Non-GMO Foods & Their Benefits
In 1973, the very first genetically modified organism (GMO) was developed by two biochemists, Herbert Boyer and Stanley Cohen (cool, huh). They worked together to alter the genetic makeup of one bacterium with DNA from another (fancy). However, it wasn’t until 1994 that the FDA approved the sale of any GMO produce. GMO tomatoes became the first genetically engineered food to make their way to grocery stores. Since then, more crops have been added to the GMO products list.
As more and more GMOs are approved, it’s natural for consumers to have questions and concerns. When you care about what you put into your body, you want to know where your food comes from and how it's produced. Are there any risks? Will I form a 3rd eye? Will I have an advantage over those that consume foods filled with GMOs in the event there’s a zombie apocalypse? Unfortunately, it’s not always clear, especially when you’re dealing with food that doesn’t label production methods for its ingredients.
If you want more information on GMOs and how to shop for non-GMO foods, you’ve come to the right place. This guide will answer some of the most common questions that people have about GMOs. It will also provide you with more information that can help you make better decisions the next time you go grocery shopping. Keep reading to learn more about:
- What Does Non-GMO Food Mean?
- Are Non-GMO Foods Healthier?
- What are Three Benefits of Eating Non-GMO Foods?
- Do Non-GMO Foods Have More Nutrients?
- What Foods Are Not Genetically Modified?
- Non-GMO Shopping Guide
What are Non-GMO Foods?
To put it simply, non-GMO foods don’t contain any GMO crops in any form. Since there are only a select number of FDA-approved GMOs, you can easily check labels to identify whether a food is non-GMO or not. However, you must fully understand what GMO food is to do that.
GMO is a term used to refer to any plant, animal, or other living organisms that have a modified genetic makeup. Altering genetics is nothing new, however. Humans have been selectively breeding plants and animals to attain specific genetic traits for generations. The difference with GMOs is that the modifications aren’t occurring naturally.
Instead, these organisms are modified in a lab through genetic engineering and transgenic technology. The procedures allow scientists to specifically change an organism’s genetics at the most microscopic level possible. The result? Humans can achieve genetic makeups that would never be possible in nature.
With this technology, crops can be modified to achieve different goals, but the primary objective is to produce a positive trait. While some products, like pink pineapple, are genetically modified purely as a novelty, most GMOs are created to increase yields and control harmful weeds. This is done by altering crops to:
- Resist certain insect damage.
- Resist specific plant viruses.
- Tolerate select herbicides.
Are Non-GMO Products Healthier?
The ability to create better produce seems like a good thing, but it has many people questioning whether or not the product is safe to consume. Many people wonder what the long-term effects of messing with nature will be. Who will pay the price?
These are very real and reasonable fears to have, especially when you know so little about the process and possible dangers. It’s important to know that science agrees GMOs are safe to consume. Studies have been done on the risks associated with GMOs, yet none were found.
As with most things, however, you should take this information with a grain of salt. Many people believe there to be a conflict of interest with some of those studies. This is because some of the studies were done by the same biotech companies producing the GMOs. Other consumers simply fear that there haven’t been enough studies in general.
Even with all of the research that has been done over the last 30 years, it is truly hard to know what the effects could be decades from now. Only time will tell. For this reason, many people prefer to stay away from GMOs altogether.
Three Benefits of Non-GMO Foods
While studies show that there are no known health disadvantages of genetically modified foods, there aren’t any benefits either. However, there are several advantages to eating non-GMO foods. The following are just a few reasons consumers choose to buy GMO-free foods.
Peace of Mind
As we mentioned, there’s no real way of knowing the disadvantages of GMO foods until more time has passed. While studies show they are safe, many consumers still have growing concerns, and this can lead to food anxiety. Choosing only to consume non-GMO verified products helps to take that fear out of your everyday life.
You can have peace of mind knowing that the foods you are eating are the same foods that humans have been consuming for generations. That means you won’t have to fret over any possible dangers that could be discovered down the road.
If you prioritize using natural products, you’ll want to stick with non-GMOs. As we mentioned earlier, many genetic modifications would never be possible in the natural world, so GMOs are not considered natural foods. When you shop from the non-GMO foods list, you can trust that all of the ingredients have been cultivated through natural agriculture techniques.
Less Risk of Exposure to Toxic Chemicals
Finally, many people prefer to stick with non-GMOs because they don’t want to consume toxic chemicals. However, you mustn’t just consume GMO-free foods to avoid chemicals. Many non-GMO crops still use some form of pesticides and herbicides for protection.
If you want to reduce your risk of consuming any toxic chemicals in your diet, you should seek out organic non-GMO foods. These products have even stricter regulations that prohibit the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides.
Are GMO-Free Products More Nutritious?
Dietitians advise people to focus on consuming an appropriate number of fruits and vegetables as part of a balanced diet. You might be wondering if natural produce is more nutritious and when speaking strictly about nutritional value, we believe there is a substantial difference. We pride our products on being Non-GMO Project Verified and are backed by best practices and testing throughout the supply chain.
