A conscientious shopper always reads labels when shopping for groceries. But if you are in the United States, those labels won’t tell you if there are genetically modified ingredients inside.
Instead, you have to be a bit of a food detective, digging for the information yourself because the government and food producers alike don’t think you have a right to know. So how can one health-conscious consumer find out if their food contains GMOs? Below you will see 5 tips on how to avoid GMO foods in the grocery store.
There are some definitive truths within our food industry that can help you determine which foods have GMOs and which do not. There are also many myths circulating about the presence of genetically modified organisms and ingredients.
How to Avoid GMO Foods
Here is a hard and fast list of recommendations and tips:
1. Assume all non-organic corn, soy, cottonseed, and canola ingredients are GMO – In the U.S., these plants are likely all grown using genetically modified seeds.
Basically, if it’s a food in the center aisles of your supermarket—where all of the processed garbage is—then it likely contains one or more of these ingredients.
If you need something made with corn or soy, be sure to seek out certified organic products, which according to the certification process, cannot contain GMOs. This is an important tip on how to avoid GMO foods.
2. Stay away from artificial sweeteners – Aspartame is made using GM bacterial strains of E. coli. In addition, aspartame carries a whole host of negative side effects worth steering clear of.
3. Beware of “Invisible GM Ingredients” – Ingredients lists are often difficult to decipher, and some of these foreign-sounding ingredients are derived from genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Some of the more common products include: whey, xanthan gum, glutamate, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, lactic acid, cellulose, citric acid, maltodextrin, and mono and diglycerides.
4. Choose certified organic dairy products – Conventional dairy products are taken from cattle raised with rBGH, a growth hormone likely containing genetically modified components. Fortunately, there are organic and rBGH-free dairy products out there; they are also becoming more prevalent.
5. Don’t trust the produce stickers and PLU codes on fruits and vegetables – There are many myths regarding the small coded stickers on produce—that these codes can help identify GMO fruits and vegetables. But, while many people are convinced a 5-digit code beginning with an 8 identifies a GMO, such identification is completely optional and, as of yet, no produce providers have chosen to be so forthcoming.
The one you can trust is a 5-digit code starting with a 9—that identifies organic fruits and vegetables and by their classification as certified organic, they are non-GMO.
For some specific foods, check out our short GMO foods list.
Avoiding genetically modified ingredients in the U.S. takes someone seriously dedicated to keeping themselves and their family as healthy as possible; it also takes a bit of work, though will become easier. Remember to revisit NaturalSociety for more tips on how to avoid GMO foods.
By Elizabeth Renter, Natural Society;