By Alicia Katz, Social Media Apprentice, Healthy Child Healthy World
Choosing the perfect restaurant can be hard enough but when you’re looking for a non-genetically modified meal it seems almost impossible. Of course the best solution would be to stay home and prepare the meal yourself. That way, you know exactly how it was prepared and what ingredients you used. But sometimes you just want to go out and meet with friends or family and have someone else do all the cooking. So, if you’re trying to eliminate genetically modified foods, what steps should you take when eating out?
1. Avoid Certain Ingredients: Avoid ordering meals that contain the most common genetically modified ingredients:
Soy: 94% of the soybeans planted in the US are genetically modified. Avoid ordering any tofu, miso, tempeh, soy sauce or meat/dairy substitutes.
Corn: 88% of the corn planted in the US is genetically modified. Avoid ordering any variety of corn including corn tortillas, tamales, grits, or polenta.
Hawaiian Papaya: According to True Food Network, half of Hawaii’s papayas are genetically modified.
Squash: Several varieties of summer squash have been genetically engineered to resist viruses.
2. Call Ahead: Call the restaurant before you head out and find out what kind of oil is used to cook. True Food Network’s Shopping Guide suggests that “unless labeled explicitly, corn, soybean, cottonseed, and canola oils probably contain genetically modified products”. If they tell you vegetable oil or margarine, chances are they use versions of the same genetically modified oils. Try to frequent restaurants that are culturally known for using olive oil, like Greek or Italian cuisine, or ask for your meal to be cooked without oil.
3. Skip the Soda: void ordering soft drinks when eating out. Most sodas are sweetened with High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) and the diet versions are sweetened with aspertame, an artificial sweetener derived from genetically modified micro-organisms.
4. Go Vegetarian: Unless the restaurant offers organic, skip the meat. Although the animal itself is not genetically modified it’s likely been eating GMOs. Look for restaurants that offer USDA Certified Organic meats. According to the Organic Trade Association, animals raised organically cannot have any genetically modified feed and cannot be fed antibiotics, the bovine human growth hormone (rbGH), or any other artificial drugs.
5. Ask for Wild Salmon: Although farm-raised salmon are not genetically modified yet, they’re swimming in that direction. The US Food and Drug Association recently supported the commercialization of a genetically modified salmon called AquAdvantage. Produced by AquaBounty Technologies, these genetically modified salmon will have a growth gene that allows them to grow twice as fast as natural-born salmon. Since the FDA does not require labeling of genetically modified products, there is no way for you to separate the GM fish from a natural-born, farm-raised fish.
6. Dine Locally: Big chain restaurants tend to order their supplies wholesale from a central supplier. This means the foods that are delivered all over the country need a longer shelf life and have more additives that could be derived from GMOs. Though not all do, local restaurant owners are more likely to source their ingredients locally and they may be more open to discussing it with you. Another plus about eating at a local restaurant is that most will cook meals from scratch and not use packaged mixes or sauces that are more likely to have GM ingredients.