GMO Foods List
If you want to avoid non-genetically modified foods, you’ll be happy to know that there are more non-GMO food options than there are approved GMOs. Therefore, it’s hard to put together a comprehensive non-GMO food list. It would simply be too long to fit in this blog. Instead, you’re better off learning which crops have GMOs. We recommend that you memorize the following FDA-approved GMO crops:
- Summer Squash
- Sugar Beet
- Pink Pineapple
Do You Have to Avoid These Foods Altogether?
Absolutely not! It’s important to remember that you can still eat these foods. GMOs only make up part of the overall crop production. Even with some crops having a large percentage of GMO varieties, there are plenty of non-GMO product alternatives. That means you can still enjoy popcorn with your movie. You’ll just have to take more time to find products that are labeled as non-GMO certified! We’ll provide more information on shopping tips later.
Tips for Non-GMO Shopping
If you’re feeling overwhelmed about shopping for non-GMO products. You’re not alone. It seems like they can make their way into the most random products, so how can you be sure that you aren’t consuming them? Your favorite juice, ice cream, barbeque sauce, and even bread can contain GMOs without realizing it.
Without labeling, GMOs can be difficult for the average consumer to spot because they might not be the main ingredient in a product. However, if you are trying to avoid any GMOs at all, you’ll want to change the way you shop for food.
Look for Organic Alternatives
The first thing you should do is start shopping for organic products. By law, certified organic foods cannot include any GMO ingredients. While most of these products will also feature a GMO-free label, this might not always be the case. If you don’t see a non-GMO label on a certified organic product, don’t fret. The company may have simply opted to forgo the label to prevent redundancy.
You can have peace of mind when you exclusively shop for organic products because farmers and brands must follow strict regulations to maintain their certification. No organic farmer may plant GMO crops, and no organic food manufacturers can use GMO ingredients in any of their products. Most importantly, organic producers are required to go above and beyond to protect all of their products from contact with GMOs of any kind. This often means they have special procedures to prevent any cross-contamination from neighboring GMO-producing farms.
With all of these regulations and requirements, customers can trust that they are always getting a GMO-free product when they shop for organic labels. Best of all, these products offer a variety of other benefits for sustainability and human health.
Buy Products With Non-GMO Project Seals
Organic products aren’t always available, and if they are, they can often have a much higher price tag. As a result, they might not be accessible enough for you and your family. Fortunately, they aren’t the only option for customers looking to avoid GMO ingredients. You can also purchase products that feature the Non-GMO Project Verified Seal.
What is the Non-GMO Project?
It is a nonprofit organization that serves as North America’s most trusted third-party verification program for non-GMO products. The organization has rigorous standards for verifying foods and other consumer products, including household cleaners, beauty products, etc. You can find their complete list of Non-GMO Project Verified Products on their website.
It’s important to note that the Non-GMO Project label only verifies the specific product that features the seal. You should not assume that the brand’s other products are also GMO-free. However, you can search their list of non-GMO verified products by brand if you would like to see what other products have been tested.
In addition to clearly labeling whole foods, such as corn and soybeans, as non-GMO varieties, the organization also tests at-risk ingredients that may be included in other products. You’ll learn more about what that means next.
When in Doubt, Avoid At-Risk Ingredients
You already know the list of 11 different FDA-approved GMO crops, but did you know that they can often be hidden by the names of their derivative ingredients?! These are what are known as “at-risk” ingredients. If you are shopping for products that could contain ingredients made from a popular GMO crop, then you will want to look for the Non-GMO Project Verified Seal, but what if you don’t see any labels?
You should avoid any product that could contain ingredients made from corn, soybeans, canola, sugar beets, or other approved GMOs if you don’t see a verified non-GMO or organic label. These products are at risk of containing GMOs. Still not sure what products could be at risk? The following are just a few popular examples:
- Sugar: If you are looking at non-organic sugar, you must think twice before purchasing it. While many sugar products in North America are made from pure cane, some can be made from a combination of cane and genetically modified sugar beets. Therefore, products listing sugar as an ingredient are at risk of containing GMOs unless labeled otherwise.
- Dairy Alternatives: Whether you’re vegan, lactose intolerant, or simply prefer dairy alternatives, you should use caution when shopping for your favorite milk substitute. While it’s fairly easy to find Non-GMO Project Verified soy milk, you should avoid products without the seal. These dairy-free products could be products with GM soybeans.
- Fruit Juice: You might think that fruit juice is a safe bet as long as it doesn’t feature any of the obvious GMOs, but these products can still present a risk. Unless the product is labeled as 100% fruit juice, there is a very good chance that it was sweetened with high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). Since more than 90% of corn grown in the U.S. is a genetically-engineered variety, the chances of your favorite fruit juice containing a GMO are high. Unless it is labeled as non-GMO, you are better off avoiding the products and any others that contain HFCS.
