Are we eating GMO foods?—part 4
The short answer is YES if you eat ANY processed foods purchased at supermarkets that are not organic. or do not grow all of your own food.
Read more to find out how to avoid them.
According to the FDA and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), there are over 40 GMO plant varieties that have completed all of the federal requirements for commercialization. While there are few genetically-modified whole fruits and vegetables available on produce stands, highly processed foods, such as vegetable oils or breakfast cereals, most likely contain some percentage of genetically-modified ingredients and since soybean derivatives are used as food additives in the modern American diet, virtually all U.S. consumers have been exposed to GM food products.
Since the United States government is not concerned about health issues related to GMO food, how can we consumers protect ourselves? After all, not everyone thinks there is a problem and even some who are concerned are not concerned enough to change their eating habits. So perhaps we don’t really want a new government regulator to oversee something in this time of financial stress. Surely concerned citizens will be able to tell which foods have GMO ingredents and avoid them…….
But no. Labeling is currently voluntary, so it appears that the only food processors who are labeling are the ones who proudly announce they are GMO-free.
The State of California has a referendum on the ballot this November that, if passed, will require labeling of GMO-food. California is the largest market within the nation so consumer protection advocates are hoping it will pass and the industry will label all foods, regardless of location of distribution, to save costs.
There was a news release that Monsanto’s genetically modified sweet corn will soon be arriving on Walmart shelves and will not be labeled. You can imagine that many of our neighbors and friends will be buying and eating this corn.
The educated consumer must choose between some serious digging or only buying food labeled 100 percent organic to avoid GM-foods. To simplify this mission, here are 6 food groups you’ll want to avoid:
Number 1: Milk/Dairy
The modern dairy industry is a heavy user of the GE growth hormone rbGH (or rbST). This helps boost milk production but this growth hormone sometimes stresses the cow’s body, leading to certain diseases that must be treated with antibiotics, which end up in the consumer. This can lead to antibiotic resistance. Even if you find a company that says “No rbGH or rbST,” you still need to know if the cattle are fed genetically modified feed.
Number 2: Oils
The next group to watch out for is cooking oil. Unless labeled explicitly, corn, soybean, cottonseed, and canola oils produced in North America almost certainly contain genetically modified products. Here, finding an organic or 100 percent pure oil that isn’t derived from the above plants is the best way to avoid GMO oils – organic olive oil is a personal favorite.
Number 3: Animal Products
Beef, chicken, and pork are raised with growth hormones and the feed that animals consume can also be affected. Genetically engineered farm-raised salmon currently being tested.
Number 4: Sugar and Sweeteners
Sugar beet is one of the largest genetically engineers crops in the nation, and with corn being another huge GMO crop, food sweetened with high fructose corn syrup seems to be everywhere.
Number 5: The Cereals and Breakfast Foods
Many cereals and breakfast foods today contain trace ingredients that are GMO – namely soy and corn additives or sugars like those mentioned above.
Number 6: Fruits and Vegetables
Although there are not many genetically engineered fruits or vegetables in the US, packaged, frozen, or canned fruits or vegetables often have GMO additives. Some fruits and veggies are actually coated with GMO made wax or oil before hitting the shelves. Some GE foods in this category are zucchini, yellow squash, sweet corn, and papaya from Hawaii. There is recent news about apples being modified so they don’t turn brown when exposed to the air.
It is easy to throw up your hands and figure there is nothing you can do about this issue. You might feel that Big Business has won again. But there are some things you can do to find healthy foods.
To help you and your family avoid GMO foods, here are a few basic tips to consider:
- Shop local and KNOW YOUR FARMER– often small farmers do not use GE food, but you should always still ask. We are SO lucky to have the Wild Ramp Market available. This blog contains interviews with all the Producers who supply the Market, including information about their farming practices.
- Look for Non-GMO product seals. Some business are proudly non-GMO!
- Avoid processed foods as they’ll often have GMO ingredients.
- Grow your own food! This way you’ll know exactly where it’s coming from. This is not a feasible option for many people, however.
- Buy organic foods. If you are concerned about cost, think about the long term health care costs that are possible and adjust your current habits to switch spending from other areas to healthy food choices.