Here we go again… New Year’s Resolution time!

Happy New Year all! Time to reflect and resolve. Let’s start by reviewing last year’s resolution of not eating any GMO foods. Results? Honestly, about what we expected. In order:

  • eating GMO-free at home is relatively easy if you cook almost entirely from scratch as we strive to do;
  • eating GMO-free is easier if you shop in co-ops and natural food stores – there is a greater variety of foods that do not contain GMO ingredients;
  • you HAVE to read labels if you want to eat GMO-free… here are the sneakiest items we uncovered: sugar (unless it says “cane sugar” in the ingredients, assume it is GMO’d beet sugar), cornstarch (it’s in baking powder!), and soy lecithin (it’s in almost everything);
  • eating GMO-free can be more expensive than eating whatever if you are buying a lot of pre-made or processed foods
  • eating GMO-free is more difficult in restaurants and when eating out – oftentimes servers and even cooks don’t know every ingredient; and
  • there is no good way to ask a host if their food contains GMOs – and then following up that question by not eating their food seems that much more rude.

Our biggest challenge was when people would come over for dinner and bring something, as guests like to do, and then we would not eat all of it and they would leave it for us. And then we have with crackers that had soybean oil, or ice cream with beet sugar and soy lecithin…you get the idea. Wasting food seemed like the bigger sin so we would finish those things off. Also, what about the baking powder that I bought in 2012? It had cornstarch in it, but it seemed worse to throw it away than to simply use it up and not buy more (there are many alternatives, but that’s another post for another day). And then what about those times in the restaurant where we just didn’t have the energy to inquire about the oil for the french fries, or the source of the burger? All in all, we did a great job eliminating GMOs from our at-home food budget and almost entirely from our pantry. Eating out proved the bigger challenge, and so…

I resolve in 2014 to not pay for industry meat. This means that, unless I am at a restaurant that is using non-industry meat, I will be eating vegetarian when out and about. This becomes useful for a) cutting down on GMO intake as animal feed is chock full of GMO ingredients; b) cutting down on eating out budgetary expenses as vegetarian items are typically less expensive than meat-based menu items; and c) not supporting a system that says industry meat is an acceptable menu item. And for 2014 I classify industry meat as non-organic, grain-fed, corporation-run meat. It gets trickier with the local family farm that uses non-organic feed, or the organic but large scale meat. I will decide those instances on a case-by-case basis for now and report back at the end of the year.

The bigger dilemma of going to someone else’s home where GMO foods are served, or someone bringing GMO food into our home, is something we will start to address and play with over 2014 and will hopefully make a resolution on in 2015. At some point we will have to decide to be those annoying people who request that guests read labels before bringing something over. And then, at a later point, we will have to become those incredibly annoying people who request that hosts consider our needs – I suspect that for most of our friends and family this will actually be a launching point for a great conversation about food politics. But what to do when it’s someone like a boss or a colleague?!

Thoughts? Any resolutions of your own? I encourage everyone to give some thought to how they will eat in 2014. We are what we eat – this adage is a little tired but oh so true. Using our hard-earned dollars on food is a vote for one food system or another, and our health and happiness starts with how we feed and sustain our physical bodies. So think it over and make a resolution, be it big or small. Best of luck for 2014!

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