Magazine cover titled "Common Ground, March 2015" featuring a giant red apple with miniature people and birds on it, highlighting topics on GMOs and organic agriculture.

March 2015

March Food Issue

Our cover depicts the alarming trend of corporations tinkering with nature’s bounty. For those who follow GMO trends, February brought both encouraging and depressing news. On one hand, Her shey’s announced they would remove GMOs from their iconic Kisses by the end of the year. This is a huge victory for consumers, whose pressure is changing our food supply. On the other hand, the USDA approved the commercialization of genetically modified apples. Apples! Really? After breast milk, apples are the food most associated with children. How could they?

This issue takes a close look at a number of food trends, starting with Amy Ziff’s explanation of this ill-informed USDA decision, calling it “trouble to the core.”

I had the pleasure of interviewing both Michael Funk and Jeffrey Smith for this issue. Michael is an icon in the natural products industry, having founded United Natural Foods Inc., the leading distributor of natural products. Michael graduated from high school in the ’60s and started his career as a health-conscious vegetarian trash man. In those days, before the era of plastic garbage bags, people’s raw trash revealed to Michael just how unhealthy the American diet had become. This was an early impetus for his becoming the founder of what today is an $8 billion company—something he couldn’t have imagined in the ’70s. His heartfelt story traces the growth of the natural products industry, which began with a bunch of wild-eyed hippies sourcing organic food. Today it is one of the largest growing sectors of the economy. Michael helped spearhead the Non GMO Verification Project and is largely responsible for the proliferation of that label on hundreds of products. And when vendors add that label, their sales tend to rise 15% to 30%.

Jeffrey Smith has dedicated his life to educating consumers about GMOs ever since they began infiltrating our food supply in 1996. He travels extensively on a mission to prompt a tipping point of consumer rejection of GMOs. While for decades this has been a lonely David and Goliath struggle with the biotech industry, Jeffrey’s endgame is closer than ever before. When brands like Cheerios and Post Grape Nuts and Hershey’s Kisses drop GMOs from their ingredients, it’s a sure sign the winds have shifted. I urge you to read both interviews.

I want to thank Lisa Grossman for her humorous essay “Dearest Gluten, A Love Letter.” Lisa’s Dear John style letter explains how the long infatuation has been great, but now it’s time to separate.

David Robinson Simon provides an informative essay about farmed
fish, while John Roulac provides insight into how respect for the soil—regenerative organic agriculture—can save the planet. Simone de Witer enlightens us with “The Glory of Ghee,” while Mary Serphos reminds us about the art of mindful eating within the family.

We are heading to the Natural Products Expo in Anaheim, where we will see many of our terrific advertisers. As ever, please show whatever appreciation you have for Common Ground by patronizing our sponsors. That’s our greatest wish.

We look forward to the April Green issue.


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