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As a consequence of our constantly developing understanding of the natural world and how it affects our health, many consumers have started becoming pickier about what foods and food products they put in their bodies. By and large, this trend is a beneficial one; a more conscientious society has meant the rejection of unhealthy ingredients, such as high-fructose corn syrup and trans fats, as well as potentially harmful additives like sodium benzoate and carrageenan. However, few aspects of the healthy food debate have gotten as much attention as the commotion over genetically modified organisms, more commonly known by the acronym “GMOs.” For many people, the idea of an ingredient’s genetics being tampered with is simply unacceptable, which has led to a campaign promoting “non-GMO” foods. So, what exactly are non-GMO foods and nutrition shakes, and how can you tell if what’s on the shelf at your local grocery store falls into this category? To find out, keep reading as the team at ENU – makers of non-GMO meal replacement shakes – dives into this crucial topic.

What Does the Term “Non-GMO” Mean?

As researchers began uncovering the mysteries of genes and their importance, the science to alter the genetic makeup of an organism was devised and, eventually, put into practice in the agricultural sector. Most often, it’s plants that are on the receiving end of genetic manipulation; certain strains of corn, squash, potatoes, soybeans, and other crops were altered for a number of reasons, such as to produce a natural pesticide or promote resistance to weed-killing herbicides. Obviously, these traits can prove quite useful to farmers, and we’re all in favor of fewer pesticides being sprayed on our food. Today, there are a number of foods and ingredients that utilize genetic modification to some degree, most notably varieties of the following products:

  • Soybean
  • Corn
  • Potato
  • Apple
  • Canola
  • Alfalfa
  • Summer squash
  • Sugar beet
  • Papaya
  • Eggplant
  • Pineapples
  • Salmon

Of course, it’s easy to understand why a person might be turned off by the idea of eating, say, a fish that had its genes modified in a lab somewhere, so it’s no surprise that consumers tend to have a strong negative reaction to the concept of GMOs. For this reason, a newfound focus has been placed on food products that are free from genetically modified ingredients, which are appropriately called non-GMO foods.

How to Identify Non-GMO Foods

Despite the prevalence of genetic manipulation in modern food production, not every farm produces GMOs; many still prefer the more traditional methods of growing food, and there are even techniques, such as crossbreeding, that can naturally combine traits of various species to produce a hardier or tastier product without ever involving a laboratory. To help shoppers pick these non-GMO foods from among the others, brands have started adding various markings and signage to their labels. Although this development has been welcomed by fans of non-GMO foods, there’s an important caveat that needs to be underlined: Not every claim can be trusted.

To date, there is still not any official designation that can guarantee a food’s non-GMO status, and many companies have started cashing in on the trend by slapping the term on their products – whether they qualify for the title or not. In fact, because there are few, if any, legal repercussions for doing so, there’s little incentive for brands not to make the claim, so be sure to take each company’s “non-GMO” food label with a grain of salt.

That said, there is one particular organization that has made a name for itself by identifying GMO and non-GMO foods, an entity called the Non-GMO Project. This group’s aim is to determine whether a food contains (or is likely to contain) GMO ingredients, and their logo – an orange butterfly perched on a blade of grass above a blue background – can be seen on a variety of products today. The widespread trust consumers place in the Non-GMO Project’s mark is due to the group’s rigorous evaluation of hundreds of products, but even they can’t necessarily guarantee that a product is entirely free of GMOs. It’s for this reason that, rather than separating products into two cut-and-dry categories, the organization places foods into one of four classifications:

  • High-risk foods are those that are commonly modified for commercial use, such as corn.
  • Low-risk foods are those that are not currently being modified in commercial products, such as tomatoes.
  • Non-risk foods lack any sort of biological component and so can’t be genetically modified – table salt, for example.
  • Monitored risk products are those that may be widely modified in the near future; the status of these foods is under surveillance by the Non-GMO Project.

Because new types of GMOs are constantly being developed, it can be tough to know for sure whether your non-GMO foods are going to stay that way. One tip for avoiding genetically modified products is to rely on organic foods, since the U.S. Department of Agriculture prohibits GMOs on organic farms. Generally speaking, however, that orange butterfly can be a useful guide to those looking to stick to non-GMO foods.

For Non-GMO Nutrition, Try an ENU Meal Replacement Shake

Whether you’re looking for a protein shake for weight management or nutritional support for cancer patients, it can be tough to find non-GMO foods that fit the bill. At ENU, we pride ourselves on using natural ingredients, not genetically modified foods, which is how we’re able to provide 400 calories, 20 grams of protein, healthy fats, complex carbs, and 24 key vitamins and minerals, all without a single GMO. Learn more about our products by visiting ENU online or calling (855) 266-6733 today.

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