Awareness about the presence of Genetically modified organisms (GMO) in the food supply is at an all-time high throughout the United States, thanks in large part to the Proposition 37 ballot initiative in California. But many people now ask the question: "If GMOs are not labeled, how can I know if the foods I buy contain them or not?" To help you make the best effort to avoid GMOs when buying at the supermarket, here are six recommendations on what to look for and what to avoid.
1. Corn, soybeans, cottonseed, canola
Avoid buying foods that contain non-organic soy, corn, cotton or canola seeds. Virtually all processed foods found in the "central aisle" section of the grocery store contain some form of soybeans, corn, cottonseed or canola, all crops of which are usually GMOs, if they are not certified as organic. Everything, from cookies and cookies to cereals and sandwiches, contains them, which means you'll want to avoid them like the plague.
The common ingredients to be specifically considered include some of the most obvious ones, such as high fructose corn syrup, soybean oil and canola oil. But there are others you'll want to consider: soy lecithin, an emulsifier added to all kinds of foods, including "healthy" foods, as well as soy protein, textured vegetable protein, mixed tocopherols (vitamin E) and the food starch. Unless they are certified as organic, all these ingredients are probably GMOs.
2. PLU codes in fruits and vegetables
If the PLU code on fruits, vegetables start with an "8", avoid such products. When you buy fruits and vegetables, your first choice will want to be those labeled with a five-digit PLU that startswith a "9", which indicates that it is certified as organic. Items produced that contain a four-digit PLU are
considered "conventional", which means that they are not technically GMOs, but may still contain pesticides and other toxic waste. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has created a useful purchasing guide for selecting safe products.
Produce the elements you will want specifically and always avoid: those with a five-digit PLU that start with the number "8", since these are GMOs. The vast majority of non-organic papayas, as well as several varieties of courgettes and non-organic pumpkins are also of GM origin, so you will also want to specifically buy organic varieties of these foods. Genetic handlers are now also working on a genetically modified apple that does not turn brown, so be careful with any apple that remains strangely white when cut or injured.
3. Sinister Sugars
Unless the added sugar is specifically identified as "cane", it is likely to come from genetically modified sugar beets. At least 90 percent of the sugar beet crop grown in the US UU It is of transgenic origin, which means that if any food product contains "sugar" or some other derivative of sugar such as glucose or sucrose, it is more than likely that it is a GMO. Always look for "cane sugar" or, preferably, "evaporated cane juice", to avoid transgenic sugar. Raw agave nectar, pure stevia extract and xylitol are also safe, sugar and sugar substitutes without GMO.
4. Artificial sweeteners.
If it contains artificial sweetener, it is likely to contain GMO. The popular substitute for aspartame artificial sugar, which carries the trade names Equal, NutraSweet and AminoSweet, is produced using strains of transgenic E. coli bacteria, which means that it is also an OGM. Anything that contains aspartame is a no-no when it comes to food.
5. Ambiguous additives
Beware of ambiguous additives such as xanthan gum, citric acid, maltodextrin and other common GMO offenders. Many texturizing agents of common foods, flavor enhancers, thickeners, sweeteners and fortifiers are also derived from GMOs. Some of the most common offenders include ingredients such as xanthan gum, citric acid, maltodextrin, lactic acid, dextrose, caramel color, baking powder, malt syrup, modified food starch, mono and diglycerides, sorbitol, stearic acid and triglycerides. The Institute of Responsible Technology (IRT) has created a useful list of "invisible GM ingredients" that you can consult while you buy.
"We are poisoning ourselves with highly processed and nutrient-deficient foods." – Dr. Ian Brighthope (Food matters movie)
6. Dairy products
Avoid any dairy product that is not organic or does not contain the "No rBGH" label. Unless a dairy product is specifically labeled as certified organic or does not contain the artificial growth hormone rBGH, which is sometimes called rBST, it is likely to contain GMO. Short for recombinant bovine growth hormone, rBGH is created using E. coli OGM as well as aspartame, and is used in conventional cattle unless otherwise indicated.
This means that all non-organic yogurt, cheese, butter, milk and ice cream that does not specifically bear a "No rBGH" label of some kind is likely to be made with GMOs. It is likely that non-organic dairy cows are also fed GM feed, which means that your best bet is to stay alone with organic or non-genetically modified dairy products at all times.
The Non-GMO Project has also developed a certification program through which food manufacturers can uniformly label food products that are not made with GMOs. Many food products now have the "Verified" label of the Non-GMO Project, which will help you to be sure that the food you buy is clean, safe and free of GMOs.
You may also want to download the FREE 2012 Pesticide Buyers Guide, so you can take it with you when you go shopping. Highlights the dirty dozen of fruits and vegetables that are full of pesticides and should be avoided unless they are organic, and the 15 clean ones that are good for not buying organic products if you do not have access to them, since your pesticide levels are many lower .
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