Category Archives: Eat GMO Free Challenge
Final Words About the Challenge
Congratulations on completing the Eat GMO Free Challenge! We bet you already feel better and we know you have protected your health from unknown risks of GMOs and have contributed to a collective movement to create positive change in our food system.
With fresher, less processed, real foods in your diet, you’re bound to be healthier in the long run. So, don’t stop. Keep it up…
We’d love to hear about your experiences during the challenge and hope you’ll join us at the GMO Free Project of Tucson — email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to join our group – to keep spreading the word so we can create a healthier community. If you can’t give your time to help out, please consider giving a financial donation to help support our work.
Tip # 31
Keep reading information about GMOs to stay educated. Visit our Useful Links page for other good websites to go to for additional info and also our News page and our Facebook page (which you can read even if you aren’t a Facebook member). Regularly come to (and hopefully volunteer to work with us at) our educational events. Keeping the information fresh in your mind is a very important part of sticking with eating non-GMO, and being around fellow non-GMO eaters is even better.
Tip # 30
Grow your own organic food, or buy organic food from a trusted source, and make more of your meals at home. This is the only way you can be completely sure that your meal is GMO Free.
Tip # 29
Read labels very carefully and check out the following link so that you can avoid “hidden” GMO ingredients: Invisible GM Ingredients. Common hidden forms of GMOs that are surprising to many people include xanthan gum, vitamin C, vitamin E, maltodextrin, and soy lecithin.
BONUS TIP: Download the Non-GMO Shopping Guide App to your iPhone to help you do your shopping.
Tip # 28
Enjoy a grass-fed burger out in a restaurant. Local restaurants that serve grass-fed hamburgers are Pasco and Wilko, which are both located on University Blvd., the Lodge on the Desert on Alvernon Way, and Harvest on La Canada Drive.
Tip # 27
Switch to eating more and more organic and grass-fed meats and wild-caught fish and seafood. Conventionally raised animals are usually fed GMO Corn and GMO soy-based diets and farm-raised fish are often fed GMO feed, too. Organic and grass-fed meat and wild-caught fish are the way our sources of animal protein were until 60 to 70 years ago or so. Find local grass-fed meats at your local farmer’s market. You can also purchase organic grass-fed meat and wild-caught fish at good sale prices periodically at natural food stores.
Tip # 26
Purchase organic eggs, which means they are from chickens that are not fed corn or soy that has been genetically engineered.
Tip # 25
Seek out restaurants with organic choices. Buying organic items is rule number one to safeguard against eating GMOs. Some examples of good restaurants to go to are The Tasteful Kitchen at 722 N. Stone Ave., Pasco Kitchen & Lounge at 820 E. University Blvd., Harvest restaurant at 10355 N. La Canada Drive, and Renee’s Organic Oven at 7065 E. Tanque Verde Rd. These restaurants use a lot of organic ingredients (plus for those who avoid gluten, these restaurants have a lot of gluten-free choices, too).
BONUS TIP: Pasco Kitchen & Lounge, The Tasteful Kitchen, and Harvest are restaurants that were pioneers in hosting the first three Non-GMO Pure Food Dinners that our group held in the summer and early autumn on 2012. We applaud them for leading the way in learning about how to avoid GMOs for our dinners, and we eat at these restaurants often because we appreciate the quality ingredients they are using (but we still ask questions to double-check ingredients!). We encourage you to frequent these restaurants, too, and tell them how important it is to you that they have GMO-free options. Also, watch this website for dates and locations of future Non-GMO Pure Food Dinners and make sure to make a special effort to come to these meals. Our Non-GMO Pure Food Dinners being well attended sends the message loudly and clearly to restaurant managers and owners that there is a high demand for non-GMO “pure food” in restaurant meals. When enough of us show up and vote with our dollars, restaurants will offer more Non-GMO options and eventually completely GMO-free options on their menus.
