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    You Ask, I Answer: Genetic Modification, Tempeh

    tempeh_smokystrips_detailYour post on genetically modified foods was very distressing to read, and that interview you linked to even more so.

    Are fruits like seedless clementines genetically modified?

    [You mentioned that 91 percent of soybeans grown in the United States are genetically modified].  I have always been so suspect of soy, anyway.

    Is tempeh soy-based?

    — Dennise O’Grady
    Bay Head, NJ

    The issue of genetically modified foods is simultaneously disturbing, frightening, and… extremely new.

    I have a feeling that as we progress through this current decade, we will begin to learn more about the possible health effects of diets high in genetically modified organisms.  The frustrating angle, of course, is that we are not always made aware whether a certain food is genetically modified or not.

    FYI: late last night, Dr. Marion Nestle uploaded a must-read post about the latest studies on genetically modified foods.

    Onto your questions.

    While clementines (seedless mandarins, for all intents and purposes) sound like a genetically modified dream, they are not (yay!).

    It turns out clementines grow without seeds simply by being planted in isolation from other citrus fruits.

    As for tempeh: yes, it is soy-based.  Specifically, tempeh is made up of fermented soybeans.  That fermentation process, by the way, makes it nutritionally superior to tofu.

    The key with tempeh is to be familiar with the various brands.  I can tell you that Lightlife tempeh products (their “Fakin’ Bacon” tempeh strips are glorious!) and Turtle Island tempeh products (love their sesame garlic marinated tempeh strips) do not contain genetically-modified soybeans.

    What’s very ironic is that most people who are consuming high amounts of genetically-modified soy aren’t necessarily eating tempeh or tofu.

    Remember — soy by-products (like soybean oil, soy protein isolate, and soy flour) are commonly used in a variety of processed foods, from chips to shelf-stable pastries to protein bars.  That’s where most of the genetically-modified soy is going.

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