Dear Jack: You Spent Your Own Money on a Bag of Non-GMO Potato Chips

Dear Jack: You Spent Your Own Money on a Bag of Non-GMO, Organic Potato Chips

Being raised by two Dave Ramsey followers as parents, I’m sure to some degree, your version of reality might differ from some of your friends and classmates.

This past Saturday, we decided to drive down to one of the Portlandia-type parts of Nashville: 12 South. We had lunch at a place called Sloco; a sandwich shop that specializes in local ingredients.

After we picked out our vegan and vegetarian sandwiches, we each picked out a bag of non-GMO, potato chips; the only brand they carried was one I had never heard of: Deep River Snacks.

Near the end of the meal, you still had half of your bag of chips remaining, yet you asked Mommy and me for another bag.

You insisted, “But I want more for later. I really like these chips. They’re the best chips I’ve ever had.”

We explained to you that if you were willing to spend some of your remaining Christmas gift money on the chips, then that would be fine; but that we weren’t going to spend any more of our family’s budgeted food money on your extra bag of chips.

With little hesitation, you agreed. I walked you up to the counter and you purchased the chips: $1.62.

This sort of amazed me and Mommy.

It seems all you’ve ever spent your own money on has been stuffed animals and a few monster trucks.

But chips? Seriously, they were that good in your mind.

Unsurprisingly, that night for dinner you asked us if you could eat your 2nd bag of chips with your meal.

I figured if the chips really meant that much to you, how could I say no?

This story is so funny to me because I’ve never seen you so passionate about any food item.

And they were just plain chips. Just a few ingredients; potatoes, sunflower oil, sea salt.

Honestly, I’m proud that they were non-GMO (and kosher). That part is surely lost on you.

Good chips are good chips. And sometimes they’re apparently worth spending your own money on.



Dear Jack: Webisodes 16 and 17 of Jack-Man/Adventures in Fish-Sitting

This past week has been very exciting. I published our 2 most recent Jack-Man webisodes…

Dear Jack: Webisodes 16 and 17 of Jack-Man/Adventures in Fish-Sitting

Webisode 16, “Operation GMO Freedom”, featured Nana and Papa’s garden. Papa and I used some of his old karate gear to create the fight between the GMO Monster and the Guardian of the Guardian.

Dear Jack: Webisodes 16 and 17 of Jack-Man/Adventures in Fish-Sitting

My new song, “GMO Monster” was featured:

He is the GMO Monster

We won’t tolerate him any longer

In his DNA there is bug spray

He is the GMO Monster

This generation is catching on

May our gardens grow all natural

Big Pharmacy is the enemy

They’ll do anything for that cha-ching

It’s the 1st Jack-Man webisode to end with “To Be Continued…”  So from there, Webisode 17, “See You Next Fall,” picks up with a chase into the woods, with the main story line taking place on the really cool rock formation there.

Dear Jack: Webisodes 16 and 17 of Jack-Man/Adventures in Fish-Sitting

One of my personal favorite songs I’ve written for the Jack-Man web series is the one featured here, which is the 2nd to feature Mommy singing:

Do you hear the whispers in the forest?

Are we near the creatures who surround us?

Is this kingdom enchanted?

Is this kingdom enchanted?

I sense the serpents and dragons

It’s more than I can imagine

Is this kingdom enchanted?

Is this kingdom enchanted?

Something isn’t kosher here

Something isn’t kosher here

In other news, last week our family began “fish-sitting” for one of Mommy’s co-workers. At first, there were 3 adult guppies. By Day 6, one of them died. By Day 7, there were 2 adults and about 20 babies. Now there’s probably closer to 30.

Apparently, the male adult died and the 2 pregnant adult females began giving live birth (!) immediately after.

I’m guessing that’s not typically what happens when someone asks you to “fish-sit.”

Also, I love your newest works of art. There’s “Alien Bones,” which sounds like a cool alternative rock band. And then there’s your perfect portrait of your panda bear, Pandy.



Unboxing Of Annie’s “Grass Fed” Surprise Package

Last night as I got back from Jacksonville for Toyota’s “Family Reunion Preview”, I noticed there was a box waiting there for me at the door.

I have been expecting a book that I will be reviewing about managing time as a family in the age of smart phones, so I thought that’s what it was. However, this box was bigger and heavier than a box for a paperback should be.

So after using my knife to cut open the box, I found a letter from Annie’s Homegrown. Plus, I felt something sort of cold, and moist, and alive, with the tips of my fingers.

