If you guys have been following along for a while now, then you know I’m pretty serious about monitoring what I put into my body. Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean that I’ve got a calorie spreadsheet or a weekly pasta noodle quota. I love food too much for that kind of rigidity! What it does mean is that I like to know what ingredients go into the food I’m using to fuel my body. You know that a lot of processed foods are pumped full of unnatural ingredients that you darn well don’t want to flow through your system. Sometimes though, harmful ingredients can creep onto your dinner plate without you even knowing. Eek.
A few years ago, I read a book called The Abs Diet, and I came to a fork in the dietary road (pun intended). The book stressed a change in lifestyle, not some fad diet that would help you for five minutes only to crash and burn quicker than you can whip up some avocado toast. It was like someone opened the blinds, and I could see how little attention I’d been paying to what I put into my body.
So I pledged allegiance to a Non-GMO lifestyle, and I’ve never looked back.
In honor of the New Year, I thought it would be appropriate to create a post centered around Non-GMO practices. If you’re interested in making a change that will help you feel better and protect your health, or just want to know what the heck GMOs are, we’re stripping it down into the basics. There are no dumb questions, but in case you’re afraid to ask, I’m laying it out anyway.
What does GMO even mean?
GMO stands for Genetically Modified Organism. This means that an organism has been manipulated in a lab to affect its makeup through genetic engineering (GE). Essentially scientists alter the makeup of plants, animals, and other organisms to give them desirable traits such as resistance to disease or pests. By doing so, scientists create new combinations of plants, animals, and bacteria, that wouldn’t normally occur in nature, such as potatoes with bacteria genes and fish with cattle growth genes.
What types of foods are we talking about?
According to the Center For Food Safety (CFS), up to 92% of U.S. corn is genetically engineered, along with 94% of soybeans, and 94% of cotton. These crops are used as ingredients in many foods. Corn, soybean, and cottonseed oils are used in commonly consumed products such as peanut butter, cereal, salad dressing, crackers, chips, bread, and even infant formula just to name a few. The CFS says that up to 75% of processed foods on grocery store shelves contain genetically modified organisms. How. Wild. Is. That.
Where’s the fire?
In all honesty, it’s unknown whether GMO products are safe and what long-term effects they may have. Some argue that genetic engineering is an alternative to spraying crops with pesticides and that it’s is no less harmful than the latter. Depending on who you talk to, you may be told that foods containing GMOs are 100% safe to eat or that you might as well drink poison.
Recently, evidence has arisen that connects GMOs with health issues, environmental detriment, and harm to animals. According to activists at the Institute for Responsible Technology, “Genetically modified foods have been linked to toxic and allergic reactions, sick, sterile and dead livestock, and damage to virtually every organ studied in lab animals.” The long-term effects of GMOs are completely unknown, which means they could be a-ok or they could be making us sick, wearing down our bodies, and affecting our planet. In my opinion, I prefer to keep anything that isn’t natural out of my system. It if doesn’t grow, I don’t eat it.
How do I know if my food contains GMOs?
You don’t. According to nongmoproject.org, 64 countries around the globe require that foods containing GMOs are labeled. Among these are Australia, Japan, and all countries in the European Union. The bad news? GMOs are not required to be labeled in the U.S. and Canada. This means that foods can go from farm to grocery store to your dinner plate without a call for transparency on what alterations were made to produce it.
What can you do?
I prefer to shop for all organic foods and look for non-GMO labels. When I’m not at the farmer’s market, Whole Foods and Trader Joes are my go-to grocery stores. They’re abundant in fresh foods made with whole ingredients. These stores may be a little more expensive, but in my opinion, it’s worth it to know that I’m keeping harmful ingredients and unnatural substances out of my body. A natural lifestyle is the only one for me.
I know I sound pretty science-y in this post, but that’s because I wanted to give you guys some cold, hard facts. Below are a few websites I used to break down the deatails in case you’re interested in learning more.
Don’t forget to keep it fresh, read the labels, and nourish your body! You’ll eat, look, and feel better. Wins all around.