Last updateWed, 27 Sep 2017 1pm

Here are the results of the third annual Best of Coachella Valley readers' poll!

An all-time-high number of people voted in both rounds this year—and the slate of winners and finalists represent all parts of the valley.

Come celebrate the winners with us during the Best of Coachella Valley 2016-2017 Awards Show and Celebration, presented by Renova Solar. It will take place at 5:30 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 7, at Copa Nightclub—this year's Best Nightclub winner.

Thanks to all of you who voted in this year's poll!

Welcome to the Best of Coachella Valley 2016-2017.

—Jimmy Boegle, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



Best Art Gallery

Coachella Valley Art Scene


Runners up:


3. Heather James

4. Melissa Morgan


Best Indoor Venue

McCallum Theatre


Runners up:

2. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace

3. The Hood Bar and Pizza

4. Fantasy Springs Special Events Center

5. The Date Shed


Best Local Arts Group/Organization

Palm Springs Art Museum


Runners up:

2. Coachella Valley Art Scene

3. McCallum Theatre

4. La Quinta Arts Foundation

5. Coachella Valley Repertory Theatre


Best Local Band

Venus and the Traps


Runners up:

2. The Flusters

3. Brightener

4. The Myx

5. War Drum


Best Local DJ

Alf Alpha


Runners up:

2. DJ Day

3. Alex Harrington

4. DJ Pwee

5. Tommy Locust


Best Local Musician (Individual)

Jesika Von Rabbit


Runners up:

2. Nico Flores

3. Keisha D

4. Kal David

5. EeVaan Tre


Best Local Visual Artist

Sofia Enriquez


Runners up:

2. Elena Bulatova

3. Ryan “Motel” Campbell

4. Marconi Calindas


Best Movie Theater

Century La Quinta and XD


Runners up:

2. Camelot Theatres


Regal Palm Springs Stadium 9

Regal Rancho Mirage Stadium 16 and IMAX

5. Century Theatres at the River


Best Museum

Palm Springs Art Museum


Runners up:

2. Children’s Discovery Museum of the Desert

3. Coachella Valley History Museum

4. Agua Caliente Cultural Museum

5. La Quinta Museum


Best Outdoor Venue

Empire Polo Club


Runners up:

2. The Living Desert

3. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace

4. Fantasy Springs Rock Yard

5. Palm Desert Civic Center Park


Best Producing Theater Company

Palm Canyon Theatre


Runners up:

2. Coachella Valley Repertory

3. Desert Rose Playhouse

4. Coyote StageWorks

5. Dezart Performs



Best Alternative Health Center

La Quinta Wellness Center


Runners up:

2. Palm Springs Healing Center

3. Desert Hot Springs Health and Wellness Center


Best Farmers’ Market

College of the Desert Street Fair Farmers’ Market


Runners up:

2. Certified Farmers’ Market Old Town La Quinta

3. Certified Farmers’ Market Palm Springs

4. Palm Springs VillageFest

5. Certified Farmers’ Market Palm Desert


Best Local Activist/Advocacy Group/Charity

Coachella Valley Rescue Mission


Runners up:

2. Palm Springs Animal Shelter

3. Desert AIDS Project

4. LGBT Community Center of the Desert

5. Shelter From the Storm


Best Gym

24 Hour Fitness


Runners up:

2. World Gym

3. EOS Fitness

4. In-Shape

5. Planet Fitness


Best Public Servant

Rep. Raul Ruiz


Runners up:

2. La Quinta Mayor Linda Evans

3. Palm Springs Mayor Rob Moon

4. Palm Springs City Councilman Geoff Kors


Best Yoga

Urban Yoga


Runners up:

2. Bikram Yoga Palm Desert-El Paseo

3. TIE

Evolve Yoga

Yoga Central

5. Bikram Yoga University Village


Best Bowling

Fantasy Springs Bowling Center


Runners up:

2. Palm Springs Lanes

3. Canyon Lanes Bowling at Morongo


Best Auto Repair

Palms to Pines Automotive


Runners up:

2. Desert Classic Cars

3. Desert Lexus

4. L&L Automotive

5. Singh’s Automotive Repair


Best Car Wash

Elephant Car Wash/Rancho Super Car Wash


Runners up:

2. La Quinta Car Wash

3. Indio Car Wash

4. Airport Quick Car Wash


Best Plant Nursery

The Living Desert’s Palo Verde Garden Center


Runners up:

2. Moller’s Garden Center

3. Vintage Nursery

4. Bob Williams Nursery


Best Pet Supplies



Runners up:

2. Bones ’n’ Scones

3. PetSmart

4. Miriam’s Poochella Grooming

5. Desert Feed Bag


Best Annual Charity Event

Evening Under the Stars (AIDS Assistance Program)


Runners up:

2. McCallum Theatre Annual Gala

3. Ramblin’ and Gamblin’ (Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Desert)

4. Dinner in the Canyons (Agua Caliente Cultural Museum)

5. Center Stage (LGBT Community Center of the Desert)


Best Place to Gamble

Augustine Casino


Runners up:

2. Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa

3. Spa Resort Casino

4. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino

5. Spotlight 29


Best Local TV News

KESQ News Channel 3


Runners up:

2. KMIR Channel 6

3. CBS Local 2


Best Local TV News Personality

Ginger Jeffries, KMIR Channel 6


Runners up:

2. Patrick Evans, CBS Local 2

3. Karen Devine, KESQ News Channel 3

4. Bianca Rae, KESQ News Channel 3

5. Gino LaMont, KMIR Channel 6


Best Local Radio Station

Mix 100.5


Runners up:

2. 93.7 KCLB

3. Jammin 99.5 FM

4. K-News 94.3

5. La Ponderosa 96.7 FM


Best Local Radio Personality

Jimi “Fitz” Fitzgerald, CV 104.3 FM


Runners up:

2. Bradley Ryan, Mix 100.5

3. Mozingo, Mix 100.5

4. Bill Feingold, K-News 94.3

5. Dan McGrath, Sunny 103.1 FM


Best Bookstore

Barnes & Noble


Runners up:

2. Rancho Mirage Public Library Booknook

3. Revivals

4. The Book Rack


Best Retail Music/Video Store

Record Alley


Runners up:

2. Best Buy

3. Barnes and Noble


Best Comics/Games Shop

Game Stop


2. Desert Oasis

3. Interstellar Comic Books and Collectables


Best Hotel Pool

Ace Hotel and Swim Club


Runners up:

2. Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa

3. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino

4. The Riviera

5. The Saguaro


Best Sex Toy Shop

Skitzo Kitty


Runners up:

2. Not So Innocent

3. Spencer’s Gifts

4. GayMart



Best Clothing Store (Locally Owned)

Bobby G’s


2. Wil Stiles

3. Glossy


Best Resale/Vintage Clothing

Angel View


Runners up:

2. Revivals

3. Gypsyland

4. Penny Lane Boutique

5. Plato’s Closet


Best Furniture Store

Mathis Brothers


Runners up:

2. Revivals

3. Ashley Furniture Homestore

4. Mor Furniture for Less


Best Antiques/Collectables Store


The Estate Sale Co

Victoria’s Attic


Runners up:

3. Misty’s Consignments

4. Classic Consignment


Best Jeweler/Jewelry Store

El Paseo Jewelers


Runners up:

Leeds and Son


Daniel’s Jewelers

Robann’s Jewelers


Best Hair Salon

J. Russell! The Salon


Runners up:

2. Salon 119 and Spa

3. Dishwater Blonde Salon

4. Revive Salon and Spa

5. Read Brown


Best Spa in a Resort/Hotel

Spa La Quinta (La Quinta Resort)


