Tofutti, Tofurkey Or Turkey?

tofu-shutterstock.jpg
Tofu via Shutterstock

By Gabriela Worrel / Special to LAist

As one of the most popular vegetarian proteins on the market, tofu is a common substitute for the holiday turkey. Angelenos eat tofu for many reasons, one often being the belief that this is better for the environment. Consider, though, that much of the soy used to make tofu is genetically engineered, also known as genetically modified.

Genetic engineering (GE) is defined by the USDA as "manipulation of an organism's genes by introducing, eliminating or rearranging specific genes using the methods of modern molecular biology, particularly those techniques referred to as recombinant DNA techniques." In other words, genetically engineered foods have been altered in a laboratory setting, often having genes forcibly introduced from other species. Critics of genetically engineered foods have concerns about the environmental impact of these plants in the food web. Since a large part of the soy available on the U.S. market is genetically engineered, vegans and vegetarians concerned about culinary environmental impacts should do their research and be wary of genetically engineered tofu.

There is no silver bullet here, other than reading the label and doing research on the company that produces and markets the tofu. One way to be sure that the product is not genetically altered is to buy USDA-certified organic products, since these products must comply by USDA guidelines and cannot contain genetically altered ingredients. For those who may consider eating animal products over the holidays, organic turkeys or hams, in addition, cannot be fed with genetically engineered plants. The same applies for other animal products, such as eggs and dairy.

Feeling fired up about genetically engineered foods? Follow the efforts to get genetically engineered food labeled in California. Get your pen ready - signature collection to get this people-powered initiative will begin soon.

Read the "Right to Know" initiative here.

Previously in Label GMO 2012 Campaign coverage:
Is California Poised to Change the Nation's Food Landscape?
Hidden in Our Food: GMOs & Your Right to Know
Exercise Democracy at The World Food Day Rally
Mary's Gone Crackers & Speaks Out Against GMOs
Label GMOs Initiative Filed, Will You Sign?
Get Trained To Help Combat GMOs In Our Food