The Kitchen Think: Are You Eating Genetically Engineered Food?


You want to know what’s in the food you’re eating, right?

Sure, labels tell you if there’s gluten or artificial sweeteners (or a dozen other things). But they DON’T tell you if what’s inside was made with ingredients that were genetically engineered.

What does “genetically engineered” mean? It’s the lab process of artificially inserting genes into the DNA of food crops or animals. The result is called a genetically modified organism, or GMO.

Label on a Food Product made in the Netherlands

Label on a Food Product made in the Netherlands

Genetic alteration can improve the resistance of a plant or an animal to insects and disease, allow crops to require less water, and enhance taste and quality.

But, just like a product that has preservatives, genetically engineered food should be labeled so we know what we’re buying.

Sixty major food companies, including Monsanto, Kellogg’s, General Mills and Kraft, don’t agree. Monsanto’s website says:

“Such mandatory labeling could imply that food products containing these ingredients are somehow inferior to their conventional or organic counterparts.”

Are we supposed to take the word of the biotech industry that the food we’re eating is safe? Why not provide labeling so there is complete transparency and consumers can make a choice?

The FDA doesn’t require or conduct safety studies on genetically engineered food. They should. Even China and Russia require labeling!

If you think the FDA should require labeling of genetically altered food, click here. Who knows what we’ll discover about the affects of genetically engineered food 10 years from now?

Can you say cyclamates?




Kitchen Think: Organic vs. Conventional (It’s So Confusing!)


I’m sure you saw last week’s story about a Stanford University study that found little evidence that organic foods are healthier than more conventionally grown food.

Now, that’s not completely accurate… but you have to read the full study to find that out. I’m not going to get into the merits of the study… it’s just too confusing.

But I’ll ask you this: should you care?

I pick and choose what organic produce to buy based largely on the non-profit Environmental Working Group’s annual “Dirty Dozen” report.  Like most people, I want to avoid pesticides and other chemicals used in conventional farming, if possible.

If farmers use pesticide-free organic growing methods, there are more nutrients in the soil, which increases the nutritional content of the food. But at the same time, using pesticides to help produce reach its peak ripeness enables those fruits and vegetables to be packed with more vitamins than those that are less-ripe.

But even conventionally grown produce contains less pesticide residue than the maximum allowed by the Environmental Protection Agency. Still, I’m not completely comfortable with what the government sets as an allowable amount of pesticide.

I told you it was confusing.

So what’s the answer? Buy organic if you can afford it. If you can’t, review the EWG Dirty Dozen list and make sure you thoroughly wash your produce before eating it. Above all, just like your Mama told you growing up: ”Keep eating your fruits and vegetables! They’re good for you!” (Regardless of how they’re grown!)


I’m Christina Chavez

I was a TV journalist for many years, but with a house full of kids I decided to come off the road, go to culinary school and follow my passion for cooking. Mama’s High Strung is all about food… everything from creative recipe ideas to some really cool kitchen gadgets and cooking tips. I live in Chicago, but I love to travel and write about my food discoveries! You can reach me by email: