. Note: More detail on specific food buying is found in the Categories tab, and we'll be adding more frequently. .
. For those people trying to be GMO-free like we are (we're close but we still occasionally find GMO's we didn't notice before), we can only tell you how we do it. This is what we did and do now, in the order of our learning curve. This page will be continually revised, hopefully in part due to your emails. Please share with us so we can pass on not just our strategy but yours too.
. 1) We investigated websites, books and movies (see Links page for a few good starters) to see what GMO's are and how many we eat, how this happened that they are everywhere and we didn't know, why we shouldn't eat them, and how to avoid them. Some of the links we provide give direct access to original science studies. These are studies that pass the muster of good, objective, reproducible science, not like some of the self-serving nonsense produced by the industry. Also, some of the books out there have more citations (so you can verify the facts) than anything you've ever seen published! I took some classes in college that exposed me to the technology behind the GMO strains that are everywhere. I know just enough about bacterial reproduction, genetics, and cell biology to have an opinion I can support: We are guinea pigs in the most dangerous experiment in the world. Our health and the health of our planet is being exploited for money- consequences be damned. We hope you'll contact us to talk about it, and pass what you know along to others.
Incidentally, I'm not a scientist- I'm just a student. Some people will think I am not educated enough to have an opinion but some of those same people can't think. What is good science versus justification? What is that nagging feeling that tells you it might be a bad idea even though you've convinced yourself that nothing could go wrong? What in the heck are you thinking that you would play with the genome of bacteria!?
. 2) We stopped eating them. This process began with living on barbecued food (our bbq is out except for the worst part of winter) and now we're doing lots of cooking in general. We try to eat fruits and vegetables and a balanced simple diet with minimal processing. We used the non-GMO-shopping guide to find non-GMO brands and which foods are GMO by default (because if it doesn't say otherwise it could and probably is GMO!). Incidently, if you want one of these or the health risks brochures, email us for a copy. :) We buy them in bulk and they are much nicer in the professionally printed version, we think. When it comes to corn, we use a corn allergens list on the left sidebar of www.cornallergens.com. We have these with us at all times. When we check the label of something we love and can no longer have, we just make it. We're both pretty good at guessing which ingredients matter and how much of to use of each- or by searching online for recipes. Our foods are naturally more "whole" since we had to give up most processed food. We now know that even the most simple sounding foods have lots of ingredients they don't need to taste good. Please email us if you need help recreating a particular food. We're at your service.
. 3) We tell everyone so we don't surprise them with this special diet need. Then we offer to bring our own salad dressing, etc. My spiel goes like this: the most common GMO's are in everything- sugars, additives, anything you don't know what it is is usually corn. Corn is very contaminated- even farms that don't use GM corn have it dumped into grain piles with farms that do, so they may as well be. The process used the most is something i might rattle off if the person looks interested (horrified) but if not, I might say "unstable mutants that infect the human body through the intestines". But to those that are listening I'd say that the bioengineers use antibiotic resistance marker genes linked to viral promoter genes linked to soil bacteria herbicide-resistant genes all in a loop of E. coli bacterial DNA which is then shuttled into a plant using a bacterium that causes tumors in plants that is able to get into the plant tissue. After that, this engineered "plant" can be used to generate seed. [If you want to see the process, just watch the documentary (free online) the Future of Food 25 minutes in for 5 minutes. Creepy!] That plant is a bunch of bacterial DNA housing plant cells that have the traits of antibiotic resistance, cell invasion, gene swapping, instability (mutation crazy), and a promoter gene that turns traits on similar to the reason cancer spreads- the faulty switch stuck in the "on" position for DNA replication. How each plant cell makes proteins in reaction to the weird DNA is different from plant to plant, cell to cell. Its like taking random common letters and throwing them at a sentence. There may be new words, there are needed old words that are now gibberish and its possible you've changed the meaning of the entire sentence. Now, instead of a plant producing what it needs for growth, reproduction, and survival, it makes a random chemical here and there in addition to the trait of killing caterpillars and thriving though its doused in herbicide. There are mutations in GMO crops that one can see. The unstable DNA spreads to other plants and bacteria (see the Updates tab for one study, and read this document for several study summaries compiled by Jeffrey M. Smith the author/advocate from the Institute for Responsible Technology. ) So I could have a GM food, some of it survives digestion, and the normal good bacteria in my intestines swap DNA (that's what bacteria do) and start making strange chemicals. One bacterium can quickly become a large colony- and maybe it poisons the good bacteria I need that live in my gut. So just one bite of food and I have a strange chemical like a pesticide (Bt) being produced in my body all the time indefinitely. So I think to myself: I'm sorry if you don't like that I'm asking to see the catchup bottle, but if I can't be sure, I'm not eating the stuff.