Runners up:

2. The Spa at Desert Springs (JW Marriott)

3. Sunstone Spa at Agua Caliente

4. Agua Serena Spa at Hyatt Regency Indian Wells

5. Well Spa at Miramonte


Best Day Spa (Non-Resort/Hotel)

Massage Envy


Runners up:

2. Desert Zen

3. Studio M Salon and Spa

4. Revive Wellness Center

5. Bliss Chakra Spa


Best Florist

My Little Flower Shop


Runners up:

2. Indio Florist

3. Rancho Mirage Florist

4. Palm Springs Florist

5. Lotus Garden Center


Best Tattoo Parlor


Art and Ink Tattoo Studio

The Tattoo Gallery


Runners up:

3. Flagship Tattoo

4. Adornment Piercing and Private Tattoo

5. Strata Tattoo Lab


Best Eyeglass/Optical Retailer



Runners up:

2. Desert Vision Optometry

3. Milauskas Eye Institute

4. Walmart

5. Old Town Optometry



Best Urban Landscaping

El Paseo


Runners up:

2. Sunnylands

3. Downtown Palm Springs


Best Public Garden

The Living Desert


Runners up:

2. Palm Desert Civic Center Park

3. Sunnylands

4. El Paseo

5. Ruth Hardy Park


Best Place for Bicycling

La Quinta


Runners up:

2. Palm Springs

3. Palm Desert

4. Highway 74

5. Frank Sinatra Drive


Best Recreation Area

Joshua Tree


Runners up:

2. Tahquitz Canyon

3. Whitewater Preserve

4. Lake Cahuilla

5. Coachella Valley Preserve


Best Hike

Bump and Grind


Runners up:

2. Indian Canyons

3. Tahquitz Canyon

4. Palm Springs Museum Trail

5. South Lykken Trail


Best Park

Palm Desert Civic Center Park


Runners up:

2. TIE

Freedom Park (Palm Desert)

Ruth Hardy Park

4. Rancho Las Flores (Coachella)

5. Demuth Park (Palm Springs)


Best Outdoor/Camping Gear Store

Big 5 Sporting Goods


Runners up:

2. Dick’s Sporting Goods

3. Yellow Mart


Best Bike Shop

Palm Desert Cyclery


Runners up:

2. Palm Springs Cyclery

3. Tri-A-Bike

4. Joel’s Bicycle Shop


Best Sporting Goods

Big 5 Sporting Goods


Runners up:

2. Dick’s Sporting Goods

3. Yellow Mart

4. Pete Carlson’s Golf and Tennis

5. PGA Tour Superstore


Best Public Golf Course

Desert Willow Golf Resort


Runners up:

2. PGA West

3. Eagle Falls Golf Course at Fantasy Springs

4. The Golf Club at Terra Lago

5. The Lights at Indio Golf Course



Best Playground

Palm Desert Civic Center Park


Runners up:

2. La Quinta Civic Center Park

3. Ruth Hardy Park

4. Rancho Mirage Community Park

5. Cathedral City Town Square


Best Place to Buy Toys

Toys “R” Us


Runners up:

2. Mr. G’s for Kids

3. Target

4. Walmart

5. Big Lots


Best Kids’ Clothing Store

Old Navy


Runners up:

2. The Childrens Place

3. Tillys

4. Fallas

5. Revivals


Best Restaurant for Kids

Chuck E. Cheese’s


Runners up:

2. Shakey’s Pizza

3. Red Robin

4. Stuft Pizza Bar and Grill

5. Old Spaghetti Factory


Best Place for Family Fun

The Living Desert


Runners up:

2. Children’s Discovery Museum of the Desert

3. Boomers

4. Chuck E. Cheese

5. Desert Ice Castle


Best Place for a Birthday Party

Chuck E. Cheese’s


Runners up:

