I had heard of the term, “GMO,” seen “Non-GMO” on various food labels, and even read articles that referred to “GMOs.” But, I never really KNEW what a GMO was until I did some research.
What are GMOs?
GMO stands for “genetically-modified organism.” Sounds delicious, right? According to the World Health Organization, GMOs are organisms whose genetic material (DNA) has been changed in a way that does not occur naturally in the world. They are found in animals and plants that have been genetically altered through the addition of bacteria, viruses, or DNA from other animals and plants of different species. In fact, they were first used by pharmaceutical and medical research companies. Now, they are most prevalent in the agricultural industry. Eek.
Are GMOs Harmful?
Now, keep in mind, this is what I’ve read. My intent is not to make anyone completely paranoid on his or her next grocery shopping trip. In the book, The Athlete’s Plate (Kellinson, 2009), it was stated that the danger lies in having those modified food genes transferred into our own bodies and genetic make-up. Also, there is a potential risk that the DNA from GMOs can be transferred into a developing fetus via the placenta. Plain and simple: Avoid these foods as much as you possibly can. Eat whole foods, including fresh fruits and vegetables, organic meats, eggs, and milk, and stay away from processed foods. Think of processed food as food that can’t be found in nature. They don’t occur naturally. You can’t pick them off a tree. So, just to name a few, Oreos, hot dogs, many cereals, and, yes, potato chips should be crossed off the grocery list! No crying. They’re not healthy anyway.
Why are people on a “Non-GMO” mission?
Even though surveys have shown that Americans want to know if the food they’re purchasing has GMOs, biotech lobbyists have succeeded in keeping the public blind to this information. Basically, lobbyists are preventing the FDA from requiring companies to put labels on their food products that contain GMOs. Talk about unethical. Because of this, groups like the Non-GMO Project were created to provide consumers with the information they need and deserve to make healthy choices. Companies are now joining the movement and giving you peace-of-mind when purchasing quality food for you and your family. Lists of participating retailers in your city/state can be found on the Non-GMO project website.
How do I find products that are Non-GMO? How do I know if a certain food has them?
I’m not going to lie; avoiding GMO foods is time-consuming and will definitely be challenging at times. I’ve found that if you eliminate processed foods, you lower your chances of consuming food with GMOs. What is an easy way to find food without GMOs? Choose USDA certified organic products- GMOs are prohibited, so there is no guessing. If you go to the Non-GMO Project’s website, www.nongmoproject.org, you can enter products and brands into the “Find Non-GMO Choices” generator to see if they are verified Non-GMO products. On their site is also a list of verified Non-GMO grocery stores and even an iPhone app which helps you determine if a product has GMOs. Here’s the amazing part- People are so passionate about keeping GMOs out of food that the Non-GMO Project is completely non-profit. Its funding comes from donations and fundraising. So, all of these resources, research, and tech tools have been provided to consumers for free.
Here’s my thing: I always say, the more obsessed people get about certain foods, the more stringent they are about straying even a hair away from their standards, and the less they enjoy life and food. When you go to your grandma’s house, are you really going to tell her you refuse to eat the food she has slaved over to cook for the past 5 hours? I think not. Our society is very social, and usually those gatherings revolve around food. Make recommendations or ask if the group wants to go to a restaurant that you know serves Non-GMO verified food. However, I think it’s overkill if you refuse to go out to a restaurant and spend quality time with friends or family once in a while. That’s just how I feel about it. Live and love your life. In order to do that, you have to take care of your WHOLE being, which means making sure you fulfill the human need for love, support, conversation, and honestly, human contact!
I get it, organic products are expensive, trust me. But, fresh fruits, vegetables, even bread or pasta can be purchased for much less at a farmer’s market. Try to buy locally! Also, keep in mind foods with these ingredients almost ALWAYS have GMOS: soybeans, canola oil, corn oil, and sugar made from sugar beets. So, by avoiding those foods, you are taking the first step towards living a GMO-free life.