So by now Im sure you have heard of GMO or Genetically modified or engineered foods. Maybe you also know that you shouldn’t be eating them, either way read on for more information.These foods, or genetically modified organisms, are created through gene modification or transgenic technology. The result can create unstable combinations of plant, animal, bacterial and viral genes that are not naturally occurring in nature.
The benefit of creating a GMO product or crop specifically is that most are made for herbicide tolerance. These crops can withstand things like bugs, frost, and tend to last longer and taste better, thus yielding larger amount of crops for farmers.
Many countries around the world have banned the use of GMO foods. Here in the United States we use GMO foods for many of the foods in the grocery store today. Anything processed that contains soy, corn or beet sugars contain GMO crops. Many apples, potatoes and other fruits and vegetables are also GMO foods.
The main problem with eating GMO foods is that the consequences are still unknown. Many scientists are worried that the altered genes in these foods may in turn alter the good bacteria in our digestive systems. The effects of this are unknown. GMO crops also require a ton of herbicide and pesticides, things that are horrible for you and the environment.
Trying to avoid GMO foods here in the United States can be tricky, as many things are not labeled as GMO. Here are some ways to avoid them:
- Buy Organic - by buying products and produce labeled as USDA approved organic you are getting foods that are free of synthetic pesticides as well as GMO products
2) Buy Foods that are Non-GMO Project Verified - The Non-GMO Project is a nonprofit organization where non-GMO food producers can voluntarily certify their products and produce as non-GMO. This is the only organization offering independent verification for products in the US.
3) Follow the “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean Fifteen” Lists - These lists refer to the 12 produce items that usually contain the highest pesticide residue and 15 lowest in pesticide residue. For the Dirty Dozen, be sure to buy organic whenever possible, and for the clean 15, if budget is an issue for you, don’t worry too much about buying organic here. Remember to always wash your produce before eating it, organic or not.
4) Avoid the usual Suspects -
- 90% of field corn and corn derived ingredients (masa, corn oil, high fructose corn syrup, corn starch and corn meal) come from genetically modified corn.
- 93% of all soybeans are genetically modified. Stay away from soy and soy derived ingredients (soy protein, soybean oil, soy milk, soy lecithin, soy flour and tofu). If you plan to eat soy products be sure to find ones that are labeled GMO free.
- About 55% of sugar in the US comes from sugar beets. 95% of sugar beet crop in the US is Genetically modified. If a product does not have pure cane sugar in it, it most likely has genetically modified beet sugar.
- Consumers should assume that most vegetable oil is genetically modified as most are made with soybean oil, canola oil, cottonseed oil or corn oil, all of which come from GMO crops.
5) Buy Local Produce - By buying local produce at farmer’s markets you are able to talk with the farmers about how they grow their crops. Knowing where you food comes from is a huge part of this.
Avoiding GMO foods can surely be tricky, especially since producers are not required to label their foods as being genetically modified. If you stick to the tips above and read your labels carefully you should be able to at least minimize the amount of genetically modified foods you are eating.