Wake Up and Smell the GMO

6

By: Shannon Murphy

As I write this, it’s Election Day Eve and in light of California’s Proposition 37 on the ballot, Vivien Veil has done an amazing job of posting several articles to educate her fans.  If the proposition passes, it will require companies to disclose GMO containing products on labels.  The proposition will make California the first state to mandate identification of genetically modified food.  This means consumers will be able to easily identify GMO food without having to scrutinize the ingredient list.  People will STILL find these products on the shelf, and they will have a choice whether or not they want to buy it.

Californians: Don’t forget to vote “YES” on November 6th.

After reading the article posted on Vivien Veil, Top 10 Ways to Avoid Genetically Modified Foods,” I realized that I had not been 100% clear on the battle against Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs).  

This is a huge issue for me because I am the one that does all of the grocery shopping for my family.

It weighs a heavy burden on me to know that I have to look for key words in the list of ingredients on packages.  Our children depend on their parents, caregivers, and school districts to make good choices for them, and they only know what we teach them by example.  I have done a pretty good job avoiding foods that contain high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oils, but admit they have slipped past me when I assumed there is no way the product would have it.

It is safer to always buy organic, but it may not always be available or affordable for consumers.  I should also share that there is a belief out there that genetically modified food is beneficial to the population, because GM foods may provide greater resistance to pests and viruses, as well as a longer shelf life.  Whether or not there is enough scientific evidence out there to prove that GMOs are in fact detrimental to our health, I am not willing to use my family as an experiment.  We all have the freedom to choose what we buy, so why wouldn’t we want to make an educated choice?

I had a major awakening after going through my pantry with the guidance of Vivien Veil herself.  (see her article “Do You Really Know What’s in Your Food?“)  I realized I was seriously unaware of the modified foods I was feeding my family.  Afterwards, I went to the grocery store as a newly educated mom on a mission to find healthy replacements for the staples I always have in my pantry and refrigerator.  I should also note that I am more limited with my choices since I live on a military base overseas.  Although we are able to buy many of the brands we are used to back in the states, I am not always able to find an organic alternative.  That’s when it’s most important to read the label and make a good choice based on what you see.

I hope the choices I made will motivate others to look for different, healthier options to serve their family.  Please keep in mind that many of the large company brands you are buying are the same ones that are heavily fighting Proposition 37 in California because they do not want to label their products with the negative phrase, “contains genetically modified organisms.”

My Attempt at Buying Non-GMO

Here are some of the items I am immediately switching for my family.  The item on the left is what I purchased based on my new knowledge.  The item on the right is what was already in my home and was feeding my family.  I am crossing my fingers that the taste difference will be minimal, since my 3-year-old is ridiculously finicky.  I took my children to the grocery store with me and pointed out their usual favorite foods and talked to them about how they have bad sugar and ingredients that can make us sick.  They seemed pretty receptive, so hopefully they will re-train their taste buds quickly!

Disclaimer: I am very new at reading ingredients and identifying GM ingredients.  Please continue to do your own research so you can become an educated consumer.

Applesauce – I found high fructose corn syrup in my “Mott’s.” It didn’t even occur to me to look at the ingredients when buying something as simple as applesauce. I assumed only apples, duh! I couldn’t find an organic option, but “Tree Top” did not have high fructose corn syrup. Yes, I know you can puree your own apples, but it’s not realistic to puree when you are packing a school lunch at 10 PM the night before school.

Whole Grain Bread – “Ezekiel 4:9” is found in the frozen bread section. It’s organic, has lots of protein, and tastes great. Just stick it in your toaster and it’s ready to eat. I found high fructose corn syrup in my usual brand. Check your brand!

I found modified corn starch in “Cheerios.” So, I bought “Cascadian Farm Organic Honey Nut O’s.” They are delicious. Sadly, both of these companies oppose Proposition 37. I don’t understand why “Cascadian Farm” does, since it’s an organic company. You can visit this link for a longer list of companies that are “against” and “for” Proposition 37.

Gummy Fruit Snacks – My kids adore fruit flavored gummy snacks, especially when their favorite characters are plastered on the box. The Kellogg’s brand fruit flavored fruit snacks contain modified corn starch and corn syrup. Kellogg’s is also opposing Proposition 37. Can Disney please talk to “Annie’s Homegrown” and put Lightening McQueen on their box instead?

Ice Cream – Every home is in need of ice cream, right? “Dreyer’s” has modified corn starch and high fructose corn syrup. It also uses milk from cows injected with rBGH (visit www.organicconsumers.org for a list of companies that are completely rBGH and rBST-free processors.) Although “Ben & Jerry’s” listed corn syrup, I bought it because it is rBGH-free. Sometimes you have to pick the lesser of two evils when you crave ice cream. This Greek Frozen Yogurt is delicious.

