Keeping It Real

A quiet revolution has been occurring in our country of late. Citizens are rebelling against processed foods and choosing to consume more natural and simpler fare that has been less touched by modern science. The general term for it is clean eating and it includes many basic food principles followed by our ancestors. One of the current hot topics is the inclusion of genetically modified organisms or GMO’s in our food. The use of genetic modification to seek desired characteristics in plants and animals began in 1972. It has now reached epic proportions and so has the controversy around it.

In truth, this debate has been getting louder and louder in recent years. The shouts at times, are deafening with one side claiming that GMO’s are bad for us and for the environment, and the other side arguing that to feed the world we must make food more plentiful and disease resistant.

What are the benefits to permitting GMO’s? For one, GMO plants are now resistant to pests. Monsanto created alfalfa seeds that create their own insecticide. A genetically engineered papaya from Hawaii is resistant to virus damage. Soy is the most prolifically engineered crop. It has been altered to be disease resistant, to increase production per acre and to contain higher levels of healthy fatty acids. Other plants have been bred to stand up better to harsh climates, or to become drought resistant. One can see why these alterations could be highly beneficial to the producers.

How common are GMO’s in the US? The answer is very and becoming more so all the time. Here are the percentages of some common crops that are genetically modified:

Canola (90%)

Corn (88%)

Cotton (90%)

Papaya (Most of Hawaiian crops)

Soy (94%)

Sugar beets (95%)

Zucchini and yellow summer squash (approx. 25,000 acres).

Soon… salmon, chicken and beef will be added to this list

For many consumers the prospect of consuming GMO food is frightening and maybe especially so because we don’t know which foods are GMO. The US has taken the position thus far that they need not be identified on the label .

We used to label our non-GMO products and now continue to support companies that are transparent in their non-GMO practices.. I think you’ll be surprised how many products are genetically modified.


Keeping It Real — 33 Comments

  1. You have just gained a new customer! I live in Royal Oak and your Berkley location is definitely not the closest grocery store to me but I’m happy to travel the extra distance to support you. Thank you for caring about your customers!

  2. GMO foods are bad for our bodies! It is great that someone is willing to state that fact on our foods. We put many other things on labels, this is another thing companies like Monsanto are trying to hide from the public.

  3. Jim Hiller, you are brilliant.GMO foods have been shoved down our throats, because of no labeling.
    Thank you for giving your loyal customers the information they need to help make it easy to buy non-GMO products and support the natural food industry. GMO movie Genetic Roulette, by Jeffery Smith very helpful
    in explaining the dangers of GMO.

  4. Thank you for doing this for your customers. I will happily shop at your Northville store. I think some people dont realize what a GMO really is. It is great to get the word out and get people talking and learning more on this topic.

  5. I heard Jim on this weeks commerical on the radio. Talking about the labeling of GMO products. I do shop at Hillers, but will never shop any other stores again. Thanks Jim, this is a great service you are doing for all of us.

  6. Thank you Jim. I’m in NY and would love to see at least one of the big names in supermarkets do what you just did. GMO’s have to be removed from existence. The only way is at the market level, create demand for non GMO. Thanks again.

  7. Thank you. I’m very encouraged by this gesture from Hiller’s. please Jim, don’t let us down by later giving in to big agri-business who clearly is beihind this move toward “franken-food”.

  8. All farming since the dawn of agriculture circa 10,000 years ago has been the result of genetic modification, most of it the result of trial-and-error via selective breeding.

    Accordingly, it pains me to note such wide proliferation of paranoia. I suggest Hiller’s (and like-minded competition) take the *honest* stance of labeling *every* single corn product it sells, even the “organic” stuff as Genetically-Modified. I further suggest they (try to) market alongside corn products, the *only* bona fide, unmodified species of the genus, i.e., teosinte.

    Personally, I prefer controlled and regulated modification over trial-and-error. I also prefer maximizing yield with minimal ecological impact as the principal means to relieve world hunger.

  9. Thank you. I drive a school bus for DCDS, the Ann Arbor route. All natural non processed food is hugh with me, and after seeing your Ann Arbor store every morning, afternoon and evening, I recently purchased food from that store and am now a sworn Hillers shopper. I actually ate a steak that tasted like a steak for the first time in years, yummy. I now drive from Grosse Pointe to your store every weekend to do my food shopping, and its well worth it. Can’t really afford the gas, but can’t afford not to get the food that is best for my body either.

