I was doing research on genetically modified organisms (GMO) and found an article in the recent winter edition of California Alumni Magazine titled Dinner by Design. It is an interesting read.
In the article, the author presents arguments on both sides of the GMO debate ultimately siding with the argument for GMOs as he believes GMOs are best at “beating pests to extending shelf life to creating prettier apples.” He concludes his article by stating, “For many traditionalists, genomics will doubtless always be anathema. But for the billions who face famine in the developing world, these tools may be the best weapons of survival.”
I can’t speak to the effort to thwart global hunger but I can speak to the argument for eating non-GMO food and to the effort to eat well, to eat local and to eat fresh in. Let’s start with a discussion of genetic modification in general as applied to plants.
Genetic modification is the alteration of a living organism’s genetic make-up by transferring one or more genes from one organism to another. These modifications are then passed on to the organism’s descendants. This is also known as genetic engineering, gene splicing or recombinant DNA technology.
Opponents of GMOs argue that genetic engineering can cause unpredictable effects and should therefore not be released into the food chain. Opponents include outspoken individuals, groups and nations. Ireland, Japan and Egypt, for example, have taken the bold step of banning the cultivation of all genetically modified crops. Although the United States has not yet taken decisive (let alone bold) action against GMOs, there is a growing non-GMO movement spearheaded by the Non-GMO Project headquartered in Upland, California.
Find stores in your community that sell local, organic produce. Make the effort to find local farmers with Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs. You’ll find that you have access to an abundance of healthy, nutritious and unmodified produce. If we have alternatives to GMO food and GMO food products, why buy food that’s been genetically modified? Who needs pretty apples?
I say buy local, buy organic. Foods labeled “certified organic” are not allowed, by law, to contain GMOs. So buy local organic food and skip the GMOs. Buy it because it supports local farmers. Buy it because it helps to sustain, not pollute, our watershed.
If you don’t buy 100% organic but still wish to avoid GMO food, there is a fairly comprehensive on-line shopping guide that identifies non-GMO food brands (vegetarian and non-vegetarian). Visit and download the PDF version for subsequent reference. Many of the brands they list can be purchased locally. This helps to support local businesses and prevents sales tax revenue from leaking to other jurisdictions.
Do I buy organic and therefore non-GMO foods 100% of the time? No. Sometimes I cave to convenience and buy a non-organic vegetable broth if our local stores are out of my favorite. Do I buy local 100% of the time? No again. Sometimes I have a need eat fresh produce that is not grown anywhere near here. Bananas, mangos and pineapple come to mind.
I may not buy local 100% of the time, but I make a definite effort to buy my produce locally. Do I make the same effort to buy organic? You bet. It is healthier for me. It also makes me feel good to support our local farmers and to contribute to the sustainable watershed effort in my community.
I ask you to join me in making a concerted effort to buy local and to buy organic. Here’s to eating well, to eating local and to eating fresh!