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What’s New?

What’s new is that it’s July and I am wondering what happened to June!? It looks like chilly June is going to carry over into July. Sorry tomatoes and peppers, maybe August will be your month!

After last year, I made a conscious decision to plant heat-loving crops early and take advantage of the changing climate. That decision has not worked out so well. The tomatoes and peppers look like they want to put on my wool sweater, but I am not giving up :).

Speaking of tomatoes, I planted 200 Early Girl/Stupice type red tomatoes. I got them all caged up and cleaned up and growing in the right direction and now there are a few starting to ripen, but they are ripening orange! I apparently transplanted orange tomatoes. They taste great, but that is not what I was expecting to grow.

For the last few months, I have been looking at those plants and wondering about them, I knew they were “setting” fruit differently, but with the cool, wet weather, I just chalked it up to climate change. So this year we are growing Klesick Farm’s tasty orange colored tomatoes. #ithappens #ohmy #atleasttheyarestilltomatoes

Another telltale sign indicating that I guessed wrong about the weather this season was the cucumbers. They were direct seeded in early May…and GERMINATED LAST WEEK! Seriously, that is a head-scratcher, but they are up and growing now. Thankfully, I planted some cucumbers in the greenhouses also, and they are happy – really happy. I mean, they are rivaling Jack-and-the-Bean-Stock happy. Long story short, cucumbers are going to be in the boxes of good food, picked daily and delivered daily.

This week we are putting a lot of Klesick Farms-harvested good food in the boxes. We use a KF next to items from our farm on the newsletter, and an * next to other local NW farms’ fruits and veggies. So this week, my crew and I are picking, packing and delivering chard, chives, zucchini, cucumbers, peas, lettuce and a few raspberries.

We are also getting cherries and carrots from two other organic growers that I have been working with since 1997! Those are some seriously long relationships. All of our customers – some since 1997 – have nourished their families with these farmers’ produce as well.

We are a different kind of food system; a more sustainable, more earth-friendly option – as we have been for the last two decades – helping families to eat better food and feel better about the food they eat.

Bon Appétit!

Farmer Tristan

 

Recipe: Indian Roasted Potato Salad with Chard

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

1 ½ lbs. potatoes, halved and/or quartered

3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil

1 Tbs. ground turmeric

1 tsp. ground cumin

1 tsp. garlic powder

1 bunch chard, shredded (or cut into thin ribbons)

2 Tbs. Greek yogurt

2 Tbs. lemon juice (more if desired) salt and pepper

Directions:

1. Place the diced potatoes on a large baking sheet, covered in foil. Toss with 1 tablespoon oil, turmeric, cumin, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Slide into a 400°F oven and roast for 30-40 minutes, or until browned all over and tender, tossing halfway through.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together the yogurt, remaining oil, lemon juice, and a pinch of salt and pepper.

3. In a large bowl place the ribboned chard and roasted potatoes. Drizzle with the lemon dressing and toss to coat.

4. Serve garnished with fresh parsley or basil, if desired. Or even bacon bits!

Recipe from bevcooks.com

 

Know Your Produce: Chard

Chard has large, fleshy but tender deep green leaves and thick, crisp stalks. Although they’re unrelated, chard is similar to spinach, but with a stronger, more assertive (some think, bitter) flavour.

Different types of chard have different coloured stalks and ribs. Some stalks are white, some are a golden orange and some are red (called ruby or rhubarb chard) – there’s even rainbow chard. There’s very little difference in taste, but ruby and rhubarb chard can have a slightly stronger flavour.

Prepare: The leaf and the stalks should be cooked separately. Wash, then cut the stalks from the leaves and either leave whole or chop, depending upon your recipe. On some older leaves you may need to cut the ribs out of the leaves, too.

Cook: Leaves: boil (1-2 minutes); steam (3-4 minutes). Stems: stir-fry (around 2 minutes); boil (3-4 minutes); steam (4-5 minutes); roast (10 minutes).

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Wow!