Our friends and family are generally pro-organics but people may think we should "just eat it" in certain situations because we are extreme, and we live in a society where extremes that differ than the popular opinion are thought to be automatically wrong. But they don't know they are saying to me that I should eat a little poison factory that will live in me forever. Its social pressure versus our health. Talk to us if you're experiencing difficulty maintaining this diet when others don't understand. We can relate and probably make it easier for you. It gets easier with time. Not that many people feed you that you need to explain this to, and if you do it right once and offer to bring a few substitutions (your own hamburger patty and buns for the barbecue, organic catsup and salad dressing, potato salad for everyone...) it should (depending on the people I suppose!) go pretty well and be done with.
. 4) We eat and support organics even though they are sometimes contaminated. Organics are not tested for GMO's but who would win if they were? We draw the line there and accept it as our best option next to avoiding corn ingredients period (or soy). We support the organics as they fight for their right to not have GM pollen infect their fields. It is a lose the battle to win the war strategy to not ask for strict organic testing if this will be used against them. We want the burden to go on GMO corn growers to not let their pollen escape. How? That is their issue to solve. If you look at the Updates tab (again), you can read how the Supreme Court just laid the framework for farmers to sue for this harm done by GMO contamination including prevention! But being made with organic ingredients is the only criteria for the USDA organic label so if the production belt had GMO food on it, its not clean. We like small companies that make whole foods, organic companies, and non-GMO companies as opposed to organic lines from big companies. We hate large "poser" companies using the word Natural. Except for meat and poultry, the FDA has no definition for Natural. I went off on this subject in FAQ #6 and it is really surprising what "Natural" can be stretched to mean. (Anything! And if you read #3 here you know GMO's are anything but natural!) So these misleading "natural" labels appeal to people that assume they mean something they are not. There are some non-GMO, non-Organic products that say Natural and deserve the label but they tell you why on the package. If its just a word somewhere on the product or brand name, beware. Look at the ingredients. I get so mad when I see the hundred unpronounceable ingredients on the label of a should-be simple food labeled "Natural."
. 5) We use a seal-a-meal from a thrift store to make condiment packages and put them in a cooler in the car in case we go somewhere. Shrimp salad plus my dressing is often all there is to eat. Keeping that cooler in the car is awesome for grocery shopping too.
. 6) Meat and animal products have to be organic. Even fish are warped to eat GM corn in fish farms, so wild caught is the only way (though they mix with the escapees.) GMO fish could be here soon, GMO cloned beef is on its way, and a host of other animals will follow. Some people even tried to make GMO's considered Organic, while rBST is not allowed to be labeled in milk without the USDA claim that there is no significant difference between it and milk not treated with genetically engineered hormone. Oh yeah? Read this by the Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility. If you look at the harm to cows section or you'll get grossed out- but the cancer stuff will blow your mind that anyone could claim its not significantly different than normal milk.
. 7) We belong to groups fighting for our rights to GM-free food and sign the petitions they send us that have our Congressmen names and emails filled in on a template already. We have this website. We make a window cling for these folks to display that says they support our right to non-genetically engineered food. Its surprising how much we've actually influenced others around us. It helps us with our lifestyle for others to know and join us or at least understand. And later, as more and more evidence comes in, more people will ask us because they will remember that we were going on about it before it mattered to them. If you want this stuff gone, the best thing you can do is say the word GMO a lot.
. 8) We are reeeally careful about foods from other countries. Europe is losing the non-GM battle nation by nation even though the people are generally aware and distasteful of GMO's compared to in the U.S. where so many don't know much or anything about this subject. Standards of imports are not strong, nor enforced. New GM foods are being tested that aren't yet on our RADAR and then they come in unscreened or even allowed to an extent as an accepted percentage. read GMO-compass.org
. 9) We changed toothpaste, mouthwash, and over-the-counter medicines whenever possible. We are in the process of getting rid of things like GM skin cream or suntan lotion because the genes are created to be invasive with contact. So far only human intestinal gut bacteria have been tested for gene transfer- not skin or gums. But yes, they did transfer. See the Updates. However- some products say organic that aren't in the definition of what the FDA considers possible organic products. They can say whatever they want on the label. We call them. Whole foods gave their cosmetics a year to phase out the word Organic if it didn't meet the food standard saying customers expect that same meaning. Good for them. But I probably ingest some GMO products because I haven't found a pain reliever that doesn't have a thin corn coating on the tablet. I rinse them now. The corn allergens website above has links to big corn agriculture pages that talk about what the corn is used in, generally.
. 10) We call about foods we wish were not corn-derived that might not be. A good example is citric acid. Citrus fruits are named after citric acid, not the other way around. Usually citric acid is from corn and it will have some corn DNA in it after production. I love pink grapefruit Perrier. They told me their added citric acid is from citrus fruit. I asked if they might put it on the label that they don't have GMO's. They didn't want to commit because its hard to be sure. They are sure that right now, citrus fruit is not genetically engineered but new foods are manipulated all the time. They're in France in the middle of the hotbed of testing and contamination of so many foods- they aren't willing to go on a limb and say someone isn't screwing with the pink grapefruit in the open air right now. I think they are wise and I trust that they are non-GMO now more than ever but I'll have to keep watching Europe (GMO-Compass.org) to have my favorite drink still. This madness needs to end.