Jamaicans like beautiful, 'healthy looking' foods. However, the GMOs these days tend to be the most beautiful foods in the supermarket and grocery stores. So how can one health-conscious consumer find out if their food contains GMOs? Below you will see some tips on how to avoid GMO foods in the grocery store.
There are some definitive truths within our food industry that can help you determine which foods have GMOs and which do not. There are also many myths circulating about the presence of genetically modified organisms and ingredients.
Here is a hard and fast list of recommendations and tips:
- 1. Assume all non-organic corn, soy, cottonseed, and canola ingredients are GMO – In the U.S., these plants are likely all grown using genetically modified seeds. Basically, if it’s a food in the center aisles of your supermarket—where all of the processed garbage is—then it likely contains one or more of these ingredients. If you need something made with corn or soy, be sure to seek out certified organic products, which according to the certification process, cannot contain GMOs. This is an important tip on how to avoid GMO foods.
- 2. Stay away from artificial sweeteners – Aspartame is made using GM bacterial strains of E. coli. In addition, aspartame carries a whole host of negative side effects worth steering clear of.
- 3. Beware of “Invisible GM Ingredients” – Ingredients lists are often difficult to decipher, and some of these foreign-sounding ingredients are derived from genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Some of the more common products include: whey, xanthan gum, glutamate, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, lactic acid, cellulose, citric acid, maltodextrin, and mono and diglycerides.
- 4. Choose certified organic dairy products – Conventional dairy products are taken from cattle raised with rBGH, a growth hormone likely containing genetically modified components. Fortunately, there are organic and rBGH-free dairy products out there; they are also becoming more prevalent.
- 5. Don’t trust the produce stickers and PLU codes on fruits and vegetables – There are many myths regarding the small coded stickers on produce—that these codes can help identify GMO fruits and vegetables. But, while many people are convinced a 5-digit code beginning with an 8 identifies a GMO, such identification is completely optional and, as of yet, no produce providers have chosen to be so forthcoming. The one you can trust is a 5-digit code starting with a 9—that identifies organic fruits and vegetables and by their classification as certified organic, they are non-GMO.
For some specific foods, check out our short GMO foods list.
Avoiding genetically modified ingredients in the U.S. takes someone seriously dedicated to keeping themselves and their family as healthy as possible; it also takes a bit of work, though will become easier.
Some people believe that the 5-digit PLU codes on produce tell you what is genetically modified or natural. The 4-digit PLU codes on the sometimes-pain-in-the-neck labels glued to apples, for example, tell the checkout lady which is a small Fuji (4129) and which is a Honeycrisp (3283). She’ll know what to charge you and the inventory elves will know what’s what.
If there’s a 5-digit code starting with 9, then it’s organic.
These numbers, organized by the Produce Marketing Association, have nothing to do with you. According to Kathy Means, Association Vice President of Public Relations and Government Affairs, this is an optional convention for retailers and their supplier and is not designed as a communication tool for customers.
Genetically modified foods (GMO foods) have been shown to cause harm to humans, animals, and the environment, and despite growing opposition, more and more foods continue to be genetically altered. It’s important to note that steering clear of these foods completely may be difficult, and you should merely try to find other sources than your big chain grocer. If produce is certified USDA-organic, it’s non-GMO (or supposed to be!)
Also, seek out local farmers and booths at farmer’s markets where you can be ensured that the crops aren’t GMO. Even better, if you are so inclined: Start organic gardening and grow them yourself. Until then, here are the top 10 worst GMO foods for your “do not eat” GMO foods list.
The dangers of some of these foods are well-known. The Bt toxin being used in GMO corn, for example, was recently detected in the blood of pregnant women and their babies. But perhaps more frightening are the risks that are still unknown. Even while these foods should be on your GMO foods list so that they are avoided, you can buy 100% organic to be safest.
With little regulation and safety tests performed by the companies doing the genetic modifications themselves, we have no way of knowing for certain what risks these lab-created foods pose to us outside of what we already know.
The best advice: steer clear of them altogether.
Where does that leave you—if you happen to be one of those finicky eaters who values your immune and reproductive systems, and don’t want your kids to end up with the organ damage common among GMO-fed lab animals?
Fortunately, we’ve got you covered. Go to www.NonGMOShoppingGuide.com and peruse the long lists of non-GMO and GMO brands by category. Download a two-page version, order the pocket guide, or even equip your phone with the new app “ShopNoGMO”.
Although a list of non-GMO brands won’t help you figure out if your produce is genetically modified, the great news is that there are only 4 GMO veggies or fruits at this point: papaya, but only from Hawaii and no where else; some zucchini and yellow squash, and some corn on the cob. For these, unless it says organic or boasts a non-GMO sign in the store, eating them is a gamble. It could be GMO.
If you’re not sure if GMOs are bad for you, we’ve got you covered there too. Visit www.HealthierEating.org, and read, listen, or watch, and find out why more and more doctors and medical organizations are prescribing non-GMO diets to all patients.