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8 Easy Food Swaps to Avoid GMOs in Your Pantry


You've probably heard a lot about GMOs lately in the news. GMO stands for "genetically modified organisms," and these are plants or animals created with gene splicing techniques. This is an experimental technology that merges DNA from different species - even combining animal genes and bacterial genes with plant genes, creating new types of plants or animals that cannot occur in nature or via traditional crossbreeding.

One of the biggest concerns about the prevalence of GMOs in the U.S. is whether they are safe for us to be eating. Currently, the health consequences of genetically modifying foods are largely unknown. No human clinical trials on the effects of consuming GMO food have been published. Here are six reasons to avoid GMOs.
Girl eating non-GMO snack.

Over 70% of Packaged Foods in North America Contain GMOs

According to Whole Foods’ website, "Over 70% of packaged food products in North America contain GMOs" and "this is because the five most prevalent GMO crops of corn, canola, soy, cotton and sugar beets end up as additives in all kinds of packaged foods as corn syrup, oil, sugar, flavoring agents, thickeners and other additives."

Ninety percent of the soy, corn and cotton grown in the U.S. are GMOs.  According to the Non-GMO Project, "Many of these items appear as added ingredients in a large amount of the foods we eat. For instance, your family may not eat tofu or drink soy milk, but soy is most likely present in a large percentage of the foods in your pantry."


October Is GMO-Free Month — Take Our GMO-Free Challenge for One Week!

We're more than halfway through October, and it's the Non-GMO Project's Non-GMO month. With about a week and a half left of October, why not go through your refrigerators and cupboards to try to ferret out and round-up all the products that contain GMOs? From Kashi GoLEAN cereal to Frito Lay Potato Chips and Doritos chips to Vitaminwater and Wheat Thins.

Take our challenge, and avoid eating GMOs, throw out snacks and cereals that contain GMOs, ask restaurants to serve you GMO-free food and spread GMO awareness with your family and friends each time you eat.


Which Common Snacks Contain GMOs and What Can I Eat Instead?

Find out which common snacks contain GMOs and some simple swaps you can make to avoid them.
1. INSTEAD of GMO-containing Lay's Potato Chips... In late 2001, PepsiCo's snack division Frito Lay was hit with a lawsuit accusing them of "misleading customers by making all natural claims on its products which also contain genetically-modified corn and vegetable oils," as reported in Bakery and Snacks Regulation and Safety News.

…TRY Kettle Organic Sea Salt Chips - Kettle brand potato chips use exclusively Non-GMO, expeller pressed oils in their products. Choose their certified organic varieties such as Sea Salt flavor to ensure organic potatoes as well.


2. INSTEAD of Wheat Thins... Nabisco’s Wheat Thins contain both partially hydrogenated soybean oil and high fructose corn syrup. I’m willing to bet $5 that you remember earlier in this blog post when I mentioned that 90% of the soy and corn grown in the U.S. is GMO.

…TRY Mary’s Gone Crackers - All of Mary’s Gone Crackers products are Non-GMO Project Certified. They are also completely gluten-free.


3. INSTEAD of Naked Juice... This summer PepsiCo's Naked Juice was forced to remove the term "all natural" from its packaging as a class-action lawsuit determined the claim was misleading and false. This lawsuit settlement is proof that some labels claiming products are "all natural" may be hiding ingredients like GMOs. According to, "consumers who bought bottles of the beverage in the last six years could get up to $75 in payments from a $9 million class action settlement fund after plaintiffs questioned the company’s claims of ’100 percent juice,’ ‘all natural’ and other labeling.” If you bought a Naked juice such as Green Machine or their Acai drink or more than 30 other Naked juices between September 27, 2007 to August 19, 2013, you can file a claim at

…TRY Sambazon Freshies - Sambazon has a line of healthy on-the-go smoothies, called Freshies, that are USDA Organic, Non-GMO Project Verified, vegan, gluten free, and Ecocert Fair Trade. New flavors include Blended Breakfast, SuperGreens and Chocolate+Almond+Coconut Milk.


4. INSTEAD of Skippy Creamy Peanut Butter... After roasted peanuts, Skippy Creamy peanut butter’s second ingredient is sugar and its third ingredient is hydrogenated vegetable oils (cottonseed, soybean, and rapeseed). Remember earlier in this blog post, when I mentioned that 90% of the cotton and soy grown in the U.S. is GMO?

