Posts Tagged ‘GMOs

Food for Thought : What Does Organic Really Mean

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In last little dissertation on GMOs, I said the best way to avoid them is by buying Organic.  What does that mean?  The nifty graphic below from Robin O’Brien pretty much sums it up:

 

I don’t know about you, but there seems to be more benefits to buying organic than just avoiding GMOs…

 

But here is the thing – there are a couple different levels of Organic…. I know, I know.  Why can’t this stuff just be straight forward?  I don’t know what to tell you.  We live in a nutty world.

 

When a product says it Contains Organic Ingredients it means less than 70% of the ingredients are Organic.  (hey, it is better than nothing).

 

If a product says it is Made With Organic Ingredients it means at least 70% of the ingredients are Organic.

 

The real labels we should be looking for are Organic (contains at least 95% Organic Ingredients) and 100% Organic (which are completely Organic).   Only these products are allowed to contain the USDA Organic Seal.

 

When it comes to buying fruits and veggies, there are some ways to save.  The Dirty Dozen typically contain higher pesticide levels when conventionally grown.

The Dirty Dozen are:

  • Apples
  • Bell Peppers
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Ernest Borgnine (just checking to see if you are still reading…)
  • Cherries
  • Grapes (imported)
  • Kale
  • Lettuce
  • Nectarines
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Strawberries

I have been buying organic strawberries all summer; Max is a huge fan.  Typically, they have been running around $3.99.  Not too bad, especially when he eats them all.

 

The Clean Thirteen have been found to have the lowest levels of pesticides, mostly due to the fact these fruits and veggies have thicker skins or need to be pealed.  You can save money here by not always buying organic

The Clean Thirteen are:

  • Asparagus
  • Avocado
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Eggplant
  • Kiwi
  • Mango
  • Onion
  • Pineapple
  • Peas (sweet)
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Tomatoes
  • Watermelon

 So, there you have it.  A simple starting point for purchasing Organic.   Next week I plan on posting about Organic Dairy and Meat.  Who else is excited?

 

Just me, huh.  :)

 

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Food for Thought : Ways to Avoid GMOs

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So, after my longwinded, whoops,  I mean informative, GMO post last week, I promised a short list of ways to avoid GMO’s.

Therefore, without further adieu:

 

 

The most commonly modified foods are:

 

(drumroll please)

 

  • Canola Oil
  • Soy
  • Corn (Corn, Corn Syrup, High Fructose Corn Syrup)
  • Zucchini & Summer Squash
  • Papaya’s (mostly from Hawaii)
  • Sugar Beets

 

As if those items weren’t enough, there are also GMO derived additives such as:

Aspartame, Ascorbic Acid, Sodium Ascorbate, Vitamin C, Citric Acid, Natural or Artificial Flavors, Lactic Acid, Maltodextrin or Yeast Products.

 

After I read this list I was like- PHEW!  I know I don’t eat a lot of these products. 

Sugar Beets?  I don’t even know what they look like.  And Papaya?  I don’t even know how to cut one… (I know, I could watch a you tube video…. But, honestly, I really don’t know what I am missing…so why bother)

I was wrong… again. 

A product that simply lists ‘sugar’ as an ingredient is probably using sugar derived from sugar beets.  (PS – it is believed that GMO sugar beet production is directly related to the decrease in the bee and butterfly population.  No bueno.)

 

Soy & Canola Oil are two of the most widely used oils – from cookies to raisins to potato chips.    They turn up just about everywhere, so it pays to read the labels.  

 

Dang you- Betty Crocker Sugar Cookie Mix!

 

Now, I am making an assumption - if an ingredient is listed on your food label, it is most likely a GMO.  Why?   Because they are the cheaper crop.  (Many are even subsidized by the government).  And what is always the bottom line?  Money! 

Besides, look at the numbers below – and that was as of 2010.  The odds are likely to be GMO.

 

Image: Nature’s Path Organic Foods

Since labeling is not required, the best way to avoid GMOs is to go Organic.  I know they can be tough to find, cost prohibitive or you are married to someone like my husband. 

 

You can also look for the Non-GMO Project label which has been popping up. 

They are a non-profit organization committed to providing non-GMO choices.  I see these choices in the decently-stocked Organic/Natural section of my  local Stop & Shop.  

Last note – when buying fresh produce, you can check the fruits and vegetables PLU code. 

  • Ones that start with a 4 are conventionally grown with the use of pesticides. 
  • Ones that begin with an 8 are genetically modified
  • Ones that begin with a 9 are organically grown.

 

As G I Joe used to say, “Knowing is Half the Battle”. 

 

I didn’t think She-Ra’s battle cry of ‘By the Honor of Greyskull’ was appropriate.  Unless, of course, Hordak is buying genetically modified zucchini.

