Steering Clear of Scary Produce

2 03 2012

Genetic Engineering is the wave of the future. For some reason our society is trying to grow things bigger than ever before and at twice the speed. And it’s all happening in a laboratory. As you read this, a race to the marketplace is occurring for scientists who are in the midst of growing the biggest salmon you’ve ever had on your dinner plate. Twice the size in half the time and accomplished all through science by splicing in some extra growth hormone producing genes. This will be the first genetically engineered meat for consumption in the United States. Interestingly the fish we eat here has to be labeled “fresh” or “farm raised” but there is no mandate to label genetically modified foods. This despite laws requiring such in over 40 other industrialized nations including even China.

Yet at home here in the United States, I can’t figure out what has been modified and what hasn’t. Seven out of ten items found in your grocery store have been genetically modified and because the FDA does not require labeling and proper studies have not been conducted, we have no idea what we are consuming or what it’s negative effects may be. Recent studies have indicated that monarch butterfly populations have had greater die off after being exposed to genetically modified corn. Lab Animals fed GMO products have ended up with organ damage. A growing contingent of scientists worry that GM foods can trigger greater allergy responses in humans. While there may be many benefits of GM plants including drought resistance, temperature resistance and less need for pesticides, there can be unintended consequences of human consumption. When the pollen of a GM plant can travel many hundreds if not thousands of miles and effect other crops, we really need to proceed with caution. GM foods can be a game changer and not in the way they were intended.

Call me old fashioned, but I’m happy to stick with nature and eat my produce grown the way the Great Spirit intended – sunshine, rain and nutrient rich soil. I try to buy organic as much as I can. I find it ridiculous that I have to pay more for less chemicals, hormones and poisons – but I’m willing to do it. Why make an attempt to eat healthy and then have to ingest all of that extra harmful stuff? It’s worth the extra money to know that my kids are eating wholesome and safe foods.

While doing some research I found out that even though produce is not labeled as Genetically Modified, the little PLU sticker affixed to it will let you know how your fruit or veggie came to be.
Here’s the skinny:
A four diget PLU # can be found on conventionally grown fruit – these are your produce that are grown with fungicides, herbicides, pesticides and other chemicals. (Bananas are #4011)
Organic produce would be the same 4 digits with a 9 on the front. (Organic bananas are #94011)
Genetically Modified produce would be the same four digits but begins with a number 8 (GM bananas would be #84011)

So steer clear of the PLU’s beginning with the number 8 if you aren’t interested in eating GM produce. As of right now though – papayas, corn, zucchini and yellow squash are the only GM grown veggies. Often times they may not be labeled. Lets face it, you are probably not going to buy them if they are so there is no advantage to put the PLU on there now that the secret is out.

This link will be helpful is assisting you in finding and staying away from GM products.  There is even a printable pocket guide for shopping:

And if you have an iphone look for the ShopNoGMO App.

I hope this helps.  It’s a shame that shopping for good, clean, healthy food can be so complicated. But you will do much better, armed with a little bit of knowledge.



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