Are You Food Illiterate?

I have a confession.

I have consciously put off composing articles about the extensive research I have been conducting alldayeveryday since 11/01/2011. Why?

For several reasons. Two main reasons being: people don’t really care. and people don’t really change. 

(I.E. knowing smoking is bad for you, yet you still smoke) 

Cynical? ..YES. In my fit-of-fury right now, I’ll admit to that. But I hope you indulge in my rant..

Have you ever noticed the things in life that are too simple are almost always disregarded?

(I.E. knowing the instant you quite smoking you increase your survival rate…yet continue to smoke)

People disregard crucial information relevant to their everyday health, and come up with ridiculous justifications.

How many lives do we get? One.

How many bodies do we get? One.

Let’s take care of the one body we have so we can live a long, healthy life in the one life we get. We do this by caring what we put into our bodies. By knowing what we are buying and eating.

Let’s educate ourselves. Don’t just wonder about something — research it, cross-reference it. We should even research opposing views so we can have prospectives from both sides and make (better) educated decisions, and be prepared for counter arguments when educating others. <– I’m still working on that!

Why am I so fired up?

Here’s why:

It’s estimated that a jaw-dropping 2/3 of processed foods contain genetically engineered ingredients. Plus over 80% of corn and soybeans grown in the U.S. are genetically engineered. Not to mention that the majority of the livestock we consume have been raised on genetically engineered grains. But you’d never know by looking at food labels.

Do you look at labels? Is the Ingredients the first thing you look at? Because it should be.

GMO stands for Genetically Modified Organisms. The most frequent use of the term GMO is in relation to the food that we eat, in that many crops and factory-made foods are created from genetically modified ingredients.

Genes from other plants, viruses, bacteria, animals, etc. are inserted into the genes of certain products such as corn and soy, (click for top ten GMO crops) to make them more stable and resistant to drought, disease and pesticides.

DID YOU KNOW, GMO crops have patented genes? If you are an organic farmer downwind of another farmer choosing to modify his or her crops and their seeds spread (go up in the air and pollinate) your organic non-GMO crops (unknowingly or accidentally) the patent holder (a.k.a. MONSANTO) now has the right to control the use of those crops. Read that again–until it sinks in. You would no longer own your crops! Perhaps now Occupy Monsanto makes a little more sense?

If this pisses you off (it should!) please take action:

Here’s the thing, every bit of information I just shared above is just the tip of the ice burg.

I was at Costco the other day, and walking down the aisles I became so disgusted, my stomach felt like it was turning into knots. As I looked around all I could see were large companies selling poison and other large companies making money off the diseases these products create.


Click here to see how I really feel about sugar!

Oh, but I digress. And please don’t say or even think, “but it’s organic..” because it DOESN’T MATTER: sugar is sugar — and it will deplete your immune system.

According to Dr. Jerry Lee Hover, “Eating white sugar will paralyze and hinder your white blood cells from fighting off an infection. Eating 25 teaspoons of sugar will paralyze 92% of your white blood cells for approximately five hours. The average American eats over 42 teaspoons of sugar per day.” I.E. One 12 oz coke has approx. 8-10 teaspoons (Source).

I will go into detail about how sugar is killing consumers, but for now I will save that for a future post. Now I want to introduce the purpose of this post and why I am furious: PLU Labels.

Q: What is a PLU code?
A: PLU stands for price look-up code. PLUs are used on items that are sold loose or bunched, by weight or by each (i.e. an individual apple or bunch of greens). A PLU code contains 4-5 digits total. The PLU is key-entered at point of sale in order to obtain the price

I always knew those codes stood for something, I just didn’t know what exactly. I also knew that a certain sequence represented U.S.A. but never knew the numbers. Since Genetically Modified (GMOs) products currently do not need to be labeled, these barcodes are crucial for reference. I urge each of you to write the following information down and take it with you the next time you are at the grocery store:

Q: How is organically grown produce coded on a PLU label?
A: The number 9 is added to the front of the regular four digit PLU code. (e.g. an organically grown banana would be 94011.)

Q: How is genetically engineered produce coded on a PLU label?
A: The number 8 is added in front of the regular four digit PLU code. (e.g. a genetically engineered vine ripe tomato would be 84805.) (Source)

However, I should mention that according to Jeffrey Smith from the Huffington Post who wrote this article claims PLU Codes Do Not Indicate Genetically Modified Produce

“Those that run PLU-universe figured that someday some retailer might want to distinguish between a GMO and a non-GMO for price or inventory purposes. So they created a convention of 5 digits starting with an 8, just in case it catches on. But it hasn’t. No one uses that number 8 as far as we can tell. And why would they? Most Americans say they would avoid GMOs if they were labeled.

Some seed companies don’t even want gardeners to know which seed is genetically modified. One company that sells zucchini seeds outfitted with virus genes announced that they would refuse to sell seed packets in Vermont, since the state legislature requires GM seeds to be labeled.”

I urge you to take inventory in your own refrigerator and read labels next time you’re grocery shopping!

We deserve to know, right?

