What you teach your chil­dren to­day can greatly aff ect the world of to­mor­row

Better Nutrition - - CONTENTS - /// BY MELISSA DIANE SMITH

Talk­ing to Kids About GMOs What you teach kids to­day can greatly af fect their choices to­mor­row.

Q : Earth Day is com­ing up, and I thought it would be a good op­por­tu­nity to talk with my kids about GMOs and pes­ti­cides. I’m just not sure ex­actly how to do that. Can you give me some point­ers on how to dis­cuss this topic with my chil­dren so they can un­der­stand why I want us all to tran­si­tion to more non- GMO and or­ganic food? — Mary E., Charleston, S. C.

a:It’s great that you want to broach this topic with your kids. Chil­dren can’t pos­si­bly make good choices un­less they learn about ge­net­i­cally mod­i­fied or­gan­isms ( GMOs) and pes­ti­cides— the ma­jor food is­sues of their time. And chil­dren are far smarter than many adults give them credit for.

Ex­actly how you want to bring up the topic might vary de­pend­ing on your kids’ ages, but here are some gen­eral guide­lines from my book Go­ing Against GMOs.

A Sim­ple Be­gin­ning Con­ver­sa­tion

A be­gin­ning con­ver­sa­tion with a young child might go some­thing like this:

“There have been changes in some com­mon foods that weren’t like that when I was your age. Some plants that we eat to­day are made by sci­en­tists in­stead of na­ture.”

Your child might ask: How and why do sci­en­tists make those plants?

“Sci­en­tists put diff er­ent kinds of genes into corn, so the corn doesn’t die when you spray chem­i­cals on it, or the corn might con­tain chem­i­cals to kill bugs in­side of it. It keeps the in­sects away and com­pa­nies can use weed­killers on it, but it isn’t a good idea for hu­mans or an­i­mals to eat food that con­tains chem­i­cals that kill in­sects and weeds. That’s why we want to do our best to avoid foods that have been pro­duced in this way.

“Foods that are pro­duced in this new way are called ge­net­i­cally mod­ifi ed, ab­bre­vi­ated as GMO. They’re more like fake foods in­stead of real foods that na­ture pro­vides us.”

You can also ex­plain that not all ge­net­i­cally mod­ifi ed foods have bug killers in them or weed killers on them. Other types of GMOs are pota­toes or ap­ples that don’t turn brown after slic­ing.

It’s prob­a­bly best not to make the fi rst con­ver­sa­tion too long. Ex­plain the sub­ject in bits and pieces, so kids can digest

the in­for­ma­tion. Let them research it on their own by read­ing kid- friendly in­for­ma­tion on the In­ter­net. They may come back to you with ques­tions, and you can grad­u­ally give them more in­for­ma­tion.

Mak­ing Changes as a Fam­ily

Mak­ing changes in long- stand­ing eat­ing habits al­ways works best when kids are in­volved and they un­der­stand the rea­sons why changes are be­ing made. Ask your chil­dren if they’d be will­ing to come to the gro­cery store with you and help you choose or­ganic fruits and veg­eta­bles and fi nd pack­ages of food prod­ucts that have a label with a but­terfl y on it ( the Non- GMO Project Ver­ifi ed sym­bol), or prefer­ably a label with a cir­cle that says USDA Or­ganic. This is a great way to teach kids what to look for when they be­come food shop­pers. Chil­dren of­ten get en­gaged in hunt­ing down health­ier foods and tend to think of it as a fun game.

At home, bring in health­ier sub­sti­tutes and al­ter­na­tives to GMO foods you used to use. Gen­er­ally speak­ing, that means avoid­ing pro­cessed foods and eat­ing more whole foods ( fresh fruits, veg­eta­bles, nuts, and seeds).

Also, keep in mind that there are or­ganic al­ter­na­tives to vir­tu­ally ev­ery kind of food. If your fam­ily doesn’t feel like it can give up cer­tain foods— tacos, for ex­am­ple— make sure to buy or­ganic in­gre­di­ents to make them. That’s the easy way to avoid GMOs and pes­ti­cides. Us­ing or­ganic in­gre­di­ents doesn’t have to be ex­pen­sive ei­ther: De­velop an eye for bar­gains, and stock up on or­ganic foods you use in recipes when they’re on sale.

When your chil­dren are away from home, it’s much more diffi cult to con­trol what they eat. But you can do your best to help them eat non- GMO by buy­ing non- GMO and or­ganic snacks, and hav­ing those foods at home ready for your kids to take at a mo­ment’s no­tice.

Fi­nally, al­ways pack your chil­dren’s lunches. Un­for­tu­nately, GMOs are of­ten found among the in­gre­di­ents of school-pre­pared lunches..

Do you have a ques­tion for the nu­tri­tion­ist? We would love to hear from you. Please email your ques­tions to bnask­thenu­tri­tion­

Melissa DianeSmith is an in­ter­na­tion­ally known jour­nal­ist and holis­tic nu­tri­tion­ist who has more than 20 years of clin­i­cal nu­tri­tion ex­pe­ri­ence and spe­cial­izes in us­ing food as medicine. She is the cutting- edge author of Go­ing Against GMOs, Go­ing Against the Grain, and Gluten Free Through­out the Year, and the coau­thor ofSyn­drome X. To learn about her books, long- dis­tance con­sul­ta­tions, nu­tri­tion coach­ing pro­grams, or speak­ing, visit her web­sites: melis­sa­di­ane­smith. com again­st­the­grain­nu­tri­tion. com.

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