Portions of this article were borrowed from Fresh The Movie.
Guess what? You probably ate genetically modified (GM) food sometime in the past week. After all, approximately 75% of processed foods contain GM ingredients, including most cooking oils, boxed cereals, and other grain products. If you had realized your dinner contained GM ingredients, you might have chosen something else, but you likely weren’t given a choice—GM foods are not required to be labeled in the United States and Canada (though they are in the EU). And while the biotech industry argues that GM foods are no different from their natural counterparts, a mounting body of evidence shows that’s just not true. The GM ingredients we don’t know we’re consuming pose serious threats to our health, our food supply, and our environment.
GM ingredients show up in 75% of processed foods in US groceries, but they’re not labeled, so consumers cannot discern GM products from natural ones. Only through knowledge and education can we fight back against industrialized agribusiness.
To earn the “certified organic” label, a product cannot contain any GM ingredients, so buying organic foods is the easiest way to ensure your food is GMO-free. This applies even to products labeled “made with organic ingredients,” which must be 100% GMO-free, even if not all their ingredients meet other organic standards.
Look for “non-GMO” labels
Though you’re unlikely to see a product labeled as containing GM ingredients (at least in the US), many companies want consumers to know that a product is GMO-free. Some limit their claim to only high-risk ingredients, like corn, soy and the others listed below.
Steer clear of products containing high-risk ingredients
If you can’t find an organic or clearly labeled non-GMO alternative, you can protect yourself by simply not buying products that contain ingredients most likely to be genetically modified. These include:
Corn: corn flour, corn meal, corn starch, corn oil, corn gluten, and corn syrup; sweeteners like fructose, dextrose, and sucrose
Soy: soy lecithin, soy protein, soy flour, isoflavone; vegetable oil and vegetable protein; tofu, tamari, tempeh, and some alternative meat and dairy products not specifically labeled as free of GM-soy
Canola: canola oil (also known as rapeseed oil)
Cotton: cottonseed oil
Margarine: almost always contains GM oil (either soy, corn, cottonseed, or canola)
Sugar: GM sugar beets were recently approved for planting. To avoid GM sugar, purchase organic bulk sugar and products sweetened with 100% cane sugar, evaporated cane juice, agave, or organic/non-GMO sugar.
Artificial Sweeteners: aspartame (NutraSweetTM and EqualTM)
Meat, eggs, and dairy products: Avoid products from animals who have eaten GM-feed and dairy products containing the GM hormone rBGH/rBST
Papayas: About half of the Hawaiian papaya crop is now GM.
Vegetables: A small number of zucchini, sweet corn, and yellow crookneck squash are GM.
Carry a non-GMO shopping guide
Several handy tools and tip sheets are available to help you make informed choices at the grocery store. Here are a few to choose from:
True Food Shoppers’ Guide from the Center for Food Safety, available in print and as a free mobile app for iPhone and Android
The Non-GMO Project Online Product Directory, also available as a free app for the iPhone and iPod Touch
The Non-GMO Shopping Guide from the Institute for Responsible Technology and the Non-GMO Project, available online, as a PDF download, or in a handy pocket version
For more information on the dangers posed by GMOs and why we can’t continue to ignore these risks, see the blog post What You Don’t Know About GMOs CAN Hurt You.
Here are few things my family and I do to avoid GMOs and pesticides:
We buy raw milk from local dairies (and use that milk to make yogurt and butter)
We buy fresh farm eggs from local non-GMO farms.
We buy organic produce as much as we can.
We do not buy corn products at all.
We use organic coconut oil and olive oil as our go-to oils. Occasionally we use peanut for stir fry.
During spring, summer, and fall we grow vegetables and freeze or can them ourselves.
We have joined an organic co-op giving us access to more vegetable and fruit choices.
We buy lamb and poultry from local non-GMO/organic farmers.
We do not purchase or consume pre-packaged cereals, snacks, crackers etc. (crackers only if non-GMO and organic)
We spend a lot of our income eating whole, fresh, organic food.
We do not use pesticides in our garden or on our lawn. We pull weeds by hand. (Sometimes the kids help!)
We've gotten rid of many cleaning products we used to use in our home. No more swiffering every day! I use hot water most of the time. I only swiffer once a month. We use vinegar, baking soda and hot water.
Our next move is to get rid of dishwasher soap that contains phosphates and bleaches etc. We have already gotten the "healthier" laundry soap and body soap. (Try baking soda and liquid dish soap occasionally...)
My next worry is to make sure that our garage isn't leaking fumes into our house...you've heard about how bad that is right? (No, I'm not a worrywart).