TOP TEN GMO ALTERNATIVES: Genetically-Modified Organisms (GMO) in the foods we eat are a controversial topic for a number of reasons. Some say genetic modification of crop seed is a war against Nature herself, and that the claim that GMO foods are necessary to “feed the world” is patently untrue. The movement toward subverting agribusiness and forcing GMO companies into some semblance of accountability is growing by the day, but finding everyday alternatives to supporting GMO companies isn’t easy. Here, we’ve compiled the top ten GMO alternatives for those willing to make the effort to avoid GMO foods and products.
TOP TEN GMO ALTERNATIVES 2013
1. Start A Garden: Buy organic seed and grow some of your own food. The food you grow yourself maybe won’t look as “pretty” as GMO foods, but you will know it’s safe, wholesome, and unengineered.
2. Buy Certified Organic Foods: Anything labeled “certified organic” is not GMO. The kicker: “certified organic” means the product doesn’t intentionally contain GMOs, so diligence is still required when buying organic. Yes, buying organic is more expensive.
3. Shop Smart: Websites to help consumers avoid GMO foods are available and quite helpful. The Non-GMO Shopping Guide website also has a smartphone application that can help shoppers avoid GMO foods in grocery stores and while dining out. Look for “Non-GMO Project Verified” seals while shopping as well.
4. Stop Eating Factory Farmed Meat: According to EcoLocalizer, “Each Big Mac you buy financially supports 16 pounds of GMOs. That 99 cents has a ton of subsidies from your tax dollars that keep its price so artificially low. To create 1 pound of beef, you need 16 pounds of grains. In fast food, most of what you are eating is actually genetically modified soy and corn.” For example, only 2% of soy produced in GMO monocrops is eaten by people, the rest is factory farms animal feed (~70%) and biofuels (~25%). Generally speaking, consumers will pay more for grass-fed beef in grocery-store chains, but chances are there are local organic farmers who sell to small local butcher shops in your area. You might be surprised at how reasonable buying local, organic meat is.
5. Avoid Junk Food, Processed Foods, and Soda: It’s not unreasonable to assume these items are all GMO, especially if they are inexpensive.
6. Avoid Agribusiness Players: Educate yourself about companies which oppose GMO labeling and refuse to purchase their products. Keep an eye out for the big GMO players and know that many self-touted “organic” brands we trust are owned by larger “Big Ag” companies that spent time and money opposing GMO labeling. The Cornucopia Institute made a helpful infographic to help consumers find GMO alternatives. Boycott companies like ConAgra, which is a leading offender of attempts to deceive consumers about GMO content.
7. Pets Deserve Non-GMO Too: There are already several companies producing pet feed that are Non-GMO Project verified, with more in the verification process. Supporting these companies will not only help to hit agribusiness in the wallet, but will motivate other small companies to seek ways to avoid production using GMO products. Many pet owners are also moving toward raw diets in order to ensure pets are getting what they need without GMOs.
8. Know The “Big Three”: A product marked “100% Natural” does not mean it doesn’t contain GMO. Corn, soy, and cotton are the “big three” GMO offenders, and most consumers are surprised by the utter ubiquity of GMO infiltration into their everyday lives. According to Dr. Vandana Shiva via The Inspired Economist, “Did you know that only 2% of GMO soy is actually eaten by people? Or that most of the corn grown in the U.S. is actually not even edible? Or that just 10% of corn ends up being used directly in foods, and about half of that is in the form of high fructose corn syrup? The GMO industry claims that GMOs are needed to feed the world (look at any of their websites and you’ll see this claim as a defense of their agricultural methods). But it’s simply not true. Most GMO corn is either processed into gums, pastes, additives, fillers, ethanol or other products. According to Shiva, 80% of our actual food comes from small farms, whereas only 20% comes from these monocrops that are claimed to be the answer to global hunger.”
9. Don’t Forget The GMOs In Personal Care Products: Now that you know the products of the “big three” GMO crops aren’t being used to “feed the world,” look for health and beauty products that are certified organic or otherwise committed to non-GMO production. There are quite a few personal care companies already verified by the Non-GMO Project with many more in the process.
10. GMOs In Your Home: Cleaning products, textiles, and other household sundries are yet another way GMOs have infiltrated the lives of consumers. You can support companies which support sustainability as well as environmental responsibility by buying GMO free.
There you have the TOP TEN GMO ALTERNATIVES, or the game-changing strategies that may turn the tide with GMO companies. As Scott Cooney noted, “Shifting our food consumption to small, local, organic farms would help every one of these problems go away on its own. But as long as the side effects of chemical agriculture have no cost to the producers, there is little hope that large scale change will come anytime soon.” Using the TOP TEN GMO ALTERNATIVES is one way to subvert agribusiness and shift the focus to accountability and sustainability.
TOP TEN GMO ALTERNATIVES 2013.