Tip # 24
Choose salads as a relatively safe food choice to order in restaurants, as long as the salads don’t contain at-risk foods, such as corn, corn tortilla strips, and soy sauce or vegetable oils in the salad dressing. Specifically ask what type of oil is in the salad dressings, and if they say “vegetable oil” or one of the four oils derived from GM foods (see tips 4-7), ask them if they can bring you 100% pure olive oil (not an olive oil/vegetable oil blend) and lemon or red wine vinegar to use on your salad.
Tip # 23
When eating at restaurants, order items that do not contain any “at-risk” ingredients such as corn or soy unless they are organic. Common corn-based items on restaurant menus are corn tortillas, tamales, enchiladas, and tacos, and soy-based items include tofu, tempeh, miso, and soy sauce.
Tip # 22
When you eat out, look for restaurants that cook exclusively with 100% pure olive oil (and that don’t use vegetable oil, canola oil, corn oil, cottonseed oil, or soybean oil). That means mainly Greek, Italian, and Middle Eastern restaurants. Opa! restaurant at 2990 N. Campbell Ave. is one such restaurant that uses olive oil in the preparation of its salads, appetizers and entrees (and peanut oil in its fried items).
BONUS TIP: Inquire at restaurants, especially locally owned restaurants, about ingredients in the foods on their menu. Even if they do not post labels for organic or GMO-free products, asking about ingredients and telling them that you avoid GMOs, will raise awareness to staff and managers. It is surprising how many restaurant chefs do not know about GMOs, but once they hear about them, they don’t like the idea – and chefs and owners of locally run restaurants often can make changes on their menu fairly quickly compared to those at chain restaurants.
Tip # 21
If you fall off the non-GMO wagon and eat a food that you know or think contains GMOs, don’t be hard on yourself. Let it go, and get right back on the non-GMO bandwagon as quickly as you can. It’s not helpful to berate yourself for any “mistakes” you may have made with your diet. In learning to eat GMO free, we all have made mistakes, but those mistakes help us learn to be savvier consumers. Just get back onto the Eat GMO Free Challenge as quickly as possible and continue to be as GMO-free as possible. Doing so will help protect your health from unknown risks and will collectively help lead to the tipping point of consumer rejection against GMOs that we seek and create the healthier food system we all want and deserve.
Tip # 20
Take a zip-lock bag with your own organic chips to restaurants or events where you know that non-organic corn chips will be served. Keep in mind that 85 percent of corn is genetically modified, so it’s important to eat only organic or non-GMO Project Verified chips. If you’re going to a Mexican restaurant particularly, bring your own chips and tell the waiter why you’re doing so. If enough people speak up and say they’re eating non-GMO, restaurants will make the switch to non-GMO chips.
A WORD OF MOTIVATION: Congratulations! You’ve made it three-quarters of the way through the Eat GMO Free Challenge and have learned all the basics of how to eat GMO free. Way to go! Now keep going…
Tip # 19
To avoid corn-based chips altogether, purchase Non-GMO Project Verified bean-and-rice chips, such as those by Beanfields or Beanitos, rice chips or rice crackers such as those by Lundberg Farms, Edward & Sons, or Mary’s Gone Crackers, or flaxseed-based snack foods, such as Flax Snax by Go Raw or Flax Crackers by Foods Alive. These products often can be found or special-ordered in natural food stores, such as New Life Health Centers or Whole Foods Markets here in Tucson.
BONUS TIP: Shop at your local health food store, which will contain many GMO-free alternatives that you won’t find in regular grocery stores. Natural food stores in Tucson include New Life Health Centers, the Food Conspiracy Co-op, Aqua Vita, Whole Foods, and Sprouts.
Tip # 18
For parties or snacking, buy corn chips that have the USDA organic seal or the Non-GMO Project Verified seal on them. For extra insurance, choose those that are both organic and Non-GMO Project Verified. RW Garcia, the 365 brand, and Cadia are three companies to look for that make organic, Non-GMO Project Verified, corn chips. For even more insurance against GMOs, choose blue corn chips with those two seals on them: blue corn is not genetically modified but most yellow corn and some types of white corn are.
