From farmer's markets to grocery stores, here's how to shop with confidence and avoiding GMO foods:
When in doubt, Go organic. The USDA National Organic Standards prohibit the use of GMOs. Look for the Certified Organic Seal on labels for produce as well as meat, dairy, eggs, fish and all packaged foods.
Look for the Non-GMO Project logo. This third-party verification means the food has been tested for GMOs. Look for the colorful butterfly and plant logo on the label.
Check for a grocery chain's organic line. Some grocers, like Whole Foods have their own organic and non-GMO products..
Look at the PLU Code on produce. When shopping for fruits and vegetables, your first choice should be those labeled with a five-digit PLU that begins with a "9," which indicates that the food is certified organic. Produce items containing a four-digit PLU are considered "conventional" - not technically GMO, but may still contain pesticides and other toxic residues. If the PLU begins with an "8," avoid it.
Avoid "at-risk" ingredients. The five most prevalent GMO crops are corn, canola, soy, cottonseed and sugar beets. These are also typically added to packaged foods in the form of corn syrup, oil, sugar, flavoring agents, thickeners and other ingredients. Choose organic or non-GMO verified whenever possible.
The most common "frankenfood" crops are:
- Corn (especially sweet corn)
- Hawaiian papaya
- Yellow summer squash
- Edamame (soybeans)
- Sugar - unless you are buying pure cane sugar, expect a GM variety of beet sugar.
- Artificial sweeteners and additives like maltodextrin are likely derived from GM sources
Go Bulk. Dry grains, beans, nuts and seeds are typically non-GMO (exceptions listed above).
By choosing organic, seasonal and local produce whenever possible you'll avoid GMOs, enjoy better tasting food and support small organic farmers who are working hard to do it the right way.
Jeannie Oliver is a Certified Holistic Nutrition and Wellness Coach, Fitness Nutrition Specialist, Personal Trainer and classically trained chef. jeannieoliverwellness.com