If there’s one thing I look for in my restaurants and cafes, it’s whether or not they’re GMO-Free. Avoiding genetically modified foods is best not only for our individual health, but for the health of the planet and our farms in general, not to mention the financial health of farmers long-term.
Finding restaurants and cafes that are GMO-free is a unfortunately a major obstacle at this point in time, however. Since GMOs were silently added to the American food supply in the mid-90s, restaurants and cafes have been adding them to their menus without thinking as massive corporate farms have begun adopting the crops.
Soy and corn in particular have always been ubiquitous, and because they’re used in so many recipes, they make it that much more difficult to avoid eating GMOs while eating out.
Unfortunately for the time being, it seems as if you pretty much have to eat at a “health” food restaurant such as a raw cafe if you want to avoid GMOs while eating out at restaurants.
GMO-Free Restaurant Options: What Choice Do We Have?
Because of the dearth of GMO-free restaurants, I do my best to drive extra miles if necessary to go to them. Out of every 10 times I eat out, I go to GMO-free health food stores or cafes probably 9 of those times.
The tenth time I may be more loose but am always as conscious about avoiding GMOs as possible. For example, I will avoid ranch dressing when having pizza and instead choose marinara sauce. Soy sauce is usually a luxury so I avoid it when possible. Fish that is wild caught is also a good choice if you want to avoid GMOs, and for the vegans/vegetarians or just conscious eaters in general, you can’t go wrong with a big salad.
Supporting GMO foods simply feels wrong, considering all of the health issues and environmental risks they’ve been linked to. It can be quite a challenge to find GMO-free foods at cafes and restaurants, but if we can persevere, more options will become available. It’s not too far off and I can say that confidently, if we all speak up and demand better food. Right now is a critical time and if the people who know about GMOs and their risks don’t stand up, who will?
The GMO Freedom Movement and the Lack of Restaurants
I’ve spoken with restaurant owners before about offering GMO-free options, but the results haven’t been too great. One owner said he was aware of GMOs and tried to use organic soybean oil for making falafel and other fried items but the price was to steep. Coconut oil was also tried but he said it didn’t make the texture of the food as crisp and pleasing as soybean oil or canola oil did.
Even supposedly ethical companies such as Chipotle have been shown to use GMOs simply because of how widespread they are and how tough it can be to find alternate ingredients. Supposedly healthier options like Panera Bread are jam-packed with GMOs also.
While boycotting GMOs when shopping for groceries is fairly easy and getting easier thanks to the Non-GMO Project and labels, doing so at restaurants is much tougher. Restaurants are also places where social eating takes place, so it can be hard to abstain from visiting them when it happens to be where your friends are meeting up.
The best fix for this problem is to speak up. Write to restaurants and ask them to offer GMO-free options and to identify them on their menus. And eventually, the GMO Free Movement will need to take their cause direct to the farmers, who are often wined and dined by GMO companies to carry their products and given promises that seem good at the beginning but ultimately fizzle out once superweeds, financial issues of buying and saving seed, lower yields and more enter the picture.
Until then, keep eating GMO Free as much as possible and keep speaking up about the need for GMO-free restaurants, because if we don’t do it, who will?