It was 7:30 a.m. and the sun was peeking through our bedroom blinds. For a second I thought, “It was all a bad dream”, but as I rubbed my eyes into focus, reality was the first thing I saw…Brian’s CT scan on the dresser.
My heart sank, it wasn’t a nightmare. I felt a hand on my shoulder. “Good morning, sweetie.” Brian had just woke up. I took a deep breath, smiled and turned in reply, “Good morning.”
He shuffled into the shower. I ran into the kitchen. I had stayed up all night researching. I had no control over cancer. It had invaded my husband’s body without my permission, but my kitchen…my kitchen I could control.
Georgia and I stood in the middle of the floor. To the average American we “seemed” extremely healthy. Our meats of choice were ground turkey or chicken breast. The majority of our sauces or canned foods were organic. If we used sugar it was always raw sugar cane. Our cleaning products were mostly “green” or at least biodegradable. What we didn’t know was there were things lurking in our food and products…just like cancer without our permission.
I had always been a label reader because I have allergies, but I was ignorant to the problem of genetically engineered foods or GMO. So when I found words like soy, citric acid, lecithin, natural flavorings, organic flavorings…I tossed it out unless the label said GMO free.
As I pulled out the pasta shelf I held my breath, “Please, please, please be ok. We spend so much money on organic tomatoe sauce.” I turned the can around and there it was…Citric Acid. NO!!!!!!!!!!!! I screamed, “Crap! Not my tomato sauce!”
Completely in denial, I picked up the phone and called the company to see what their citric acid was derived from, and sure enough, an organic product I had paid extra money for was made from GMO corn.
Why didn’t it say something on the label? Like WARNING GMO. But it wasn’t just GMO soy and corn products I was finding…our organic seasonings had fillers in them too. Our vitamins had chemicals. Brian’s organic protein shake? Well, that was just a HOT MESS!
It turns out in the last few years the laws have changed for organic products. Unless it says 100% organic it may not be 100% organic and pure. This dupes all of us but still guarantees we will empty our pocket books for so-called organic products. The result? I had spent on average $150.00 a week on our groceries and we were poisoning ourselves.
I turned to Georgia and asked, “What the hell are we going to eat??????”
Georgia, by the way, was no help.
Feeling overwhelmed, I decided to leave a pile of possibly suitable products on the floor.
I closed my eyes and opened the fridge. I peaked through one eye at the organic dressings…and then reluctantly I threw away 6 bottles.
All I kept hearing was the ding of a cashier register over and over again as I dumped $100’s of dollars in the garbage.
Time for the meat and dairy shelf. Goodbye ground turkey. Goodbye parmesan cheese. Goodbye honey mustard.
I dragged two hefty sized trashed bags to the curb and headed to the store, literally, in my pj’s. In fact, I would spend the next 5 days in my jammies revamping our lives. (the closet karma for cancer was a week long PJ’s session)
Whole Foods used to be my version of a zen garden. I loved to stroll the colorful aisles looking at all the pretty produce. Sometimes after a bad day at work I would just go there and sit. Somehow I felt healthier just standing next to their eggplants. But today, with my dirty hair and bags under my eyes, I was not “oming” on my drive. I was cursing like a sailor. The same store that had just double crossed me was my only choice for healthy food…at least for now 😉
I stormed through the doors that I once just strolled through.
I spent two hours sifting through the aisles. Suddenly my shopping list felt like the ‘In and Out’ section of Star Magazine…Rice Milk soooo…out, but Almond Milk soooo…in. Lisanatti Almond Cheese? 4 stars! It was 100% free of everything. Just plain raw almonds at Whole Foods…soooo last month…they did not carry non-irradiated ones.
(I would later learn you can soak non-irradiated raw almonds to try and remove harmful chemicals they MAY have been exposed too.)
In the end, I had a cart full of cancer fighting foods for Brian.
The bummer was the bill…$118.00 and I had just begun to get him what he needed. The sailor in me came out once again. “F#$@!”
Pomi Tomato Sauce was my favorite find. Its JUST TOMATOES. I try and make my own marinara but when I am in a pinch this is a great alternative.
I pulled into my driveway and contemplated how to unload my merchandise. The weeks to follow were not going to be easy. The majority of our days would be consumed by doctors appointments and hospital visits. My time in the kitchen would be minimal. I needed to be organized and efficient.
The top shelf was the most important. Juice, amino acids, wheat grass, probiotics…I created rows for each day of the week. This way Brian knew what to do if I was not around. It would also allow me to keep tabs on what he was NOT drinking that he was supposed to. 😉
Second shelf raw foods. Third shelf juiceable items.
