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OMG! How to Read Food Labels & Why!

One more task to take on at the grocery store, right!

How is it possible to spend anymore time at the grocery store? Reading labels, that's how it is possible. If everyone shopped on the outside aisles, made grocery lists, meal planned, there wouldn't be the need to read so many labels, but the majority of Americans shop the center aisles and when Coronavirus hit that increased those sales by 30%! (*Kroger stores)

What is the benefit of reading labels? Is it just another stressor of life that shows us how we aren't taking care of ourselves? Is that why we choose to not pay attention or have we not been taught the importance of label reading?

Here are two brands of nut milk. The one on the left is a heavily marketed brand and very popular. The one on the right is more or less only sold at Sprouts or a more "healthy" grocery store. Can you tell the difference between the two labels? Let me guide your through them.

  1. The one on the right has only two ingredients. The nut, and filtered water. The one on the left has 12 ingredients. (They also seem to run into one another.)

  2. The one on the right has 1g of sugar and no added sugars. The one on the left has 7 grams of sugar and 7g of added sugars.

  3. The one on the right has no "sugar" in the ingredient list. The one on the left, it's second ingredient is cane sugar.

  4. The one on the right is more expensive than the one on the left. When it's on sale....stock up!

Which would you prefer to drink? The one with two ingredients knowing exactly what is going into your body or the one on the left with what I think is almonds, sugar, and chemicals. If one company can make a product with exactly the ingredients it's supposed to have in it's milk, why can't they all? That's the question, isn't it!

"Fresh", "NO Additives", "Natural" THIS IS THE WHY!

These are only a few of the terms used in marketing our food. Unbeknown to the consumer, these terms are not regulated so they don't necessarily mean the food is better for you. The FDA sets rules for manufactures on what they can call "light", "low", "reduced" and "free". This article from WebMD breaks down what these words mean for the food industry and for you the consumer. For example: a food labeled "low sodium" can have a maximum of 140 milligrams of sodium. Is it low fat then? 90% of Americans get too much sodium in their foods (*WebMD)

When I see the word "Natural Flavors", I cringe. Actual classification:

“...The essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional.”

In plain English: a “natural flavor” is any type of flavor additive derived or altered from a natural plant or animal substance. Whereas “artificial flavors” are derived from petroleum products. They are both manufactured in labs to produce the same result: a flavor-enhancing additive that makes processed food taste better so we want to eat more (and buy more) of it. In other words: they make processed foods addictive. What’s even worse is the name “natural flavor” can be legally used as a smokescreen for all types of harmful ingredients.

Those "natural" flavorings can be manipulated in a lab for final product just like artificial flavorings. "Flavor" manufacturers are no not legally required to list their ingredients!

Coal Tar (Yellow #5) Yes, it's in our food as Natural Flavors

Processed foods contain many different types of dyes to change their colors to something that is “more appealing” to your eyes. Tartrazine is a dye derived from coal tar. This industrial waste-derived food coloring, also known as yellow #5, has been linked to hyperactivity in children. Coal tar is often used for pavement sealcoats, medicated shampoos and now as an ingredient in our food. According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, mixtures that contain more than 5% crude coal are considered a group 1 carcinogens. Here's the Food List:

Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, Candy (Butterfinger, Lollipops, M&Ms, Starburst, Smarties, Pez, Sweet Hearts, gummy bears and almost all other colored candies), Colored Marshmallows, Fruit Snacks (Fruit roll-ups, Gushers, Twistables, etc), Skim Milk, Yogurt, Butter, Orange Colored Cheeses, Pickles, Orange Colored Snacks (Doritos, Cheetos, etc), Gelatin/Pudding, Mountain Dew, and MANY more products.

The list goes on with what is added to our "boxed" food. If you really want to be shocked (or maybe it is too difficult to digest, literally), here is the link to the rest!

How Can I Afford This!

Most can't. The unfortunate situation is that the healthy "packaged" or 'boxed" foods are too expensive and the unhealthy alternative is dirt cheap! This mustard has all 7 non-gmo ingredients and 0 sugar!

There it is hidden down at the bottom of the ingredient list...."natural flavors". The difference between these two broth products....the cost. One is $1.99 and the other is $4.99. Can you guess which one is the more expensive of the two? The one with natural flavors, of course!

My Final Thought

Should we all begin to make our own mustard, ketchup, spaghetti sauce, and broth? Sure, if you have the time, space, and jars to do it! If mustard takes only 7 ingredients which are all available in our fresh produce aisle, or herb section so why not? It's convenience, that's why not.

Ketchup is even easier! Tomatoes, apple cider vinegar, garlic, and spices, and NO sugar! Tomatoes already have natural sugar in them and taste sweet.

How we will ever begin to take care of our health if we don't do our due diligence and begin to question what foods we put into our bodies? We only get one human body and it is up to us to take care of it, beginning with what we put into it.

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