Avoiding Frankenfood

Over the weekend, we were talking about our feelings regarding the over processed, genetically modified, hormone-filled foods that are prevalent in the United States.

Side note: I know that not everyone shares my views on this and I’m ok with that. I just know that I’ve always been healthier when living overseas where food isn’t over processed, genetically modified and hormone-filled. Healthier while living there and significantly unhealthier while adjusting back to an American diet.

Anyway…the following is great information from a local expert in all things organic, Howard Garrett, the Dirt Doctor. It was so great that I had to share it with you:

Many consumers don’t realize that the FDA does not require genetically modified food to be labeled. That’s because the FDA has decided that you don’t care if the tomato you are eating has been cross bred with frog genes to render the tomato more resistant to cold weather. Some consumers may not be concerned with eating “Franken Food”, but for those who are, here is how to determine if the fruits and vegetables you’re buying are (GM) genetically modified.

For conventionally grown fruit (grown with chemicals inputs), the PLU code on the sticker consists of four numbers. Organically grown fruit has a five-numeral PLU prefaced by the number 9. Genetically engineered (GM) fruit has a five-numeral PLU prefaced by the number 8. Example: A conventionally grown banana would be 4011. An organically grown banana would be 94011. A genetically engineered banana would be 84011.

Here are some guidelines for steering clear of GM foods in your diet:

Soybeans – Gene taken from bacteria (Agrobacterium sp. strain CP4) and inserted into soybeans to make them more resistant to herbicides. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soybean#Genetic_modification. See How to Live With a Soy Allergy for more information on avoiding soy products.

Corn – There are two main varieties of GE corn. One has a Gene from the lepidoptera pathogen microorganism Bacillus thuringiensis inserted to produce the Bt toxin, which poisons insect pests. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soybean#Genetic_modification. There are also several cases which are resistant to various herbicides. Present in high fructose corn syrup and glucose/fructose which is prevalent in a wide variety of foods in America.

Rapeseed/Canola – Gene added/transferred to make crop more resistant to herbicide.

Sugar beets – Gene added/transferred to make crop more resistant to Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide.

Rice – Genetically modified to resist herbicides; not currently available for human consumption, but trace amounts of one GM long-grained variety may have entered the food supply in the USA and Europe. http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~lrd/biorice.html

More recently, golden rice, a different strain of rice has been engineered to produce significantly higher levels of beta carotene, which the body uses to produce vitamin A. Golden rice is supposedly still undergoing testing to determine if it is safe for human consumption. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/4386933.stm

Cotton – engineered to produce Bt toxin. The seeds are pressed into cottonseed oil, which is a common ingredient in vegetable oil and margarine. Both should be avoided.

Dairy – Cows injected with GE hormone rBGH/rBST; possibly fed GM grains and hay.

Aspartame/AminoSweet – Addictive and dangerous artificial sweetener commonly found in chewing gum and “diet” beverages. A building block of aspartame, the amino acid phenylalanine, is usually manufactured with the aid of genetically modified E. coli bacteria. This process has been used industrially in the USA for many years.

Papayas avoid.

Farm Raised Salmon avoid.

To learn more about organic eating, visit the Organic Guides section of the Dirt Doctor website.

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