Cascadian Farms is the organic branch of General Mills, which represents 3% of the company’s total sales. Although as a major food producer General Mills uses a lot of pesticide – which has been directly linked to declining pollinator populations – a new campaign started by the Cascadian Farm branch called “Bee Friendlier” is an encouraging step in the right direction.
Although the #1 thing you can do to help pollinators is plant flowers, they have to be organic! These days most everything is treated – often at the seed level – with pesticide. The pollen the bees gather is poisoned by the pesticide the plant’s seed was rolled in (or sprayed in the large warehouse nursery where it was born). The only surefire way to help and not further hinder pollinators is to plant seeds whose packaging clearly states that zero treatment has been applied.
It’s easy to demonize companies like General Mills for being huge food conglomerates that use pesticides, pay low wages, and destroy the land. But GM and companies like it are products of society, and they directly reflect consumer’s demands: Americans want abundant and cheap food, so the current food system is built accordingly. Now, however, we’re taking a collective pause to reexamine the implications of valuing cost over everything else, and there’s a slow but steady sea change happening.
This “bee friendlier” campaign is a part of that sea change. And so are we! Each of us decides what the system looks like based on where we spend our money. In Ukiah we’re blessed with a year-round farmers’ market, a socially conscious co-op, and a Friedman’s that carries organic seeds. If you could spend 10% of your food budget on local producers, plus a few dollars a year to plant organic flower seeds, you’ll make a bigger impact than you realize on the food system AND the health of your friendly backyard pollinators.