Saturday, February 20, 2010

Adventures in Shopping -- avoiding GMOs and GMFs

Since we've already discussed the dangers of GMOs and GMFs, I would like to pass on some tips on how to avoid them.

Since the United States does not require GMOs and GMFs to be labeled, labeling for non GMO foods is strictly voluntary at the moment; however, 100% organic foods are not permitted to be GM or have any GM byproducts in them. The standards specifically prevent the use of pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, antibiotics, growth hormones, sewage sludge, artificial fertilizers, GMOs and irradiation in any products marked "100% organic".

There is a great shopping guide here including a printable shopping guide in a PDF file that is only 2 pages long that is great for taking with you to the grocery store. I printed it out and took it with me last week.

Here are a couple other general tips:

1. If it is not marked as GMO free or organic, avoid corn, canola, cottonseed, and soy products as these are likely to be GM. This means avoiding most vegetable oils. Pure olive, coconut, sesame, sunflower, safflower, almond, grapeseed, and peanut oils are GM free, but make sure its pure, not a combination of a gmo free oil with "vegetable oil" or any of the GM oils.

2. Avoid sugar if it is not listed as 100% cane sugar, evaporated cane joice or organic sugar. Sugar beets genetically modified to produce the BT toxin are now being used to produced sugar. Aspertame, aka Nutrasweet and Equal, is also derived from GM microorganisms. And not only is high fructose corn syrup made from GM corn, studies show that it can also contain mercury. Fructose, dextrose and glucose are made from corn and should also be avoided. I mostly stick with honey these days. Though I do realise that pollen from GM crops can be used to produce honey, I prefer raw wildflower honey to sugar. There are also several new products with stevia on the market. I can't recommend these, myself, as I haven't done enough research on them yet to decide to try it and honestly I'm a little intimidated by a sweetener that's up to 300 times as sweet as sugar, but one of these days I'll try it and let you guys know what I think.

3. Avoid salt with iodine. Cornstarch is used to bind the iodine to the salt crystals, so unless you are able to by organic iodized salt, find another source for iodine in your diet, such as seafood, kelp, dairy, and plants grown in iodine-rich soil.

4. Check out the labels of the foods you buy and make sure there aren't any of these invisible ingredients listed in your foods.

5. Know what is in your foods and where your foods come from. If you can grow your own fruits and veggies, grow them from heirloom seeds. If you can't, try buying from local farmers whenever possible and make sure they are not grown from GM seeds. Know what's in your foods. Avoid prepackage and premade foods. Make your own foods wherever possible and get the best ingredients you can. Its often much cheaper to make your own food than to buy premade food and when you make your own food, you know what is in it and what is not.

Being on a budget, I realise that organic foods are not always affordable and even though the organic market is expanding and offering more organic options, there isn't always an organic alternative. This is in no way meant to push organic foods. It is intended to be a tool you can use to make informed decisions about what products to buy, eat, and feed your family. Happy shopping, everyone!

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