Whether it’s jewelry, power tools, or an intimate getaway, Valentine’s Day gifts are typically coupled with delicious chocolate. It makes sense; chocolate is versatile and easily dressed up (a fancy box of flavored truffles or chocolate dipped strawberries) or down (a bag of Hershey’s kisses). Unfortunately, variation also applies to the quality of chocolate, and some of our most popular and beloved chocolate manufacturers—namely Hershey and Mars—use genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
The growing body of studies surrounding GMOs question the health risks and effects, given that they haven’t been proven safe for consumption. As such, GMO Inside, a campaign dedicated to advancing consumers’ rights to know if food is genetically engineered, is demanding that Hershey and Mars either dump the GMOs or explicitly label their products containing them.
According to PR Newswire, Hershey and Mars make up for a whopping 70 percent of US chocolate sales. PR Newswire reports, “The two companies are not shy about their love affair with GMOs; together they spent more than a million dollars to oppose GMO labeling in California in the November 2012 election. Hershey is reported to have spent $518,900 to defeat Prop 37 and Mars spent $498,350.”
Obviously Hershey and Mars worry GMO labels would deter consumers and hurt overall sales. Consider, for example, some of our Valentine’s staples:
Reese’s Peanut Butter filled Hearts (Hershey) contain sugar, soy lecithin, and cornstarch. Hershey Hugs contain sugar, soy lecithin and corn syrup solids. Valentine’s Colored M&M’s (Mars) contain sugar, soy lecithin, cornstarch, and corn syrup. Valentine’s Snickers (Mars) contain soy lecithin, corn syrup, sugar, and partially hydrogenated soybean oil.
For a more complete list of GMO Inside’s “Valentine’s Day Villains,” go to www.GMOInside.org for a helpful shopping aid.
Still, there’s plenty of GMO-free chocolate to be enjoyed. Companies like Green & Black Organic Chocolate and, my all-time favorite, Taza Chocolate, control every step of the chocolate-making process, from bean to bar. Both are available through amazon.com and are excellent for cooking, gifting, and snacking.
With better options available, give your significant other a treat reflective of their quality, and consider breaking up with the GMOs in your chocolate.