What’s the rub when it comes to GMO free and organic? Understanding where the organic and GMO free movements connect and do not connect can create some friction or rub some people the wrong way. I would like to tackle the organic, GMO free definitions. This opinion is my own, shaped by 20 years in the good food movement (my oh my, where did the time go?) and countless conversations, workshops and books I have read. I have been blessed to know and interact with some of the most incredible farmers, food activists, and conservationists during this time.
The organic movement was founded in direct response to the abuse of the soil and continual decline of the nutritional value of food. In the early days, the farmers or visionaries behind this movement recognized that there is a big difference farming with nature versus trying to conquer nature. These die-hards respected the soil and recognized that a functioning farm should resemble a healthy eco system. From this foundation, the organic food movement has developed a list of what can be called “best management practices.” These practices govern what can be applied to the soil and when it can be applied, and it is governed by third party certifying agencies and the USDA.
It is important to know that organic does not mean “no sprays,” no pesticides, or no herbicides because there are naturally derived pesticides (like bt) or herbicides (like vinegar) that can be used. Organic does mean that no synthetically derived sprays, pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers can be used. Organic farming is a system of farming and it requires different management principles than non-organic farming, but organic farmers still have an arsenal of sprays, pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers at their disposal. The difference is from what source they are derived—natural or synthetic. They are also GMO free by definition, since GMOs are prohibited by National Organic Program (NOP) standards.
The GMO free community is an important movement that is gaining lots of traction. We are seeing labeling initiatives springing up all over the place. But is GMO free better for you? Yes and no. It is true that a GMO free label means that these food products have been processed with beans, corn, or canola that have not used genetically modified organisms in the seed stock. But if the label doesn’t also say USDA Organic, it means that that product is grown non-organically using synthetically derived pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers. So while the seed itself is not laced with pesticides or herbicides, the plants are more than likely sprayed with them. This is an important distinction, which means that GMO free products fall into the same category as non-organic fruits and vegetables.
Your best bet is to eat organically grown fruits, vegetables, grains and organic processed foods to avoid food that is farmed with synthetically derived pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers. Organic is better for you and better for the soil.
Which is why Klesicks is always organic and always GMO free!