2. The Living Desert

3. Boomers

4. Lulu California Bistro

5. Desert Ice Castle



Best Casual Eats

Café 54 at Augustine Casino


Runners up:

2. In-n-Out Burger

3. Lulu California Bistro

4. Eureka!

5. Stuft Pizza Bar and Grill


Best Caterer

Lulu California Bistro


2. Lavender Bistro

3. Jennifer’s Kitchen and Catering

4. Dash and a Handful

5. Cello’s Pantry


Best Diner

Keedy’s Fountain Grill


Runners up:

2. Café 54 at the Augustine Casino

3. Elmer’s

4. John’s

5. Rick’s Restaurant


Best Organic Food Store

Trader Joe’s


2. Sprouts Farmers Market

3. Whole Foods

4. Harvest Health Foods

5. Clark’s Nutrition


Best Delicatessen

Sherman’s Deli and Bakery


Runners up:

2. TKB Bakery and Deli

3. Manhattan in the Desert

4. Real Italian Deli

5. Clementine Gourmet Marketplace


Best Custom Cakes


Over the Rainbow

Sherman’s Deli and Bakery


Runners up:

3. Pastry Swan Bakery

4. Manhattan in the Desert

5. Exquisite Desserts


Best Desserts

Sherman’s Deli and Bakery


Runners up:

2. French Corner Café

3. Pastry Swan Bakery

4. Over the Rainbow

5. Manhattan in the Desert


Best Ice Cream/Shakes

Cold Stone Creamery


Runners up:

2. Great Shakes

3. Ben and Jerry’s

4. Brandini Toffee

5. Creamistry


Best Date Shake

Shields Date Garden


Runners up:

2. Hadley’s

3. Great Shakes


Best Frozen Yogurt



2. Beach House

3. Golden Spoon

4. Jus Chillin

5. Eddie’s Frozen Yogurt


Best Bakery

French Corner Café


Runners up:

2. Aspen Mills

3. Over the Rainbow

4. Pastry Swan Bakery

5. Peninsula Pastries


Best Barbecue

Smoke Tree BBQ Bar and Grill


Runners up:

2. Babe’s Bar-B-Que and Brewhouse

3. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace

4. Jackalope Ranch

5. Dickey’s Barbecue Pit


Best Burger

In-n-Out Burger


Runners up:

2. Café 54 at Augustine Casino

3. Tyler’s Burgers

4. Eureka!

5. Smokin’ Burgers and Lounge


Best Veggie Burger

Native Foods Café


Runners up:

2. Eureka!

3. Palm Greens Café

4. Trio

5. Eight4Nine Restaurant and Lounge


Best Sandwich

Sherman’s Deli and Bakery


Runners up:

2. TKB Bakery and Deli

3. The Sandwich Spot

4. Manhattan in the Desert

5. Aspen Mills


Best Pizza

Stuft Pizza Bar and Grill


Runners up:

2. Bill’s Pizza

3. Giuseppe’s Pizza and Pasta

4. Piero’s PizzaVino

5. Blaze Pizza


Best Wings

Buffalo Wild Wings


Runners up:

2. Stuft Pizza Bar and Grill

3. Wingstop

4. Neil’s Lounge

5. Billy Q’s


Best Bagels

Townie Bagels


Runners up:

2. Panera Bread

3. Sherman’s Deli and Bakery

4. Einstein Bros. Bagels

5. Manhattan in the Desert


Best Smoothies

Fresh Juice Bar


Runners up:

2. Jamba Juice

3. Juice It Up

4. Beach House Yogurt


Best Buffet

Café 54 at Augustine Casino


Runners up:

2. Grand Palms Buffet at Agua Caliente

3. Fresh Grill Buffet at Fantasy Springs

4. Oasis Buffet at Spa Resort Casino

5. Potrero Canyon Buffet at Morongo


Best Coffee Shop for Coffee



Runners up:

