The Changing Landscape of Food
The Changing Landscape of Food
Guest Blog Post By Robyn O’Brien, author, analyst, mother of four:
The landscape of health has changed. No longer is diet a one-size-fits-all solution. Today, families are dealing with food allergies, asthma, diabetes, obesity and even cancer diagnoses like never before.
Food allergies have skyrocketed. Today, a life threatening food allergic reaction sends someone to the emergency room once every three minutes in the U.S. The rates of hospitalizations related to food allergic reactions increased 265% between 1997 and 2007. And while it begs the question: are we allergic to food or what’s been done to it?
It begs another question: what can I eat?
October is non-GMO month, a great time to bring awareness to a product category that is exploding in grocery stores. In 2014, 45% of new product launches were non-GMO. So what does that mean? It means that these products do not contain ingredients that have been genetically engineered to either a) withstand increasing doses of pesticides b) produce their own insecticides internally within the plant (like corn, for example).
Countries around the world decided to opt out when these products were first introduced back in the 1990s and early 2000s. As a matter of fact, most of our key trading partners, countries in Europe (all of them), Australia, the U.K., Japan and even India, China and Russia decided to label these ingredients when they were first put into the food supply.
Here in the U.S., we weren’t told. So right now, the only way to make sure that you are not eating them is to find products that are labeled “Non GMO Project Verified” or “USDA Organic” which by law does not allow for GMOs to be used in the production of products that carry the label.
If given the choice, wouldn’t you want to know that your family is eating genetically engineered corn now regulated by the EPA as a pesticide because it can produce its own insecticide internally within the plant? Or if your food has been increasingly sprayed with Roundup, a product that we are told to keep out of the reach of children?
These ingredients are labeled for over 60% of the world’s population, but not for our families here in the U.S. That double standard stinks, especially since our own American food companies are labeling GMOs overseas but not here.
So what can a family do? Look for products that are Non-GMO Project Verified, an independent third party certification or look for products labeled USDA Organic, which by law does not allow the use of GMOs in production.
But what if the higher price tag prices you out? Good question and the reason that I know that I am going to be doing this work for a lifetime (clean and safe food should be affordable to all who want it, not just those in select zip codes).
You can eat less fake food. Dump the junk. Pass on the processed stuff. Processed foods tend to be the most heavily laden with GMOs, they come in the form of oils, additives, corn syrups and more.
Want some more info? Check out the Non GMO Project http://www.nongmoproject.org and the Organic Trade Association http://www.organicitsworthit.org. Both provide answers to pressing questions and solutions to the problems facing 21st century consumers.
Just because we’ve inherited a broken food system doesn’t mean that we have to embrace it going forward.
The landscape of food is changing, Lend your talents. Together, we can design a smarter food system. We need all hands on deck.
What to do?
- Host a book club. I will send a Q&A for The Unhealthy Truth if you want to start with that.
- Host a movie night: GMO OMG and The Future of Food are both great films that can launch a hearty conversation
- Swap out a product: find one of your favorites that has GMOs in it and find a non-GMO alternative. Thankfully, shelves are quickly populating with non-GMO products.
- Dump the junk: processed foods tend to be the most heavily loaded with GMOs. Eat less fake food, and you’ll be taking huge strides in going non-GMO.