Real Food FAQs: You Asked, We Answered (Part I)

A couple weeks ago on Facebook I asked, If you are new to cutting out processed food what are you most confused about at the moment? A whopping 505 comments later I decided there are some readers out there that need a little help! So here’s the first half of the more frequently asked questions from that post…and more importantly some answers! Check back soon for the second batch of questions, which will be published in a separate post (it was getting kind of long!).

Before I dive into this “real food” FAQ list though I want to make sure you know about our new page on the Plan to Eat website, which allows access to our recipes. Plan to Eat is one of our meal planning sponsors and their service helps you organize recipes from both your own collection as well as other sites (like our blog!) in an online recipe box. You can then select what meals you’d like to make for the week and they’ll itemize all of the ingredients into one concise grocery list for you. Kiran from our team has fallen in love with this service and says it’s helping her to stay organized and keep track of her family’s favorite recipes. If you sign up for their meal planning service just go to our page on the Plan to Eat website and click “100 Days of Real Food Recipes” at the very top to login and access our recipes in one place.

Real Food FAQs

Reader questions about the switch to real food:

  1. Question: “I am so overwhelmed with the idea of eating ‘real food’ that I don’t know where to start.”

    Answer: First of all, I think it’s important to remember that making any changes toward cutting out processed food is better than none. I would hate for someone to get so overwhelmed that they give up all together because even small changes can add up fast. As far as specific food groups go…increasing your consumption of fruits and vegetables is one of the most important changes you can make, and it can help displace some of the processed stuff as well. Also try to buy organic produce whenever possible, but don’t forget that eating conventional fruits and vegetables is better than not eating any produce at all.

    Real Food FAQ: BreadSecondly, I would start by making changes to bread and other items made with grains. This food group tends to make up a big portion of the average American’s diet so making some changes here could potentially go a long way. Switch to 100% whole-grain products including sandwich bread (you can get bread made with only 4 or 5 ingredients from some bakeries), pasta, crackers, rice, etc. If you don’t think your family will be fond of the idea then try mixing both white and whole-grain together (flour, pasta, rice, etc.) and gradually reduce the refined grains over time.

    I often feel like eating “real food” means eating the same familiar meals you’re used to it’s just that they’re made with higher quality “whole” ingredients. For additional “getting started” resources and information be sure to check out our “Start Here” page and our 14 weeks of Real Food Mini Pledges as well.
  2. Question“I love the idea of eating real food and changing our lifestyle to be healthier, but my problem is my three kids and husband are not on board. I need some advice on how to ease them into the change.”

    : Please know that it can take a very long time for family members to get on board with the change (you are not alone!). It can sometimes take months or even a year to win over a picky eater. It’s important to be persistent though and not give up while simultaneously not pushing too hard…try to find the sweet spot in-between, which I like to call “gentle persistence.” Here’s a post on convincing reluctant spouses and also on dealing with picky eaters that might help.
  3. Question: “How do I convert all my recipes into healthy whole foods? I would like a substitution guide for sugars, oils, and flour.”

     For sugar try substituting a fraction of what the recipe calls for with honey or maple syrup (I usually start with less than half). In recipes that call for a tablespoon or so of sugar you can usually just leave it out all together. For all purpose flour try substituting white whole wheat flour or regular whole wheat flour (both are 100% whole-grain). As far as cooking oils go try olive oil or butter for pan frying and coconut oil or butter for baking. Here are some post links that share more information on grains, sweeteners, and oils.
  4. Question“I could really use a list of ‘bad’ ingredients in food and why we should avoid them.”
    The list of additives readers inquired about went on and on including xantham gum, natural flavoring, carrageenan, sulfites, nitrates, and citric acid. People also asked about GMOs (genetically modified foods) and “enriched” products.

