Food Dialogues Blog

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The Non-GMO Labeling Trend: What does it mean for health?

Throughout the course of my 30-year nutrition career, one thing has remained constant: nutrition misinformation. I have combated in on many fronts: with physicians in hospitals or outpatient settings, patients during counseling, family members, friends, and the general public. I’ve turned my current communications career into a fact-finding mission by working with the food industry to help consumers understand what’s in their food, the safety of those ingredients and how to appropriately balance diet and lifestyle.

The challenge is ongoing as food marketing strategies evolve. For instance, a non-GMO label may mislead the consumer to believe that a non-GMO product is better than a GMO equivalent. Even if consumers can’t describe what a GMO is, some consumers don’t want them in their food.

Some consumers equate Non-GMO with environmentally friendly, and this could be why they are drawn to the Non-GMO or GMO-free labels, but this technology can actually save resources. Farmers utilize GMO technology to maintain soil, reduce pesticide use, increase production, and conserve resources. Sounds pretty environmentally sustainable, right? Additionally, there is a scientific consensus that GMOs are safe to eat.

The Non-GMO Project

Labels from the Non-GMO project mean that genetically modified ingredients were not used in the making of a final product. Keep in mind, there are ten GMO crops available on the US market: soybeans, corn (field and sweet), canola, cotton, alfalfa, sugar beets, summer squash, papaya, apples and potatoes. In other words, when you see a “Non-GMO” label on a product, there isn’t necessarily a GMO equivalent, and (cue Non-GMO water).

The Non-GMO Project is a voluntary, fee-based program for companies who want a GMO-free label.

Food Safety

Marketing campaigns that create fear for consumers do not have positive effects on public health. And if shoppers are not benefiting, then what’s the point? We are fortunate to enjoy a safe and affordable food supply in the United States. We would do well to support all farmers. And just get back to basics: creating meals from the five basic food groups, with lots of variety.

What can you do for an improved diet?

  • Vegetables: Choose fresh, frozen or canned. If you are looking to reduce sodium, fresh or frozen is best, but some canned vegetables have low sodium options.
  • Fruit: Choose fresh, canned or dried. Fruits and vegetables provide antioxidants and vitamins and minerals.
  • Legumes and beans: These nutrition powerhouses provide vitamins, minerals and fiber, as well as protein.
  • Lean beef, pork and poultry: Provide the protein you need daily, as well as essential minerals including iron and zinc. Enjoy these foods along with a side of veggies.
  • Dairy foods: Milk provides calcium, protein, potassium, vitamin D, and phosphorous. Research shows that including dairy in a balanced diet can help with weight control and blood pressure.
  • A moderate amount of fat: Include heart-healthy fats such as canola oil, olive oil, sunflower oil, soybean or other vegetable oils. Also, adding nuts or avocado to snacks and salads is another way to add healthy fat to your diet.
  • Fiber-rich grains: Such as barley, oats, bran cereals are essential for digestive health.

If you set a goal to eat a balanced, wholesome diet, you’ll be doing more for your body. It’s your choice.

To read more from Rosanne, visit chewthefacts.com.

Rosanne Rust is a member of U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance’s Digital Voices Council. This post is part of my ongoing sponsored partnership with U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance. All opinions expressed are my own. Funded by one or more checkoff programs.

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