Thoughts on Vermont’s GMO Labeling Law

Vermont has been making the rounds on the Internet in regards to Act 120 regarding the labeling of genetically modified organisms. Most who are in favor are proud of the state for taking a stand. We are in agreement that we should know what we are eating. But has anyone really read the Act?

As with all political documents, someone is usually the scapegoat while those with the power and money are provided loopholes.

Below is quoted directly from the act that can be found by a quick Google search for Vermont Act 120:

 3044. EXEMPTIONS

The following foods shall not be subject to the labeling requirements of

section 3043 of this title:

(1) Food consisting entirely of or derived entirely from an animal which

has not itself been produced with genetic engineering, regardless of whether

the animal has been fed or injected with any food, drug, or other substance

produced with genetic engineering.

(2) A raw agricultural commodity or processed food derived from it that

has been grown, raised, or produced without the knowing or intentional use of

food or seed produced with genetic engineering. Food will be deemed to be as

described in this subdivision only if the person otherwise responsible for

complying with the requirements of subsection 3043(a) of this title with

respect to a raw agricultural commodity or processed food obtains, from

whomever sold the raw agricultural commodity or processed food to that

person, a sworn statement that the raw agricultural commodity or processed

food has not been knowingly or intentionally produced with genetic

engineering and has been segregated from and has not been knowingly or

intentionally commingled with food that may have been produced with genetic

engineering at any time. In providing such a sworn statement, any person may

rely on a sworn statement from his or her own supplier that contains the

affirmation set forth in this subdivision.

(3) Any processed food which would be subject to subsection 3043(a) of

this title solely because it includes one or more processing aids or enzymes

produced with genetic engineering.

(4) Any beverage that is subject to the provisions of Title 7.

(5) Any processed food that would be subject to subsection 3043(a) of

this title solely because it includes one or more materials that have been

produced with genetic engineering, provided that the genetically engineered

materials in the aggregate do not account for more than 0.9 percent of the total

weight of the processed food.

(7) Food that is not packaged for retail sale and that is:

(A) a processed food prepared and intended for immediate human

consumption;

(B) served, sold, or otherwise provided in any restaurant or other

food establishment, as defined in 18 V.S.A. § 4301, that is primarily engaged

in the sale of food prepared and intended for immediate human consumption.

(8) Medical food, as that term is defined in 21 U.S.C. § 360ee(b)(3).

Examining the exceptions, we find that animals are non-GMO even if they have been fed genetically modified feeds or have been treated with genetically modified medications and are not required to be labeled as GMO.

Additionally, we find that products produced with enzymes that are genetically modified do not require labeling. A small search of such products yields a result that is quite shocking – cheese and cheese manufacturing. Therefore a pre-packaged cheese product (such as cheddar) which is manufacturing utilizing genetically modified enzymes is not required to be labeled as genetically modified.

Next, we note that any beverage that is subject to title 7 does not required to be labeled. Title seven is in regard to alcoholic beverages.

And if you go to a restaurant or purchase take out from a restaurant, you will note that all of the foods you purchase are not required to be non-GMO and additionally do not require labeling or any sort of notification as such. Any food to be purchased and consumed on-site is not required to be labeled, including Fair foods and food carts.

Finally, medical food (foods provided to patients that is to be eaten on-site) is not required to be labeled. So those that we are treating to make them better are fed whatever the hospital deems appropriate.

I’m sure some will argue that you cannot be expected to label food that is to be consumed at the point of purchase (restaurant or hospital), but this labeling law clearly is not as ‘positive’ as most are making it out to be.

Those organizations that are deemed important enough to the economy of Vermont have their loopholes – such as local agriculture, cheese, and breweries.

As the manufacturer of a snack food that creates a value-added product utilizing ingredients that are produced by other manufacturers, we are feeling targeted. We do not have the money or the influence to indicate our distrust and distaste for this act as it is written, and joining any organization that is arguing the validity of Act 120 may be cause for many consumers to refuse to purchase our products. Such as what happened with Starbucks and Monsanto who are members of the Grocer’s Manufacturers Association (GMA) – of which the Vermont Grocer’s Association is siding with Starbucks and the GMA in the effort to eliminate the bill. So is the Vermont Grocers Association (and it’s partner, the Vermont Specialty Foods Association) in cahoots with Monsanto just like Starbucks? Are they going to be boycotted by Neil Young, too?

I find that this act is biased and unfair to value-added pre-packaged goods such as ours and many other non-agriculture based products.

