You’ve probably seen recent headlines exclaiming that Chipotle is officially GMO free. People seem thrilled about this revamp on their favorite guacamole, but do people truly understand what this change means? With a lot of blank stares around the office when the topic of GMOs came up, it felt like a good time to give our readers the low down.

First things first. What does GMO stand for? GMO stands for genetically modified organism aka genetically modified food. GMOs are living organisms whose genetic material has been artificially manipulated in a laboratory through genetic engineering. This relatively new science creates unstable combinations of plant, animal, bacteria and viral genes that do not occur in nature or through traditional crossbreeding methods. Huh? Simply put, it’s genes from one species forcibly put into the DNA of another species. And genes can be mixed and matched to manipulate and create new organisms that were not naturally part of the evolutionary process. If you’re still confused, here’s a one-minute video that easily breaks it down –

Where can you find GMOs?

If you’re living here in the US, there’s a good chance you’re eating GMOs on a (very) regular basis. Starting in the 1990s, new proteins have been engineered into our food supply.  Most developed nations do not consider GMOs to be safe.  In more than 60 countries around the world, including Australia, Japan, and all countries in the European Union, there are significant restrictions or outright bans on the production and sale of GMOs. The U.S. government has approved GMOs based on studies conducted by the same corporations that created them and profit from their sale. Hmm….. go figure. Since food manufacturers here are not required to label their food as a GMO, it’s safe to say that a lot of what we eat is genetically modified.

These are the products (and their derivatives) that are most likely to be genetically modified: Soybeans, Corn, Rapeseed/Canola (think oils), Sugar beets, Dairy, Sugar, Papayas, Zucchini, Baked goods often have one or more of the common GM ingredients.

Are GMOs safe?

Like I said before, the U.S. is one of the few countries that does not have any restrictions or bans on the production and sale of GMOs. While there is still not enough evidence nor research, many people believe that GM foods can cause allergies, make your body resist antibiotics, or even lead to cancer. This woman’s personal story makes it clear that GM foods are worth learning more about…

How can you be safe?

Eat all of your meals at Chipotle. Okay, only kidding, but if they did start serving breakfast, I don’t think anyone would be opposed to this idea.

But let’s get serious. Unfortunately living in the U.S., with its lack of monitoring, our options are minimal. However, one way to avoid GMOs is to buy foods labeled 100% organic. The U.S. and Canadian governments do not allow manufacturers to use this label if that food has been genetically modified. And make sure that label says 100% organic. If it’s just marked “organic”, it can still contain up to 30% GMOs.

Shop Local

Another way to (possibly) avoid GMOs is by shopping locally.  Although more than half of all genetically modified foods are produced in the U.S., most of it comes from large industrial farms. By shopping at your local farmers’ market, you’ll have the chance to talk directly to the farmers and hear how he or she feels about GMOs and whether or not they use them in their own operation. Here’s our friendly guide on how to navigate the market.

Whether you think GMOs are safe or not, I think we can all agree that we have a right to know what in our food. We live in a free economy, don’t we? As consumers, we are supposed to make informed decisions. More than half the world’s population has that right, when will we get it? Ready to take action New Yorkers? GMO Free NY makes it easy for you to get involved with tons of local opportunities and ways to make your voice heard.

But before we pass any laws, here are my top picks for local restaurants serving organic food: Hu Kitchen, Mulberry and Vine, Ellary’s Greens, Bareburger, and The Farm on Adderley.

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About The Author

Resident Tourist

Born here. Lives here and never leaving. The nicest person to ever not speak in public. Loves New York