February 15, 2012

Freshworthy: Willie Nelson, Whole Foods, and European Organics, Oh My!

Image: Chipotle/YouTube (screenshot). View the ad here.
Chipotle Ad Promotes Sustainable Farming

Let me start by saying that Chipotle is one of the few fast-food restaurants I enjoy eating at, and do so in a care-free manner. We shun the others; I haven't been in a McDonald's or Taco Bell in nearly a decade. I respect Chipotle's food policies, even if it means that only 1 out of every 3 beans I ingest is actually organic. They have made a promise to customers to provide "more natural" products, as the NYT article puts it. The uplifting and cheery ad, which aired during the Grammy's last week (right after Coldplay performed, no less) was Chipotle's first national television spot. Willie Nelson, the president of Farm Aid, is advocating for family-owned farms and sustainable food practices, sings a cover of Coldplay song "The Scientist" in the ad, sealing my happy-good feelings about Chipotle.

How do you feel about Chipotle? And Willie Nelson? Do you think these types of things can change our food system?

Whole Foods Addresses GMO Accusations
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The rumor mill was running full-speed with talk of Monsanto (which all natural foodies shun and snarl at) being "in bed" with Whole Foods. To answer those accusations, Whole Foods is fielding plenty of heavy-hitting questions about GMOs (genetically modified organisms) being sold in their stores. It's a heated debate with lots of misinformation being thrown out.

Genetically modified foods have been shown to be potentially harmful for human consumption, and their creation is actually altering the environment and impacting ecosystems. Heard all this business about bees disappearing, more pesticides being used, and all that jazz? It's because these monocrops are diminishing varieties of plants. We're seeing the food "gene pool" get smaller. It's no good; I'm not a scientist, though, so read more about it at the Organic & Non-GMO Report.

The Center for Food Safety is urging the public to ask Congress to require GMO food to be labeled. Currently, the only certified Non-GMO label around is the USDA Organic Label. The Non-GMO Project also verifies GMO-free products and you can find their complete list here.

Coming Soon to Your Grocery Aisle: Organic Food From Europe

While I tend to encourage local organics whenever possible in our household (and you should, too!), this is good news. Organics are going to get more face time because of this new regulation that equates European and American organics. If it's organic here, it's organic there—and vice-versa.

Keep an eye on your food labels, though; try to purchase fruits, vegetables, and meat from as close to home as possible. When I taste organic Italian olives for the first time, I'm hoping it's in an olive orchard in the Tuscan hills...