Non-GMO? Non-OMG!

Jeremy Blachman
Jun 7, 2013 · 4 min read

Earlier this year, Whole Foods announced that it would become, according to the New York Times, “the first retailer in the United States to require labeling of all genetically modified foods sold in its stores, a move that some experts said could radically alter the food industry.” And while the non-GMO movement is certainly admirable, we here at Your Neighborhood Grocery Store are instead proud to introduce a label of our own.

Presenting the NON-OMG label, set to be applied to food that is not worth tweeting about, posting on Instagram, pinning on Pinterest, or creating a brand new social network of your own built entirely around your new ordinary, humdrum comestible. It’s a banana. Everyone knows what it looks like. You don’t need to take a picture.

We believe that far more serious than the surge in genetically modified products is the overwhelming number of pointless food-related status updates and pedestrian photos of breakfast cereal being shared online. From a slide show with eighteen pictures of the underside of a slice of pizza to a magnified cross-section of a half-eaten hamburger, this exploding trend is blurring the line between extraordinary food experiences and the everyday consumption of boring, uninspired meals. If your slice of toast looks like the Virgin Mary, fine, you can snap a quick picture. But if it’s just a piece of toast, please, keep your iPhone in your pocket. No one cares that you’re eating toast, and, despite what you may believe, no one needs to see proof.

We hope that our NON-OMG label will help consumers make smarter choices about what foods they choose to photograph and share with friends, strangers, and the entire online ecosystem. And while we have no problem with you eating a hybrid tomato that’s been injected with genes from a buffalo, there is no need for the photo album.

NON-OMG is only the first of a series of labels we’re planning to roll out over the next twelve months to fight what we would argue are far more serious modern food-related threats than some scientist doing experiments in a laboratory.

Following the NON-OMG rollout, we’re pleased to introduce the NSFW label to be applied to food with powerful odors, not suitable for communal workplace environments. Beginning in our tuna fish aisle, we will be tagging appropriate products with this long-overdue sticker-and-lock system, which will only allow your food to be released once three of your coworkers call the number on the tag and type in a special security code. This system will apply to anything crunchy, crumbly, sticky, coated in powdered sugar, commonly allergic, made from fermented, dried fish, or typically consumed in a rotten, foul-smelling state. You can feel free to enjoy these products in the privacy of your own home (although, please, no photos if they are also marked with the NON-OMG label), but there is no place for egg salad, pickled herring, or durian in the office.

These two labels will be joined by our new WTF sticker — which, of course, stands for “What’s That Fuzz?” — to be applied to food that is nearing its expiration date or was improperly stored in our freezers. On these items you should watch especially closely for mold, bugs, or other signs of imminent decay. Once again, if these items are also marked NON-OMG, do not take a picture. While the soft spot on your mango may well be of interest to you as you decide whether or not to eat it, the world does not care. Rapidly ripening mangoes are also generally NSFW due to their odor and juice.

Finally, some selected items in our store will be receiving a YOLO label, for a variety of reasons — after all, “You Only Lunch Once.” Some YOLO selections will be particularly adventurous food that we suggest you might want to try — the previously mentioned durian, for instance. Others will have a combined YOLO/WTF sticker to indicate potential life-threatening microorganisms that may have taken root in the product — but, hey, life is about risk, right? A few items — old, unrefrigerated kimchi, for instance — will proudly display a YOLO/WTF/NSFW/NON-OMG label (label may extend beyond the surface of the package, due to its length), indicating that while eating this item may be worth the risk, you should not do it at work, and you should be sure to avoid taking any photos at all — bacteria may be sensitive to the flash.

While we will continue to stock a wide assortment of genetically modified foods, labeled and unlabeled, FDA-approved and rejected, we hope that our new alternative labeling program will help you make more informed decisions about the food you eat, where you eat it, and how much you discuss it on social media. Roasted beetles are on sale this week in the cereal aisle. #WTF #YOLO #NSFW

Thanks to Kate Lee

    Jeremy Blachman

    Written by

    Author of Anonymous Lawyer and co-author of The Curve ( for even more.

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