I’ll Still Eat Donuts, But…

If you follow me on Instagram, you know I’ve fallen head first into a GMO rabbit hole. It all started with this episode from the “Healthy Moms Podcast” by the Wellness Mama:

Wellness mama podcast gmo

GMOs? Glyphosate? Organic foods? What’s making our children sick? Whoa. Its title definitely caught my attention, and the episode was so interesting. The main topic: What the Research Says About Glyphosate… And Why It Might Be Ruining Our Kids’ Health. Eek. Katie (“Wellness Mama”) interviews Michelle Perro, MD and Vincanne Adams, PhD, who she describes as the “dream team” on the topic of industrialized food and how it may be connected to chronic childhood illness. Again, eek. Michelle is a pediatrician with over 35 years of experience in acute integrative medicine. Vincanne is professor and vice chair of medical anthropology at the University of California, San Francisco, and editor of the Medical Anthropology Quarterly. Basically, they’re well-educated and have lots of experience.

Here’s a little overview of the episode and what it covers:

  • the troubling trends Michelle started to observe in her patients … and what she did about it
  • why Vincanne agreed to get on board (even though she was a skeptic at first)
  • the rising rates of chronic childhood illnesses like constipation, food allergies, seasonal allergies, ADHD, asthma, autism (and the list goes on – they specifically mention IBD in kids)
  • how glyphosate works, what it’s made of, and why farmers use it
  • why crossbreeding hybrid plants is NOT the same thing as genetic modification
  • how asthma, allergies and eczema are rising at drastic rates (as much as 40% of children may be affected)
  • 3 reasons glyphosate may be a serious problem (and what the most recent research is finding)
  • whether or not organic food is actually worth the extra money
  • practical things that we can do to change the food future and protect our kids (and the environment!)
    and more

The episode was super eye-opening and the catalyst for my recent obsession. I mean, that’s what I do. If it’s related to autoimmune disease/IBD, I want to know ALL about it, especially since I am always trying to “fix myself“, and I’m constantly worried about Quinn’s susceptibility to IBD or another autoimmune diseases.

Glyphosate Autoimmune disease

Then, I watched a documentary called GMO OMG, which is nearly 5 years old. (FYI: I watched it on Amazon Prime.) It’s crazy that I hadn’t even heard of it until now. Maybe I just didn’t care about GMOs? Maybe I just live under a rock? The film is super one-sided (anti-GMOS), but interesting (and cute) at the same time. It definitely makes you think twice about what you’re feeding your family. Speaking of which…

This blog post isn’t to declare our family a GMO-free household, but we’re definitely more aware of what we’re buying and putting into our bodies. Mal actually teaches his students about GMOs, so he already knew a lot about them and we’ve had a ton of conversations lately. For our family, it’s not realistic to eat GMO-free ALL the time. We still want to enjoy our Saturday donuts, go out to dinner, and eat “Scooby Snacks” aka Pringles from time-to-time. But, knowing what we know now, we will make our best effort to choose non-GMO when we can.

We actually went shopping at Whole Foods this past weekend because I’m not sure what to think about Trader Joe’s even though they claim to be GMO-free. Anyone know details? Again, this is not to say we’ll never shop at Trader Joe’s again (that place is awesome), but we like that Whole Foods has so many verified GMO-free options. In fact, my old roommate, who works for Whole Foods Corporate, chimed in on one of my recent Instagram posts to share that WFM Exclusive Brands (365 and Whole Foods-branded items) has committed to NOT carrying ANY items that contain the “product contains GMOs” statement by September of this year. They’ve cleaned up nearly 95% of their SKUs. Very cool. When we shopped there this weekend, it was easy to find GMO-free options – and when we couldn’t, we opted for USDA-certified organic, BUT organic doesn’t always mean GMO-free and ‘Non-GMO’ Does Not Mean Organic. I know, our food system is a hot mess, but you just need to do the best you can.

Also, just wanted to add, because it’s important, that our grocery bill wasn’t THAT much more expensive shopping at Whole Foods. We meal planned, shopped sales, bought in bulk when we could, and used the WFM app for coupons, so we didn’t totally break the bank.

