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Food Labels: Understanding What You Are Eating!

Updated on February 15, 2014
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Healthy Food?

WAKE UP!

It is time to SNAP OUT of the Denial Phase and move into the TRUTH Phase. The answers are right in front of us, and yet there are still so many out there who fall into the "I'm Naïve" trap.

Hear me rant:

I'm talking about our food industry and what we are REALLY eating! I'm ashamed by what the direction that this country is heading when it comes to good food. I just had my husband ask today why "healthier" food is so much more expensive (hence the higher grocery bills). I grew exasperated trying to explain the time and care it takes to make sure no crap is placed in our foods. This, in turn, costs more, so we pay more.

I also have a big belief that the cheaply made foods tainted with chemicals that people eat create more health issues. These health issues are what keep our medical association in full force, our health insurance companies running, and the pharmaceutical companies fully funded. Make sense? Think I'm full of it? I don't. It's a well rounded conspiracy!

I will get off of my high horse now.....

But really, in the ideal world, I would like to be able to be completely self-reliant, churning my own butter (even though I don't eat dairy), baking my own goods over a hot fire, and growing every possible fruit and vegetable that I can eat. Yes, I would love to be back in the 1800's (with internet, of course!) wearing my bonnet and heels!

In reality though, I probably still rely on the grocery store (farmers markets and natural food stores as well) for about 80% of my needs. I DO make my own bread, and grow my own vegetables and some fruits.

So, for that 80%, I have to be extremely careful about what is placed in my grocery cart

SO DO YOU!

Here are some "labels" you may see:

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Organic

When we see the USDA Organic Label on foods, we should feel pretty good that this particular food has gone through some inspections. Foods cannot put the label "ORGANIC" on their packages, unless they pass rigorous testing.

Organic means that the ingredients used are not exposed to any pesticides/herbicides or antibiotics/hormones. In other words, you won't find anything chemical related in organic foods. Keep in mind that not every single ingredient in an organically labeled food is organic, but the majority of them are.

Does it matter? Yes, when it comes to certain foods, like our produce, many of them are better off organically grown. Animal products are also best organically raised too.

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Non-GMO Verified

If you don't know what a GMO is, become familiar very quick. It is a reality that we are seeing more of lately. If you want to take care of your health and be diligent of what you feed your children/grandchildren, read your labels.

In non-scientific terms, a GMO (or Genetically Modified Organism) is when the DNA of one species, like a virus or bacteria, is INSERTED into another species, like a crop or animal. Sounds special, doesn't it? It's also GROSS! These "new" species of foods and/or animals are then served to us humans to EAT! The genetically modified crops are highly resistant to pesticides and herbicides, so they get extra helpings of them, allowing the farmers to SELL MORE! Yum! Chemical encrusted fake corn-like food! Can't wait!!

The top foods that are genetically modified are:

  • corn
  • soy
  • canola
  • sugar beets
  • cotton.

These GM foods have been linked to allergies, organ changes, infertility, and gastrointestinal disease to name a few. I can only imagine what they are doing to the developing bodies of our children. P.S. The majority of our infant formulas are made with corn and soy ingredients. Think about this!

Avoid GMO foods by reading the ingredients! Try to watch for corn/soy ingredients when you can. Look for the Non-GMO Verified label. Sometimes, foods will write "This product is made without the use of genetically modified ingredients." Organic soy/corn products do not use GMOs.

No MSG!

When we see No MSG located on the package, we know that it may not contain Monosodium Glutamate; HOWEVER, we still should read the ingredients to look for ingredients that mimic MSG.

MSG is like a toxin that "excites" or overstimulates our brain cells, causing damage. Some people have strong reactions to MSG, such as gastrointestinal distress, headaches, or feelings of sluggishness. Children may react negatively as well, with behavior issues or difficulty concentrating.

Other foods that mimic MSG are autolyzed yeast extract and natural flavors to name a few. Just what ARE "natural flavors?" Seems to vague to me.

some oats contain trace amounts of gluten; in cases of celiacs, it is best to look for gluten free oats
some oats contain trace amounts of gluten; in cases of celiacs, it is best to look for gluten free oats | Source

Gluten Free!

We are seeing more and more of the "gluten free" label these days. .Some people may argue that doctors are just getting better at diagnosing problems. I think the country is just getting better at making more crap for food. Really.

