Vegans of Color

Because we don’t have the luxury of being single-issue

Food Flotilla: GMO Banana Boats June 23, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Oshun 2.0 @ 5:48 pm

Hotep everybody!

It’s great to be here with Vegans of Color!

So, as you may soon learn about me, I’m pretty obsessed with the African diaspora.  If I can find any way to merge my love for diaspora with my love of food…I’m on it.  I sort of think I’ve eaten the most plantains of all vegans everywhere.  I have eaten so many plantains (and their hot cousin, the banana) in my vegan life, that I feel like Bubba on the bus next to Forrest when I get to talking about them.  Fried plantain, sweet plantain, green plantain, baby plantain, baby bananas, banana smoothies, bananas with peanut butter, bananas with soy yogurt…bananas with a rash.

Yep, that last one, bananas with a rash, was the least tasty and fun.  Not to go into the gory, weeklong details, but this damn rash felt like my body was an overpopulated red ant hill.  At first, I loaded up on cortisone, oatmeal rubs, shea butters and neem oil, but nothing changed.  I was still on fire and was definitely dealing with some embarrassing business.  After much anguish, it occurred to me to change my diet.  First went the orange juice. Nothing changed.  Then I added kombucha. Some relief ensued but nothing dramatic.  And then the moment of truth came.  After a long day of work, with very little to eat, I turned towards a banana before strolling over to a friends house.  Five minutes between the last bite of banana and my foot hitting his door, I was jumping out of my clothes like I had been promised legendary sex.  After much writhing, scratching, crying and calling on the heavens for mercy, I was covered in lotion and panting in the bathroom; cursing bananas and their deceptive good looks.  With more thought over the origins of my latest outbreak, it occurred to me that my mainstream mega grocery store purchased bananas were the source of my extreme pain. People: even my eyelids burned.

Now I know, and I’m sure you can gather, that my body is so interesting that we can and should talk about it all day.  However, I won’t push it.  What I am looking to speak to, however, is the danger of genetically modified foods. I am absolutely certain that what I have developed sensitivity to the monocrops that are often sold at large grocery chains that are not organic, nor are they sustainable for our ecosystems or for their consumers.

The insustainability of GMO food-products should be of particular concern to us as vegans of color knowing that are communities are systematically under-resourced with fresh produce.  The produce that is available (and perceptibly suitable for consumption) is often not organic, and therefore subjected to pesticide (at an overstated “best”) or a genetically modified food product at its worst.  When Haitian farmer’s are refusing Monsanto’s GMO seeds in the wake of an infinitely far-reaching disaster, we should be thinking deeply about the speculative effects of modified foods upon our individual bodies, and by extension, upon our communities.  What will happen to our reproductive systems?  What will happen to our fetuses in utero? What will happen to our immune systems?   Our babies?  Our adolescents? And our elderly community members? Our natural ability to heal ourselves with food?

To conclude on a productive note, I won’t delude myself with the idea that we will all go out any by organic at my behest (because I am still tippin on pesticides and food-products when my budget is pressed).  I will say though that those of us with the resources in knowledge, time, and/or money should be furthering urban farms, farmers markets, affordable locally grown organic foods and growing food ourselves.  If these aren’t appealing, ramping up our talking points and putting our skills towards increased (awareness off) WIC and LINK access at Whole Foods, Trader Joes, Yes Organic, etc can make a tremendous difference.  Ultimately, we can do an immeasurable amount of good if we put our energy behind making sure we engender more pathways towards harm-reduction than by letting the “organic” debate go on under the guise of a conversation about vitamins and price. If we don’t, how many of our most physically vulnerable community members gain the value of living more holistically when what is perceptibly whole breaks them down?


4 Responses to “Food Flotilla: GMO Banana Boats”

  1. richard mcmahan Says:

    I suspect there are areas of the world where vegans dare not tread. Places of few sustainable crops. How are we vegans to advocate for animals in such an environment?
    To condemn science (GMO’s), is to ensure the continuation of animal agriculture in said environments.
    Your comment “I am still tippin on pesticides and food-products when my budget is pressed”, could act as a metaphor for all the peoples, (and hence, the animals) of the 3rd world today.
    Thanks for your post.