One would think that after almost two decades of farming I would have this farming game figured out! I do have the basics mostly down, but every year, around Father’s Day, I am overwhelmed. Overwhelmed with what? Thanks for asking. WORK! All of the sudden, everything needs to be harvested: lettuce, spinach, peas. Everything needs to be weeded: lettuce, spinach, peas, beets, tomatoes, beans, squash, cucumbers, strawberries. And more needs to be planted: lettuce, spinach, cucumbers, squash, beets, kohlrabi, corn, etc. I know it is coming, but it always catches me off guard, like a sneaker wave at the beach – all of the sudden you’re wet.

A lot of this has to do with timing and trying to figure out the changing climate patterns and the changing availability of willing workers. The climate impacts are just unpredictable. Last year at this time we were burning up and this year we have had huge swings in temperatures and a fair amount of rain.

This year I got out early and planted some summer loving, heat loving crops in early May, expecting it to get hot early, but June is looking more like “Junuary.” Although hitting a high of 58 degrees in early June really slows down the crops, it also keeps things from bolting, like spinach and lettuce, and peas from burning up. This is farming though: I do my best, I get the weather I get, I adapt, then I get to harvest what crops liked the weather best.

But the weeds, well, they love all types of weather. On our farm we are a hand-weeding operation, and it is hard to find people excited about rows and rows of vegetables to be weeded, sometimes with a hoe, other times on your hands and sometimes we just throw up our hands and use a tractor and start over. We have managed to stay almost caught up, but you can see the “tide” of weeds rising. This week will be the week to stem that tide!

As always, we work hard to grow the healthiest, tastiest and freshest fruits and vegetables for you and your family. We want to be that bright spot in your week, where on your delivery day a box of good food brightens your day and nourishes your body.

More locally grown good food is on its way.

Cheers to your health!

Tristan

 

Recipe for this week’s box: Asian Cucumber & Carrot Slaw

Serves 2 to 4

Ingredients:

1 cucumber

2 medium carrots, peeled

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

1 tablespoon cider vinegar

1 teaspoon water

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon sesame oil (or other oil of choice)

1 tablespoon sesame seeds

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Directions:

  1. Using a julienne peeler or grater, shred the cucumber and carrots into long strips.
  1. Toss the vegetables in a medium bowl, along with the vinegars, water, sugar, and sesame oil.
  1. Garnish with sesame seeds and cilantro.
  1. Chill until ready to serve. Best served cold.

Recipe adapted from wayfair.com

 

Know Your Produce: Stonefruit 101

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“Stonefruit” refers to members of the genus Prunus, which includes peaches, nectarines, plums, pluots, cherries, and apricots. The season for summer stonefruit is short-lived, and delicious! With the fruit coming and going so quickly, we don’t want you to miss out by having to toss spoiled or improperly ripened fruit. Here’s some info on proper storage in order for you to make the most of these short-season gems.

Care – Store unwashed fruit at room temperature until ripe (usually only 1-2 days), then place in sealed container in the fridge.

Ripeness – Gently press around stem and when flesh gives slightly to pressure fruit is ripe. Stonefruit ripens from the inside to the outside, so if fruit is soft all over it is more likely overripe.

Tips for Preventing Spoilage – Stonefruit’s biggest enemy while ripening is moisture coupled with lack of airflow. Set ripening stonefruit on a cloth or paper-covered countertop or in a place where it gets plenty of airflow. Try setting them stem side down to ripen. This lessens the chance of then rolling and bruising. Once your stonefruit is ripe, it deteriorates very quickly. Within a day of being fully ripe, if left out of refrigeration, you can have overripe/spoiled fruit and some very attracted fruit flies. Check daily and place in refrigerator as soon as you notice the stem area has begun to soften. Take special care when handling your stonefruit – never squeeze to check for ripeness! Even a small bruise will be cause enough to turn into a rot/bruised spot on your fruit as it is still ripening.

Use – Once fruit is ripe, and you’ve placed in the refrigerator, plan to use within a day or two (this gives you a total keeping time of about 4-5 days). Stonefruit is refreshing as a healthy breakfast paired with yogurt or hot/cold cereal, as a topping to a green salad, and as an ingredient in fruit salads. For grilling, or for topping green salads: use slightly less ripe fruit, it will hold up better without breaking apart/juicing. All Stonefruit bakes up fabulously into crisps, pies, and sauces!

