Genetically Modified Organisms, or GMOs, or lab-man-made foods are creeping up into our plates whether we like it or not. With no human health research done (or even possible) to date and only a few but worrisome animal lab test results available, everything supports the use of the precautionary principle. In the absence of reliable information, let’s be cautious, it is about our health after all. Facing the reality of GMO foods lurking in basically everyone’s diet (we eat on average 193 pounds of Genetically Modified (GM) foods in a year) makes some of us inclined to just ignore the whole thing as if it does not exist. How about we dive into it instead, learn all there is to know and focus on ways to kick these frankenfoods out of our homes? Yes, it is possible to drastically reduce the odds of unwillingly ingesting GMOs. And because an overwhelming 90% of the US population wanting GMO labeling still has not made it a legal requirement, until it is, we have to take matters into our own hands, for our very own sake. As with so many other things, you guessed it, this mostly means voting with our dollars. Here are 3 ways to do so:
- Buy and eat USDA organic (vs conventional) foods- For anything that has not been or is very little processed, think fruit, vegetables, herbs, meat… organic is the way to go because the USDA seal forbids the use of pesticides and GMOs in the growing process. Conventional milk comes from cows fed GM based foods and the same goes with meat… and farm-raised fish/seafood! Do completely avoid non-organic soy, corn, and cotton and canola oils (both oils used in many packaged foods) because they are the top GM crops in the US. Due to a recent and encouraging growing interest in GMO foods in the US, some major retailers (like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods Market) recently committed to switch to non GMO foods in their stores, with Whole Foods even committing to full GMO labeling by 2018. They’ve started converting their own 365 store brand to non-GMO products at quite a fast pace. As for national brands, the process is “voluntary”, although really a strong push to go non-GMO for manufacturers if they want to remain listed… Until GMO labeling hopefully becomes the law, this move will allow consumers to exercise their right to choose. After all, if GMOs are safe food options like big GMO seed makers swear, what’s the big deal with labeling them?
- Remove or reduce & better pick your packaged foods- Because many GM derived hidden additives (hello hydrogenated oils, lecithin, emulsifiers…) are used to preserve and increase the shelf life of processed foods, try and rid your diet of as many many packaged foods as possible. A confirmation, if needed, that it is always safer to consume nature-made vs man-made foods. As you progress toward zero boxed foods, or for the ones you cannot live without just yet, look for the Non-GMO Project Verified sealed options for a guarantee of ongoing GMO testing and buy USDA organic options so you are sure there was no pesticide spraying involved (which the Non-GMO Project seal does not include).
- Get involved to help defeat man-made foods- Do not think your personal contribution does not make a difference or is not worth the effort. There are many ways to get your voice heard and counted, and it is critically important to keep the momentum growing: Sign GMO labeling type of petitions, share them as well as educational articles about GMOs online with your friends, children, extended family members, office colleagues. The idea and the need is to help educate the rest of us and raise awareness. So go ahead and request GMO-free foods at your grocery stores, restaurants, schools, office cafeterias, gym studios, food courts at shopping centers… Use each and every occasion you have to share the knowledge on GMOs so we get to the critical mass needed to obtain labeling legal approval, and eventually complete eradication. Many rich online resources exist and include: the USDA.gov website, EWG, Non-GMO Project, March Against Monsanto, Robyn O’Brien …. Some retailers’ online presence can be useful too, like Whole Foods Market‘s website.
We have the power to make changes. It may take time and a lot of us, but what better cause is there than our own longevity (and well being in longevity)? As you’ll have figured out and depending on one’s current diet, this is work to remove GMOs from our daily foods. Some habits may have to change, we should probably all start cooking more using naturally grown organic ingredients, but once a new balance and pace are reached, there is no reason or incentive to look back. The benefits don’t stop there. Reducing or eliminating processed foods from our diet will also improve the odds of getting many common modern diseases linked to too much fat, sugar and salt, all part of a processed food based diet. Diabetes, obesity, heart diseases, cancer… There is no valid downside to not undertake this change!
Check out the GMO series of 4 posts by La Vie En Green to get all the information you really should want to know about Genetically Engineered foods and how GMOs do affect our daily life:
1- GMO 101