As our patients and friends move to embrace healthier eating and cooking habits, many of them are learning that navigating food choices can be a lot easier said than done. There are so many labels – local, cage free, grass fed, free range, organic – that it takes some time to learn what they all mean. One label that draws a lot of controversy is “GMO.” Short for genetically modified organism, GMO tops the list of controversial conversations about food and agriculture today.
According to the Non-GMO Project, GMOs are living organisms whose genetic material has been artificially manipulated in a laboratory through genetic engineering, or GE. This relatively new science creates combinations of plant, animal, bacteria and viral genes that do not occur in nature or through traditional crossbreeding methods.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that 70 percent of the products sold in American supermarkets contain genetically modified ingredients. On one side, GMOs, or GM foods, are cost effective ways of raising crops and have generated many economic benefits in both developed and developing countries. On the other hand, there are no long-term GMO safety studies in humans, and the long-term health effects of GMOs are unknown. As a result, there have been calls for more research on GMOs’ health effects including evidence of increased pesticide use on GM crops.
In more than 60 countries – including Australia, Japan, and all of the countries in the European Union – there are significant restrictions or outright bans on the production and sale of GMOs. GMO labeling is also required in 64 countries, however, it has not been required in the US. That will soon change, as in reaction to increasing consumer concerns about GMOs in foods, the Department of Agriculture announced a voluntary certification program that food companies would pay for to have their products labeled GMO-free.
Clear GMO labeling – like with the multitude of other healthy eating labels – can make you a better-informed shopper, regardless of which side of the GMO debate you side with. Until that becomes standard though, buy USDA Organic, especially when purchasing the current GMO crops. Organic foods are grown from seeds that are not genetically modified. You can also look for the Non-GMO Project Verified seal.
True health begins in your kitchen, and the real power to eat healthy lies in the hands of consumers. That means we need to simplify the way we eat. We need to look for whole foods, with all natural ingredients, and we need to cook at home more. Shopping smarter is just the first step. At Carlson Chiropractic Center, we are proud to offer Food Sensitivity Testing for those wanting to take healthy eating to the next level. Through that, we are able to help our patients learn which foods they can and can’t eat, how to dine out safely, and learn how to read food labels and check the ingredients for problems.
Through simplifying your food choices, cooking at home more, and shopping smarter, wellness, and yes, maybe even weight loss, can be yours with just a few simple changes. So what’s for dinner?