  10. This is wonderful! Thanks so much for doing this. You are so smart to be ahead of the game on this very important issue. GMO crops are bad for our bodies, not just because of the unnatural genetic modification of gene splicing of the seeds, which is very different from cross pollination or selective breeding, both of which are done with pollen and not gene splicing, but also because of all the chemicals that are dumped on the fields where these crops grow. Thanks very much Hillers! Whenever I am in Michigan I will only shop at your stores and I will speed the word to all my Michigan family and friends.

  11. Thank you, Jim Hiller and HIller’s Markets! I heard this news on the radio and am including it in the monthly Mindful Eating Newsletter that my Ann Arbor-based committee sends out. I’m encouraging readers to support your stores and believe that you’ll gain at least a few new customers based on the decision to identify non-GMO products in your stores. Knowledge is a powerful tool. Congratulations on making a decision that benefits consumers in such a big way.

  12. Thank you, Jim, for adding yet another reason for shopping at Hiller’s!
    Non GMO food is vital to our health, therefore so is labeling. I have LONG gone way out of my way to get nutrious, non modified foods; it is exciting to see the potential for such foods to come to our neighborhoods, especially for those who can’t / don’t source otherwise year round. It is a community investment that I trust will pay off. Historically, the cycle of “returning to nature” has been a lengthy one.

    A response to “Steve”‘s picture comment: Particularly in comparison to most of the current commenters, Jim does not appear to be convinced of the need for non GMOs, nor necessarily of labeling, HOWEVER, in true traditional American thinking he is advocating a choice. Therefore, it would seem to me that one could also construe that the Frankenstein represents the perspective of non GMOers as “extreme”. Since it can be (mis)perceived in either direction, doesn’t that mean that the picture is actually “balanced” in Today’s World perspective?
    (Besides, last I knew it was His blog, on His website, of His privately held company.)

  13. THE DEFINITION OF FOOD: Congratulations to Hiller’s for taking this initiative to identify the products that consumers buy as food. We have to define the term ‘food’ and give it a real meaning. Food is the source of nutritional substances but that does not describe the entire role of food in human lives. We use food to develop our social relationships, to find psychological satisfaction in our living experience, to make moral choices as per our customs, beliefs, and religious faith, and food is the medium of our spiritual relationship with our Creator and we use food to thank for our Divine Providence. If food is so important, it makes sense to know as to what is in the food that we buy. Consumers must have the Right to Information and just like the ‘KOSHER’ label, the Non-GMO label will help us to make a choice. In all things, transparency, and public accountability is an important aspect of both Democratic and Corporate Governance.

  14. Thank you to Jim and Hillers for advancing the discussion on GMO vs. non-GMO. Regardless of whether your stance is pro or against the idea of clear labeling is definitely a step in the right direction. I’d also hope to see similar action on COOL (country of origin labeling) for all Hillers produce, again in the spirit of giving consumers a more informed choice.

    @Steve – thanks for posting some interesting articles regarding the various facets of the gmo/non-gmo, organic/non-organic debate. Worth a read even if I don’t agree with all of their contentions.

    One item of note though – I am still not convinced by the assertion that selective breeding = gmo. Selective breeding takes existing traits of a species (which may occur through chance mutation) and artificially promotes them. It certainly doesn’t introduce traits from completely unrelated species as can be the case with gmo. This is however my laymans opinion and probably calls for further education on my part.

    Also the other articles you cite make the good point (if slightly off topic) that “factory organic” does not equate to what most people would want/hope organic farming to involve. I would suggest that others read Michael Pollen’s “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” for a great discussion of the subject.

    Again thanks Jim for simulating some debate on this subject.

    • You’ll find (and this has been true for at least a couple years) the Country of Origin marked on signs by every product in the produce department.
      Selective breeding is not GMO. GMOs are the results of genetic engineering, involving biotechnology, using techniques like molecular cloning, gene targeting and others.

  15. Thanks Jim for your initiative to keep the public informed about products. I appreciate the fact that you want to give your customers options and want them to make selections based on available information. It is nice to know that someone is taking a stand and making the distinction to mark non-GMO products.

  16. Thank You!! Thank you for caring and offering a service that is not considered mainstream. I go out of my way to purchase organic and real natural (with non-gmo) foods; often shopping at 3-4 different stores per week in order to find what I’m looking for. I usually saw Hillers as a convenience when-needed stop (because I live close), however I will now support your store because of your effort. Cheers to you and your team!

  17. I have been to Hiller’s occassionally… but you better believe with this news of you labeling non GMO foods I will a steady customer from now on.. You just need to expand your Clawson store to make shopping there a bit easier 🙂
    Thank you for these efforts! Way to go Hillers!

  18. Excellent idea! I wish there was a store near me so I could shop there. By the way, products labeled organic are allowed to contain any GMO’s. Comment must have been made by a Monsanto employee paid to leave false information on websites.

