>How to Avoid Genetically Modified Foods
If you live in the U.S. it is difficult to avoid items in the supermarket that do not contain at least some genetically modified food. But if you know how to identify these items you can keep your consumption of it to a minimum. Here are some tips on how you can avoid GM foods:
1. Look for “100% organic.” U.S. and Canadian laws do not allow food labels that say “100% organic” to contain any genetically engineered food, including foods that have been fed genetically modified feed.
Even if a food is simply labeled “organic”, it can still contain up to 30% of genetically modified food.
2. Look for foods that specify the product is “non-GM” or “GMO-free.”
3. The numbers on the stickers you find on produce indicate how the product was grown. •A 4-digit number indicates the food was conventionally grown. •A 5-digit number beginning with an 8 is a genetically modified food. However, not all GM foods can be identified because PLU labeling is optional. •A 5-digit number beginning with a 9 indicates it is organic.
4. Educate yourself on which GMO foods are the most common:
•Soybeans – This includes soy flour, soy isolates, soy lecithin, soy protein and isoflavones. Ensure that soy based products such as tofu, soy milk, edamame contain a label stating it is organic to be sure it doesn’t include GM foods.
•Corn – The corn-based product most difficult to avoid is high fructose corn syrup. It is included in a large percentage of processed foods and baked goods, not to mention soda. Any food label with “corn” anything on it should be avoided unless it states it is 100% organic. Plain popcorn (no butter) is an exception, as there is currently no genetically engineered plain popcorn yet on the market. Buy fruit juices that are 100% juice and don’t contain high fructose corn syrup, which is almost certainly from genetically modified corn.
•Canola or Rapeseed – Canola oil, made from the rapeseed plant, comes almost certainly from genetically engineered crops. It is used extensively as cooking oil and in margarine.
•Cottonseed oil – A primary ingredient in shortening, vegetable oil and margarine, none of which are healthy fats. It is also used in processed foods such as potato chips and other fried foods.
•Dairy – To increase milk production, some farmers inject cows with the genetically engineered hormone rBGH or rBST. They also may be fed genetically modified food in the form of feed and hay unless the product specifically states that it is organic. Look for products that advertise themselves as rBGH- or rBST-free.
•Sugar beets – There is no way of knowing if a product labeled as containing “sugar” comes from only sugar cane or if it also includes sugar derived from beets, as labeling is not required. To avoid beet sugar look for products labeled as being made with evaporated cane sugar, 100% cane sugar or organic sugar.
5. Avoid sweeteners that use aspartame. Aspartame is derived from genetically modified microorganisms and is the sweetener used in products such as NutraSweet® and Equal®. Artificial sweeteners are far worse for your health than sugar and should be avoided whenever possible.
6. To avoid meat with GMOs, make sure the animal was 100% grass-fed or pasture-fed. For animals such as pigs and poultry that cannot be 100% grass-fed, it’s better to look for meat that is labeled as 100% organic.
Look for wild caught fish instead of farm raised, as farm raised fish are fed fish meal containing GM grains. Eggs should be labeled 100% organic, as those labeled only “free-range“, “natural“, or “cage-free” are not necessarily free of GMO’s.
7. Buy as much food as you can at local farmers’ markets. Most genetically modified food comes from large industrial farms. At a farmers’ market you can also talk directly with the farmer to find out how the food is grown. Local Harvest is a website where you can find the markets and farms nearest you.
8. Buy fresh foods rather than processed ones. Foods that you prepare yourself are almost always healthier than anything you can buy pre-made.
>Cooking healthy food doesn’t have to be stressful. There are many simple, healthy meals that you can prepare in less than 30 minutes.