GMO foods have been among us for decades, and it seems as if they are only growing in number. There are certain foods that you should definitely avoid if you’re trying to get GMOs out of your life. Here are some of the top offenders that unless otherwise labeled, will most likely contain genetically modified organisms of some sort.
Pick up an ear of conventional corn and chances are it’s going to contain at least some GMOs in it. Corn is the largest crop grown in America, and some of the biggest providers of corn have altered them so they’ll grow better.
GMO corn has been engineered to that it will ward off insects and battle back against herbicides. These are not the kind of chemicals you’d want to knowingly put in your body, yet there’s no way to avoid them if you’re eating corn that has been modified to inherently contain them.
It would be easy enough to avoid GMOs from corn, but so many products are derived from corn, and corn is used to make High Fructose Corn Syrup, which is found in hundreds of items throughout the supermarket, that this is easily the one GMO food to put your target on and eliminate from your diet first.
Ways to Avoid It: Opt for organic corn to avoid GMOs. Corn chips and other items made from corn at fast food or chain restaurants are most assuredly going to contain. Even Chipotle, which makes its menu ingredients known, has acknowledged that it’s a challenge to find non-GMO corn priced low enough to serve in its restaurants.
Tomatoes often make health news headlines for their healthy benefits, but they are also a food you’ll want to watch out for if you’re trying to sidestep the consumption of GMOs. You’ll have to seek out organic tomatoes, because most of the tomatoes on store shelves are not organic. The price may be a bit higher, but it’s worth it to get the good things tomatoes contain, without the bad.
Yes, tomatoes are one of the healthiest foods you can eat, containing lycopene that benefits the body in a number of ways, perhaps most importantly by preventing inflammation. However, these benefits are compromised when the tomato also contains herbicides and pesticides built right into it.
Ways to Avoid It: Organic or non-GMO tomatoes should be eaten. Often you’ll find tomatoes as an ingredient in packaged foods or other items, and you’ll want to check to see if it’s listed as a non-GMO product or not.
Potatoes are grown in abundance in the United States, as they are used by fast food companies and prepared food companies to make French fries, hash browns, and more. Potatoes are also grown to be fed to livestock, which in turn ends up on our plate in the form of meat.
You may be thinking that because potatoes grown underground they will contain fewer pesticides and herbicides. Unfortunately, when these chemicals are placed right into the seed itself there’s nothing you can do to avoid it. Such is the case with GMO potatoes.
Ways to Avoid It: Stick with organically grown potatoes, or check for non-GMO labeled potatoes. This includes potato chips and other snacks made from potatoes. All fast food French fries will be made from GMO potatoes, so it’s recommended to make your own at home.
While it’s possible for many of the conventionally grown vegetables you see in the produce section to contain GMOs, there’s an even higher likelihood that squash will contain them.
The reason these are so frequently treated with GMOs is because they’re especially susceptible to viruses that can wipe out an entire crop. To give them more of a fighting chance, food conglomerates have made it so that the seeds contain antiviral elements to them so they can be more resilient once planted. The end result is that medications, for lack of a better word, enter into our bodies.
Ways to Avoid It: Organic squash is the way to go if you still want to enjoy some squash without worrying what’s in it. Look for squash in prepared soups and other foods to make sure that it isn’t in the food you’re about to eat.
Soybeans are the second-largest crop grown in America, and it shouldn’t come as a surprise that when a food is grown in such large quantities, it has probably been tinkered with genetically. However, the use of GMOs in soybeans is greater than in other crops, which makes it especially tricky to find non-GMO soybeans.
Perhaps you don’t eat soybeans directly, but you may find that you’re using soybean oil, or other soy-derived products. Unless these are labeled differently, they will likely be conventional and have a high chance of being a GMO food.
Ways to Avoid It: Many other products are made from soybeans, like tofu and tempeh, so see if these are organic or non-GMO before buying. You may have to pay more for them than their conventional counterparts, but it will be worth it for the way you feel.
6. Sugar Beets
You’ve probably never purchased sugar beets directly from the produce aisle, but they find their way into all sorts of products, and most of the time they will have been genetically modified.
Sugar beets are often used to produce sugar, which may look innocent enough on a food label, but you always have to consider how the sugar was made. Unless it says that it was made with pure cane sugar, or that it is 100% organic, it is suspect for being a GMO food.
Ways to Avoid It: Don’t eat products that contain sugar in the ingredients label, as many times it will come from sugar beets that have been genetically modified, from sugar cane, or a combination of them both. Use organic cane sugar to sweeten your foods, which can be purchased at health food stores, chains like Whole Foods, or Amazon.