I do not mind labeling my products as needed, but I do mind that a certain few (those that fall under the guise of the Dept of Agriculture: vegetable, dairy, and meat farmers and cheesemakers) are NOT required.

If the law is to be effective, then let ALL products be labeled.

I encourage you all to read the Act as it has been accepted by the Vermont legislature and decide if this fair and helps you decide what to eat.

Rex

Crew Chief – Rex’s Outrageous.

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The announcement has been made: Rex’s Outrageous is hitting the Road!

Annette has always said “We should take Road Crew Crunch on the Road!”  Well, for the past 10 months, we have been planning to take Rex’s Outrageous Road Crew Crunch national by hitting trade shows all over America.  We have fully committed to a three year plan!  We sold our house (closed on May 1),  sold most of our personal belongings and we will be heading out to travel across America to spread the news about Road Crew Crunch like a steamroller spreads asphalt.  So far, we are off to a good start!  We were recently featured on the “Made in Vermont” segment of WCAX Channel 3 news.  What a fantastic way to announce our national tour!

Artistic rendition of the wrapped RV and Rig

Although not the real images, this is just an idea of what the rig might look like after it is all wrapped up!What a fantastic way to announce our plans for Rex’s Outrageous!

Click here to see the video: WCAX “Rex’s Outrageous: Made In Vermont”

As the story suggests, we will be wrapping the RV images of Road Crew Crunch – Annette just had the photo shoot the other day for the hi-res shots that will be used on the RV as well as our new packaging.

The new Rex’s Outrageous Corporate Identity

Did I say new packaging?  You bet – we are currently working with Michael Jordan of Ion Designs in Charlotte, VT to enhance the Rex’s Outrageous brand and redesign our packaging.  The results are nothing short of astounding!  But the coolest part has to be the logo . . . we now have a Corporate Identity:

Are we nuts?  Yeah, but that is just how we roll . . . Rex, Annette and the boys in 390 sq ft.

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Are we doing this right?

Every so often, I find it a good exercise to do a Google search on Rex’s Outrageous to see what is out there -

Sometimes what I find is quite funny – like folks trying to recreate Road Crew Crunch.  I feel honored that they would even take the time to try.

Sometimes it is frightening – like coming across a complaint report from the BBB (of which Rex’s Outrageous has an A rating)

Sometimes it is a blast from the past – like the product listing on the Green Mountain Coffee Roaster’s mail order catalog website (where we hold a eight 5 star ratings) or the listing for the episode we were featured on the Food Network’s “Road Tasted with the Neelys”.

And sometimes it is reassuring – just when you need it – like the post on Chris Brogan’s blog called Chocolate Lovers Take Note.

We have been working hard to update our business plan to include our upcoming national tour where we take Road Crew Crunch on the road in the next few months.  In the process of re-evaluating our marketing and branding, I found myself in a funk wondering if we are doing the right thing.  Mr. Brogan seems to think so and I’m going to take his word for it.  Brogan’s blog is ranked #3 of Advertising Age‘s Power 150 blog list, writes a monthly column in Entrepreneur Magazine and has written for Success Magazine as well.  As for his social networks, he has over 197,000 followers on twitter and is in over 75,000 circles on Google+.  People listen to what he has to say.

Here is part of the post on Asphalt and Road Crew Crunch:

“Look at the back of the bag:

Personal Service

There’s a story there. In fact, the whole EXPERIENCE is a story. If you didn’t already click through to Rex’s site, do so, and get the larger story. It’s brilliant.”

I guess I can confidently say that we just might be doing it right.  Thanks for your help Chris!

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Chocolate and beer are good for you?!? I should live forever . . .

. . .  based upon an article posted in the Huffington Post recently.

The article focuses on things that seem bad but research is showing that they may actually be good for you.  The most important slide in this show was on chocolate.

“A review of studies in the British Medical Journal shows that eating chocolate regularly could lower your stroke risk by as much as a third.”

The research does say that one type of chocolate is better than another (dark vs. milk for example).  That is good, because I tend to sample Road Crew Crunch quite often – more often than my dietician may like . . . I call it “quality assurance”!  I’ll have to get her a copy of the research, maybe she’ll get off my back!!

The article finds several things once thought to be hazardous to be somewhat healthy.  Out of 11 items, I find that I utilize 8 on a regular basis.  Some I actively utilize daily – red wine, beer (other than chocolate, certainly my personal favorite), swearing, etc. and I cannot multi-task at all.

