- Wikimedia Commons
Last week, the US Food and Drug Administration approved the first genetically modified animal for human consumption: GMO salmon.
The fish, which grows faster and larger than traditional salmon, is already sparking controversy, with opponents claiming that GMOs are unnatural because they contain genes from other organisms.
But many of the foods we eat – GMO or not – could hardly be considered natural.
Take a look:
Thanksgiving turkeys today are more than twice the size they were in the 1930s. They are also often fed antibiotics, a major contributor to antibiotic-resistance in humans. Some companies are going “antibiotic-free,” but most of them still use antibiotics to treat infections in their animals.
Many milk alternatives, such as soy*, almond, or other nut milks are highly processed — they involve heating and blending the nut slurry, and most of the vitamins and nutrients in them, such as calcium, have been added during manufacturing. In fact, some of these milks have just a fraction of the nutrients (like protein) found in the nuts they’re made from.
Beef cattle called “Belgian Blues” are bred to have many more muscle fibers than average — a phenomenon known as “double-muscling.” All this might make you want to eschew the dairy industry, but the alternatives may be no more natural.
- agriflanders/Wikimedia Commons
Love all-natural dairy? Cheese, yogurt, cream cheese and most other dairy foods are all processed; they’re created using an artificial process involving enzymes like rennet (often from cow stomachs) and — usually — pasteurization, or heating that kills off harmful microbes.
- Getty Images/Neilson Barnard
What could be more unnatural than foie gras? The French delicacy, whose name literally means “fat liver,” is made from the liver of a goose or duck that has been force-fed through a process known as gavage. But there are many other inhumane animal practices.
- Wikimedia Commons
Veal, or calf meat, is a staple of many cuisines around the world. But the animals (usually male offspring of dairy cows) are often housed in stalls where they can’t move around and kept on restrictive diets that make their meat pale.
- Center for Science in the Public Interest
Even what you think of as “baby carrots” are not actually immature carrots, but rather adult carrots that have been ground down to baby size. They were invented by a farmer who got sick of throwing away deformed or imperfect carrots.