4 Ways to Avoid GMOs in the Foods You Buy

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The extreme conditions in our food supply today call for the application of conscientious awareness and purchasing habits on behalf of the consumer public. Avoiding GMOs is not necessarily easy, but to ensure good health and a clean environment, it’s an absolutely necessity.

Given what’s at stake with regard to current contamination issues of the food supply from the presence of GMOs, I want to focus on ways to make finding sustainable foods as easy as possible, and promoting these buying habits which support more local farmers and producers who use sustainable methods in their food growing practices.

Many farmers have realized the importance of sustainable methods in farming. There are some wonderful organic and sustainable farmers who take careful stewardship of our land. Many farmers and food growers have challenges becoming certified organic, but that doesn’t mean you can’t ask around and find out which ones are certified organic or who are using “organic practices”.

What’s wrong with GMOs?

GMOs are some of the most common substances now in our food supply. These organisms have been shown to promote the spread of pathogenic bacteria not only in the soil in farming environments, but in our digestive tracts as well. This spread of bacteria has contributed greatly to the degradation of our soil and crop yields, as well as health issues: digestive disorders, autism, cancer, reproductive issues, and auto-immune disorders.

From the American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM): “Several animal studies indicate serious health risks associated with GM food,” including infertility, immune problems, accelerated aging, insulin regulation, and changes in major organs and the gastrointestinal system. Their conclusion: “There is more than a casual association between GM foods and adverse health effects. There is causation,” from recognized scientific criteria. “The strength of association and consistency between GM foods and disease is confirmed in several animal studies.”

Children are especially vulnerable since their bodies are growing and developing, and they are susceptible to the many impacts of eating foods with GMOs in them – liver damage, food allergies, and others. Jeffery Smith from The Institute for Responsible Technology and author of Genetic Roulette: The Documented Health Risks of Genetically Engineered Foods, explains why babies and children are more susceptible to the effects of these harmful organisms. “Children consume a large amount of products that may be genetically engineered. They eat a higher percentage of corn in their diet compared to adults, and allergic children often rely on corn as a source of protein.”

Dr. Donald Huber, PhD., professor of plant biology (formerly of Purdue University) is trained in microbiology, plant physiology and pathology, and has a background in genetics. He is a seasoned expert in soil-born diseases and host-parasite relationships, and has researched, written, and spoken about the dangers of GMOs to our environment and our bodies.

Please watch Part I of this informative video interview with Dr. Joseph Mercola interviewing Dr. Huber:

Part II

4 Ways to Avoid GMOs in your food:

Now that you understand the inherent dangers in these organisms, let’s go over 4 ways we as consumers can send powerful messages to farmers and companies using these organisms to produce food.  That means we not only have to educate ourselves, but be mindful about where we put our dollars in buying food and other products that could contain GMOs. Practicing what we preach is critical.

1.  If you must shop at a store, always research where the food or product you want to buy comes from.

This can be tricky to navigate because so much of what is sold in stores is highly processed and suspect, making this the least preferred way to avoid GMOs. If you have no local farmers nearby from which to purchase food, download the Non-GMO Shopping Guide, prepared by the Institute for Responsible Technology.  Get in the habit of asking store employees questions.  If they don’t have the answer, ask the store manager. If he or she doesn’t have the answer, contact the company personally. Many companies which sell products in stores are not sustainable and do used GMO-sourced ingredients.

Never assume a product is GMO-free because it says “natural” or that the meat is not from a feedlot because it says “free-range”. Many of these labels are meaningless and there are no laws in place requiring those terms to be backed by anything.

Buy as many organic products as your budget allows, but be aware that due to loosening of FDA regulations and requirements, organic products are now commonly made with ingredients you might not want or are trying to avoid, so read labels whenever you buy. One example is the sweetener neotame (developed by Monsanto), a chemical derivative of aspartame. Highly concentrated, this neurotoxic sweetener is 7,000-13,000 times sweeter than sugar. According to Dr. Mercola: “In 1998, Monsanto applied for FDA approval for neotame, “based on the aspartame formula” with one critical addition: 3-dimethylbutyl, which just happens to be listed on the EPA’s most hazardous chemical list.“ It often doesn’t appear on the label at all, or can sometimes be listed as some other ingredient that is unrecognizable.

If something doesn’t seem right about a product you’ve been buying for a period of time, make inquiries again because sometimes things change.

2.  Avoid chain/commercial store shopping as much as possible, and keep to smaller, independent health food stores and co-operatives.

Last month, I wrote a post discussing 8 reasons I won’t shop at Whole Foods Market  when they come to Boise, ID where I live. My friend Sarah Pope, author of  The Healthy Home Economist also wrote a similar post about this topic, and why she won’t be shopping at Whole Foods, which will be opening in her area soon.