Be careful about what you drink. Besides soft drinks that likely contain GMOs (tip #9), so too do any type of commercial sweetened beverage, including sweetened iced tea, and hot tea or coffee drinks such as lattes. To keep GMOs out of the beverages you drink, choose water, sparkling water (plain or with fruit essence), unsweetened iced tea, and coffee, tea or herbal tea (plain or sweetened at home with non-sugar sweeteners). To make a latte-type drink, use organic half-n-half or unsweetened canned coconut milk.
BONUS TIP: Buy organic items when possible. Certified Organic products cannot contain GMOs. Because they contain no GMOs or toxic chemicals, eating organic foods offers health protection in many ways. Fortunately, it’s easier than ever to buy organic items for often the same price or even lower than the price of conventional items. To get organic items affordably, watch the weekly grocery store ads carefully for organic items on sale, purchase local produce grown without pesticides at farmer’s markets around town, or grow some of your own organic vegetables. When you can’t buy organic, make sure to buy non-GMO conventional items.
Buy organic chocolate. Most conventional chocolate bars contain high fructose corn syrup, “sugar” (does not specify whether it is cane sugar (not GMO) or beet sugar (GMO), milk (could be from cows that were injected with a genetically modified growth hormone), and soy lecithin.
Tip # 15
If you eat milk products such as cheese or cream, look for organic or “rBGH- and rBST-free” milk products. rBGH (recombinant bovine growth hormone) is a genetically engineered, synthetic growth hormone that is not approved for use in most other countries besides the United States because of the health conditions it creates in dairy cows and the resulting pus, antibiotic and vaccine residues in milk.
Cook with extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil instead of conventional butter, canola oil, vegetable oil, corn oil, or soybean oil. The first can contain GMOs and the latter four almost always contain GMOs. If you want to cook with butter, buy organic butter, which is free of GMOs.
Avoid eating bread, or try baking your own or buy organic bread. Most breads available at grocery store chains contain multiple genetically modified ingredients including: high fructose corn syrup, sugar, soy flour, soy oil, canola oil, cottonseed oil, and other soy and corn derivatives. Gluten-free bread often contains cornstarch, dextrose, fructose, and/or xanthan gum (all from GM corn) and often a genetically modified oil, such as canola, corn, or soybean oil.
BONUS TIP: On your refrigerator, put up a Post-It note to keep reminding yourself why you’re participating in the Eat GMO Free Challenge. The note might say: I do not want to be an unwitting lab rat in the feeding experiment going on that I didn’t sign up for; or I am taking back my right for pure food – or anything that keeps you strong and motivated. Also keep reading information about GMOs and sign up for newsletters from organizations on our Resources page to stay educated. Keeping the information fresh in your mind about why it’s important to keep staying away from GMOs is a very important part of sticking with eating non-GMO.
Tip # 12
Eat without worry all raw or dry-roasted nuts and seeds (without risky oils) and all legumes except for soybeans, and organic or non-GMO unrefined grains such as Lotus Foods heirloom rice, Lundberg Farms brown rice, and Eden Foods quinoa or wild rice.
Tip # 11
Avoid processed foods and convenience foods as much as possible. Because almost all conventional corn and soy grown in this county are genetically modified and these crops are subsidized by our government, they are cheap and end up in about 70 percent of processed foods in different forms.
Ditch plain sugar in baking, and use honey, agave nectar, maple syrup, stevia, unrefined cane sugar, coconut sugar or coconut nectar instead. These sweeteners don’t contain GMOs.
Tip # 9
Stay away from soft drinks – both regularly sweetened and artificially sweetened. Regular soft drinks are sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup or sugar, both of which are derived from common GM crops (corn and sugar beets). Other soft drinks and sweetened waters are sweetened with fructose, another product derived from corn. “Diet” or artificially sweetened soft drinks are sweetened with aspartame (also known as Equal, Nutrasweet, Spoonful, or AminoSweet), another genetically modified product.
To avoid sugar from GM sugar beets, read food product labels and don’t buy foods that contain “sugar” or “beet sugar” in lists of ingredients. When not specified as sugar from sugar cane, “Sugar” in a list of ingredients almost always means a combination of sugar from sugar cane (which isn’t genetically modified) and sugar from sugar beets (which is genetically modified).
