If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you were probably conscientious about avoiding GMOs long before Prop. 37’s failure last November. Maybe you’re even more so now. As consumers and stewards of our own health, we didn’t throw up our hands in failure. So long as GMOs are in our food supply, we continue to seek responsible labeling. And we choose to take control over the foods we eat.
This week, you can stand up to the personal, social and environmental damage being wrought by Monsanto and its ilk by taking part in the global March Against Monsanto taking place this Saturday, May 25. In the words of Occupy Monsanto,
We will not stand for cronyism. We will not stand for poison. That’s why we March Against Monsanto.
Check out the full list of events to find the one closest to home.
Why does the fight against GMOs matter so much? Studies show that genetically engineered foods “can be toxic, allergenic or less nutritious than their natural counterparts.” Their health risks are higher for children than adults.
Also, consider the results of a recent experiment done with fruit flies. One group ate only organic foods (by definition, non-GMO), and the other ate only nonorganic. Those that fed on organic foods fared better in their health. A peer reviewed paper published last month in Entropy found that Roundup – the herbicide many GMOs are designed to withstand – may cause various illnesses, including cancer and Parkinson’s Disease. Earlier research showed an increased risk of organ failure from GMO corn in particular.
The best way to make sure your diet is GMO-free is to stick with organic whole foods – fruits, vegetables, legumes and meat. (Beef and other meat from grazing animals should come from 100% grass-fed stock.) In the US, foods that are labeled 100% organic cannot contain GMOs. An added benefit of sticking with unprocessed foods: far less salt and fewer industrial fats.
Sometimes labels are easy to read, but sometimes food producers intentionally make it difficult to tell if the foods are from organic sources. If you are concerned about the food you bring into your home, here are some resources you may find helpful:
- If you garden, stick with GM-free seed from companies that have taken the Safe Seed Pledge. Mother Nature News lists their “15 Best Vegetable Seed Companies” here.
- The George Mateljan Foundation offers comprehensive information on organic foods and labeling, and how to read those labels.
- Caitlin Junkin offers 8 useful tips for avoiding GMO foods.
- You can find non-GMO products and restaurants from the Non-GMO Project.
- Analiese Paik covers mobile apps to use while shopping – and much more – on the Fairfield Green Food Guide.
Of course, we can’t always eat food prepared at home. Happily, there are resources to help us think about the processed foods available to us:
- New York Times investigative reporter Michael Moss talks with CBS News about his book Salt, Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us. You can visit the book page here.
- Mark Bittman, also of the New York Times, rounds up (no pun intended, of course) a group of recently published books on processed foods.
- People want to eat good, fresh, healthy foods, even when out and about. This poses a problem to the fast food industry. Will fast food companies meet the demands of their customers? Tom Laskawy of the Food & Environment Reporting Network explores fast food’s response to the movement towards health.
- Find places to eat healthfully on the road with the Eat Well Guide to local and/or organic restaurants, caterers and other food providers in the US and Canada. Organic Travel offers a guide to restaurants, too.
We can be diligent about choosing healthy foods not contaminated with GMO foods by buying from trusted companies, understanding food labels and eating organic whole foods, especially produce. However, we shouldn’t become complacent and give up the demand for all foods to be labeled. We should be able to easily tell whether a product includes GMO crops or not.
Earlier this month, Vermont’s House finally passed their own labeling bill. Here in California, Prop 37 was just one initiative; there will be more – here and beyond.