  19. Thank You Jim! Not only for having the balls to do your part in fighting this freak show of food, but also for taking out ad time for your commentary on the subject that (had I not got stuck in traffic, would probably not have been in the car to hear) I thankfully heard.

    I have to admit that I’ve heard of Hiller’s markets but have never shopped there. I will now be driving the extra 10-20 miles to shop at your store, both to invest my & my family’s health along with your store & brand.

    By coming forward, I hope this will now finally sink into the main stream of humanities heads, and the rest of us won’t automatically be dismissed as conspiracy theorist crackpots!!

    And kudo’s for walking the walk to prove that occasionally, some of the individuals on this planet come forward and take the saying ‘with power comes great responsibility, seriously. I can’t thank you enough for giving the rest of us mere mortals enough information so that we CAN make an informed decision! And I can only hope other’s follow your lead, I will be spreading the word, posting this on FB, and Hell, I’ll even drag along friends & relatives when I can, and once they see what is and what isn’t NATURAL

    i.e. the plant isn’t Monsanto’steined to have be able to produce it’s own freaking round up, that’s spliced into it’s DNA, let alone the talk I’ve heard about them splicing the plants with vaccines, and scientists wonder why the bees are dying!?

    God Bless You

  20. I’ve been sitting on the sidelines since my initial posts last month, waiting to see what kind of *reasoned* response they might elicit. I guess I can cease waiting at this point.

    Suffice it to say that if Hillers truly had the courage of their convictions, they would simply cease selling all GMO foods entirely (instead of re-directing customers to, ahem, more expensive, organic options).

    So, is Hillers motivated by cynical fear-mongering or cognitive dissonance?

  21. P.S. First of all, it strikes me as sadly laughable that my viewpoints seemed to have elicited at least one member of the tin-hat society to infer that I might be personally involved in a conspiracy with Monsanto. LOL. My full name is Steve Podvoll, I work in the automotive industry, and I invite personal correspondence on the subject of GMO foods or any manner of pseudoscientific twaddle.

    P.P.S. to paraphrase Adlai Stevenson, I have tried to write about evidence and facts in this debate… and this has sometimes been a lonely road, because I never meet anybody coming the other way.

  22. I really appreciate that you plan on labeling all GMO’s and Non-GMO’s in your store because I believe all consumers have the right to know what they are eating and a choice at the cash register. So, thank you Jim! However, you never mention any problems with GMOs–you only listed benefits. Here is a great article outline some concerns about GMO’s that everyone should be aware of. Please take a moment to read it, I think everyone can benefit from it!

  23. Thank you for your decision to label non-GMO foods! Consumers / eaters have a right to know and choose what they want to eat and feed their families. The food system benefits from greater transparency.

  24. That was an interesting article Sara. Thank You for posting the link. I just looked into and started the Paleo Diet. It appears more of a lifestyle than a diet. However, the theory and thinking behind it caught my attention. “The Paleo Diet, the world’s healthiest diet – is based upon eating wholesome, contemporary foods from the food groups that our hunter-gatherer ancestors would have thrived on during the Paleolithic era, or Stone Age”. No GMO’s, no chemicals, no biological nothing. All the steroids that we ingest, is it any wonder people have anger issues (roid rage). Mr Hiller, Thank You for giving us a choice. Something the Government doesn’t want us to have. Oh, by the way, I support the 2nd Amendment also.

  25. Speaking of big, bad, modern agriculture vs. “natural” living like the paleo diet: have you ever noticed how our life spans have been getting progressively shorter over time and how our child mortality rates keep increasing?

    Me, neither.

    But, for those who aspire to achieve the typical life expectancy of a paleolithic hunter-gatherer… really?!!!

  26. The diet that I’m embracing is more of the lean meat, grass fed, no hormone or chemical type of diet. It has carbs, fat, cholesterol and a bunch of other “good” stuff. The difference is the quality of the food. Portions are the same, meals are the same, sans the processed foodstuff.
    Do you think that if our ancestors had access to modern medicine, housing and less predatory creatures and violent neighbors, they would have lived longer..?

  27. Sorry for the delayed reply, Ken. I admit that the other factors you cite, modern medicine, housing, etc., certainly contribute to our greater life spans. However, life spans have continued to increase, infant mortality rates have continued to decline, all throughout the era of modern medicine,

    As for the paleo diet specifically, we should bear in mind that our progress from pack animals to builders of cities occurred as a result of organized agriculture.

    One more article for those who remain paranoid of GMOs: “Why Organic Advocates Should Love GMOs” at

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