BONUS TIP: When you first start to realize how many foods GMOs are hidden in, it can feel overwhelming and intimidating. It’s a difficult process to gradually reduce or remove GMOs in your diet because GMOs are in a lot of foods! Don’t get discouraged or beat yourself up or give up. If you feel overwhelmed, we in the GMO Free Project of Tucson understand. Every single one of us felt that way when each of us began going non-GMO. Just stay resolved to keep at it and do the best you can today and we promise that it will get easier. When changing any longstanding habits, the more you stick with it, the easier it becomes.
Tip # 7
To avoid GM soy, look for food products that say: Contains Soy (it should be clearly listed because Soy is a common allergen); or for obvious ingredients that contain the words “soy” in the food product’s list of ingredients. Common examples of soy-based ingredients include: soy protein, soy flour, soy sauce, soybean oil, soy milk, and soy lecithin. Tofu, tempeh, and miso are other sources of soy. Steer clear of foods with all of these ingredients unless they are labeled USDA Organic or Non-GMO Project Verified.
Tip # 6
To avoid GM cottonseed, look for cottonseed oil in food product ingredients and avoid those that contain it. Cottonseed oil is sometimes in roasted nuts, snack foods, bread, and certain canned fish items.
Tip # 5
To avoid GM canola, look for canola oil in lists of ingredients and avoid those that contain it unless it is labeled organic or Non-GMO Project Verified. Canola oil is found in a wide range of products, including pasta sauces, salad dressings, mayonnaise, snack foods, prepared foods, and frozen entrees.
Tip # 4
To avoid GM corn, read food product labels and avoid those with obvious corn-based ingredients by looking for ingredients that contain the words “corn” or “maize” in them. Common examples include: corn oil, corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, corn starch, corn meal, corn masa (as in tamales), and maize starch. Steer clear of sweet corn and all foods that contain corn-based ingredients (including corn tortillas, corn chips, and corn grits) unless they are labeled USDA Organic or Non-GMO Project Verified.
BONUS TIP: The great Tucson remedy to the GMO problem with yellow corn is you can find unique whole and ground GMO-free corn products (as well as other Southwestern foods, including grains, sweeteners, baking mixes, beans, and chiles) at a Tucson treasure of a resource: Native Seeds/Search retail store at 3061 N. Campbell Ave.
Tip # 3
Learn the 3 “C”s and 2 “S”s as a way to imprint the 5 major genetically modified crops in our food supply in your mind. The 3 “C”s are: Corn, Canola, Cottonseed. The 2 “S”s are Soybeans, and Sugar from sugar beets. More detail about each of these foods will be covered in the next five tips.
BONUS TIP: Make “label reading” a habit so you become aware of what’s in your food. If you have a spouse or young kids who go shopping with you, teach them to read ingredients so they become aware, too, and they can help you spot at-risk ingredients.
Tip # 2
Enjoy all types of fruit except papaya grown in Hawaii. More than 50 percent of the papaya grown in Hawaii is genetically modified. Papaya grown in other areas, such as Mexico, is not.
BONUS TIP: By “going against the grain” and eating more fresh vegetables and fruits instead of processed foods with grains and oils in them – as our nutritionist Melissa Diane Smith wrote in her book Going Against the Grain – we automatically avoid most GMOs and eat a diet that is more health producing in numerous ways and that helps people lose weight when they need to. Think of all the foods you can enjoy without worry: cucumbers, tomatoes, leafy greens, celery, avocadoes, cabbage, peppers, spinach, broccoli, asparagus, apples, pears, berries, and so many more!
Tip # 1
Freely eat all types of vegetables except for zucchini and yellow squash, a small amount of which is genetically modified. Seek out organic zucchini and yellow squash, or use Mexican grey squash in recipes that call for zucchini
EXTRA TIP ABOUT VEGETABLES: Most people think corn is a vegetable but isn’t really. It’s a grain. Genetically modified sweet corn started to appear in grocery stores in the autumn of 2011, so avoid sweet yellow corn unless it’s specifically labeled USDA organic or non-GMO.