 

(Hmmm… maybe this post was still too long….)

 

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Food For Thought: GM-What? Genetically Modified Organisms & Your Food

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 Alright, so bear with me while I start to lay this out.  It was like writing a term paper….

Just remember, I share because I care…

 

 

Genetically Modified Organisms are the new buzz word around the Food Industry. Have you heard of them? 

 

This is a hotly debated topic with proponents on both sides.  Those who are anti-GMO have been labeled Anti-Technology orAnti-Science by GMO advocates who say there is nothing to fear… Yet over 60 countries have banned some or all GMOs from their food supply.

 

Here is what I discovered in a nutshell….

 

What are GMO’s

 

The Non-GMO Project defines GMO’s as:

“…plants or animals that have been genetically engineered with DNA from bacteria, viruses or other plants and animals. These experimental combinations of genes from different species cannot occur in nature or in traditional crossbreeding.”

 

Sounds tasty.   

 

In theory, this cross-mutating of crops should result in an increase in the yield of a plant, make it more drought-hardy and possibly increase the nutrition of a given food.  Sounds like an answer to famine and malnutrition throughout the world, right? 

 

Let’s take a look at corn.  Corn which has been genetically modified will withstand copious spraying of weed killer while everything around it will shrivel up and die all the while retaining the same  nutrition of regular corn.   

 

Yet, despite what is being touted by bio-tech experts, there appears to be no substantial increase in crop yields.  GMO corn was also found to contain dangerous levels of chlorides, formaldehyde, and other harmful chemicals.  

 

Did I mention the company who is producing the weed killer is also the same company producing the genetically modified corn (Monsanto)?

 

Regulation and Testing

 

At this point, I am sure you are asking yourself the same questions I did.  If the FDA approves the use of GMOs, aren’t they okay to eat?   Or my personal favorite – “I have been eating this stuff since I was a kid and I am fine!!!”  

 

 First off, GMO’s have only really entered the food supply since the ‘90’s.  Secondly, it seems like the FDA’s analysis is inherently flawed

 

 Per the FDA‘s website,  (Note:  I like how they use the term ‘developer’ instead of ‘farmer’… )

 

 “The developer produces a safety assessment, which includes the identification of distinguishing attributes of new genetic traits, whether any new material in food made from the GE plant could be toxic or allergenic when eaten, and a comparison of the levels of nutrients in the GE plant to traditionally bred plants.  FDA scientists evaluate the safety assessment and also review relevant data and information that are publicly available in published scientific literature and the agency’s own records.  The consultation is complete only when FDA’s team of scientists are satisfied with the developer’s safety assessment and have no further questions regarding safety or other regulatory issue.”

 

Regulation and Testing In Reality

 

 

Basically, the company developing the genetically modified food is also responsible for providing the tests that show the food is suitable for our consumption. My mind is officially blown….  Where  is there accountability ?  

 

The studies preformed are incredibly superficial (say, testing for only a few days with minimal exposure to the genetically modified substance).   There have also been no real human trials.  Most of the studies are done on rats.

 

 It should be noted that independent testing has found GMO’s to  be linked to intestinal damage, increases in allergies, inflammation and infertility – just to name a few.  Sounds like good times…..

 

Interference by Big Business

 

Furthermore, evidence has been provided that shows FDA’s own scientists repeatedly warned of possible adverse side effects.  However, the FDA’s  official in charge of policy at the time, Michael Taylor, ignored his own scientists.  Mr. Taylor was a former Monsanto Vice President and is now the US Food Safety Czar.    I am sure there is absolutely no conflict of interest there….

 

So, now I bet you are thinking you will just buy food without genetically modified stuff in it… well, it’s almost impossible. 

 

It is estimated that over 70% of prepackaged food contain ingredients which have been genetically modified!  Beyond that, the failure to require labeling means you are usually in the dark as to what is actually in your food. 

 

There have been many notable pushes for labeling with some successes.  I just want to note, though, big business spent over fifty four million dollars to help ensure California Prop. 37 (Mandatory Labeling of Genetically Engineered Food) was not passed.   The biggest contributors were Monsanto and  DuPont with PepsiCo, BASF Plant Science, Bayer Cropscience, Dow Agrosciences LLC, Syngenta Corp., Kraft Foods and Coca-Cola rounding out the group.  

 One last note – these same companies do not use GMO ingredients in their products overseas…

Now What 

 

Whew! That was like running a 5K…. How many of you read to the end?  Sorry if I sound preachy – isn’t it nice you can skim it instead of having to listen to me?  I don’t know, this stuff seems very scary and underhanded.  If just don’t understand – if GMOs were so safe why fight labeling them?  It is mind boggling

 

The next post will be shorter, I promise!  It will be about what foods to watch out for, which ones definitely contain GMOs and how to avoid them.   

 

 

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