Risa is a recent Western Washington University alumna with a B.A. in English. She’s previously worked in a variety of fields including veterinary medicine, wildlife rehabilitation, and food service. Her consciousness about healthy food and resources stems from her love for animals and the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest. As a vegan, she is an avid label reader and sometimes takes a while ordering at restaurants.
Outside of work, Risa enjoys cats, avocados on everything, vegan cooking, writing and reading poetry, and volunteering at the local wildlife rehabilitation center.
What interests you about working with the Non-GMO Project – what about this opportunity caught your attention?
My 2015 New Year’s Resolution was to finally make the switch from vegetarian to vegan. While the transition has been tricky at times, I’ve found myself relying on labels like Certified Vegan and Non-GMO Project Verified while grocery shopping. These labels have been particularly meaningful to me on a personal level due to my love for the earth and the animals that inhabit it.
As I researched these labels further, I was surprised to find that the Non-GMO Project is located in little Bellingham, Wash. I am a recent Western Washington University alumna and am absolutely in love with the Pacific Northwest and the eccentric beauty and creative atmosphere of Bellingham. The Non-GMO Project’s visibility within local grocery stores and co-ops has impacted Bellingham’s overall consciousness about the environment and the future of food. Reaching beyond the Pacific Northwest, the Non-GMO Project impacts communities across the U.S. and Canada. Needless to say, I’m excited to be a part of this influential team.
How do you think your prior experience will help you in working with the Non-GMO project?
At the start of my college career, my aspiration was to become a veterinarian. As I began my studies in animal nutrition and feeds, I challenged the material in a way my instructors weren’t prepared to answer. My concerns stemmed from my research in hormones and antibiotic additives in feed and the impact these practices have on the environment, the animals, and consumers. What was most concerning to me was the ability of these artificial inputs or modifications to affect children and grandchildren of parents who have consumed these foods at some point in their lives.
Eventually, I chose to focus my energy on the food industry and continued to work in veterinary medicine, wildlife rehabilitation, and foodservice to gain a broader perspective of animals, food, and the environment. As a result, my insight examines our relationship with animals and the careful considerations that need to be made from seed to table.
What is important to you about the work you will be doing with the Project?
A driving force for me at the Project is the issue of accessibility to safe and healthy resources. The issue of genetic modification reaches far beyond food. It is my belief that safe and healthy food is a human right. My work with clients both small and large helps to encourage our agricultural industry to produce safer, healthier foods and resources that are accessible to everyone. I serve as one of the first points of contact for our clients, and my assistance in the verification process influences food and resource producers to consider non-GMO choices and practices. Because my perspective on GMOs stems from the issue of human inequality, it is my dream that non-GMO resources will be available in every grocery store in North America.