CULTIVATE, Natural Health

Q&A: Is Popcorn GMO?

July 10, 2013

Is Popcorn GMO? | Growing Up Herbal | Corn and popcorn come from two different seeds. Seeing as how corn is a big GMO crop, have you ever wandered if popcorn is GMO too?

Sarah asks… “My kids LOVE popcorn, but I’ve recently been learning about how bad GMOs are for the body and that we shouldn’t eat them. Do you know of any popcorn brands that aren’t GMO?

I’ve heard this question over and over from parents who are trying to get away from the majority of the GMO products on the market today, but their kids love popcorn (who doesn’t) and they’re wanting a substitution.

Popcorn is one of those “healthy snacks” anyway, right? Besides… popcorn and movies… they go together like bread and butter… peanut butter and jelly… peas and carrots.

So when this question popped up on my radar… I wasn’t surprised, but you may be with my answer.

When I first heard about this, I had no clue. Plus, I’m in the same boat as many of these parents. I like popcorn… my kids like popcorn… and it can be a great snack. So what did I do? I searched for answers, and here’s what I came up with.

Popcorn Is Not GMO

Elizabeth Yarnell of stated, “At the Seeds of Doubt conference recently, Jeffery Smith, executive director of the Institute for Responsible Technology and GMO expert, assured us that even though almost 90% of the corn grown and eaten in this country is GMO corn, popcorn comes from a different seed and has not been genetically modified.” [1]

Seeing as how Jeffery Smith, author of Genetic Roulette DVD and Seeds of Deception book, is a GMO expert… I feel comfortable believing this information which is a relief since I’m not a fan of GMO anything and like I said, my family loves popcorn.

Conventional Popcorn Is A No-Go

Now just because popcorn is not GMO doesn’t mean that you should just go out and buy any cheap brand at the grocery store. No, no, no. You see, popcorn is a crop that is heavily covered in pesticides, insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, and fertilizers, and that means that it’s best eaten as organic. Yes, this includes movie theater popcorn, microwavable popcorn, and popcorn kernels that are not organic.

The amount of chemicals that are added to popcorn will blow your mind. Just check out the 2013 Agri-Chemical Handbook on to see for yourself!

How To Find Quality Organic Popcorn

I’ll be honest with you here. Organic popcorn can be a bit pricey compared to conventional popcorn, but for me, it’s worth it. It’s not like we eat tons of it so buying organic popcorn actually lasts us a while.

The best way to get organic popcorn for a good price is to buy it in bulk at your local health food store or co-op. For some of you, this isn’t an option. When I can’t find organic popcorn in bulk, the next best place for me to get it is Amazon. I’m always ordering things off Amazon anyway (seeing as how they have everything) so adding a bag of organic popcorn to my order is super easy. To make it easier on you I’ve included some of the best known organic brands there below.

As far as actually popping our popcorn, we use an air popper and a stovetop popcorn popper. I love them both, and my kids can even use them although the air popper seems to be a bit safer… it can still get hot though.

So that’s that… popcorn is not GMO, but it does need to be organic!

Next time you and your family have a movie night, grab your popcorn popper, your organic popcorn, and pop away. Then cover it in some raw butter or coconut oil and some celtic sea salt, and you’re all set! Enjoy!


1 –

Does your family like popcorn? If so, what’s your favorite way to prepare it, and what spices do you use?

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  • Reply Kori July 10, 2013 at 2:01 PM

    I have also read that blue corn is not GMO. So if you “need” a corn chip snack, look for organic blue versions. :)

    • Reply Meagan July 10, 2013 at 2:54 PM

      Interesting. I love Garden of Eatin’s spicy blue corn chips. Ummmm!! I recently found out that the Tostitos brand is now offering their regular tortilla chips in a non-GMO variety. Good to know. Thanks for your comment Kori!

