Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have found their way into most of the food that we eat. They can be found in crops such as cotton, soy, corn, and canola — and these few crops are the basis of most commercial and packaged food that is sold in the supermarket.
A simple solution to this problem is, of course, to just stop eating these foods and eat whole foods instead, but the problem with GMOs goes much further than simply avoiding them. There’s a substantial amount of controversy as to whether GMOs are actually beneficial. The initial theory and was that they would help to end world hunger, provide new varieties of food, improve rural livelihoods, and help the environment, but I believe they have created more harm than good. GMOs have proven to be unsustainable, as farmers have to use new seeds every year while destroying the land, and they may also contribute to health problems like allergies by contaminating large portions of the foods and crops that certain populations rely on.
GMOs are increasingly unpopular in Europe. In Germany, they have not only been rejected by consumers but farmers are liable if they are caught planting GMO crops. Unfortunately, the trend is not the same in North America, where there are large companies that will do anything they can to protect “their seeds” and make sure that they are the only ones used by farmers on the majority of North American farmland. This is a sad truth, but there is something you can do. You have a choice to make each time you buy food. There are resources available like the Non-GMO Project, which has set out to help consumers find GMO-free products. It is important to know and learn what you can do as a consumer and what you can do for your health.
Then there is the question of organic foods. What is the benefit of buying organic — is there a difference? An earlier article I wrote explains why there is. Transitioning into buying all organic doesn’t happen overnight. You have to ease into it, do your research, and learn about the benefits of eating this way. Organic and non-GMO foods taste better, and you will also feel better physically and mentally knowing that you not contaminating your body. You have the choice to not put toxic foods into your body, where it can affect your health. So choose wisely!
Here are some tips on avoiding GMOs in your foods, from the Non-GMO Shopping Guide and Jennifer Grayson, the Huffington Post‘s environmental editor:
1. Buy organic: Foods are not allowed to receive organic labelling if they intentionally include GMO ingredients.
2. Check the labelling: The Non-GMO Project Seal is independently verified by a third party in North America.
3. Avoid the most common GMO crops: The eight most common GMO crops are sugar beets, corn, soybeans, wheat, canola, cottonseed, most Hawaiian papaya, and small amounts of zucchini and summer squash. Avoid these ingredients or look for non-GMO sources of them.
4. Eat less processed and packaged foods: These often contain corn or corn byproducts like high-fructose corn syrup, and 73 percent of corn crops grown in the U.S. are GMO. Processed foods are also often higher in fats, sugar and sodium.
5. Pick up a shopping guide: Greenpeace has a guide to avoiding GMO foods, with several brands and products listed.
Chunky corn salsa
2 ears of summer fresh corn (organic and non–GMO)
1 tbsp grapseed oil
2 cloves of garlic
3 ripe tomatoes, chopped
1 pint of tomatillos (green tomatoes)
1/2 red onion, chopped
2 green onions
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp chili powder (optional)
1 tsp honey
Salt to taste
1. Shave the kernels off the ear of corn over a bowl.
2. In a medium saucepan, warm up the oil with the garlic for a few minutes, add the corn kernels and red onion.
3. Sauté for 5-10 minutes until kernels turn bright yellow and onions are soft.
4. In a small food processor, lightly puree the chopped tomatoes and tomatillos (so that they are still chunky).
5. Combine the tomato/tomatillo puree to the saucepan with the rest of the ingredients.
6. Simmer on low heat for another 5-10 minutes until all the flavours are combined.
7. Refrigerate the salsa in a glass bowl for a few hours to chill.
8. Remove from fridge and serve with GMO-free corn chips!
Marni Wasserman is a culinary nutritionist in Toronto whose philosophy is stemmed around whole foods. She is dedicated to providing balanced lifestyle choices through natural foods. Using passion and experience, she strives to educate individuals on how everyday eating can be simple and delicious.