I get it, believe me. We live in a country that’s built on Capitalism. As potentially appealing as that seems, it’s come to mean our food and sick-care industries make hand-over-fist by confusing us. While there are always 2 sides to every story and I like to believe GMO’s were originally meant as an altruistic endeavour, they have become anything but that.
I also get that organic food is expensive and we can’t always afford it. As I’ve taught in several workshops, there’s a middle road with organic/non-GMO and conventional foods. You have to make decisions based on what’s best for YOUR family, their health levels and your budget. I do this weekly and have learned the middle road when it comes to food.
A couple of weeks ago, I shared a fantastic report Ocean Robbins wrote. Last year, I attended the Food Revolution Summit that he and his father host annually (yes, this is the Baskin-Robbins family that was written out of the family business, due to his “controversial” views on the food and dairy industry…just like T. Colin Campbell).
The report was an amazing eye-opener even for me. The number of foods listed on the GMO list is staggering. Why? Because the food industry uses corn, soy, and sugar in nearly every processed food. Some of the ingredients listed in his report are in nearly every package we pick up in those evil middle aisles of the grocery store. (I’ll be covering grocery shopping and label reading in my upcoming program, so you’ll have an easier grasp on how to shop smarter!)
In case you missed the report or thought it was a bit overwhelming, I created an easy cheat sheet for you (I admittedly opened and closed their report a few times myself!). We need something we can access quickly at the store. We need something that makes sense of the in-depth information explained in Ocean’s report. We need a quick and digestible way (pun intended) to know what we should be on the lookout for when it comes to buying foods.
What You Need to Know About This Cheat Sheet:
- There are two pages because we process information and shop differently from one another. You’ll find one page lists the foods alphabetically. If you wish to avoid the most dangerous foods and aren’t too concerned with the cost of organics, this list is best for you. I’ve listed each food and how it measures up in the organic and non-GMO realm. The next page is for those who are more concerned with a specific food group, non-GMO vs organic or are perhaps on a budget.
- The Dirty 12 = the dirty dozen. If there’s a number next to a food, please take note. They are listed in order of 1-12, with 1 being the most dangerous. According to EWG, these foods are the most highly pesticide-concentrated foods. I can’t overstate the importance of EWG.org (the Environmental Working Group) and the work they do. The FDA is responsible for annually reporting the most toxic chemicals in our foods and cosmetics. For whatever reason, they fail us year after year (I have a definitive opinion on this question but this isn’t the place for that). EWG picks up the pieces and lists the most dangerous 12 fruits and vegetables, as well as the clean 15. Please avoid the Dirty 12, unless you can afford to purchase them organically.
- The Clean 15 = safe foods to eat conventionally (non-organic). These fruits and veggies have either a very thick skin that pesticides barely penetrate or else they are sprayed with very few pesticides. These foods are GREAT substitutes for foods on the Dirty 12 if you can’t budget in organics yet. A note of caution, however. If a food isn’t sprayed heavily enough to make it on the Dirty 12, it may still be a GMO food. I created this list as a quick cross-reference for that very reason.
- GMO (high) means the food is best eaten only as a “Non-GMO Verified Project” food, or not at all. If you can get this food seasonally, buying it organically will be cheaper. Buying out of season means the food is travelling far…that means more chemicals to get it to you. Please do not waiver on this point – non-GMO verified foods often cost only pennies more than conventional foods and you don’t deserve to be the lab rat for corporate greed. They are also cheaper than organic foods. ALL organic foods are non-GMO as a requirement of the organic certification process.
- GMO (low) means the food is safe to eat as of the date of this email. If you can budget in buying it Non-GMO Verified or organic, fabulous! If not, know these foods have not yet been placed on the market, despite the testing phase being completed. These foods are safe to eat as conventional foods unless they appear on the Dirt 12 list. All of the GMO (low) foods have genetically-modified versions but they have either been pulled from our shelves or are not yet readily available. Exercise caution though, as the food industry has lobbyists with deep interests in keeping us in the dark. These foods may end up in our markets at any time soon.
- Do not panic! While it seems this list may contain everything you eat, remember one important fact. There are MULTITUDES of other foods you can use as substitutes! If you get stuck, PLEASE ask – I have extensive knowledge of many international foods and spices that will easily replace some of the foods listed.
- Check your pantry! Please use this cheat sheet and go through your cabinets. Look for the ingredients listed here. If you run across an ingredient that’s tricky or not listed but you question it, shoot me an email and I’ll get you more information on it.
- Buy Local! Many local farmers cannot afford the labelling for organic certification nor the Non-GMO verified project. Talk to your farmer and ask how they handle their produce. Staying local reduces greenhouse emissions from food travels and reduces the number of chemicals needed to keep produce ripening and then staying fresh during travels.
- The most important takeaway: a whole-food, low-fat, plant-powered lifestyle is key. You’ll notice I said earlier that the food industry uses corn, soy, and sugar in nearly every processed food. A simple way to avoid 70-80% of the foods on this cheat sheet is to avoid processed foods. It’s imperative we start to understand how dangerous it’s become to leave our food in the hands of strangers. This, unfortunately, includes processed food and drinks even in the “natural food sections,” as I’ll explain in my upcoming program.