     I am going to make this one easy for you (as opposed to giving you some long, complicated list of additives that you need to memorize or keep in your wallet!). If it’s not an ingredient you keep in your pantry or would cook with at home then it’s best to avoid it. As far as GMOs go they are currently not required to be labeled in our country so the only way to avoid them at this time is to buy organic. When you see “enriched” on the label it means that product has been refined so they have to “enrich” the flour by adding back in the important nutrients they think are now missing. Since food scientists cannot recreate nature I personally avoid refined, enriched products and go for the “real” original thing instead (i.e. whole-grain).
  5. Question“I am really confused on sugar. Are all sweeteners bad?”
    We get questions quite frequently about all sorts of sweeteners including stevia, agave, coconut palm sugar, sugar in the raw, etc.Real Food FAQ: sugar

      When it comes to sweeteners the moral of the story is that “sugar is sugar” no matter which one you choose. I do recommend avoiding the artificial stuff and after that no matter which sweeteners you use always consume them in moderation. We prefer honey and maple syrup because they are two of the least processed sweeteners available (mostly “processed” in nature), but we still do our best to keep overall consumption down. Here’s more on sweeteners.
  6. Question“I am not sure what oil to use for baking, salad dressings, frying, or cooking. And which ones are bad for you and that I should avoid at all times?”
    Readers asked about all sorts of oils including coconut oil, olive oil, avocado oil, sunflower oil, sesame oil, grapeseed oil, walnut oil, vegetable oil, and canola oil.

    These are the cooking fats I use the most…
    For baking: butter or coconut oil

    For salad dressings: olive oil
    For pan frying: butter or olive oil (for low temp cooking) or ghee/clarified butter, coconut oil, or pastured lard (for high temp cooking)

    These are the refined oils I avoid…
    Grapeseed oil, vegetable oil, and canola oil, among others
    For more info check out our post all about oils and other cooking fats.
  7. Question: “I don’t have access to any local farms where I live. I would like to know what is the best brand of meat to buy at my local supermarket?”

     You can search for local farms through Eat Wild, Local Harvest, and Eat Local Grown. But if you still can’t find humanely raised pastured meat in your area then the next best option to local would be organic.
  8. Question: “I am just not sure with my family of five that I can afford to buy all organic food. We don’t have access to a Whole Foods, Trader Joes or an Earth Fare. Our resources are limited so what are my options if I want to start eating more healthily?”

     Here are two posts that I think will help… Buying Real Food from a Mainstream Supermarket and 12 Ways to Keep it Cheap. Also, check out the dirty dozen list if you need to prioritize what you’ll buy organic.
  9. Question“How do you find the time to cook, eat, and clean up all this real food?”

    I’ve always been up front about the amount of time it takes to provide your family with real food…it’s no secret that we don’t eat this way because it’s more convenient. We eat this way because we feel it’s what is best for our family and therefore worth the time and effort. I also think it tastes better than the factory-made processed stuff we used to eat so that’s incentive to work a little harder in the kitchen as well! :)

    Anyway though, this is the way I look at it: It’s your life and up to you to prioritize what’s important. Maybe our family spends a little less time watching TV or going to sporting events or insert X activity because we’ve made the choice to instead spend a little more time and money on obtaining high quality ingredients and making “real food” meals. Now that doesn’t mean eating this way takes up all our time by any means…I promise we still do plenty of fun stuff as well as work full time, too! Some days I hardly cook at all and others I am in there cooking up a storm making a fresh batch of granola and muffins and smoothies, etc. I do find that making a few things at once can help give me a couple days “off” in-between. I also like to make big batches of certain dishes and freeze the extras so I can simply defrost on another busier day. I’ve also found that putting the kids to work (now that they are old enough) really does help. They are pretty good at emptying the dishwasher, among other things. But don’t get me wrong there are definitely days where I don’t feel like cooking (or cleaning!) and as a result we occasionally do go out for dinner, but for the most part we’ve gotten used to this new way of life and accept that it’s what it takes to eat real food!

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83 thoughts on “Real Food FAQs: You Asked, We Answered (Part I)”

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  1. THANK YOU for posting this, especially #7 with the useful links on where to find local farms. Many local farms don’t have websites and/or are difficult to find- these websites were very helpful to me.