I needed to know when we were low on produce, especially carrots. (My goal was to turn him orange from carrots if possible, just like chrisbeatcancer had done.)
The little pull out drawer would be off limits labelled with a “Brian don’t touch” sign taped to it. This mostly consisted of items that I just couldn’t throw away without tremendous guilt…expensive and delectable cheeses and savory sliced meats.
By 7 o’clock I had conquered our kitchen. I only had the whole house left to deal with…
Brian and I know how overwhelming this information can be so here is the checklist I started with to eliminate GMO foods from our life. You can only do what you can and you can’t do it all. We now work with a local farm that delivers our vegetables weekly. I also grow our own wheat grass and sprout many of our seeds. (It is cost effecient and easy but I will tell you more about that in later blogs.) We also are big fans of talking to your local farmers’ market. It is a great place to ask questions and find answers. Also, sadly, when choosing a farm BEWARE and don’t be duped. Think about how long your produce lasts in your home? If you are ordering from a farm that is trucking your fruits and veggies cross-country the odds of them being 100% GMO free and organic are rare.
- KNOW WHAT FOODS TYPICALLY CONTAIN GMO’S or ARE GE
- Soybeans – Gene taken from bacteria (Agrobacterium sp. strain CP4) is inserted into soybeans to make them more resistant to herbicides.
- Corn – There are two main varieties of GE corn. One has a Gene from the lepidoptera pathogen microorganism Bacillus thuringiensis inserted to produce the Bt toxin, which poisons insect pests .There are also several events which are resistant to various herbicide.
- Rapeseed/Canola – Gene added/transferred to make crop more resistant to herbicide.
- Sugar beets – Gene added/transferred to make crop more resistant to Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide.
- Cotton – engineered to produce Bt toxin. The seeds are pressed into cottonseed oil, which is a common ingredient in vegetable oil and margarine.
- Dairy – Cows injected with GE hormone rBGH/rBST; possibly fed GM grains and hay.
- Aspartame/AminoSweet – Addictive and dangerous artificial sweetener commonly found in chewing gum and “diet” beverages. A building block of aspartame, the amino acid phenylalanine, is usually manufactured with the aid of genetically modified E. coli bacteria. This process has been used industrially in the USA for many years.
- Papayas – yup the fruit
- Farm Raised Salmon
- KNOW WHAT FOODS TYPICALLY CONTAIN GMO’S or ARE GE
- MAKE SURE THE LABEL SAYS 100% organic The US and Canadian governments do not allow manufacturers to label something 100% organic if that food has been genetically modified or been fed genetically modified feed. However, you may find that organic food is more expensive and different in appearance from conventional products. Also, just because something says “organic” on it does not mean that it does not contain GMs. In fact, it can still contain up to 30% GMs, so be sure the labels say 100% organic.
- This applies to eggs, as well. Eggs labeled “free-range”, “natural”, or “cage-free” are not necessarily GE-free; look for eggs to be 100% organic.
- LEARN FRUITS AND VEGETABLES NUMBERS.
- If it is a 4-digit number, the food is conventionally produced.
- If it is a 5-digit number beginning with an 8, it is GM. However, do not trust that GE foods will have a PLU identifying it as such, because PLU labeling is optional.
- If it is a 5-digit number beginning with a 9, it is
- PURCHASE BEEF 100% GRASS FED. Most cattle in the U.S. spend the last portion of their lives in feedlots where they may be given GM corn, the purpose of which is to increase intramuscular fat and marbling. If you’re looking to stay away from GMOs, make sure the cattle were 100% grass-fed or pasture-fed (sometimes referred to as grass-finished or pasture-finished). The same applies to meat from other herbivores such as sheep. With non-ruminants like pigs and poultry that cannot be 100% grass-fed, it’s better to look for meat that is 100% organic.
- LOOK FOR THE WORDS NO GMO’s and NO PERSERVATIVES
- SHOP LOCALLY Although more than half of all GM foods are produced in the US, most of it comes from large, industrial farms. By shopping at farmers’ markets, signing up for a subscription from a local Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm, or patronizing a local co-op, you may be able to avoid GM products and possibly save money at the same time.
NOTE: More and more small farms are offering grains and meat directly to customers
I will list a few companies in the future.
- Buy whole foods. Favor foods that you can cook and prepare yourself, rather than foods that are processed or prepared (e.g. anything that comes in a box or a bag, including fast food). What you lose in convenience, you may recover in money saved and satisfaction gained, as well as increased peace of mind. Try cooking a meal from scratch once or twice a week. You may enjoy it and decide to do it more often.
*Lifein2lemonade is edited by Ryan Howard