GRASSROOTS ACTION: “My Food Comes From WHERE?! Oh, there!” No. 1: The Cornucopia Institute


Posted by Laura Hagen, HWFC Member-Owner

GRASSROOTS ACTION IS POWERFUL! is a blog dedicated to American independently-owned, Member-Owned & operated, community food co-ops, their Member-Owners and families.


ACTION ALERT!: HWFC is celebrating its 40th anniversary this Saturday at the store!

Stop by on Saturday, June 18th from 10am-6pm to help us celebrate. We’ll have some of our favorite local vendors here sampling, fun activities and games, some great giveaways and a ton of CRAZY GOOD DEALS! Hope to see you there!”

Click here and here for more info!


We co-op people llluuvvv good food! And we love to talk about health & nutrition, as well. How many times have you shopped at HWFC and ended up chatting with a fellow Member, employee or shopper about food or health-related things …a half-hour goes by …and you walk away having learned something new and beneficial to your family’s health?

Today I am rolling out a brand new series of now ‘n again posts called “My Food Comes From WHERE?! Oh, there!” It’s all about insuring you’re purchasing real, whole, nutrient-dense, minimally-processed, authentic, organic food …with a decided prejudice in favor of “local,” “nutrient-dense” and “organic!” The posts will be short & sweet (a decidedly rare occurrence around here!) You’ll have homework, some reading, some research, some in-the-co-op searching, maybe some recipe experiments, too!

Eating may be a requirement!

Occasionally, My Food Comes From WHERE?! Oh, there! will be visited by its sister topic-in-arms, They Added WHAT To My Food?! No, dude!

As always with GRASSROOTS ACTION IS IMPORTANT! posts, you’ll have to do some thinking and connecting the dots and, just maybe, some advocacy with others.

You’ll learn about the US food “supply chain,” whose endpoint is … wait for it …your mouth. You’ll learn about Big Food and, did you know, there is a Big Organic, too? You’ll get the lowdown on this nonprofit you keep hearing about called the Non-GMO Project (who formed it and who controls it?) and I’ll introduce you to some of my “go-to” sites: the Organic Consumers Association, the Weston A. Price Foundation, Dr. Mercola, Chris Kresser, and NOFA and NOFA NY.

You’ll get schooling in what additives like…

-natural flavorings
-organic spices
-organic seasonings
-processed free glutamic acid (aka msg)
-citric acid
-guar gum

…and so on, really mean for your family’s health …and just who is Senomyx, why are they being granted patents on their research on the human genome sequence & human taste receptors …and just why the devil do I need to know or care?

If you remain a loyal My Food Comes From WHERE?! Oh, there! reader, I guarantee, down the road a piece, you will know the difference between foods labelled “certified organic” versus “natural,” just who QAI is …and just what does that prized USDA organic label really guarantee. You will understand why COOL is no longer just a hip expression from the ’50s and ’60s, it’s a term you’d better understand if you value the quality of the food your family eats. You’ll become familiar with the term GRAS (nothing to do with our beloved GRASSROOTS!) You will learn how food coming from China – and legally allowed to be labelled “organic” and blessed with that prized green, white and brown USDA Organic label …might be anything but organic.

I promise to do my best to expose the tricks  being used by Big Food and Big Organic corporations – many allowed by US regulations! – in the labeling of food products. You will come away understanding that labeling is more about obscuring what is in your food (and where it comes from) than it is about informing you, the consumer.

Nowadays, the information listed on food labels benefits Big Food, Big Organic and Big Ag, by providing these corporations with legal camouflage. This camouflage does not benefit us families. The camouflage is especially apparent in foods considered “natural,” “organic,” and “healthy for you:” that targets us! And, since the PR & Marketing firms of these corporations know we co-op types are are a savvy bunch, they follow our trends in purchasing and quickly change their PR & marketing practices, as we alter our buying habits.

We consumers have to keep one step ahead of them on our own research into additives, preservatives, flavorings, seasonings, packaging & shipping: how our food is grown or produced, processed, stored, and shipped.

So, through My Food Comes From WHERE?! Oh, there! and They Added WHAT To My Food?! No, dude! I will teach you to become a detective (Humphrey Bogart’s hard-boiled, cynical and skeptical Sam Spade will have nothin’ on you, after you grit your teeth, grab your magnifying glass and i-phone info tables, hunker down, and learn to de-code these “natural” and “organic” food labels!)

Why do you have to be a sharp, informed label reader and keep on top of changes in “natural” and “organic” food processing?

Because it concerns you and your family’s health and nobody can or will protect that like you can!

