A friend asks, “What’s the big deal? You’re an organic gardener.” (“As best I can,” I reply, knowing there are few absolutes in gardening). “Why don’t you grow what you need? You want to eat non-GMO corn? Eat the corn you grow. Don’t buy it in the store.”
If only it were that simple.
Yes, my friend, by being something of a know-it-all, shows how little he knows. The problems associated with GMOs are far more complicated than just avoiding their purchase. There are problems of cross-pollination of GMO crops with crops in our organic garden. There’s the loss of biodiversity. And, avoiding GMO products in our grocery stores is not as easy as he thinks it is.
That final point was driven home to me when I saw this list of top ten GMO foods to avoid. How do you avoid products that use GMO-derived sugar, especially these days when so much sugar is added to processed foods? (I know, I know… avoid processed foods … not always an easy proposition.) How do you avoid GMO corn products when corn syrup is so prevalent? How do you avoid GMO soybeans when soy is used in so many vegetarian products, tofu included?
The simple answer to all these questions has to do with labeling. All the labeling we see these days is of the reverse sort, products stating “Non GMO” or “made without genetically modified ingredients.” We can look forward to the day that products with GMOs are identified and labeled. The other way to keep away from GMOs is to buy organic. Even products labeled “100% organic” or “organic.” (“Organic” doesn’t necessarily mean a product is completely organic, but it does mean it contains no GMOs). Best way to avoid feeding GMOs to your family is to avoid the major GMO crops: soy, corn, cotton, and canola; not an easy proposition. And in some cases, like summer squash (as my friend suggested) you can (in season) grow your own.
More on GMOs: Here’s a top ten list of genetically-modified foods… I would have never guessed yellow squash would be on it. Here’s a detailed look at avoiding GMOs. Want to test you GMO knowledge? Find the quiz here (this page also links to information on the important, informative, even eye-opening film Food, Inc.).
Eric Vinje founded Planet Natural with his father Wayne in 1991, originally running it as a grasshopper bait mail-order business out of a garage.
Eric is now retired, but is still a renowned gardener known for his expertise in composting, organic gardening and pest control, utilizing pesticide-free options, such as beneficial insects.
Eric believes when you do something good for the environment, the effects will benefit generations to come.
3 Responses to “Avoiding GMOs”
Yes, this is the belief with most of us in this country. We truly think and feel that there is some group in the government looking out for us little people, keeping us safe from harmful things in the environment, the products that we use, food, and even what our homes and businesses are made of. We have quickly learned that that is not the truth! I had heard of the precautionary principle, but it’s been such a long time that I forgot about it. Thanks for the reminder. I think that it is too much work for the government and that is why things just get into the system. We, thinking that there have been years of study governing things before it is unleashed on us, dive in and get busy eating and using these foods and products thinking that they are safe. It is a situation that is out of control, for the most part. How do we deal with it? It will not go away anytime soon, and by the time it does, too many of us and our children will be sick, dying or dead.
… and historically interesting, it’s a matter of ensuring a healthy future for humanity. As industrial agriculture becomes increasingly focused on growing fewer and fewer varieties of food plants, home gardeners.
We have distilled this down to one simple fact. We only eat food we grow, or essentials that are organic. Things like extra virgin olive oil, rice, beans and organic cheese we buy from our local certified organic store. Sure they are more expensive, but since we don’t pay for anything else we grow or raise its not a hardship. Our freezers (green veggies, chickens, pork, game, lamb), root cellar and chickens sustain us year round, and since I don’t like shopping anyway it hardly crimps my lifestyle lol.