(BeWellBuzz) First came hybrid foods, and then genetically modified (GM) foods. Are we gaining or losing out by tampering with nature? Hybrid and GM foods do help in meeting the ever-growing global food demand. However, the downside is that they are not as good as non-hybrid and organic foods. Read on to know more about hybrid and GM foods, and why you should avoid them.
What are hybrid foods?
Hybrid foods are created via crossbreeding between two different specimens of the same plant. Hybrid foods are not natural because the crossbreeding is engineered by man to achieve specific purposes such as to increase the food production, obtain certain desired traits (e.g. color, size, and shape), or to increase the concentration of certain nutrients.
One noteworthy feature of hybrid foods is that their seeds cannot germinate on their own. They require human intervention to grow. Crossbreeding two different specimens of a particular plant to produce a ‘superior’ version of the plant (or an ‘inferior’ version, as naturalists often point out) is not something new. It was practiced in the ancient world too, but not on as a big scale as it is practiced today. Hybrid fruits and plants were first produced commercially in the mid-1930s.
A brief history of hybrid foods
The purpose of hybrid foods, when they were produced for the first time, was to help farmers produce crops on farms on which natural foods could not grow. As in much of the 19th century, the name of the game in the first few decades of the 20th century was mono-cropping. Every farmer, big or small, produced a single crop year after year. The result of years of mono-cropping, although inescapable when you look back, was devastating. Aggressive mono-cropping, coupled with heavy, incessant use of pesticides and herbicides lead to large scale plant disease and made the soil unconducive. The solution, farmers, scientists, and governments agreed, was to produce hybrid foods.
Why health experts are against hybrid foods
Are hybrid foods unhealthy? The most ardent opponents of hybrid foods would not hesitate in branding hybrid foods as outright unhealthy. However, most naturalists do not go that far and shy away from proclaiming hybrid foods as dangerous. Why? Hybrid foods, till date, have not been known to cause any disease or impairment.
Some would say that if this is true, then why this whole controversy about hybrid foods? To understand this, you have to view hybrid foods in a different light.
Hybrid foods are not dangerous, but are they as healthy as natural foods? Do they provide the same benefits as natural foods? The answer to this question is in the negative. This is why so many concerns are being raised over the unchecked marketing and distribution of hybrid foods. Naturalists argue, “If natural foods are healthier, why let hybrid foods dominate the market?” This argument, even when looked through the eyes of a neutralist, appears irrefutable.
Why hybrid foods are not as healthy as natural foods
Unlike non-hybrid foods, hybrid foods have the following shortcomings:
- They have high sugar and starch content. In addition, the sugar present in hybrid foods is not completely absorbed or used by the pancreas and liver.
- They don’t have proper mineral balance. Consumption of hybrid foods, over time, may lead to mineral imbalance.
- Some hybrid foods can worsen certain fungal conditions like Candida
A list of common hybrid fruits, vegetables, and nuts
Common hybrid fruits include the following:
- Seedless apples
- Seedless watermelons
- Several varieties of dates
- Seedless grapes
- Seedless watermelons
- Seedless pineapples
- Seedless persimmons
Common hybrid vegetables include the following:
Common hybrid beans, nuts, and seeds include the following:
- Wheat grass
Common hybrid herbs include the following:
Genetically modified (GM) foods make the situation worse
Genetically modified foods are obtained from genetically-modified organisms. Some proclaim GM foods can put an end to the world hunger issue. Others regard them as dangerous to both mankind and the environment.
The biggest risk of GM foods to consumers is the risk of allergenicity. It is possible that genetic modification may create new allergens, which can cause allergies in humans or worsen existing allergies. The danger of GM foods to the environment, too, is not small. Environmentalists claim that GM foods can disrupt the food chain.
Hybrid and genetically modified foods vs. organic foods
Hybrid and genetically modified foods, it will be fair to say, only help their producers and not the consumers. In such a scenario, what should consumers do? The solution is to try to consume organic foods as much as possible. Growing your own food is another great way to ensure that you are having nutritional foods.
Unlike hybrid and GM foods, organic foods are not tampered with and are grown in their natural form. Moreover, harmful pesticides and other chemicals are not used on organic farms. In other words, organic foods do not contain harmful chemicals. Their only drawback is that they cost a little more than hybrid and GM foods. However, health experts argue, spending a little more on healthy organic foods, especially when you can, is a good bargain.
As they say, your health is in your hands. Make wise choices regarding what you buy and stay healthy.