I doubt John Adams thought much about food traditions when he predicted that the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776 would be marked with "shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more."
Adams was right. The parades and fireworks are still with us. As are the backyard barbecues and picnics. Hot dogs, corn on the cob, and potato chips are as celebrated as the Declaration itself, it seems.
It's startling, however, to think about the changes in these foods over the years. The genetic modification of food is staggering. Nearly 80 percent of non-organic processed foods contain GMOs.
Sir Albert Howard, the father of organic farming, predicted the escalation of chemical agriculture. He fought against synthetic fertilizers (artificial manures) during the 1930s, contending that "artificial manures lead inevitably to artificial nutrition, artificial food, artificial animals, and finally to artificial men and women." (From his book An Agricultural Testament.)
Can there be anything more artificial than taking the DNA of one organism and inserting it into another organism in order to create a desired trait? I don't need long-term studies to prove what my gut tells me. Food in its original, God-given packaging is far superior to food created by humans.
The United States does not require that GMO foods be labeled as such. More than 40 other countries do.
The organization Just Label It exists solely to see this law changed. They have petitioned the FDA to require the labeling of GMO foods, saying that Americans have a basic right to know what they're eating and the right to make informed choices about what they eat.
The good news is that we have a choice about the food we eat. Admittedly, it costs more to eat organic and avoid foods that are genetically altered. But can we afford to do otherwise? What are the hidden costs of processed, refined foods?
This July 4th I'm celebrating by eating some grass-fed beef and organic vegetables. I'm grateful I live in a country that celebrates freedom in all of its forms—including the right to choose and to change.