  2. I just wanted to thank you for your devotion to this matter. I really enjoy cooking for my family and to know that I am doing it the best way possible. Your blogs make it so much easier than I ever thought possible!

  3. I think Question 2 is a big issue. It has taken my husband 9 years to get to the point of being “mostly real”. Point being (as stated in the answer) that it just takes patience. Keep introducing new foods/ideas slowly but surely and NEVER give up. Kids too. Keep serving up wholesome real food and eventually it will happen. Everyone will be, at least for the most part, “on board”.

  4. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

    Hi Becca. I know that it feels wrong to throw “food” away. I personally donated my pantry items during a food drive. I had conflicting feelings about that, too. You might find a food pantry? ~Amy

  5. So I have four boys under the age of 14 and a husband that we think has fibromyalgia, which makes me more determined to change our eating habits. I thought we were eating healthy already but now that I am more aware (thanks to this blog) I now look at all the labels and can’t believe how much GMOs that are in the ingrdients of foods that I thought were “natural” or “healthy” for us. It’s our last day of our Hawaian vacation and I am preparing my mind to figure out what I need to do first when organizing my shopping list. I first plan to go through my pantry to see what foods I have that are processed. My dilemma is what do I do with the foods that are processed and it hasn’t been opened yet? Do I throw it out? Its like throwing away money that I spent on it. But then I think I need to do something with it cause I don’t want it in my pantry anymore.
    Any suggestions? Thanks

  6. Thanks to some of your links, I’ve found a local shop that sells meat and eggs from local organic farmers. Thanks for making the change to a healthier lifestyle easier for me and my family.

  7. We love this site! In response to question #8, we would like to invite you to check out We are an on-line farmers’ market listing meat, poultry, and cheese producers. Our farmers write up a short bio letting you know which methods they employee be it certified organic, grass-fed, or what have you. Many of our farmers ship directly to your door as well.

  8. For those not near a Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods etc, look for a food co-op. They usually ship once a month & have great prices. There is usually a minimum order requirement, but still worth it. In our area Azure Standard is great! Just google ‘natural food co-ops’.

    For those wanting to make their own bread, but not ready to do it all themselves, Good Will has bread makers for great prices.

  9. I am slowly making the switch to all natural and it going very well! I have found that even foods my daughter thinks she will not like she does once she tries them. Neither my daughter or husband has put up much fuss since they do not cook they do not have much to say about it! Teh biggest challenge has been the time committment and the shopping.

  10. I just want to add (for other readers) re: #2 (children or spouse not on board) – I went ahead and changed some things on my kids and I was a little nervous about it. Shockingly, they did not even say one thing about it; not a peep. They happily ate what I gave them, just like normal. Here’s what I changed: peanut butter (from Skippy Natural to Smuckers Natural, which contains no sugar), conventional grape jelly to Crofters Strawberry jam (again, no sugar, among other things), all pasta from white to 100% whole grain, white rice to brown, whole wheat store bought bread with too many ingredients to 5 ingredient WW bread when I can get it, Ezekiel bread when I can’t. Can you believe it? Not one word. So, maybe just go ahead and do it and you might be surprised too. :-)
    I’d also recommend reading Real Food: What to Eat and Why by Nina Planck
    Good luck!
    P.S. I’d also like to say that I started on my “real food” journey in April and I’ve never felt better.

  11. “I often feel like eating “real food” means eating the same familiar meals you’re used to it’s just that they’re made with higher quality “whole” ingredients”

    I’ve been consuming real food for about six years. I mostly cook the same familiar dishes I did before changing to real food, but use better quality “real” foods. A few dishes had to be eliminated and a few make very infrequent appearances. Most of what I cook and eat are the same familiar dishes I’ve been eating all my life.

    It often does take more time to cook, but frequently it’s literally just a few minutes. If I’m really pressed for time, I opt for eggs or soup (I always have some in the refrigerator) or leftovers. Also, most days I keep meals very simple.

  12. Great tips. My family has been on the real food journey for several years now. It seemed so impossible at first, but it seems SO NATURAL now. In fact, even my husband wonders how he used to eat certain things… he can’t stand them now.

