Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Ice Cream in Ukraine & GMO

On the streets of Kiev, "fresh Ukrainian ice cream"!
 People in Ukraine seem to love ice cream. I remember it was sold on the streets of Russia year-round, even when it was -20 F outside. Is it the same here or do people limit their obsession to the summertime? One point in favor of ice cream in the summer: air conditioning is very limited and being exposed to a draft (ie, door and window open at the same time, called сквозняк [skvoznyak] and deserving of an entirely separate blog post) is viewed as a deadly risk, so what better way to cool off than with ice cream?
"Stop drug users" "Eskimo" "with poppy seed and sesame"
This is from a local supermarket. If the ice cream isn't labeled as "death by chocolate" (and most Ukrainian ice cream isn't, it's all fruit-based) I can usually resist, but this intrigued me. The ice cream itself was really tasty (speaking of poppy seed, I'd never eaten many until arriving in this country!) but can someone please explain to me the meaning of the marijuana leaves?

Also, if you can make out the ГМО on the upper-right of this ice cream wrapper, that stands for "not genetically modified food". Practically all food here is labeled Без ГМО. I remember teaching a class on nutrition in Alaska, and some students from Ukraine stumped us by asking about non-GMO food in America. I honestly had no idea, nor did any of the other instructors, and we all considered ourselves pretty food-conscious people (high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, etc). Granted, this was 2 years ago, but it just didn't seem to be something most Americans worried about / were aware of. The Ukrainians were very concerned about it and I remember thinking "what's the big deal?" I guess if you're coming from a country where all non-GMO food is clearly labeled, mysterious American products possibly created by scientists in a lab might be a cause for concern. What do you think, my fellow Americans? Are you concerned about genetically modified food? Do you see this kind of information nowadays on food packaging?


  1. I am SO SO intrigued by all of this! I await your posts more than I awaited you and Denis' wine-bottle-visits in days of yore! HOW could I EVER do the 'Siberian Railway' trip...it all sounds so...so....difficult?? Love ya's!!

  2. This "without GMO" label mean nothing. It sticked even on soya-food (whereas over 90% of soya is GMO) and even on bottled water (imagine genetically-modified water!) There was a hype few years ago about this and some politics gained more popularity due to pushing law of about this label. Of course at the expense of consumer who eventually paid the additional expense of sticking this label everywhere.

  3. Actually almost all of europea has a ban on gmo foods. Vermont now makes it manditory that alfoods made from gmo be lable with gmo labeling. Meaning only the foods that have no gmos will have no labeling on front.

    1. Wow! That will be useful for shoppers :) I wasn't really aware of the GMO controversy until getting to Ukraine. I guess Europe was way ahead of us!

  4. GM or GMO is a huge concern for me because of personal health issues. Europe seems much more concerned about it and more educated about it than Americans but I've met many an exchange student who knew nothing about America's lower food standards. It's illegal in the EU to for GM food to be grown for human consumption. In Australia all GM food must be labelled as such but it's still permitted in any product. GMO education is slowly gaining traction in the US but legislation to label the food (not to ban or limit it) has been blocked by lobbying powers for the GMO poster boy Monsanto.