- Bread: Any bread products are another great example of how GMOs can sneak into your food. Most bread is made of wheat flour, and while wheat isn’t a GMO, that doesn’t mean you are in the clear when shopping in the bread aisle. Many loaves of bread are also sweetened with HFCS or sugar that could contain GMO sugar beets or corn. In these cases, you should only shop for bread that is verified as a non-GMO product.
If you’re still feeling overwhelmed by the idea of shopping for non-GMOs, you’ll be happy to know that there are many foods that you can buy without fear. The important thing is to focus on buying whole fruits and vegetables that aren’t on the list of FDA-approved GMOs. If there is no GMO version of a crop, then only GMO-free versions are available in your store.
The following are just a few examples of foods that are not grown in GMO varieties:
- Oranges, Lemons, and Limes
These whole foods aren’t your only options, however. Just because you didn’t pick the fruit or vegetable straight from the produce aisle doesn’t mean it’s not safe. You can also consume these products in other forms, like juice. The important thing is to look at the ingredients list to confirm that the fruit or vegetable is the only ingredient. If there are others, you will need to check to see if they have GMO varieties.
Where to Get Non-GMO Foods
Ten years ago, it was much harder to find non-GMO foods than it is now. Thanks to increased public awareness, it’s easier to avoid GM products when you shop for groceries. However, there are some areas of the country with less access. If you’re not sure where you should shop for non-GMO foods, you should start with the following places:
Natural & Organic Grocery Stores
We recommend finding a grocery store specializing in organic and natural foods. Since all organic food is GMO-free, this will be your best bet for shopping locally. If you’re lucky enough to live in a larger city, you will probably have access to more of these types of stores. Several large chains across the country only sell natural or organic products. You can start by looking for:
- Whole Foods
- Trader Joe’s
If you don’t have access to any natural or organic grocery stores, don’t panic. Buying straight from the farmer is always a better option. You should check out your local farmers market to see what selection you can find. Many local farmers who sell direct-to-consumer will also have natural or organic products.
The best part about buying your products from the source is the ability to ask questions. If you aren’t sure if a product might contain GMOs, you don’t have to guess. You can simply ask the farmers whether they use genetically modified seeds or not!
We recognize that there are parts of the country where you might not have access to farmers markets or natural grocery stores. That doesn’t mean that you are stuck with GMOs, though. The Internet is a wonderful tool for shopping for products you might not have access to otherwise. The same is true for your groceries.
You would be surprised how many retailers will ship GMO-free groceries right to your door. Not only can you shop from grocery store chains, but you can even shop directly from product manufacturers in some cases. Kate’s Real Food is a perfect example of that. Though you can find our bars and snack bites in stores like Whole Foods, Publix, and HEB, you can also purchase your favorite products right from our website or amazon.com.
Healthy Non-GMO Snacks
If you’ve been searching for some non-GMO fuel bars or snacks, you don’t have to look any further. Kate’s Real Food is committed to providing consumers with healthy food options. Each bar and snack bite is USDA-certified organic and Non-GMO Project Verified, which means you never have to worry about genetically-engineered ingredients. Instead, Kate’s goes above and beyond to select each ingredient with care. This ensures you’re only getting the best and healthiest options.
That’s not all!
Customers also love that the products come with several other benefits. Whether you are purchasing snack bites or an energy bar, you can expect:
- Tasty Flavor Options: When you shop the complete set of bars and snack bites, you’re sure to find a flavor you love. Kate’s currently offers a wide range of tasty flavors, including Mango Coconut, Dark Chocolate Mint, and Peanut Butter Hemp & Flax.
- Gluten-Free Recipes: There are several reasons that people prefer or need to avoid gluten. However, Kate’s doesn’t believe those reasons should exclude people from enjoying healthy food, so all of the snack bites and bars are made with gluten-free recipes.
- Low in Sugar: Snacks don’t have to be packed full of artificial sweeteners to taste delicious. Kate’s Real Food prides itself in offering customers a lower-sugar snack option naturally sweetened with a bit of real honey.
- Sustainably Sourced Honey: All of the bars and snack bites with honey are True Source Certified. This certification verifies that the honey used in Kate’s products is sourced from honey packers, importers/exporters, and beekeepers committed to transparency.
While studies haven’t shown any health risks to consuming GMOs, you might be thinking that it’s better to be safe than sorry. In that case, you should be better prepared for your next trip to the grocery store after reading this non-GMO shopping guide. You will be able to avoid GMOs because you now know:
- What Genetically-Modified Organisms Are
- Benefits of Choosing Non-GMOs
- Tips for Shopping for Non-GMOs
- Where to Buy Non-GMO Foods
- And So Much More!
If you would like to try out some non-GMO snacks, give Kate’s Real Food a try. There are so many different flavors, so it is easy to find something that you’ll love. You can try the variety pack to sample 6 of the most popular flavors, including Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate, Lemon Coconut, and more.
To take the inconvenience out of shopping for non-GMO snacks, you can also sign up for the Subscribe n’ Save program. This subscription makes it easy for fans of Kate’s Real Food to get healthy, non-GMO energy bars and snacks sent straight to their door at discounted prices. Learn more about all the ways you can shop today!