We’ve been following the GMO saga quite closely for the last few years. Genetically modified ingredients are found in hundreds of thousands of food products in the US. That’s because the majority of corn, soy, and sugar beets in America are genetically modified. These three ingredients, in some form or other, are present in many foods.
While the scientific community continues to bicker as to the long term safety of genetic modification, many consumers are fighting for the right to know if their food contains GMOs, via product package labels. At the same tine, several big food companies are spending millions to halt labeling initiative.
There are, however, companies that are more forward looking and believe that customers have a right to know what is in the foods they eat and feed their families. One such company is cereal manufacturer Barbara’s (formerly known as Barbara’s Bakery). We sat down with Katrina Yolen, Director of Marketing at Barbara’s to learn about the changes the company went through to become certified Non-GMO.
Fooducate: How long has Barbara’s been in business?
Yolen: Barbara’s was founded in 1971 by 17-year old Barbara Jaffe in Palo Alto, California. Barbara was passionate about creating great-tasting food without refined sugar or artificial additives or preservatives. She actually started baking breads, but as the company grew into a successful wholesale business, the focus shifted mostly to breakfast cereals.
Fooducate: When did Barbara’s decide to go non-GMO?
Yolen: Several years ago, in a survey of our most frequent purchasers, we learned that 90 percent of them wanted their cereals and snacks to be GMO-free. Without choosing sides on the science of GMOs or their impact on human health, we realized that many consumers are truly concerned about long term effects of GMOs. Our customers have expressed a strong interest in purchasing GMO-free foods and we’ve always listened closely to the desires of our loyal fans.
Fooducate: How long did it take you to become Non-GMO Project Verified?
Yolen: The path to earning Non-GMO Project Verification isn’t easy. The process can take several months or years depending on many factors including how many products a company enrolls, the number of ingredients in a product and the level of evaluation required for each ingredient. Barbara’s has made this a top priority and invested heavily in the pursuit, and we’ve come a long way in a short time. Currently 30 of our 37 products are Non-GMO Project Verified, up from just 1 product 3 years ago.
Fooducate: Has sourcing non-GMO ingredients been a challenge?
Yolen: After enrolling our products in the certification process, we learned that 40 percent already met the rigorous standards set by the Non-GMO Project. However, with other products, we had to find new ingredient suppliers which included sourcing from the United States, Canada, Europe and Latin America. This is not always easy, and it takes time. We anticipate earning verification for additional products in the months ahead with the ultimate goal of reaching 100 percent verification.
Fooducate: Why Puffins?
Yolen: Barabra’s has been committed to making a positive contribution to the world with donations to non-profit organizations. One such program is the National Audubon Society’s Project Puffin program, celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, which promotes responsible stewardship of puffin colonies on historic nesting islands in the Gulf of Maine.
Fooducate: Thank you.
Want to win a year’s worth (24 boxes) of Barbara’s cereals?
- Scan the barcode of any Barbara’s cereal
- Each scan increases your chances to win
- Contest ends February 28th at midnight PST
- One winner a week will be notified via email