Many food truck owners pride themselves on knowing what goes into their menu—and what doesn’t. Many across the country strive to buy sustainable grains and natural meats. These same food truck owners have found an ingredient they try to avoid: genetically modified organisms.
Embraced as a way to feed the world, or vilified as “Frankenfoods,” the effects of inserting genes into common crops aren’t settled among scientists. What’s clear, however, is that many diners are getting queasy about the topic.
There is a growing body of consumers who are not only aware of the term, but they’re concerned. In a recent survey, 59 percent of consumers say it’s important for stores to offer foods that don’t contain GMOs—a sharp rise from 2005.
Part of their concern is not knowing what they’re eating. By law, European food labels must list genetically altered ingredients, but U.S. labels don’t. There’s not enough science out there to help people make decisions, but the desire for the right to know is getting stronger every day. So how can you know, if you choose to weed out GMOs from your food truck’s menu, or if your customers start asking? Here a few guidelines:
Buy local, buy organic
Many consumers distrust produce that’s engineered to survive herbicides.
If you can’t buy local, look for a “certified organic” label, which excludes GMOs. If it’s not organic, by and large, a consumer has a reasonable expectation it could be GMO.
Watch your oils and sweeteners
Potential GMOs are often hiding in everyday ingredients. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports 72 percent of domestic corn and 94 percent of soybeans are genetically modified. To avoid those oils, along with canola and cottonseed, you can buy brands labeled GMO-free—or use pure olive oil.
If you shun high-fructose corn sweeteners, be careful as even sugar is suspect, unless it’s pure cane. Engineered sugar beets make up 90 percent of the U.S. crop. As for artificial sweeteners, aspartame contains an amino acid that’s often produced by gene-spliced bacteria.
Consult your phone
To fill the labeling vacuum, several firms offer shopping guides that fit on smartphones. Apps like NoMoGMO and True Food give thumbs up or down to hundreds of brands and products.For now, there’s no way to certify your entire menu as GMO-clean, so tell curious customers that you are working toward that goal.