This article originally appeared at Urban Times.
Monsanto, the mistress of the GMO initiative, needs a wake up call. While campaigns to label genetically modified organisms increase and state governments work to bring the legislature into action, many Americans are not aware of just how entrenched Monsanto is within national and global food production. Whether it is due to the call of convenience or general ignorance of the millions of genetically engineered ingredients masquerading as food, the biggest blow we can deliver to the GMO giant is to convince the general public to divest from Monsanto (and the rest of the biotech food industry) completely.
What does it mean to divest? Let’s take a page from the current college playbook and replicate what activist Bill McKibben has done for fossil fuels and climate change – and apply it to our food. Colleges across the country are stepping up and divesting from the companies that support fossil fuels in a nationwide campaign to illustrate how wrong it is to profit from climate damage. The entire premise behind this movement is to see if the divestment campaign can push fossil fuel companies towards an environmental ecobalance that no longer hinders the planet, but, rather, supports a sustainable future. Campuses nationwide are divesting – and the corporations are listening. Why can’t we do the same thing when it comes to genetically modified food and the companies that create it?
Five Ways to Divest from Monsanto Now:
- Rethink where you buy your vegetables and fruit. Farmers’ markets and CSAs are great places to find non-GMO varieties while also supporting local farmers and communities. If you have room, plant a garden, but make sure your seeds are purchased from a reputable non-GMO seed company like High Mowing Seeds rather than one of the many seed companies owned by Monsanto. Doing research before you plant is important.
- Purchase meat and eggs locally. Not only are CAFOs inhumane, but animals within these factory farms are fed a grain-based diet, which is usually genetically modified corn. Grass-fed beef, pastured chicken, and wild hogs are tasty alternatives to the grocery store variety. While they can cost more per pound, one way to decrease the cost is by purchasing a whole or half cow (or hog) and also buying whole chickens (rather than processed into specific cuts).
- Find alternatives for pantry staples. With so many food producers jumping on the non-GMO bandwagon, there’s an abundance of choices with which to stock your pantry. In order to make sure that you are purchasing a non-GMO verified item, visit the Non-GMO Project’s list of safe companies.
- Promote a unified social media identity that does not contradict the message. While the recent March Against Monsanto was attended by over two million well meaning activists in 52 countries and 436 cities, many confused the message by posting post-march celebration photos that showed them eating the very food that they were marching against. Social media is a powerful way to connect with the world and an easy way to advance these ideas. Use it carefully.
- Be an environmental steward. Many of the practices associated with mass food production and food surplus deplete soils, hurt land fertility, and destroy habitats. By choosing food wisely, it helps sustain a healthy ecosystem, one that will continue to provide food for years to come.
Creating a calculated, organized, and supported divestment from Monsanto and other Big Food companies stocking the shelves with GMOs is a powerful message that will not be ignored. Let’s start investing in our health and the future health of our food. If everyone starts today, our message will gain support and create the ripple effect needed to regain control of our food.