You may already realize how critical a non-GMO diet is to the health of our planet—if so, good for you! Or you may be new to this issue and just starting to learn about all of the ways that genetically modified organisms (GMOs) threaten our soil, water, animals, insects and ecosystem at large. Either way, here at the Non-GMO Project we want to help you deepen your commitment to a non-GMO future. That’s why we created the Non-GMO Challenge for Earth Month. The Challenge is an action-oriented platform that offers education, inspiration and rewards for choosing non-GMO, whether it’s for one meal or for the entire month. Over the next few days we’ll be sharing some of the ways that Non-GMO Project staff are stepping up for the Non-GMO Challenge. We hope you’ll join us!
From Courtney Pineau, Communications Manager:
In our household, spring cleaning is often inspired by those first days of springtime sun when I discover the cobwebs and dust bunnies that have been hiding in the shadows all winter. It’s amazing what a little light can expose. Spring cleaning our diets is the same way–when you look a little closer you often find that your food contains unwanted GMO ingredients. I hope these spring cleaning tips help you find new ways to nourish your family with healthy non-GMO foods.
GMOs (genetically modified organisms) are plants or animals created through the gene splicing techniques of biotechnology. These are organisms that would never occur naturally in nature. There are many risks associated with GMOs, but for me I keep them out of my home because I have no interest in feeding my family experimental foods. I feel very unsettled about the studies showing potential long-term health consequences from the consumption of GMOs–there is so much that we don’t know about these engineered “foods.” I also believe that one of the most powerful things I can do as a consumer is to vote with my wallet–why would I purchase food that is unhealthy for my family and the environment?
If you are ready to spring clean GMOs out of your diet, here are ten easy steps to help you give GMOs the boot:
1) Kick-out the high GMO risk breakfast cereal
If your breakfast cereal contains corn, soy, or canola (as most do), it likely contains GMOs. Make sure that your cereal is Non-GMO Project Verified. The Non-GMO Project has a fantastic selection of verified breakfast foods.
2) Use canola oil wisely
Approximately 90% of the canola in the United States is GMO, so if you choose to use canola oil make sure you buy a Non-GMO Project Verified product. If you can’t find a verified canola oil in your local store, you can also switch high-risk canola for a low-risk alternative like olive oil (for low temperature cooking) and unrefined coconut oil (for high temperature cooking).
3) Remember that “natural” doesn’t always mean what you think it does
“Natural” products are just as likely to be GMO as conventional products. Even natural products purchased at the health food store may contain GMOs. Need help finding verified products when you are shopping? Download the Non-GMO Project iPhone app from the Apple store.
4) Pack a non-GMO lunchbox
Keep your family eating non-GMO when they are at school and work, by packing a non-GMO lunch. Many lunch items like granola bars, lunchmeats, and snack packs contain ingredients that are most likely GMO. Corn, soy, and canola are everywhere! Luckily, there are many great Non-GMO Project Verified lunch foods. Trying changing one lunch item at a time to help your family transition to food that is non-GMO. Here are some great options: snack foods, breads and crackers, frozen meals, and treats.
5) Give your soy products an overhaul
Soy is present in a huge amount of processed foods, from the obvious soy foods like soy milk, tofu, and soy sauce, to almost all packaged snack bars, meats, breads, etc. Soy is everywhere! Since over 94% of soy in the United States is GMO, it’s important to make sure your soy products are Non-GMO Project Verified whenever possible.
6) Be skeptical of corn products
Our family loves Mexican food, however with 88% of U.S. corn now being genetically engineered, we had to look for non-GMO alternatives to our favorite products. Thankfully, there are many delicious verified chip and tortilla (search: tortillas) brands. Like soy, corn shows up where you least expect it. Be a label sleuth!
7) Look for hidden GMO ingredients
GMOs may be hidden in common processed food ingredients such as: Amino Acids, Aspartame, Ascorbic Acid, Sodium Ascorbate, Vitamin C, Citric Acid, Sodium Citrate, Flavorings (“natural” and “artificial”), High Fructose Corn Syrup, Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein, Lactic Acid, Maltodextrins, Molasses, Monosodium Glutamate, Sucrose, Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP), Xanthan Gum, Vitamins, Yeast Products.
8 ) Satisfy your sweet tooth with non-GMO treats
In our culture, it is not uncommon to celebrate or show our appreciation with treats. Unfortunately, many candies and other packaged sweets are full of beet sugar, soy, and corn–all very high GMO risk ingredients. Make sure you are treating your family with non-GMO goodies!
9) Be proactive
If there is a product listed on our website that is not carried at your local grocery store, ask your local retailer to see if they can stock it. Most retailers are happy to try and fulfill customer requests. If there is a brand that you would like to see become Non-GMO Project Verified, make a product verification request.
10) Become a GMO risk reduction ninja!
First, learn what crops are GMO–thankfully, the list is short. Second, make a list of the foods your family eats the most often. Next, find a Non-GMO Project Verified alternative. If you can’t find a verified alternative, look for a certified organic option. If all else fails, looks for a low risk alternative to a high GMO risk product.