Green groups gagged when the U.S. Department of Agriculture recently declared meat from cloned animals to be safe for human consumption, but clone-burgers wouldn’t be the first taste of unnatural food for most of us.
So what other, not-found-in-nature foods can you find in your supermarket? 

1. Genetically modified papayas, flax, and soy

Genetically modified, or GM, foods come from plants that have had genes from other species spliced into them. Some GM crops are created to be more pesticide- or drought-resistant, while others might eventually be made to have super-levels of vitamins or other nutrients.

Most of the soybeans and nearly half of the corn grown in the U.S. is GM., though much of that is used for livestock feed. If you’ve bought papayas from Hawaii or canola, though, chances are good you’ve eaten GM food.

By the way, here’s a tip for evaluating produce:

  • if the little sticker on your squash or zucchini starts with an 8, the food is GM;
  • a 9 at the beginning indicates organic produce, while a 4 means it’s conventionally grown.

2. High-fructose corn syrup

Found in soda, junk food and processed foods of all kinds, high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is kind of like corn syrup on steroids. While not technically “unnatural” — it is made from corn syrup, after all — HFCS is made via enzymatic processing to boost the natural syrup’s fructose content.

HFCS didn’t exist before 1957 (the year the process for making it was invented), but it’s taken off big-time since then, in part because it’s cheaper than sugar and in part because it helps foods last longer.

3. Irradiated foods

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration allows certain foods — some meats, for example — to be zapped with high-energy gamma rays, x-rays or electron beams that kill parasites and bacteria. The treatment doesn’t leave your food radioactive, but opponents say it reduces vitamin content.

4. Beef a la CO2

Exposed to regular air, ground beef soon turns from a fresh-looking red to a less-appetizing brown. That’s why many food retailers package their meat in a mix of carbon dioxide and nitrogen (and, sometimes, a little carbon monoxide as well): the special atmosphere keeps the ground beef looking shopper-friendly “fresh.”

5. The Twinkie

Of course, we all know the Twinkie isn’t natural. But, in his 2007 book, Twinkie, Deconstructed,” author Steve Ettlinger explores in depth just how not-natural the spongy treat with a cream filling is.

The small amount of ferrous sulfate in each snack cake, for example, originates from iron ore mines and steel mills, while the cellulose gum comes from trees or cotton. As for the flavors and colors? Well, the adjective “artificial” in front of both those words on the label says it all.

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Iron deficiency is the most common types of nutritional deficiency, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Iron deficiency it most often found in young children and women of child bearing age.

Woman Holding a Pink Water Bottle Against Her Stomach

Mild iron deficiency may not have any symptoms, but if the deficiency gets worse you may experience a feeling of tiredness, lightheaded feeling , fuzzy thinking and other symptoms that affect functioning and the quality of life.

Iron deficiency in children can cause developmental delays and behavioral disturbances. In the past decades iron intake has been increased, thanks to iron enriched formulas.

Women of child bearing age have a particular risk for iron deficiency, due to blood loss associated with menstruation and pregnancy.

Iron deficiency anemia can be prevented by eating a well-balanced diet that includes foods that are good sources of iron. If more iron is needed and iron supplement can give you an added boost of the vital mineral

A baby’s diet can affect their risk of iron deficiency anemia. Cow’s milk is low in iron, so is not recommended for infants less than a year old. Talk to your child’s doctor for dietary recommendations. A doctor may recommend an iron enriched formula or iron drops .

Follow the doctor’s recommendations carefully, as too much iron can be dangerous for a child.

An iron rich diet can prevent iron deficiency anemia. Foods that are rich sources of iron include liver, meat, beans, spinach, beets, green leafy vegetables, dried fruits, raisins, prunes, fish, peanut butter and nuts.

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In addition to iron-rich food, the diet should include folate and folic acid. Isolates can be found in citrus juices, citrus fruits, bananas, dark green leafy vegetables, cereals, pasta, legumes, and fortified bread.

Spinach

  • Vitamin B-12 is an important nutrient found in meat and dairy products. Vitamin B-12 can also be found as a vitamin supplement.
  • Vitamin C is an important nutritient that helps to increase absorption of iron from other foods. Food rich in vitamin C include citrus fruits, melons and berries.
  • Spinach is a good source of iron, but should be taken along with citrus, otherwise the iron will not be absorbed. Try sprinkling the spinach salad with the juice from a lemon, or add orange slices to the salad. You can also eat the citrus as a side dish along with the spinach.

Your doctor may recommend an iron supplement, which can usually be purchased over the counter. Iron supplements should be taken under doctor’s care because it is possible to take too much iron supplement.

Information in this article is not intended as medical advice. If you have a medical condition, please consult a physician.

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