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Breathe

There is a brief lull in the action coming my way soon. Most of our first plantings are in. Round two for the beans, summer squash, and corn will start in another week. Also, we are seeing blossoms on some of the early sugar snap peas! I am thinking that probably next week we will have a lighter load before we start harvesting lettuce, weeding everywhere, and more plantings.

A few years ago, I planted a new blackberry variety called Black Diamond. This season is its first fruiting and it is way earlier than I expected. I also grow some Doyle blackberries and they come on considerably later than the raspberries, but I am thinking that the Black Diamonds may be earlier than the raspberries—time will tell.

Why did I plant blackberries? Because I like them! And I also like not having to fight with the wild blackberries that engulf a mile of my property line. The Black Diamond is a “thorn less” variety that I can contain, farm, and harvest much more reliably. Harvest is an important consideration. It is hard enough trying to find farm help and it is even harder to find farm help to pick wild blackberries!

Blackberries and raspberries also grow upright and this older 6’ 2” frame of mind appreciates harvesting while standing up. This provides a nice break because practically everything else we grow on our farm is grown and harvested at ground level (e.g., lettuce, strawberries, cucumbers, squash, etc.)

The local season is upon us and local food will be finding its way into your boxes of good food from now on!

Enjoy!

Farmer Tristan

 

 

Recipe: Balsamic Chicken with Baby Spinach

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil

3 cloves garlic, chopped

2 (8-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, halved

1 bunch baby spinach, trimmed

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1/3 cup low-sodium chicken broth (or vegetable stock)

1 cup canned chopped tomatoes with juice

2 cups whole wheat couscous, cooked (substitute with rice for gluten free option)

Directions:

1. Heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat.

2. Add the olive oil and heat.

3. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.

4. Add the chicken and cook about 4 minutes per side, or until cooked through and juices run clear. Remove the chicken and set aside.

5. To the same pan, add the spinach and cook just until wilted, about 1 to 2 minutes.

6. Remove from the pan and set aside.

7. Lower the heat to medium and add the balsamic vinegar and chicken broth to the pan and stir, scraping the bottom of the pan to remove any browned bits.

8. Add the tomatoes, bring to a simmer and cook 3 to 5 minutes.

9. Place the couscous in a serving bowl.

10. Top with the spinach, chicken and balsamic-tomato sauce.

Adapted from Ellie Krieger’s recipe from foodnetwork.com

 

Know Your Produce: Bartlett Pears

Did you know that Bartlett Pears contain probiotic benefits that support your gut health? New research has found that pears can balance beneficial gut bacteria. Check our blog this week for more info on the benefits of pears!

Ripened pears can be used at once or put under refrigeration (35º to 45º F) until you want to use them. Refrigeration will delay further ripening but will not stop it altogether, giving you adequate time to include fresh pears in your menu planning. Remember, pears need to ripen at room temperature, so don’t refrigerate an unripe pear!

A ripe pear is a sweet pear. A little known fact about the pear is that it is one of the few fruits that does not ripen on the tree. The pear is harvested when it is mature, but not yet ripe, and, if left at room temperature, it slowly reaches a sweet and succulent maturity as it ripens from the inside out.

Store: Place under ripe pears in a fruit bowl at room temperature near other ripening fruit like bananas, which naturally give off ethylene and will help speed up the ripening process. And if you find yourself with a few too many overripe pears, blend them into smoothies, soups, sauces and purees!

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The Bowl Craze Explained

The one-dish meal is having its moment. The bowl craze started with the smoothie bowl and has since become a menu staple in many kitchens and restaurants for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Even if you haven’t seen one of these protein-packed bowls on a menu, you’ve likely seen one on your Instagram feed.

Though its contents may vary, most grain bowls follow a simple blueprint. It begins with a grain base, like rice or quinoa. Then, you could spoon almost anything over your grains and call the result a bowl (and some do). But the best bowls have a balanced combination of flavors and textures, and of vegetables, proteins, sauces and garnishes. Let your creativity soar in the combination of toppings and you’ll be surprised with the results!