Ok, well, this post is getting a little ramble-y, but, hey, I’m just writing and sharing the info I’ve discovered so far. I’m not saying I’m an expect in the subject of GMOs (at all), but so much of what I’ve learned is quite eye-opening. I’m basically just sharing what I would tell one of my friends if they wanted to know about GMOs.

Unrelated side note: One of my goals for the next 10 years of CNC is to share my life and my thoughts with you guys like I did back in the day at the start of this blog. I used to just write whatever was on my mind, and I wasn’t afraid to say what I wanted. At some point (right after I had Quinn), I stopped feeling comfortable doing that. The “perfect parents” came out of the woodwork, and, boy, were they angry with how I was caring for my baby. And when you’re struggling as a new mom, the last thing you need is strangers bringing you down and telling you that you’re a terrible mother. It was a hard time for me, and I really started to pull back from what I put out on the Internet. Obviously, this has been on my mind as I look forward to what’s next for CNC. I’ve been doing a lot of soul searching in both my personal and work life lately, and I dunno… I’m still figuring it all out, but I guess I’ve grown a thicker skin, and now I’m ready to let down my guard and share my life again.

Sooooo, back to the GMO stuff…

On Saturday night, Mal, Quinn, and I had some fun with a Cheerio box. FYI: Plain Cheerios are GMO-free! 🙂 Our friends at General Mills sent us all of the supplies needed to make a cool Wheel & Axle Truck, inspired by Rube Goldberg‘s inventions/cartoons. General Mills also sent us Rube Goldberg’s Simple Normal Humdrum School Day book, and Quinn is now obsessed with it. It’s super cute and shows start-to-finish inventions and how they work. We always joke that Quinn is going to be some sort of engineer when he grows up based on his current interests, so this book was right up his alley!

As part of General Mills’ partnership with the 30th anniversary of the Rube Goldberg Machine Contest, new boxes of Cheerios, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Cocoa Puffs, Cookie Crisp, Lucky Charms and Reese’s Puffs include easy-to-follow instructions to transform the packaging into Rube Goldberg-inspired simple machines. They bring S.T.E.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) concepts to life using everyday household items like straws, paper clips, pencils and tape. General Mills is also giving away $20,000 scholarships to 20 winners of our cereal box machine sweepstakes. For official rules, visit RubeCerealMachines.com. We are going to enter! 🙂

Fun little story about Quinn’s Cheerio truck… Mal and I helped him put the finishing touches on the axles/wheels. When Quinn saw the final product, he immediately cut off one of the wheels! Haha! I guess a 3-wheel truck was more his style. Actually, he was just REALLY into his new scissors, which were big kid scissors and actually cut things – unlike those weird safety ones that just wrinkle paper.

After completing our truck project, I got Qman ready for bed. Mal headed out for a guys’ night, so I spent the evening reading Foreign Invaders: An Autoimmune Disease Journey through Monsanto’s World of Genetically Modified (GM) Food (free on Kindle). It was so good, and I blew through it in just a couple of hours. It makes a strong case for avoiding GMOs if you have an autoimmune disease. Further reading: How To Avoid GMOs.

Foreign invaders Autoimmune Monsanto

Ok, so I’ve just spewed so much information at your guys about GMOs. Obviously, I am anti-GMO, but I wanted to share some of the pro-GMO resources that have been passed along to me by CNC followers. They include lots of valid points – and not ALL GMOs are bad (i.e. Golden Rice, Hawaiian papaya).

At the end of the day, it’s really up to you to do your own research and make decisions for yourself and your family. I’ll continue to share what I know and discover, but I hope you take a look into both sides of what GMOs are all about. They’re a super interesting topic and new information/research/data comes out every day, so this space will most definitely continue to change and evolve. It’s exciting, and I’m curious to see what comes next.

Question of the Day

GMOs: What do you know? What are your thoughts? Do you avoid them? Do you care? 

