The evils of conventional (GMO) foods

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I’m taking you back to 1989. I was a freshman in high school, hair bands were in and The Gap was selling comfortable, cool styles. Gas prices were $0.97 per gallon and the average rent was $420 a month. Recently, my mother pulled out old checks showing she was able to grocery shop for four people for under $65. Wow – I would love to see those days come back!

For most of grade school, and through my senior year, we hardly had any sick kids in school. By sick, I mean we hardly had any kids that were overweight, underweight, had allergies, autism, digestive issues, depression or any major social disorders. Today, it seems to be a completely different arena when speaking to parents about their kid’s issues. It seems most kids, and adults, today have some ailment or disease that affects their short- and long-term health.

In the many years I’ve spent as a massage therapist and personal trainer, I’ve interacted with folks to see where some of their behaviors and choices are coming from. I witness lack of time, laziness and ignorance as the main drivers for poor decision making. That’s why making the right food choices is a good place to start.

As a health coach and organic cook, I’ve spent many hours over the years in different grocery stores. In Florida, and other areas of the country, there are well-known stores as well as many small chain stores that specialize in natural and organic foods, with more and more supporting local farmers. When I was a kid, we didn’t have as many choices as we do now. So, how do you know what food choices are the right ones to make for your family? What is the difference between conventional, GMO, locally grown and organic food?

I’m here to help you with a quick brief summary of the types of foods that you can choose from. Use this as a guide to learn more in this blog post and those that come. Let’s get started on some definitions to know when shopping and looking at food labels.

Question: What does GMO mean?

Answer: GMO stands for genetically-modified organisms. They can be defined or broken down into plants, microorganisms or animals where the DNA has been changed in a special way that isn’t natural by mating. This is done by biotech companies and is known as modern biotechnology, gene technology and genetic engineering. It takes selected individual genes to be transferred from one organism into another, and also between non-related species (also known as gene splicing).

Question: What is the purpose of GMO foods and why are they so bad?

Answer: This type of farming is very toxic to our environment and uses unnatural ways to create a species. They use heavy pesticides and an herbicide chemical known as glyphosate to dry wheat faster and kill weeds. This chemical is also killing the nutrients in your food, and doesn’t come off your food once it’s settled. It’s not safe for consumption. Drones are used to farm these types of crops and covered suits are worn for worker protection while farming your food! This is all done to achieve a faster turnover of crops and cheaper prices. But, how cheap are you willing to go for cancer?

Question: I’ve been eating GMOs and conventional food my whole life, along with most of my friends and family. I have a lot of digestive issues and battle weight problems, as well as a lot of friends that have cancer and different diseases related to inflammation. Would GMOs contribute to this?

Answer: Eating pesticides and consuming glyphosate isn’t healthy, and there’s plenty of research online that’s proven how toxic it is. You can look at the cancer statistics, the dramatic rise of autoimmune diseases and the alarming rate of digestive and thyroid issues in the United States to see that GMOs are not contributing to better health. If food is your medicine, than this isn’t good medicine.

 Question: What foods have GMOs?

Answer: Most foods at high risk for GMOs include:

  • Soy (94% of U.S crops since 2011)
  • Corn (88% of U.S crops since 2011)
  • Sugar beets (95% OF U.S crops since 2011)
  • Alfalfa (First planting since 2011)
  • Canola (90% OF U.S crops since 2011)
  • Cotton (90% OF U.S. crops since 2011)
  • Zucchini and yellow summer squash (approx. 25,000 acres)

Less risk, but known to have GMOs:

  • Chard
  • Siberian Kale
  • Bok Choy
  • Chinese cabbage
  • Turnip
  • Squash
  • Flax
  • Rice
  • Wheat

Question: Where are most of these GMO foods hiding?

 Answer: All packaged foods that are not organic. You will also find them in most, if not all restaurants, unless it’s an all-organic and non-GMO supported establishment. This also includes food found at locations such as hospitals, schools, airplanes, hotels, theme parks, movie theaters, food trucks, catered businesses, nursing homes, daycares, work and church socials.

