As many of you know by now, I am a strong supporter of buying local, organic produce as often as possible, or, growing your own.
There are several reasons I personally do this and recommend it to others. Reasons like; greater health benefits, less exposure to pesticides, and supporting sustainable agriculture practices. It is not always the most convenient to buy local and organic produce the majority of the time but it is very important to me so I make the effort. I belong to a Community Supported Agriculture. I shop at my local farmer's market. I also care for a garden. I talk with people who are growing my food so I know exactly where it is coming from and I know it is safe.
Why do I go through this trouble? I do this not only for the reasons I already mentioned but also to do my best to avoid genetically modified organisms (GMOs) as often as possible.
The World Health Organization describes GMOs as "organisms in which the genetic material (DNA) has been altered in such a way that does not occur naturally." Basically, it is the lab process of artificially inserting genes into the DNA of the food crops.
The documentary film, The Future of Food, written, directed and produced by Deborah Koons Garcia, has been a key tool in the anti-GMO movement. The film takes you through a bit of the history of food and how GMOs came about. To briefly summarize, Round Up, a weed killer, was introduced in the marketplace in the 1970's, and became the most popular herbicide in history. Scientists began working with some of the most widely grown crops in the US; corn, soy, canola and cotton, to genetically alter their genes to be immune to Round Up so it could be sprayed and kill the weeds without harming the crops.
GM crops were introduced to the marketplace in 1996 although Americans were not really aware that GM foods had entered into their diets until 2001 when a woman had a severe allergic reaction that sent her to the ER. Her reaction was connected to eating taco shells that contained Star Link, a genetically modified corn that had not been approved for human consumption for the fear of possible allergic reaction.
The government does not currently require the testing or labeling of GMOs in foods. According to Dr. Joseph Mercola, as many as 7 out of 10 items at the supermarket have been genetically modified. Many GMOs are in the form of corn syrup and soy lecithin, which are found in many prepackaged and processed foods.
The Future of Food states that several polls indicate 80-90% of Americans want GM foods to be labeled and although a bill has been submitted to congress almost every year since GM foods hit the marketplace, the bill has yet to pass.
Andrew Kimbrell, the executive director of the Center for Food Safety and one of the country's leading environmental attorneys, believes there is a very good reason why the corporations have fought so hard against this labeling. Without labeling, there is no real traceability for the health effects of GM foods.
In The Future of Food he says, "If you are a mother and are feeding your baby infant formula and it is not labeled that it contains genetically engineered soy and your child has a toxic reaction or allergic reaction, there is no way you are going to know if that was caused by genetic engineering because it is not on the label. If, however, it is on the label, well, then you can say you know that may have contributed to this response in my child." The doctor then records this and there is traceability and a database can begin to form on the health effects and this creates liability to the corporations.
The American Academy of Medicine, which is an association of physicians and other professionals interested in the clinical aspects of humans and their environment, have asked physicians to:
- Educate their patients, the medical community, and the public to avoid GM foods when possible and provide educational materials concerning GM foods and health.
- Consider the possible role of GM foods in the disease process of the patients they treat and to document any changes in patient health when changing GM food to non-GM food (1).
There are currently eight GM food crops on the market: soy, corn, cottonseed (used in vegetable cooking oils), canola (canola oil), sugar from sugar beets, Hawaiian papaya, some varieties of zucchini, and crookneck squash.
If you wish to avoid GM foods as often as possible, here are a few things you can do.
#1 Shop at your local farmers' market, join a community supported agriculture (CSA) or grow your own produce. Ask questions of the people you are buying your fruits and vegetables from so you know how they are growing the food. To find a farmer's market or CSA in your area, visit www.localharvest.org.
#2 Eat a diet composed mostly of whole, unprocessed foods (food the way nature intended us to eat it). GM foods are found widely in prepackaged, processed foods (think the entire inner aisles of the supermarket). If there are packaged foods you wish to buy, the only way to know that they do not contain GM ingredients is to buy foods labeled 100% USDA Organic.
Without accurate information, you, the consumers, cannot act. If you wish to reverse the trend of GM foods, I suggest you research this topic for yourselves.
Some great resources include:
- The documentary, The Future of Food
- Genetic Roulette: The Documented Health Risks of Genetically Engineered Foods by Jeffery M. Smith
- Your Right to Know: Genetic Engineering and The Secret Changes in Your Food by Andrew Kimbrell
"The choices we make at the supermarket determine the future of food." – Deborah Koons Garcia, The Future of Food
These trends can be reversed; the choice is up to you!
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Health and blessings,
Randi's passion is to teach people the importance of getting into the kitchen to cook! When people get into the kitchen to cook, they can control their health and their waistline. She uses fresh ingredients and traditional foods in her cooking like butter. She is a Certified Holistic Health Coach, exercise enthusiast and rep for Young Living Essential Oils (providing natural solutions for your health).