Ahh...Autumn...Enjoying spectacular foliage, carved pumpkins, roasted root vegetables. Did you know that October was officially Non-GMO Month? I know what you’re thinking, a big so what…I used to too, but not anymore!
First let’s start with answering the obvious question, what are GMOs? GMO stands for “genetically modified organisms”. These are organisms that have been created through genetic engineering. This involves injecting DNA from one species into another species creating combinations of plant, animal, bacteria, and viral genes that do not occur in nature or through traditional crossbreeding methods.
Research is showing that GMO foods have many risks and dangers (Please click here to read an excellent research summary or here to watch a quick video discussing the dangers). These risks are not something to ignore. GMO’s have been shown to be toxic to organs, increase the allergy potential to foods, and can be less nutritious than their natural counterparts, even worse they can permanently disrupt the ecosystem.
The research that claims that GMOs are “safe” is not done on humans. Even worse, there is only one published study directly testing the safety of GM food on humans. This study even found potential problems, and to date has not been followed up. Most studies are also conducted by the companies who created them and profit from their sale. Needless to say, this is definitely a cause to take a second look. Even more troubling, at least 30 other countries around the world, including Australia, Japan, and Europe outright ban the production of GMOs or have significant restrictions because they are not considered proven safe.
The scariest part is the use of genetically modified ingredients in our food is at an all-time high. About 80 percent of processed foods contain some GMO ingredient. The top GMO foods include corn, soybeans, canola, and cotton. In addition, half the sugar used in products comes from GMO sugar beets. You will notice a key word there, processed. Cutting down on your processed food intake will significantly reduce your GMO intake. However, more GM fresh foods are being sold, including potatoes and corn. Choosing organic whenever possible is the way to go because GM substances are prohibited in organic production. This includes choosing organic meat as well. Unfortunately conventionally raised farm animals are fed GMO corn and soybeans, so you are eating them indirectly. Yum!
The good news is awareness for the reasons why avoiding GMOs is important is growing. Thankfully non-profits such as The Non-GMO Project (www.nongmoproject.org ) have been started by people wanting to get the word out. They are passionate about making information available to the public so that you can make informed choices about GMO products. They also help to take some of the guess work out of what products fit into a non-GMO lifestyle.
How can you avoid GMO foods?
Avoid processed foods containing ingredients from corn, soy, canola, sugar beets, and cottonseed oil.
Purchase Non-GMO verified products:You may search for participating products that have been verified to minimize the risk of GMO contamination at these sites:
Buy locally grown foods. There is nothing better than locally produced fresh fruits and vegetables. Buying local supports farmers and keeps food dollars in the community. Another option is a community supported agriculture (CSA) program, which you pay a membership fee to a local farmer and receive fresh organic produce throughout the growing season.
Grow your own.Gardening is a great hobby, nourishing to the body, mind, and soil. You can also participate in urban agriculture projects that are sprouting nationwide.
No Excuses Tools!
Check out these mobile phone apps that can steer you clear of GMOs.
The True Food Shoppers’ Guide to Avoiding GMOs: This free mobile app was created to help consumers identify genetically modified ingredients. The guide provides valuable information on common GMO ingredients, brands and common sense tips.
Don't Eat That: This app costs $1.99 and gives users personalized food safety. Because today's food labels are confusing, Don't Eat That provides useful information on over 1,900 food additives and ingredients.
ShopNoGMO: This free mobile app lists hundreds of products in 27 different food categories and can help users create custom GMO-free shopping lists. There's also information on the science behind biotechnology and the health risks associated with GMOs.
Non GMO Project Shopping Guide: This free mobile app is designed to support consumers who want to know what's in their food and how to avoid GMOs. With this app, users will find featured brands and products that are enrolled in the Non-GMO Project’s Product Verification Program—the only third party non-GMO certifying program in the U.S.