Both of us feel strongly about avoiding corporate chains that claim to sell local, sustainable foods because we understand how sketchy marketing claims can be and how powerful the lobbying interests of big corporations like Monsanto are to get GMOs in the food supply. In both of our areas, there is really no reason to shop at Whole Foods. In Boise, ID where I live, we have a wonderful health food store here called The Boise Co-op, which has been in our community for decades and heavily supports local sustainable and organic farmers and food growers, as well as merchants who produce other safe, local products.

In Boise, people complain that the Co-op is too expensive. But Whole Foods won’t be any cheaper and there is no guarantee that the products you buy which might be labeled as “natural” (as one example, their 365 line) are free from GMOs, that their meats are 100% grassfed (the USDA only requires that the labeled meat be from animals that are 30% grassfed), or that their products are actually local.  This is one of my biggest gripes about labeling and marketing. Just because it says “all-natural” doesn’t mean it is, and large corporations like Whole Foods are in the habit of letting you assume something is non-GMO just because the label says “natural”.

There are certainly GMO products in other stores besides Whole Foods, so don’t worry, I’m not being naive. But why switch to a large corporation which is putting farmers and other local companies out of business, when you can support your local farmers by buying direct or by shopping at the businesses that stock the same products and you can actually find out whether these farmers use practices you can trust?  Even though Whole Foods has signs everywhere saying they carry local products, the reality is, these stores ship in products from all over the country and the world – such as from China. They stock much less local food product than bigger name products shipped in from who knows where. And, it’s guaranteed they stock a lot of GMO products.

3. Buy from local farmers and ask questions about how your food is produced.

Because labeling laws are so permissive and we really can’t trust big corporations at all, the single most powerful way to make a statement about GMOs and to assure your food is clean and sustainable is to buy from local farmers. You have complete control this way, and can keep looking until you find what you want.  If you decide to settle for something that’s less than what you are looking for because you are just guessing or you haven’t really made an inquiry, you get what you get.

I don’t live in Amish farmer country, but we do have a fantastic community of farmers that produce sustainable food here in the Boise area. I’ve managed to find several good sources of raw milk that are grass-fed. In our area, grass-feeding year round is not always possible. At least I know that these raw milk farmers feed either grass or non-GMO alfalfa hay since I’ve personally talked to them about it. These producers are not organic, so they are not “perfect”, but they are good in many other  ways as they do use “organic” practices.

In our climate, it’s difficult to have cows on pasture all year round. However, there is one farm, Saint John’s Organic Farm, in Emmett, ID which does keep their cows on pasture all during the year, and they are grass-fed and organic. During the winter months, they supplement with non-GMO, organic, alfalfa hay.

4. Learn all you can about GMOs and what to expect, and share with those you know and love.

Spread the word to people around you. Get involved in your own community to help keep local, sustainable farmers in business.

In Europe, Austria, Bulgaria, Hungary, France, Germany, Greece, and  Luxemborg have put a ban on GMOs. To get GMOs removed from the U.S., the first and most important thing to do is change your buying habits, and get in the habit of avoiding them everywhere you go.

Next, put pressure on legislators to vote for legislation requiring labeling on all GMO products. New technologies, marketing campaigns, and other emerging activities which can easily fool consumers are always on the horizon. Don’t be fooled!

From The Institute for Responsible Technology site:

“By avoiding GMOs, you contribute to the coming tipping point of consumer rejection, forcing them out of our food supply.”

Truer words were never spoken. We as consumers have POWER to take back our food supply and put our health in our own hands. Are we up for the challenge? Are we dedicated to protecting our food freedom, our health, and our future? I am, and I hope you are too!

If we don’t take back our food supply, who will? If we don’t do it now, then when? The time is now, and the situation is fervent. So please, I humbly ask you to reconsider the impact these organisms have on our health, our planet, and the future of our children.  Let’s get serious and change our buying habits for a healthy future.

More information: 

Busting myths about GMOs

Institute for Responsible Technology
for more information and for the GMO Shopping guide, which can help you avoid GMOs both in the commercial marketplace and otherwise.

Millions Against Monsanto Campaign (project of Organic Consumer’s Association). Find out how you can become involved and stop bio-terrorist bullies like Monsanto from spreading their poison seed across the earth.

The Non-GMO project - non-profit multi-stakeholder collaboration committed to preserving and building sources of non-GMO products, educating consumers, and providing verified non-GMO choices.

13 Comments

  • March 21, 2012 - 10:17 AM | Permalink

    Great ideas, and it is so important to oppose GMOs in the stores. Safeway just dumped Pink Sliime, because of public outcry. What would happen to GMOs if enough people raised an outcry about them and convinced the food stores that they will lose customers unless they stop selling GMOS?

