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If you’ve been grocery shopping in the last few years, you’ve probably noticed a major buzzword in the food industry: GMO, which stands for “genetically modified organism.” GMO crops have been around for more than 20 years. Scientists who create them tout many benefits, from the ability to feed more people by growing food more consistently to blemish-free produce to better pest control. On the other hand, critics are concerned about how altering the genetics of ingredients like tomatoes, corn, and other popular staples might impact their health benefits. If you’re wondering, “what is a GMO exactly?,” you’re not alone. Keep reading to find out more.
What Is a GMO?
A GMO is a plant or animal species whose genetic material has been altered. This process occurs in a lab, and its purpose is to preserve, protect, or produce a cross-species of food that wouldn’t grow on its own in the natural world. Genetic engineering (also known as GE), became popular once farmers realized they could grow crops able to withstand herbicides and insecticides. Normally, plants die when exposed to these chemicals, but GE crops that have been genetically modified can survive, making it easier for farmers to get rid of pests without worrying about their crops in the process.
Due to potential health risks, nearly 60 countries have banned or significantly restricted the use of GMOs and the sale of GMO crops. But not in the United States. Here those regulations don’t exist—and GMO foods aren’t even required to be labeled.
The Most Common GMO Foods
One of the first GMO products was the Flavr Savr tomato, introduced to American grocery stores in 1994. Today, the most commonly genetically modified crops are:
- Yellow summer squash
Top Non-GMO Brands
One of the best things about shopping with Thrive Market is knowing it offers the best of the best, including more than 1,500 food products that are free from GMOs.
From almond flour to grits, any bag you buy from Bob’s Red Mill is made with whole grains using the whole kernel. The result? Nutrients like fiber and vitamins that stay intact, and rich flavor for whatever you’re making. The brand has been around since 1978 and still uses a traditional stone mill when making its popular flours.
Ground from whole almonds with the skin left on, this super fine flour is ideal for grain-free baking (including paleo diets).
Annie’s might be best known for its family-friendly line of mac and cheese, but it’s also a great non-GMO option for parents. The company launched in 1989 and 30 years later, Annie’s remains a go-to brand for affordable, organic comfort food.
Annie’s Shells and Real Aged Cheddar Macaroni and Cheese
Ready in a flash, these pasta shells are made from non-GMO ingredients, and the dairy is sourced from grass-fed cattle raised on sustainable farms.
Wild Planet brings fresh ocean fare straight to your kitchen with a line of sustainably caught seafood. From the always popular tuna to briny sardines, canned fish in your pantry means you’re never far away from an easy meal.
Open this tin and you’ll enjoy a daily dose of omega-3 fatty acids and protein. This non-GMO fish is packed with EVOO, water, a pinch of salt, and natural smoke for delicious flavor.
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