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Green Living

Avoiding GMOs in the Restaurant

by Kirsten E. Silven 25 Oct 2011
Avoiding GMOs in the Restaurant

What is on my plate question via Shutterstock

When dining out it can be tough to know how to avoid GMOs, but luckily there are a few rules of thumb you can follow that will help you enjoy your meal while also sticking to your diet. Perhaps it is no surprise that fast food restaurants are generally the worst when it comes to including GMOs in their menu options, since most heavily processed foods contain soy and corn derivatives.

However, even in traditional restaurants GMOs are often found all over the menu. Organic items are always the safest bet, since a food product cannot be labeled USDA Organic if it contains GMOs, but not all restaurants offer organic menu options. If not, try to avoid ordering items made from tofu or corn and limit desserts to those made with pure cane sugar or another natural sweetener such as Agave nectar. Also, avoid aspartame, which is produced using genetically modified micro-organisms and is found in products like Equal and NutraSweet, as it has been linked to many different illnesses.

GMO free message

GMO free message via Shutterstock

Oils are another primary source of GMOs in restaurant food, including canola, corn, cottonseed and soy. If the restaurant does not use organic oils, ask if they can use olive oil for your entree of choice, or ask them to prepare it without oil if possible. Although butter presents another option, if it is not organic keep in mind that it likely comes from cows that are injected with artificial hormones or fed a diet of GMO grains.

The type of restaurant you choose will also play a role in avoiding GMOs when eating out. Try to find a locally-sourced establishment that makes all dishes from scratch and uses organic ingredients. Also, ethnic restaurants that serve Greek, Italian or Middle Eastern food are typically a safer bet, as they use olive oil in many standard dishes.

Awareness is key, so don't be afraid to call ahead and ask a restaurant if they offer organic or non-GMO food options on the menu. If not, consider bringing them information on the dangers of GMOs and conventionally produced food items in an effort to educate the owners and hopefully encourage a shift in thinking. The more the question is raised, the more likely restaurant owners are to take notice and make changes to meet the demands of their increasingly sophisticated clientele.

Green Living is an Earth Times Blog; any views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author


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