With genetically modified ingredients in just about everything processed, it can be a daunting challenge to avoid them when you go to the grocery store. It’s startling when you begin to realize how pervasive GM-ingredients are–it seems like they are in all of the things you love and have been eating for years! But with a little dedication and your family’s good health in mind, you can avoid the dangers of GMOs. Here are 10 tips to help you on your way to avoiding genetically modified foods.
1. Buy organic
Labels that claim a product is “Natural” mean nothing, and anything that is not 100% organic can contain conventionally produced ingredients, ingredients from GM-crops, and anything else the producer desires. Legally certified organic products knowingly can’t include genetically modified ingredients–but they have to be 100% organic, otherwise the same standards do not apply.
2. Avoid at-risk ingredients.
At-risk ingredients include products from known GMO crops, such as canola, corn, cottonseed, soybeans, and sugar beets. Use safe alternatives–such as raw cane sugar versus processed white sugar, olive oil versus canola oil, real butter instead of margarine.
3. Avoid GMO-offspring products.
Steer clear of anything made from typical GM-crops. Ingredients like high fructose corn syrup, maltodextrin, soy lecithin, soy protein, etc. Become a label checker–read the ingredients. I guarantee that once you start you won’t be able to help checking the ingredients listed on the side of the product packaging, and once you know about the dangers associated with GMOs you won’t be able to bring yourself to purchase those old stand-by products and more.
4. Avoid non-organic dairy and commercialized animal products.
Livestock from large-scale commercial farms today are fed GM-corn, so when we eat eggs from chickens fed GM-corn, we’re eating GMOs. The same applies to milk, yogurt, cheese, as well as all of your meats–you name it and GMOs are there.
5. Look for the Non-GMO Project seal.
The Non-GMO Project verified seal is not very prevalent yet, especially in more rural areas (such as my neck of the woods), but I have a feeling that if Proposition 37 passes in California this fall, we will begin to see many more products bearing this seal.
6. Use the Non-GMO shopping guide.
The Non-GMO Shopping Guide is a fantastic resource for shoppers. You can download it for your iPhone or buy a pocket guide here–both are hand when you’re in the midst of shopping at the grocery store. Or go here to download it in PDF version for free.
7. Recognize fruit and vegetable PLU numbers.
You can use the PLU numbers on produce in the grocery store to navigate your way through the maze of commercial versus GMO versus organic fruits and vegetables.
- 4 digits means the vegetable or fruit was conventionally produced.
- 5 digits beginning with an 8 is a genetically modified piece of produce, but take heed–PLU labeling is optional for GM-producers.
- 5 digits beginning with the number 9 is certified organic.
8. Purchase grass-fed meats.
If you can find a supplier of quality grass-fed meats, this is a great way to avoid GMOs in your meat products. The meat is superior in texture and flavor, and your conscience can rest easy knowing that the animal in question at least had the life that livestock are meant to have–in an open pasture, spending it’s days in the sunshine grazing the choicest grasses.
9. Shop locally.
Most genetically modified crops come from large scale industrial farms, however by shopping local you can get to know your farmer and the practices he or she uses in producing food. You’ll also have the satisfaction of supporting small farms in your area.
10. Buy whole foods to cook yourself.
In this day and age not everyone has the luxury of time to spend baking and cooking for their family. But if you can make the time, this is really a great way to avoid GMOs. Bake your own breads, muffins, granola cereal, even crackers. You may come to find that it takes you less time to produce these things the more often you do it. Making foods yourself allows you to tailor it to your family’s unique tastes and preferences, and it is very rewarding knowing that you’ve provided you family with safe and healthful food.
Bonus tip: Grow your own food.
If you have the time and space to grow your own vegetables, or to raise your own livestock for meat consumption, this is another sure-fire way to avoid GMOs in your food. Most people who have tried it say that it costs approximately the same as buying your meats at the supermarket, but the quality is unsurpassed, and knowing what has gone into that cut of meat can ease a lot of fears.
All is not lost!
It’s quite a shock when you first learn about GMOs and then discover that they’re in just about everything your family eats on a regular basis. But do not despair–with a little commitment and determination–you can get around the obstacles to healthy eating and keep your family safe too.
What are you doing to avoid GMOs? Have any tips to share?
Check out the next post in this series: GMOs, Let’s review.
References for this post:
How to Avoid Genetically Modified Foods – WikiHow
Tips for Avoiding GMOs – Non-GMO Shopping Guide
Helpful tips for avoiding GMOs -Natural News
How to Avoid Genetically Modified Food – Mother Earth News