By Abigail Moore
“It’s a lifestyle,” Yvette Cruz said, while munching on an organic apple.
Cruz is a junior at Quincy University and throughout her time on campus, she has prioritized eating predominantly organic foods. She was raised in a family that strongly believed in the dangers of GMO foods, so she kept her distance for the benefit of her own health. Cruz became accustomed to her home life habits and brought them with her to college, where she currently uses her resources and knowledge to maintain her health. Cruz vouches for the importance of consuming organic foods and using organic products because she truly believes that her body pays the price if she doesn’t eat organic food.
“It clears your body of certain processed foods. It gives your body a break from all of the GMOs. It’s important because you are what you eat. So you put whatever you have into your body. The more natural the better obviously,” Cruz said.
GMO stands for genetically modified organism. This constitutes a plant, animal, microorganism, or any other organism whose genetics have been modified by using genetic engineering. GMOs are found in the foods we consume. Many environmental risks are linked to food containing GMO’s. A non-GMO is an organism untouched by genetic engineering, pesticides, or growth hormones, believed and tested to be healthier to consume.
“I’ve learned to be okay with them (GMOs). I’ve had to be more conscious about the environment and how I can use the environment to benefit myself,” Cruz said.
GMO and non-GMO foods have been investigated thoroughly by scientists. Regardless of the findings, it still raises questions about the health factor. According to Natural Revolution, genetically modified foods have been linked to side effects such as digestive problems, increase allergens, toxins, and anti-nutrients, infertility, immune problems, accelerated aging, faulty insulin regulation, and changes in major organs and the gastrointestinal system. Despite these reported side effects, Professor of Environmental Biology Joe Coehlo does not believe GMOs are a health hazard.
“Basically everything we eat is genetically modified in some way, unless you killed it in the wild, right? Like you shot a deer and ate it,” Coehlo said.
Cruz has made non-GMO’s a staple in her diet. But, besides fueling her body with organic whole foods, Cruz says she uses organic products such as toothpaste, shampoo, certain clothes, mouthwash, makeup, face cleansers, and several other beauty products.
The QU Cafeteria also joined in on the non-GMO movement. Chef Chase Mangan strongly believes in the health risks tied to eating GMO foods. His goal for the year was for students to be consuming safer and healthier foods. That change happened quicker than he imagined. Mangan began purchasing healthier options for the students.
“Our company, we strive to buy non-GMO foods because we want the organic natural trend to grow,” Mangan said.
According to The Organic and Non-GMO Report, more than 70 percent of processed foods found in retail stores and restaurants contain ingredients derived from corn, soy beans, canola, and cotton. This is included in the list of GMO foods that have been approved the grow in the United States: corn, soybeans, canola, sugar beets, alfalfa, papaya, yellow “crook neck” squash, zucchini, ‘arctic” apple, and “innate” potato. This can make it difficult to completely stay away from GMO foods.
Although it can be difficult to avoid GMO’s all together, there are ways to identify GMO foods. Ways to avoid GMO foods are to shop for locally grown foods, look for non-GMO verified products on the shelves of your local market, and grow your own food. For students dining on campus, Mangan says there are plenty of healthy options to choose from every week.