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Unfortunately, the breadth of GMOs in our food system make them a challenge to avoid even at home. Then, when eating out, non-GMO living becomes even harder. The wrong kind of oil, an ingredient shortcut here or there, and that’s all she wrote. However, there are definitely some good tips and tactics to help people of an anti-GMO persuasion still enjoy the occasional night on the town. Read on for some ideas:

Stay Away From Repeat Offenders

Many of us know that corn, corn syrup and other corn-y items are likely to be genetically modified, and we know that soy stuff — soy sauce, tofu and tempeh — probably has been tampered with. Check very carefully before eating them. There are also several other items to look out for and to know as likely offenders of natural genetics:

  • Sugar: Lots of sugar today comes from GMO sugar beets as opposed to sugar cane. Maybe skip dessert or order very inquisitively.
  • Canola oil, as well as many other vegetable oils like corn and soy, will likely have GM sources. Ask what type of oil is used for cooking.
  • For all those fruit lovers, watch out for papaya, particularly Hawaiian papaya, which is at high risk for GMO content.

Look for the Organic Options

Organic is better because, well, it lacks almost all of the chemicals of non-organic stuff, chemicals which are not so far removed from GMO-caliber concern in the first place. Lots of restaurants are now hip to this niche and looking to please customers tuned into the food movement.

  • Don’t know where to find restaurants with organic options? Fear not! Eat Well Guide is a great place to start, with a search engine geared for finding healthy food near you.
  • Farmer’s markets are more of a daytime option, but there are usually loads of great organic meal options there. It isn’t all about shopping for vegetables, though — they can also be really great brunch outings.

Eat From the Right Places

Again, this all may seem a little too logical, but heading off to your run-of-the-drive-thru fast food joint is probably not going to work anymore. If you are looking to avoid GMOs, some sacrifices will have to be made, and that will like result in less late-night French fry runs or convenient store snacks.

  • Chipotle gets most of the press, and deservedly so, but there are other organic, conscientious fast food  joints out there.
  • Get involved. It only takes finding one organic, vegan, GMO-free restaurant to swing the door to lots of others open. People that at eat at one (or work at one) likely know about others.
  • Food trucks. Look out for them because truck-driving chefs are doing it their own way, which means you are more likely to find a fellow GMO boycotter.

Try Pot Lucks or Meal Swaps

Who said eating out has to necessarily be at a restaurant? Hooking up with some friends who have a similar non-GMO mentality can lead to some good eating and some fantastic nights out. I love doing meal swaps and pot lucks, getting out of the house for an evening but not risking my morals. Plus, I pick up all sorts of cool, new recipes.

  • Pot lucks are an easy, cheap solution that often provides good company and great food. Check out these OGP tips on kicking off your own pot luck event.
  • Meal swaps are really cool because one week you are hosting, showing off the skills and promoting your favorite foods, and the next you are reaping the benefits of your friends doing the same. Everybody wins.

Eating out is without a doubt one of the most trying parts of eating healthily, especially if you are doing so at a restaurant without similar  concerns. Throw the GMO issue into the mix, and things get even more complicated. Luckily, things are getting easier. Businesses (at least some them—go Chipotle!) are more responsible and the immediate availability of the right place to eat, with good organic produce and real versions of the food we love—tofu! chips and salsa! dessert!—is becoming more and more likely. Until all places go GMO-free, though, consider these tips listed above. What are some of your favorite ways to avoid GMOs when eating out?

We also highly recommend downloading our Food Monster App, which is available for both Android and iPhone, and can also be found on Instagram and Facebook. The app has more than 8,000 plant-based, allergy-friendly recipes, and subscribers gain access to ten new recipes per day. Check it out!

Image source: PC3663361/Wikimedia Commons

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