GMO- and gluten-free

In the world of buzzword marketing, sometimes “cynical genius” and “jaw-dropping stupidity” look exactly alike. And we have wasted the better part of an afternoon trying and failing to figure out which description applies to whoever decided to slap the “verified non-GMO” label on jars of their Himalania brand pink salt.

We don't mean to insult your intelligence when we point out that “GMO” stands for “genetically modified organisms,” and “organisms” means “living or formerly living things.” Most of the food we eat either consists of organisms — plants, animals, a little fungus consumption among mushroom and truffle fans; or was produced by organisms — milk and honey and similar things.

Other random facts: rocks are not alive. Salt is rock. The rockiness of salt is especially evident in Himalania brand rock pink salt, whose several-thousand-percent markup over regular salt is based on two things: it's pink, due to traces of iron and other minerals; and, they actually sell it in rock form, a jarful of pebbles the size of kiwifruits packaged with a little metal grater for shaving off pieces of rock onto your food.

The ridiculous labeling has been around at least since last May, though we only learned of it recently, presumably because we've been patronizing the wrong (or right) salt vendors. Last year, an irate blogger for Mother Nature News wrote about the Himalania labeling, and pointed out:

Salt is not living. Salt cannot, by definition, be genetically modified. There is no G to M because salt is not an O.

This makes both Himalania and the Non-GMO Project look pretty bad. Himalania could reasonably be accused of deceitful marketing here while the Non-GMO Project appears to have very, very lax standards on how their label is used.

There's grounds for a semantic debate: is it actually “deceitful” to brag that salt is not genetically modified? After all, it isn't a false statement so much as a thoroughly irrelevant one.

Or is it? Maybe there are people who only know “GMO = something to do with food” and “GMO = something supposedly bad,” and are genuinely worried about the possible health ramifications of eating genetically modified NaCl.

So the folks at Himalania perhaps thought, “Well, if we want to sell salt for a higher price per pound than filet mignon, I bet people who worry about alterations to their salt's DNA would go for it” …. which goes back to what we said earlier, how in the world of buzzword marketing, “cynical genius” and “jaw-dropping stupidity” often look exactly alike.

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