Once you have selected your grains, you then need veggies – preferably something green, like kale or spinach. Raw, cooked or steamed vegetables will work great too.

Now you need a protein. Think of small amounts of braised or roasted meats, whether left over or freshly cooked. Beans are a great option as well. Adding a soft-cooked egg, preferably one with a runny yolk to coat the other ingredients like an instant sauce, is always a great idea.

Once you have the bowl assembled – grains, vegetables and protein – it’s time to think about garnishes, which add character and depth. Something pickled or pungent keeps things interesting, and something crunchy (sesame seeds or nuts) diversifies the textures.

Finally, a sauce on the side for everyone to mix in to taste. Use ingredients that mesh with the flavors of the bowl. Combine soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger and rice vinegar or lime juice for Asian-inspired combinations. Pesto goes nicely with roasted red peppers, eggplant or anything else vaguely Mediterranean. A simple salsa works great for a Latin inspired bowl. Bottled hot sauce provides spice to the fire-toothed. And a basic vinaigrette will get along with practically anything else.

Another reason for grain bowls’ popularity is that they’re very customizable. Mix and match. Then mix and match again. If you do it right, you will never serve the same bowl twice – not unless you want to, that is.

Last but not least, bowls can be seasonal! In today’s world of mass production and far-flung distribution, the seasons blend together. Fruits and veggies that used to be available just once a year can now be found 365 days a year. However, thanks to our local farmers we can enjoy ingredients at their prime and find them more flavorful and nutritious than their off-season counterparts.

No wonder the bowl has become a favorite way of eating: out of a bowl, fresh ingredients, bold seasonal flavors, and various textures and temperatures. I’m in – time to mix and match!
Sara Balcazar-Greene (aka. Peruvian Chick)
Peruvian Food Ambassador
peruvianchick.com
instagram.com/peruvianchick
facebook.com/theperuvianchick

 

Kale-Pesto Quinoa Bowl

Ingredients:

2 large eggs

2 cups cooked quinoa

1 avocado ¼ cup homemade pesto

1 roma tomato, chopped

1 cup baby broccolini, lightly sautéed with salt and pepper

1 cup mushrooms, lightly sautéed with salt and pepper

For the pesto:

2 cups fresh basil leaves

1 cup fresh kale leaves

¼ cup parmesan cheese

¼ cup pine nuts + plus a handful for garnishing

1 large garlic clove

3 – 4 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon lemon juice

Salt + pepper to taste

Directions:

Cook the eggs to your liking. I like mine runny so I cook them for exactly 7 minutes in boiling water.

While the eggs are cooking, add all the pesto ingredients to a food processor. Process until almost smooth.

Prepare your breakfast bowls: Add 1 cup quinoa, broccolini, mushrooms, tomatoes and half of the avocado thinly sliced and pesto sauce to taste.

When eggs have cooled, peel them and slice in half. Add to the bowl and sprinkle with pine nuts.

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Peas and Pears

As I spend more and more time in the field, I love that the farm is coming alive. Spring is like a magnet – it draws me from a deep restful slumber to a “Yes, I am ready for spring” experience. These daily spring walks invigorate my soul. I know what is about to happen. It has been the cycle of my life for the last 18 years, yet it is always fresh, always new, and always CRAZY!

If we are going to maintain or increase our health, what we eat will be important. And, let’s face it, we are going to eat. Why not eat the good stuff? I am a huge proponent of, “If we eat better, we will feel better.”

As spring marches forward, so does the bounty of the local harvest! Every day, as I wander through my fields, taking mental notes, noticing the garlic, fruit buds, dandelion blossoms, honey bees and other insects, the signs are clear. Soon I will be orchestrating a beautiful symphony of local, organic, and nutrient-rich food.

Bon Appétit

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Tristan Klesick

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It is Getting Closer!

We are slowly working our way towards the starting line. We just planted some sugar snap peas that will be transplanted mid-March, we are finishing up on the last minute maintenance that needs to be done on our equipment, we are checking seed supplies, and we will be “pulling” soil samples in the next few weeks.

