Monday, April 12, 2010

Tips for Avoiding Genetically Modified Foods

Guest post by Toxic Free NC volunteer Hayes Simpson

For a long while now, I have carried around an index card in my wallet billfold, which contains a list handwritten by my own dear Mama. The list includes the top fruits and veggies to buy organic (as in the Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce from Environmental Working Group). She also listed fish and shellfish that contain fewer toxins (as in the Seafood Selector from Environmental Defense Fund).

I’m sure that many of you are familiar with these lists and others like them, and they may have changed your buying habits in a big way, or maybe just when it comes to certain staple foods, such as apples, spinach, and potatoes. I'll admit that it was only once in a while that I remembered to check my Mama's list.

But another closely-related food issue has caused me to stop consuming sodas, and to “floor-it” when my stomach is grumbling and the golden arches are beckoning. I am talking about the unsavory subject of GMO’s which until recently brought to my mind visions of acres of picture-perfect, bright yellow, completely inedible corn, and futuristic, square watermelons stacked neatly into a towering pyramid for display purposes.

I was lucky enough to be introduced to some information that really helped me to put my limited knowledge about organic food shopping and genetically modified foods into context. It started when I was shown a clip from the film, Everything you HAVE TO KNOW about Dangerous Genetically Modified Foods.

I learned that, in fact, the crops that are most likely to be genetically modified are corn, soybeans, canola, and cotton. Very few fresh fruits and veggies sold in the U.S. currently are genetically modified, but did you know that there are dozens of common ingredients derived from the big four GM crops that may be genetically modified? In the words of my two year old, “Ewwwww!” So the best advice for keeping GMOs off your plate is to read labels, and know that anything containing one of these ingredients is questionable, unless of course the product is marked "certified organic" or "non-GMO."

The film explains that there are a some very serious health concerns about genetically modified ingredients, including the potential to cause allergies. More information is available at: They also provide an excellent Non-GMO Shopping Guide (in case your Mama hasn’t already made you one.)

Good luck, and eat well!

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