There are millions of reasons to avoid GMO’s, but here’s 10 reasons according to the Institute for Responsible Technology. And here’s 65 health risks of GM foods if you were wondering.

More than 80% of processed foods at U.S. grocery stores are likely to contain genetically engineered ingredients. And you wouldn’t know it, because the FDA doesn’t require labels for foods with genetically engineered (GE) ingredients ‒ also called genetically modified organisms (GMOs) (Source).

Tell The FDA!

A legal petition (Docket # FDA-2011-P-0723-0001/CP) has been filed with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) calling on the FDA to label genetically engineered (GE) foods.

Click Here to Sign the Petition and Spread the Word!

20 thoughts on “Are You Food Illiterate?

  1. I enjoyed reading this Jenn – very interesting. While I do agree with a lot of what you have to say, you have to remember that even when INFORMED – it's hard to change your whole mindset and way of life! I know obviously something drastic happened in your family that shifted your whole line of thinking, but for most people without that catalyst it is a major endeavor that may or may not seem worth it. Just a reminder – give the rest of us a little slack and remember where you were just last October! 😉 That being said, I really enjoy your updates and learning more about your interested in healthier ingredients and fuel for the body. Keep 'em coming!

  2. @Vanessa @ Gourmet Runner Thank you for your comment Vanessa, I really appreciate your input!

    For me the drastic change in “healthly living” started several years ago; however, yes, with the most recent events the hard-core and strict methods have been in full force since 11/11.

    What really gets to me is that it takes a catalyst — a life or death situation to generate this change or to care enough for it to be 'worth it'.

    BUT, I don't want to leave anyone out in the cold and acknowledge this post is direct. Now that I know the things I know, and continue to learn new things, I literally feel as if it is my responsibility or due diligence to inform… With as many people as possible!

    I'll try not to blow people away in my next rant;) ❤

  3. No, no, no! BLOW US AWAY! I love posts like this. I'm not always the best at doing my own research, so I need people like YOU to put it in my face. 🙂 I credit my very outspoken friends and bloggy buddies for getting me this far in my dietary changes.

    Keep the info/rants coming!

    (And I obviously need to go back and read some of your archives to find out more about what started all this and what happened in 11/11!)

  4. @Pam I am so glad you feel that way Pam, because I PREFER the direct approach. There are too many blogs out there (not in our blogger sphere community, but what I've found through my researching etc.) that try to get this and other critical information out, but hold back or keep it broad, which in my opinion fails at the task of shaking people to reality.

    I promise to always do thorough research and include those references in my posts for cross-check, and to keep sharing:)

    I am so proud of you for your nutritional intake changes — I always want to be an inspiration (fitfluential?) in that aspect of life for people!

  5. Keep 'em coming, Jenn.

    I like your enthusiasm.

    I was a smoker at one time. Then I quit and think everyone else in the world should quit too.

    I think whenever we see 'the light' on a given subject, we feel compelled to tell everyone else about it. We all have our own causes.

    You never really know how or when you strike a chord in someone that will really help them. If people are NOT interested, they just won't read.

    Cheers to you and your efforts.

  6. Oh wow! you'd think I'd eat better seeing as I went to school for Environmental studies and had to listen to tons of lectures on GMO's – it's scary stuff. I am however, an ex smoker and think that quite possibly this is similar. therefore it's (IMO) silly to think just b/c you strap a label on something saying it's bad for you, people will stop.

    It's b/c they can't relate. Smoking for instance, people know they could die….but they always think of that one person, you know the one I'm talking about – old aunt thema that lived to be 101 smoking 100's of cigs a day, or carl, who's mom smoked throughout his pregnancy and he's fine 😉

    it's the same with most things that are bad with us – people tend to hold onto that one exception – in this case the exception being. Well some people have eaten GMO's and are fine.

    So while I COMPLETELY agree I feel like we always have to fight the same battle – you have to make what's good for us and the environment as CONVENIENT, if not more, than what's not.

    we are a society driven on quick fixes and having things NOW and in excess.

    with that being said – I LOVE LOCAL FARMERS! BUY ORGANIC 😀 xoxox

    great post!

  7. Ugh, I'm totally one of “those” people who knows better but still makes dangerous decisions.

    It's really really hard to change habits but slowly and surely we're making them!

    I'm amazed by the amount of research you've been doing as of late… I'm so proud to have you as a friend =)

    On another note- Processed sugar is sooooooo bad for us! It's cancer's favorite food! I try to stay away from it as much as I can but it's tough.

    Have you heard of stevia? The leaves of the stevia plant are used to create a sweetner with zero calories and it doesn't even spike your blood sugar. I've been carrying around little stevia packets to use when we're out and about for drinks like iced tea since not many restaurants carry it yet.

    Here's a few links I've found:

  8. Life experiences make us who we are. We each grow through our own mistakes or hardships and I feel we do need to speak our minds and share our lessons.

    Life isn't one size fits all and everyone will still make the decision that is the best fit for them in terms of health, beliefs, and budget, etc. However, if we all chose to not speak our minds or share our knowledge we are then making a negative impact on society.

