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How Much GM Food Are You Really Eating?

sarah June 5, 2014

Note from Kate: What you are about to see may feel very overwhelming, especially if you are new to the idea of real food or healthy eating.  Please don’t let this discourage you.  The intent is simply to show you how prevalent GMOs really are in our food supply.  We have a lot of information here on taking baby steps to healthier eating. We’re here to help — we just want you to be informed.

By Contributing Writer Sarah Nichols

Genetically modified (GM) food has been in the news a lot lately.  Many people are trying to get genetically modified food labeled in the grocery store so that consumers know what they are really buying.  While it’s good that many more people are becoming aware of GM food, I think there’s a huge misperception about how prevalent GM food really is.  It is so prevalent in our food supply that I actually had a hard time finding foods that didn’t contain probable GM ingredients while doing my research for this post.  Furthermore, most foods contained an assortment of probable GM food ingredients, not just one or two.

What is GM food?

Dictionary.com defines genetically modified food as “pertaining to a living organism whose genetic material has been altered, changing one or more of it’s characteristics; bioengineered.” (source) There is a lot of debate about the health and safety of genetically modified foods.  Biotechnology corporations, of course, tout that these foods are safe and pose no health risks.  However, plenty of other research indicates otherwise. Please, if you are not familiar with GM food, do some research before reading the next part of this article.  It’s important to decide for yourself if GM food is something you want your family consuming.

What to Look For

There are 8 main GM foods that we have to consider right now.  Corn, soy, rapeseed (canola), cotton, papaya, zucchini, yellow squash, and sugar beets. Right now over 80% of corn on the market is GM corn (source), over 90% of soy is genetically modified (source), about 90% of rapeseed grown was GM, and GM sugarbeet makes up 90% of the market (source).

When looking for probable GM ingredients in foods, you want to look for not only the ingredients but possible derivatives of those ingredients as well. Note: Some of these ingredients, like “natural flavor” are possible derivatives.

This is a list of all ingredients which are or may be derived from the ingredient listed:

Corn

  • Corn
  • Ascorbic acid
  • Baking powder (contains cornstarch)
  • Any form of citrate
  • Caramel coloring
  • Cellulose
  • Citric acid
  • Corn meal
  • Corn starch
  • Corn syrup
  • Dextrin
  • Maltodextrin
  • Dextrose
  • Ethanol
  • Ferrous gluconate
  • Flavoring (natural flavor)
  • Hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP)
  • Lactic acid
  • Magnesium stearate
  • Malic acid
  • Malt
  • Malt flavoring
  • Maltitol
  • Maltodextrin
  • Maltose
  • Mannitol
  • Modified food starch
  • Monosodium glutamate (MSG),
  • Polydextrose
  • Saccharin
  • Sodium erythorbate
  • Sodium starch glycolate
  • Sorbitan
  • Sorbitan Monostearate
  • Sorbitol
  • Sucralose
  • Xantham gum
  • Xylitol

(source) (This list contains food ingredients that may be derived from corn.  For a complete listing of ALL ingredients derived from corn and explanations, go here.)

Soy

  • Edamame
  • Hydrolyzed soy protein
  • Tofu
  • Miso
  • Natto
  • Soy pulp
  • Shoyu sauce
  • Soy albumin
  • Soy bran
  • Soy concentrate
  • Soy fiber
  • Soy flour
  • Soy milk
  • Soy protein
  • Soy protein concentrate
  • Soy protein isolate
  • Soy sauce
  • Soy sprouts
  • Soya
  • Soya flour
  • Soybeans
  • Soybean granules
  • Soybean curd
  • Soybean flour
  • Soy lecithin
  • Soybean paste
  • Supro
  • Tamari
  • Tempeh
  • Teriyaki sauce
  • Textured soy flour (TSF)
  • Textured soy protein (TSP)
  • Textured vegetable protein (TVP)
  • Artificial flavorings
  • Hydrolyzed plant protein (HVP)
  • Natural flavor
  • Vegetable broth
  • Vegetable gum
  • Vegetable starch