Yogurt – This small size is great for putting in kids’ lunches. I was buying “Yoplait Trix” because it did not have high fructose corn syrup. Then I found corn starch in the ingredient list. So, I bought the organic “Stoneyfield” brand instead.

Ketchup – “Hunt’s” proudly identifies that their product is 100% natural and does not contain high fructose corn syrup. “Heinz” has high fructose corn syrup in its ingredients list. However, “Heinz” also sells organic ketchup. Sadly, both of these companies are owned by Monsanto, one of the biggest donors in anti-Proposition 37 contributions. I will continue to search for another ketchup brand because I do not want to support Monsanto. (If you want to check out a list of brand names owned by Monsanto, read the article on Vivien Veil “What are GMOs and Why Label Them?”)

Pancake Mix – I always bought “Aunt Jemima’s” Whole Wheat Blend. Sounds healthy, right? Vivien Veil’s analysis of the ingredients is enough to scare anyone away from this package. Guess what? “Aunt Jemima” is owned by Monsanto. Luckily, I found “Nature’s Path” Organic Multigrain Pancake Mix with flax! Lots of sneaky protein to trick your kids.

Coffee Creamer – The blue bottle contains partially hydrogenated soybean and/or cottonseed oil, cellulose gum, mono-and diglycerides, and carrageenan. What does “Nestle’s Natural Bliss” list of ingredients say? Nonfat milk, heavy cream, and sugar. They both have the same number of calories and total fat. I’ll take the one whose ingredients I can read and recognize, thank you! It’s interesting that they are made from the same company though…

The Challenge

If I have to go back to cooking as they did on the TV show, Little House on the Prairie, well then, I am ready for the challenge!  After all, I just bought a great electric stand mixer that’s ready to be put to work.  I’m a busy stay-at-home mom, but if I have to take a short-cut every now and then, I am not going to beat myself up over it.  My personal goal is to try to avoid GM foods at least 75% of the time.  If I can do more, I’ll give myself a sticker.

We need to retrain ourselves when it comes to food.  Out of convenience, we go through the drive thru at fast food restaurants.  We buy food items that are prepackaged, microwaveable, and ready to go, in an attempt to save time and effort.  What we really need to do is to try cooking from scratch as often as we can.  You don’t need to cook from scratch every day of the week.  Cook ahead and freeze your food when you can so all you need to do is reheat it on a busy night.

People have long work days, children to help with homework, sports, etc.  But if we can make an effort to cook from scratch at least 50% of the time (and strive to increase it gradually,) I’m positive you will notice a difference in your health and the health of your family.  You don’t cook?  Find someone who does!  Pitch in for the cost of the ingredients and offer a service trade: he/she cooks meals you can take home and freeze and in return you can mow their lawn, babysit, clean their house, paint a room, organize their closet, etc.  I will gladly bake someone a banana bread loaf from scratch if you want to come scrub my toilets!

If this all sounds overwhelming for you, don’t worry.  Just start with a few changes!  Anything is better than nothing.  Do it for yourself, your significant other, and most importantly, for your children.

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6 comments on “Wake Up and Smell the GMO

  1. Teena Cathey says:

    I enjoyed your post. I’m in a transition phase myself. I found that the more consistent reading of labels and research it gets easier. I loved your examples too. You are taking it step by step and switching out what you and your family use most often. Great idea!

  2. Fed up with GMOs says:

    What a refreshing article to read. You can tell you put in a lot of effort to educate others. I’m very sad about Prop 37. I still can’t understand why we didn’t win and get to know what’s in our food. By the looks of it, I’ll have to shop organic. That’s the only safe bet I’ve got. What a blessing to know you are now feeding your family top quality food. Like you said, your children rely on you. I’m glad you wrote this. Thanks!

    • Thanks! I also am sad about Prop 37, but hope there is enough momentum to keep trying. If California can’t get it done, I’m not sure any other state can. Shop organic, cook from scratch, and don’t buy items from those companies that funded the ads against Prop 37!

  3. Thanks, Annie’s! Unfortunately, our Annie’s items in the overseas commissary is limited. But I just found tons of Annie’s products on Amazon with free shipping, so I stocked up on your chocolate chip bunnies, pretzels, and cheddar bunnies – all favorites with my kids. So happy!

  4. Mary Murphy says:

    Great examples! Thanks for so many explanations. I am going back to make a list of the brands you suggested.

  5. Hey, good news! Annie’s makes organic ketchup – you can find it in the condiment aisle. We also make lots of different flavors of the organic fruit snacks – Tropical Treat is especially good.

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