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You might have heard about the latest food controversy involving a non-GMO group calling out a so-called “natural” Greek yogurt maker for selling yogurt that could contain genetically modified organisms. The yogurt maker is accused of using dairy cows that could have eaten GMO grain. If you’re really into the non-GMO movement, this may come as no surprise. Most of the food in the grocery store contains GMOs and many food makers don’t even try to avoid it. The specific criticism here is that the label can confuse us with the claim “natural” when GMOs do not occur naturally.
As with many consumer stories, there can be a great deal of confusion out there, especially when you only get bits and pieces, if any information at all, from traditional media sources. As we’ve explained before at FlourSackMama.com, a term like “natural” on a food label does not mean a thing. It is a marketing claim. However, independent non-GMO and/or organic certifications as well as the USDA Organic seal do add a layer of consumer protection. Some say even the USDA Organic program should tighten its standards, and I won’t argue against that here. Concerns about unwanted GMO contamination of crops have been top of mind with organic farmers for years now. Just check out the articles we’ve written for you here about small and organic farmers seeking protections against agriculture giant Monsanto and its controversial patents on life. Since I don’t have my own dairy cattle in my own organically run pasture, I still have to count on finding that USDA Organic seal when I want dairy without GMOS, growth hormones or pesticide residues.
When I accepted the offer to become one of Stonyfield Organic’s YoGetter ambassadors, it wasn’t just because of the USDA Organic seal. It was also because I read about the history of the company, started by organic food educators who know organics fit into the bigger picture of caring for our families and our planet. I understood that Stonyfield went above and beyond even government standards in trying to provide what many of us want in a wholesome product. I’m impressed that Stonyfield is also in the process of being verified by the Non-GMO Project to further assure customers that its foods are GMO-free. Stonyfield even says its family farmers are committed to NOT feeding GMO grain.
In an incredible show of consumer interest, people gobbled up vouchers for 10,000 FREE cups of Stonyfield Organic Greek yogurt in just three hours on a Friday evening. I missed the free yogurt myself because the notice went out late in the afternoon, and by the time my family was back from a kids’ summer camp concert, that giveaway had maxed out. Stonyfield wants to get the message out loud and clear that all yogurts you find on the store shelf are not the same — not even close. So beware of “natural” claims on those other yogurt cups.
You can learn more about popular efforts to get mandatory labeling of GMOs in the food system by visiting the Just Label It website. Stonyfield Co-founder and Chairman Gary Hirshberg has become a leader in the Just Label It movement. When Just Label It commissioned a survey, it found that nine out of ten Americans want the freedom to be informed if there are GMOs in their food.
When I write and talk about clean couponing, it’s topics like this that motivate me to share as much education as possible. Don’t be surprised to find deep discounts on some other yogurt brand(s) in the coming days and weeks as they cut their losses. But clean couponing involves doing your homework and establishing your family’s value system first, before you seek out coupons. It’s not just about saving a buck (although that’s important) but about what real value you’re getting. Are you trying to feed your children organic dairy without GMOs? Looking for a gluten-free yogurt like many at Stonyfield are? You can sign up to receive coupons from Stonyfield Organic here. And you can seek out other food makers directly, as well, if they meet the standards your family sets for itself. Before you get all stirred up about yogurt — you might want to get the facts about what’s inside.
I’m able to share some free Stonyfield Organic yogurt with one blog reader via this link as part of the Rock the Lunch Box giveaway. *Disclosure: As one of several Stonyfield YoGetter ambassadors, I receive free food products and other perks from time to time including food samples for Rock the Lunch Box. However my opinions are always my own.