This is intended to be a guide for those of you who want to know How to Avoid GMO Foods. If you read our last post on the Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen 2023, considering whether or not to consume GMO foods, may very well be next on your list.
In the age of science, genetically modified foods can be found in many products available in supermarkets make it difficult to avoid GMO or foods that contains GMO components in what we buy. But first…
What is GMO?
GMO, or Genetically Modified Organisms, are a kind of food that has had its genetic makeup altered from its natural state. This can be done with traditional methods like cross-breeding or more modern ones such as biotechnology.
Despite the fact that GMO foods have become increasingly popular as a result of their long shelf life, resistance to disease and pest infestations, and higher yield capabilities. There is still much debate around the use of GMOs in the food supply chain.
In fact, many health organizations encourage further research into their potential impacts on our planet and our well-being.
It’s interesting how biotechnology is revolutionizing how we view and interact with food!
What is Biotechnology?
Biotechnology has been a buzzword lately, but what is it really?
Broadly speaking, biotechnology uses biological processes to develop new technologies which can be applied in industries ranging from health care to agriculture.
It encompasses a variety of disciplines such as genetic engineering, immunology and tissue culture, and is said to solve societal problems and create solutions that could not be realized before.
Biotechnology is a tool with applications as diverse as crop engineering for food sustainability, identifying novel therapies for health conditions or even creating biofuels from sustainable sources.
In this post, we’re talking about biotechnology in the food industry. And you might be surprised how much of our food today is genetically engineered.
Did you know that it’s estimated that over 75% of food sold in stores today is either GMO or contains GMO components.
If you are concerned about GMOs or want to know how to avoid GMO foods, the following is a guide that will help you make smart decisions when shopping for groceries.
Grains and Legumes
Most grains such as wheat, rice, oats, and corn are likely to be genetically modified. Additionally, legumes like soybeans and peanuts are also commonly found in GMOs. It is best to buy organic varieties of these foods whenever possible to ensure they do not contain any genetic modifications.
How to Avoid GMO Grains and Legumes
It’s not always easy to find grains that are free from genetic modification, but with a little effort and mindful shopping, it can be done! Seeking out organic and non-GMO certified products is a great place to start.
Whole grain stores and farmers markets also offer great options.
For those who don’t have access to these specialty stores, many health food aisles in grocery stores now offer alternative grain sources such as quinoa, millet, buckwheat, and even ancient grains like amaranth.
By being cautious and creative with your grain choices you can avoid GMOs in the kitchen altogether!
Today, most of the oils we use on a daily basis contain GMO or come from GMO sources.
This presents an interesting dilemma for many cooks. By using these oils, some might think there aren’t many other options, and worry about consuming something created through genetic engineering.
Thankfully, there are many natural alternatives on the market that allow home cooks to make healthy and delicious dishes. So, you can prepare traditional meals with peace of mind by using non-GMO oils.
How to Avoid GMO Oils
To make sure the oils you’re using are healthy and non-GMO, it is important to pay close attention when shopping.
Many products in stores today have GMO ingredients included. Read labels carefully to check for any disclaimers or symbols that might indicate the product was made with genetically modified organisms.
Also buying organic products when possible is a good way to avoid GMOs. These typically contain fewer additives and higher quality ingredients.
Consulting with a nutritionist or healthcare practitioner on what types of oil are best suited to meet your health needs is a good idea. Some fats are better for certain diets than others. Experienced, professionals could help you through figuring out what is best for you in promoting your overall well-being.
Fruits and Vegetables
The majority of fruits and vegetables sold in supermarkets contain no genetic modifications — with the exception being some corn, papaya, squash and zucchini varieties.
How to Avoid GMO Fruits and Vegetables
Shopping for non-GMO fruits and vegetables doesn’t have to be a daunting task. With a few simple tips, you can rest assured that your produce choices are good for you and the environment.
The best way to make sure you’re consuming truly non-GMO food is to know exactly where it’s coming from. Equal parts shopping smart and reading labels will go a long way in ensuring quality selection.
Always look for familiar certification emblems such as “Verified Non-GMO” or “USDA Organic.” These are guarantees that foods have not been altered by genetic modification processes.
It’s a fact the corn has long been a staple of the American diet for a very long time. However, the corn we eat today is quite different from that of our ancestors.
In fact, I cannot eat corn anymore. It used to be my favorite vegetable (years and years ago!). I quit eating it because it caused my digestive system a lot of trouble. The very few times I eat corn these days. That is if I know and trust the source, it’s in season, and it’s the whole organic food it should be.
It’s true that nearly ALL the corn grown in the U.S. is now genetically modified. So, what we enjoy now is largely not in its whole form. Instead, most of it becomes animal feed BEFORE being further processed into flours, meals, and starches, corn syrups, and corn oil for our consumption.
Be mindful of local farms, farmers markets, organic stores, or co-opting resources like Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). A source where there is full transparency about growing practices and sourcing.
Most animal products such as poultry, pork, fish and beef are not genetically modified (as yet!). However eggs and meats may come from animals fed with GMOs.
Update 05/09/2023: I ran across an article this morning that I thought you might be interested in. It’s about 3D-printed, lab-grown fish. Supposedly tastes like the real thing. (Things that make you go hmmm. Right?)
How to Avoid GMO Meats
Know where your eggs and meat comes from, too. Some farms have been found using antibiotics and growth hormones, which may contain GMOs. Researching the origin of your meat will help ensure you are consuming safe products without any unwanted additives.
I don’t eat much meat, but when I do, I buy exclusively from Butcher Box. They provide 100% grass-fed beef, free-range organic chicken, humanely raised pork, and wild-caught seafood.
How to Avoid GMO Foods
With a little bit of research into where your food comes from and what ingredients it contains, you can easily avoid eating genetically modified substances.
Knowing which food groups tend to be GMO will help you make better informed decisions at the store so you can stay healthy while avoiding potentially harmful substances.