Tomayto, Tomahto

Garden-fresh tomatoesHas the Hunt’s “no GMOs in sight” tomato field campaign/subsequent response blown up anyone else’s newsfeed this week? All any of this really is anymore is a marketing tactic (and it’s driving me nuts, too).
But I stopped to think this time (to keep myself in check before I blew up on anyone– call it an early new year’s resolution). There used to be GM tomatoes on the market (not anymore) and that there are other ingredients that *could* be derived from GM products in Hunt’s brand tomato products. Could that be causing any of the confusion? I know that Hunt’s is emphasizing the non-GMO tomato source, but could they have gotten into this by listening to consumer fear/rejection of GM products, like the corn syrup in ketchup? Are all of the other tomato product competitors already labeling that way? (I haven’t made the trip to Walmart to check that one yet– I’ll let you know if/when I do.)
Lower the pitchforks just a bit and let’s get to the root of this problem first.
“GMO” has become a scary word in some households. It’s not even necessarily an “education” thing– we’re all educated in various subjects, right? [I hate using that word, by the way. I’m sure I’ll write about that sooner or later, so you’ll just have to hang tight for a bit. :)] This is more of a (mis)communication thing that’s shifted over into marketing and sounds like it’s here to stay.
Let’s keep working to fix it. If you’re a farmer, tell me more about why you do or don’t choose to grow GM crops and whether you are confident in buying groceries with those GM ingredients for your family. If you’re a dietitian, explain to me the difference in the nutritional value of a food labeled “GMO-free” and a comparable product without that label. If you’re a mom, explain to me why I shouldn’t be afraid of feeding my kid something readily available in the grocery store, whether or not it’s got that “GMO-free” label. You can’t do much, but you can share your opinion and hope that the receiver is willing to at least listen (don’t let it be a one-sided conversation–be sure to listen to their opinion, too).
In my experience, arguing isn’t going to get as far as a rational one-on-one conversation. And if we’ve learned anything from the 2016 election, it’s that hearts and minds firmly set in a belief or an opinion aren’t going to be won over in one 10-minute conversation [maybe ‘debate’ would be a better word– just keep it civil :)]. Science may say that GM foods are totally safe (and I believe they are, too), but food is a very personal thing and it’s easy to be nervous about things we don’t fully understand. Sometimes facts just aren’t enough. It’ll take time, but we need to keep the positive, fact-based message afloat. 
In the meantime, continue shopping the way that is best for you and your family. “Vote” with your food dollars. If that means changing the brand you buy, fine. As for me, I’ll still be buying whatever’s the best value for my money, which is probably the Aldi’s store brand, because that’s what works for me.
Tomayto, tomahto. I just wanna eat my tomatoes in peace.
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