    You did right ranting. No one would say, “you shouldn't have yelled out that a car was about to hit someone” so why should you be criticized by yelling out “what you are putting in your body could be harming you”?

    Sugars are bad and so much is loaded with them these days. I try to limit my sugars and yes, need to get better at it. But I was appalled years ago when I noticed my darling daughter's vitamins had fake sugar in it….a known carcinogen…in a vitamin targeting children under 2! I was mad. I was furious. I would never want my child to consume this. I know check labels and try to do the best I can. I am far from perfect, I can still make improvements, but I go day by day doing the best I can. Posts like yours today will have me looking more closely at the fruits and veggies I buy.

  9. @Elle I completely agree with your statement about “striking a chord in someone that will really help them.” My goal is to accomplish that in every post. I hope to at least inspire people to make health(ier) choices and more than anything: know the truth.

    You also bring up a fantastic point: if people aren't interested they just won't read. While I hope I don't lose any subscribers, I will not filter my knowledge or muzzle my opinions backed with facts.

    I am really glad you quit smoking, and I am happy you like my enthusiasm — I will definitely keep 'em coming — Thank you for your input and support:)

  10. @Ali Mc I totally know what you’re talking about – your second paragraph is parallel to the justifications I was referring to. I wish the FDA shared the same perspective as you in terms of thinking GMO labeling wouldn’t hinder sales, because mandating the labels would be huge for people who care.

    We deserve to know which products are GMO, and then make our choice. With out the mandated label, the government is making the executive decision [for us] as to what we put into our body—and I for one have a problem with that. In fact, I will consciously avoid ALL products that are either not organic and/or have a label that clearly states non-GMO.

    You mentioned in your comment that some people (mostly every one, right?!) have eaten GMO’s and are fine – I respectfully disagree – No one is fine or “immune” to these poisons, and while it may not kill us over night, it will give us disease over time. It already is!

    Thank you so much for your prospective — I also love local farmers, and personally only purchase organic – I’d love to have my own garden, too!

  11. @Nessa @ Isle Style Living I am so proud to have YOU as a friend – all the research you have done and continue to do for the safety of your family and better well being, you are an inspiration of your own!

    I used to be one of “those” people, too, girl – knowing better – and while I also know we all need our own trigger(s), I do not wish disease or any other life threatening circumstance to be that wake up call or reality check for change.

    Stevia = Good
    Truvia = BAD

    There are way too many [other] sweeteners, such as stevia, honey, agave, coconut palm nectar, etc. to indulge in opposed to creating or fueling disease with those nasty processed/refined poison—er, I mean sugars.

    I am so glad your cutting back and making the effort – keep on girl! ❤

  12. @{lifeasa}RunningMom So eloquently stated—thank you for that!! I will continue sharing to hopefully have a positive impact on those who come across my blog. I am so happy this post struck a chord with you and that you will look more closely at the fruits and veggies you buy. To me, that’s a win! If everyone would start doing that as well as sign the petition to mandate labeling GMO ingredients in products, I’d be a happy camper!

  13. I'm a few days late getting to this post but it is definitely interesting.

    Never worry about sharing what you think and rant away when the mood strikes you! Life would be ever so boring if we only associated ourselves with like minded people who eat, sleep, and breathe just as we do.

  14. wow…that's all I can say right now, wow!

    very informative…very upsetting! thanks for sharing and giving me insight to something I am very interested in, however do not seem to have the time to research!

    I am a new follower and a bit of a newbie myself…came across you from a friends!

    sorry i won the VEGA giveaway…I LOVE their products! i'll think of you when I consume them:)

  15. @Anonymous Aloha Anonymous! Thank you for your comment — here's my answer:

    Three things:

    1) I wouldn't even put the honey dew in my cart. The first thing I look at is the PLU/Barcode number. Unless the PLU starts with a 9 (which means it is organic) there is no guarantee that it's not genetically modified because the FDA currently does not mandate GMOs to be labeled. That being said I only buy organic.

    2) If some how I purchased ANYTHING with an 8 on (which means it is in fact been genetically modified) I will return the item. I recently returned two products to Costco and educated them on the matter since they appeared disgruntled I was returning food.

    As soon as a FOOD has been genetically modified, it's no longer food in my opinion. The DNA is completely changed and is no longer filled with nutrients, but replaced with toxins.

    3) I would go a step further and reach out to that locations headquarters – in this case, Costco. I would commend them on the available organic options and encourage to grow the number. Then I would respectfully let them know I am extremely disappointed they would ALLOW GMO products in their warehouses.

    Most people are unaware of what GMOs are and why they are so harmful. People are also unaware as to how to act — to move forward towards fighting a cause. Which is why is so important!

    I hope that answers yours, and anyone else's question:)

  16. Thank you for the information Jenn! I really do appreciate it. For me it isn't that I don't care, I DO try to change things in our diet, it is just hard and it is a hard concept to get my husband to wrap his mind around (he's one of those that smokes AND chews even though he knows it is HORRIBLE for him!!). We are working on it!

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