Let’s face it: who doesn’t love a tasty snack? Small bites carry us through our workdays, keep our kids smiling, and bring us together at gatherings. My love of snacks runs the gamut from protein bars to chips with guacamole. Since 80% of packaged foods contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs), here are some ways to avoid GMOs when eating your favorite finger foods.
When it’s time to grab a snack, be on the lookout for high-risk ingredients which may be derived from GMOs. Three of the most recognized crops from this list are corn, soy and canola. Whether it is sugar from corn or oil from soy and canola, these ingredients show up in many go-to favorites at the grocery store. Choosing products with the Non-GMO Project Verified seal will ensure any high-risk ingredients were third-party tested to ensure GMO avoidance.
Cotton is a lesser known high-risk ingredient that shows up in countless snacks even though we don’t think of it as a food. About 94% of cotton grown in the U.S. is genetically engineered to produce Bt toxins that kill insects. Cotton is produced for fabric and the plants are not regulated as food crops. The seeds are considered to be a waste by-product of cotton processing—but they are then crushed for their oil, which is used in all kinds of food. Countless foods contain cottonseed oil, but probably the most common are fried foods like corn or potato chips.
Potatoes are a staple in my household—whether they are mashed, baked, or as chips. In 2015, genetically modified potatoes began showing up on grocery shelves and in produce aisles. Now my spud selection has become a little trickier as I have to consider if my potatoes are genetically modified. When buying produce, I avoid bags that say “reduced browning and fewer black spots.” When choosing chips or fries, the good news is that both Frito-Lay and McDonald’s have said “no” to genetically engineered potatoes, leading the way for other food companies to follow suit. To avoid these potatoes in the chip aisle, I simply look for the Butterfly seal.
Non-GMO Project Verified products are held to a rigorous Standard by third-party certifiers. Genetically modified potatoes are currently listed by the Project as a monitored crop. The monitored list contains crops which have suspected or have had known incidents of contamination. The Non-GMO Project tests these crops as needed and will move them to the “high-risk” category if we see significant risk of GMOs being introduced into the supply chain.
If I’m looking for a snack on the lighter side, I air pop a bowl of popcorn and drizzle melted non-GMO coconut oil over the puffs. Even though genetically modified coconuts are not commercially available, purchasing non-GMO influences the industry to not adopt engineered trees (GMO coconut plants have been tested in laboratories). When selecting my salt, I again turn to the Butterfly. While salt itself is not an organism that can be modified, manufacturers may add GMO corn-based anti-caking agents, such as dextrose to their products. After salting, I sometimes add turmeric or cayenne for an extra flavor kick.
At every family gathering or party with friends, I make a point to chat about the non-GMO munchies I brought to share. When people want to discover non-GMO versions of their favorite products, I invite them to search by category on the Find Products page. Spreading positive awareness by talking about non-GMO ingredients creates the culture and community that we need to motivate change. Each time we reach for the Butterfly, we are making a real impact on the future of our food.