(source)

Canola

  • Canola oil
  • Fully hydrogenated rapeseed/canola oil
  • Superglycerinated rapeseed/canola oil
  • Low erucic acid rapeseed/canola oil
  • Hydrogenated rapeseed/canola oil
  • Partially hydrogenated rapeseed/canola oil
  • Oilseed/canola rape

(source)

Sugar Beet

  • Sugar
  • Invert sugar
  • Inverted sugar syrup

Cotton

  • Cottonseed oil
  • Methylcellulose

Papaya 

  • Most non-organic papaya is GM (source)

Yellow Squash/Zucchini

  • A small amount of these are GM.

How Much GM Food Are You Really Eating?

GM Food on Your Grocery Store Shelves

I really want to open your eyes to the amount of GM foods that are consumed on a daily basis if you eat the Standard American Diet (SAD).  In order to do so, I went to my local grocery store and took a picture of each type of food to see if it contained GM ingredients.  This is in no way comprehensive.  I tried to pick name brands that you would find across the country and I tried to include every category of food. Following is the list of food categories and the probable GM ingredients I found in them.

***Note: if the food contained meat, egg or dairy products, I listed them as probable GM ingredients since conventionally raised animals are fed large amounts of GM corn and soy.

Bread

Condiments, Sauces, Dressings, and Marinades

Crackers, Chips, and Other Snacks

Cooking and Baking

Eggs, Meat and Dairy

Prepared and Packaged Foods

Drinks

Baby and Kid

Canned Foods

Sports Bars and Granola Bars

Desserts and Sweets

Avoiding GM Food

As you can see, the average American is consuming an abundant amount of GM food on a daily basis.  Shockingly, many of the foods with “healthy” claims on their labels had more GM ingredients in them then their “unhealthy” counterparts. It’s time for change!

While it may seem overwhelming at first, there are some simple steps you can take to drastically reduce the amount of genetically modified foods you consume.

  1. Buy organic.  Organic foods are not allowed to contain genetically modified ingredients.  Sometimes cross-pollination does occur, so your best bet is to buy Non-GMO verified products.  You can see the whole list here.
  2. Buy local.  You can buy food at your local farmer’s market and from local farms.  Make sure they are growing Non-GMO plants first though if buying corn, papaya, yellow squash, or zucchini. You can also buy meat, dairy, and eggs at your local farmer’s market.  Always ask to make sure the animals are pastured and not fed GM grains.
  3. If you aren’t ready to give up refined sugars, be sure to buy organic or “pure cane sugar.”  Those will be sure to not contain sugar from GMO beets.
  4. Make things at home.  This is the best option for avoiding all the ingredients you don’t want your family to consume.  Yes, it takes more time and energy, but the health of our families makes it well worth the effort.
  5. Baby steps.  If you are reading this and completely overwhelmed at the realization of what your family is eating, take a deep breath.  Now that you know what is actually in your food you can begin to make baby steps to slowly transition your family away from the processed lifestyle.  Make one change at a time and tell yourself that one change is one less GM ingredient going into your family.  Celebrate your victories.

Are you surprised by the amount of GM foods in the store? Are you concerned about GMOs?  What is your best tip or word of encouragement for someone who is just realizing the dangers of GM ingredients in their food?

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10 Comments

  1. I literally could just cry. This is disgusting. I stay on the lookout for popular no-no’s on ingredient lists – azodicarbonamide, propylene glycol, PGPR, HFCS, (the list is endless). And I buy non-GMO and organic with as many products as I can. Make tons of home made rather than store bought. But I never even thought about more than half of those ingredients being hidden GMO! You were right to say this could be overwhelming. I actually feel like I’ve been lied to by certain brands that I buy, these companies tout the wholesome goodness contained in their products,and it really is a lie. It should not be this hard to go to the grocery store and find good food for your family. I pray that a bill will passed that will require these companies to list that there are GMO ingredients in their products. I can understand why corporations don’t want to do that,they know that if it’s not hidden nobody will want to buy their food! Thank you so much for this,so informative in a sea of article’s written on this subject,I have learned something new today. I’m saving this and sending it to my family.

