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October’s 31 Days of Real Food-Day 23

by Olivia Furlow

 

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Day 23- GMOs

You’ve probably only started hearing about GMO foods in the past few years, but we’ve technically been modifying our food for as long as we’ve been domesticating plants and animals.

Anything from picking the strongest or fattest animals to breed, to planting seeds from the best plants, to cross breeding dogs to get cuter versions. We are genetically modifying or artificially selecting an organism to best suit our needs.

This happens WAY more often than you’d realize. Practically everything we eat or interact with has been genetically modified at some point in the past 10,000 years.

Ultimately, it means that you’re changing the DNA of an organism to hopefully make it genetically superior, resistant to something that could harm it, or allow it to grow bigger, stronger, faster, etc. Back in the day, this meant picking the crops that survived a drought and planting them over many seasons, or cross-breeding certain animals over many generations.

Today, the process is sped up by artificial genetic engineering, which is the direct manipulation of genes using biotechnology. There are many types of plants that have been artificially genetically modified and available for widespread sale.

93% of corn grown in the U.S. in 2014 was genetically modified. This includes 76% of corn that is both herbicide resistant and pesticide producing, with the remainder engineered for only one of those traits. 94% of the soy grown in the U.S. in 2014 was engineered for herbicide resistance.

Ways to Avoid GMOs…

1. Look for Non-GMO Labeling

The non-GMO Project Verified label means the ingredients are third-party tested and contain no more than 0.9% GMOs. This is the most meaningful reassurance that the foods you are eating are close to 100% non-GMO and safe for you to eat.

There are currently over 20,000 Non-GMO Project verified products. The verification and symbol of the Non-GMO Project is an attribute sought by companies and consumers alike. The project’s vision and shared belief is, “Everyone deserves an informed choice about whether or not to consume genetically modified organisms.”

2. Buy Organic

When you buy 100% certified organic products you are more likely to avoid GMOs than if you buy products labeled as containing “organic ingredients.” To be certified as organic, a product must be made of at least 95% organic content. The remaining 5% ingredients must consist of approved substances on the USDA’s National List. GMOs are not on this list, so therefore USDA Organic products are also usually GMO-free.

3. Shop at Farmer’s Markets

With the demand for more local, free-range, pasture-raised, grass-finished, and organic foods and products, more farmers are able to maintain their organic farms. But not every vendor at your farmer’s market will automatically be non-GMO and/or organic.

It’s important to ask questions and build relationships with the farmers or vendors at your market. Not only do you get to know them on a personal level, you are also supporting them in the best way possible by taking out the middleman when purchasing their goods.

4. Read Labels

The most common GMO offenders are high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), aspartame, MSG, trans-fats, food dyes, sulfur dioxide, and potassium bromate. Many of these ingredients can be found in processed foods and products, even in natural or organic grocery stores. Product labels can be overwhelming to examine. But if you’re buying products with fewer ingredients that are less processed, the labels are easier to read.

5. Avoid Processed Foods

In North America, over 80% of our foods contain GMOs. Corn and soy are the most highly genetically modified organisms on our planet and in many processed foods and products. Other primarily GMO crops include alfalfa, canola, cotton, papaya, sugar beets, zucchini, yellow summer squash, wheat, rice, and flax.
Each of these plants have been modified in some way to make them stronger, pesticide resistant, or yield greater amounts of food.

And not only are humans being directly fed these ingredients, but feedlot and factory farm animals are being pumped up with GMO corn, wheat, and soy to fatten them up before slaughter. So learn where your food comes from and how it is raised, manufactured and produced.

As we learn more and educate others about GMOs we are strengthening the movement of getting back to the land and nourishing ourselves in the best way possible through real foods.

 

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