GMO Inside Blog

GMOs: The Uninvited Guest at Your Picnic

GMOs: the uninvited guest at your picnic

The season of charcoal smells and checkered tablecloths has begun.  It’s a great time to get together with family and friends to share laughs and delicious food.  However, there may be an uninvited guest at your picnic or BBQ – GMOs.  Unfortunately, almost everything on our typical plate is likely to have some GM ingredients, from the ketchup to the bun.  Sometimes these GMOs are disguised and, unfortunately, often overlooked.

Adding to the discreet infiltration of GMOs is the fact that meat, dairy, and eggs – even though not genetically modified themselves – are produced using GMOs.  Corn and soy make up the majority of animal feed in the US.  With 88% of corn and 93% of soy in the US grown genetically modified, our farm animals are raised on GMOs.  Animals, like humans, are deeply impacted by the quality of their diets. A recent study showed that pigs fed an entirely GMO diet suffered from severe stomach inflammation when compared to pigs given non-GMO feed.  Their GMO-fed bodies are then turned into food for us.

So before you head off to your Fourth of July picnics and BBQs, review the picnic items below for likely GM ingredients and tasty non-GMO alternatives.  Then share the knowledge.  While the topic of GMOs has hit the mainstream, not everyone knows all the facts or understands the destruction GMOs are causing to our planet and our bodies.  So use this season of gathering as an opportunity to talk to your loved ones about GMOs.

Click to view the full-sized images
Burger GMO Ingredient Breakdown 


Veggie Burger GMO Ingredient Breakdown



Hot Dog GMO Ingredient Breakdown




GMO Picnic Items (and Better Options)


Buns – High Fructose Corn Syrup, Cottonseed Fiber, Vegetable Oil (Soybean And/Or Cottonseed Oils), Distilled Vinegar (often derived from corn), Mono and diglyceride (often derived from soybean, cottonseed, corn, canola), Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate (stearic acid maybe from soy), DATEM (usually derived from soy or canola oil), Maltodextrin (maybe from corn), Corn Starch, Soy Lecithin, Soy Flour

Non-GMO/organic option: Rudi’s Bakery, Berlin Natural Bakery, Ener-G Foods, Silver Hills Sprouted Bakery, local bakery


Veggie Burger (meat-free) – Textured Vegetable Protein (Soy Protein Concentrate), Corn Oil, Canola Oil, Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein (Corn Gluten, Soy Protein), Dextrose, Soy Protein Isolate, Natural And Artificial Flavors From Non-Meat Sources, Maltodextrin, Soy Sauce, Soy Lecithin

Non-GMO/organic option: Sunshine Burgers (also wheat-free and vegan!), Hilary’s Eat Well Burgers (also gluten-free and vegan!), Amy’s Veggie Burgers (also vegan options)


Meat Burger – Cows Fed Corn and Soy Silage

Non-GMO/organic option: Cows raised on an actual farm, allowed to graze, and fed roughage.  Applegate Organic Beef and Turkey BurgersOrganic Prairie Organic Burgers (Organic Valley), check out your local farmers market


Hot Dog – Mechanically Separated Turkey (fed GMOs), Mechanically Separated Chicken (fed GMOs), Pork (fed GMOs), Corn Syrup, Flavor

Non-GMO/organic option: Applegate Organic Beef and Pork Hot DogsOrganic Prairie Organic Hot Dogs (Organic Valley), check out your local farmers market


Veggie Hot Dog (meat-free)Corn Syrup Solids, Methylcellulose (sometimes from corn), Dextrose, Egg Whites, Natural Flavors, Sugar, Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein (Corn Protein, Soy Protein), Hydrolyzed Corn Protein, Soy Protein Isolate, Maltodextrin, Xanthan Gum, Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, Soybeans, Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein (Corn Gluten, Soy Protein), Soybean Oil, Citric Acid

Non-GMO/organic option: Field Roast Frankfurters


Ketchup – Distilled Vinegar, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Corn Syrup

Non-GMO/organic option: Annie’s Organic Ketchup


Mustard – Distilled Vinegar, Natural Flavors

Non-GMO/organic option: Annie’s Organic Yellow Mustard, Eden’s Organic Yellow Mustard


Pickle Relish – Sugar, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Vinegar, Xanthan Gum, Natural Flavors, Polysorbate 80

Non-GMO/organic option: Bubbie’s Pure Kosher Dill Relish (no sugar), Woodstock Organic Sweet Relish


Mayonnaise – Soybean Oil, Whole Eggs And Egg Yolks, Vinegar, Sugar, Natural Flavors

Non-GMO/organic option: Woodstock Mayonnaise, Earth Balance Mindfulmayo


Processed Cheese – Milk (cows fed GMOs), Whey, Milk Protein Concentrate, Milkfat, Lactic Acid, Artificial Color, Enzymes

Non-GMO/organic option: Organic Valley cheese, Rumiano Family Cheese, any organic cheese


Chips – Soybean oil and/or Canola oil; Corn if corn chips; possibly Sugar, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Natural Flavor, Maltodextrin, and many more depending on chip flavor

Non-GMO/organic option: Kettle Brand Chips, Boulder Canyon Chips


Soda – High Fructose Corn Syrup, Caramel Color, Sugar, Citric Acid, Natural Flavor

Non-GMO/organic option: DRY Soda, Reed’s Ginger BrewSANS All Natural Soda


Sweet Corn – GM varieties entered the market last year

buy organic


You can always buy other brands that you like too.  Just look for the Non-GMO Project or USDA Organic labels to stay away from GMOs.