    And thanks for exposing Whole Foods, once again.

    • March 23, 2012 - 4:56 PM | Permalink

      It is my goal to continue to expose big corporations that try to hoodwink the public into believing they sell something sustainable when I know perfectly well it is not, for the frauds that they are. I agree that the more the public knows, the more people can make educated purchases with their dollars and throw those toxic companies to the wolves, where they belong. I’m glad Safeway is dumping the pink slime. Hoping more will follow suit. Thanks Stanley!

  • Andrea
    March 21, 2012 - 10:21 AM | Permalink

    Great tips! Unfortunately, I live in a dead zone for local, sustainable foods. There are only big cattle farmers and fields of GMO corn. I do the best I can with bi monthly trips to the big city (more selection there) and Azure Standard, but it can be hard.

  • March 21, 2012 - 5:13 PM | Permalink

    Andrea – the problem is that big agriculture has created this deadlock for people, so that a lot of us are not able to eat sustainable food. And to get it is challenging, but there are things you can do such as to buy from local farmers who oppose GMOs, or buy organic when you can from store-bought sources, or support sustainable shipping companies like Azure Standard.

    Keep doing what you are doing, because the more we oppose these toxic substances in our food supply, the more we will tell big corporations with our dollars that we don’t want them on our tables, in our fields, nor in our food supply.

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  • Judith
    July 20, 2012 - 1:05 PM | Permalink

    the statement in this article ~I don’t live in Amish farmer country, but we do have a fantastic community of farmers ~

    Why do folks believe the Amish for the majority are safe in their practices? They use chemicals…they use the cheapest they can get just like most farmers so they too can make a profit..they spray & use chemical fertilizers, as well as their manure, they also use gmo without concern, cause many of them are clueless…same with Mennonite…they are farmer’s…even the local farmer here I know who is Mennonite knows the harm of gmo’s…soy, etc..he can’t afford to do different…he doesn’t have the time to learn to do different either…he’s near 70 & is happy the way he’s doing it…don’t be fooled with ‘labels” not on the food in the market, nor the label of a religion…Amish, Mennonite etc…but…when you find one who is caring…shout it loud & clear…far & wide…to let other’s know~

    • Dar
      July 23, 2013 - 9:23 AM | Permalink

      Thank you for sharing about the Amish,Mennonite, etc. using gmos and chemicals ~ I guess they are even brainwashed into thinking it’s ok. All in the sake of making money and ruining our good earth. This is truly a crime and we’ve got to keep rebelling against it until Monsanto and the like have no place on earth to pollute!! We all can “March Against Monsanto” ~ Big Pharma ~ Big Chemical!! We’ve got to keep supporting our sustainable farmers and local food co-ops.

  • September 27, 2012 - 6:13 AM | Permalink

    When your option is Wal-Mart, Reasors, Warehouse Market or 30 miles to Whole Foods, where to shop is a no-brainer. Yes, there is the farmers’ market on Saturday, but that’s due to shut down for the winter in about two weeks. If there were Food Co-ops everywhere, that would be ideal, but there aren’t. You can read labels at Whole Foods, too, and given the choices here where I live, Whole Foods is still the best choice. People just need to be smart and pay attention and be outspoken about GMO products. I know Whole Foods is not perfect, but it’s a billion times better than the other three options we have here in this area.

  • September 27, 2012 - 9:01 AM | Permalink

    Mneed ary – yes, when you have no other choices, you do the best you can. And I’m not condemning anyone for doing so. This list is intended to give options to everyone for avoiding GMOs, regardless of their situation, finances, or access to healthy foods.

    If you have a farmer’s market during part of the year, support that source as long as you can. When you shop at Whole Foods or any other store, try to buy everything possible that is organic and local. But, be aware that whatever you buy in a store doesn’t have the transparency as the food you would buy from a farmer. And the likelihood of your money supporting a company that uses practices you might not agree with is there. That’s why in #3 I point out that the best way to avoid GMOs is to buy direct from a farmer, hence the title of the post “4 Ways to Avoid GMOs in the Foods You Buy”

  • Debbie
    February 17, 2013 - 9:40 AM | Permalink

    Raine – I live in central New Hampshire – how do I find a local co-op? Are there websites, etc.? Can you help with that?

  • February 17, 2013 - 10:36 AM | Permalink

    Hi Debbie – Have you checked out Local Harvest:

    http://www.localharvest.org/

    Or Real Milk:

    http://www.realmilk.com/

    Or Farm Match:

    http://www.farmmatch.com/

    Or Eat Well Guide:

    http://www.eatwellguide.org/i.php?pd=Home

    Or, have you tried doing an online search using the words “New Hampshire” and others like “organic food”, “sustainable food”, “CSA”, “local farms” or others that fit what you are looking for?

    I hope that helps!

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