I am a firm believer that in order to heal from any kind of illness your body needs the proper fuel put into it. And in the same breath that includes knowing what to keep out. Before I got sick I was blissfully unaware of all the toxins and chemicals we come in contact with in every day life, and I was even less aware of the harmful additives in food. Something as simple as an apple or an ear of corn can be chalk full of pesticides and be so genetically modified that once it gets into our bodies it’s causing way more harm than giving us good nutritional value. I learned very quickly once my health had left me that if I was going to recover I was going to have to get serious about my food. And that didn’t just mean going gluten free, sugar free, caffeine free (almost everything-free); that also meant making sure I was ingesting only organic, non-GMO, clean foods. And whenever I would eat meat it would have to be organic grass fed, and when I had to eat dairy such as butter, it too would need to be organic grass-fed. People don’t realize that when the cows are eating genetically modified grains with pesticides that the milk and butter and meat they produce will also be tainted. It’s seems like you have to jump through hoops to eat anything nutritious. Even the most simple innocent looking foods have to be triple checked
So with that being said I’m here to offer you a quick guide to eating clean, and what to look for in grocery stores. With grocery shopping I want to get in and out as fast as possible. If you know what to look for then you won’t ever be in a situation where you are in a rush and end up buying an apple drenched in so many pesticides your stomach will turn inside out!
Tip #1: The barcodes on fruits and vegetables are the single most important thing to look for. If you pick up any piece of produce you will see a sticker with its 5-digit code, called a PLU code. This is a dead give away if the item you are holding is GMO or Organic. If this 5-digit code starts with an 8 (ex: 85613), that means it is genetically modified. If the 5-digit code starts with a 9 (ex: 91453) that means it is organic and is not genetically modified in any way. If it’s a 4 digit code of any kind this means it is conventionally grown but still has Pesticides.
Tip #2: Right now food companies in the United States are NOT required to label GMO foods. This means that other than the tip listed above for produce, there is no magic wand you can wave to quickly find out if the ingredients in other products contain genetically modified substances. For example if you pick up a bagel you are playing Russian roulette so to speak. It may very well be non-GMO, but it also might not be. You are taking a risk. The only way to know that what you are purchasing is safe to eat is if it specifically says “Organic” on the packaging. I know, I know, when I say Organic people see $$ signs and look the other way. Listen, I can agree that it’s no fun to pay almost double for something like a bagel, but when it comes to your well being it’s worth every penny. Most grocery stores now have an aisle or two dedicated to Organic foods, and if you live near a Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s those places will have a much larger selection.
Tip #3: If you absolutely just can’t afford to go all organic, then at least try to shop avoiding the top 3 biggest offenders of GMO sources. I’m talking about Corn, Soy and Canola. Over 90% of Canola oil in the United States is GMO. That’s a whopping 9 out of 10 statistic in products using Canola. 94% of Soy is also GMO, and 88% of Corn, and those numbers are on the rise yearly. Shocked yet? Read the ingredients of all labels carefully, and if it contains either of those 3 suspects then do not purchase. I know this leaves a large portion of the grocery store untouchable, but again, it’s not worth the risk.
Tip #4: Do you have an iPhone? Then download the “Non-GMO Project Shopping Guide” app in the App store. It’s free, and is your pocket reference for which foods are safe and which foods are not. You can search by brand or by type of food. It helps a lot if you want to make a shopping list and then search for foods that you know will be safe. This takes the guesswork out of the shopping trip. If you do it that way you can even compare prices on products across a few different stores, and even online. That way you know you are getting the best price.
The quest to eat clean is something your body will ultimately thank you for. I know it’s tempting to reach for that greasy fast food burger, but remember that the bun might have the same ingredient used in rubber yoga mats, and then you will suddenly realize it’s not worth it. It is never worth it to poison your body with harmful pesticides and items that were genetically modified. So far there is not enough research on GMO foods to prove that is safe in the long term. But in my opinion, the fact that Monsanto farmers have to wear full on body Hazmat suits and gas masks to spray the crops with pesticides, that tells me EVERYTHING I need to know about putting that in my body. Those pesticides don’t just disappear or wash off, they are IN the produce. Imagine what it’s doing to your body on the inside.
Healing happens from the inside out. You put good in, you will get good out. Eating as much raw, clean, organic food as physically possible and staying away from inflammatory foods is a life style change that is tough at first. But if you put your mind to it soon enough you will find yourself craving that green smoothie over your usual glazed donuts.