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Buy organic if you want — but 'GMO free' won't make your Thanksgiving dinner healthier

The following is an excerpt of an op-ed on USA Today that clears up confusion surrounding GMO labeling and dispels the common myth that non-GMO foods are healthier. 

Let’s face it, Thanksgiving can be more than a little stressful. After all, it’s probably the No. 1 American holiday celebrating family, friends and, of course, food.

Like you, I suspect, I want everyone coming to my house to have the best, most satisfying meal I can manage. As a parent, I want my children to understand the traditions, appreciate and be thankful for great food and have fun. As a dietitian, well, let’s just say — without being neurotic about it — I want everything I serve to taste great and be healthful. It’s a lot to juggle.

With Thanksgiving just a day away, however, one thing concerning the mom-me and the dietitian-me is the confusion over what food labels and designations even mean. Products with “GMO free,” “pesticide free,” and “organic” labels crowd grocery shelves. And I worry that shoppers will feel shamed into purchasing food that is often more expensive or will get so overwhelmed they might skip the produce section altogether.

It’s easy to let label confusion frighten you away from perfectly safe, healthful, nutritious foods. I’m not scared. My focus is on including more fruits and vegetables in my meals, not on hyped imaginary risks. Whether conventionally grown or organic, if it is the product of a commercial American farm or food maker, I know it is going to be safe.

Relax — "organic" doesn't mean "better"

I say this knowing that many consumers today avoid some produce out of fear of pesticides or GMOs. You may have heard of a list called the “Dirty Dozen.” I’ve seen how this list scares consumers away from produce.

A 2016 study published in Nutrition Today highlighted how researchers found that simply naming certain fruits and vegetables as dirty made low-income shoppers less inclined to buy any fruits and vegetables. I can’t tell you how frustrating that is when study after study shows how important it is to your health to consume fruits and vegetables daily.

Here are a couple of things I think can help you make good Thanksgiving choices for your family.

Continue reading the rest of this article at USA Today!