    Reply

    • GMO foods have been “snuck” into our food unbeknownst to us for many years. I live in rural Alberta and every year I see more and more canola being planted. Canola feeds the fast food industry; not people. I try to cut out GMO’s from my family’s diet as much as possible, but it’s just not always possible. I can pretty much count on getting a migraine when consuming too many GMO ingredients. Slowly but surely my husband is starting to understand the larger picture. GMO’s don’t feed the world; they only feed hungry corporations’ profits. People need to plant gardens, not lawns.

      Reply

  2. Thank you thank you thank you! I’ve known this for a long time, but short of going shopping with people, I haven’t known how to share with people how polluted EVERYTHING at the store is, even at whole foods. This is an amazing visual, I wish I’d thought to do this 😉 I’ll be sharing this with tons of people – thanks for taking the time to post this!

    Reply

  3. I have no website but im shocked that so much food and so many products have all the GMO garbage in them already!!! I pray that a law is made and passed that will demand that these companies must list the actual ingredients and if they are GMO or not….and then people can choose for themsleves….and the companies who are using GMO?…well maybe they will see the real light and stop allowing GMO’s in their foods and products!!!… I had no idea there were this many products out there using bad crappy stuff in their foods….WOWIE!!! I too have learned something here today …. and THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH!!! GOD BLESS YOU & YOUR FAMILY TOO…..Mary Trillich….

    Reply

  4. My god woman! I do not like GMO’s and I think you have done a valuable service here but please….just because you drank the coolaid with- real organic non GMO sugar….keep the Jesus speak prostulatising to your self and you will reach more people. Your GMO message is wonderful and then you ruin it with your perverse youth ministry. 🙁 sad 🙁 and the rest of your prostulitising!

    Reply

    • Hi Ginger,

      This post does not even mention Jesus. And even if it does, you are welcome to ignore those parts if you don’t agree with them. The message shouldn’t be ignored because the author holds some beliefs that you don’t share. To ask others not to mention their beliefs is discrimination and it’s not okay. We respect that you hold non-Christian beliefs; we ask that you respect that we hold Christian beliefs. This “no one should mention Jesus” nonsense is getting old.

      Reply

  5. I AM overwhelmed, but not surprised. I already suspected most food on the shelves today have something that is GMO. I have been taking baby steps to change the foods in our diet, its not easy, but necessary! Definitely will be sharing this with everyone I know and don’t know 🙂

    Reply

  6. This is a fantastic article! Our family recently went gfcfsf. we also try to do mostly Non-GMO labeled foods. Here’s a tip that helped when we first got started; ‘Stay out of the middle of the grocery store!’ All the healthy stuff is in the peremiter (fruit, veggies, nuts, meat, fish, poultry).

    Reply

  7. Can you recommend a good oil to cook with? I read that besides coconut oil and organic butter, red palm oil was good. Does anyone here have an opinion? I also need an oil to make mayonnaise with. Ive read of someone using grapeseed oil to make mayonnaise.

    Reply

  8. […] both soybean and corn oils. Since soy and corn seem to be in almost every food commercially bought (and GMO), it makes sense that we get plenty of it. “The typical American diet tends to contain 15 to […]

    Reply

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I’m Kate, mama to 5 and wife to Ben.  I love meeting new people and hearing their stories.  I’m also a big fan of “fancy” drinks (anything but plain water counts as ‘fancy’ in my world!) and I can’t stop myself from DIY-ing everything.  I sure hope you’ll stick around so I can get to know you better!

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