My wife suggested that she film me opening the box; after all, people apparently love “unboxings” these days.

And that’s exactly what happened. What you see in the video below is completely unscripted, unplanned, and unpracticed:

As you can see from this unboxing video, Annie’s sent my son 2 boxes of their new “grass fed, organic, non-GMO” mac and cheese along with a really cool wooden plant holder with live grass to celebrate their new grass fed mac and cheese.

Like I said in the unboxing video, I accept their grass plant as an early housewarming gift; as we are scheduled to close on our new house on January 29th, with our townhouse currently on the market as of this week.

Something I am quick to point out is that I strictly only feature brands and products I believe in.

Unboxing Of Annie’s “Grass Fed” Surprise

Just in the past month, I’ve turned down about $450 in gift cards because between 3 different companies all reaching out to me, wanting me to promote their products on Family Friendly Daddy Blog. However, their products include high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors and dyes, and were obviously not organic or non-GMO.

With that being said, I’ve always proudly believed in Annie’s Homegrown. It’s hard to argue with that non-GMO label on their boxes.

I’m happy for Annie’s and I’m happy to see them growing as a company, finding larger distribution.

Thanks to Annie’s for helping me be able to spread the good word about food without GMO’s and artificial junk!

Experiment: Compare Annie’s Homegrown Ingredients A Year From Now in September 2015

Last night I posted Why I’m Happy About Annie’s Homegrown Being Bought Out By General Mills, to which a friend who actually was instrumental in my own transition from vegetariasm to veganism responded with this comment:

Monica Lang I’m not buying it. Keep a box today and compare the ingredients a year from now.

Actually, I think she’s got an excellent idea! She makes a great point. So I literally am going to do exactly what she suggested…

Experiment: Compare Annie's Homegrown Ingredients A Year From Now

I took close-up pictures of the Annie’s Homegrown products we happened to have in our pantry. (In case you’re wondering, my son is a vegetarian, not a vegan- which explans the mac-and-cheese.)

A year from now, I will take and post pictures of the same products, if available, and compare them for everyone to see.

Experiment: Compare Annie's Homegrown Ingredients A Year From Now

While I definitely could be wrong, and would quickly admit it if I am a year from now, I doubt think General Mills will mess with Annie’s Homegrown’s dedication to keeping their products organic, non-GMO, and free of artificial dyes and flavors.

Experiment: Compare Annie's Homegrown Ingredients A Year From Now

The reason I am confident to say this is because General Mills can’t afford to “Monsanto-size” their newly acquired product line. The whole point in them acquiring Annie’s was because they know how much money a market we organic/non-GMO consumers shell out each year.

Experiment: Compare Annie's Homegrown Ingredients A Year From Now

If they General Mills changes Annie’s ingredients, then people like me would simply start buying products of other food companies who do still have integrity.

I believe General Mills will make the right decision- not from the heart, like Annie’s always has, but because of the bottom line; it’s directly related to them making a profit.

So, let’s watch together how this works out. None of us can know for sure until September 2015.

See ya in a year!

Experiment: Compare Annie's Homegrown Ingredients A Year From Now

Actually… please come back before then. I just mean, I’ll do a follow-up post on this in September 2015.

Why I’m Happy About Annie’s Homegrown Being Bought Out By General Mills

This week on Facebook, Annie’s made it public that they have been purchased by General Mills (for $820 million):

Hi Annie’s Fans,Today we announced exciting news that Annie’s will join General Mills. We are thrilled because this opportunity will fuel Annie’s future growth and allow us to more rapidly expand our line of high quality, great tasting products made with organic and natural ingredients that you’ve come to love over the last 25 years. So what does this combination mean for you, our loyal fans? Expect to see Annie’s in more stores, in more categories and in more varieties.Annie’s has never been a company that compromises on its values. With General Mills’ support, we will stay true to our mission and committed to doing well by doing good. We remain dedicated to real food; simple, organic, non-GMO and natural ingredients; a clean planet and sustainable business practices. These values are part of our DNA and they will remain so.

Thanks for being a loyal Annie’s fan and celebrating this new chapter in our story.