      • Reply Josh March 1, 2014 at 7:01 PM

        Research HAIN Celestial. They are the ones who make Garden of Eatin’. They are backed by Pepsi. :) please do your research…

        • Reply Meagan March 4, 2014 at 9:55 AM

          Great article Josh… thanks for sharing it. Unfortunately, it’s very difficult to backtrack all the brands a person would use to see who funds their company (or owns part of it) as the average person has to use 100s of brands in all areas of life… not just food. It is interesting to see this info though, but as I understand it, not all companies are in control over who owns stock in them. It depends whether they’re publicly or privately traded. This company could be a publicly traded company, therefore they have no control as to who buys their shares. Maybe, maybe not. Research done.

        • Reply George April 23, 2014 at 1:08 PM

          Garden of Eatin’ has several products on the NonGMO Project Verified list. Just because they are “backed by Pepsi” does not mean they are bad.

          I did my research.

          • Meagan April 23, 2014 at 2:37 PM

            Thanks George! My family was just talking about this today. It seems that anyone can buy stock in a company… depending upon how it’s incorporated… and so that may not always be a good judge of a company and it’s values. I don’t know much about that sort of thing, but I wouldn’t throw the baby out with the bath water.

  • Reply Magic and Mayhem July 10, 2013 at 9:59 PM

    Good to know, and thanks. I’m trying to wean myself off Amazon as much as humanly possible these days and spread my money out through my local food co-op, Azure Standard, local farmers and direct from sources. Otherwise I’m afraid there will be no book stores, craft stores, toy stores or other businesses left in the world besides Walmart in our cities and Amazon on the web. I’ll check my co-op for some good organic popcorn!

    • Reply Meagan July 11, 2013 at 8:22 AM

      I totally hear you! My co-op doesn’t have popcorn, unfortunately, but my local health food store sells it occasionally which is where I got my last bit of popcorn. Amazon is just so convenient… especially for me since I live out in the boonies and have to drive an hour to get to any decent stores that sell healthy foods. With 3 little ones… that’s not always fun. I’ve ordered from Azure Standard before, but that was probably 7 years ago! Last time I checked on ordering from them it didn’t look like they’d deliver my way any more. I’ve never tried ordering direct from sources, and I love my local farmers market! I don’t think anyone sells popcorn though. Again, small town living = small town farmers markets! LOL! I still love it though. But you’re definitely right! I’m all about supporting local things. My husband has a local business, but I think it takes time to develop that mindset and continually shift it. Thanks again!!

    • Reply Ski Anders September 15, 2013 at 8:10 PM

      Local is awesome!! Though, if you read the fine print on where the Amazon items, books etc. are shipped from, you can find the names of smaller
      Used & New Bookstores, etc. When I order from those, I feel I’m giving my business (though on Amazon) still to someone who’s a real person out there :)

  • Reply Hannah L. July 18, 2013 at 12:55 PM

    I bought organic popping corn at Trader Joe’s this week for 1.99 for a 28 oz bag which will last us a few months.

    • Reply Meagan July 18, 2013 at 10:34 PM

      That’s a great deal Hannah! Thanks for sharing!!

    • Reply Donna D. July 31, 2013 at 11:55 PM

      I live in Mass. and the Hannaford’s Supermarket has organic popcorn for $1.99 per pound. I’ll have to check Trader Joe’s for the better deal. We pop it in a large pot with a Tbsp. of Olive Oil then season it with Nutritional Yeast and sea salt. We are vegan so the yeast is a great cheese substitute and much healthier. When salted it tastes just like grated parmesan. “D

      • Reply Meagan August 1, 2013 at 8:58 AM

        Ummm… that sounds great Donna! I’ll have to try putting nutritional yeast on mine some time!

    • Reply Tracy August 2, 2013 at 10:55 AM

      Yes – Trader Joe’s has it for a good price and they also have organic kernels for popping. Whole Foods brand organic popcorn is also 1.99 for a pretty big bag :)

      • Reply Meagan August 2, 2013 at 1:22 PM

        Great to know! Thanks Tracy!!

  • Reply Michelle July 18, 2013 at 9:32 PM

    Hi there, I live in Tennessee also and you should check again with Azure, they deliver here in Middle Tennessee and are expanding their routes.

