How to Avoid GMO Foods

Despite the fact that over 90 per­cent of peo­ple want genet­i­cally mod­i­fied organ­isms (GMOs) labeled, we still don’t have that right in the U.S.—yet. But we are not pow­er­less. Awareness about GMOs is grow­ing steadily. And I believe it is the “small things, every­day deeds of ordi­nary folk” that can make a big dif­fer­ence. If our elected offi­cials will not do our bid­ding, then we can take our power back right now by not buy­ing or eat­ing any genet­i­cally mod­i­fied foods.

Need some moti­va­tion to cut GMOs out of your diet? Here are some sober­ing facts.

1. We eat on aver­age 193 pounds of genet­i­cally mod­i­fied foods in a year, at min­i­mum. Yes you read that right—193 pounds!

2. There are no long-term safety stud­ies in humans. Thus, the long-term health effects are unknown.

3. Genetically mod­i­fied crops use more pes­ti­cides. Their use has increased by 404 mil­lion pounds from 1996 to 2011. And stronger her­bi­cides are needed to counter weed resis­tance (includ­ing 2,4-D, which is one of the chem­i­cals found in Agent Orange!) This is bad for the envi­ron­ment and can’t be good for us.

4. Chemical com­pa­nies that cre­ate GMO seeds—such as Monsanto—patent them so farm­ers have to buy new seeds each year. I just don’t think it’s right to patent seeds, GMO or oth­er­wise. And think about it, do you really want chem­i­cal com­pa­nies to con­trol our food supply?

It is for these rea­sons that I avoid genet­i­cally mod­i­fied foods. I hope you con­sider remov­ing them from your diet as well. Let’s use the power we do have—our dollars—and avoid GMOs now.

The cur­rent crops that are genet­i­cally mod­i­fied are soy, corn, canola, sugar beets, cot­ton, Hawaiian papaya, some zuc­chini and yel­low crook­neck squash, and alfalfa (which is fed to cat­tle and not us).

Here are some tips to cut GMOs out of your diet.

  • Buy USDA Organic, espe­cially when pur­chas­ing the cur­rent GMO crops. Organic foods are grown from seeds that are not genet­i­cally modified.
  • Look for the Non-GMO Project Verified seal. 
  • Buy brands that are sourced to be free of GMOs such as Trader Joe’s labeled foods or Whole Foods Market’s 365 Daily Value labeled foods. If you eat a lot of processed foods, such as canned and pack­aged prod­ucts, choose these brands or an organic brand. Better yet, eat more whole foods, which are less likely to con­tain GMOs.
  • Since most corn and soy are GMO, choose organic or a brand that sources their items to be free of GMOs when you eat these foods. This includes sweet corn, corn tor­tillas, corn oil, corn chips, tofu, edamame, soy milk, and baby formula.
  • Instead of canola, corn, soy, or cot­ton­seed, choose extra vir­gin olive oil, organic canola oil (cold pressed), or saf­flower oil.
  • Sugar and high fruc­tose corn syrup are another source of GMOs. Cane sugar is not genet­i­cally engi­neered, so when you do have sugar, choose cane. However, processed sugar is not good for us any­way; there­fore, it would be best to cut it out as much as you can.
  • Most Hawaiian papaya and some yel­low crook­neck squash, zuc­chini are genet­i­cally mod­i­fied. Buy these foods organic. You can also try your local farmer’s mar­ket. All Trader Joe’s pro­duce is sourced to be free of GMOs, so you can also buy these veg­gies there if you have a store nearby. 
    • [Editor's note: Live Superfoods offers GMO-free, USDA-certified organic papaya spears sourced from Shri Lanka, not Hawaii.]

Do you eat out a lot?

  • Ask the man­ager at restau­rants you fre­quent if their menu items con­tain GMO ingre­di­ents. This will help increase aware­ness and per­haps move them in the direc­tion of remov­ing GMOs from their menu.
  • If the man­ager doesn’t know, ask if organic foods are used. If organic prod­ucts are not used, avoid tofu, veg­gie burg­ers made with soy, corn, corn tor­tillas, corn chips, edamame, and other foods from corn and soy. Also avoid sugar, sweets, and desserts.
  • Ask what kind of oil they use. If it is soy, canola, corn, or cot­ton­seed, they are most likely GMO.
  • Salads can be a safe option, but ask for cruets with olive oil and vine­gar instead of other salad dressings.
  • The great news is that some restau­rants have made the effort to avoid GMOs in the Los Angeles area, such as Real Food Daily, Hugo’s, and Café Gratitude.

What else can you do?

Tell restau­rants, fast food chains, and gro­cery stores, you want prod­ucts with­out GMOs. They will respond to cus­tomer demand, as they have done in the past. Remember what hap­pened when we found out there was “pink slime” in our hamburgers?

Courtesy of Organic Connect Magazine. Written by Carole Bartolotto, MA, RD, orig­i­nally pub­lished at

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