"NO2GMO: Organic Revival" took place on Saturday at photography studio JoMar Visions, located in the back of Hardy and Nance Street Studios.
The art, film and food event was held to raise awareness about GMO (genetically modified) foods -- how they were started, why they can be dangerous, their possible consequences and their organic alternatives.
"NO2GMO" was hosted by Houston's own Brangelina, Mark Roden and Joana Esteves, collectively known as JoMar of JoMar Visions. The pair has recently started hosting activism-based events.
"It's very dear to us," said Esteves. "We like to mix art with awareness."
Roden originally wanted to host an event among friends. However, as he started collecting more and more facts about GMO foods, he decided to make it open to the public. "NO2GMO" is the first in a monthly art and awareness series the pair plans to host.
JoMar Visions was transformed into a hippie activist's dream for the event. Bumper stickers proclaiming, "If love isn't free, then what is it?" and "Drug abuse is bad, the drug war is worse," lay strewn on a table to the side. There was plenty of reading material for the vegan and hemp-friendly, presided over by a sweet young woman with green dreadlocks who nearly ran ragged trying to debit us the copy of "Sistah Vegan" we had our eyes on. If hungry, guests could nosh on a healthy spread of fruits and veggies located at another table in the rear of the mini gallery.
There was plenty of art on view. Lori Miglioretti's sea-themed Neptune's Calamari and Coral Kingdom paintings of underwater life and the animal kingdom were done in seaweed greens and freshwater blues. Howie Doyle's tree paintings, created with multicolored dots and a black background, had a "tree of life" effect.
Artist Mark Elmore stood by his small "Art Squared" acrylic pieces displaying various fruits and vegetables painted in oil. The avocados, pears, apples, watermelons, tomatoes and more looked quite realistic.
"These are all organic, right?" teased Sue Donaldson, a fellow artist and vegan, about the paintings.
The event also featured a screening of "The Future of Food", an investigative look into the controversial practices employed by one of America's biggest food-growing corporations, Monsanto. It was said in the film that the food behemoth created a patent on seeds, starting with the first patented tomato seed in 1983, and from there began to edge out smaller farmers. Not only that, the company was said to have inserted genes into many foods, namely corn, which prompted many gasps from the people watching.
Roden was scared when he learned of the dangers of GMO foods. "Just like poison, it's killing you softly," he said of the foods infused with genes and bacteria to increase their lasting power and resistance to pesticides.
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Said Doyle, "The video really opened my eyes to where our food comes from."
Ways to avoid GMO foods include buying organic produce, shopping at local farmers' markets and partaking in community-shared gardens. Roden and Estevez now have an allotment in an 11-week garden share that delivers fresh, farm-grown, delicious veggies to their front door.
Following the film came a speech by Dr. Ed Dodge of the GMO Awareness Campaign. Accompanied by a slide-show presentation, Dodge's molecular explanation of glucose, sucrose and fructose and the foods most susceptible to GMO's grasp, called the Dirty Dozen, felt more like a chemistry class than the food festival the rest of the day had been. His request to the public to petition their local grocery stores to start labeling GMO foods, as well as his plea to support the Non-GMO Project, was inspiring, however. We even took a letter ourselves.