I like to eat… a lot… my 105 lb frame can rarely go more than a couple of hours without a bite of SOMETHING. My primal fear of being stranded without sight of my next meal is strong and occasionally laughable. This kind of appetite can be a real annoyance. It requires forethought, time to cook and prepare, the money to purchase meals and snacks in advance and the brain space to prep and package food before leaving the house. Because I typically have less forethought than impulse to immediately satiate, my work lunch is picked up from a local joint 2-3 times a week. The other days I’ll bring in great foods to snack on all day… homemade popcorn, fruit, veggies, scraps of leftovers…. and many of the foods are already of the “real” variety.
Aside from researching which foods will and won’t make it past these lips, food preparation and planning will be by far the most time consuming aspect of this non-GMO experience. And I needed to go over the basics…
What do I typically eat?
Which items will need to be replaced with a “real” version?
Where do I find that item?
What can I add to my diet to bring in seasonal foods and increase variety?
Creating a grocery list in excel turned out to be a great help. I have a column with food type (Dairy, Meat, Produce, Snacks, etc…), item, brand and location. I started this list a couple of weeks ago and found that I’m still adding to it, and it’s a huge help when planning trips to the markets, butcher, grocery, etc…
I was pretty surprised that most of these items I either buy already in organic or GMO free (or have easy access to), but there were others that would be more of a challenge. It was now time for a fact finding mission.
My son and I started with a trip to our local Meijer. For those of you who don’t live in the Michigan, Indiana, Ohio area, it’s a large chain supermarket with two great lines: Meijer Naturals (GMO free) and Meijer Organics. During this first trip to the store we were replacing things like brown sugar, rice, canned goods, oats, etc… but mostly it was research. It’s known that a food labeled USDA organic is GMO free and when you see the Non-GMO Project label you’re good, but what about everything else? How do we know if the product were holding has genetically modified ingredients or not? This is where GMO labeling is critical and I encourage you to contact your state representative to push GMO labeling, but I digress…
I’ve found two resources to be helpful… NonGMOShoppingGuide.com, and Buycott phone application. The Non-GMO Shopping Guide is a wealth of information that will leave you feeling overwhelmed at first, but trust it…. It’s like a dictionary… You don’t memorize the whole damn thing but when you need it, it’s there. And, Buycott can help you make decisions about which products you want to purchase based on the company(s) that produce it or the cause you support. You can scan the code on your food item and it will let you know if it’s on your approved (or disapproved) list and it includes a family tree of companies. RealFarmacy.com is also a great resource and has put together a list of Monsanto owned companies that help reduce further your buying options. You should also know that just because an item is organic doesn’t mean the company who produced the item is a supporter of GMO labeling. Here’s a list of non-GMO labeling supporters.
A little piece of advice… It’s a lot easier to find products that are clearly labeled organic or GMO free than filtering out non-labeled items one by one. Go for the big labels. I was shocked and elated to find out that Trader Joe’s brand is all GMO free! I went last weekend with my new non-GMO eyes and my first thought was, why do this blog at all… Just tell everyone to shop Trader Joe’s. Obviously it’s a lot more complicated than that but the benefits of shopping there will definitely be worth the gas for the 40 mile drive.
Why have I yet to touch on price? To quote one of my favorite Facebook memes… Because I’d rather pay the farmer than the doctor.
Now I’ve completely left out the first place you should shop for food… your (organic or natural) local farmers market. You’ll be buying fresh, in season, local foods from farmers within your community. This keeps dollars local and nutritious foods in your families belly. If you’re not sure where to find a market near you go to localharvest.org.