2. Koffi

3. IW Coffee

4. Vintage Coffee House

5. Ristretto


Best Coffee Shop for Hanging Out



Runners up:

2. Starbucks

3. Old Town Coffee

4. IW Coffee

5. Ernst Coffee


Best Tea

Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf


Runners up:

2. Starbucks

3. Teavana

4. Koffi

5. Ristretto


Best Breakfast

Wilma and Frieda’s Café


Runners up:

2. Elmer’s

3. Spencer’s Restaurant

4. Sunshine Cafe

5. John’s


Best California Cuisine

Lulu California Bistro


Runners up:

2. La Quinta Cliffhouse

3. Zin American Bistro

4. Spencer’s Restaurant

5. Trio


Best Brunch

Pinocchio in the Desert


Runners up:

2. Wilma and Frieda’s

3. Spencer’s Restaurant

4. Louise’s Pantry

5. The Tropicale


Best Chinese

PF Chang’s


Runners up:

2. City Wok

3. Wang’s in the Desert

4. JOY at Fantasy Springs

5. New Fortune


Best Greek

Greek Islands Restaurant


Runners up:

2. Miro’s Restaurant

3. Nina’s Greek Cuisine

4. Koutouki Greek Estiatorio

5. Athena Gyro


Best French

La Brasserie


Runners up:

2. Si Bon

3. Le Vallauris

4. Cuistot

5. Chez Pierre


Best Indian

Monsoon Indian Cuisine


Runners up:

2. India Oven

3. Naan House


Best Japanese

Kobe Japanese Steakhouse


Runners up:

2. Okura Robata Grill and Sushi Bar

3. JOY at Fantasy Springs

4. Shabu Shabu Zen

5. Shogun Restaurant


Best Italian

Mario’s Italian Cafe


Runners up:

2. Ristorante Mamma Gina

3. Castelli’s

4. Trilussa

5. Livreri’s Palm Springs


Best Sushi

Okura Robata Grill and Sushi Bar


Runners up:

The Venue Sushi Bar and Sake Lounge

Shogun Restaurant

Dragon Sushi

Edoko Sushi


Best Seafood

Fisherman’s Market


Runners up:

2. Café 54 at Augustine Casino

3. Pacifica Seafood Restaurant

4. Mitch’s on El Paseo

5. Spencer’s Restaurant


Best Steakhouse

LG’s Prime Steakhouse


Runners up:

2. Ruth’s Chris Steak House

3. Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar

4. TIE

Morgan’s in the Desert

Steakhouse at the Spa


Best Thai

Thai Smile Palm Springs


Runners up:

2. Thai House

3. Pepper’s Thai Cuisine

4. Le Basil

5. Blue Orchid


Best Vietnamese

Pho Vu


Runners up:

2. Pho 533

3. Rooster and the Pig

4. Watercress Vietnamese Bistro

5. Pho Na


Best Vegetarian/Vegan

Native Foods Café


Runners up:

2. Palm Greens Café

3. Nature’s Health Food and Café

4. Luscious Lorraine’s

5. Café Jasmin


Best Upscale Cuisine

Spencer’s Restaurant


Runners up:

2. Wally’s Desert Turtle

3. Le Vallauris

4. Johannes

5. Jillian’s


Best Outdoor Seating

Jackalope Ranch


Runners up:

2. Spencer’s Restaurant

3. Las Casuelas Terraza

4. Lavender Bistro

5. The Tropicale


Best Late-Night Restaurant

Yard House


Runners up:

2. Lulu California Bistro

3. Alicante

4. Smokin’ Burgers

5. Bongo Johnny’s


Best Mexican

La Casita


Runners up:

2. Fresh Agave

3. El Mirasol

4. Rio Azul Mexican Bar and Grill’

5. Casa Mendoza


Best Salsa

Las Casuelas (Original)


Runners up:

2. Rio Azul Mexican Bar and Grill

3. Las Casuelas Terraza

3. Las Casuelas Quinta

5. Felipe’s


Best Burrito

Taqueria Guerrero


Runners up:

2. Castaneda’s Mexican Food

3. Chipotle

4. Rio Azul Mexican Bar and Grill

5. Casa Mendoza



Best Beer Selection

Yard House


Runners up:

2. Burgers and Beer

3. The Beer Hunter

4. Eureka!

5. Babe’s Bar-B-Que and Brew House


Best Local Brewery

Coachella Valley Brewing Co.


