You won’t find a GMO warning label anywhere at the grocery store, but one student’s venture hopes to steer your cart to a more organic aisle.
Kayla Kervin, a senior event and hospitality management major, created Happy Organics, an Instagram stuffed photos of organic, gluten-free and non-GMO food. With a website slated to launch this fall, Happy Organics aims to influence others to eat local, fresh food. Kervin herself wants to make herself available to guide students to a better lifestyle.
“Happy Organics is meant to educate people on food, primarily their ingredients, and project how doing it right can be the most effective medicine you’ve ever had,” she said.
The non-GMO movement is currently in full swing, with food conglomerates such as Monsanto under attack. Starbucks and Chipotle have also been criticized for supporting and eliminating GMOs, respectively.
“I was shocked by our food regulations and the lack of genuine care major American food industries seemed to have for consumers and the Earth’s environment,” Kervin said. “The information that was uncovered was enough for me to quit trying to do short-term diets and make a long-term lifestyle change.”
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization website, almost 15 billion acres of the world crop is planted with genetically modified crops. And at least 90 percent of the soy, cotton, canola, corn and sugar beets sold in the United States have been genetically engineered, according to livescience.com.
“When I was in high school, I thought my appetite was uncontrollable. I felt like a bottomless pit,” Kervin said. “So I took a step back and did some research. I compared our food regulation laws and eating habits with other countries. My conclusion was that America is doing it wrong.”
Kervin said she believes our country is behind on taking action on GMO concerns, and she began to blame her stomach issues on processed ingredients.
Through her research, she found that most packaged food products, in addition to oversized fruits and vegetables, are really just a façade, and a lot of information on GMOs has been left out. She said she thinks people should not be modifying their ingredients.
Astrid Volpert, a registered dietitian at UCF’s Student Health Services, said it’s great for students to adopt a healthier diet, rich in fruits and vegetables.
However, she said gluten-free eating is not necessary for everyone, only those diagnosed with an intolerance or celiac disease.
“The research is still ongoing regarding the impact of GMOs,” she said. “The positives of eating plant-based foods outweighs the concerns about GMOs, as much of the American and student population are not eating enough fruits and veggies.”
Many people forget to spend time on their meals, and Kervin said fast food, quick-service dining and microwavable foods have become an overwhelming trend.
Christina Sadoyan, a senior biomedical sciences and physical science major, said Happy Organics has made a great impact on her life. For the past six months, Sadoyan has bought non-GMO, locally-made and organic products at the local Trader Joe’s, and has seen a complete difference in her well-being and physical appearance.
“The reality is that it mostly depends on what you put in your body, not how you work out, and I am a firm believer in that statement, along with supporting that non-GMO and organic products can play a huge role,” she said.
Kervin encourages anyone to send her an email at firstname.lastname@example.org if they have questions or need advice on changing their eating habits.
Her website will include educational information on farm-to-table trends, additional food science facts, discussion boards and e-books. There will also be links to other sites where the viewer can get involved in helping with the non-GMO movement.
“I want people to trust in food to solve their body problems inside and out,” she said. “We take better care of our smartphones than we do our bodies, come on guys.
“I hope, in a way, everyone can be influenced by Happy Organics. It’s about eating things that are alive to keep you alive, and everyone who has a body to feed should see it this way.”
Rachel Stuart is the News Editor for the Central Florida Future. Follow her on Twitter at @RachSage or email her at RachelS@CentralFloridaFuture.com.