Join us in taking the Non-GMO Challenge

April 3, 2012

You may already realize how critical a non-GMO diet is to the health of our planet—if so, good for you! Or you may be new to this issue and just starting to learn about all of the ways that genetically modified organisms (GMOs) threaten our soil, water, animals, insects and ecosystem at large. Either way, here at the Non-GMO Project we want to help you deepen your commitment to a non-GMO future. That’s why we created the Non-GMO Challenge for Earth Month. The Challenge is an action-oriented platform that offers education, inspiration and rewards for choosing non-GMO, whether it’s for one meal or for the entire month. Over the next few days we’ll be sharing some of the ways that Non-GMO Project staff are stepping up for the Non-GMO Challenge. We hope you’ll join us!

Never too early for climbing? Chris greets the morning at Joshua Tree National Park.

From Chris Keefe, Outreach Coordinator:

With all of the great farmers we have in and around Bellingham, eating local, organic, whole, and (of course) Non-GMO foods is rarely a challenge, and always a pleasure… when I’m at home.  However, as an avid rock climber and mountaineer with too much on his plate (sorry, pun intended), I spend more time than I’d like to admit chowing on dehydrated meals, energy bars, and post-climb pizza.  (oh my!)  I’ll be honoring Earth Month this year by committing to clean up my act cliffside.

Let’s start with the good.  I’ve made a not-so-guilty habit of getting the bulk of my calories from organic energy bars when I’m living out of a pack.  Since I first discovered ProBars at Eastern Mountain Sports in 2006, they’ve been a staple.  I’m pretty sure I did a dance around the office when we Verified ProBar’s Nutty Banana Boom flavor last September.  And with Pure Organics’ Wild Blueberry bars and Cocoa Coconut Squarebars to mix up the palate (both Verified!), quick Non-GMO calories are pretty easy to come by on the trail or on the wall.

It gets a little trickier when it comes to hot meals.  With nine pounds of rope, twelve pounds of gear, five pounds of water, sleeping bag, rain coat, tarp, and first aid kit already in my pack, you won’t find me volunteering to carry potatoes, cabbage, and canned beans up a mountain.  And though I sometimes splurge and tote along some salad greens, the unpleasant reality is that most of my dinner calories come dehydrated in lightweight bags.  Mary Jane’s Farm has put together some really tasty organic backpacking meals, but until they get Non-GMO Project Verified, I’ll be putting together my own dehydrated meals that altogether eschew high-GMO-risk ingredients.

Organic couscous is a simple pasta made from just semolina flour and water, and it cooks quickly, packs light, and tastes great with just a little sprucing up.  Organic dehydrated black bean flakes are pretty widely available at natural food stores and online, as are sundried tomatoes, dehydrated vegetables, and spices.  Mix it all together in a small bottle or bag, pack an ounce or two of olive oil or Rumiano’s Chedder cheese for style, and start walkin!

Which brings us to the moment of truth – the crux of the pledge, if you will.   Picture it… The climb’s finally over.  With sore arms, stiff legs, and a bit of a sunburn (Washingtonian’s never quit hoping), we emerge successful at the trailhead.  And trial to top all trials, my climbing partner suggests we celebrate with pizza, veggie burgers, or a stop at the all-you-can-eat Indian buffet midway through the long drive back home.

I hereby pledge that, even in the face of this deviously delicious proposal, my answer will be, “No thanks!  I’ve got this delicious Non-GMO something waiting for us in the car.” I guess it’s time to start honing my comfort-food cooking skills…  Do you have a favorite recipe you’d be willing to share?