46 Comments

  1. I just listener to this podcast too. Love Wellness Mama bc she is so research based but also balanced and practical. Definitely try and avoid GMOs while balancing practicality and the budget.

  2. Do I think GMO crops were made to solve food shortages? Yes. To make money? Absolutely. As a scientist (PhD neuroscience), and medically focused researcher, I can tell you that nothing can really be “proved safe.” Especially not in today’s instant gratification world. Think about clinical trials for drugs. There are always going to be ramifications/side effects to even the most successful drugs because every single person is different. Do I think we need to evaluate and have longitudinal studies on GMO foods? 100%. However, I’m shocked by how fast people jump onto other trends, such as paleo, which likewise need longitudinal study and will also provide variable results according to the person and group being studied. We live in a world of ridiculous over generalization. I don’t really know where I’m going with this other than to caution against vast generalization and to encourage staying up to date with research but to also realize that research needs to be longitudinal and in all reality will probably never be conclusive.

    1. @Brie: This ^^^^^ is such as great response. As a current Ph.D. candidate (physiology), I think it’s really important to point out that the research overall on GMOs being bad or good is not conclusive. Based on what I have read and understood about GMOs, it’s not the genetically modified portion of the DNA within the plant that is “bad”, it is the fact an individual may be consuming chemicals sprayed onto the plants and that is what might be deemed as harmful to a persons health. Although, the science might not be conclusive on that yet either.

      I would also like to point out that there are agricultural scientists that work to develop GMOs that will increase plant and seed yield for human consumption that rely on other methods besides chemical sprays to protect the plants against disease. For example, at my university there are several scientists focused on genetically modifying plant seeds so that they survive extreme changes in climate (e.g. temperature, drought) and while the seeds would be technically classified GMO, this type of genetic modification allows for crops to be grown in difficult climates and soils, which is actually really great for feeding more people. So this is really just a big grey area- GMOs aren’t all good, but they aren’t all bad either.

      1. @Diane:

        I feel the need to jump in and agree with these ladies as a PhD candidate in Food Science and Human Nutrition. Posts like these concern me and are a huge source of how negative and incorrect information spread. If I’m a farmer and I crossed two breeds of corn to create a product with higher yield, is that product harmful? Guess what? That’s a GMO. Dig deeper and use reputable, evidence-base sources, especially when reach long out to “educate” your readers around the world.

    2. I agree with jumping to conclusions as a consumer, but as someone who works in oncological drug development, we have to label our side effects and full trust a drug before going to market. It takes billions of dollars and millions of hours of regulatory review to go to market and proven safe enough for consumer consumption. Monsanto and the USDA/ FDA have NOT done that with GMOs. That’s my concern too. Thanks for sharing your insights!

    3. @Brie: This is so well said (fellow scientist here, MS in Cell Biology). As scientists, we don’t “prove” anything (love the quotes. we literally never say that, they teach you not to say that in bio 101 lol), and now that everyone on the planet can Google for an hour and think they’re an expert, that’s what people want. These studies need to be read and evaluated by trained/educated eyes and brains, they are NOT written in everyday language, and this “everybody is a scientist” mentality is downright dangerous. It’s a slippery slope. Your points about instant gratification vs. longitudinal studies are so important.

      I’m not anti- or pro-GMO, I’m anti-pseudo science. I want my information on genetic modification from someone with a PhD in genetics, a developmental biologist, a cell biologist, ANY of the above. Not an MD and an anthropologist. Just saying.

    1. Do you happen to know much about Trader Joe’s and GMOs? I Googled a bunch and found lots of articles with similar claims. I thought hers explained things well. I guess I could have linked to other ones.

      1. @Tina:

        I came here to say the same. I don’t have more reputable sources for you, but I really don’t consider Food Babe as one. I do appreciate the heads up though, it’s worth looking into.