  13. I’m trying hard as well to make the switch as I become more educated. One of my questions is….I haven’t heard anyone say how they wash their vegetables and fruits???? Do you use one of those you can buy at the grocery store or just wash well with water??? I just read about how apples have such a high amount of pesticide residue…..and I’ve always heard the peeling is supposed to be good for you???? Obviously you buy organic when you can.

    1. Apple cider vinegar is great for washing your fruits and vegetables and does not leave a taste to your foods. Just put your items into a colander, sprinkle the vinegar then rinse. One added benefit is that your berries will last twice as long because the vinegar kills the mold that is naturally on them.

  14. In response to Question #8, I have recently read on some other blogs that has quality bulk items that you can order and have sent to your home. That might be worth a look. I don’t live right on top of a Whole Foods (but Trader Joe’s is set to come to CO next year – woo hoo!) But I am near a Sprouts and a Vitamin Cottage, and we just try to work with those options.

  15. I am gratefull to say that my family has gone along with me since we started eating processed free. I actually read a book by a nutritionist/chemist and learn about all this info then got introduced to your page a month ago. I related to everything you said here. Itis not easy to live processed free but it is worth it,my children 7 and 11 yr. old have learned to read ingredient labels and know what is good for them (but they are kids and still ask for the not so good stuff) no diet will ever be perfect but we try our best.

  16. We go through a ton of the granola. Now, I buy bulk quantities of everything (cashews, almonds, oats, etc) and portion them and the spices for one batch into a freezer ziplock bag. It’s so easy now to just heat the butter/honey, dump the ziplock bag and stir! Less mess to clean up too :)

    1. I freeze mine already made. I make a double or triple batch, keep some in the fridge for the week and toss the rest in the freezer. Easy peasy! My kids love it too!

    2. I actually consider granola as candy and do not eat it and let it be eaten in bulk quantities. Of course kids love it, as anything roasted in butter/oil & sugar/honey tastes delicious.

      1. I agree. I made a batch of double coconut granola from another website and calculated the nutrition info…it had over 300 calories and 14g of sugar in HALF a cup!!!, That must’ve been why it was so good:). I try to use it like a condiment,,,a sprinkle on yogurt or mixed with a no-sugar cereal like plain Kamut or brown rice cereal (before all the arsenic talk…ugh).

  17. I wanted to ask about coconut oil. Baking oil is the one thing that we have not switched in our diets yet. Coconut oil confuses me on how you prepare it for baking (it’s in a jar and looks solid!). Do you microwave it to get it liquidy, is it a 1:1 substitution?

    1. I find a 1:1 substitution usually works for coconut oil! As for the consistency, coconut oil is definitely not like other oils – it feels sort of greasy to the touch and has sort of a jelly consistency. I find in some recipes I can use it in its jelly form but for baking I usually heat it slightly and it turns to liquid (can be done via the microwave, on the stove, or even by holding the jar under running hot water)

    2. Assistant to 100 Days (Jill)

      Hi Molly. Yes, the coconut oil should first be melted to liquid form before measuring it out. As for substituting it, in general, you can probably substitute it 1:1, but, keep in mind, anytime you start changing recipes it is always an experiment! Jill

  18. I thought I would add to the question about the money spent on organic foods – my family has found that for the amount we spend eating out, we could use that money instead towards organic. It was amazing how we wouldnt’ think twice about the money we would spend at a restaurant but we always scrutinized the price of organic produce over conventional. We’ve since changed our thinking. It just took us some time to be educated on just what the difference in the 2 types meant to our bodies. And then for us as well, we decided what went in our bodies (organic) was more important than other luxuries we were allowing ourselves to have (tv package, iphone services, ipad, etc, etc). So we decided that we were all out of whack with what we spent money on.

  19. Thank you, Lisa, for your page. In reference to question 8, I have found we have lowered our monthly grocery expenditures. For my family of 4 we spend about $130 a week. We have a near by store that has good prices on organic produce by local farmers as well as organic oats (which I was super excited about!). What ever I can not find there, I finish my shopping at Trader Joes.

