Why Non-GMO is Important
Whether you shop mainly from local farms or buy directly from the supermarket, you’ve probably heard the term “GMO” thrown around a lot, or seen those little labels on the food you buy that say “Non-GMO Project Verified”. But what exactly does that mean, and why is non-GMO important? GMOs are seemingly everywhere these days, so it’s important to educate yourself about them, how you can avoid them, and why you should.
What Are GMOs?
Genetically modified organisms (GMOs), are plants, animals, or organisms whose genetic makeup has been changed in a lab using genetic engineering. For example, GMO technology has been used to create seeds that grow crops resistant to pests or to the herbicides used to combat weeds. As modern farming transitioned more to monoculture practices in recent decades, as compared to the intercropping and sustainable farming practices that conserve and nourish the land, GMOs were a way for farmers to ensure that their entire livelihood wasn’t decimated by pests or disease. If a farmer grows nothing but corn or soy in order to be as profitable as possible selling to large industries that rely on those crops, and their crop is affected by an outbreak of pest or disease, they can lose their entire income. As farmers, we completely understand the draw of a “magic bullet” that can decrease the chances of crop devastation. But GMOs were created as a means of solving a problem that we ourselves created.
As regenerative farmers, we know that there is another, better way. By farming in tandem with nature and relying on a symbiotic relationship with the land, beneficial organisms, and the soil microbiome, you reduce or eliminate the need to rely on GMOs. Because while GMOs are purported to be safe, they really have not been around long enough for us to know the long term effects of them. The first GMO crop, a tomato, wasn’t available for public consumption until 1994, less than 30 years ago. Cigarettes were thought to be safe for a very long time (aided in part by clever marketing campaigns on the part of tobacco companies) - and we all know how that turned out. We don’t know about you, but we’re not fond of the idea of playing the part of guinea pig when it comes to GMO technology.
GMOs are Prevalent in Our Food Supply - So How Can We Avoid Them?
GMOs are prevalent in so many of the foods we eat, especially those that have been processed or that contain wheat, corn, soy, or canola, since the majority of those crops grown in the United States are grown with the aid of GMO technology. Just a few years ago, it was almost impossible to know which foods contain GMOs, but the Non-GMO Project is trying to change that by fighting for proper food labeling. While bureaucracy still keeps labels off of foods that contain GMOs, you can look for the Non-GMO Project Verified label to know which foods don’t.
Another way to lower your risk of purchasing GMO-containing foods is to eat as little processed food as possible, and when it comes to buying produce and meat, getting to know your farmers, and buying local whenever possible, or from transparent farms such as Pasturebird when you can’t buy local. Most farmers that grow sustainably, regeneratively, and/or without the use of GMOs are proud of that fact, and transparent about it too.
A little education goes a long way, and educating yourself about where your food comes from as well as which foods are best to avoid can help you avoid GMO-containing foods. The Cornucopia Institute publishes a list of the foods that are most likely to contain GMOs:
The healthfulness and nutritional content of some of the foods on that list is pretty self-explanatory (we’re looking at you, aspartame…), but some of the foods such as papaya and squash may be surprising. That’s why it’s so important to do your own research and know where your food is coming from - it really is the best way to ensure that you’re feeding yourself and your family the best.
Non-GMO Poultry and Meat is Important, Too
You may think that because animals are raised, rather than grown, that they are naturally free from GMOs, since many GMOs are present in seeds. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. As we mentioned before, corn and soy are two of the crops most likely to contain GMOs - and
corn and soy are also two of the crops most often fed to livestock and poultry. That means that conventionally grown dairy and meat are huge sources of GMOs.
We’ve talked a lot about how our chickens’ nutrient-dense pasture raised diet makes both the chickens and their meat healthier - the inverse is also true. If an animal is fed a low-quality diet based mostly on high-GMO feed, their meat is going to contain GMOs as well. And the truth is, we just don’t know how long term exposure to GMOs from our every day diet will affect our health.
At Pasturebird, we make it a point to supplement our chicken’s pastured diet with a high-quality, non-GMO chicken feed. While we’re confident that our chickens receive the absolute best access to healthy, nutrient dense food on pasture, supplementing their diet ensures that all of their nutritional needs are met. We know that while buying local is generally best, not everyone has access to a local regenerative farmer - we aim to fill that void by making ethically-produced, pasture raised chicken available nationwide, shipped right to your door. So if you’re looking to avoid GMOs and want to make sure you’re obtaining responsibly-sourced, ethically-produced meat for your family, you’ve come to the right place.