    • Reply Meagan July 18, 2013 at 10:34 PM

      Thanks… I’ll try. I’m in East TN, and I don’t remember them having trouble shipping to me before. I just thought their website was a bit vague on it… I’ll check on it though. Thanks for letting me know!!

  • Reply Jenn July 20, 2013 at 2:18 PM

    I don’t see how this is possible. If you want to taste an heirloom seed popcorn and decide for yourself – try shagbark seed and mill popcorn. Delicious and tastes absolutely nothing like anything at whole foods or trader joes. Even my four boys noticed a different flavor.

    • Reply Meagan July 20, 2013 at 9:58 PM

      I’m not sure what you’re saying Jenn. What’s not possible? GMO popcorn? I agree with you that heirloom is best and is almost always the way to go… organic if possible.

  • Reply Sara Jo Poff July 20, 2013 at 2:54 PM

    Very good post!! Thanks for covering it! Our family buys beautiful organic multi-colored popcorn from Azure Standard–buy it in bulk (25 pounds) and it ends up being super cheap!

    • Reply Meagan July 20, 2013 at 9:57 PM

      Thanks for sharing Sara!!

  • Reply David King July 20, 2013 at 8:56 PM

    I hate to disagree with Jeffry, I so believe in his work and I am adamantly opposed to GMOs in anything, but I do disagree in this case.

    Corn, ALL corn, is Zea mays. ALL corn will cross. If pollen from a GMO corn – does not have to be popcorn – pollinates a farmer’s popcorn, the result will be that the popcorn is GMOed. It is true you cannot grow out that popcorn and have popcorn, even tho it will looks and pop like popcorn, it contains the genetic coding of the other, GMO, corn.

    This is true for purple corn as well. This is why wind pollinated GMOs have to be outlawed – they must not be able to put their contaminated pollen into the atmosphere. Pollen is viable up to 25 miles away. There are VERY FEW cornfields left in this country that are more than 25 miles from a GMO tainted field and almost certainly NONE commercially!

    Grow your own in the city. Popcorn and blue corn, organic or not, is almost certainly tainted with GMO pollen. The percentage of non-GMOed corn has got to be miniscule at this time. My friends at Seed Savers Exchange _hand-pollinate_ all of their corn seed. You can order seed from them and grow your own. It’s easy. I did it as a child (and I’m doing it again, now).

    Sorry to be a downer.


    • Reply Meagan July 20, 2013 at 10:02 PM

      No… thank you for your input David. You raise a very valid point, and I appreciate your views. I hadn’t thought of cross-pollination. So the point is… popcorn hasn’t been manually made into a GMO product, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t be tainted via pollination. I assume that goes for any crop that can be cross-pollinated, correct? So I can definitely see that it pays to be aware of where you’re getting your popcorn from… the company that is… and to see how their popcorn is pollinated. Is that right?

      • Reply Jennifer Shelby July 21, 2013 at 1:05 PM

        …exactly why Europe banned GMO’s. Still, good information was shared in this post and I appreciate it. We like our popcorn air-popped with coconut oil and some salt and pepper – yum! After my Dad’s heart surgery we switched from butter to coconut oil – sounds gross but it’s quite good!

        • Reply Meagan July 21, 2013 at 9:23 PM

          That actually sounds great! I’ll have to try that!! Thanks for sharing!

          • Bella May 9, 2014 at 1:07 AM

            I buy organic popcorn at the Hannaford’s near me. It’s $1.99 lb. in the bulk foods section. It’s tender and delicious. I pop it in a large pot on the stove and since we are vegan we top ours with sea salt and nutritional yeast. The yeast is a delicious grated cheese substitute when salted. It makes the popcorn taste so cheesy . YUM!

          • Meagan May 9, 2014 at 10:17 PM

            Love it Bella! I’ve still not tried putting nutritional yeast on my popcorn. I have some here… I just keep forgetting about it. Do you melt butter, put that on, then sprinkle on the salt and yeast so it will stick?

