When shopping, you are faced with a barrage of options. Fancy labels, shiny packaging, catchy slogans, brightly colored fruits and vegetables, and a full mind of questions. What tomato is best to buy? The tomato in the nearby big-box store? The tomato in the farmer’s market further away? Along with questions comes a sense of unease stemming from 1) not knowing all the facts, 2) having heard conflicting sources of information, 3) comparing price points, and 4) feeling pressed to make a decision.
To help address these concerns, we can take a look at each one by one.
- Getting to know the facts:
- With all the hype around GMO foods, it may seem as though everything is now genetically modified. This is not true. Within Canada, only 4 foods are allowed to be grown that have been modified: corn, sugar beets, canola, and soybeans. Eleven other GMO approved foods are allowed to be imported. GMOs are more widespread in the USA. Most of these are used for animal feed and are exported. That being said, many foods containing sugar, soy/canola oil, corn syrup, and the many other food ingredient by-products are manufactured for processed foods and are readily available to buy and consume. Companies like Campbell’s gives disclosure to the GMO ingredients that they use. Health Canada is clear on the position taken.
- Conflicting sources of information:
- Understand that there are plenty of pros and cons to the GMO debate. Those seeking and working in fields of higher educations (scientists, lawyers, manufacturers, businesspeople) are not, as a whole, ethically and morally corrupt. Like any other person, authorities are capable of making and correcting mistakes. Fearing professionals creates an internal power struggle that need not exist, learn how to make yourself your own Very Important Person (VIP). Ask questions. Speak up. Be you.
- Try to keep an open mind when looking at the debate from all angles: health, farming, industrial food production, global feeding, small farmers, the environment..etc.
- Keep learning. One of the biggest drawbacks previously presented was the lack of data pertaining to the long-term effects, either beneficial or detrimental. Nearly three decades have passed since the beginning of the GMO debate, new evidence is in and continues to grow for all sides of those concerned.
- Comparing price points:
- Buy with both your head and your heart. Supporting local, small farms might cost a bit more but your dollars do make a difference. This is a dear issue; one can choose to eat the majority of foods organic by focusing on eating a primarily plant-based lifestyle, purchasing local vegetables, in-season fruits, dried pulses, and making wholesome meals at home.
- Feeling pressed to make a decision:
- Choose. Making a choice does not define you as a person. You are capable of amending previous choices if you find yourself unhappy with past actions with today’s choices. Trust that your life as a whole has greater worth than choosing a tomato; getting caught up in absolutes does not work.
Organic, genetically modified, wildcrafted, mass-produced, locally harvested -what is the best? Buying local, eating heritage varieties, and enjoying the convenience of ordering food are each viable options that can be rotated and chosen as needed. Eating edible berries in the wild and reaping the fruits of your own labors can feel quite enthralling. Volunteering at a food depot to feed hungry people, nourishing your beloved friends and family, eating while traveling abroad all cater to the full expression of your values. With information, faith, and choices all available, you can decide what is best for you.