Some of the most common derived ingredients from GMO crops include: yeast products, xanthan gum, non-organic GMO vitamins, sucrose, vegetable protein, monosodium glutamate, maltodextrins, lactic acid, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, high fructose corn syrup, amino acids, aspartame, ascorbic acid, sodium ascorbate, vitamin C (non-organic and GMO), citric acid, sodium citrate, ethanol and flavorings (natural and artificial).

Question: How long have GMOs been in our Food Supply?

Answer: GMOs hit our grocery stores in 1994. In 1999, there were over 100 million acres worldwide planted with genetically modified seeds. After 1999, most of our main supply of conventional, non-organic crops have dominated our stores.

Question: How can I avoid GMOs?

Answer: There are many ways to avoid GMOs in your meals. Here are some guidelines:

  • Plan meals ahead.
  • Avoid going out to eat.
  • Avoid purchasing conventional foods.
  • Avoid packaged foods.
  • Avoid non-organic alcohol and wine.
  • Pack your lunches.
  • Buy mostly organic if possible.
  • Avoid non-organic vitamins.
  • Avoid all sodas.
  • Avoid using non-organic cotton on your face.
  • Choose European beers that label “non-GMO” since a lot of countries don’t allow GMOs in their food supply (even some restaurants and pubs now offer them).
  • If you dine out:
    • Choose foods that are not from the high-risk list.
    • Decline salad dressings at restaurants and use apple cider vinegar, if possible.
    • Order wild caught seafood and avoid most beef, chicken and pork unless organic. 13.
    • Get creative and google organic restaurants or health food stores in your area and while traveling. Think ahead and step out of the box.
  • If you’re in a long meeting, traveling or in a rush try to always have an organic, raw GMO- and gluten-free protein bar with you or pack organic plums, peaches, bananas and nuts.

Question: What are some possible symptoms of consuming toxic food over long periods of time?

Answer: Eating and consuming anything can have an instant, or cumulative, effect on the body, and can cause acute and chronic issues if toxic. Spanning the last 20 years, I gathered the below list of symptoms from people who consume non-organic foods on a regular basis.

Common related symptoms (when eating toxic foods) include: high estrogen levels, fatigue or brain fog, slow metabolism, slow digestion, liver problems, acne, headaches, depressed immune system, bad breath, joint inflammation, foul stools and constipation, cold sores, lower sex drive, depression, anger, thinning hair, cysts, fibroids, gallbladder problems, high glucose levels, early menopause, terrible PMS, exhaustion, poor sleep, inflamed or hardened abdomen, increased anxiety, liver spots, high blood pressure, back pain, kidney stones, skin tags, cellulite, flaccid or itchy skin and high cholesterol.

Question: I have some of the symptoms listed above. What happens if I don’t change my diet to start eating cleaner foods?

Answer: The final outcome varies based on your genes and how long you’ve been eating bad foods. Some people are willing to continue feeling less than healthy. They’ve submitted to taking prescription drugs to mask the warning signs, however, eventually the immune system will hit a wall and be open to various types of diseases related to the symptoms above.

Below is a complete list of diseases that I’ve seen repeatedly with my clients, and have increased in the last 10 years. I don’t think I go one week without hearing of someone having one of these listed below – it’s rather eye opening. When your immunity is low and you’re inflamed, you’re open to becoming a victim of many diseases.

Think how many people you know that have one or two people in their families with one of the following: lupus, thyroid cancer, breast cancer, colon cancer, prostate cancer, endometriosis, ovarian cancer, pancreatic cancer, diabetes, fibromyalgia, liver disease, Lyme disease, bipolar disease, arthritis, autism, multiple sclerosis, leukemia, allergies, heart disease, helicobacter pylori, sleep apnea, degenerative discs, peptic ulcers, obesity or lymphatic cancer.

Have your eyes been opened by this information? Do GMO and conventional foods scare you as much as they do me? Are you willing to power yourself up and make some changes? You can do this! It’s really simple.

You’ve read all this so far and have gained a little bit more knowledge … which is power. Doesn’t it feel good?! In my next blog post, we’ll look into what organic foods are. I can’t wait for you to learn more and wish I could grocery shop and cook with all of you. God bless!

Jaime Arto


With more than 24 years of diverse experience in the health and wellness industry, Jaime has
dedicated her life to caring for and enabling people to increase their overall wellness.

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