Jan 292013

The topic of non-GMO foods has come up a lot recently and we wanted to take some time to share our position and to clear up any mis-information that might be out there about us or about our popcorn or Popping Sorghum.corn-field

The issue of Genetically Modified Organisms is important to us, as well as to many other folks and especially to our customers, most of whom are foodies at heart.  At JustPoppin.com™ we sell only NON-GMO popcorn and NON-GMO Popping Sorghum. NONE of our popcorn or Popping Sorghum varieties is a GMO. NONE OF THEM. We state it repeatedly throughout our website – on every single product page for our popcorn and for our Popping Sorghum – our products are NON GMO.

But what does that mean?  (We hope you’ll stick around and read the rest to find out!) According to Wikipedia, a genetically modified organism (GMO) is an organism whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques. In layman’s terms, GMO means manipulating the genes of plants and animals through unnatural processes and sometimes even adding genes to organisms that do not naturally occur in those organisms – for instance adding fish genes to tomatoes to resist freezing damage. On the other hand, every NON-GMO product you eat is the result of natural breeding and cross-breeding of plants or animals using the same techniques humans have used to breed plants and animals for thousands of years.

Our popcorn and Popping Sorghum is bred NATURALLY by our growers using these age old and time-tested techniques. In very simplistic terms, pollen from male plants with desirable characteristics is mixed and applied by hand to female plants with desirable characteristics. This is done over and over through generation after generation in order to reach a hybrid or naturally reproducing plant that exhibits the characteristics we want – like good popping performance or large mushroom flakes. This is NOT genetic modification and any variety of plant created using only these types of techniques is by definition, NON-GMO. To preserve the performance of the resulting plants, they must be planted separately from other types of popcorn and sorghum – and they are – VERY separately.

We are a “mom & pop” type company. Our business’s existence depends on the sale of unique varieties of popcorn and sorghum that we have identified through extensive research and development. We are allowed by law to protect that research and development by restricting how our products are used in order to prevent unscrupulous individuals from stealing the work our growers have done (which has taken years and years and cost thousands and thousands of dollars). It’s similar to how copyright protects a photographer from having her work copied and resold by someone else.

What this basically boils down to is that you can buy our popcorn and Popping Sorghum to eat (or feed it to your pets or animals if you like!) or you can resell it as food. You just can’t experiment on, germinate, or plant and grow our popcorn or Popping Sorghum.

US plant variety protections are not specifically related to GMOs. And sometimes, people who don’t fully understand farming will make generalized assumptions and false claims about the protections of plant varieties and the “statements of acceptable use”  used by companies like us.  (Here, we’re referring to the “Restriction on Use” statement you will see on our packaging, which as you now know, just means that our product is for eating only.)

These laws protect the business of companies like ours who work incredibly hard to bring great products to their customers.  They keep us from being overrun by companies like Amazon and Monsanto who have much greater resources than we do. Without these protections, large companies can reproduce the products of companies like ours for pennies on the dollar, sell them for less than it costs us to produce, and put us (as well as other small businesses) out of business.

So don’t forget, this goes both ways – while a company like Monsanto can protect its GMO products from reproduction by others, companies like ours can protect our NON-GMO, pure plant varieties from them too!

We have an unwavering commitment to our friends in the foodie community as well as to those in the gluten free and non-GMO communities. We take that commitment VERY seriously and we pledge that not only are our popcorns and sorghums gluten free, but they are also NON-GMO.

Please feel free to contact us if you have additional questions.

Thank you,
Jennie & Buck

Post script: Some folks have asked why we don’t have some type of non-GMO certification. The reason is cost. The process of getting certified starts roughly in the neighborhood of $10,000 and goes up from there. If anyone reading this would like to contribute to our getting certified or pay for it outright, we won’t turn it down.

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  9 Responses to “Just Poppin Popcorn and Popping Sorghum is NON-GMO”

  1. Lisa, you are VERY welcome, and thank YOU very much for writing in! We love to hear comments like yours because it really validates why we do what we do. We’re glad to be able to contribute to some of the fun in your diet! Stay in touch and let us know what other cool things you think up to do with our Popping Sorghum.

  2. Just wanted to say THANK YOU for this site. I’m a popcorn fanatic and had never tried Sorghum until my friend bought me some from this site for my birthday.

