There are plenty of reasons to avoid purchasing and consuming Genetically Modified foods and agricultural products including health, safety, supporting local businesses instead of transnational corporations and helping contribute to a more ethical food industry via consumer buying power. Below are our quick tips for avoiding GMOs and foodstuffs.
Avoid processed foods. It is estimated that 80-90% of processed foods in North America contain genetically modified ingredients. The first step in starting to avoid GMOs is to choose whole foods the way they are found in nature so when you make food at home, you know exactly what is going into your and your family’s bodies.
Learn about reading Fruit and Vegetable stickers. After you have opted for whole foods, you will have to get to know how to read fruit and vegetable stickers to avoid GMO foods. In Canada and the US, GMO produce have 5-digit numbers that start with the number 8. Go for 4-digit numbers, or even better, shop organic.
Buy organic. By definition, organic food products (produce, meat, dairy etc) cannot be genetically modified so shopping certified organic means that you automatically avoid GMO produce as well as animal products where the animals were feed GMO crops.
Look for the non-GMO label. If you do have to purchase a processed food item, you can look for an independently certified non-GMO seal which certifies that the product does not contain any genetically modified ingredients.
Shop with your local farmer and ask plenty of questions. Shopping locally means being a patron to small farmers or greenhouse owners who, generally speaking, will be less likely to grow GMO foods. Shop local and organic and you are even better off. If they are a farm that is not certified organic, make sure to ask plenty of questions about where they are purchasing their seeds or feed for their animals.
Don’t eat fast food. Like processed foods, fast food is highly likely to contain GMOs, in addition to a host of chemical additives that preserve fast food and make it appear fresher (even though the opposite is true). Skip the drive-through and keep fresh fruit, nuts and seeds (nature’s real fast food!) on hand to stave off hungry before you can get home to prepare a healthy, whole foods, non-GMO meal.
Avoid the GMO list. It is important to become familiar with high-risk GMO crops – this means crops that are more likely than others to be genetically modified. These include soy, corn, canola, sugar beets, cotton, Hawaiian papaya, zucchini and yellow summer squash, and alfalfa. You also have to bear in mind that food products created from these GMOs will also, by definition, be genetically modified and include: soy milk, edamame, tofu, corn flour, semolina, corn starch, corn syrup, canola oil, vegetable oil, shortening, margarine, and meats that are fed GMO alfalfa or injected with growth hormones.
Grow your own food using non-GMO seeds. Every opportunity you have to grow your own food (even herbs on your balcony) using non-GMO seeds is an opportunity to put food in your body that is not genetically modified! You can easily order non-GMO seeds online from reputable sources such as SeedSavers or Seeds Now, and have them delivered directly to your home for planting in pots or the garden plot!
Use a shopping app. Everything has an app these days and avoiding GMOs is no exception. Try downloading the GMO food guide from the Center for Food Safety or the non-GMO project to keep GMO avoidance tips at your fingertips.