Put The Label On The Front, Please
A friend and I joked the other day about how food labels should be on the FRONT of every package! Show thyself, you traitor! (The food that is, not my friend.) Let’s look at a few labels.
Simply GoGurt Healthy, right? Used to always be in my cart two years ago! I make yogurt with TWO ingredients: milk and cultures. That’s it. If I want it thick, I sit it in a strainer with a coffee filter and let the liquid (whey) drip out. If we want it sweet, the girls add maple syrup to taste. If we want color, we add blueberries and strawberries.
Did you do an analysis? What reasons did you come up with to leave this out of your cart and out of your kid’s mouth?
- Sugar: Kids get WAY too much sugar, especially in these hidden food products.
- Preservative (Potassium Sorbate): What are all these preservatives doing to the good, healthy bacteria that we absolutely have to have in our GI tracts?
- Modified corn starch: Why is there corn starch in yogurt? You’d never figure out if the child had a corn sensitivity or dairy sensitivity if they ate this and you were unaware of the corn ingredient!
- Gelatin: Not inherently a bad thing. It’s a thickener. But why use gelatin and carrageenan to thicken? Why thicken it at all?
- Carrageenan: This is extracted from seaweed and acts as a thickener and binder. Health nuts will tell you it may cause cancer or colitis. Bottom line here in GoGurt is it’s not needed.
- Natural flavor: Always an ambiguous term that can imply many things. A gray cloud.
- Vitamins: You may or may not care. But most vitamins are now produced in China. I’m not too pleased with their track record on these things.
- Tricalcium Phosphate: Adds calcium and regulates acidity. I don’t know enough to say any more. But I do know it doesn’t have to be in there!
For you health-nuts (I do hope you know I’m laughing at myself when I type “health-nut”–as if I don’t belong in this category– I’m full, fair, square in the thick!), I’m sure you’re all over the fact that it’s not grass-fed dairy and it’s low fat dairy. Good points, but we’re saving the world in medium-sized steps at a time here. For this to work, it has to appeal to the masses.
Cereal Once in elementary school I had an argument with my best friend on the bus about which was healthier, her breakfast of Life Cereal or my breakfast of Fruity Pebbles. We made up over brownies at lunch.
Whole grains only is our goal here. No sugar. No preservatives. Let’s check it out.
What did you come up with?
- Sugar: Ingredient number two! Put it down. If you want your kids to have sugar, save it for dessert. Not breakfast.
- Preservatives (BHT): Your body needs the naturally occurring bacteria that live in our guts. Preservatives have the job of stopping bacteria.
- Colors (yellow 5 and yellow 6): I can see NO good reason ever for colors to be added. Color is added because “all that glitters is gold.” They want you to think it looks pretty.
- Vitamins and minerals: The original grains have been stripped SO badly of their vitamins and minerals during processing, that in order for this box of cereal to have ANY nutritional content (besides calories), the vitamins and minerals must be added back in artificially.
And the die-hards are saying they don’t touch grains with a ten-foot pole. Another faction of die-hards are worried that it’s not organic and it’s not sprouted.
Garlic The last one we’ll have time for today. When I went gluten-free, dairy-free to fix my GI tract (and then I had to go A LOT further nutritionally), I didn’t realize the extent of ingredient mixing! Wheat-protein here. Dairy there. Soy here. I used this garlic as a short-cut in cooking. This was an introduction to the philosophy of reading EVERY LABEL, EVERY TIME.
I know it’s hard to read so I’ll retype it: organic garlic, organic canola oil, sodium lactate, whey (milk), sea salt, dextrose, glycerin, ascorbic acid to protect color and flavor, citric acid, calcium chloride, xantham gum.
What do you think?
- Canola Oil: Oil/fat choices are olive oil, coconut oil, tallow, lard, butter–to get us started (the topic does get a little–lot–deeper). Canola oil makes me unhappy with my choice. Briefly, canola oil, soybean oil, vegetable oils, and other processed oils are high in a type of fat called omega-6. Omega-6 is easy to come by in our diets and so we have exorbitant levels of it! Omega-3s are not so easy to come by (seafood, certain nuts, pastured meats, plus a few other sources), and so we have a detrimental mismatch of omega-6 to omega-3. This allows certain types of prostaglandins and cytokines to be formed which increase inflammation in our bodies (think allergies, eczema, autoimmune disorders, heart disease, headaches, etc). There are also some processing concerns with canola oil.
- Whey (milk): Now if I was buying cheese, I’d be satisfied with this. But what the heck are they doing putting whey in my garlic? No wonder so many dairy-elimination trials, wheat-elimination trials, soy-elimination trials fail!!!!! And two years ago I was clueless and missed this until I started label reading. Every label. Every time.
- Dextrose: A type of sugar. So now I have sugar and milk in my garlic. Again–put it down and walk away.
- A bunch of hobbledy, gobbledy: Xantham gum, citric acid, glycerin, calcium chloride, sodium lactate. I don’t know what all that stuff is in my garlic for. I kind of know what the stuff is, but I don’t have it in my kitchen. My kids can’t pronounce the words. Just a bunch of junk.
Look On The Inside
We teach our kids to look on the inside of people. Don’t judge a book by its cover. Appearances are deceiving. If they’re mean to you, walk away. You don’t need them.
Let’s teach them to look on the inside of food. Beyond the box. Beyond the commercial. Beyond the “one-liners” on the front: “All-Natural,” “Whole Grain,” “High in Fiber,” and “Organic.” Read the ingredients together. When they ask you why they can’t eat this or that when Suzy is, make some absolutes. “We don’t eat food with added colors and preservatives.” OR “We don’t eat food with sugar unless it’s dessert.” I can’t tell you what is going to work, and although the health-nuts (yes, I’m included in here again) think THEIR diet plan is best, the truth is we just don’t know. BUT I DO KNOW IT STARTS WITH REAL FOOD NOT PACKAGED FOOD.
Just like you need real friends, you need real food. (Hey–before we get to know each other, can I see your ingredient list… 🙂 )