Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Seeking Gluten-free, Minimal GMO Bed and Breakfast?

If you're seeking a gluten-free, minimal GMO breakfast on Cape Cod, that would be Chez Sven. We even joined the Gluten Free Registry, which provides options to those on a gluten-free diet. I believe innkeepers should stay abreast of these things.

Last week France reiterated its choice to refuse GMOs. How I wish the American government were showing the same good sense. Monsanto intends to force-feed us all genetically-modified foods, whether we like it or not. Indeed, this giant corporation is doing its best to prevent the labeling of Franken-foods. What’s more, last month farmers and seed savers lost big when a judge refused protection from lawsuits if GMO seeds stray from one field to the next – organic – as seeds are wont to do. In February, the New York Times published a comprehensive article on the controversy. Last year Dr. Oz did a show on GMOs, during which 80% of audience members said they would avoid if given the choice. We have no choice. Did you know 85% of the products at your supermarket are already genetically-modified and those numbers are rising? As Dr. Oz said, all we can do is “vote” with our pocketbooks.

Are GMOs safe? From what I have read, I have serious doubts. We need to be careful what we put in our bodies. That’s why I serve our guests as much organic food as possible. We also try to buy local and offer gluten-free breakfast on request since more and more guests are gluten-intolerant.

When I was growing up in the 1950s and 60s, the only person I knew on a gluten-free diet was my brother, and that was because he had full-blown celiac. Now many people feel ill when they eat foods containing gluten. This phenomenon has created an industry shift, with cereal makers like General Mills offering GF Rice Chex. What’s going on?

Last fall the New York Times reported the number of people with celiac has dramatically increased. Comparing blood samples from the 1950s to the 1990s, Dr. Joseph Murray of the Mayo Clinic found “young people today are nearly five times as likely to have celiac disease, for reasons he and others researchers cannot explain. And it’s on the rise not only in the U.S. but also in other places where the disease was once considered rare, like Mexico and India.”

Note, gluten-free does not mean GMO-free, but I think it’s fair to draw a parallel of sorts. For some reason, our intestines are protesting vociferously, and GMOs are more prevalent in the American diet than ever before ...

What else has changed? Food has lost nutritional value.

Are there GMOs in foods served in Wellfleet restaurants? You bet!

The least the FDA could do is require labeling so that those of us who care can avoid genetically-modified foods.

Did you know there’s a movement afoot in California to put a proposition on the November ballot to require that food companies that sell in the state put labels on their products if “produced with genetic engineering”? We can only hope this proposition will pass and create a ripple effect across the country.

While in Cambridge, I shop at Harvest Co-op, a store where the managers understand food allergies. Check out the incredible array of gluten-free products available above. Yesterday I spoke with Chris Durkin, Director of Membership and Community Relations. He used to work at Bread and Circus, on Prospect Street, and remembers stricter standards before Bread and Circus became part of the Whole Foods chain. I noticed a 2007 Harvest newsletter explained the GMO issue and asked him about it.

“Ideally GMOs would not be allowed in the environment until they had been tested, but that’s not going to happen,” Chris said. “The only tests were done by Monsanto and other such corporations, and they’ve been very selective in what they reveal.” Chris added that GMOs are not allowed in organic foods, so one way to avoid GMOs, for the time being, is to only eat organic, don’t buy prepared foods. Chris also mentioned that Harvest has joined the Just Label It campaign. (If you have not yet voiced your opinion on labeling GMOs known, please do so today.)

And, as Dr. Oz suggested, vote with your pocketbook.

Before shopping for food, consult the Seeds of Deception Non-GMO Shopping Guide.

Do you eat gluten-free? Does anyone in your family? How do you feel about GMOs? Do you think GMO foods should be labeled?