If you're anything like us, you frequently shop your values at the grocery store — including looking for products that are Non-GMO Project Verified, more sustainably produced and provide fair wages to the people who make them. We're delighted to see Verified products meeting and exceeding sustainability and social impact goals more than ever before, proving that innovation and non-GMO go hand-in-hand.
Here's a collection of newly Verified products representing some of the latest and greatest trends.
Turning waste into taste
Did you know an estimated 30-40% of food in the U.S. goes to waste? That's a shocking amount of growing, harvesting and processing to end up in a landfill instead of a lunch bag or soup pot. Statistics like this have inspired the "upcycling" movement, driven by innovators who see that 30-40% as raw materials for nourishing products.
Inspired by the motto "let nothing go to waste," women-led Matriark Foods is a leader in this field and a founding member of the Upcycled Food Association. By reclaiming perfectly useful ingredients that would otherwise end up in a landfill and creating nutritious and delicious vegetarian broths, soups, sauces and stews, Matriark averts greenhouse gas emissions, reduces water use and offers handy and tasty products.
Food and medicine
Mushrooms are having a moment. These delectable fungi's unique tastes and textures have long made them invaluable in the kitchen. Now, cutting-edge research explores the therapeutic uses of some mushrooms' unique psychedelic compounds. Alternative snack innovator Popadelics supports mushrooms' uses in both food and medicine, offering their crunchy mushroom treats as a tasty alternative to traditional snack foods while donating a portion of sales revenue to support research into the therapeutic potential of psychedelics.
Popdelics crunchy mushroom snacks are made from decidedly delicious and definitely non-psychedelic shiitake mushrooms. The shiitakes undergo low-temperature "vacuum" frying that protects their natural flavors and nutrients and offers a lower oil content than traditional deep-fried snack foods. All Popadelics products are vegan and Non-GMO Project Verified, and their purchase supports crucial research into treatment options for mental health. What's not to love?
Reimagining a kitchen staple
The cooking oil aisle at the grocery store offers the bewildered shopper a dizzying range of packaging and price points. To remove the guesswork, olive oil innovator Graza offers a 2-pack of high-quality olive oil: one for cooking and one for drizzling, dipping and generally enjoying raw.
"Drizzle" is made from olives that haven't fully matured, resulting in an oil higher in antioxidants with a bolder flavor that lends itself to dressings, dipping or drizzling. "Sizzle" is a cooking oil with a higher smoke point and more mellow flavor. The simple, chef-inspired squeeze bottles take your kitchen game to the next level.
Vanilla that gives back
Vanilla is like nothing else. It's more of an aroma than a food, but it makes an unmistakable impact on the deliciousness of daily life. New Zealand-based company Heilala partners with Tonga's skilled farmers to sustainably and ethically produce high-quality vanilla.
Heilala is the only vanilla producer with B Corporation certification, having met and exceeded B Corp's rigorous standards. The company continually looks for new ways to invest in the communities where its farmers live. In early 2022, Heilala used its reach and supply chain for fundraising and delivering supplies to locals recovering from the volcano eruption and tsunami that devastated the islands.
Vanilla is just one of the crops facing the incursion of biotechnology (a synthetic biology version of vanilla produced with GMOs poses a unique threat to the natural vanilla market). Heilala vanilla's product, mission and high social impact standards confirm that natural vanilla is worth protecting.
Is Synbio Vanilla "Natural"? Heck, No!
Sowing the seeds of peace
Seeds of Collaboration, or SoCo, was inspired by two observations: The belief that food has the power to bring people together, and the fact that good tahini was hard to come by outside of the Middle East. The women-owned company donates a portion of sales of their high-quality tahini to a nonprofit that supports social and economic ties between Israeli and Palestinian youth.
SoCo's benefits are personal as well as social. Tahini is a good non-dairy calcium source that is high in antioxidants and heart-healthy fats.
These products represent the tip of the innovation iceberg.
Of course, we love seeing brand and industry leaders prioritize all the best ambitions, putting regeneration and equity over profits. It reminds us just how much is possible and hints at how much potential resides outside the world of biotechnology. We'll take non-GMO social justice, conflict resolution and climate solutions over the false promises of biotech corporations any day.