In Support of GM Food Labels

Wanna hear something ironic? I’ll tell you anyway. ;) I was putting the final touches on a post about controversial blog topics when I realized that a petition regarding a highly controversial issue—genetically modified foods—is about to wrap up. And once again, I can’t keep my mouth shut  feel compelled to speak up.

The GM food debate is raging, with intriguing arguments on both sides. The World Health Organization defines GM foods as “organisms in which the genetic material (DNA) has been altered in a way that does not occur naturally.” It’s done for numerous reasons, including supply and demand, financial gain and, believe or not, health. Corn, cotton and soy are the current biggies; they’ve been genetically modified since the mid-90s to make a variety of foods and products, including high-fructose corn syrup and loads of other processed foods.

Supporters of GM foods believe they can benefit consumers by creating more nutritious, abundant crops and plants more resistant to disease. Opponents fear various health risks, including allergic reactions and resistance to antibiotics. Though we’re lacking evidence that GM foods pose health risks—at least so far—and some research points to benefits, I believe that we should have the right to choose whether or not our foods have been genetically altered. (So do most Americans, according to ABC News.)

Do you prefer to know what you’re eating?

GE food labels are required by many countries worldwide, including 15 European countries, China, Japan and Russia. If you feel that the U.S. should follow suit, please visit the Center for Food and sign the petition by Tuesday, March 27th. And please pass it on.

Regardless of the outcome of the labeling law, here are some ways to help ensure that your foods are nutrient-rich and contain little, if any, genetically modified ingredients:

1. Buy organic. Yes, I know it’s pricey. But if you can swing it, I believe it’s worth it. To save money, opt for seasonal and frozen items, cook rather than dine out more often and… see #2. ;)

2. Shop at your local farmers market. Not only will you save money, most likely, you’ll support your local farms. You may also gain appreciation for food by connecting with the growers. We don’t think enough about where our food comes from, IMHO.

3. Eat more fruits and vegetables. Even non-organic produce is a great option as far as genetic engineering goes. (So far attempts at altering potatoes and tomatoes both flopped.) To save money, stock up on frozen produce. Because frozen fruits and veggies are flash frozen at their nutritional prime, they are at least as nutritious as fresh produce that’s been around for days or weeks.

4. Cut back on meat and/or choose grass-fed beef. Many other cows consume genetically modified corn. As Michael Pollan pointed out in an NPR interview, many of the GM foods we consume, come to use indirectly—through animals that eat them. And by eating less animal protein, we have more room our diets and funds in our banks for those fabulous plants. ;) Super nutritious plant protein sources include beans, lentils, nuts, seeds and whole grains. Opting for fish instead of meat is another great option.

5. Emphasize whole foods. Most GM foods consumed in the U.S. come in the form of processed foods. By filling our grocery carts, kitchens and plates with primarily whole foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, nuts, legumes and seeds, we eat fewer GM ingredients and reap a broad range additional benefits, from improved cardiovascular health and weight control to better sleep quality, energy and moods.

For more information, check out these fantastic links:
U.S. Health News: 10 Ways to Save Money on Organic Food
New York Times: Michael Pollan Answers Readers’ Questions
One Green Generation: Gardening 101: My Top 12 Easy Vegetables to Grow From Seed
MayoClinic.com: Organic Foods: Are They Safer? More Nutritious? 

What are your thoughts on GM foods? When given a choice, do you opt for organic? What steps do you take to ensure that your diet is nutritious and delicious? I love hearing your thoughts.

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