During the last few years, grocery shopping has gone from being a reasonably predictable chore to something more like a roller coaster ride. From pandemic-induced pantry stocking, supply chain shortages and historic inflation, many of us have one eye on our shopping cart and the other on our pocketbooks.
With the rising cost of groceries affecting nearly every product category, lots of people are trying to trim their grocery bills. Which made us wonder: Can we still shop our values while balancing our finances? Is it still possible to "vote with our dollars" if those dollars don't go as far as they did a year ago?
Choosing Non-GMO Project Verified products is the most impactful way you can help grow the non-GMO food supply, and we are grateful for your support. To make your non-GMO commitment easier, we created the definitive guide to which products have the greatest impact on the non-GMO food supply and which are most resistant to inflation. Looking for the Butterfly where these categories overlap can help those dollars — and votes! — go further.
Non-GMO for omnivores and vegetarians alike
While GMOs show up in virtually every aisle in the grocery store, there are a few product categories that are uniquely affected.
For example, animal-derived foods (meat, poultry, eggs and dairy) carry a lot of weight because most genetically modified corn and soy ends up in animal feed. Non-GMO Project Verified animal-derived products come from livestock that received non-GMO rations. When you choose Non-GMO Project Verified animal-derived products, you're supporting a supply chain that doesn't rely on GMOs.
Price increases haven't hit all product categories equally, as world events impact different supply chain sectors in unique ways. The poultry industry has seen sharp increases because of avian influenza outbreaks. The average price of chicken rose 23.9% in the past year and eggs have gone up a staggering 64.9%, according to the Consumer Price Index. Meanwhile, beef has shown more modest price increases and the price of bacon is starting to trend down.
The dairy aisle is another excellent place to go non-GMO. Dairy cows producing Verified milk receive non-GMO feed, and the Butterfly also helps you avoid genetically engineered "non-animal" dairy proteins made through synthetic biology techniques. Non-animal dairy products include synthetic milk, ice cream, cheese spread, desserts and synthetic egg replacements, but the technology is rapidly expanding.
Also, vegans and vegetarians rely on Non-GMO Project verification to access natural plant-based dairy replacements and steer clear of products made from GMOs such as soy.
Cereals, bakery products and sweets
Products made from grains, particularly grains considered high-risk for being GMOs, are another good place to go non-GMO. More than 92% of corn grown in the U.S. is GMO, and genetically modified wheat is also entering the supply chain right as non-GMO wheat production in "the breadbasket of Europe'' is disrupted by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. So far, price increases in cereals, bread and other bakery products have been relatively modest.
While we don't recommend sweets as the main feature of your diet, it's worth looking for the Butterfly when you decide to indulge. Many processed and sweetened foods contain sugar from genetically modified sugar beets or corn syrup from genetically modified corn, and genetically modified sugarcane cultivation is also expanding in Brazil.
The produce section can provide some of the healthiest options for your body and bank account. There are only a small number of genetically modified fruits and vegetables* on the market, leaving you with many tasty and nutritious options.
If the last few years are anything to go by, the future could bring new surprises and supply chain impacts. The future will almost definitely bring new GMOs onto the market, which is why our dedicated research team is tracking developments in real-time so we can keep you informed, too.
As always, we work to make it easier for you to make non-GMO choices, and with this article, to help your dollar — and the "vote" that goes with it — go further at the grocery store.
*See the Non-GMO Project Standard High-Risk List for particular items.