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Non-GMO Shopping at Whole Foods Market

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You can save money on non-GMO food at Whole Foods. Seriously! Follow these tips and you can stick to a frugal grocery budget for healthy food.

Genetic Roulette

Public concern about genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in our food has been on the rise. I’ve wanted to learn more about this issue, so I was happy to hear that our local Whole Foods Market was hosting a viewing of “Genetic Roulette.” This documentary highlights the many health problems that result from eating genetically modified food. It details how all the supposed benefits of GMOs presented by the biotech industry are myths, and there’s no need for genetically modified food in our world.

  • Genetically modified plants are manipulated at the DNA level, and as a result our bodies don’t recognize what we’re eating. This may be a cause of the extreme rise in food allergies and intolerances over the past 20 years.
  • GMO plants are treated with pesticides that minimize the nutrients in the crops and make the field workers sick.
  • Many health problems are associated with GMOs, including digestive and fertility problems found in lab animals, livestock, pets, and people who are exposed to high levels of these unnatural organisms. The movie shows several examples of how people’s and animals’ health problems improve when GMOs are removed from their diets.

The most startling part of the movie for me was the fact that the scientists who’ve questioned the safety of GMOs have been silenced again and again. When GMOs were first introduced in the 1990’s, the US government stated that no safety studies were necessary. As a result, the FDA doesn’t regulate whether GMOs are safe; rather, they leave all regulation in the hands of the biotech food producers. At the moment, there is no requirement for food producers to label their products saying that the food contains GMOs. This disturbing issue deserves the public’s attention, and I highly recommend Genetic Roulette as a comprehensive introduction to the topic.

Avoiding GMOs at Whole Foods

Whole Foods Market made big news recently when they announced that by 2018, all food in their stores must be labeled if it contains GMOs. Consumers have the right to know what they’re buying, and this is a great step in the right direction. Five years is a long time, though, and many people want to stop buying genetically modified food now. Whole Foods currently sells 3,300 Non-GMO Project verified products from 250 brands, more than any other retailer in North America. There are three simple things you can do when shopping at Whole Foods if you want to avoid GMOs:

Buy organic food. No genetically modified seeds are permitted in the growth or production of organic foods. It’s possible that trace amounts of genetically engineered organisms are present in organic foods through cross-pollination from nearby crops, but buying organic is still considered one of the safest ways to avoid GMOs.

Look for the Non-GMO Project verified label on products throughout the store. These products are carefully analyzed to confirm that they don’t contain GMOs, so this label is the best confirmation you can get.

Buy food from Whole Foods’ 365 Everyday Value store brand.  This line of food avoids GMO ingredients, and many items are verified by the Non-GMO Project.

Tips for Stretching Your Dollar at Whole Foods

Are you afraid you can’t shop at Whole Foods without spending your whole paycheck? In my experience, Whole Foods isn’t any more expensive than the other stores I shop at because I stick to these frugal shopping strategies:

Review the sale flyer ahead of time.  Whole Foods puts out a sales flyer each week, and their sales runs from Wednesday to Tuesday. You can download your local store’s flyer online. Looking at the online version is better than just grabbing a copy in the store because the online version includes many more sales items than the flyer in the store.

Use the bulk bins.  The bulk bins are great if you just want a small quantity of an item. You choose exactly how much you buy, so you won’t have to worry about a half-used box of quinoa languishing in the back of a cabinet. The rolled oats at my Whole Foods’ bulk bin often runs $.99 per pound, which is substantially less expensive than the containers of oats I can get at other stores.

Use coupons from “The Whole Deal” catalog (which you can get in the store or find online). There are dozens of coupons offered in “The Whole Deal” catalog each month. Many stores will even let you stack one of these store coupons with a manufacturer’s coupon, so you can get things at a really great price when these coupons match up with a sale.

Buy only the items on your list unless you see a great deal for something you regularly buy. It’s dangerous for your wallet if you slowly meander through the aisles at Whole Foods, especially if you’re hungry. Everything looks so good!

The Raffle

At the screening of Genetic Roulette, I was encouraged to see a large crowd of about 100 people. On a busy weeknight, it takes an effort to get out the door to something like this, and I love knowing that so many people wanted to learn more about GMOs. At the end of the evening, there was a raffle for a large basket of non-GMO groceries donated by Whole Foods. You know I love free groceries, so I had my fingers crossed. When they called the number, I looked hopefully at my raffle ticket, but it wasn’t a match. The woman in charge repeated the number a few times, but nobody claimed it. It must have belonged to someone who left early. So she picked out another number and read it aloud. I looked at my ticket, and this time we had a match! I came home with this gorgeous selection of Whole Foods’ 365 brand items. I don’t think I’ve ever bought organic olive oil or organic balsamic vinegar before. What a treat! It was nice to see organic whole wheat pasta and sauce in there too. Also, the brown rice crisp cereal will be perfect for my homemade maple granola.

whole foods basket

12 Comments

  1. I like a site called healthylifedeals.com. It matches the deals in The Whole Foods-Whole Deal with manufacture coupons. It has other stores, such as Trader Joe’s and even CVS.

    1. Thanks, Alvena. I like that site too. It’s helpful to see the Whole Foods sale information broken down by different U.S. regions.

  2. It is a shame that GMO labeling is not required on all foods. I for one limit where I shop to decrease the chances that I might end up with GMO food without knowing it.

  3. Congrats on winning the basket!
    I’ll be taking a tour of my local Dorothy Lane Market, and will ask their policy for GMOs in the DLM store brand food.
    Thanks, Annemarie!

    1. That’s great that you can take a tour, Kirsten! I’d love to know their policy – hopefully other markets are following Whole Foods’ lead.

  4. Glad you won the basket!! I saw the film at the local library, and likewise was thrilled to see such a large crowd of people there concerned about GMOs. I like your WF tips, especially getting rolled oats in the bulk aisle (I had been buying them for $3.99 for a 2 pound bag!).

  5. I am still on the fence about Whole Foods, since they were basically shamed into this – which bugged me that they were not in the forefront of this! They had a chance and blew it 🙁
    Having said that…I buy Bob’s Red Mill for a reason – they only use Non-GMO seeds for all products. And Trader Joe’s is the same – but neither carry the logo 🙂
    My local chain of natural food stores (a co-op), PCC, has been behind to get non-gmo on the voting ballots this year – and it succeeded and will be 🙂

    1. That’s great that it will be on the ballot this year! A bill has been introduced for several years in a row here in a Massachusetts, but the tide is slow to change.

    1. Thanks, Nicky. Mambo Sprouts is another great resource – I appreciate the reminder! I hope you have a chance to see Genetic Roulette. It’s very eye-opening.

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