Avoiding GMOs Aisle by Aisle" Produce

Step One: Know Which Produce is Genetically Modified

For many people, fruits and vegetables are the cornerstone of a healthy diet. They bring color and vibrancy to your plate and add incredible nutrients to your diet. Thankfully, there are few GMOs found in the produce aisle. People often worry about GMO tomatoes making their way onto their dinner plate, but the good news is, they are no longer being sold. The unfortunate news is that GMO produce is not labeled in the United States. GMO sweet corn and yellow crookneck squash are in commercial production and bags of potatoes that are genetically engineered will likely carry the language “reduced bruising and fewer black spots.”

At the Non-GMO Project we monitor several types of vegetables, like beets and zucchinis, to make sure they don’t cross-pollinate with GMO varieties. When buying fruit, you need to be aware of Hawaiian papaya, as this is frequently genetically modified.  GMO apples are now being grown for public consumption, though they will not arrive to supermarkets until late 2016 or 2017 at the earliest.  Be on the lookout for the Arctic snowflake/apple logo that will be stickered on genetically modified apples.

Step Two: Look for the Non-GMO Project Verified or Certified Organic Label When Shopping

Shopping organic is a great first step you can take towards ensuring that your family eats the healthiest foods possible. The rigorous requirements of the National Organic Program help to prevent GMO contamination of organic foods through a process-based approach to GMO avoidance. Organic Certification also ensures that the food is produced in the healthiest way possible without chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

The Non-GMO Project builds upon these measures by ensuring that all major GMO risk ingredients are tested prior to use in a Verified product, as we believe that ongoing testing is critical to identifying and eliminating GMO contamination. We verify both organic and conventional foods because we believe that everyone has a right to know what is in their food. Choosing products that are Certified Organic and Non-GMO Project Verified on your grocery shelves is the best way to make sure you are getting the safest, healthiest, highest-quality food for your family.

Step 3: Take Note of the PLU Numbers on Produce

A PLU (price look-up code) is that little digit you see on produce stickers. A four-digit number starting with a “4” tells you the product is conventional. If it’s a five-digit number starting with a “9”, you can be assured that item is Certified Organic.

However, identifying genetically engineered produce is not so easy. Five-digit codes starting with “8” are reserved for GMOs, but the usage is optional and as a result you are unlikely to ever see it in a store (we never have).

Funny how biotechnology companies love to talk about how great their products are, but then are so reluctant to label them. You would never find an organic farmer who wasn’t proud to label their products truthfully! We always look for the “9” when we’re buying our fruits and vegetables, and we recommend you do so as well. If you keep these three steps in mind, your next trip to the produce section should be very fruitful, indeed!

 

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