A few weeks ago, I posted a link to the Top 20 Frankenfoods (GMOs) to Avoid on SLL’s facebook page. A friend of mine asked there how it’s possible to avoid GMOs on a budget. I thought about this question for a while. Because, frankly, it’s hard. And it can be expensive to avoid GMOs. I’m learning this the hard way as I clean up the food we eat around here. It seems like every time I turn around, I found out that a food I thought might be safe, turns out not to be safe at all. It gets very discouraging.
The GMO thing really hit home to me this summer when we were in Paris. I remember thinking, I don’t have to worry about GMOs here – as they are banned or severely restricted in many countries around the world including all the countries of the European Union, Australia, Russia, China and Japan. It was really a comforting thought. I didn’t have to worry about the candy I bought to bring home to my kids. I didn’t have to worry about the food I bought from a street vendor or the drinks I bought at the outdoor cafes. Most countries just don’t consider GMOs safe and have put measures in place to protect their people. I can’t for the life me understand why we can’t even get GMOs labeled here in the US so we can have an easier time avoiding them if we want. What’s the big deal about labeling GMOs????
As I look around my kitchen at all of the food that’s there, I’m shocked at the number of items that most likely contain GMOs. We do not eat 100% GMO-free. Maybe not even 50% yet. But I am taking steps to avoid GMOs and have compiled the following list to help you reduce consumption of GMOs, too.
10 Budget Friendly Tips to Reduce Consumption of GMOs
1. Read labels – avoid the BIG 5 GMO ingredients: corn, soybeans, canola, beet sugar, and cottonseed. Since food manufacturers aren’t required to label GMOs, it’s sometimes tough to know what you’re getting. I’ve read that 85-90% of the products sold in traditional grocery stores come from GMO ingredients. One budget friendly tip is often to buy store brands, but how do you if the store brands are safe? The Center for Food Safety has a great list of GMO-free store brands. Trader Joe’s and Whole Food store brands are GMO free. Unfortunately, we don’t have these store options where I live, but anytime I travel, I stock up on Trader Joe brands. At least I know they are GMO free.
2. Cook from scratch – An easy way to control ingredients is to cook from scratch. Knowing which ingredients are likely to contain GMOs means you avoid them by finding alternatives. It can be hard to cook from scratch, but putting together a meal plan and cooking extra to freeze is a great way to reduce your time in the kitchen. I have found time saving appliances to be worth their weight in gold – my Hamilton Beach Slow Cooker and my Bosch Mixer are two of my prized possessions. They allow me to spend less time in the kitchen but still feed my family quality meals. Making a big pot of dried beans is cheaper than buying cans at the store and baking bread is another huge money saver for me.
3. Menu plan – Putting together a plan and having ingredients at the ready is very helpful and can mean the difference between GMO laden take-out and a healthy meal prepared at home. My menu plan usually includes planned leftovers that can be turned into a new meal and also one or two doubled recipes that I add to my freezer stash so when I need a quick meal, I can just pull it out of my freezer. Having this plan together really helps me a lot. I try to menu plan every week and share it here on Simplify, Live, Love. I go in spurts – for a while my menu plan is diligently posted…then it’s not. I haven’t posted a menu plan in a while, but it will be back next week.
4. Reduce food waste – I have previously blogged about the monetary cost of food waste. It’s really staggering how much food is wasted around the world. If I go to extra expense to buy organic food, or food that is certified GMO-free, the last thing I want to do is throw it away. I may as well just throw cash in the burn barrel. For whatever reason, sometimes it’s really hard not to waste food though. Making sure you eat up all of the expensive food you do buy, is a very budget friendly way to reduce consumption of GMOs.
5. Drink water – I hope you know that high fructose corn syrup is GMO all the way. A great, budget friendly way to reduce consumption of GMOs is simply to drink water. We don’t need those sodas full of HFCS or diet sodas full of aspartame (another GMO) anyway. I fought an addiction to Diet Coke for years and finally gave it up about a year ago. I still drink one every now and again, but for the most part, I stick with water, coffee, and hot tea these days (oh and wine…). 😉 Have you ever read the ingredient label on the “All Natural” fruit “Juices?” Ick!!! I am always in shock at the amount of “juice” people give their kids. Most of it’s NOT juice. Just yuck. Drink water.
6. Eat less meat – You might not think of meat being full of GMOs, but most conventional animals that are turned into meat are fed a diet high in GMOs. This is hard for me. I live in the middle of Iowa. My in-laws are traditional row crop farmers. I am surrounded by corn and soybean fields – most of it GMO crops that are headed to the feed lot. It really makes me sick. Sticking with grass-fed, organic meat is your best bet for avoiding GMOs, but it’s expensive. Eating less meat and making meals that stretch meat is a good way to reduce consumption of GMOs.
7. Sign up for organic coupons – 100% organic products are required to be GMO free. They are also expensive. Luckily, there are some coupons to lessen the cost. I used to use a lot of coupons, but I don’t really anymore because I just don’t have the time. I do always keep an eye open for them though and get a lot of emails delivered to my email inbox. Here are some of the places I find organic coupons: Stonyfield Organics, Mambo Sprouts, Earthbound Organics, Cascadian Farms, Horizon Dairy. Do you have any links I didn’t mention? I’ve even had good luck in the past of emailing companies I like and straight up asking them for coupons. A compliment goes a long way!
8. Buy in bulk from a Co-op like Azure Standard or box store like Costco – I am big believer in buying in bulk. I buy a lot in bulk. I love Azure Standard and Costco. Since starting to shop from them about a year ago, I have really changed the way I shop. I used to buy in bulk at the Amish Stores. I still go there for some things, but for me now, ordering online through a coop and once or twice a month trips to Costco are all I need to get quality, organic food for less than I would spend at a normal grocery store. At Azure Standard, I get quality, organic produce for $1 or less a pound. At Costco, I can find organic half and half and organic tortilla chips for really good prices. I don’t know what I would do right now without either of those two shopping options. Buying in bulk definitely lets me save money. I have a pretty big family to feed, but it might be possible to split bulk purchases with friends. Think about how you can get creative and save money by taking advantages of bulk pricing.
9. Breast feed your baby – Did you know infant formula is often made with GMO ingredients like corn syrup, milk altered with rBGH, and other corn and soy byproducts? The best way to avoid GMOs for your baby is to breastfeed. It’s also the most budget friendly way to feed your child since it’s free. I have said this on my blog before, I recommend breastfeeding for many, many reasons – but do you need much more motivation than doing something because it’s free?? Free is all I needed to hear, not that I ever questioned not breastfeeding my baby, but put aside all of the other reasons, and think FREE. That’s a huge motivator for me.
10. Grow a garden (buy seeds from reputable sources) – I have a pretty big garden and put up a lot of food for us to enjoy throughout the winter. Sometimes I gripe about the work involved. None of it’s hard – it’s just hot and time consuming. But when I learn that most tomatoes are GMOs these days, and then I look at my gorgeous pantry full of home canned goodies from veggies I grew myself, I am very proud of my contribution to GMO-free food. Start a garden – seeds are cheap – even seeds from reputable sources like Seed Savers or Baker Creek. One little tomato plant can help you avoid GMOs for most of the summer. That’s a start! And if you can grow a big garden, you can put up GMO free food to enjoy all year long!
These are my Top 10 Budget Friendly Tips for Reducing Consumption of GMOs. What did I forget? How do you save money and still limit GMOs? Please share!!