John Foraker
Annie’s CEO

Since then, the current CEO, John Foraker, has assured Annie’s supporters that Annie’s integrity will remain intact:

I want you all to know that our mission, culture, and values and the things we stand for will remain the same. We’ll continue to make the same great products, more of them actually, using ingredients we are proud of, business practices that are respectful of the environment, and that make our planet a better place. We’ve spent 25 years building trust with consumers, one interaction at a time. We will continue to do that. Count on it. I always ask people to listen to what we say, but more importantly, watch what we do! We will not let you down! Our mission: We cultivate a healthier, happier world by spreading goodness through nourishing foods, honest words and conduct that is considerate and forever kind to the planet. that mission is hard won and has been built with integrity. We will never abandon it, but rather we will further it, by putting our product into millions of new homes, which will expand our positive impact even more. I have given 15 years of my life to that mission and I am not stopping now. Best, John, Annie’s CEO

In the past couple of days, I have observed the astonishment from many (but not most) Annie’s fans online, that a company like Annie’s that has pushed for mandatory government labelling of GMOs, would join forces with a company like General Mills that is known for investing money to keep mandatory GMO labels off their food products.

Why I’m Happy About Annie’s Being Bought Out By General Mills

However, that doesn’t personally bother me.

I’m simply neutral on that- I don’t see why we need the government to force companies to label whether or not their products contain GMOs.

Here’s why:

The free market will decide anyway. As long as Annie’s packaging continues to advertise itself as “non-GMO,” and that it contains no high fructose corn syrup, or artificial dyes or flavors, and it’s organic… I will continue buying Annie’s- even if it is actually now a division of General Mills.

Because I’m not caught up in the war against labelling. I represent the Annie’s fans who are actually happy for Annie’s products getting better distribution and more opportunities to get their higher quality products to the mainstream.

For those of us who are passionate about avoiding GMOs in our food, we already check for the voluntary non-GMO label on food when we are shopping.

We also know that if a company doesn’t make a deliberate effort to make it known that there are indeed no GMOs in their food, then it must be assumed their food indeed contains GMOs.

Any company that is catering to non-GMO consumers would be stupid not to flash it all over their packaging and advertisements.

Based on what the CEO of Annie’s is telling everyone on Facebook, it sounds like he’s promising that Annie’s will continue to be dedicated to staying organic, non-GMO, and free of high fructose corn syrup, artificial dyes and flavors.

If not, he knows that families like ours would stop buying Annie’s. However, I truly do not believe that will be the outcome.

Why I’m Happy About Annie’s Being Bought Out By General Mills

Here’s why:

A huge company like General Mills sort of needs Annie’s at this point. Influential food bloggers like Food Babe are educating the general public about how unethical GMOs are.

She has been helping to inform Americans about GMOs in Cheerios, for example.

The result? General Mills gave in to the pressure, announcing their plans to start making Cheerios without the GMOs.

It appears General Mills is already losing enough money to Annie’s. It’s apparently cheaper, easier, and more efficient to just join Annie’s efforts than to try to beat them.

But… they know to be taken seriously, they have to continue the “organic, non-GMO, no high fructose corn syrup, no artificial flavors or colors” commitment that Annie’s is known and respected for.

I am remaining completely optimistic. This means that snacks that are organic, non-GMO, and have no high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors or colors will be integrated into the mainstream even more.

Personally, I’m happy about the buy-out. I’m cool with just the voluntary food labels; ones that are not mandated by the government.


I say, let the free market decide. I say, celebrate the good news that Annie’s products will be more accessible (and possibly more affordable) to those who wouldn’t normally consider buying Annie’s food and snacks.

The way I look at it, it’s what on the inside (no GMO’s) that matters, not the outside (government-mandated labels).

4G Equipped 2015 Buick LaCrosse: Labor Day Weekend Family Friendly Review

As I mentioned in The New (and Younger) Buick, Equipped with 4G and OnStar, our family had the privilege of getting to review the 2015 Buick LaCrosse over Labor Day Weekend.

4G Equipped 2015 Buick LaCrosse: Labor Day Weekend Family Friendly Review

I had my wife take notes of the comments our family made during the trip about the vehicle.

She personally was impressed that the car was even roomier on the inside, compared to how it looks from the outside.

4G Equipped 2015 Buick LaCrosse: Labor Day Weekend Family Friendly Review

And speaking of the outside, everyone we encountered over Labor Day Weekend all made the same comment: “Wow, what a beautiful car!”

Perhaps I was most impressed by how quiet the LaCrosse is, despite its power (3.6 L, SIDI V6).

4G Equipped 2015 Buick LaCrosse: Labor Day Weekend Family Friendly Review

Seriously, I had to keep reminding myself that it wasn’t an electric car. But looking back to my most recent trip to GM’s headquarters, I remember them mentioning how much attention and effort they put into making sure that Buicks are notably quiet- sort of like a trademark.

