giving money to prevent GMO labeling.
Pepsico – this is a huge company who owns tons of brand names. As a green consumer, I’d guess you’d be most likely to buy brands such as Izze Sparkling Juice, Naked Juice, SoBe, Near East and Mother’s. However they also own Pepsi cola drinks, Sun Chips, Frito Lay, Quaker, Tropicana, Gatorade and MANY others. See all the Pepsico brands here.
Coca-Cola, like Pepsico owns a slew of brand names. Green consumers may be likely to buy Honest Tea, Odwalla, Simply Orange, Coca-cola also owns BACARDI, Schweppes, Dannon, Fuze, Minute Maid, Poms, Powerade and many others.
ConAgra – owns Lightlife, Alexia, Egg Beaters, Marie Callender’s, Wesson, Orville Redenbacher, Hunts, Healthy Choice, Jiffy Pop, Swiss Miss and many others.
General Mills – owns brands such as Cascadian Farm, Good Earth, Muir Glen, LaraBar, Yoplait, Nature Valley, Pillsbury, Bisquick, Häagen-Dazs, Mountain High, Green Giant, Fiber One, Betty Crocker, Old El Paso and many more.
Dean Foods – owns Horizon Organic, Silk, Land O Lakes and many others.
Kraft Foods – owns Boca, Back to Nature, Knudsen, Capri Sun, Claussen, Stove Top, Baker’s (chocolates), Jell-O, Planter’s and more.
Kellogg’s – owns Kashi, Gardenburger, Morning Star, Bear Naked, Eggo and more.
Rich owns FarmRich, French Meadow Bakery and a few others.
Abbott Nutrition owns a slew of formula brands and nutritional supplements.
Unilever – owns Ben & Jerry’s, Dove, Axe, Lipton, Vaseline, Knorr, Ponds, St. Ives, Heartbrand and more.
Tree Top owns various drinks and fruit products.
S&W makers of canned produce.
Goya offers many products.
Welch’s makes juices, jellies, fruit snacks and more.
The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) has various members, including Safeway, Starbucks, Target, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Ocean Spray Cranberries, Inc., The J. M. Smucker Company, Nestlé USA, Inc., H.J. Heinz Company, The Hershey Company, The Hillshire Brands Company and many others.
Holiday Quality Foods/Sav More Foods
OMG you can’t really expect me to boycott every brand above?!
Okay, as you’ll see in the massive list above, tons of brands you may buy often like Cascadian Farm, Ben & Jerry’s, Muir Glen, Morning Star, Lightlife, Boca, Silk and more do not support GMO labeling. They gave $46 million in funds in order to stop GMO labeling from happening.
But, I get that it’s hard to boycott everyone. Especially when some of these companies sell GMO-free organics and especially when you consider that these companies pretty much control the U.S. food market. This is when it gets really confusing to be a consumer. I’d try to relax a little. For example, if you buy organic Muir Glen products will the world end? Will you have single handily set back GMO labeling efforts? No. Likely not.
Is it better to buy tomatoes from Eden Foods, a company that actively supports GMO labeling vs. Muir Glen? Sure it is, and I’d encourage you to do just that. Why give money to GMO supporters when you have other options? However, panicking over every little thing will only stress you out. Try to avoid the companies and brands above. You have many other, much more ethical choices on hand. But try not to get too down on yourself if you do buy one of the brands above. Small steps are okay.
On the fence – companies you may want to consider avoiding
The companies and brands below didn’t give money to No on 37 or publicly support No on 37. That said, they also did not support Yes on 37. Basically, they stayed out of it, which is as good as supporting No on 37 and GMOs in my opinion. In some ways these companies are okay, but the fact that they could have picked a side and been forthcoming with consumers, yet decided not to, is really lame.
- Kroger, Trader Joe’s and New Seasons. I wrote about these three here.
- Central Market
- Sprouts Farmers Market
- Lifestyle Markets
- Sunflower Market
Whole Foods – an issue all on its own
Whole Foods is a unique case in this debate.
They did not give much money to Yes on 37 – and as a lead retailer they could have. In fact, Cornucopia notes that, “Whole Foods is a corporation with net sales as high as Monsanto’s.” They did give some $, but they gave far less then many smaller companies and they gave $ very late in the game. Mark A. Kastel, Codirector of The Cornucopia Institute says:
“Had we seen the same level of enthusiasm for consumers’ right-to-know from Whole Foods as we saw against the right-to-know from Monsanto, the playing field would have been more level, and the misleading information spewed by giant corporate agribusinesses would quite possibly not have prevailed on election day. Meaningful participation from Whole Foods could have been a game changer.”
In my opinion, Whole Foods does support GMO labeling to a point. Some feel Whole Foods has ignored the GMO issue entirely, but I disagree.
Cornucopia has taken a somewhat nice stance on the Whole Foods issue, encouraging organic consumers not to boycott Whole Foods but to instead continue to shop there, and also, “Write corporation leadership, through their website, and share their discontent with the major retailer’s unwillingness to fully step up to the plate on financially supporting the “Yes on 37” campaign.”
I agree. In the fight to label GMOs, Whole Foods is someone you want on your team. They’re not perfect, but they do accomplish a lot for organic consumers, such as labeling organic body care and I feel like a Whole Foods boycott is a bad idea.
In fact, I’d also note that totally boycotting the other on the fence companies (shown above in “on the fence”) may also not achieve our goals. It may be better to contact companies like Kroger, Trader Joe’s and so fourth and tell them what you think about their lack of involvement, vs. outright boycotting them. These would be excellent companies to have on the GMO labeling team.
How are you feeling about Prop 37?