…TRY NuttZo Organic Creamy 7 Nut & Seed Butter - NuttZo’s 100% organic GMO-Free ingredients are: Peanuts, Cashews, Almonds, Brazilian Nuts, Sunflower Seeds, Flax Seeds, Hazelnuts, and Sea Salt. One serving contains 50% of the daily recommended value of Omega-3s. Plus, the jars it comes in are BPA-free plastic.


5. INSTEAD of Balance Bars and Nature Valley Granola Bars... The first ingredient in Balance Bars is “Protein blend (soy protein isolate, whey protein isolate, partially hydrolyzed milk protein isolate, calcium caseinate, casein),” and we know that 90% of the soy grown in the U.S. is GMO. The third and fourth item in Nature Valley Granola Bars are canola oil and yellow corn flour. According to Scientific American 90% of the canola grown in the U.S. and Canada is biotech. The non-profit Center for Food Safety, lists them both as “may contain GMO ingredients” in its “How to Avoid Foods Made with Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)” brochure.

…TRY GMO-Free Pistachio Chewy Bites -  Pistachio Chewy Bites contain 200 calories and 6 grams of protein in 2 small bars and they’re GMO-free. They’re made with pistachios, cranberries, and agave syrup.
6. INSTEAD of General Mills Strawberry Fruit Roll-Ups... General Mills will be changing the packaging on its Strawberry Fruit Roll Ups in 2014 to remove the words "natural fruit flavoring" as a result of a class action lawsuit. The second ingredient in Strawberry Fruit Roll-Ups (after pears from concentrate) is corn syrup. Since you paid attention to the first part of this blog post, you likely remember that 90% of the corn sold in the U.S. is GMO. Strawberry Fruit Roll-Ups don't contain any actual strawberries, by the way, in case you were wondering.

…TRY Bare Snacks apple chips and dried fruit - Bare Snacks are made with 100% organic real fruit sourced in the U.S. The apple chips are baked, never fried, gluten free, fat free and non-GMO, with no preservatives or artificial anything.


7. INSTEAD of GMO-containing Vitaminwater... Coca Cola's Glaceau Vitaminwater is the #1 seller of fortified water in the U.S. claims to be a low-calorie, high-nutrition beverage but it actually contains corn syrup!  After water, the second ingredient on the label is "crystalline fructose," which is pretty much a fancy way to say "corn syrup." Since I know you paid attention to the first part of this blog post, you probably remember that 90% of the corn sold in the U.S. is GMO. You may have also heard that there's a lawsuit against Vitaminwater by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), a Washington (D.C.)-based consumer advocacy group, and a group of Vitaminwater customers in New York and California that alledges that Coca Cola took part in deceptive labeling and marketing with regard to Vitminwater. Coke charges twice as much for Vitaminwater as it does for Coca Cola Classic soda, reported Mother Jones earlier this year.

…Try Bai - If you're craving a low-calorie flavored drink, at least choose one like Bai that contains antioxidants from real fruits such as coffefruit and is low glycemic and certified GMO-free as it's sweetened with GMO-free Erythritol and Organic Stevia.


8. If you’re looking for a GMO-free frozen burrito… try Red's All Natural frozen burritos. They are non-GMO, preservative-free and made with antibiotic and hormone-free meat and rBGH-free cheese.

Readers – Did you know that it was GMO-free month? What are your feelings on GMOs? Are you OK with eating them or do you try to avoid them? Leave a comment below and let us know.


Jess Barron is Editor-in-Chief at LIVESTRONG.COM. Read some of her other health and fitness articles here. A longtime foodie and fan of Farmer’s Market food, Jess particularly loves heirloom tomatoes, fresh figs with burrata cheese, and anything with pumpkin or peanut butter in it! Her love for food fuels her desire to exercise daily. Some of her favorite workout routines include running, yoga, P90X, INSANITY, and mixed martial arts. Jess’s writing can also be found at She has appeared on MSNBC’s “The Most,” ABC News Now, and XM satellite radio and her writing has appeared on and Yahoo!

Follow Jess on Twitter @jessdandy. Also, you can add her on Google+ and follow her on Pinterest.

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