The soil sampling is important. It helps us monitor nutrients in our soil and know what organic nutrients we need to order for our crops. We also take leaf samples throughout the growing season to check how well the plants are absorbing the nutrients from the soil. Based on the soil and leaf tests, I will foliar feed my crops to give them some extra nutrition.

You might be saying to yourself that is a lot of “fussing” over nutrients. So what’s all the “fuss” over soil and plant health really about? It is about you! Growing food for you is a privilege, and I want the food I grow for you to help you live a vibrant and healthy life. And food grown without synthetic herbicides, pesticides, and fungicides is better for you, the farmer, and the environment. But food grown with nutrition at its foundation is the prize! And that is what I grow for you – nutrient rich food. Bon Appétit!

But I have another prize for the next two weeks!

We are running a Share the Good Food campaign for the next two weeks.* We have teamed up with Theo Chocolate to offer a month’s worth of their 70% organic dark chocolate for every one of your friends who signs up for a box of good food. And as a thank you for referring your friend, I will send you a month of Theo dark chocolate with each of your deliveries, too. A month of free chocolate for you and your friends—now that is worth sharing!

*If a friend you refer signs up for delivery between 2/28-3/13, you will both receive a bar of chocolate with each of your deliveries that fall within the next four-week period, starting with when your friend signs up for delivery. The more friends you refer, the more chocolate you receive!

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Tristan

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I Really Like Farming!

I can hardly contain my excitement! Every year I get a little winter’s rest and then the first crocuses show up and I am chomping at the bit to get out there and get going. As a matter of fact, I already planted my two green houses to spinach and radishes. I am planning on another early and warmer spring.

Do you know what my favorite crop is to grow? The one I am harvesting! If my plantings make it to harvest (most do), that is always my favorite crop at the moment. Picking it at the height of nutrition and flavor, packing it, and getting to you—that is exciting! And the nice thing about growing vegetables and fruit is there is almost always something to harvest.

I was just out in my fields, checking in on some overwintering curly parsley and chives, and you know what I found? Beets! Those beets were too small to harvest last fall, so we left them in the ground and now they are ready. The tops aren’t in the best shape, but the beets are solid and tasty. I wish I had planted more! Which is another nice thing about farming—I get to try it again next year! So, I will plant beets a little earlier (mid-August) and I will plant more of them, then I will have more beets to sell in the spring.

Now I might be the only farmer writing this newsletter, but a whole lot of you are chomping at the bit to grow some vegetables, too. Which is why Klesick Farms is now carrying vegetable seeds from High Mowing Organic Seeds. This is where I buy most of my seeds. I recognize that if we are going to have healthy food for generations to come, we are going to need genetic diversity in our seeds.

There are two ways to support organic seed production:

1. You can buy vegetables from growers who use organically grown seeds (if you are reading this letter you can check

that off!).

2. Or you can plant them yourself and still buy some of your vegetables from me.

If you are a gardener and would like to support organic seed production, you can buy them through our website or you can go to: highmowingorganicseeds.com/klesick and order them directly. Either way, shipping is free.

Also, we have arranged with Michael, at Rents Due Ranch, to have organically grown tomato, peppers, basil, and strawberry plants available this spring, so stay tuned for updates in early March for their availability.

Bring on spring!

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Tristan

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An Eagle, Fog, Dew…and a Farmer.

As a farmer, the seasons are ingrained into my psyche. Day length, temperature, dew, clouds, every element, every nuance speaks to my soul.

One morning last week the moon was just hovering above the cottonwoods, a light fog was lifting, and the sun was just about to crest above the Cascades when I entered this predawn scene. As I stepped out of the old white farmhouse into a new day, I came into the beauty of the Stillaguamish River Valley—its stillness, quietness, and peacefulness. I was alone with my Creator in His creation, basking in all of it.

Stepping off the front porch and taking a few more steps towards the west, there was that brilliant globe suspended above the tree line. I stopped, mesmerized by its beauty and my smallness in it.

Not more than 100 feet above was a bald eagle circling. The same sun that illuminated the moon caught the bald eagle’s white head glistening as it glided through the fog. Its majestic wingspan and silhouette were shimmering with every turn, around and around, lower and lower, filled with grace and power, effortlessly sifting through the predawn sky.