  3. I do watch for GMO products and will search out non-GMO options for sure. I do try to be more conscious of choosing organic when the options are there. I always had thought that organic also meant Non-GMO… so I was surprised to see that’s not the case. Navigating this stuff sure does keep you one your toes that’s for sure!
    Also, I wanted to comment and say that I am happy to see you plan to share more about your life and thoughts like you had done in the early years of CNC. I do remember reading some of those ‘perfect parent’ comments you referred to and I still remember thinking to myself how some people could be so judgmental and awful. I guess some people find happiness in being awful to others??? Who knows, but what I do know is that I learned a lot from you about first time parenting. My son is a year younger than Quinn so it was nice to see your experiences throughout pregnancy, birth, to raising an infant, toddler, et. I think you are doing great and appreciate your honesty and sharing your experiences!

    1. @Carly: What Carly said 100% – My daughter is also about a year younger than Quinn and I totally understand those “perfect parents” – I don’t have a blog but they seem to follow me at the grocery store with comments :). Do you! We’re all just doing the best that we can as parents and its very clear that you love your family very much. …totally appreciate your honesty around family/parenting.

  4. I’ve always loved your content (that’s the wonderful thing about the internet—read what speaks to you, come back another day if not!) and am glad you feel better sharing things on your mind! As a fellow rambler and “all in” person when I find topics of interest, this was super fun to follow along with 🙂

  5. Wow you really must have been on a rampage since that episode only came out Thursday!!

    TyNks for all the resources!

    Also looking forward to the unfiltered carrots n cake again 🙂

  6. My husband has been dealing with doctors and apparently what they consider IBS as they diagnosed. But after awhile of being tossed from one Dr to another I got a bit fed up and did what I always do and took control of our own health and started researching. In short, we have COMPLETELY changed our diets and removed ALL artificial sweeteners from our diets. We made a list, and believe me this list is amazingly long, of all artificial sweeteners, and we did this back in may2017. Life for him has changed for him so much. He is off all meds, no longer spends hours in the bathroom. I don’t think how many people really don’t know what they are consuming….and it’s scary when they find out. You may want to try this yourself, it may offer you some relief.
    We even found artificial sweeteners in organic foods…..blow my mind…..but it’s in so much stuff. From toothpaste to some cottage cheeses……why…simply why add artificial garage to something that should be pretty simple.

  7. I agree with you 100%. I have always tried to avoid GMOs because I don’t trust Monsanto at all, they are not looking out for anyone except their bottom line. Eating mostly whole foods and very little processed is my personal plan. Thanks for your honesty! Ignore the perfect parent people. Most people criticize others because they have doubts about their own abilities 🙂

  8. Very interesting! I feel like I have a lot to learn- these days it’s so important to look out for yourself and your family and what we put into our bodies. I appreciate your honesty in posts and look forward to more of your personal thoughts and honest opinions. It’s unfortunate people can be so rude- it’s all about respecting eachother!

  9. After discovering I have fibroids and Hashimoto’s, I did A LOT of research about foods for my husband and me. We mostly eat non-gmo and organic. In the past year, I have also started cutting out gluten. We not perfect at this by any means, but we have noticed a few differences. MOST organic and non-gmo foods TASTE like real food. We have become rather snobby about our meats too, we like local from the farm, but also enjoy a good cheesesteak (gluten free roll for me) every now and again. Last weekend we had “regular” bacon and neither one of us cared for it, even the texture was “off.” I have noticed, when I eat better foods, I feel better the next morning. I don’t have food-hangover.
    These are choices we make for ourselves. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. We do still eat foods that have gmo’s and it’s ok.
    With that said, yes, we do spend more on groceries, but I have come to accept it because I feel it makes a difference.
    Good luck to you!!!!

    1. @Cathy: I think cost is a huge deterrent (second to lack of awareness), but I’d rather pay double the grocery bill than my money going into the healthcare system for a preventable health problem!

      Tina, I often encourage a friend with UC to read your blog! She really likes and trusts her gastroenterologist, but I sometimes wish that they encouraged a more holistic approach to disease management. When I bring up things like AIP/supplements/etc. I think it only frustrates her because we’re in our 20’s and she feels that if she can’t enjoy her life (eat/drink/do what she wants), then her IBD “wins”. I also happen to work in general surgery where my IBD patients have mostly failed medical management, so often the subject is avoided altogether! Any advice on how to be encouraging/helpful without overdoing it?

