Natural Grocers pledges no aspartame, no trans fats, no irradiation, but GMOs still present in 50 percent of products

Tuesday, January 14, 2014 by: Ethan A. Huff, staff writer
Tags: Natural Grocers, GMOs, organic food

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(NaturalNews) Whole Foods Market says it is aiming to phase them out completely by 2018. Trader Joe's says absolutely none of its private-label products contain them, and haven't since the early 1990s. And Natural Grocers, another major U.S.-based grocery chain, has been pushing for their removal, or at least their proper labeling, for years, even though the company admits that as many as 50 percent of the products it carries contain genetically-modified organisms (GMOs).

Present in 13 states located primarily in the western U.S., Natural Grocers is renowned for its strict quality standards. None of the produce that it sells is conventional, for instance; everything fresh is certified organic, which means that it was never sprayed with synthetic pesticides or other similar poisons. The grocery chain also prohibits anything containing the neurotoxin aspartame (NutraSweet, Equal) to be sold in its stores, which means fewer worries about contamination.

GMOs, however, are something that Natural Grocers has not completely eradicated from its supply chain. According to the company's "What We Won't Sell and Why" informational page, products from genetically engineered animals are not allowed to be sold in Natural Grocers stores, but products from genetically engineered plants are, in fact, allowed, even though the company clearly states that it does not believe GMOs to be safe.

"Natural Grocers does not consider [GMOs] to be safe food ingredients, so we source as many GMO-free alternatives as possible," explains a post on the grocery chain's blog. "In particular, we focus on USDA certified organic products and ingredients which cannot by law be made from GMO derived ingredients. Our vendors are encouraged to use non-GMO ingredients in their products, and every product we approve for sale must disclose the source of its potential GMO ingredients."

Natural Grocers says GMOs are unsafe; still trying to eliminate them

This is all good and well, but Natural Grocers does not disclose the presence of potential GMO ingredients to its customers, which is highly concerning. The same blog posting admits that over 50 percent of the food products sold at Natural Grocers contain GM ingredients. This means that the company is knowingly selling contaminated products that it says it believes are unsafe to its unwitting customers.

"[E]verything except the raw produce aisle most likely contains GMO soy fillers, corn sugars, beet sugars, cotton oil, or canola oil in some form," admits Natural Grocers. "Since GMO labeling of ingredients is not required -- once crops leave the farm they are indistinguishable within the food supply -- the only safe assumption is that any food containing these ingredients is using GMO sources."

This seems to be the same stance taken by Whole Foods with regard to the potential presence of GMOs in the products that it sells -- they are probably there, we don't really like them, but we're not going to tell you, our valued customers, what we know. Instead, it is up to every individual to closely read labels and look for suspicious ingredients, and avoid all products that contain them.

On the positive side, Natural Grocers carefully avoids stocking products that contain artificial sweeteners, artificial colors, artificial flavors, bleached flours, dairy products that contain genetically engineered recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH), hydrogenated oils and any ingredients that may have been irradiated. But as far as GMOs go, it is important for our readers to know that, just like Whole Foods, Natural Grocers is quietly selling a host of products at a premium price that may contain GMOs.

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