What’s the quickest, easiest way to avoid buying foods that contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs)? Look for the Non-GMO Project Verified seal and the USDA Organic seal on the label.
Increasing numbers of consumers are doing just that. The Non-GMO Project Verified label is the fastest growing label claim in the natural foods industry, and sales of organic food products in the United States continue to grow each year. The Non GMO Project is North America’s only independent verification program for products made according to the best practices for GMO avoidance, and USDA certified organic products cannot intentionally include any GMO ingredients.
So, why the growing trend to seek out and buy non-GMO foods? Here are a few reasons:
Not surprisingly, food purveyors are responding to the growing demand. A few hundred companies now have products enrolled in the Non-GMO Project, and those companies are submitting more and more products to be verified. As of June 2012, 6,000 products were currently enrolled in the Non-GMO Project, 4,000 of which were Non-GMO Project Verified.
Check the Label
The nine genetically modified foods currently on the market are: corn, canola, cottonseed, soybeans, sugar beets, alfalfa, papaya (from Hawaii only), and some zucchini and yellow squash. GMOs are hidden in countless products that contain ingredients derived from these foods, such as cornstarch, canola and cottonseed oils, soy lecithin, and sugar made from sugar beets (“safe” sugar should be labeled organic or made from sugar cane). To avoid GMOs, steer clear of these at-risk foods and their derivatives.
Or look for 23 different categories of Non-GMO Project Verified products. These include non-GMO organic cheese, non-GMO chips, non-GMO cereals, and even non-GMO candy canes. To search the complete list of non-GMO products, visit nongmoproject.org.
October Is Non-GMO Month
Watch for non-GMO featured products and specials at natural food stores in October, which was named Non-GMO Month three years ago by the Non-GMO Project in an effort to raise awareness. Last year, nearly 1,000 natural food stores throughout the United States and Canada took part. Additional information and listings of non-GMO events during the month can be found at nongmomonth.org.
To look for organic products as a way of avoiding GMOs, search through the Organic Consumers Association Buying Guide (organicconsumers.org), and the list compiled by the Organic Kitchen (organickitchen.com), an organic product, research, and marketing firm.
Taco Salad with Broiled Chicken Strips*
At-risk GMO ingredients in typical Mexican cooking include corn, cheese, meat from animals fed GMO feed, and vegetable oils. By seeking out and buying organic or non-GMO versions—and using olive oil instead of canola, corn, cottonseed, or soybean oils—it’s easy to make this versatile taco salad recipe free of GMOs.
1-2 tsp. ground cumin
1-2 tsp. dried oregano leaves
½ tsp. garlic powder
½ tsp. onion powder
½ tsp. unrefined sea salt
Black pepper to taste
1 lb. organic boneless chicken breasts, pounded or cut thin
1 Tbs. plus 4 tsp. organic cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 cups organic salsa
4 tsp. fresh lime juice
4 handfuls non-GMO corn chips or non-GMO bean chips, divided
10 cups organic green leaf lettuce
5 green onions, chopped
1 pint organic cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered (optional)
2 medium avocados, peeled, pitted, and chopped
2 oz. organic cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese, shredded (optional)
4 Tbs. chopped fresh cilantro
PER SERVING: 516 cal; 28g pro; 28g total fat (4g sat fat); 38g carb; 63mg chol; 717mg sod; 10g fiber; 3g sugars
*Recipe reprinted from author Melissa Diane Smith's Going Against the Grain Group, 2012. Smith is an Institute for Responsible Technology—trained GMO speaker.