    One of the best things about all this is that my kids choose the granola over ANY other cereal out there. I love the prep work, which I do on Sunday, and the family gets to help too!

    Thanks for answering these questions. They definitely reflect some of my own.

  20. Whew! Sounds like quite a trial but you truly pulled through. (AND in the dinosaur age (: before you had far fewer Internet resources than I do now.) Nice to hear results so many years later. Thank you for your kind comments!

  21. Thank you for providing real life information and being an inspiration to other families. Feeding our children the right foods is better than most modern medicines. My son had sensory integration disorder back in the late 90’s (wow do I sound old) and I changed his diet to the best of my knowledge back then and restricted sugar, got him Osteopathic manipulation and occupational therapy. With the combo of these and a large emphasis on diet, he is a well adjusted 4.0 student in college right now. Keep educating and being an example of how it can be done. I love it!

  22. Thanks for the great post! We started this healthful eating about 3 months ago. I live in western SD, where there are VERY few buying options. We are a family of 9 so simply buying organic everything is not financially feasible. First thing I did was order organic lollipops (Yummy Earth from and that is ALL the candy my kids get. I buy Ghirardelli choc chips for that fix.

    But most of all, I cook from scratch. Time consuming? A little, at first. Expensive? No way. Garage sale bread machine (free!) allows me to bake a loaf of bread a day, takes 3 minutes and bakes in 3 hours. Locally, we have a few health stores where I buy spices… MUCH CHEAPER than in the store as they are bulk. I buy a lot of things online as well. I’m spending far less at the grocery store, though.

    Maybe craigslist would be helpful in obtaining farm-raised meat (we raise beef so haven’t looked.) There are many amazingly simple recipes online!!! Tortilla shells (read the ingredients sometime in the store. Blech! And so easy to make.) Marshmallows. Salad dressing mixes. Granola instead of cereal. WAAAY cheaper. So easy.

    Do not be overwhelmed by this. Do what you can, when you can. Babysteps! Plus IT IS SO FUN! I have been raising kids for 18 years and am only now really enjoying my kitchen.

    I have a 4 year old who had major behavioral problems. Within a week of no artificial colors/flavors, he settled down and is my most easy-going child.

    And if the good stuff is all you have available in your house, they will choose not to starve. ;)
    Make the transition easier by having tasty alternatives.

    This is the longest comment ever, but I am so passionate about this and want everyone else to feel the freedom of knowing what they put into their bellies.

  23. I have a quick question – why is it such a good thing to buy local? Don’t get me wrong, I love to support my community and love to buy items as fresh as possible but buying local doesn’t guarantee that the produce won’t be covered in pesticides, won’t be GMO, or in the case of cattle, won’t be fed GMO’s, washed in ammonia, etc. It’s not meant to be a harsh question – I just want to know if I am missing something. I found a local produce stand that I loved but have stopped going there because almost everything he sold was GMO and none of it was organic (even though it was sooo good!) lol. Thanks!

    1. Local is more of an environmental health rather than bodily health thing (although they are intertwined). If you buy local less fuel was burned to ship it to the store. In addition to local you should buy in season, that would mean fewer resources were needed to grow it (such as electricity for heat or grow lights).

    2. Assistant to 100 Days (Jill)

      Hi Krista. This question is a hard one and unfortunately there is no perfect answer. Some will say go local and some will say go organic. Your assessment is valid. In general, I choose organic over local where I can’t guarantee the local growing practices are free of pesticides, GMO’s, etc. I know that doesn’t answer your questions definitively, but, I hope it helps some. Jill

  24. In regards to healthy oils, what do you recommend as an AFFORDABLE oil for meat marinades that require refrigeration? The oil needs to be neutral tasting and liquid in the refrigerator (i.e. no refined coconut oil) but also able to be used at high temperatures for frying or stir frying the meat.

