ByLeigh Garofalow

Oct 24, 2014

The GMO labeling debate continues to heat up around the country. Consumers want to know what they are eating.

With states proposing legislation to label food that contains GMOs, it can be hard to know what to do in the here and now. Have no fear.

We’ve compiled a list of five foods you’ll want to avoid if you’re concerned about GMOs. These foods commonly contain genetically modified ingredients.  Keep this list handy the next time you go grocery store shopping.

  1. Corn is the number one item you should avoid in a non-organic form since 85 percent of corn is genetically engineered. Some varieties of popular corn have taken the DNA from bacteria and entered the DNA of the corn to produce its own insecticide. Other GMO corn varieties are modified to withstand more pesticide use. Corn unfortunately is found in many items in your grocery store. Corn is commonly listed as corn, high fructose corn syrup, or corn syrup. Try to purchase cereals, corn chips/tortillas, and other “sugary” items organic to avoid genetically modified corn. Remember this includes those ears of corn you purchase during the summer too, make sure those are organic to avoid the GMOs.
  2. Soy is another common ingredient in food though it sometimes ranks lower in the ingredient list and is found in lesser quantities. Of all the soybean crops less than 10 percent are NOT genetically modified. Soy is often a staple in certain diets so making sure you consume organic soy is important to your health. You should purchase organic soy milk and tofu to avoid this GMO. Soy is also found in meal replacements, dietary supplements, sauces like teriyaki and Worcestershire, dips, mayo, and even peanut butter.
  3. Sugar Beets have been genetically modified to be resistant to the pesticide Glyphosate. In 2011, 95 percent of the sugar beet crops in the United States were planted with genetically modified seeds. Used as a substitute for sugar cane, sugar beets became popular in the use in food because they can grow in non-tropical climates (unlike sugar cane).  Sugar beets are commonly seen listed in ingredients lists as sugar, inverted sugar syrup, caramel, caramel color, and sugar beet syrup. Sugar that you bake with may also be made from sugar beets, look for organic sugar or cane sugar.
  4. Squash mostly the summer variety commonly called zucchini. This plant has been modified to withstand large amounts of insecticides but still grow. So while this item is not necessarily an ingredient in many items it is something we commonly eat in the summer and early fall. Purchase organic summer squash at your grocery store or farmers market.
  5. Canola oil should be avoided because it is a by-product of the rapeseed (there is no such thing as a “canola” to extract the oil from). Canola was originally used as a commercial product for lipstick, soap, and candles.  Instead of purchasing canola oil for your cooking substitute olive oil for low-temperature cooking and coconut oil for high-temperature cooking.

When shopping in your grocery store be sure to read the ingredients of your food so you can avoid the items listed above. If you are in a hurry and cannot read the label look for the organic label or the Non-GMO Project certification either one will ensure that you are not consuming GMOs. The Non-GMO Project even has an app that you can download for free that can help you while you shop.

Feature image courtesy of Dricker94

By Leigh Garofalow

Leigh Garofalow is a self described 'born environmentalist' who won a recycling poster contest in 3rd grade and has been green ever since. She is a mother of two children under the age of 6 who think taking a cloth napkin and their own utensils to school is normal. She loves writing about anything related to health, wellness, and the environment. One day she hopes to make every up-cycled item and recipe she pinned on Pinterest!