4G Equipped 2015 Buick LaCrosse: Labor Day Weekend Family Friendly Review

But of course I also loved having not only 4G Wi-FI in the vehicle, which enabled my son to learn about his ABC’s on my wife’s Kindle for a good amount of the trip, but also the access to OnStar.

4G OnStar 2015 Buick LaCrosse

I love OnStar! I really appreciate being able to have an instant human helper to assist me while I’m driving. I’m not the best multi-tasker, so having OnStar is extremely helpful to me.

From here, I want to finish up by doing the modern day equivalent of how people use to share photos with captions written on the back, to tell you about their trips.

4G OnStar 2015 Buick LaCrosse

We left our house in Nashville on Saturday morning and begin our journey. The shot of the highway above was where Jack proclaimed, “I see Lake Tahoe!” (We went there earlier this summer.)

First stop: My own grandparents’ house in Chattanooga.

4G OnStar 2015 Buick LaCrosse

Next we headed to Whole Foods, using OnStar of course, to enjoy a nice plant-based lunch.

4G Equipped 2015 Buick LaCrosse: Labor Day Weekend Family Friendly Review

4G OnStar 2015 Buick LaCrosse

After that we made our way to my hometown on Fort Payne, Alabama; where we chilled out for a while at a Labor Day get-together.

Jack and I enjoyed discovering the awesome playground, pretending to be pirates.

4G OnStar 2015 Buick LaCrosse

For a year now, since I’ve been regularly been reviewing cars, I’ve been wanting to take Jack to Desoto Falls in Mentone, AL.

DeSoto Falls Mentone AL 4G OnStar 2015 Buick LaCrosse

I made it work… It started raining as soon as we got there and stopped raining the moment we got back to the Buick.

DeSoto Falls Mentone AL 4G OnStar 2015 Buick LaCrosse

Oh well, Jack loved it. Plus, it didn’t rain hard enough to mess up my camera while we took some fun pictures.

For his nap time, Jack had an interesting request…

Dear Jack: Reading Bedtime Stories With A Scream Mask On

For me to read his story to him while wearing a scary mask!

(See the full story: Dear Jack: Reading Bedtime Stories With A Scream Mask On.)

We definitely had a fun road trip in the 2015 Buick LaCrosse! Before we left, we loaded up the trunk, full of produce from my parents organic, non-GMO garden to take back to our home in Nashville.

I hope you enjoyed learning about the 2015 Buick LaCrosse! Thanks for reading this week’s car review. I wonder what we’ll be driving next?…

2015 Buick LaCrosse- Premium

As shown: $42,240.00.

Fuel economy: 21 MPG combined/18 city/28 highway

Government 5-Star Safety Ratings:

Overall: 5

Frontal Crash, Driver/Passenger: 5

Side Crash, Driver/Passenger: 5

Rollover: 4

The Difference Between Organic And Non-GMO Foods

September 8, 2013 at 12:18 am , by 

2 years, 9 months.

Dear Jack,

Our family cares about buying organic and non-GMO foods.

To put it lightly, I’m personally not a fan of Monsanto.

In fact, I recently (jokingly?) referred to them as the antichrist and GMO foods as the mark of the beast:

“And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.” [Revelation 13:17]

A good amount (that’s an understatement!) of the food bought or sold in America is GMO and not organic.

What’s the different between non-GMO and organic foods?

To put it simply, non-GMO (“GMO” stands for “genetically modified organism”) means that a company (like Monsanto) has not synthetically interfered with the seed of the food to fit a uniform, worldwide model.

If the food is organic, it means that chemicals and additives (like pesticides and fertilizers) were not used in the process of the food being grown.

Yes, a food product can be one without the other. I think of it this way: “Non-GMO” refers the the seed, “organic” refers to what happens to that seed once it is planted in the ground.

So how can we know which of our foods are both non-GMO and organic?

We’re definitely not waiting on the government to force companies to label their products…

Instead, we’re paying our respects (and money) to the food brands out there who not only have organic and/or non-GMO products, but who are smart enough to label their products that way, so that families like us know to buy them.

We’re not putting our blind trust and health in the hands of companies who use chemicals and synthetic modifications to “make” their foods.

We prefer our foods the way God intended them to be, instead.

And by now, enough people are passionate enough about this, like we are, that it’s getting easier to identify the labels for non-GMO and organic.

So we look for the “Non-GMO Project Verified” logo with the butterfly and the circular USDA Organic logo. We try to buy those options as much as possible.

We can’t stop non-organic, GMO foods from being sold. But we can certainly choose to buy the alternative. By alternative, I mean, the original.