With mounting evidence linking serious health concerns to GMOs—including the results last year of the first long-term animal study that found tumors and organ damage in rats that ate herbicide-resistant genetically modified corn—more and more people are shunning genetically modified foods. But how do you avoid both gluten and GMOs at the store? Try these tips:
Emphasize fresh produce. GMO zucchini, yellow squash, corn, soy, and papaya (from Hawaii only) are common in America, so look for organic varieties or avoid them altogether. Otherwise, the vast majority of fresh vegetables and fruits aren’t genetically modified, so eat them freely.
Avoid the 3 Cs and 2 Ss. Read the labels of processed or packaged gluten-free products, and watch out for the 3 Cs (canola, cottonseed, and corn in its many different forms) and the 2 Ss (soybeans and sugar from sugar beets*). These are the five most common genetically modified foods, and products containing them should be avoided unless they’re specifically labeled organic or non-GMO.
Look for organic or non-GMO verified, gluten-free packaged foods. Products that carry the USDA Organic seal are produced according to regulations that prohibit the use of GMOs, prohibit co-mingling during processing and handling, and require preventive practices to avoid contact with GMOs. Products that bear the “Non-GMO Project Verified” seal are tested for compliance with North America’s only third-party standard for GMO avoidance.
For extra insurance, look for products that contain both seals (organic and non-GMO). Some examples include Lundberg Family Farms rice products; Silver Hills Gluten Free Omega Flax and Chia Chia Bread; Mary’s Gone Crackers Sticks & Twigs; Hail Merry snacks and desserts; Go Raw cookies, bars, and sprouted seeds; Nutiva organic coconut products and seeds; Coconut Secret soy sauce substitute, sweeteners, and frozen desserts; Choice Organic Teas; and gluten-free versions of both Pacific and Amy’s Organic Soups.
Be choosy about oils.Steer clear of soybean, corn, canola, and cottonseed oils (unless they’re organic). Instead, try organic coconut oil or unrefined sesame oil for cooking, and extra virgin olive oil in salad dressings.
Upgrade your animal products. Currently, there are no genetically modified fish, fowl, or livestock that have been approved for human consumption. However, to avoid secondhand sources of GMOs—from animals raised on genetically modified feed, for example—look for meats and dairy products that come from organic, wild-caught, or 100% grass-fed animals. If you’re not sure, ask questions at the butcher’s counter, and look for Non-GMO Project Verified products, including Mary’s Organic Turkey, Non-GMO Free-Range Chicken, and Pasture-Raised Chicken; Mindful Meats grass-fed beef products; Rumiano Organic Cheeses; and Nature Fed Eggs.
*Editor’s note: Unless labeled otherwise, products that contain “sugar” in their list of ingredients may contain a mixture of sugar derived from sugar cane and GM beet sugar.
Stir-Fried Broccolette with Garlic*
Broccolette, also known as Broccolini, is a green vegetable similar to broccoli but with smaller florets and longer, thin stalks. Stir-frying, then steaming/simmering it with a flavorful broth is a good, quick way to cook broccolette. A non-GMO oil, broth, and soy sauce substitute are used to make this dish non-GMO.
2 Tbs. organic sesame oil or peanut oil
6 whole garlic cloves, peeled and cut in half
½ lb. organic broccolette, with thicker stalks halved or quartered lengthwise
¼ cup non-GMO, gluten-free chicken broth
1 Tbs. Coconut Secret Liquid Aminos Soy-Free Seasoning Sauce (you can use San-J Tamari Gluten Free
Soy Sauce, which is also non-GMO)
PER SERVING: 178 cal; 5g pro; 14g total fat (2g sat fat); 11g carb; 0mg chol; 581mg sod; 3g fiber; 2g sugars
*Adapted from a recipe for Garlicky Broccolette with Chile by Earthbound Farm Organic.
Did you know ... October has been dubbed “Non-GMO Month” by the Non-GMO Project? This is the perfect time to watch for promotions and specials on non-GMO foods.
Melissa Diane Smith, a nationally known writer and holistic nutritionist who specializes in personalizing the gluten-free diet, offers long-distance telephone counseling and coaching services to clients across the country. She is the author of Going Against the Grain and Gluten Free Throughout the Year: A Two-Year, Month-to-Month Guide for Healthy Eating and a non-GMO educator and speaker. To learn about her books, nutrition coaching programs, long-distance consultations, or speaking, visit melissadianesmith.com and againstthegrainnutrition.com.