What's the deal with GMO? This acronym has been flying around the food world and many of us don't even know what those three little letters actually stand for. GMO stands for genetically-modified organisms. These are plants and animals that have had their DNA modified in a lab. There are people on both sides of the GMO coin, those that they say GMOs will save the world's food supply and others that say they are too risky to our health. Many new organizations, such as the Non-GMO Project, are on a mission to at least increase awareness of what foods include GMOs through food labeling. If you're looking to hop on the non-GMO bandwagon, here are some of my favorite non-GMO products on the market. And below, the good, the bad and the facts about GMOs.
Where are GMOs?
In the U.S., GMOs are in as much as 80 percent of conventional processed food. It can be hard to keep on top of what food ingredients are at risk of being a GMO because they are constantly changing. Here are few popular "key ingredients" that commonly have a GMO risk: amino acids, aspartame, citric acid, and high-fructose corn syrup. Genetically-altered ingredients may also be hiding in fruits and vegetables. If you're concerned about staying away from GMOs, more markets, such as Whole Foods, are listing all of their non-GMO products on their website.
Are GMOs really so bad?
GMOs have been created for many reasons, including longer shelf life, resistance to weed killers, resistance to insects and to keep food production costs down. Those in favor of using GMOs say they will help feed the world's growing population because farmers can grow more food that is resistant to disease and can grow through extreme weather conditions. GMOs can also help the environment because crops resistant to weeds and bugs don't have to be tended to as often.
So what's so bad about them? And how do I avoid them, if I want?
Critics of GMOs say the biggest issue is that we just do not know what impact or long term effects some of the new techniques for gene modification might have on our health and the environment. Shopping organic is a good step towards ensuring you're eating non-GMO. The challenge is that although GMOs are not recommended by the National Organic Program, it also does not require GMO testing. For your best bet in making sure you are selecting foods that have not been genetically altered, it's best to choose products that are labeled Certified Organic AND Non-GMO Project Verified. For my favorite non-GMO products, check out this guide. By choosing to purchase foods that have been properly labeled as non-GMO, you are helping to keep these products on our store shelves.
Now that we're prepared and actually know what we're talking about when we hear "GMO," you can hit the market with confidence and feed yourself and your family how you see is best.