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Grocery Shopping Update – Non-GMO Shopping Challenges

Last week, I shared my decision to take my family gmo-free. Even though I have paid some attention to the gmo issue in the past, I took a good hard look at all of the food I buy and decided to make even more changes to reduce the number of gmos we consume. We are now half way through November and I thought I’d share with you what has changed about the way I grocery shop.

Grocery Shopping Update – Non-GMO Shopping Challenges

How I grocery shop

It might be helpful to explain how I normally grocery shop to show you what’s changed. I normally do one big Costco run each month. I also generally order each month from Azure Standard.  {If you haven’t heard of Azure Standard, here are my tips from ordering from them! It’s an awesome company and they deliver wonderful food to my area once a month.}

Additionally, I make weekly run(s) to grocery stores when I’m in Muscatine where I work out and take my kids for a lot of homeschooling activities. I normally shop at Aldi, but since I made this decision to go non-gmo, I’ve been going to HyVee a few more times because they have a bigger health food market for a larger selection of organics.

I buy the bulk of my groceries from Costco and Azure Standard, and then I fill in with fresh needs (milk, veggies, and fruit) once a week or whenever I make local runs.

What I bought and how it’s different than before

Grocery Shopping Update - Non-GMO Shopping Challenges

So before I decided to go non-gmo, I generally ended up with more gmo products from my weekly runs to Aldi. I buy organic tortilla chips at Costco, for instance, but when I run out, I buy the blue corn chips at Aldi. While the blue corn chips are made with organic (and thus non-gmo) corn, they also contain canola oil ( most likely gmo). Similarly, I buy rGBH free cheese from Costco, but when I run out, again, I buy normal cheese from Aldi (most likely cheese that contains rGBH, although I don’t know for sure).

With this knowledge, I bought more of the things at Costco that I figured I would buy gmo if I ran out –  like tortilla chips (I know, we should stop eating them altogether, but that’s a topic for a different day) and more cheese. In fact, I normally spend about $130 at Costco and in November, I bumped up my spending to just under $200).

Grocery Shopping Update - Non-GMO Shopping Challenges things I couldn't buy

While most of things I buy at Costco are organic and thus non-gmo, there were a few products I normally buy but couldn’t this time, due to my decision to stop buying gmos. Sabra Hummus, for instance, which I love, contains canola oil, citric acid, potassium sorbate, and natural flavors – most likely ALL gmo. I also loved the Costco brand of chocolate chips, but they contain soy lecithin – most likely gmo. Now I’m on the hunt for soy-free chocolate chips and will most likely go with the Enjoy Life brand as I compared prices at Amazon and HyVee and it’s a lot cheaper to get them on Amazon, but of course, more expensive than the ones I used to buy at Costco. I also like to buy Stacy’s pita chips, but they’re definitely gmo,  and dark chocolate covered caramels – also a nope. I did find organic hummus at Costco, but I didn’t like it as much as the Sabra. 🙁

gmo free grocery shopping - azure standard goodies

I also normally spend a little over $100 on Azure Standard goodies each month – buying some organic produce and dairy products, as well as household items. Rumiano Butter from Azure Standard is my first choice for butter – but when I run out, I buy butter from Aldi. I also havne’t found a good source of mozzarella cheese that’s rGBH-free, so I decided to buy it in bulk from Azure Standard this month- it’s not organic, but it uses vegan rennet (normally an animal product and normally gmo) and I read about the company and they claim to use rGBH-free milk. I also got nonorganic pinto beans and Dr. Bronners and toothpaste for my kids.

aldi shopping cart

I’ve been to Aldi a few times this month and have bought mostly produce (either organic produce or produce on the clean 15 list) and a bit of wine. Wine is probably the last thing I buy which I need to really examine. I just have to admit it, I don’t even want to start researching wine – I’d rather just stick my head in the sand.  I did also find a type of cheese I enjoy at Aldi that claims to be rGBHfree, and I bought it too. I sometimes buy organic pasta at Aldi and also sometimes organic stock.

ingredients in sour cream

Finally, I had ONE run to the local grocery store which essentially has NO organic options. Clearly, being organized is the best way to succeed if I really want to avoid gmos. We had a birthday party for my son last weekend and I decided to switch cake recipes at the absolute last minute. The cake recipe I switched to called for sour cream and I didn’t have any, so I ran to the local store. I was SHOCKED at the ingredients in the sour cream! Check this out – here are two different brands – and look at the difference (sorry for crappy picture quality). I’m sure both brands use milk with rGBH, but look at all the other ingredients in the generic brand. It cost 20 cents less than the name brand, and I left it at the store. I was shocked!

Lessons learned from this first half month of being mostly GMO-free

While I spent more money at Costco and Azure Standard than I normally do this month, I have spent less money at other grocery stores – because I don’t need to buy as much. I’m pretty sure I will spend more money this month on my groceries than normal, but I hope it won’t be too much more.

As I learn more about GMOs and figure out how best to avoid them, I realize this issue is really,  really complex. While I did a pretty good job avoiding gmos in my purchases so far this month, now I’m learning about different brands, their parent companies, if they support gmo labeling or not. It’s all very frustrating and sad to me that I have to make this much effort to feed my family a non-gmo diet.

I also feel compelled to disclaim — Please know that what you see pictured above is not the only food I fed my family this month! I have a huge organic garden and freeze and can a lot of food in the fall. I have a ton of bulk baking goods, beans, and rice; and I also have a freezer full of meat. And I have gmo free chickens that give me lots of yummy eggs! I know I can make a few better and more local choices on some of my groceries, and I should probably cut out a few things (chips for instance) from our diet altogether. I totally admit that I’m a work in progress.

If you enjoyed this post, please let me know and I will try really hard to make it a once or twice a month feature of my blog!

I hope reading about my food choices will help you and I encourage you to share any tips and ideas that have helped you eat a better, and more healthy diet!


Thursday 20th of November 2014

You will LOVE the EnjoyLife chocolate chips! I usually get mine at when they have good coupons, and free shipping of course!

Julie Pullum

Thursday 20th of November 2014

Really enjoying this. It's a subject close to my heart and I know how difficult it is. Thanks for sharing your frustrations!


Tuesday 18th of November 2014

I love this series. I have tried to go non-GMO and for the most part, I am, but I have fallen a few times out of convenience or because I just plain like it. I am really going to be re-doing our food budget in the coming year. I am also going to invest in a freezer. :)

Michelle Marine

Wednesday 19th of November 2014

Thanks for your comment, Bobbi! A freezer does help me. I have to pick up a 1/4 organic beef this week! :-) There are definitely situations where we will choose to eat gmos too! We still intend to eat out from time to time, so that's part of the reason I'd like to avoid them as much as possible at home, because I know I cannot control it so much when we eat out or with friends. <3


Tuesday 18th of November 2014

Love your post!

Michelle Marine

Wednesday 19th of November 2014

Thanks, Sara! :-)

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