          • Michelle September 15, 2014 at 10:19 PM

            If they are vegan, probably not! :) If you’re popping it on the stove though, you’ll be using oil, so the popcorn will be a little bit oily and the nutritional yeast will stick.

          • Meagan September 16, 2014 at 1:27 PM

            Got it… we pop ours in an air popper usually and use butter. You could do coconut oil too I suppose. I’ll definitely have to try this soon!

          • Vic September 24, 2015 at 6:04 PM

            I’ve been putting yeast on my popcorn since I was a child. I melt some butter, sprinkle a lot of yeast and yummy!
            Also, for microwavable popcorn, I like to treat myself with Quinn’s Popcorn. Pricey, but delicious.

          • Meagan September 24, 2015 at 9:04 PM

            I’m a BIG fan of nutritional yeast on my popcorn too! I love it!

    • Reply Popcorn Dennis June 6, 2014 at 4:47 PM

      I know I am almost a year late but I am concerned with how much bad information there is about GMO’s. When this troll David King writes the above statements it hurts from the popcorn industry.

      Please research GA1S gene in maize. All modern popcorn has been converted with this gene using conventional breeding techniques. There is even a field corn company, Blue River Hybrids, that has added this gene to all of their parents to help protect their food grade field corn from GMO contamination. Simply, the GA1S pollen moves faster through GA1S silk than non-GA1S pollen.

      All popcorn kernels are non-GMO. GMO events must be registered with the US government. Popcorn has not been cleared for any GMO because the packagers didn’t want to have to deal with it. The oil in microwave bags is a different story.

      • Reply Meagan June 6, 2014 at 11:29 PM

        Very interesting Dennis. So you’re saying that what David said about popcorn seeds being able to be cross-pollinated by GMO corn isn’t true… because in fact, they’re two different seeds entirely. That’s the way I always understood it to be, but I’m not an expert on this subject so I’m not totally sure. Also, are you saying that this gene… GA1S… is being inserted in corn seed in order to PROTECT the seeds from being cross-contaminated by GMOs? It sounds like a good thing, but I’m not really for messing with plant genes on any level. In my opinion, they should be left alone the way they were created so that we benefit from them instead of them harming our bodies. I do agree that we need to do something about GMOs, but I think going towards the source of the problem and bringing awareness to the public is where we should focus our efforts… not on re-engineering a plant seed. I wonder how new this is and what types of testing or studies have been done on the corn that contains this gene. Thanks for your input!

  • Reply Janelle July 31, 2013 at 1:37 PM

    Popcorn may not be GMO but check this article out, it’s #3 on the top 10 most cancer causing foods :(

    • Reply Meagan July 31, 2013 at 2:12 PM

      Yes Janelle… that’s because microwavable popcorn is loaded with crap! Seriously, you’re better off buying kernels of popcorn and popping it yourself on your stovetop. Plus… popcorn is covered in pesticides and chemicals so organic is a must!

  • Reply Tasha Harnden July 31, 2013 at 2:03 PM

    Is the President’s Choice Organics a good Brand for Organic food with no GMOs?

  • Reply Linda B July 31, 2013 at 3:34 PM

    Movie theater popcorn may not be GMO, but it is usually popped in canola oil, which is a 100% GMO.

    • Reply Meagan August 1, 2013 at 8:57 AM

      Yes, great point!! Thanks for sharing Linda.

  • Reply christina August 2, 2013 at 10:56 AM

    What about USDA organic popcorn? I buy mine at Trader Joes.

    • Reply Meagan August 2, 2013 at 1:22 PM

      Organic and non-organic popcorn are both non-GMO… the only difference is that organic is free of all the chemicals and pesticides used… so yeah, it’s the way to go!! A lot of people have been saying Trader Joes is great too BTW!

  • Reply Emily Ann Selden August 2, 2013 at 12:33 PM

    First, Meagan thank you for your research and article–I appreciate your work.

    The problem here is we have let ourselves get lazy in what we put in our bodies and have not researched where the products come from. I am sincerely glad this is changing. Yes we have to research much more because of our laziness in the past.

