If you have finicky family members or kids with allergies or food sensitivities like I do, you might think that cooking up a non-GMO dinner is way over your head. After all, you already have a short list of foods that your child can safely eat while satisfying his or her picky palette. While it may seem challenging to eat only non-GMO foods, you can take simple steps to reduce and eventually remove them from your dinner table. You just need to know how to choose non-GMO versions of what you already eat and stick to healthy basics. Here’s how I do it:
Know Where GMOs Are Found
Not every food or crop is genetically modified. In fact, the only commercially available high-risk GMO crops on the market are alfalfa, canola, corn, cotton, Hawaiian papaya, soy, sugar beets, zucchini and summer squash. The bad news is that many of those crops and the ingredients derived from them are found in pre-packaged foods. You also need to be aware that certain other crops are monitored for GMO contamination and countless new ones are being researched. The easiest way to be sure that the foods and products you are purchasing are non-GMO is to look for the Butterfly. That way, you can be sure that product has been held to the highest standards of testing for high-risk GMO ingredients.
For some products, you can just change your source. For example, if the label on your sugar package reads “cane sugar,” you are probably not being exposed to a GMO crop. On the other hand, if the label just reads just “sugar,” there is a high possibility that it is derived from sugar beets as about 95% of sugar beet crops have a high-risk of being GMO in the US. To be safe, always find products with the Butterfly seal on them for non-GMO assurance.
How to Be Non-GMO Safe
Now that you know what foods are affected, you’ll need to make choices around that awareness. Do you want to reduce GMO crops and foods in your diet or eliminate them altogether? There are several factors to consider as you make these choices:
- Feeding growing children or a large family takes a toll on your budget (can I get an amen from the parents of teenagers?). Carefully pick and choose where to allocate your funds. For example, while you may have a family of meat eaters (I do), maybe you can start by incorporating more vegetables and beans to replace meat—creating a larger budget for non-GMO produce may reduce your overall spending.
- Search for meat from livestock that is fed non-GMO feed—it is becoming more available as the supply chain meets the demand.
- If you can find them, buy locally raised eggs from pasture-raised chickens fed a non-GMO diet. It’s also a good and affordable place to start when replacing meat.
- Sourcing Food. When you choose Non-GMO Project Verified and USDA Organic, you are assured that the food producers have met high standards of ingredients and production. The Non-GMO Project Verified seal requires testing of all high-risk ingredients and the USDA Organic label prohibits the use of GMOs as well as synthetic pesticides and fertilizers; so together, they really are the ultimate standard for avoiding GMOs!
Once you have all that in mind, I recommend you try new brands that have the Non-GMO Project Verified and USDA Organic label on them. Shop around—you may find an online grocer or local supermarket that has very good prices. I’ve noticed that many of my local grocery stores are increasing their non-GMO choices—and I don’t live in a big city! Your options are growing.
A Recipe for Non-GMO Dinner
Your head may be spinning with questions, but let me assure you that you can make a great, filling non-GMO dinner for your family. Most nights we do a one-pan meal that consists of:
- Meat or protein
- 1 or 2 vegetables, often one is a green salad
- Starch, like rice or pasta for saucy dishes
- Non-GMO sauce or seasoning
Great ideas include chili, pasta with vegetables, taco night, hamburgers topped with fixings, pizza, curried chicken, roasted chicken with vegetables and more. One of our favorite go-to recipes is a stir-fry full of organic and non-GMO ingredients that we’ve tailored for our kids’ soy allergy.
Soy Free Easy Chicken Stir Fry Recipe
- 1 lb. USDA organic and Non-GMO Project Verified chicken, preferably locally sourced
- 1 tbsp. Nutiva Red Palm Oil or other non-GMO oil
- 1 head organic broccoli, chopped
- ½ cup Coconut Secret Non-GMO Project Verified Coconut Aminos
- ½ lb. organic mushrooms, sliced
- 1-2 cups Lundberg Jasmine rice
Sauté the chicken in a tablespoon of the oil, until the outside is no longer pink. Add the coconut amino sauce, then broccoli and mushrooms. Sauté until cooked. Add more sauce as needed. Prepare rice as directed. Serve over rice, or add cooked rice to the mixture and sauté together!
Once you get used to the brands and products that have the Non-Project GMO Verified label, you’ll find it’s hard to miss them—there are now over 34,000 Verified products! Pretty soon, you’ll start looking for the Butterfly for every meal!
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