For example, most of us already know that the term natural has been rendered meaningless. Big Food and Big Organic are now busily chipping away at the protections we thought we had guaranteed with foods labeled organic, USDA organic, certified organic, and so on. Organic labels no longer necessarily carry the guarantee that your food is totally safe.

Sorry to burst that bubble for you, but you will become informed and begin to realize just why buying local – and knowing your farmers and your food producers – is so vitally important for your family’s health.

Isn’t that one of the reasons why so many of us joined and shop at Honest Weight Food Co-op?

We at HWFC have access to foods from small, local & regional family farms & artisanal food producers, who deeply care about the sustainability of their land, soil & animals, the quality of the food products they sell, and the community in which they themselves live.

The information you learn here at My Food Comes From WHERE?! Oh, there! and They Added WHAT To My Food?! No, dude! will surprise you, it may delight you, and some of it will certainly make you angry and want to call for action …or make you change your family’s food buying habits immediately!

Throughout this series, I will be featuring some of the local & regional farmers, farm families and producers who supply Honest Weight Food Co-op with our local food. I may even interview some of our local farmers …and encourage you to go visit their farms, too! You will walk away from this series with your own database of local farms to support – with your family’s food dollars – through Honest Weight Food Co-op!

And, I promise to give you tools to use so that when you shop you’ll be making the very best food choices suited to your own family.

I want to help you become an informed, knowledgeable, can’t-pull-the-wool-over-my-eyes co-op Member-Owner, supporter & shopper, and food advocate, so that every single dollar you spend on food for your family grants you the possibility of positive changes in health, well-being, vitality, wellness and peace of mind.

And, of course, any information you read in these posts is intended as consumer information only and not meant to take the place of consultation with or advice from your doctors or health care practicioners.

So, without further ado, here is Number 1 in my brand new series:

My Food Comes From WHERE?! Oh, there!


My Food Comes From WHERE?! Oh, there! No. 1

Today, let me introduce you to the Cornucopia Institute:

The Cornucopia Institute, through research and investigations on agricultural and food issues, provides needed information to family farmers, consumers and other stakeholders in the good food movement and to the media. We support economic justice for the family-scale farming community – partnered with consumers – backing ecologically produced local, organic and authentic food.

Current Cornucopia Institute reports include Carrageenan 2013, Organic Egg Report and Scorecard and Yogurt Report and Scorecard.

Explore the website, read the current reports, and report back what you learned about carrageenan, organic eggs, and commercial yogurts!

The Cornucopia Institute’s April 2016 report on Carrageenan gives thanks to

the thousands of family farmers and their “urban allies” who fund our work with their generous donations.

I like that term: urban ally! Means we are partners! Implies a two-way street, a co-operative arrangement <smile>! So, HWFC Member-Owners, shareholders and shoppers, welcome to being an urban ally to the thousands of local and regional family farms which support and supply our co-op, here in the city of Albany.

Next time we’ll explore The Cornucopia Institute website a little further, introduce you to Dr. Phillip H. Howard, and explore his fantastic infographic about the organic food industry.

Have fun exploring and learning about real, whole food! You’ve just joined the Cornucopia “Good Food Movement” you urban ally, you!


(And please do take a look at my previous post – the book that it is!, you’ll need a pot of tea or coffee to accompany you – GRASSROOTS ACTION and Invasives ARE POWERFUL! Guaranteed to delight gardeners who love exploring botanical books & drawings, and these from the 17th and 18th centuries, as well as from 77 CE [AD]! And that, my dear readers, was a teaser…)

4 thoughts on “GRASSROOTS ACTION: “My Food Comes From WHERE?! Oh, there!” No. 1: The Cornucopia Institute

  1. Sue

    Excellent. I was first introduced to NOFA (and its relatives) from Mark who now lives in Virginia in the 1990’s. He does a lot of work with them now.
    I saw a copy of “the chart” at a register when on Central Ave. Made me do research. All of this stuff is good to know, especially dealing with our UNFI. Thanks a lot for this. I’m always into learning something new! See you all at the GM, if not before.


  2. Joan Ross

    I just discovered that eucheuma seaweed, which is now being used on supplement ingredients lists, is another name for carrageenan.


    1. Laura

      Hi Joan,

      That is a new one on me! Thanks for that info. It is with exactly this kind of sharing of info that we can help each other!

      A “seaweed” ingredient sounds so healthy, doesn’t it? Until you dig a little further. Thanks for the tip!


  3. Pingback: GRASSROOTS ACTION: “My Food Comes From WHERE?! Oh, there!” No. 2: Who Owns Organic – hwfcinfohub

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