Seems like I need to bone up on my fidgeting, funny movies and fevers . . . then I will certainly live forever!

My new life motto:  Damnit, I’m gonna drink beer and eat chocolate slowly while watching funny movies . . . naked.

A chocolate bar and melted chocolate. Chocolat...

Image via Wikipedia

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Limited Edition Holiday Flavors Now Available!

I was afraid to do it to early (but according to other store displays, even last month was not too early . . . ), but our limited edition holiday flavors are now available!

Black Ice 10 oz Bag

Black Ice -

Black Ice

In an effort to make the Girl Scouts blush with envy, we have created Black Ice – the rival to the chemically enhanced Thin Mint  Our all natural concoction includes peanuts, pretzels and all natural rice cereal drenched in an organic spearmint / peppermint oil.  Get your breath of fresh air without even stepping outside!

Mistle-Tow

Mistle-Tow

Mistle-Tow

In 2007, we were asked to produce a product for a movie set. The movie was called Moonlight & Mistletoe and stared Tom Arnold and Candace Cameron Bure and was produced for the Hallmark Channel.  The filmmakers were looking for as many mistletoe related products as they could find.  Mind you, this was a Christmas holiday film and it was being filmed in Chester, VT in the middle of August!  Needless to say, after a little thinking, it crossed 0ur minds that we needed the product to have red, green and white to match the holiday season and mistletoe theme and yet still retain the Road Crew touch.

So we took pistachios (green), dried cranberries (red) and an all natural rice cereal (white) and drenched it in white chocolate (more white!).  Add a tow truck with a wreath hanging off the rear and you get Mistle-Tow!

The flavor?  Ho, Ho, MY!  This stuff is GOOD!  The long nut flavor life of pistachio hangs with the sweetness of the white chocolate until you hit a cranberry – boom – a blast of tart citrus flavor!  It makes your tongue yell to do it all again!  It’s so good we had to put a caution label on it!

Dig in while you can because after Christmas is over, so is Mistle-Tow  – until next year!

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Dig In so VT can Dig Out!

We’ve been lucky here in Jericho, VT as hurricane Irene did not lay her hands on our town, but just cried a little rain.  But she cried quite a bit in other towns, and rivers overflowed with tears and tore our state apart.  The stories are the same and the pictures are heartbreaking.

We have a booth at the Champlain Valley Fair in Essex, VT (another VT town spared the destruction) and have spoken hundreds of Vermonters.  All are shocked and saddened by the aftermath of Irene.  I was unable to reach our facility in Richmond Vermont until yesterday.  Again, we were spared, but others in low-laying areas were not.  Richmond Village was a scene of neighbors helping neighbors remove sopping wet belongings and furniture from homes, while farmers pump lakes of water from their fields.

In an effort to help those whose losses are extreme, Rex’s Outrageous will donate 10% of all sales of Road Crew Crunch from the Champlain Valley Fair (as well as orders placed on www.rexsoutrageous.com by 9/5) to the Vermont Disaster Relief Fund (www.vermont211.org).  100% of all funds will be utilized to support survivors with unmet long-term needs post-Irene.  Visit us in the center of the Miller South building at the Fair or place an order on our website.  Get Diggin’ In so VT can Dig Out!

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As if our plate was’t full enough . . .

Fletcher Granite Co. in c. 1907

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I can actually say that I am glad we do not have cable TV . . . there is just no time to watch it . . .

We run a somewhat successful food manufacturing business without any help from employees.  We process 500 to 1,000 lbs. of chocolate per month yielding anywhere between 2,000 to 4,000 bags of Crunch per month (that includes label printing, putting labels on bags, producing the Crunch, and filling bags).  In addition, I have been doing two arts & crafts shows per month traveling throughout the New England and Mid-Atlantic states.

At night, after the boys hit the sack, our evenings are generally spent show planning, production planning, answering emails, and talking about growth plans for the business.  I’m usually in bed no earlier than 2 am.

Oh, yea – speaking of boys, we home school the lot of them.  Yes, you might think we are crazy, but we have the opportunity and flexibility to do so.  It is no picnic, mind you.  We continually tell folks that are contemplating homeschooling that you really have to love being around your kids – because they are around All Day and All Night.  Personally, I love my kids and wouldn’t have it any other way.

So when the topic of building our own production facility for Road Crew Crunch came up, I was wary.  But after a few evenings spent scouring the real estate guides and websites for commercial grade kitchen space, building our own seems to be the only way we can grow as kitchen space in Vermont is virtually non-existent. Continue reading

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