We are all so much more clued up on what we eat and the issues of the way our food is produced, but what about the ways to avoid purchasing genetically modified foods? When you go to the grocery store or supermarket, are you full conversant with the products you want to avoid and do you know how to recognize them on food labeling and packaging? If you are concerned about what is in your groceries, you should be aware of and use these ways to avoid purchasing genetically modified foods.
1. Artificial Sweeteners
A number of artificial sweeteners are produced from GM bacterial strains of E.Coli, including one of the most common ones – aspartame. You might see aspartame listed as trade names such as NutraSweet, Equal and AminoSweet and aspartame is a common ingredient in many readily available processed foods. Ignoring products that contain aspartame is definitely one of the top ways to avoid purchasing genetically modified foods.
2. Added Sugars
Did you know that +90% of all the sugar beet crop farmed in the United States has a GM origin? With so many processes and ingredients containing sugar, one of the ways to avoid GM foods is to eat as much fresh, raw and unprocessed food as you can. There are some perfectly good sugars used in processed foods, so when reading labels look for cane sugar, cane sugar juice, xylitol, stevia and stevia extract and raw agave nectar.
3. The “Middle Aisle” Foods
The middle aisle of the grocery store is a GM house of horrors. The middle aisle is a safe harbor for processed foods that contain some of the most common GM ingredients – soy, cottonseed and canola. This means anything you chuck in your shopping basket from breakfast cereals to cookies could contain GM ingredients, unless labeled as certified organic. The list of ingredients to watch for includes canola oil, textured vegetable protein, soybean oil, soy lecithin, soy protein, food starch and high-fructose corn syrup. And, don’t think that “health” bar you enjoy so much and think is doing you good is free from GM ingredients just because it is labeled health. Unless labeled organic, it will probably contain GM ingredients.
4. Dairy Products
When we make food choices like deciding to only buy organic, dairy is generally the first thing we change. But, don’t be fooled into thinking that because something is called organic, it is GM free. You have to make sure that your choices are labeled as certified organic. This label tells us that the cattle who have produced the milk from which the dairy products are made are free from Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone. Like aspartame, rBGH is based upon genetically modified organisms (GMO) – namely E. Coli. Even though not all cattle are treated with rBGH, non-organic cattle are generally reared on feed that contain some form of GM product. When buying dairy, always opt for products that are certified organic or labeled “no rBGH.”
Additives by their very nature are designed to enhance, preserve and fortify food so it’s no real surprise that additives are those most susceptible to science, with food manufacturers constantly looking for ways to “improve” food production and longevity. This makes finding ways to avoid purchasing GM foods very difficult when it comes to additives. You might almost feel as though additives based on GMOs are invisible, because the number of additives is so vast, all have scientific names and when included in a list of label ingredients are practically lost. You might be surprised at just some of the most common ones though, because they really are so prevalent – and you’ve probably heard of most of these ones: citric acid, maltodextrin, xanthan gum, baking powder, sorbitol, malt syrup, caramel syrup and stearic acid are all GMO offenders.
6. Know Your PLU Codes
Yes, I know there are already loads of things to look for when reading product labels and packaging, but if you’re serious about eradicating GM foods from your diet it requires diligence and attention to detail. So, another thing to watch out for is 5-digit PLU codes on fruit and vegetables that begin with “9,” as this means they are certified organic. Fresh produce with 4-digit codes do not imply genetic modification, but they may have been subject to pesticides and other toxins. Products to avoid every time are those that have 5-digit codes beginning “8,” as these are definitely GM foods.
7. Keep up to Date
This is an on-going issue and there is always something happening in the world of genetically modified food science. Keeping up to date is one of the crucial ways to avoid purchasing GM foods. Some sources you might like to keep at your fingertips are: nongmoproject.org; nongmoshoppingguide.com; and ewg.org. I find this whole issue very confusing. There’s no real concrete evidence for us to hang our hat on that says GM foods are bad for us, yet it’s of great concern. Food labeling, while getting better, is still an issue and until legislation makes it uniform, it will be a constant battle to find ways to avoid purchasing genetically modified foods.
I’d like to give credit to NaturalNews.com as the inspiration for this post and helping further my understanding. Hope it has done the same for you. Are you concerned about GMOs and GM foods?