    I have since purchased 3 backs and this is a staple in my diet now. I eat it twice a day sometimes. I’m usually able to get about 80% of it to pop but I love the toasted ones that don’t. I use a Whirley Popper and it works really nicely with it.

  3. […] pops into tiny fluffs like corn but isn’t corn at all? I was sold when I found out it’s non-GMO. I had to try […]

  4. Hi Al, thanks for your comment. I’m actually going to email you directly with some questions regarding how you are currently trying to pop so that I can help you better.

    In the mean time (for anyone else reading this) here is some basic info:

    Sorghum tends to pop best in smaller batches – we usually recommend 1/4 cup or 1/8 cup. Sorghum is unique in that if you try to pop too much at once, they all seem to band together and convince each other not to pop!! So, in the case of Sorghum, less is definitely more.

    You won’t get 100% of the grains to pop, but you should see between 60%-70% pop. We do have customers telling us that they get around 90% pop ratio. Any unpopped grains are still edible as they have been toasted and are like corn nuts.

    One key tip to even popping and less burning is slow, constant stirring. If you are using a tall sided pot, a wooden spoon works well. If you are using a whirley style popper, then make sure you are cranking the handle slowly and steadily.

    Sorghum pops well in a hot air popper, but it requires a specific type of hot air popper. Please contact us if you are unsure whether your hot air popper will work with Popping Sorghum.

    We have two videos showing how to pop Sorghum. One video is how to pop “dry”, and the other is how to pop with oil. You can see the videos on our website:

  5. What is the proper way to pop Sorgum? I haven’t had much luck with it.

  6. Hi. Thank you for your kind words. Sorry to hear about your husband’s tooth. But that’s always a risk with popcorn. Regarding your question “…what can I do to ensure that I don’t get that kind of popcorn again?”, I’d have to say, don’t buy it from where you bought it. That hard bit in the center is usually a result of a kernel that has not fully popped. This can be caused by improper popping or old, stale popcorn that doesn’t have enough moisture in it to facilitate a full pop. The proper ratio to attempt to rejuvenate popcorn kernels is 3 cups of popcorn to 1 Tablespoon of water. You can do the math from there if you have a different amount of popcorn. The ideal moisture content for popcorn kernels is 13-13.5%. Too much moisture is as bad as too little, with the added problem of mold.

    Regarding where to buy great popcorn that is non-GMO, please visit http://www.JustPoppin.com All the popcorn kernels are non-GMO. Please realize that certifications like the one you mention are difficult for small companies to achieve because of costs in the thousands and often tens of thousands of dollars.

    For its taste, you can’t beat coconut oil for popping popcorn. Nothing else really comes close. The coconut oils at Just Poppin are non-GMO. But you can use any high smoke point oil – remember, popcorn needs to heated to over 450F to pop best.

  7. Thank you for all the great information! Hopefully, more and more growers will hop on board with the copyright protected non-GMO corn and popcorn. I think that will make a very powerful statement to Monsanto. I bought some organic popcorn from the Good Earth health food store that taste pretty good, but quite a lot of the popcorn pieces had a hard crunchy kernal in the center after the popcorn was popped, which my husband thinks he may have cracked/chipped a tooth on it. Can you tell me what causes that hard center and what can I do to ensure that I don’t get that kind of popcorn again? I have tried adding 1 t. water to 10 oz. popcorn in a covered container and shaking it 1x/day for a few days, which helped a little. I have been looking for another kind that doesn’t do that. I am passionate supporter of non-GMO foods, and I have been trying to find a place to buy great popcorn that carries the NON-GMO Project Verified seal. Please advise if yours does, and what oil (non-GMO) that you feel is best to use to pop your popcorn. Please advise where to buy your popcorn too. How do I find stores in my area that carry your popcorn? Thank you for caring enough to grow non-GMO popcorn!!!

  8. You’re welcome, Chris. Glad you found the information useful. 2012 was the first year we added organic popcorn kernels to our offerings because we finally found a crop we liked. We will continue to explore organic options in the future and as always, all our kernels will be non-GMO.

  9. great blog! very informative and I thank you for taking the time to explain your position. I believe many of us are becoming more informed and more educated about what we eat as such we are interested in organic and non gmo products thank you again

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