Yeah. So. Prop 37 did not pass.
I’ve at least a dozen articles about what it means to the “food movement” since Prop 37 did not pass. Most say that the narrow defeat should certainly not discourage the proponents, and that the issue galvanized those that believe we have a right to know what is in our food.
But all that aside. What are we going to do since food containing GMOs will not be labeled?
I’ll tell ya what I’m gonna do. I’m gonna continue trying to avoid those pesky GMOs on my own, just like I was before the election. And I can report that in the last few weeks, I overcame two of the hardest things to avoid in my diet. Coffee creamer and salad dressing.
This summer, I quit buying salad dressing. When you want a salad and you don’t have salad dressing, you’re forced to make your own. I’d been making balsamic vinaigrette at home from time to time for quite a while. Just equal parts balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil. But now it’s all homemade, all the time. Even at my office. This is big time now, ladies and gentlemen.
Generally, vinaigrette dressings are easy to make. Like I said before, it could be equal parts vinegar and oil, mixed really well. But you can get fancy here. The variations are endless. When I got tired of balsamic and extra virgin olive oil, I tried cider vinegar and extra virgin olive oil, and added some dried tarragon, kosher salt and garlic. You can switch the vinegars and oils. Sesame oil would be fantastic since it has such a rich flavor on its own.
Now that local honey is available, I’ve switched it up to honey mustard. This one is also super easy.
I use about one fourth of a cup of honey, two big table spoons of spicy brown mustard, a splash of cider vinegar, and a pinch of kosher salt. Mix the honey up completely. The cider vinegar helps to thin the honey a bit, making it easier to get mixed up. I only had a little bit of honey left, so I mixed this batch up right in the honey jar. This will make about four to six servings, depending on how much you like to put on a salad. This dressing is so tasty, you might find that you don’t need as much. And there are no nasty preservatives or high fructose corn syrup in it. The mustard has only a few ingredients but at least I can pronounce them all: mustard seeds, water, salt, spices, tumeric, and natural flavors (Natural flavors is a red flag since it could be anything, and we don’t know exactly what it is. It’s not the worst thing, though. At least there’s no artificial dye in it.)
It is perfect on my seasonal salad, with greens from the Monroe Farm Market, toasted pumpkin seeds, blue cheese, radishes, carrots, dried cranberries and blue cheese crumbles.
I’ve even branched out and made some buttermilk ranch and blue cheese. I used recipes from my Betty Crocker Bridal Edition Cookbook. I need to refine those recipes a bit, because they call for mayonaise, and I’ll bet I can figure out how to make them completely from scratch without mayonaise. These dressings are better if you make them ahead of time and let the flavors blend for a few hours.
The other thing I gave up, that always seemed impossible, was coffee creamer. I have tried and tried, and I just cannot enjoy my coffee black. I have, however, weened myself off of flavored creamer. I just take a little bit of half and half in it now. The half and half that I buy is from Homestead Creamery, and it’s sold at my local Krogers. This dairy is a small family-owned operation that raises cows on green northwestern Virginia grass.
I like that their products come in glass bottles, that cuts down on plastic in landfills. You have to pay a deposit when you checkout for the glass bottles, but if you bring them back, you get your two dollars back. And if you save up several and return them all at once, you get quite a nice little wad of spending money… not that I’ve ever resorted to that or anything.
The second thing about giving up flavored coffee creamer is I started buying the “good” coffee. If you’re going to really enjoy the taste of it without mysterious artificial flavors, then why not. I have a Keurig, and I buy Newman’s Own Organic Fair Trade at Sam’s Club. It’s a dark roasted coffee, which is my favorite, and Sam’s is the cheapest place I’ve found to buy k-cups. They have a few other brands, but the selection there is pretty limited.
We also have a coffee grinder and an espresso machine, and on the weekends, it’s always nice to have a cappucino or latte with freshly ground coffee. I try to buy fair trade, but I really like Starbucks Italian Roast.
These are just a couple things I did recently to cut out GMOs, but sometimes in certain situations, they’re just impossible to avoid. Salad dressing should be one of the most simple foods, as it can be just oil and vinegar. But I’m floored as to how many chemicals are in the stuff you buy at the grocery store. It’s completely unnecessary. As a rule, any packaged food most likely contains GMOs. Food that is certified organic, even if it is packaged should be GMO free. And of course, shopping locally and for minimally processed food is a good way to avoid GMOs.
The data regarding GMOs is mixed. Of course, the food industry cites studies that show there is no harm in having GMOs be a part of our diet. Proponents of labeling have highlighted studies that raise concerns about the long-term exposure to GMOs in our food. Whatever side you fall on, it’s a choice that consumers can make and vote with our forks. I am going to err on the side of caution, and avoid them as much as I can.