Monday, May 11, 2009

Salsa & Chips, it's not so simple anymore

For Cinco de Mayo last week I brought in fresh organic roma tomatoes, cilantro, jalapenos, limes, garlic, avocados, and scallions to make salsa with the kids. And of course, I brought in chips for the class.

  • 4 ripe roma tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 avocado, chopped
  • 1 bunch cilantro, chopped
  • 1 lime, fresh squeezed juice
  • 1 garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 jalapeno, chopped fine
  • sea salt
  • 2 scallions, chopped
Mix and enjoy as a topping or with chips. You can cuisinart it if you like it less chunky.

They did an outstanding job chopping and making their own salsa. We talked about the different flavors, smelled and tasted. I helped share information with this bright group of third and fourth graders about the differences between organic and conventional and why our family doesn't eat certain things, especially those made of conventional corn. Eating salsa and chips isn't a simple task for us anymore as we have to search for organic corn chips or at least those labeled non-GMO.

In the U.S. there are no labeling requirements when a product contains anything genetically modified. Corn and Soy are the top two crops that are genetically altered. Therefore, corn chips are most assuredly GMO if they are not labeled organic.

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) or Genetically Engineered (GE) foods involve a scientific process that alters the very genetic make-up of a plant by introducing new DNA into the nucleus. Genes from humans, bacteria, viruses, other plants, and even animals are spliced into the seed. The effects of these changes have not been fully tested on our environment, nor on our health. Europe has banned GMOs but here in the U.S. we have to search and read labels carefully.

The organic label is a good place to look to make sure the products we choose are not GMO. By definition, organic foods cannot be genetically altered.

My rule of thumb to people just starting to change their eating habits is to choose organic particularly for those things that your family eats most and especially those products that contain any soy or corn in them. And corn is in almost every processed food under the label of a variety of things including:
  • in Baked Goods that contain Baking Powder or Confectioner’s/Powdered Sugar
  • Vegetable Oil, Corn Oil, Corn Syrup, Cornmeal, Cornstarch, Starch
  • Fructose And Fructose Syrup
  • Maltodextrin & Dextrine
  • MSG - Monosodium Glutamate also listed as Autolized Yeast Extract
Corn is even ingested by us second hand and a majority of it goes for animal feed so be wary of:
  • Grain-fed Poultry
  • Grain-Finished Beef
  • Vegetarian-Fed Eggs
Choose pastured, grass-fed, and organic for a variety of reasons not the least of which is to avoid GMO corn.

It may not be simple anymore to find and enjoy chips and salsa, but armed with some knowledge, we can protect ourselves and crunch away!

This post is part of the No GMO Challenge - JOIN US!



  1. yeah, I read the other day a list for people with corn allergies- the things to avoid...ummm...HOW? The list was like a book. Corn is everywhere...very freakish:)

  2. Actually most corn chips and other corn-based foods are made from sweet corns which are not (currently) GMO. It's the corn fillers you really have to watch out for: corn starch, HFCS, maltodextrin etc. as they're made from a different variety. Nonetheless, there's a lot of cross-pollination going on which is scary. What worries me is that I cannot seem to find a good corn chip that's not fried in vegetable oil. I need to learn to make my own.

  3. Jenny, you're right, but I'm also just over concerned about the amount of corn period so we don't eat chips really either, although I did buy them for the class so they'd have them. And you're so right about finding one not fried in "vegetable" (soybean, canola, corn) oils. Love your blog - your insight is always so right on!


thanks for your comments! If you submitted a question or position on one of the points, I'll do my best to research that and respond promptly. Thank you for your part in creating a healthier world for us all.