Friday, August 30, 2013

G. M. No-No's

The Bento box has been handed down (just like everything else) to the youngest.  I bought these crazy eyes in the baking aisle and it's taken lunch box art to a whole new level!

A little ham and cheese, IDK, bunny?  Sliced and peeled apples and homemade granola bar for the first day of preschool!  

A friend, who knows me well, sent me a video on genetically modified organisms, which has brought to light another important concern regarding food choices.  Basically, genetic engineering is the science of altering genetic material in food in order to create a more sustainable shelf life, resistance to disease, pesticides and even frost or cold weather in the hopes of gaining a higher yield.  Some have argued the intent is to cure world hunger, while others might feel it's a big-big bottom line deal for major chemical companies.  Either way, it's a controversial topic due to the lack of conclusive research on the long term effects this chemically changed food can have on not only the human body but also to our soil, air quality and overall environment.  Another concern is the general lack of information provided to the consumer about weather any particular whole food or ingredient has been in fact genetically modified.  At this point, it is my understanding there is not yet a law in place requiring GMO labeling.  I'm a compulsive food label reader and I've found these two (2!) processed items my family loves to enjoy with information I'm looking for: 

Speaking of labels, you know that four or five digit number on the little sticker on produce?  This is the easiest clue on how that apple came to be.  If the sticker label PLU has four numbers it means it's been traditionally grown with the use of pesticides.  If there are five numbers on the label beginning with the number nine, it's organic.  Finally, if there are five numbers beginning with the number eight, it is a genetically modified fruit or vegetable. 

This is great once we have this information but think about the food filling the cupboards and pantries.  I've always thought of processed foods as Cheez Whiz, the Tuna Helpers, TV dinners and frozen burritos.  Guess what else is processed?  Yogurt, 100% whole wheat bread, multi grain crackers and no sugar added applesauce, which are all 'healthy' everyday items found in my kitchen. 

It's extremely difficult to find bread, even at a bakery, that does not have soy or canola oil in it.  Try it for yourself.  Same thing with crackers.  Supposedly, a high percentage of corn and soy grown in this country has been genetically modified.  Soy and canola are in so much processed food because it's on the cheap. 

Genetic engineering is remarkable and had created unbelievable advances in technology and life improvement in many living things.  Since it's been introduced into our food supply back in the 90's, maybe coincidentally, there seems to have been an increased percentage of people suffering from something on list of hot health topics.  I personally know at least one or many people with the following health challenges:  infertility, thyroid and hormone problems, food allergies, asthma, Crohn's, ASD, Celiac disease, diabetes, obesity and cancer. 

Panic is clearly my choice of emotion when I hear anything that challenges the healthy choices I thought I was making for my family.  I've seriously gotten on my husband's last nerve with the whole GMO talk but it feels really good to get these thoughts written down, hopefully, in an inoffensive way.   With my husband being an actual chemist, good with numbers and a LOGICAL thinker, he was positively able to talk me down from the ledge.  I can't explain it as well as he, but he reminded me that percentages can seem worse than they are.  Information gathering is better than it's ever been.  Either side of an argument can be filled with numbers data to freak people out and encourage them to join that side. 

Though this genetic modification on food really does bother me, I feel like I'm a more informed consumer.  I have a different (more complete) view on processed foods.  I love that my community has a farmer's market.  What better way to buy fresh food and support and get to know others who like what you like?  I've seen many positive changes while living in this community that gear towards more healthy lifestyles and ultimately that's what I want for my children.