The GMO Truth Bomb!

Have you ever read something SO DISTURBING that you had to just put down whatever it was that you were reading and then walk away?  This pretty much sums up my experience of learning about GMO’s.  It was one of those moments where I thought, “Ignorance is bliss” and wished I could un-know what I just learned. But the truth is as much as this has overwhelmed and saddened me, and created a HUGE distrust with our government and food safety agencies, I feel 110% GRATEFUL to have learned this information. It has set the stage for a new journey in my life: LIVING GMO-FREE. 

My interest in learning more about GMO’s (I really knew NOTHING about them!) was sparked by an article I came across recently in a free health magazine from the local health foods store. I literally NEVER take this free magazine, because it’s full of advertisements. But for some reason, on this day, I grabbed it, and proceeded to page through it while catching some sun.  I came across an article highlighting the book The Unhealthy Truth, written by Robyn O’Brien.  It was about her efforts to inform the public about food allergies in kids and the role GMO’s play in them.  I had heard about GMO’s before, but never really thought twice…thought it was just a current “buzz word.”  But what really got my attention was the part about allergies and kids.  Being an elementary physical education teacher, I have noticed that there are SO MANY kids with all kinds of food allergies–they even have their own lunch table!  I remember saying on more than one occassion, “I don’t remember anyone having food allergies when I was growing up.” So that same day I decided to buy this book to learn a little bit more.

Screen Shot 2016-06-21 at 1.32.53 PM

Let me preface this by saying I am by NO MEANS any sort of nutritionist, allergy expert, GMO expert, scientist or the like. I am just a normal person who enjoys learning about ways to be healthier and live longer.  And as I read this book, I quickly realized that I was doing some things that had a negative impact on my health. I also learned that what my own mother had done while pregnant with me AND while I was a youngster, has had a direct and NEGATIVE impact on my health.  Insert the part when I put my book down on the table and walked away. I WAS TERRIFIED!!  Just when you think you are on the path to optimal health and longevity, reality comes in like a Mack Truck and proves otherwise.  My head was spinning.  What THIS the cause of my horrible endometriosis symptoms? What THIS the cause of my infertility? Was THIS why SO MANY people struggle to lose weight? Was THIS why our Nation’s health was in such a tragic state?  Was THIS the cause of behavior problems in my student’s? Was THIS the reason so many young acquaintances of mine were being diagnosed with cancer and other diseases? I needed to know more.

Ok, so here is the confusing part…..IT’S ALL CONFUSING! I have learned enough for now to start my new NON-GMO JOURNEY but I do not feel that I am educated enough in the subject to explain it in detail to you. I am simply writing this to share what I’ve learned, provide you with resources, and let you decide.  So let’s start very simple: What is a GMO anyways?

A GMO (genetically modified organism) is the result of a laboratory process where genes from the DNA of one species are extracted and artificially forced into the genes of an unrelated plant or animal. The foreign genes may come from bacteria, viruses, insects, animals or even humans.
Sounds pretty freaky, right?  Like some Frankenstein stuff! So what do GMO’s have to do with allergies in kids?  Well, the following is from, a website dedicated to protecting children with food allergies and informing the public about food safety.

Because 70% of our immune system is found in our digestive tracts, the foods that we eat and the chemicals that they contain can have a significant impact on our health.

As these chemicals in foods work through a child’s digestive system, they can corrode his or her “pipes” in much the same way that chemical toxins corrode plumbing! This “chemical corrosion” of the digestive tract can leave a child vulnerable to a host of auto-immune disorders, including allergies, asthma, Celiac’s disease and other conditions.

Because of the risks that these chemicals may present, mothers in most developed countries are advised to avoid exposure to chemical toxins during the first twelve weeks of pregnancy given the role that these toxins play in the development of:

  • autism
  • allergies
  • asthma
  • ADHD
  • gestational diabetes.

A mother’s exposure to pesticide during pregnancy has been linked to both:

After reading this I thought, oh my gosh!  These are things that affect my students EVERY SINGLE DAY and it seemed that the rate in which these were occurring was increasing tremendously in our classrooms, from year to year.  In fact, the Center for Disease Control reports that 3 MILLION U.S. children have food or digestive allergies, and that there has been a 265% increase in hospitalizations due to food allergies. Many common childhood ailments result from the food kids are eating on a day-to-day basis: chronic ear infections, coughs, runny noses, headaches, eczema, itchy skin, sleepiness, listlessness, crankiness, or sickness (Resource: The Unhealthy Truth).  HELLO!  THESE ARE MY STUDENTS!
So, why are GMO’s allowed into our foods in the U.S. but not other countries (see above) and why would a person even WANT to eat them let alone expose their kids to them?  Well, that part is simple: 1. We don’t KNOW we are eating them and 2. MONEY TALKS.  So, with this very basic introduction to GMO’s, I feel it’s important that I point you in the right direction to learn more.
The literature and research out there does a MUCH better job of articulating the details, so I will spare you more quotes and paraphrasing.  I HIGHLY recommend you read the book, The Unhealthy Truth to start (link is above).  Be prepared to feel a wide range of emotions, from anger to guilt, as  I did. The author does an amazing job of conveying her feelings when she started to uncover this nasty truth–she is a mother of kids with severe allergies. She gets it. Which is why she created the amazing resource Allergy Kids Foundation and website (also above).
Another site I have found beneficial so far in my journey is the NON-GMO PROJECT website.  There, you can find out more information on GMO’s and resources to help you go GMO-FREE, which leads me to my next paragraph.
Screen Shot 2016-06-21 at 1.32.38 PM
Today I embarked on my first, and certainly not last, GMO-FREE shopping excursion.  I downloaded the free NON-GMO Project app which breaks down categories of foods, brands, etc. to help you during your shopping experience. I went to the store for the basics: milk, yogurt, produce, and then looked around for anything GMO-FREE that piqued my interest.  What I found was that grocery shopping is going to take me much longer than usual, until I find the brands and products that are not only GMO-free but also low in cost.  The local grocery store wasn’t making it very easy on the consumer to find these particular  products, I will have to explore additional options.  I ended up spending $35 on a handful of items to get me through the next few days.  The good news is that, foods without labels (i.e. fruits and veggies) that are ALSO labeled GMO-FREE, are easy to find and things I eat often!  I follow the 21 Day Fix nutrition plan, and that plan alone eliminates processed foods, which in turn eliminates SOME of the chances of GMO’s sneaking into my food.  With that said, we definitely have a pantry/fridge full of foods that are neither 21 Day Fix approved OR GMO-Free that I will be phasing out–just gotta prepare my hubby!
{I realized, once home, that I already messed up! I bought something that was “organic” but did not have the “NON-GMO” label. This will be a learning curve for me!}
Organic does not necessarily mean Non-GMO!
Check your produce barcode!
I look forward to sharing more of my journey into becoming a GMO-FREE household! Until then, you can follow my Pinterest board for some additional resources and the resources mentioned above.  I will also be sharing some GMO-Free recipes and other tips on my Facebook fitness page and Snapchat leah_brownell.  If you are currently living GMO-Free and/or considering/dabbling in it, I would love to connect!  You can email me at or send me a friend request via Facebook.
{I want to remind you that I am NOT a GMO expert, I am simply providing resources that I found to be beneficial. I am just an elementary physical education teacher and health coach who is looking to improve her life and the lives around her.}

Leave a Reply