There is a lot of confusion surrounding food these days. Non-GMO, organic and conventional options and what each really means in this crazy food climate. Honestly, it is hard to navigate what is going into our food supply and who and what can be trusted. I know that I need to be diligent in my research so that I can make the best decisions when I’m food shopping for my family. I have always deferred to buying organic. Knowing the basics, I choose to stay away from pesticides, hormones and antibiotics, but does buying only organic protect me from everything or should I be looking for the non-GMO Project label as well? GMOs, genetically modified organisms, sound like a bad idea from a mile away. I cannot believe that any good can come from altering our food supply genetically. After some research I am happy to report that I feel a little bit more sure of myself these days when it comes to stocking the fridge, and thankfully it is easier than I thought.
I’ll fill you in on the Non-GMO Project in the off chance that you haven't heard about it yet. It is a group, that was created by retailers, who felt it was important that consumers who live in North America were given clear information on the products that they were purchasing. The verification process is rigorous and requires ongoing testing of all “at risk” ingredients. When a product bears the Non-GMO Project label you know that a third party has come in to test the quality of the product and that it is safe from GMOs.
Unfortunately, any product can label itself non-GMO, as the FDA has not yet set up standards regarding this claim on a label. So if you are looking for products that are non-GMO make sure that the product carries the non-GMO Project label, as it is currently the only reliable label that requires testing.
In a nutshell, what I’ve learned is that while Non-GMO Project labeling is good, it is not enough. It is letting you know that there are no genetically modified organisms in the product, which is good obviously, but it is not the whole story. When food shopping, I believe that organic wins out over non-GMO every time. When a product is labeled organic it is automatically non-GMO*, the USDA organic regulations prohibit any genetically modified organism from being used in a certified organic food item. So by buying 100% certified organic you are essentially getting the best of both worlds. It is great to be able to buy a product and know that it has been held up to a standard that I feel is necessary to make it a safe and healthy food option for my family.
Please Note: *There are some loopholes, so you definitely need to look for“100% certified organic” or a “Non-GMO Project” verified label to ensure it is GMO-free when you go shopping.