Back in November, we reported on California’s failed attempt to introduce GMO labeling laws. Since then, the Right to Know effort has gained momentum and another initiative will be on the ballot in Washington state in November 2013. In the meantime, we are happy to report that at least two major supermarket chains have taken matters into their own hands to provide more transparency to consumers. Come and cheer the good news with us!
For starters, Whole Foods has set a 2018 deadline for all products in their U.S. and Canada stores to be labeled if they contain GMOs. Also, Trader Joe’s introduced a non GMO policy for all private label products in their stores. However, keep in mind that while there is no way a retailer or shopper can determine exactly which foods do contain GMOs, there are certain high-risk crops that should be avoided as they most likely contain GMOs: canola, corn, cotton, papaya, soy, sugar beets, zucchini and yellow summer squash. Visit www.nongmoproject.org for more information on other high-risk foods, monitored crops and common ingredients derived from GMO risk crops. Furthermore, due to cross-contamination and pollen drift, very few products in the U.S. are 100% free of GMOs. And this certainly includes meat and fish due to the prevalence of the GMOs in the commodity grain market and very limited availability of verified non-GMO feed. So choose organic meat and dairy products (since organic standards prohibit the intentional use of GMOs) if you are looking to avoid products from animals fed GMOs.
What does this mean for us shoppers if we want to avoid GMOs: Well, for starters choose organic products in your CSA box, at farmers markets and your corner store as all organic foods sold in the US must be certified to the USDA National Organic Standards, which prohibit the use of GMOs. Ideally, products have a Non-GMO Project Verified label and, if you are at Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s, buy 365 Everyday Value or private label Trader Joe’s products, respectively. And while we are still far from a legislation that requires full transparency (keep in mind that GMOs are banned in over 60 countries and all we are talking here is labeling), this is a welcome step into the right direction. We hope other retailers, wholesalers, manufacturers and growers will add to the momentum and bring this issue to a tipping point. Come and cook with us!