GMO-free Super Bowl 50: Beverages

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GMO-free Super Bowl 50: Beverages

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Ready to head to the grocery store to stock up on junk food and beer for Super Bowl 50? Here is a simple guide for ensuring that your food and drinks are GMO-free.

Anything labeled as Certified Organic is GMO-free. It’s supposed to be that simple. GMO-Awareness has an article that declares that this is not always the case. There are non-organic products that are GMO-free.

Non-GMO Project is a great resource for finding what you want. Visit this site before making  your shopping list.

screenshot nongmo

And just because your favorite product is not on this list doesn’t mean that it contains GMOs. Let’s be fair to the companies that produce naturally GMO-free products who have not gone through the time and expense of Non-GMO verification.

Beverages

Beer, ale, stout and lager

Beer producers are not required to label ingredients. How do we know what is in our favorite brews? Good question.

Buy organic.

I read that many of the local microbreweries source non-GMO ingredients. I would need confirmation. We need ingredients listed on alcoholic beverage labels.

Non-GMO brews

Peak Organic Brewing Company produces a variety of ales, stouts, IPAs, etc. that are GMO-free.

Reported by company:

Updated 2-1-2016: Guinness responded to my inquiry and stated that “Guinness does not contain High Fructose Corn Syrup. Guinness’ ingredient list is short: malts, barley/roasted barley, hops, and water. We do not use any GMOs in any of our products.”

I confess that I am a Guinness Extra Stout lover. I was thrilled to receive the information above. No, this is not legally binding, nor is it an affidavit or proof that Guinness products contain no GMOs, but until there is legislation requiring labeling of alcoholic beverages, this will have to do.

Liquor

Liquor is challenging. Apparently there is some governing body that declared that no alcoholic beverages can be labeled non-GMO.

I have started emailing individual companies asking them to verify whether their products contain GMOs. If enough of us did this, they would be forced to address the issue (and maybe source non-GMO ingredients).

Tequila: any of the 100% agave should be non-GMO. Mixto tequilas use a sugar syrup, but there is no ingredient labeling on tequila, so is the sugar from sugar cane or GMO sugar beets? It doesn’t say.

Best to avoid the mixto tequilas such as Jose Cuervo Especial and purchase organic varieties such as Republic Tequila. Reposado and Anejo tequilas are made with 100% blue agave even if they are not certified organic.

Gin & Tonic: It might not be the gin in this drink that is GMO, though we don’t know for sure.

Most tonic water contains corn syrup (over 80% of corn produced in the U.S. is GMO) or artificial sweeteners. Look for organic tonic water or one sweetened with agave syrup or real cane sugar. Remember, if a label says “sugar” that means GMO sugar beets; it must read “cane sugar” to be non-GMO for certain.

I just use sparkling water with nothing added myself.

Organic gin is the only way to know absolutely, positively that you are not getting any GMOs in your gin (though I have emailed Hendricks asking them to verify that they do or do not use GMOs in their gin).

Vodka can be made with grain or potatoes. I purchase organic or potato vodka (though GMO potatoes are grown in other countries, so might be best to avoid these).

Since I make a lot of my own extracts, I keep a bottle of vodka in my pantry at all times. I have emailed Luksusowa to ask whether their vodka is made with GMO potatoes. Poland banned GMOs, so probably not, but I want to confirm.

Non-alcoholic beverages

Soft drinks are mostly to be avoided except for organic or some small brewing companies such as Virgil’s Cream Soda. I personally buy Virgil’s for my kids. They are delicious.

Fruit juice, coffee and tea are fairly simple to divide into GMO and non-GMO by simply reading labels, right? I recommend referring to the Non-GMO Project list for these.

All commercially-grown, non-organic Hawaiian Papaya is GMO. That is the only GMO fruit so far (although GMO apples have been approved).

Since many juices have additives, it is safest to buy organic or buy 100% fruit juice juices.

Coffee: unflavored ground and bean coffees do NOT contain GMOs. Powdered instant coffees and teas, however, can by the inclusion of GMO sugar, dextrose, and corn syrup solids. Avoid instant coffees and teas especially those that contain artificial sweeteners.

Coffee flavorings and creamers contain GMOs unless organic. Avoid liquid and powdered creamers. I use Non-GMO almond or coconut milk and raw agave syrup in my coffee, though I often drink it black.

Store brand powdered coffee creamer ingredients:

  • Sugar (GMO)
  • Vegetable oil (GMO)
  • Contains one or more of the following: Palm oil, palm kernel oil, coconut oil, soybean oil (GMO)
  • Corn syrup solids (GMO)
  • Soy lecithin (GMO)
  • Natural and artificial flavors (may be GMO)

One exception to unhealthy coffee creamers is the one below which seems strange nestled between two creamers that are full of GMOs and other unhealthy ingredients. The “Natural Dairy Creamer” contains dried non-fat milk. That’s it.

Oh, in our house, we add heavy or light cream, half and half, or, in my case, unsweetened almond milk to coffee and sweeten with cane sugar or raw organic agave syrup.

Tea bags get a little complicated with all of the fancy flavors out there. I buy only organic teas or Non-GMO Verified teas. Loose leaf tea is available in health food stores.

Avoid powdered tea mixes due to GMO sugar and artificial flavors and colors. Same for drink mixes, sports drinks, etc.

Bottled iced tea? Sigh. Brew your own tea and add healthy sweeteners and even fruit or lemon if you like. The ingredients listed on bottles of iced tea drinks are concerning.

Bottled water: many of the flavored waters are sweetened with artificial sweeteners and/or corn syrup. And all that plastic. Try to avoid bottled water.

Make your own flavored waters with tap water and fresh fruit and vegetables. Cucumbers, berries, lemon, lime, and so on make great flavored waters. Just add the fruit or veggie and let it sit for a few minutes. If you want it sweetened, add a little organic sucanat, cane sugar, organic raw agave syrup or raw honey (no grocery store honey unless listed as raw).

Kombucha: one of my local markets now has a Kombucha bar. I can purchase a half-gallon of Kombucha using reusable glass bottles. This is a great option.

Conclusion

It takes a little work, but it is not difficult to serve and enjoy GMO-free beverages.

I will update this post if and when I hear back from brewers and distillers.

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