People often ask me how I know if something contains GMOs. The basic rule of thumb is that if it contains any ingredients made with corn, soy, canola, cottonseed, or sugar it is probably GMO. This means glucose syrup, texturized vegetable protein, sugar (if it doesn’t say cane sugar it is probably from a sugar beet) tofu, etc are all GMO.

There are also products that are what I would call GMO derived. This means meat from fish, (farmed fish eat GMO soy) and other animals fed GMOs, eggs from chickens fed GMOs, milk from cows fed GMOs etc.

There is one huge exception – Anything marked USDA Organic cannot contain GMOs. So if you want to eat something processed or packaged, look either for something that does not contain these ingredients or for something that is clearly marked USDA Organic or has been certified as Non-GMO.

Lest you thing this is hysterical and that there must be non-organic non-GMO corn out there, per the US Department of Agriculture over 90% of all corn and soy grown in the US and an equally creepy amount of cotton is GMO. So its pretty much either organic or GMO. Period.

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Wheat is an entirely different issue. It is not GMO in that its genes were altered via other methods, but it no longer in any way resembles the wheat from the 1970s. It has a lot more chromosomes and is a very different plant. For me, this is a non-issue since I cannot tolerate wheat at all. That said, aside from the wheat mysteriously growing in Oregon, wheat is not GMO.

So what can you eat?

Fruits and vegetables are almost never GMO. Hawaiian papaya is GMO if not organic. Yes, some sweet corn is GMO as is some yellow squash. Realistically, however, the odds are that the produce section is GMO free.

Nuts, if you can tolerate them, are not GMO.

There are currently no GMO meats or fish. GMO salmon has been approved by the FDA but so far it has not yet made it to supermarkets. That said, the animals themselves have been fed GMO feed and it may or may not have impacted their health. If you want to avoid eating animals that were fed GMOs, then avoid non-organic meat. Ideally you want grass fed or pastured meat and if it is ground you want it ground in the store.

Rice, potatoes, tapioca, oats, arrowroot, quinoa and millet are not GMO. Cane sugar is not GMO. All Gummi Vitamins that are not sugar-free contain glucose syrup which is GMO. Lo-Han is not GMO.

Corn syrup should be presumed GMO unless organic.

Now for the simple rule of thumb that nobody likes. If you just eat like a chimpanzee (our closest genetic relatives) which eats veggies, fruit, nuts and, every so often, a little meat from a wild animal…you will not run into GMOs. You probably will also avoid a lot of well documented health problems.

In addition you will be taking a stand against factory farms, in support of family farms, and against Monsanto.

And if you absolutely must have junk food either make it yourself, or buy organic. Both are painful and expensive and will tend to make you pass on the junk.