On Saturday May 24th, 2014 I had the privilege of attending the Toronto Non-GMO Festival. Let me begin this post by speaking about exactly what “GMO’s” are, and how they are affecting our quality of food on a global scale. A “GMO food” is food that has been somehow genetically modified, or altered in order to create a larger bounty of it, a larger size of the individual foods, and/or make the food appear “prettier” to ensure that consumers will purchase it. One of the first GMO’s ever created was corn! Yes, that’s correct that delicious, sweet corn you most likely enjoy each summer is actually a genetically modified version of a type of grass called Teosinte. A well-known example of a modern GMO, is that of common red tomatoes, which are smooth, glossy, and perfect as a result of being injected with the cells of Salmon, a type of Fish, which is mind-blowing! When comparing organic foods, to genetically modified foods, one can see that the two look very different, GMO foods look flawless, whereas natural and organic grown foods look, well simply put, they look more natural. The real shock comes when one compares the two in taste, unsurprisingly, although it is not as “pretty”, the organic foods always seem to sit better on our palates. If you wish to try a simple experiment to see how terrible these “synthetic” foods are, then place two plates in your back yard on the grass. One with organic butter, and the other with margarine. You will quickly notice that the insects, particularly Ants will flock to the “real” food, the butter and avoid the margarine. This experiment has also been conducted using GMO and Organic fruits as the variables as well.
Now let us move on and discuss both sides of the argument: How have GMO’s affected our food supply on a global scale? For those who stand in favour of GMO foods, it is clear that with such a gargantuan (and growing) population on earth, GMO’s have enabled us to help our foods keep up with the population. GMO foods grow much faster, and more plentiful, making them an obvious choice to those in favour, due to the earth’s massive population. GMO’s have also vastly increased the food supply in hopes that it will bring us one step closer to the eradication of world hunger, as it once again, increased the abundance of food!
Personally, I am someone who is against GMO foods, but I also feel very strongly that without hearing both sides of the argument, no true thought process can take place, thus inhibiting our growth as human beings, and our ability to truly affect change. Hearing both sides of an argument does not mean one will suddenly agree with a different opinion, however it opens up the mind, and helps our craniums think in new, alternative ways. Let us now move on to how GMO’s are negatively affecting our global food supply. First of all, not enough extensive research has been conducted in order to evaluate the long-term effects of consuming GMO’s. No one is sure what effect it will have on their body, which makes many people feel like the “Guinea Pigs” who are being used right now, so that in approximately a decade, we can see what the long-term effects of GMO’s are. This may or may not be true, however it is true that the long-term effects of GMO’s remains to be seen. Another reason I am opposed to GMO foods is because of the way they look, and taste in comparison to natural foods, there has to be something wrong when I purchase gigantic blueberries and they taste extremely acidic. Alternatively, when I purchase or pick organic blueberries, they are tiny and have a much sweeter taste to them, this is just one example of the difference that I’ve seen and tasted for myself. Also worth mentioning is the fact that, if insects will not eat it, why should we? There must be something wrong with the food if mother nature herself is rejecting it, or to put into an even simpler perspective, we know that one of the reasons we find pests so “pesky” is because during the warm months they are constantly attacking the foods at our picnics, barbeques, etc…
Now that we have had a chance to discuss both sides of the GMO argument, we can finally move on to the Non-GMO festival. The festival took place in Toronto’s Christie Pitts Park, no more than a few steps away from the TTC’s Christie Station, and Koreatown. The festival was the perfect size so that each an every person was able to make their rounds at every stall that was set up. There were organic plants, fruits, honey, beauty products, and food. There were also various groups petitioning to have all GMO foods labelled so that consumers know what they are purchasing. GMO labelling has already been established in places such as France and the UK, which are both “Western” nations, so it is about time that countries like Canada and many other join the group, if only so each and every citizen in every country can benefit. Many young people were present at the Toronto chapter of the festival, which takes place in many locations across the globe, however I would like to close by noting that many more young people, and members of visible minorities could have been present, again this blog is aimed directly at young people! If we do not stand together, and realize the many global issues taking place in our world, then there is no way we can ever hope to affect change, join the conversation on change, choose your cause, think, discuss, act!
P.S: If you are a Toronto resident and would like to try some delicious Vegan food, try Bhakti Lounge right by the RyersonU campus. Both Delicious and Professional, you won’t even realize the food is vegan! (It’s also GMO-free!)