How to Avoid Biotech Foods

I have recently come to realize that a lot of the foods I consume are GM, or genetically modified, foods. These are commonly called biotech foods, too, for the fact that they are engineered in a lab rather than on a farm. The idea kind of makes me sick, to be truthful, but being a vegetarian I have discovered that many grains and vegetable proteins are GM.

I suddenly became aware of this fact when I was on several sites for the companies that make may of the products I have been eating. The veggie burgers and meat substitutes I often enjoy are made of wheat gluten, vegetable protein and textured soy are made from GM soy, veggies, wheat and oil. I was shocked, to say the least. I had been stupidly believing that what I was eating was “natural”. I guess the joke is on me.

But according to many researchers, GM foods may have an impact on our mental and emotional health and this is a measurement that is not evaluated in most traditional food safety assessments. On average, the Government proclaims that GM foods are safe and fine to consume. Do you have any idea how many you are currently consuming? I have heard that there isn’t a single can of corn distributed in America that is not GM. Does that bother you?

In an interesting experiment conducted in Holland, researchers found that mice were less active and more distressed after eating GM corn. According to factsheets, “Many were running round and round the basket, scrabbling desperately in the sawdust, and even frantically jumping up the sides.” Sounds like they were in a panic. Sound familiar? How many Americans are suffering from anxiety and panic disorder? I think they stopped counting.

A book written by Barbars Stitt, called “Food & Behavior: A Natural Connection”, tells her story of modifying poor student behavior by taking GM foods off the cafeteria menu. Before they were removed, the kids were acting more and more rude, obnoxious and ill mannered, according to her. And this problem disappeared with the simple change in their diet. Read the book. It’s fascinating.

If you are of a mind to avoid GM foods, here are some tips on how to do that.

The major GM crops are soy, cotton, canola and corn. Other modified crops include some U.S. zucchini and yellow squash, Hawaiian papaya and some brands of tobacco. There may also be some remaining GM potatoes in the form of potato starch, but Monsanto is no longer marketing them. GM tomatoes have similarly been taken off the market. China, however, has been growing GM tomatoes, as well as cucumbers and a variety of pepper and frozen vegetables imported from China may contain them. Both meat and dairy products usually come from animals that have eaten GM feed. Even honey and bee pollen can contain GM sources. Check the labels for these products, check the websites of the manufacturers of the products you currently buy and enjoy. Make an effort to buy organic, local food, which is less likely to be GM.

There are also GM food additives, enzymes, flavorings, and processing agents in thousands of foods on the grocery shelves as well as health supplements. This makes ferreting them out an almost impossible task. For example, the rennet used to make cheese is often GM. It is not allowed in organic cheese, so look for that. You can also get rennet free cheese in organic health food stores or in vegetarian markets. Aspartame, the diet sweetener, is a complete GM product. With all the health implications of Aspertame use, you should never buy it or any soda that is made with it. And, to make things even more complicated, GM bacteria and fungi are used in the production of enzymes, vitamins, and processing aids, such as thickeners and preservatives.

Another place to look for GM foods in oils like Soy, corn, canola or cottonseed. This is where I found the most GM items in my veggie diet. Unless the oil specifically says “Non-GMO” or Organic, it is probably genetically modified. You can get GM free oils, these include olive, sunflower, safflower, butter, almond, and just about any other oil available. Your best healthy bet is Extra Virgin Olive Oil. I have started using nothing but. Although, for each type of food there is usually a brand that is non-GM. These are often found in health food stores, vegetarian markets and co-ops. Go organic for everything and this will lower your risk of exposure.

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