How to Avoid Genetically Modified Ingredients When You Eat Out

When I told a friend recently that my next post was going to be on avoiding genetically modified organisms (GMOs) at restaurants, he responded “good f*&*ing luck!”…It’s nearly impossible to avoid GMOs if you are eating out and the reaction from my friend illustrates exactly how dire the situation has become here in America.

Considering I only found two restaurants in my hometown of Charlotte, NC that are 100% GMO free, I thought it would be prudent to share the best tips to minimize your exposure to GMOs when eating out, especially until the government listens to the overwhelming majority of us and puts labels on GMOs.

(If you don’t know why consuming GMOs creates serious health risks – Please read this This PDF from the Institute of Responsible Technology to get up to date. )

How to avoid consuming GMO’s when eating out:

  1. Unless labeled or listed organic (or from a reputable local farm the restaurant can verify doesn’t use GMO seeds or feed), I suggest avoiding these 8 genetically modified (GM) foods when dining out:
    • Corn
    • Soy
    • Sugar (beet sugar – i.e. refined sugar)
    • Papayas (from Hawaii)
    • Canola
    • Cotton (cottonseed oil)
    • Dairy (conventional American cow’s milk and cheese)
    • Zucchini/Yellow Squash
    • Conventional Meat (They are fed GM corn & soy)
  2. GM corn, soy and canola oil are the cheapest for restaurants to purchase. Ask your server about the oils they use to make your food – this is where GMOs are hidden in almost everything from salad dressings to soups to pan or deep fried items.
  3. Know the exceptions: Ask if the cheese is imported. A cheese from France means you are safe from rbGH – genetically engineered growth hormone and genetically modified ingredients, as this country has banned GMOs all together.
  4. Look out for these hidden GM ingredients: Amino Acids, Aspartame, Ascorbic Acid, Sodium Ascorbate, Vitamin C, Citric Acid, Sodium Citrate, Flavorings (“natural” and “artificial”), High Fructose Corn Syrup, Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein, Lactic Acid, Maltodextrins, Molasses, Monosodium Glutamate, Sucrose, Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP), Xanthan Gum, Vitamins, Yeast Products.
  5. Unless the sugar they use to make desserts is 100% pure cane, it’s likely from GM sugar beets
  6. Consider having the Non-GMO Shopping Guide in your purse or pocket that has a list of GM ingredients that you want to avoid and give it to your waiter or even call ahead. If more people did this, maybe restaurants would start to pay more attention to the products they buy.

Since it’s a serious feat to avoid genetically modified foods, I investigated all of my favorite restaurants here in Charlotte and of course I found GMOs being used at almost every single one. There were only two eateries that were 100% clean of GMO’s – Luna’s Living Kitchen, and Viva Raw.

As I was echoed in the NY Times this week – Luna’s Living Kitchen is one of my favorite restaurants – it’s the most truly organic place in Charlotte and if you are visiting in town this week for the Democratic National Convention (DNC), having breakfast there is a must.  My favorite option is the organic coconut milk iced coffee (the ice cubes are handily made from coffee, so your caffeine buzz doesn’t get watered down) and the raw bagel with cashew cream cheese pictured below.  They also have a coconut yogurt parfait that is to die for if you are looking for something sweet to start your day.

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Eat With Your Dollars – Superfoods Gone Local & Brunch Give Away

Contest is now closed. Congratulations to Faith for winning the Fern Brunch Giveaway! Check your email for details.

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Fern, one of my favorite Food Babe approved restaurants in town has generously offered to give away BRUNCH FOR 2 to one lucky reader. To experience dishes like the Warm Kale Salad pictured above, all you have to do is SUBSCRIBE and leave a comment below by Thursday, July 19th.

Giving some love to Fern by liking their Facebook page, couldn’t hurt either. Check out their new brunch menu and drool! Good Luck!
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Eats According to my iPhone – The First Days of Summer

Hope everyone had a nice weekend! We’ve updated the format of everyday eats, just mouse over the “+” to see more info. As always, I hope you find these snap shots of what I am eating helpful. If you have any questions, please let me know.


A new cookie recipe with coconut, granola and dried fruit

Ezekiel Sesame Bread Sandwich with cabbage, red pepper, avocado, pickles, mustard, romaine and feta cheese

Rinsed and soaked almonds for fresh almond milk

Parfait Porridge

“Just Greens Juice” from Berrybrook Farms Natural Foods Store (No spinach)

Salad with Eden Farms garbanzo beans, arugula, blueberries, apples and feta cheese

Fresh veggies from my Mom’s garden

Viva Raw has new raw granola – absolutely delicious!

At Fern – One of my favorite vegetarian restaurants in Charlotte. I am holding the roasted cauliflower which I order everytime

Soup du jour at Fern – Fennel, Green Tomato and Cucumber Gazpacho. I must recreate asap.

Eating With Your Dollars: The best fast food money can buy

Sawadee ka from Thailand!

Drinking Juice In Thailand
Drinking fresh raw organic vegetable juice is one of the fastest and easiest ways to stay in tip top shape while vacationing and just happens to be one of the best ways to Eat With Your Dollars. It’s something I do no matter where I am in the world (including here in Thailand) and do back home almost daily. And just so you know, I’m not talking about opening a can of “V8” or buying a ready made juice like “Naked” that has been pasteurized. To continue reading click here