Navigating GMO Food

The word GMO (Genetically Modified Organism) has become mainstream, which is great news for health advocates looking to ban or label modified food ingredients. But even label reading junkies like myself get schooled with GMO ingredients. A recent example of this was me trying to buy a pack of cinnamon quickly in the local supermarket. Cinnamon is one of those spices where the only ingredient should be cinnamon . . . right? Well the first package I grabbed told a different story and still has me scratching my head with why cottonseed and soy oil need to be added to cinnamon. Needless to say I purchased another brand  that only listed cinnamon as the sole ingredient but it proves the point that until GMO labelling is done properly in North America, consumers are left with the big task of checking ingredients on every packaged item that goes into the shopping cart. And how is this managed if you shop for food items like spices in bulk?

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The journey to avoid GMOs is one you’ve probably started. If not, here is why green living experts or green consumers want to have them labeled and eventually banned from Canada.  And whether you agree that GMO food is good/bad to ingest – experts worry that it will soon be a problem of choice because widespread use of GMOs becomes a contamination issue for organic or conventional food. And for the consumers that love organics and clean food – this is pretty scary.

Why am I on a journey to avoid GMOs? I simply don’t trust where GMO seed originated.  The company that created weed killer Roundup to act as a time saver for farmers, then created a seed that could withstand the effects of Roundup. In a nutshell – this is what GMO food is grown from: seeds that are to withstand direct application of herbicide and to produce an insecticide. But it’s been proven that these seeds are not high yielding, have horrible effects on insects and the environment, and we can only guess without enough scientific data what the effects have been on human health.

How are we going to navigate the food isles to avoid GMO ingredients? Think positively – you are able to make new friends! Your local famers and grocery store managers are about to become your BFF. Also understand that this journey will cost more. But North America spends the least amount of their total earning % on food compared to anywhere else in the world. We have shopped for so long based on cost and saving a few dollars. When you pay for quality – you will get clean food.

7 Tips for Avoiding GMOs:

–       Take baby steps. If you overhaul your enter kitchen overnight, the stress will be too much. Start in your pantry and work your way towards the fridge. Chances are the food inside your fridge is much healthier than dry stock, convenience items.

–       The next time you go into a traditional grocery store, only shop the perimeter. The foods with the highest number of GMO ingredients are in the isles.  By shopping the outside you concentrate on ‘real food’.

–       If you are looking for a cob of corn to be the poster child for GMOs you need to realize that GMO corn is actually hidden as corn ingredients inside processed food.

–       Limit processed foods. But if you are a busy parent and need some convenience, you’ll need to read ingredients. Look for any ingredients listed with soy, corn, refined sugar, and canola oil.

–       Be thankful that our BC farmers are dedicated to high farming standards. Visit your local famers markets and talk to them about pesticides and GMOs. You’ll find your favourites and enjoy shaking hands with the hand that feeds you.

–       Remember that some food sources for GMOs are invisible, without an ingredient list. Meat is a great example of this. Ask your local butcher what your meat is actually fed. GMO grain and corn is a possibility with cattle, chicken, or pork feed. Sourcing grass-fed meat might be a long-term goal for your family.

–       Look for the Non-GMO Project label. This is verification that the product you are purchasing is GMO-free. Most organic food is also free of GMOs.

Keep smiling through this process to get back to clean food. It will take work, but the benefits for a family are wonderful! Children grow up connected to their food source and the entire family will enjoy learning the term ‘farm to plate’ and loving the journey.

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