Organic, natural and non-GMO have become quite the buzzwords this year, but do you really know what they mean? When you begin a healthier lifestyle, you start to realize how much you really don’t know about what’s in your food or where it came from. It is my hope that you’ll become a healthy AND educated consumer, so you can make the best choices for you.
So, what are GMO foods exactly?
GMO foods are those created from organisms that were genetically engineered. Those organisms have had very specific changes introduced into their DNA. Sounds like a science experiment, doesn’t it? GMO foods have only been commercially available for 20 years, but a growing number are produced each year.
Today, you will find that almost all cash crops, crops produced only for their commercial value and ability to turn a profit from parties outside of the farm, are GMOs. The list includes soybean, cotton seed oil, canola and corn. The next time you’re at the grocery store, pick up a bag of chips and take a look at the ingredients.
Chances are, they were fried in a mix of canola, soybean and/or cottonseed oil. Why? Because those oils are cheap and mass produced thanks to genetic modification. Companies just use whatever they can get cheaper at the time. None of them are healthy, however.
What’s wrong with GMO’s?
One of the biggest problems and major concerns surrounding GMO’s is simply that we don’t know exactly what they’re capable of doing. In many ways, GMO’s really are science experiments. They are restricted in 60 countries, including Japan, Australia and every country in the European Union. It’s important to note that the US continues to allow GMO’s based on safety studies that were conducted by the very same companies who create and sell them.
Many GMO foods are produced to resist certain viruses so the crops won’t die. What happens when we, as humans, continue to give our body more and more antibiotics and drugs? It usually stops working right. And on top of that, it can become resistant. Viruses and bacteria can morph, and then we just end up with new strains of things like the flu or other illnesses. Is it all that crazy to think genetically modifying food to grow faster and stronger is perhaps not safe?
Many farmers have run into problems because their organic crops have been contaminated by GMO crops due to cross-pollination. Monsanto has patented the GMO seeds they’ve developed, which has turned into a legal issue as well. You can read more about Monsanto’s ability to sue farmers whose organic crops are contaminated by their GMO seeds here.
What can you do to avoid GMO’s?
The first thing you can do is start by avoiding most processed foods. It is estimated that 80% of processed foods in the US contain GMO’s. Have no fear- you can still buy many things you need in packages! Keep an eye out for the non-GMO project verified label. You can use this list to help you find the non-GMO versions of items you need.
Buying organic is a great step when it comes to produce. Always look for produce labels with 5 digits that begin with the number 9. If you see a 5-digit code beginning with 8, the item was genetically modified. Other items typically begin with a 4. Those are not organic, but they are not GMO foods either.
Do you avoid GMO’s now? Do you think you might try to learn more about GMO’s and find better choices?