Runners up:

2. La Quinta Brewing Co.

3. Babe’s Bar-B-Que and Brew House


Best Place to Play Pool/Billiards

The Beer Hunter


Runners up:

2. Neil’s Lounge

3. Hunters

4. Bart Lounge

5. Score the Game Bar


Best Cocktail Menu

Tommy Bahama Restaurant and Bar


Runners up:

2. The Tropicale

3. Eureka!

4. Mitch’s on El Paseo

5. Trio


Best Gay/Lesbian Bar/Club



Runners up:

2. Chill Bar

3. Hunters

4. The Tropicale

5. Spurline


Best Happy Hour

Stuft Pizza Bar and Grill


Runners up:

2. Applebee’s

3. The Tropicale

4. La Quinta Cliffhouse

5. Mitch’s on El Paseo


Best Dive Bar

The Hood Bar and Pizza


Runners up:

2. Neil’s Lounge

3. Hair of the Dog

4. Red Barn

5. Score


Best Margarita

Las Casuelas (Original)


Runners up:

2. Fresh Agave

3. El Mirasol

4. Rio Azul Mexican Bar and Grill

5. Casa Mendoza


Best Martini

Sullivan’s Steakhouse


Runners up:

2. Mitch’s on El Paseo

3. Mastro’s Steakhouse

4. The Tropicale

5. Trio


Best Nightclub



Runners up:

2. Zelda’s

3. Hunter’s

4. Bart Lounge

5. Chill Bar


Best Sports Bar

The Beer Hunter


Runners up:

2. Burgers and Beer

3. Buffalo Wild Wings

4. Alicante

5. Village Pub


Best Wine Bar

Zin American Bistro


Runners up:

2. Sullivan’s Steakhouse

3. La Rue Wine Bar

4. Vue Grille and Bar

5. Dead or Alive


Best Wine/Liquor Store

Total Wine and More


Runners up:

2. BevMo!

3. Costco

4. Trader Joe’s

5. Fame Lounge



Best Bar Ambiance



Runners up:

2. Chill Bar

3. The Tropicale

4. Matchbox

5. Workshop Kitchen+Bar

Published in Readers' Picks

On this week's new and exciting weekly Independent comics page: Jen Sorenson examines a recent letter from the University of Chicago; The K Chronicles has a chat at Trader Joe's; This Modern World finds itself in a loop; and Red Meat returns from summer camp.

Published in Comics

Since the narrow defeat here of last year’s Proposition 37, which would have mandated labeling of genetically modified foods, the sentiment behind the proposition has spread—or metastasized, depending on your perspective—into similarly conceived bills in 26 other states.

Proponents of such laws mostly argue that we have a right to know what’s in our food. Based on the momentum of GMO-labeling initiatives on the state level, as well as voluntary labeling programs by retailers like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s, it’s looking increasingly like a matter of when, and not if, some kind of nationwide labeling system is created.

So instead of fighting about whether or not we need them, it makes sense for both sides to sit down and talk about how labels should look.

In an April blog post for Discover magazine online, Ramez Naam argued that it makes sense for GMO food supporters to stop opposing labels: “I support GMOs. And we should label them. We should label them because that is the very best thing we can do for public acceptance of agricultural biotech. And we should label them because there’s absolutely nothing to hide.”

According to most polls, the percentage of Americans that support labeling is in the low-to-mid 90s. To dismiss such popular sentiment would be to ignore the will of the vast majority, which wouldn’t be very democratic. It would, in fact, be a bit obnoxious, Naam writes.