  2. Barb Says:

    Clarification request–you think the bananas were genetically modified? Or you think they were classically bred, but with pesticides (of course, GMOs could use pesticides as well)? I can see why pesticide residue would bother you, and I agree that monocropping is a ridiculously unsustainable practice, but I don’t see why monocropping would make something more likely to give you a rash. Unless you’re thinking that monocropping requires increasing pesticide inputs? I could see that. Asking because I think it’s important to be precise with our criticisms, so that we are taken seriously 🙂

  3. well maybe i ate too much bread products, but i can’t take wheat anymore. i’ve read that wheat have been genetically changed over the years. it’s not like our grandparents. i’ve recently stopped eating gluten and feel better. there definately may be something to your suspicions.
    monsanto and other companies are pushing their products in a way that if we don’t fight it, we would all be enslaved by them, plus they will destroy ecosystems for the all mighty dollar. so yeah when i can, as much as i can, i buy organic. the gmos and pesticides are sometimes from the same company (monsanto/ round up).

  4. One of the first GMO products was synthetic insulin which has replace pig derived insulin. Vegan win!!! Do you think we should go back to pig derived insulin?
    GMOs can advance the cause of animal rights by replacing animal products with ones derived from plants or fungus that have certain genes inserted, we have already done this and saved many animal lives in the process
    One of the best advance besides increasing nutrient content is the Banana vaccine, yep scientist are working on a banana that you eat and which will give you immunity to Hepatitis B, this method could be adapted to other disease in the future
    Scientists in texas are currently also modifying tobacco plants to produce proteins necessary for making Flu and other vaccines as opposed to the current method that uses chicken eggs and produces about one or two Flu shots per egg, this could be a great advance for those chickens and for human health
    Unless you avoid ALL fortified foods, vegan vitamins, and nutritional yeast you probably also consume vitamin b12 produced from Genetically Modified bacteria, without this advance b12 deficiency would be more common among both vegans and the general population (as the epidemiological data examining the advent and effects of fortified foods has shown) this is a serious deficiency and one of the only ones vegans really need to watch out for generally, but a recent studies have indicated that vitamin deficiencies were much higher among raw vegans or vegans that avoid processed & fortified foods than were vegans who ate a varied modern diet contain some fortified foods.

    Genetically modifying plants has its risks, but it also has many potential benefits such as crops that require less or no insecticides at all, less insects die which is certainly more vegan friendly. We have already done this with some crops, thousands of gallons of pesticide that would have been sprayed wasnt because the plants now have a genetic resistance. Genetic engineering has reduced our dependence on pesticides and actually significantly reduced the amount leeched into the environment.
    Limited but intelligent and humanitarian use of GM can result in larger and more nutritious food yields for humans, less harm to insects & small animals, less water usage, less land usage, more left for wild animals. Less acreage to be harvested, since mechanized harvesting kills rodents and birds, the less the better, also a smaller amount of acreage would be more manageable with less mechanization

    The land use really is key, Organic agriculture on average (varies by specific crop) produce about half the yield that a conventional variety grown on the same type and amount of land
    The doubling of productivity of conventional crops vs organic dosent mean much in your backyard garden, you can afford the space and time to grow organically, but when done on large scale to feed massive populations it just not as viable in the foreseeable future.
    22% of the whole state of Idaho is currently used as farm land, the vast majority of the crop is conventionally grow, if we switched to a non-GMO organic model we would need around 40% of the land in the state to grow the same amount of food.
    There is certainly issues of profit motive and “intellectual property” rights to be dealt with but these dont negate the already present and future benefits of GMOs nor does the ever present need for land reform

    Organic food is far from what you might think it is, plenty of toxic pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, and even radioactive fertilizer used.
    for the massive list of naturally derived and synthetic chemicals used in Organic food production Google The National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances 205.600

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