How to (Hopefully) Avoid Genetically Modified Foods in Grocery Stores

Food seems to be the topic of the day.  I’ve just returned from shopping at our nearby Kroger store, and as I headed for the check out, my cart was filled with Simple Truth items. We are lucky enough to have a Whole Foods and a Trader Joe’s in the Nashville area, but they are on the opposite side of town – an hour round trip even in decent traffic. Of course, my first choice for groceries is a local farmers’ markets, but this time of year, that is not an option.  If I can find acceptable items at the local Kroger, which is about 3 miles from where we live, then I go there on a weekly basis. I’ll hit Whole Foods about once a month.

I was beginning to wonder if I could continue this routine because of my concern with GMOs and because I want to know the country in which my food was grown and, if applicable, processed.  I wrote Kroger’s corporate offices, asking questions about these two issues, and I got a very nice response quickly.  Here is the letter I received.

Dear Angela:

Thank you for contacting Customer Connect regarding the Labeling of our products.

Our company will always put a statement on our packages that indicates if any part of our product was made in/obtained from outside of The United States. If this information is omitted from the label, the product is from The United States. (The country of origin will not be labeled on tea, coffee, and spices as those are obtained from various sources.) We include this information so that our consumers may make informed purchasing decisions.

Please know that our company has high standards for our private labeled products. All products must comply with Kroger specifications, which are often more stringent than government standards.

Additionally, at this time the only products we guarantee to be free of GMO ingredients are those that are labeled as USDA organic. The USDA organic seal is a small green circle that will be displayed on the packaging of the product if it is organic. Many of our products are organic, but not all of them. If you would like to avoid GMO ingredients, please be aware of this fact and choose your products carefully.

The definitions for what constitute organic can also affect how much of a product is organic. A product labeled ‘100% Organic’ is made of all organic ingredients, with the exception of water and salt. A product simply labeled ‘Organic’ is required to have 95% or more pure organic ingredients. Up to 5% of the ingredients do not have to be pure organic but they do have their own special criteria in that they have to be included in the National Organic Program list of acceptable non-organic items. A product labeled ‘Made with Organic’ must have at least 70% organic ingredients.

In addition, at this time only certain GMO crops are currently approved for sale and consumption in the US. These crops include but are not limited to: Wheat, soybean, flax, canola, potatoes and tomatoes. If you buy a product with one of these ingredients, please consider that it is most likely a GMO product. The instance of GMO circulating in the market currently varies from product to product. For example, over 90% of the US soy crop is currently GMO. Other products may be far lower.

Thank you for the interest you have shown in our products. I hope this helps you to make more informed choices.

I hope that you find this information helpful. If I can be of further assistance, please simply respond to this email or call 1-800-576-4377. Thank you for shopping with us.

Sincerely,
Kroger Customer Connect The Kroger Family of Stores

20140120_184347-1So, taking this person at his or her word, I’m shopping organic products.  Luckily, Kroger has realized that I am not the only consumer who does not want unwanted extras in our food, so the Kroger Simple Truth brand has been expanded. This line of Kroger products is mostly organic and claims to not have any of 101 additives found in other products.  You can click the link above to read the list of items promised not to be in the Simple Truth brand. I don’t know if I can believe what I’ve been told or what the labels state, but it seems a better option for the months when I cannot get most of our food from farmers.

 

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