    For example, with movie theater popcorn it entirely depends on the chain, I worked for Ultrastar movie chain and they actually used coconut oil to pop their Orville Redenbacher brand popcorn.

    • Reply Meagan August 2, 2013 at 1:18 PM

      That’s awesome Emily! I never thought to ask about the kind of oil a place uses… although, I’m sure it’s still conventionally grown popcorn, not organic. It would be even more awesome if it were… I’m sure they’d be advertising that though. Anyway, thanks for you comment. It just goes to show that we can at least ask and be informed.

  • Reply Cas November 5, 2013 at 9:22 PM

    Hi Megan, My wife & I have recently changed our eating habits and try to do everything organic. We have purchased 2 hot-air poppers and both of them say in the instructions… “Not to be used with organic popcorn”. Not sure why but we have returned them. We have searched all over the internet and can not find any hot-air popcorn maker that says organic popcorn can be used. Does anyone know of ANY hot-air popcorn maker that states that we can use Organic popcorn?

    • Reply Meagan November 6, 2013 at 4:34 PM

      I have NEVER heard of that, and it makes no sense to me whatsoever. I use organic popcorn in my hot-air popper and it turns out just fine. I’ll ask the FB page and see if anyone else has heard anything… my best guess is that brands that sell popcorn tend to end up selling their own popcorn poppers, and they want you to by their popcorn which usually isn’t organic. I personally wouldn’t worry about it.

  • Reply Teresa Unger November 5, 2013 at 11:19 PM

    Those prices are extraordinarily high. You can order organic popcorn in bulk through co-op’s fro much less. Check out Country Life.

    • Reply Meagan November 6, 2013 at 4:31 PM

      Good thinking Teresa… thanks for sharing!

  • Reply Penny January 1, 2014 at 6:33 PM

    I buy fireworks popcorn,it has no gmo,also pop it in a pan!never use cancer causing microwave!firworks states own there site it’s not gmo.There popcorn is so good!I love the red one,its soo good.

    • Reply Meagan January 1, 2014 at 8:50 PM

      Thanks for sharing Penny… I’ve never heard of that brand. I’ll have to check it out.

    • Reply Elaine McFadden, MPH, RD January 2, 2014 at 9:56 AM

      Many may not be GMO, but since I try and keep it organic too what I have found as best premade popcorn is Kettle Pop Organic. They do 50 farmers markets in San Francisco Bay area and make the best popcorn ready to eat. Regular has less than 100 mg of sodium and just over 100 calories. Their organic kettle corn is addicting and I have eaten a whole big bag at one time so watch out. Oils can be GMO as can sugar added to corn. Check out what can be in your microwave popcorn too on this link. We have our interview with them and they tell about other popcorns too:

      • Reply Meagan January 2, 2014 at 3:25 PM

        Great points Elaine. I hadn’t considered the oils or sugars used in popcorns. I assume when you buy a bag of pre-popped popcorn that’s labeled “organic” then everything including the oil and sugars are organic and non-GMO. Anyway, it’s something to be aware of. Thanks for your input!

  • Reply Nikki January 29, 2014 at 11:25 PM

    Whoo hoo! Finally some GOOD news! LOVE it! We are definitely a popcorn lovin’ family!

    It seems like so much we read nowadays is about what is bad for us. I know we need to know, but sometimes it feels like we can’t eat anything. It’s great to hear that popcorn (and blue corn) is non-GMO.

    • Reply Meagan January 30, 2014 at 11:12 AM

      I agree, although keep in mind that conventional popcorn is laden with pesticides so organic is your best option!

  • Reply Annie February 1, 2014 at 12:13 AM

    We LOVE popcorn. We do it right on the stove with a big stock pot. My 8 yr old’s favorite thing to do is put stevia and cinnamon on top. He started doing that and now everyone loves it. I’ve also done it with coconut oil and it tastes great, pretty much the same as with olive oil. I get it in bulk at the health food store when I go…it’s far away, but worth it when I do make the drive :). Thanks for posting.

