By Madison Fisler Lewis
Oct. 10, 2014. Throughout the entire month of October, Bare Essentials Natural Market will join more than 1,500 grocery stores across the country who are participating in the fifth annual Non-GMO Month, an initiative of the Non-GMO Project. This month-long initiative puts a spotlight on the consumer’s right to choose food and products without genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
The Non-GMO Project is a nonprofit organization committed to “preserving and building the non-GMO food supply, educating consumers and providing verified non-GMO choices. They believe that everyone deserves an informed choice about whether or not to consume genetically modified organisms.”
“GMOs have been around since 1988, so the cows are out of the barn as they say,” said Ben Henderson, Co-owner of Bare Essentials Natural Market.
“This stuff has been around a long time. It effects primarily soybeans, corn, alfalfa, papaya rice and sugarbeats. The corn and the soy are most concerning because it is hidden in everything, like in high fructose corn syrup. It is everywhere. The estimate is that between 70-80 percent of processed foods include genetically modified organisms, whether it is the whole food or just one ingredient that is modified.”
Public concerns about GMOs are rising as studies increasingly raise doubts about the long-term safety and environmental impact of this technology.
“I have been in this business 26 years and when this first came around we weren’t talking about it a whole lot, but over the years it has become more of a concern,” Henderson said of the emergence of GMOs in the food supply.
The Non-GMO Project is currently advocating for labeling of food products that contain GMOs.
“We have long ago given up on not having GMOs in our food,” Henderson said. “But people should at least be aware of it and be able to make a conscious decision. Right now, you either buy organic food [which is GMO-free by definition] or buy food that is verified by the Non-GMO Project. Other than that, you just have to take your chances. Local, fresh food is a lot less likely to contain GMOs.”
Currently, 64 countries across the globe mandate GMO labeling, but not the United States.
“The right to know what we’re eating and feeding our families is so basic,” said Megan Westgate, Executive Director of the nonprofit Non-GMO Project. “Americans deserve the same freedom to avoid experimental GMO foods as people in other countries.”
This is the third year that Bare Essentials Natural Market has participated in this project. The local grocery store has placed labels around the store indicating items that are certified GMO-free.
“We got into this because we believe in the products that are out there on the shelves,” said Henderson. “And we still believe that, we are still passionate about that and we want to see a healthier community. We are going to be expanding the labeling after Non-GMO month. Starting the first of November, every label in the store will have information about GMOs on it. So a customer can look at the shelf and see.”
In addition, on Oct. 31, Bare Essentials Natural Market will donate five percent of the day’s proceeds to the Non-GMO project.
“It is a commitment that we have to our customers and to the community to do this,” Henderson said. “And we are just going to get better at it until such time that mandatory labeling is implemented.”
“As far as the labeling, it is just one of those things that you should share with your customers,” said Amber Brown, the Marketing Manager for Bare Essentials Natural Market.
“It is so important to us that it doesn’t even seem like we are doing anything extra. That is just how it is around here. We love answering questions and providing information. Even if you walk out the door empty handed, we know that we have planted a seed for better health in the future,” said Brown.