By Elano Pizzicarola, HoneyColony Original
Pamm Larry knew little of the cutthroat world of politics, but that failed to hinder her from championing a cause she believed in: informing people about what they eat.
So in 2011, holding no real political expertise, the Chico, California, mom founded and spearheaded California Proposition 37, requiring many foods made with GMOs to be labeled as such. She eventually emerged as a poster-woman for the cause, leading her grassroots organization Yes on 37 that galvanized support from Mercola.com and Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps.
But when Election Day came, the proposition failed. Larry’s movement was outspent by the million-dollar campaign funded by her opponents, notably Monsanto.
Since then, she has continued her crusade for transparency. And it has worked.
Her efforts have sparked a ripple effect. Spanning the country, at least 20 states are mulling GMO-labeling laws, the New York Times reports. In some states, bills have already been introduced from legislators on both sides of the aisle. Democratic Iowa Senator Joe Bolkcom and Maryland State Delegate Glen Glass, a republican, touted bills that would require labeling of genetically engineered foods.
Here, Larry talks her recent efforts in fighting for GMO labeling, affordable non-GMO foods, and her favorite grocery stores and restaurants.
HC: What have you been up to since we last spoke?
PL: I continue to travel around the state of California and other places. I’m leaving for Oregon today to talk about grassroots activism around genetically engineered foods.
HC: What exactly is the occasion?
PL: The Ashland Co-op is putting on a panel discussion, and (they) invited me to come up. And I’m also going to be meeting with some other activists.
HC: Do you think the GMO labeling debate has been split on party lines?
PL: You know, we’ve got a lot of republican volunteers. We have a lot of people who are Tea Partyers who are supportive. So I don’t know really know how to answer that question.
HC: You said Tea Partyers have supported. So you have noticed to some degree conservatives supporting the GMO labeling?
PL: Yeah, and libertarians. Libertarians want genetically engineered foods labeled. Everywhere I spoke, libertarians — they wanted them labeled. Everybody eats, and everybody cares about their health, and everybody cares about choice in a free market. Especially republicans want a free market, and you can’t have freedom in a market without transparency. So labels are important.
HC: How can lower-income people access foods without GMOs?
PL: Lower-income people can access non-GMO foods by going into their grocery store. So, for instance, I did a price comparison at Safeway, which is the same as Vons down in Southern California, and I went in and found that the corn chips, the organic corn chips, were cheaper. O Organic is their brand. (They are) cheaper than Doritos.
HC: What is an effective strategy for spreading awareness about GMOs’ harms?
PL: Well, the best strategy for spreading the word about GMOs, educating people about GMOs, is to talk to moms. It would be approaching mothers, because mothers are concerned about their children, because many of them are horrified about what they’re feeding their kids. And then, they get angry, and then they want to do something. So that would be the biggest group that we try to approach, because they’re also the ones buying food for their children. And they need to know what’s going on.
HC: Where would you suggest our readers buy their food?
PL: I mostly shop at my farmers market. I shop at my natural foods co-op. I shop at grocery stores that I trust. I don’t buy from Whole Foods grocery store because it’s too expensive.
But, again, I hardly spend any money on food, and I eat plenty. And it’s because where I shop and how I shop. I would rather put a bunch of stuff in a crock pot and have it be done by the day. I would rather spend a Sunday afternoon cooking up a bunch of food and then eating it throughout the week, so I don’t have to come up with a big fancy meal each day. We need to get back to cooking real foods for ourselves and our children.
HC: So people who have no time to cook can buy non-GMO foods?
PL: Exactly. I work a lot, and I eat whole foods. I work 14 hours a day, and I eat food. I eat real food. So when people tell me they don’t have time to cook, I think it’s just that we don’t know how to cook anymore in this country. There is no home economics. People — all they know how to do is do things out of a box. But if they eat real food, then they’re fine.
HC: Any restaurant suggestions for our readers?
PL: I always stop at health food stores and get my food there. I will eat at Chipotle. I don’t get the meat there, but I hear that they try real hard to get locally sourced and humanely raised meats. So I like to support them. And, plus, they really supported Prop 37, so that makes a difference.
HC: What motivates you to keep fighting?
PL: People want labeling, and people need to know about it. The ones that don’t know need to find out. What keeps me going is I find it unethical that these corporations continue to try to lie to people so that they can sell their products for a profit. That’s their only motivation.
HC: What’s the best part about advocating for GMO labeling?
PL: I love the people involved. I love their commitment, their tenacity. They’re very smart. They’re very caring. They’re very committed people. And I am honored to be in their presence and to be able to work with them.
Photo by Steph Doran/Flickr.