Just at the tip of the tree line the bald eagle straightened out and sailed through the trees. At that moment I, too, returned to my home at peace, excited for what this day would bring.

An eagle, fog, dew, and the early morning dance of the moon and sun. As a farmer, moments like this speak to my soul. They remind me that I am the steward of this farm. My purpose is to balance growing food for you and for all the other creatures that call this place home. This is my work, this is my passion.

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Tristan Klesick

 

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Here We Go!

Harvest is in full swing at the farm! At last I can start to recoup some of my investments from the spring. Sounds crazy doesn’t it – paying bills from the spring.  But that is how it works for most farmers. We spend a lot of money early in the season on fuel, seed, fertilizers, etc., hoping to nurture our crops through the season and get to harvest. That was no small task this year! But we are here.

Some CSA type farms charge their members $500 to $800 upfront and then manage the money for the remainder of the farm season. Our model is different, as we let you pay as you go and rely on earning your business with every delivery.

Sure, it would be nice to collect a pile of cash up front instead of digging into our savings every year, but that isn’t the model Joelle and I chose. We chose a pay-as-you-go model for several reasons, the primary one being access to organic food. I want as many families as possible and as many families that want to eat locally and healthfully to not be deterred by a hefty up front lump sum like $500 -$800.

Anyhow, now is the time that the Klesick farm starts to replenish our ability to farm next year. We have been harvesting all summer, but the peas, apples, raspberries, and garlic help us keep the cash flow positive. The potatoes and winter squash are the crops that really serve as the work horses to pay the bills. So now we are busy taking advantage of the remaining good weather to get those crops up and out of the field.

For folks that like to stock up (and there are a quite a few of you), the following Klesick farm items are online and available for purchase:

Bulk potatoes: red, yellow or mixed (unwashed) 50 lbs. for $50.00

Winter Squash Collection 30 lbs. for $37.50 (This would make a great harvest display on your table or porch, which is where Joelle stores our winter squash)

Winter luxury pie pumpkins (not pumpkin pie, but they make a mighty tasty oneJ) $5 each

SquashFest is October 3rd and 4th, at the farm from 11am to 5pm. Come on down and help us harvest some winter squash and potatoes. We will also be planting next year’s garlic that weekend and you are welcome to help us plant – many hands make light work.

Cheers to another Harvest!

Farmer Tristan

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Too Big To Fail

That was the battle cry of DC when the economy collapsed in ‘08. Yet, the large greedy financial institutions were then rewarded with a bailout, while many Americans lost their investments or jobs or homes. It feels like Congress is adopting a similar attitude towards Monsanto and other proponents of GMO technology.

The House of Representatives has passed the DARK Act in favor of protecting GMO companies from each individual state working on this issue. Why does a $15,000,000,000.00 (yes that is right, a $15 billion company) need legislative help to compete in a free market system? Congress is wrong to enter this fight on behalf of Monsanto and the other GMO companies.

If Congress really wants to clarify the issue, they should require labeling and give citizens the right to know instead of protecting GMO companies. Monsanto and the Grocery Manufacturers Association could then spend their money advertising trying to build their case to the public for why GMO’s are safe.

I am not proposing a label that bludgeons companies that manufacture GMO’s or food manufacturers that use GMO products in their ingredients. I believe that a simple addition of an * to each GMO ingredient on the label with the note “*Genetically Modified” located at the bottom is all that’s needed. That’s it!  Simple, straightforward, honest!

I believe that this is what Congress should be doing, then allow the American people to decide what they want to eat.

The labeling issue has important long term ramifications for our nation’s health and the future of farming. Therefore, our senators should temper the House of Representatives’ appetite to protect GMO companies and not pass their version. Instead, labeling GMO’s should be the law of the land.

Please contact your senators today and let them know that you would like them to not pass the DARK Act. Also, if you agree with my idea for labeling please let them know that as well.

Senator Maria Cantwell

425-303-0114

Senator Patty Murray

425-259-6515

 

Thank you.

 

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