It's Not Over: Living the Prop 37 Lifestyle

Calculator at Food Stand | Photo: Marshall Segal/Flickr/Creative Commons License

Losing an electoral bid is like suffering a broken heart. The immediate aftermath of the loss is generally met with finger-pointing and scapegoating as to what went wrong, who was at fault, and why the message failed. But after a little soul-searching and meditation, it's time to pick yourself up off the ground, wipe the dirt off your hands, ice the bruises, and get back in the game. Sometimes that means getting a bunch of people to sign a number of hilarious online petitions to secede from America. But other times it means simply seeing the loss as merely the first round of the fight, and getting ready for the second.

This is what's happening with Prop 37.

The proposition was thought, by some, to be a piece of bellwether legislation -- if this prop passed it would signal a rash of similar bills throughout the country, with states one by one agreeing to label GMOs until the entire country was doing such. But with the loss of the proposition, there's been a lot of second-guessing as to whether or not this kind of labeling is actually something destined to happen, or if it's heading for one of those grand ideas simply lost in the margins of history books, the food version of the electric car.

Thing is, you can live your own Prop 37.

As pointed out by this article over at Grist.org, while the GMO-labeling bill failed to reach the requisite percentage of votes in California (reasons which have plenty to do with the Yes on 37 people's failure to get the right message out there), there's a way that GMO labeling is being taken from the government and given to the people. For instance, the fine folks over at Real Food Calculator:

For four years, from coast to coast, students have created, piloted, and refined the Real Food Calculator, the most meticulous assessment tool for food procurement available. The qualifications of "real food" are stringent and precise, utilizing strong third-party certifications and going the extra step in verifying source agricultural and labor practices. GMOs are outright prohibited from counting under any of the calculator's four categories: community-based, fair, humane, and ecologically sound. The calculator's criteria actually enact Prop 37 on an institutional basis -- with it, students are literally taking Prop 37 into their own hands.

This piece has taken over the Internet by storm, getting liked and re-tweeted and posted on Facebook, spreading the word and bringing to light the work the students are doing, showing that simply because Prop 37 failed to pass doesn't mean that the movement is over. Change can be enacted from outside the electoral system. The only problem is that, currently, the Real Food Calculator only works on schools. It's time to broaden that a bit.

Using their template, it's time to create a crowd-sourced website that will allow for consumers of all levels to label the GMOs themselves. Throw that sucker on a smartphone app to allow shoppers to take a photos of their groceries, upload it to a database, and immediately get data on the GMOs in the item -- a virtual label, if you will -- and bam, you got yourself a million-dollar idea.

Now, do I know the specifics for how this kind of thing will work? Of course not! I am but an idea man. So get to work, programmers and webbies. Prop 37 can be an actual reality with only a few lines of code.

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About the Author

Rick Paulas has written plenty of things, some of them serious, many of them not, scattered over the vast expanses of the Internet. He lives in Los Angeles and is a White Sox fan.
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