    • Reply Meagan February 1, 2014 at 9:15 AM

      Thanks for sharing your recipe with us! Sounds delicious!

  • Reply Moe May 11, 2014 at 11:09 PM

    I just got on the popcorn eating bandwagon,picked up a bag of Smartfood Popcorn (White cheddar flavor),very good,but nothing on packaging about wether or not GM corn was used.Nothing on web site either,also no information about GM corn on Indiania Popcorn (brand name) either,please enllighten me.

  • Reply Margo January 17, 2015 at 5:15 PM

    Is white popcorn also organic or do they do something to the corn to get it white?? We use olive oil and a stove top popper. Thanks.

    • Reply Meagan January 18, 2015 at 9:19 PM

      From my understanding Margo, there are different types of popcorn… just like there are different types of many plants. I think the thing that matters is to purchase popcorn kernels that are grown organically so they weren’t treated with chemicals.

  • Reply C March 3, 2015 at 7:44 PM

    I too bought the organic popcorn at my co-op, it’s the white kernels and some of the seeds have that discoloration at the base of the seed, it’s that pinkish color that you see on all the Monsanto seeds, I agree with other posters that Monsanto is the sickness that won’t go away. I think I’ll just start getting popcorn from our farmers market growers. Still, I don’t know if that’s the case here. I pop with coconut oil and sunflower seed oil, then the himalyan salt, great flavor.

    • Reply Meagan March 3, 2015 at 10:27 PM

      That’s strange about the pinkish color on the seeds C. I’ve never seen that before. Anyway, good luck getting popcorn from your farmers market. I’ve never seen it offered at ours, but it’s pretty small. I’ll have to ask around this year.

  • Reply Rio March 13, 2015 at 8:02 PM

    Does anyone know of some kind of sprinkler type bottle to put the coconut oil on my popcorn with? Keep in mind that I have to heat my coconut oil each time to melt it first so a sprayer is not good. Thanks.

    • Reply Meagan March 15, 2015 at 8:15 PM

      I’m sorry Rio. I don’t know of anything like that. I’d think it would just pour out of the holes no matter how small. The only sprinkler type bottles I know of are powder bottles, but those holes are still pretty larges… especially for coconut oil.

  • Reply Susan cataldo March 27, 2015 at 9:49 PM

    To Rio:
    I make my popcorn on the stove and use organic raw coconut oil in the pot. Once done I add Himalayan pink salt and that’s it. No need to add butter or extra oil. Yum

  • Reply Douglez October 13, 2015 at 6:23 PM

    Don’t be too quick. Check out the oil these clowns use in their microwave popcorn bags…LOL.

    • Reply Meagan October 13, 2015 at 9:02 PM

      Yes… that’s definitely something else to consider. Thankfully we can still get plain popcorn to pop ourselves at home! Great point though. Thanks for sharing Douglez!

  • Reply Tae March 24, 2016 at 9:09 PM

    Thanks for the informative posting on popcorn and GMO. Truly how nutritional is popcorn as a snack? I’ve been going back and forth with popcorn being a snack food item compared to whole fruits or possibly nuts. It’s so easy to consume a good quantity of popcorn if you’re snacking on them. Any thoughts nutritionally?

  • Reply Carl Garbett September 12, 2016 at 6:23 AM

    Hi. My 2 cents here is using the right kind of oil to pop the corn. After extensive research, only these oils are suitable for frying at high temperatures: Macademia Nut oil, Avocado Oil, Red palm oil and Coconut oil. Unfortunately i cannot use coconut oil (virgin or deoderised) as it creates a chemical reaction and causes my breath to smell. I eat popcorn for breakfast every day along with glass of lemon water (water with fresh cut lemon juice added). The trick is to use the lemon within 30minutes of cutting for optimum results. Cheers

    • Reply Meagan September 12, 2016 at 10:22 AM

      Interesting, Carl. I use an air popper to pop our popcorn and love it. Then I cover it in butter or oil if I want. I’ve never heard of anyone eating popcorn for breakfast, but I’m sure my kids would love that! Thanks for your comment!

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