I was standing in the produce aisle in the local grocery store picking my fruits and vegetables, aiming for fresh and organic, when I realized I had a more tedious task on my hands. Being a “qualitarian,” I am now looking for a small label that says “non-GMO” on my food in an effort to avoid the dicing and splicing of foreign cells placed in the food chain. I do realize we have to be practical when eating, but it only makes sense to avoid what could possibly cause harm to one’s health; in turn, food shopping has become more time-consuming search for that little label that says “non-GMO.”
More than ever, there is a growing concern for health and quality of life. Sustainability has become a topic of great interest among consumers. What is sustainability? It’s eating food that is fresh, nutritious and farmed locally, while produced in a way that is not harmful to the environment and eliminating genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
Genetically modified organisms are organisms whose genetic material has been artificially altered in a laboratory setting through genetic engineering. These chemicals, which are put in certain foods, may have a negative effect on our health and may increase complications. Consumers are constantly reading about these organisms in the newspaper, Internet and on social media, and are hearing about them on TV. The biggest questions that needs to be addressed are how to avoid them, what foods have the most GMOs in them and, most importantly, how to spot them in grocery stores.
It is very challenging for a consumer to stay up-to-date on which foods have the highest risk of having GMOs. For starters, these are the top 10 foods to avoid: canned soup, baby formula, frozen foods, sweet juices, cereals, vegetable and canola oils, corn, tofu, milk and soft drinks.
Besides avoiding certain foods that have a higher risk of containing GMOs, there are other ways to help consumers shop smart in grocery stores.
When food is in question, that is good enough for me. I believe in eating clean, organic food that will nourish the body the way nature has intended it.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Organic Standards prohibits the use of GMOs. Choosing organic foods will help to eliminate any chance of consuming these organisms. Another way is choosing products that have a seal of approval that have been verified non-GMO by a third party like the Non-GMO Project. Dry grains, beans, nuts and seeds are great sources of non-GMOs.
There are a multitude of credible scientific studies that clearly demonstrate why GMOs should not be consumed, and they are emerging more every year. This leads us to believe there could be health risks involved, especially when there are at least 26 countries in Europe that have a total ban or partial ban on GMOs. It’s much easier to avoid that caution. Eating foods that contain GMOs is exactly like being a gambler, you just don’t know your odds. Better to be safe and avoid them when possible. In addition, it makes it fun to search for that little label that says “non-GMO.”
With growing healthcare costs, it only makes sense to invest in your health and get back to basics. Food was not meant to be processed—I believe this is a contributing factor to health costs for Americans. For starters, let’s avoid all processed food; this takes the guess work out of what is polluted with chemicals and GMOs.
Maria Dello, CN, is a certified medical nutritionist and owner of Dellonutritionals at 75 Plandome Rd. in Manhasset, 516-365-1222, www.dellonutritionals.com.