Trying to figure out the best way to avoid food with GMOs (genetically modified organisms) isn’t always an easy task. In fact, it can be downright complicated and difficult at times! But, there are a few identifiers you can search for the next time you are shopping at a grocery store, buying food online, or walking through your local farmers’ market trying to buy non-gmo food.
Two ways to easily identify non-GMO food is to look for the logos of the Non-GMO Project or USDA Organic. For the Non-GMO Project, all foods with that label have been verified by a third-party as being GMO-free. For USDA Organic, the USDA standards for organic prohibit the use of GMOs. Either seal of approval conveys that you are purchasing a product that does not contain GMOs.
But what about produce that isn’t packaged? What are the best ways to avoid GMOs then? Here are some suggestions:
How to find Non-GMO Fruits and Vegetables
Currently there are five produce items that are grown commercially from GMO seeds: Hawaiian papaya, corn, soybeans, zucchini and yellow squash. When purchasing these items you’ll want to make sure you are buying Non-GMO Product Verified or USDA Organic. If you’re shopping at a grocery store, chances are the organic produce will be labeled accordingly. If not, be sure to ask.
How to find Non-GMO Meat, Eggs & Dairy
The meat, eggs, and dairy products you buy could be from animals that consumed GMO soy, corn and alfalfa feed. In order to avoid this, you may want to choose organic or non-GMO verified options. If the labeling isn’t clear, be sure to ask, and don’t be misled by language such as “natural” or “healthy” as these terms are not regulated in any way!
How to find Non-GMO Seafood
Some fisheries that produce farm-raised seafood will feed their stock on a diet of genetically modified corn and soy based products. The best way to find non-GMO fish and seafood is to look for selections marked “Wild” (such as Wild Salmon) or find a local fish market that provides selections sourced from environmentally responsible fisheries and shellfish farms. The USDA does not currently have organic standards for seafood at this time so you really need to do your research and ask questions before purchasing.
How to Find Non-GMO Grains, Beans, Nuts and Seeds
Buying dry beans, grains, nuts and seeds is a great way to go non-GMO and it’s relatively simple and easy as long as you avoid corn and soy. The majority of legumes, beans, nuts and seeds are already non-GMO — remember the “big five” GMO fruits and veggies we mentioned earlier: Hawaiian papaya, corn, soybeans, zucchini and yellow squash. If you aren’t sure, use this handy tool to verify GMO free brands, by food category.
How to Find Non-GMO Frozen Foods
If you want to buy frozen fruits or vegetables from the most at-risk crops: corn, Hawaiian papaya, soybeans, zucchini or yellow squash you will need to make sure you are purchasing USDA Organic or Non-GMO Project verified. All of Tommy’s Superfood Frozen vegetable medleys are either USDA Organic, Non-GMO Project verified, or both!
How to Find Non-GMO Prepared Foods and Bakery Items
The five most common GMO crops of corn, soy, canola, beets (for sugar) and cotton are ultimately made into common ingredients such as corn syrup and sugar, oil, and various thickeners and flavorings that find their way into packaged and prepared foods and bakery items. The best way to avoid GMOs when you are purchasing these very convenient items is to ask what options are available that are organic or are verified non-GMO by a reputable source. Some grocery stores (such as Whole Foods) have a strong commitment to providing organic options and eliminating GMOs from their food production facilities but you can never be 100% sure unless you ask.
Four Non-GMO Shopping Tips
So what’s a hungry consumer to do when you want to try to buy food without GMOs but live in an area with few options for grocery stores committed to providing quality, healthy food? Here are a few ideas:
- Buy USDA Organics and Non-GMO Project Verified food online. Depending on where you live, you may be able to find an online grocery service that delivers in your area. You may also be able to buy direct from certain food producers. Finally, look for regional buying clubs. These groups of like-minded individuals often pool their time and money together to make larger purchases of select products (such as organic meat, dairy, or grains) thus reducing the cost.
- Ask your local grocer if they stock Tommy’s Superfoods products, or other Non-GMO Project verified or Certified Organic frozen vegetables. An informed manager should be able to steer you towards the best choices in your local grocery store.
- Visit the Non-GMO Project website for their list of endorsed retailers: http://www.nongmoproject.org/find-non-gmo/search-retailer-endorsers/
- The companies listed are committed to endorsing the Non-GMO Project’s approach of ensuring the availability of non-GMO food options.
With a little effort and diligence, it is possible to remove GMO food and ingredients from your diet. When in doubt about a purchase, ask! Let your local grocery store produce managers know that you are concerned about GMOs in food and that you want to buy healthy, non-GMO foods.