Wednesday, April 17, 2013

How to eliminate GMO's from your diet: How to choose meat and dairy

Public domain photograph of various meats. (Be...
Choosing meat and dairy products that do not contain genetically modified foods is nearly as easy as selecting organic produce. The organic label, as it pertains to animal products, ensures that food animals are allowed to graze or roam free, be fed an organically certified diet, not treated with drugs or hormones (there are a few rare exceptions) and in general treated humanely.

When selecting meats from grazing animals such as cows and lambs, look for the following statements on the package:

  • 100% grass fed
  • 100% pasture fed
  • Grass finished
  • Pasture finished

These labels ensure that the animals were allowed to forage on their own and enjoy a diet of grass and other similar vegetation. Some packages of meat may say "grass fed", which causes much confusion among consumers, leading them to believe their meat was fed an exclusively  a grass based diet. Most cattle are allowed to openly graze for the majority of their lives but are then switched to a corn based diet between 90 and 160 days before slaughter. Looking for the terms "grass finished" or "pasture finished" will give you peace of mind that the animals were allowed to graze for their entire lifetime.

When choosing pork and poultry products, look for labels that read "100% organic". These animals cannot rely exclusively on a grass based diet and must be fed grain. By choosing 100% organic meats, you will know that the grains were organically grown. The same holds true when buying eggs.

You may be wondering why the term "free range" has not been addressed when choosing GMO free meat. The reason for this is simple-the free range claim is mostly unregulated and means that a animal has access to the outdoors. There is not set length of time required before the claim can be made-it may be as short as one day or be the animal's entire life. Free range also does not regulate the types of food the animals are fed or the use of hormones and anti-biotics.

When choosing dairy products, you will also want to look for the "100% organic" label. Labels that simply read "organic" mean that up to 30% of the product may be genetically modified. The labels "non-GMO" or "GMO free" may also be used.
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