Are you buying and eating genetically modified food or GMOs?
GMOs are organisms that have been at their DNA level utilizing unnatural interference. GE (Genetically Engineered) crops are a product of those man-made organisms. That being said, let us try to find out what we are really eating.
Genetically Modified Food (GMOs) Crops In The United States
How many crops in the USA are considered genetically modified food? It’s hard to say. GMOs can spread among any and all crops by way of – well, the birds and the bees – along with the water supply, the wind and other elements and facts of nature.
The most genetically modified food crops in the United States are sugar, cotton, corn, and soy.
GMO crop percentages in the USA:
- 95% of sugar beets (used to produce sugar) are genetically modified (GM)
- 94% of soybeans and cotton (cotton used in producing cottonseed oil)
- 88% of corn is GE
It’s has been estimated that over 75% of processed food in the United States has been genetically modified.
Why Is Genetically Modified Food a Part of Food Production?
There are lots of reasons for this. Genetic modifications have been made to crops to protect from pests eating the food before it is harvested. Other GMs have been used to create food variations that can be produced for less money or that have a longer shelf life; some GMOs provide for visual appeal – brighter colors, for example, while others make fruits and berries taste sweeter.
How To Recognize Genetically Modified Food
So, how do we know if we’re eating GMOs? The good news is, there are lots of farmers in the U.S. who are dedicated to cultivating organic, unmodified crops. And when they’re doing this, their packaging will speak volumes about it. Although GMO products do not have to be labeled as such, the fact is that non-GMO products love to promote this certification on their packaging.
Look for labels that are certified organic or verified by the non-GMO project.
Guidelines To Help You on Your Non-GMO Mission
Organic whole foods are the best option for your overall health. Eat more organic whole foods than processed stuff and your body will thank you.
When shopping processed food shop Certified 100% Organic. As demand for it grows, so does supply – thus it’s become more affordable, as well as more available.
Please Note: There is a difference between products labeled “natural”, “organic” and “Certified 100% Organic”. The difference, unfortunately, is a very misleading sales tactic. Any food product, regardless of its contents, can call itself “natural”. There are no government or industry labeling requirements to meet. Companies know that customers are seeking cleaner and healthier foods, so they’re using the word “natural” to make their product seem organic, or to fit into the healthier eating landscape. Products labeled “natural” probably aren’t, though they may contain some organic ingredients. They may also contain pesticides and GMOs. Read ingredient labels!
As far as food that is labeled “organic”, there are variations. Basically, for a food to be labeled “organic”, it must contain between 70% and 95% organic ingredients. “Certified 100% Organic” means just that. “Certified 100% Organic” food products also cannot contain GMOs.
Check. Read. Research. And be aware that some regulations may be changing. In March of 2017, several bills were signed that propose to roll back food labeling regulations over time. For now, these regulations are still in effect. Where there is a lack of information, evaluate individual ingredients. Check out food producers’ reputations online from time to time; see what they’re up to. These should be your food-buying habits anyway.
Undercover Genetically Modified Food Ingredients
Here are some ingredients that are always or almost always genetically modified:
- Fructose, malt, starch, dextrin, maltodextrin, sorbitol, soy lecithin.
- Salad dressings and baby formula often include GM ingredients, as do many kinds of cereal, processed sweets, and fried foods.
- Vegetarians should be aware that in addition to soy and tempeh, lots of veggie burgers and meat substitutes are produced using GMOs.
- Yogurt fans – know that they are not all created equal; read labels; read between the lines.
And, no health or GMO related article would be complete without shaming MSG. (Shame, shame.)
Tips to Avoiding Genetically Modified Food
Support your local, organic farms. Become a regular at your local Farmer’s Market and get to know the supplier’s processes. Check your produce labels, these PLU stickers tell a lot. If a PLU sticker contains 4 digits, it is conventionally grown (i.e. not organic). If a produce item is certified organic, its sticker number will begin with a “9” followed by four more digits.
Careful, though, because if a produce item has been genetically modified it will also have 5 digits, but it will start with the number “8”.
PLU or Produce Label Cheatsheet
- Conventionally grown, 4 digits
- Organically grown, 5 digits starting with the number 9
- GMO grown, 5 digits starting with the number 8
As you may have already heard: “8 rhymes with mutate”.
Read well and eat well! Try to stay up to date, labeling and regulations are ever changing.