    1. I’ve always used olive oil for marinades. It sometimes firms up a bit in the fridge, but with the other ingredients in the marinade it isn’t too bad. As far as cooking, I don’t know my stuff well enough to notice a difference (high vs low temp). It cooks just fine in olive oil. To make it more affordable, consider simply using a little less than called for – it shouldn’t make a difference to use less in the marinade, and if you cook on a well seasoned cast iron or non-stick skillet you shoudn’t need too much oil anyway.

    2. Assistant to 100 Days (Jill)

      Hi Kristin. I use olive oil almost exclusively in my marinades. While it does gel in the refrigerator for salad dressings, it doesn’t seem to do that for marinades. I also have a couple of marinades that do not contain any oil…you might want to consider that as an option as well. Jill

  25. I don’t know if this will help anyone, but I’ve noticed that Meijer Supermarkets (located throughout Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky, and Illinois) have started offering more and more store-brand organic, whole foods. This has been really helpful for me and my family because we live in a small-ish town, where the nearest Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods is 2 hours away.

    1. Yes! I am so pleased to see that Meijer’s has increased their selections. The Meijer’s natural brand is also working on getting the NON GMO label ( I keep telling my husband…we are voting with are $$ and the market is responding.

  26. I would say right now we’re about 50/50. I say that cause I’m getting ready to bake some fish sticks. We eat healthier than most people we know, but we do indulge in the occasional restaurant and junk food.

    I do love me some green smoothies. Yummy!

  27. I have recently found this site and love reading all the great ideas to eat real food. Love the great harvest bread! I am so excited to see that 100 days of real food is going to be on another site I really enjoy, however I am having issues seeing the recipes. I see the link at the top of the page that directs me to the Friend page, however 100days isn’t listed as a friend to include the recipes. Looking forward to it working!!

  28. Chloe Blankenhorn

    For those who don’t have access to organic, grass fed, pastured beef and chicken,
    Google White Oak Pastures farm. They are very sustainable and humanely raise and process cows and chickens. They ship their products all over the place for a very reasonable price. It’s some seriously tasty stuff! I ate their beef tenderloin for dinner tonight :-)

  29. Love your answer to #9, it drives me nuts when people complain about how much time it takes to cook real food! That is a huge problem in this country, we need to get back to the days when cooking (real food) for our kids was a top priority!!

  30. For those with access to a Trader Joe’s, from this website:
    Trader Joe’s does not allow the use of genetically modified ingredients for any of Trader Joe’s private label products. We ensure this standard for our brand through non-GMO certification. You can review our statement by clicking on the link

    When developing products containing ingredients likely to come from genetically modified sources, we have the supplier of the product in question perform the necessary research to provide documentation that the suspect ingredients are from non-GMO sources. This documentation is in the form of affidavits, identity preserved certification of seed stock, and third-party lab results from testing of the ingredients in question.

    In addition to this work done in developing a given item, we perform random audits of items with suspect ingredients, using an outside, third-party lab to perform the testing. Given our position on GMO ingredients in our Trader Joe’s label products and the work done in support of that position, it is our expectation that our products test as non-GMO.

    We have yet to take the approach of labeling products as non-GMO because there are no clear guidelines from the US governmental agencies covering food and beverage labeling. Instead of waiting for such guidelines to be put into effect, we took a more holistic approach and made the no GMO ingredients position part of what the Trader Joe’s label encompasses.

    1. Thank you SO much for that info about Trader Joes! I was not aware of their non-GMO commitment! We already do a great majority of our shopping there… I have even greater respect for them! And I have more confidence buying some products that I have been unsure about lately, especially items that may contain corn. Love this website….it’s been so very helpful to our family.

  31. Great post! is a great resource for people that dont have access to local, grassfed meats. They ship a wide variety of grassfed meats, dairy, and a few other things. With bulk order discounts, the prices are implacable to my local farmer. Just thought I’d pass along the resource!