      1. Oh man. That’s hard. You don’t want to push her, but the same time you see so many things that could help. Honestly, I’d just be a good friend to her and let her know you’re always there for her if she wants to make diet or lifestyle changes. At the end of the day, she won’t do any of it until she’s ready. You’re a great friend for wanting to help her!

  10. I really love the unfiltered CNC! I’m even rereading your pregnancy posts (now at 24 weeks with my first!) and all those old crossfit posts. I’m sure it’s insanely frustrating and difficult to put yourself out there with all these trolls, but I appreciate the honesty!

  11. I also, as an RD and lover of science, caution you on using the ‘Food Babe’ as a reference.

    But in a positive note, I find you to be the most relatable blogger I’ve read. I don’t blame you for pulling back after Quinn was born, I wouldn’t want my parenting decisions/style under a microscope!

  12. Hi Tina, great post! I think you capture the nuances of the whole gmo issue. I was one of the commenters on your Instagram post about this, and really appreciate that you shared the article I posted 🙂 Thanks

  13. I know nothing about GMO’s but I feel like as a parent I need to research them ASAP. I may be watching some Amazon Prime during my run on the tread this evening, thanks for the info!

  14. Thank you for sharing all you do! I love your site and appreciate all of your hard work on here! You’ve taught me so very much.

    Deb

  15. Thanks for the info on the GMO stuff. I think that being educated on these topics is crucial and like you say, being aware of what you are eating is the most important thing. I don’t know that it is necessary to completely do away with GMO’s but it is good to understand them and use some educated caution. Thanks again for sharing this Tina!

  16. I absolutely avoid them. When other countries are actively disputing using certain GMOs in food and the risk of cross contamination to our current food is difficult to ignore. I don’t think all GMOs are bad, it I think it takes consumers saying “no” to make gov, regulatory, companies, etc to respect consumer wishes and label foods that are GMO. It’s absurd that they don’t and makes me question why companies are so ardently opposed to such things.

  17. Thanks for the blog post and so glad you’ve looked into this for your family. One clarification though—certified organic (with the usda seal) means non-gmo so if you buy organic, you are buying non-gmo. The other seal to look out for is the Non-GMO project. Many gluten free items carry this seal because it’s harder to find organic gluten free items—organic gluten free ingredients are super expensive so food companies stray away from them because it will make their products less affordable.

  18. I love that you’re ready to “find your voice” again and blog in the way that is most natural to you. People are going to say whatever they want – and they DO – because thanks to the prevalence of social media and Internet usage, everyone feels the right to be a critic. And it can be hard to move past that, trust me, I know.
    Anyway, that part of your post really spoke to me, and I really admire you for sharing – because that isn’t easy either! I’ve been following CnC since I lived in Boston and it was just starting out, and like anything that mirrors your life, it will change and evolve and grow, as your blog has – and quite wonderfully, I’d like to admit!
    (PS thanks for the GMO info: It’s something I want to learn more about as well!)

  19. I love your blog and think you should share whatever you want – love that you’re becoming more comfortable with that again!

    I just wanted to jump in and say – because I know GMOs are a complex and scary topic – that really the only GMOs in U.S. grocery stores are in corn, soybeans and canola. So if you are not buying products that contain those things (such as fresh fruits and veggies, almond butter, maple syrup, meat and fish, etc.) you will not be consuming GMOs.

    Glyphosate (brand name RoundUp) is another story, which is why your point about non-GMO does not equal “organic” is a good one.

    Just passing this along in case it helps calm your GMO fears.

  20. Great article!

    We don’t have a whole foods here (yet – I think its coming soon), but I shop a lot at Wegmans and Aldi because they both offer good options. I haven’t done the research so I don’t know how they stack up against WFM. I try to stay away from GMOs as best I can. Its tough though. I think everyone should be more educated about what they are eating. I really think what we put into our bodies is why there are so many issues. Things have really changed for kids now a days. Its so different than when I was a kid/baby 30 years ago.

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