NonGMOProjectLogo            USDA-Organic


Looking for some new dishes to bring to a picnic?  Check out these recipes from our fellow Green America colleague, Katie >>

22 Awesome Comments So Far

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  1. Lindy dangelmayer
    July 3, 2013 at 6:47 pm #

    I buy everything I can with the labels “non GMO” and “organic.” However, I’m concerned about the organic label. Is it true that we can no longer be guaranteed that “USDA Organic” means non GMO? If a farmer starts with a GMO seed, but grows it organically, it still means GMO to me. Please advise. Thank you.

    • Shireen Karimi
      July 10, 2013 at 1:33 pm #

      Thank you for your question, Lindy. According to a blog post from the USDA, GMOs are prohibited in organic products. A farmer must be able to prove that their product is GMO free as well as protect their crops from any GMO contamination from neighboring fields. If a farmer decides to start growing GMO products, they no longer qualify for the USDA label. There is always the issue of cross contamination since GMO seeds can easily become airborne and contaminate organic farms. It is extremely difficult to avoid and sadly there are some organic loopholes. The USDA requires 95% of a product to be organically raised in order to receive an organic label, though that extra 5% runs the risk of containing chemicals or GMOs.

      Organic certification is about the process of growing food rather than the end result. There is no testing process for organic ingredients, so cross contamination or intermingling of species is still a risk, but there is no way to know. To answer your question, by law GMOs are prohibited to be in any product labeled organic, yet there is always a slight chance due to the lack of a thorough screening process. Here are some readings if you’re interested:

      • Lindy dangelmayer
        July 10, 2013 at 3:23 pm #

        Thank you for your reply, Shireen. Wouldn’t it be great if someday we didn’t have to worry about toxic food?!
        Thank you for this organization!

  2. Esther
    July 3, 2013 at 8:03 pm #

    For veggie burgers I suggest Wildwood organic Sproutofu burgers. They are made from organic sprouted soybeans and are non-GMO verified. For hot dogs, if gluten is oksy, try Tofurky sausages and hot dogs. According to their website under FAQ, they use no GM ingredients and are very diligent in checking shipments, and working with the nonGMO project. For mayonaise, we love Follow Your Heart Organic Vegenaise, which is vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free and non-GMO.

    • Shireen Karimi
      July 10, 2013 at 2:19 pm #

      Thanks for the suggestions, Esther!

  3. Lo
    July 3, 2013 at 10:27 pm #

    Applegate organic uncured hot dogs are what we eat.

    • Shireen Karimi
      July 10, 2013 at 2:20 pm #

      Thanks, Lo, for verifying that Applegate products are good. I hadn’t tried them myself (as I have most of the other items I recommended) because I’m vegetarian. 🙂

  4. Cheryl
    July 4, 2013 at 12:24 am #

    Thank you so much for this information, I had no idea about the foods that contain GMO’s. I have already shared this information with my family and friends.
    Thank you again.

  5. Bea
    July 4, 2013 at 9:14 am #

    Thanks for this information! Now I have some alternatives for organic foods.

  6. laura
    July 4, 2013 at 2:21 pm #

    There are some organic beef hot-dogs available – they are sold at our Mustard seed Market here in Ohio….made by Organic Prairie in La Farge, WI. Their phone is 877-662-MEAT, website is Certified organic by Oregon Tilth!!!!

    • Shireen Karimi
      July 10, 2013 at 2:21 pm #

      Thanks for the suggestion, Laura!

  7. Trish Howard
    July 5, 2013 at 3:24 am #

    I am following your Facebook posts and have clicked onto the Uninvited Guests. This is a great resource to have BUT I am based in Australia. Have you a list for the Australian market?
    Thanks, Trish

  8. David Eller
    July 6, 2013 at 2:49 pm #

    This article is a Goldmine of useful information!

    Some of these foods are stocked at Whole Foods Markets. Annie’s Naturals is. And, some of the Whole Foods 365 products, their house brands, are organic. They say they will have all GMO’s out of their stores soon too!

    The wonderful thing about this article is that many of the foods you’d like that are listed here and not available in your local stores can be ordered online!

    • Shireen Karimi
      July 10, 2013 at 2:22 pm #

      Thank you so much for the nice feedback, David! I’m so glad this article was useful to you.

  9. Patti Marrs
    July 7, 2013 at 1:04 am #

    I believe that Field Roast Frankfurters are Non-GMO? But they don’t seem to be part of the Non-GMO Project?

    • Shireen Karimi
      July 11, 2013 at 5:20 pm #

      Hi Patti. That’s a great question. I called them, and they said they do not use GM ingredients and they are in the process of getting verified with the Non-GMO Project. So it looks like we can recommend this veggie hot dog. Thank you for suggesting them!

      • Patti Marrs
        July 12, 2013 at 11:15 am #

        Nice. Field Roast makes other great “meats” from grains, no soy making any of their products a great choice!

  10. Barb Conover
    July 7, 2013 at 3:24 pm #

    not trying to be a troll at all but to be helpful, but need a better downloadable file on the “shopping guide” — fonts are not “locked in” so they corrupt when I download. Want to share with others by printing.

    • Elizabeth O'Connell
      July 9, 2013 at 12:08 pm #

      Thank you for the tip Barb, we’ll work on fixing that now.

  11. lone bear
    July 8, 2013 at 4:46 am #

    I would have considered buying sans but when I looked at where it’s sold I took a 2 and look, I am hestitant to buy since sans is directly where the gas drillers are, how can they use water where the gas drillers are in the same town?

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