7. Farmed Salmon
With so many health experts recommending that you eat salmon multiple times per week, it’s important to note that you should be buying wild caught salmon, and not farm-raised salmon. The difference is staggering, and eating farm raised salmon is not going to give you the same sort of benefits.
Farmed fish in general is something you’ll want to avoid, as the way they are raised leads to unhealthy meat that is eaten by humans. The fish live in their own feces, and are given fish pellets with all sorts of medicine and growth vitamins to help the fish grow faster so they can be harvested more quickly. On top of all of this it’s a very inhumane way to grow most breeds of fish, and is unsustainable for predatory fish that rely on tons of other types of fish to survive.
Ways to Avoid It: Always choose wild caught Alaskan salmon so you’ll be avoiding the GMOs and other toxic additives found in farm raised salmon. You should opt for wild caught versions of all your favorite fish to avoid the contaminants in farmed fish.
8. Conventional Meat
Because cows, chickens, and other animals humans eat are now being fed unnatural diets based on corn and other grains that have been genetically modified, they become a source of GMOs. You are what you eat, but you are also what what you eat eats.
It’s very unnatural for a cow to eat corn and grains, but it goes a step further when they are being fed corn and grains that have been genetically modified.
Ways to Avoid It: Buy organic meat whenever it’s available, and opt for grass-fed beef. This not only gives you healthier meat because of the way these animals are cared for while they are alive, and the way they are slaughtered, but it helps you avoid the needless intake of GMOs.
9. Conventional Milk
Conventional milking cows are fed a steady diet of GMO-laced feed, as well as pumped full of antibiotics and other drugs to try to keep them healthy in spite of their living conditions. It’s illogical to think that these kinds of cows could produce milk that is healthy for a human.
Ways to Avoid It: Use organic, pasture-raised milk, which will come from cows that have been raised organically. You can also use almond milk, just make sure that it is organic as well.
10. Conventional Juice
Juice is supposed to be good for you, but the conventional juice you’ll find in the store has most probably been sweetened with either High Fructose Corn syrup, or another sweetener that is made from GMO foods.
Juice still has a reputation of being a healthy food, but it only takes a minute to read the labels of the best-selling juice brands to realize that any good that can come from the juice has been stripped away and replaced with ingredients that make the Nutrition Information read more like a soda label.
Ways to Avoid It: Make your own fresh juice from organic fruits and vegetables. You’ll often find that they’re plenty sweet enough without the help of Big Food adding in sweeteners and other chemicals to improve the taste.
11. Pre-Made Foods
Just about every pre-packaged, processed food is going to contain GMOs, unless it’s labeled as organic. This not only includes much of what you’ll find down the aisles of the supermarket, but fast food chains and nationwide family restaurants.
While it may be more convenient to eat prepared foods, you are giving up your autonomy and hoping that whoever you’re purchasing the food from has your best interest at heart. Most often, it is the bottom line that is most important, and to cut costs most food shops will work in low-cost food ingredients which usually contain GMOs.
Ways to Avoid It: Prepare your own foods using wholesome, organic ingredients. It’s really the only way you’ll know that you’re being served something that is GMO free or not.
12. Many Types of Oil
Two of the most readily available oils, vegetable oil and canola oil, are almost always going to have GMOs in them, because the vegetables and canola that are used are GMO foods.
Soybean oil is another oil that is likely to contain GMOs as we’ve already seen how the majority of soybeans have them. Organic soybean oil would be one way to go, but there are several more options available to you.
Ways to Avoid It: Use oils that are pure and natural, such as organic olive oil, or organic coconut oil. These oils will not only help you avoid GMOs, but they provide additional health benefits by containing healthy fats that will improve your health, rather than take away from it.
Scan the soda aisle at the grocery store, and chances are what you see is loaded with GMOs. That’s because almost every sugary beverage is sweetened with High Fructose Corn Syrup, made from corn that has been genetically modified.
Look for High Fructose Corn Syrup in more than just sodas, as food manufacturers like to use it anytime they are in need of a sweetener. Be aware that these companies have caught on to the fact that consumers are catching on and have been lobbying to rename HFCS to something a little more “consumer friendly.” So far they’ve failed, but that doesn’t mean they always will.
Ways to Avoid It: Opt for healthier beverages that are better for you, such as green tea, herbal teas, or plain water. Or switch to sodas that are made with pure cane sugar instead of High Fructose Corn Syrup, which can be found at stores like Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s.