How to Avoid "Frankenfood" - Eating Healthy by Understanding What Food Labels Really Mean

Mar 25, 2013

You opted for that little bag of Baked Lays at lunch instead of the full-fat version, and felt virtuous. It's the healthier choice, right?

Buyer beware: many common foods we all buy at our grocery store contain GMOs, or genetically modified ingredients.

Not necessarily.  Some foods may LOOK healthy, but understanding how food products are made and reading labels closely (one hint: the less ingredients, the better) is key to understanding what's truly good for you.

So says nutrition scientist Dr. Jayson Calton and food advocate and certified nutritionist Mira Calton, authors of Rich Food Poor Food. The Caltons are educating a movement of consumers who demand healthier food free from dangerous additives.

"People don't realize that more than 80% of food products on store shelves have genetically modified ingredients," says Jayson Calton.  And while some supermarkets like Whole Foods will soon require all products to be labeled if they contain GMO's.. many items don't explain to the consumer that they're actually genetically engineered food.

The Caltons are on a mission to raise nutritional literacy across America by empowering buyers at the grocery store. Here's some of their "inside" info:

  • SAFETY IN NUMBERS: Conventional produce has a four-digit PLU label and organic PLUs five digits beginning with 8. Avoid five digits PLUs starting with 9—those are GMOs.
  • CHILDREN OF THE CORN: Hiding in our food are ingredients made from GMO corn, including maltodextrin, high fructose corn syrup and corn starch.
  • SURPRISE, SURPRISE: Among the fruits and vegetables that farmers might be unaware they grew from GMO seeds are zucchini and yellow crookneck squash, Hawaiian papaya and sweet corn.
  • THE FAB 14: The conventionally grown produce you can purchase with confidence includes onions, pineapple, avocado, cabbage, asparagus, mango, kiwi and watermelon. 

In a nutshell, "Rich Foods" are defined as whole foods containing micronutrients that are minimally processed. "Poor Foods" contain ingredients such as pesticides, carcinogens, hormones, and GMOs.

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