“At best it’s condescending to consumers, sending a signal that ‘we know better than you what you should eat.’” By fighting GMO labeling, he argues, “We’re persuading those who might otherwise have no opinion on GMOs that there must be something to hide.”

One recent ABC poll showed 57 percent of shoppers would be less likely to buy products that are labeled “GMO,” suggesting a significant chunk of those who support labels aren’t afraid to eat GMO foods. Other common reasons for support of labeling, according to polls, include opposition to GMOs for environmental reasons, the “right to know,” and angst over corporate control of the food system.

Clearly, that 57 percent of GMO-fearing shoppers would represent a significant cut to the revenue of biotech corporations, and of corporate farmers who use GMO seeds, and it isn’t clear to what extent they will be able to make up the difference by squeezing processors, retailers and consumers.

Such financial concerns are one reason why Big Biotech shouldn’t be a part of the labeling discussion: It has too much at stake, and wields undue influence—outspending the grassroots support of Prop 37, for example, by a 5-to-1 margin. Corporate recusal is something that pro-GMO people should get behind, too. Arguably, much of the grief felt by GMO supporters is inspired less by the technology itself than by the way it’s been rolled out.

Many people who support labeling, or who oppose GMOs in their food, do so because they are uncomfortable with this powerful technology being forged in a corporate crucible, where there is a conflict between pleasing shareholders and proceeding with caution. It’s the same reason many people are skeptical of petroleum-company claims that drilling won’t harm the environment. We’re conditioned to expect the narrative that’s best for business, whether it’s true or not.

Big Biotech’s history of unpopular moves has long posed a problem to GMO-supporters, who often include a little Monsanto-bashing in their pro-GMO arguments as a means of communicating that Monsanto does not equal GMO. Perhaps these pundits would agree that it makes sense to exclude corporations from organizing and funding discussions about how labels should look. (The industry recently launched its own forum on all things GMO,

Concerns about corporate behavior and motivation can overshadow the examples of GM crops that don’t exist just order to sell more pesticides, or otherwise generate corporate revenue. The ringspot-resistant rainbow papaya, created at the University of Hawaii and Cornell University, was a public-sector effort that likely saved the state’s papaya industry from being wiped out by the virus. Efforts like these are easier to support, and wholesale anti-GMO ideologues should be clear about what, specifically, they oppose. An honest discussion about labeling could help tease apart distinct issues that are often lumped together.

Critics of labeling frequently argue that a general label, along the lines of “contains GMOs,” communicates very little, because there are so many different kinds of GMOs. But given that labeling seems inevitable, perhaps the pro-GMO side could help create a system that tells us something meaningful.

Ramez Naam told me via email that he thinks GMO labels should be on products’ back labels, not on the front, as might happen if GMO food supporters don’t come to the table. He also suggested labels like, “Contains ingredients engineered to reduce pesticide use,” or, “Contains ingredients engineered to increase farm sustainability.”

If the public lacks sufficient understanding of the science behind GMO foods, as many GMO supporters lament, maybe even more detail would be productive. Perhaps a GMO ID system is in order, under which the back label lists genetically engineered components by some kind of identification number, which consumers could look up. Then they could decide for themselves if they think a particular ingredient is insufficiently tested, potentially environmentally invasive, made by a big evil corporation, or transgenic (made with DNA from a different species). And they could also consider whether a particular product requires less pesticide, or otherwise effects farm sustainability, or contains some desirable added nutrient value.

Given the apparent inevitability of labeling, a meaningful system should be the goal for advocates on both sides of the issue. Then, GMO skeptics could have their labels; GMO cheerleaders will have their nuance; and the will of the large majority of Americans will prevail.

Doesn’t that sound like how democracy should work?

Read more from Ari LeVaux at

Published in Restaurant & Food News