Make it a Habit, Label Reading

Studies show that it takes three weeks to create a new habit. Some decisions to change our habits can happen in a moment. Others develop over time. I remember when I became a vegetarian many decades ago – it was the first time I had to cook Thanksgiving dinner on my own. Wrestling with that big bird convinced me to give up meat. I didn’t even eat the meal I prepared – I just ate the sides and dessert!

Since then, my love for sushi has turned me into a committed pescatarian. I no longer have an aversion to preparing free range meats for my friends and family. My roasted organic chicken (thank you, Thomas Keller!) is very popular with my carnivorous friends. My food journey has proven that the more I know, the more I want to know. Here are some of the big lessons that have recently guided me in my quest for non-GMO foods.

Big lesson #1:

Read the label and look for the butterfly! Soy, corn, canola and sugar beets are prevalent GMOs that show up in many products, but GMOs are also hidden in these common ingredients: Amino Acids, Aspartame, Ascorbic Acid, Sodium Ascorbate, Vitamin C, Citric Acid, Sodium Citrate, Flavorings (“natural” and “artificial”), High Fructose Corn Syrup, Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein, Lactic Acid, Maltodextrin, Molasses, Monosodium Glutamate, Sucrose, Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP), Xanthan Gum, Vitamins, Yeast Products.

One of the easiest ways to protect yourself from GMOs is to look for the Non-GMO Project Verified seal. Our third-party verification ensures that products are tested at the highest level for GMO avoidance. Even though I now serve meat to my friends, I personally have to be wary of beef and chicken stock, and I am highly sensitive to cross-contamination. Whether you or your loved ones have food allergies or sensitivities, one of the easiest and most critical ways to know your food is to become an avid label reader.

Big lesson #2:

Many of my biggest food decisions have transformed with additional education. I’ve learned the importance of selecting high quality, local, Non-GMO Project Verified meat, egg and dairy products whenever possible. The fact is that I eat what they eat, and I certainly do not want to eat GMOs! Since most animal feed is filled with corn, soy, cotton seed, and/or alfalfa (highly produced GMO crops), making sure these high-risk animal-derived ingredients have been Non-GMO Project Verified is absolutely necessary for me.

Big lesson #3:

I’ve always been a huge advocate for organic foods. Since working for the Project, our stringent testing has actually strengthened my preference for these products. My first choice is to look for both seals on foods that I purchase – particularly those with high-risk ingredients (soy, corn, canola, sugar beets). Shopping this way gives me confidence and a satisfaction in supporting those farmers and producers who go the extra mile.

Our annual Non-GMO Challenge is the perfect opportunity for you to make a commitment to change a habit…or two or three! Download our template, send us a photo with your pledge and share your commitment online!

(Remember to tag your photos #nongmochallenge!)

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