  32. My husband and I started to change our diet about 8 months ago. It was not something we expected our 10,8 and 3 year old to do as well. However, we have found ways to make it work. For instance, we cook a bunch of chicken breasts on Sunday for us, but will pair it w Mac n cz or rice for the kids, beans or legumes for my husband and I, and everyone has a veggie. That same chicken breast can be made into quesadillas or burritos for the kids at another meal as well. That way I’m not making a bunch of seperated meals. I just leave out the stuff on my plate that’s not on my diet. A few prepared items (cooked meat, coleslaw salad, etc) go a long way during the week when we are too tired to cook!

    1. Putting my boys on a real food diet helped them in ways we never could have imagined. I can understand why you and your husband wouldn’t be worried about them needing to lose weight or anything, but if you’re already doing the work of making whole foods for yourself and your husband, what a good opportunity for your kids. My older son’s behavioral and self-control issues settled themselves right down and my younger boy stopped having seizures. We had no idea they were diet-related.

      Even if your kids don’t have any obvious issues like these, you never know what a real food diet could do for them.)

    1. “U.S. National Organic Program Regulations expressly forbid the use of GMOs in the production of organic food. ”

      I’m assuming that organic wheat then would not be GMO?

  33. Hi,
    I love your blog, but am very concerned by your assertion that buying organic means you can avoid GMO products. This is completely incorrect. I can buy organic whole wheat pasta, and unless it is specifically marked non GMO (In which case it will not be wheat but likely spelt or some such substitute) it DOES contain GMO. Organic only guarantees no chemicals, pesticides etc. All wheat in the USA is currently GMO, and sourcing non GMO wheat is like growing your own. Almost. You definitely cannot buy it in store.


    1. Hi Neha – Could you please state your source? According to the USDA certified organic food is not genetically modified. Here is an excerpt from a memorandum on the subject, which I got from this USDA webpage. I’ve heard this information from many other sources as well.

      USDA Memo Excerpt

      The use of GMOs is prohibited in organic production and handling. The NOP regulations prohibit the use of GMOs as “excluded methods” under 7 CFR § 205.105, “Allowed and prohibited substances, methods, and ingredients in organic production and handling.” Excluded methods are defined as:
      A variety of methods to genetically modify organisms or influence their growth and development by means that are not possible under natural conditions or processes and are not considered compatible with organic production. Such methods include cell fusion, microencapsulation and macroencapsulation, and recombinant DNA technology (including gene deletion, gene doubling, introducing a foreign gene, and changing the positions of genes when achieved by recombinant DNA technology). Such methods do not include the use of traditional breeding, conjugation, fermentation, hybridization, in vitro fertilization, or tissue culture. (7 CFR § 205.2-Terms defined)
      This policy memo reiterates that the use of GMOs is prohibited under the NOP regulations and answers questions that have been raised concerning GMOs and organic production and handling.

    2. Neha, currently no commercially grown wheat in the USA is genetically modified. Plans to introduce GM wheat in 2004 were abandoned. Maybe you are referring to hybridized wheat.

    3. Neha, there is currently no GMO-wheat grown in the US for various reasons. There is only one GMO-line available, MON71800 (roundup), which is currently not grown. Bringing a GMO-line on the market is a very expensive task and only performed when companies see some revenue, which is not the case for wheat. In addition, wheat is genetically very complex (it is a hexaploid organism, meaning it has instead of two paired sets of chromosomes six) which makes “GMO-research” on it a pain in the butt. If you still do not believe in GMO-free wheat from US, you could switch to the prime Italian pasta brands, DeCecco and Garofalo (imported from Italy), which put taste-wise IMHO any US-brand to shame.

      USDA organic certified means no GMOs. However, who is controlling it? Having worked in a Food Regulatory Agency, I can promise you one thing, if there is some money to make people are going to cheat. Period. I do not know, if and how GMO-free in organic food is controlled in the US. It might tremendously change with introducing GMO labeling, which forces both the agencies and the food manufacturers to install control mechanisms. Unfortunately, Prop37 excludes organic food from its labeling regulations. In practical terms, if Prop37 goes through and GMOs are a major concern, you might be safer buying conventional GMO-free products than the organic counterparts.

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