Genetically modified foods are in our food supply. But we can’t really be sure exactly where because here in the U.S. there are no labeling requirements on GMOs. However, knowing how to avoid GMOs can happen. In fact, there are some easy steps you can take to avoid GMOs fairly confidently.
Until GMO labeling is enforced in the U.S. no plan short of growing everything you eat can be 100 percent, and that’s not a reality for most of us. So, these steps are a great starting point to having more control over your food.
1. Know the common culprits:
Corn, soy, canola, sugar beets, cotton (seed oil), conventional crookneck squash and zucchini and Hawaiian papayas are among the most common genetically modified foods. When it comes to the first two ingredients on this list—corn and soy—derivatives of these ingredients can take on many names and appear in hundreds of foods.
2. Read labels:
Not just some of the time, not just on new items, but every time. Brands change and add ingredients and if you weren’t clear before on GMO culprits, it’s worth revisiting every label on every food.
3. Buy 100% Organic:
Believe it or not, some products can bear the USDA organic seal and not be fully organic. The main ingredients may be truly organic, but flavors, preservatives and other “minor” ingredients may not be.
4. Look for Non-GMO Project verified foods:
That little logo means the product has been third-party verified to be GMO-free.
5. Watch out for the word ‘Non-GMO’:
Aside from the Non-GMO label just mentioned above, some brands will call out non-GMO ingredients, such as corn in corn chips. But, like mentioned about the organic label, that little claim about one ingredient is no guarantee that there aren’t other genetically modified ingredients in your food.
6. Look for alcohol and vinegar:
Love vanilla extract or a store-bought salad dressing? Guess what. Yep, they likely contain alcohol and vinegar made from GMO corn. You can easily make your own vanilla extract using organic vodka and craft up some tasty salad dressing recipes from organic apple cider, balsamic or red wine vinegar, GMO-free. Alcohol is a common ingredient in personal care products, cleaning products and herbal tinctures as well. Look for organic or make your own.
7. Invest in organic cotton products:
Whether it’s a Q-tip, a towel or your favorite pair of socks, if it’s not made from organic cotton, it’s most likely genetically modified. Organic cotton items can be more expensive, but they’re far better for your health and much healthier for the planet. Conventional cotton uses more insecticides than any other crop.
8. Cook more:
GMOs lurk in processed foods. While not all processed foods contain GMOs, one very simple way to avoid them is to cook more. From scratch. With whole foods. Not only do you have more control over the health of the ingredients (processed foods are also hotbeds for loads of other unhealthy ingredients like excessive sodium, sugar, artificial colors, flavors and sweeteners) but you also have the benefit of being more directly involved in your food.
9. Eat fewer animal products:
While genetically modified animals are not yet in our food supply (GMO fish might be soon, though), conventionally raised animals are routinely fed diets high in genetically modified alfalfa, corn and soy. Skip the meat, eggs and dairy, or make sure you purchase yours from a certified organic source.