It's easy to avoid eating genetically modified foods at home. However, it's next to impossible when you're traveling throughout the United States.
That's because much of our food supply is contaminated with genetically modified ingredients. Unless you buy organic food, or something that comes in a package that clearly states it's made without GMOs, you'll probably be eating these engineered ingredients.
Most consumers don't want genetically modified food. In Europe, where there are labeling laws, you won't find genetically modified items in the grocery stores. In the United States, however, no such sweeping legislation exists. Vermont, though, has recently passed a new law that will require labeling by 2016.
Much of what we eat here has been tinkered and tampered with, and we're not even aware of it.
This has been going on for decades. However, recent research, conducted in France, has uncovered a potentially serious problem. Lab rats fed GMO corn developed enormous tumors on their mammary glands, raising concerns that, in humans, this could mean an increased risk of breast cancer.
Therefore, many people, myself included, have decided to stock a GMO-free pantry.
But what do you do about GMOS when you're not at home? And how do you avoid genetically modified foods when you're traveling?
Portland has Some GMO-Free Restaurants
So, Where do You Eat?
There is a small cluster of organic and macrobiotic restaurants in California and Oregon. However, there aren't many similar establishments throughout the rest of the country.
So, when you're on the road, it's going to be difficult to find GMO-free food. One option would be to have just one meal a day in a restaurant, and order very carefully. For the other two meals, you can stop at a health food store or a local grocery store with a health food section. There, you can buy either organic bread or rice cakes and make a sandwich with organic turkey breast or ham.
When you do eat in a restaurant, try to avoid the worst offenders. These include corn, soy and canola oil. Most fresh produce isn't genetically modified, with the exception of zucchini and summer squash. So you might want to skip these vegetables.
You probably won't find GMOs in a fresh salad. But you'll probably have to have it without dressing, because of the various oils made from genetically grown crops. The same goes for sauces and gravies. You can always ask the chef what he or she cooks with. However, just be aware that the olive oil used in commercial establishments may contain genetically modified canola oil.
Eating on the Run
It goes without saying that fast food, in general, is not good for you. Then, there's the added factor of GMOs. But, when you're on the road, you do have a choice. Go into a regular grocery store and buy some organic sandwich bread or organic hamburger rolls.
Then, order just a plan burger and make sure it's 100 beef and contains no fillers. Ask that it be served without bread, toppings and condiments. Then use the bread you just bought as a hamburger bun. Another option is to have the burger wrapped in lettuce.
You can expect the mayonnaise and ketchup to contain genetically modified ingredients. The French Fries, even if they're made from 100 percent potatoes, with no fillers, are probably deep fried in corn, soy or canola oil. The vast majority of crops from which these oils are derived are genetically modified.
Specially Prepared Asian Food
Southeast Asian food is often rice based, and doesn't contain a lot of corn or corn starch. However, some of the prepared mixes that might be used in restaurants may contain GM ingredients, as will soy sauce.
Stir fry rice noodles are often a good bet. You can ask the chef to omit the soy sauce or ask if you can use your own. Bragg's Liquid Aminos tastes exactly like soy sauce, but contains no GMOs. You could also bring your own GMO-free oil and ask to have your food cooked with this.
The safest choice in an Asian restaurant is steamed chicken and vegetables served over plain rice. (Make sure no corn, zucchini or summer squash are used.)
Southeast Asian restaurants also feature something called summer rolls, which are fresh shredded vegetables wrapped with translucent tapioca and rice paper. These rolls are not fried and they are often stuffed with shrimp or chicken, in addition to lettuce, carrots and fresh cabbage. Make sure you order them without tofu, which is likely to come from genetically modified soy.