Friday, July 26, 2013

GMOs are G.O.N.E.

Genetically Modified Food (GMOs) have been a hot topic in the food community lately.  Scientists have found ways to genetically modify food to enhance the taste, prevent disease, increase quantity and shelf life, improve resistance to pests, or even to require fewer resources to produce the item.  Almost every area of food production in the last five years has been expanded to include some sort of genetic mutation or modification of crops.  Genetically modified crops fed to beef and chicken means that the qualities of the genetically modified crops are passed on to you through eggs, milk, beef and chicken.

Let’s talk about corn.  There’s a type of sweet corn that has been modified to include a gene that kills insects.  When insects eat the corn, they die.  This means that the crops aren't sprayed with pesticides.  That’s a good thing, right?  Um, I’m not so sure.  No toxic chemicals for workers to handle and spray on crops is a good thing, but what else is killed after consumption of this corn?  How many processed food items are you eating that include this corn?  Over 90% of the food you eat has some sort of corn component. When you look at the package, how can you tell if the item you are about to serve your family includes modified corn?  While many countries require packaging to include notice of this, the United States does not.

I have learned what to look for on the ingredient lists on food packaging, when we actually buy packaged food, but it sometimes not easy to spot.  You may have heard me mention it before, but just in case you haven't already, download the app Fooducate.  Go ahead.  I'll wait.  You got it! Great!  You can scan the bar codes of items you eat to find out if they contain GMOs; no definite "yes" or "no" in most cases, you will get a definite "no" answer or "highly probable."  How many of the foods you have in your pantry now include GMOs?

Remember when everyone brought peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to school for lunch? On the first visit to my daughter’s preschool, I was greeted by a note on the door declaring the site “peanut free” because of the number of students with peanut allergies.  Since the proliferation of GMOs in our food sources, cancer rates have skyrocketed, almost as fast as food allergies and ADHD diagnosis.  There's got to be something to that.  We need to be aware of what we eat, what the sources are, and how it is prepared.  Encourage your politicians to consider laws that add a GMO notation to packaged food with strict adherence to guidelines on what can actually be considered GMO free. (The term "natural" is being thrown on food far too often when it is far from actually being natural.)

How do we get around this? I cook. From scratch. Every day. (Well, almost everyday...leftovers are served twice a week and most meal prep is done on the weekends.)  The Fooducate screenshot pictured above is from a packaged rice side dish.  I make similar side dishes for my family using local ingredients and much less salt. We buy a lot of fresh meat and produce from our local farmer's market.  It certainly helps that I'm a proud stay at home mom and I like to cook.  If you don't have the time to do this, don't know how to cook, or just aren't interested, you can still have a GMO free diet by looking for pre-packed items that are GMO free or let your crock pot do all the cooking.  Pinterest is littered with great crock pot recipes.  If you're following me on Pinterest, check out my food boards, "Eat It" and "Ate It" for ideas on what our family likes and what some of our regular meals include.

Until next time...stay crunchy!

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