Years ago, I'm talking before the internet and even the (gasp!) television, we had a more wholesome form of wheat growing in this country. These days, you have to look for specific brands in order to get the high quality wheat that your great-great-great-great grandparents used to eat. If not, you're eating....well....something not good.

Gluten is the protein found in wheat. Because of the changes in the quality of wheat these days, wheat gluten is much more pronounced. In the body, an over abundance of wheat gluten can cause inflammation to the gastrointestinal system. In addition, some people have sensitivities that can be felt in other areas of the bodies, such as the brain. Feel sluggish and moody after eating a hefty bowl of pasta loaded with tons of wheat gluten? That's the gluten!

Celiacs disease is a more severe sensitivity to wheat gluten, while many others suffer from wheat intolerances. Either way, it is best to keep wheat to a minimum. Rice does not contain wheat. Buckwheat (despite the name) does not contain wheat. Quinoa does not contain wheat. In addition, there are many other wheat free grains out there to continue to make your pancakes with! Also, keep in mind that higher quality wheat may not have as much of a negative effect than the cheaply made kind. Hard to believe, I know!

No Trans Fats!

Oh, this one is a good one! Just when we think we are home free buying a "trans-fat free" item....we find that....IT DOES CONTAIN TRANS FATS! Here, we failed to read the ingredients and serving size.

What happens is, when the ingredients tell us that there is a "Partially Hydrogenated Oil" in the vicinity of the food, then there IS a trans fat in the food.

Where the labeling can be deceiving is, they will put that there are NO trans fats for a 1 ounce serving, BUT at 2 ounces, there most likely is! Make sense?

We want to watch our trans-fats because those are the fats that can build up in our arteries. Yuck.

Keep in mind that ingredient reading is more important than reading just what is listed on the package.

The key words here are "organic vegetarian feed."  The cheaper version of the eggs have "vegetarian feed." which tells us there is something less quality in their feed (can you say GMO?)
The key words here are "organic vegetarian feed." The cheaper version of the eggs have "vegetarian feed." which tells us there is something less quality in their feed (can you say GMO?) | Source

All Natural!

Sigh.

This label is so deceiving, I want to puke. I get pretty frustrated when I read a label on an egg carton stating that it is "all natural!"

Honestly, let's HOPE that the egg is natural, and the chicken is natural too, right?

When it comes to animal products, the words "all natural" seem to be a hit these days! I often joke and say, "Well, that sounds great...you know your chicken is NOT a robot!"

Unfortunately, the words "all natural" are not regulated in any way. So, "natural" can just about mean anything, or nothing at all. There are no inspections or insurances of quality for that matter.

Stick to organic animal products, or labels that tell us there are no added hormones or antibiotics.


Is There More?

Of course there IS!!!!

If I wrote on every single issue (such as the problems with Food Coloring in our foods), I would be writing a book.

The important thing to understand is to become aware that foods are not what they used to be. If you are over the age of 25, you will know what I'm talking about!

It is time to take note and become educated. Our children are dependent on US to teach them what is best for their health!

How can we do this if we feed them crap?

Seriously.

Now, I know....we cannot become so OVERWHELMED by this scary reality that we run around screaming "We're doomed!" We also cannot become prudes and shun ourselves (and our children) from their families and the rest of the world because there may be a harmful chemical lurking in their food.

No. We simply must be smart. I can do that! Can you? It is OKAY to allow your child to have a hot dog once in a blue moon at a birthday party. Do I let my child eat this weekly? NO! Is it okay to indulge in some Halloween candy (after I've gone through and gotten rid of the nasty Fun Dips)? Yes, it's okay! And for us? Yes, it is okay to enjoy that yummy chocolate bar or an occasional French fry!

The problems arise when we naively buy (and consume) these products on a weekly basis. We are SUPPORTING a negative food industry and in turn, they will CONTINUE to provide us with more mystery foods.

When we buy more health supporting foods, non GMO, non-MSG, organic, non-spit on, non-puked on, raccoon-free foods, we are saying, "I CARE ABOUT MY HEALTH!"

Be your own health advocate! Educate yourself for crying out loud! Stop letting the FDA, Kroger, Walmart, Etc., Etc. Etc. tell YOU how you should eat or be healthy!

I MUST ASK....

Are You Able To Understand What You Are Eating?

See results

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    • vandynegl profile image
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      vandynegl 4 years ago from Ohio Valley

      Hi rajan jolly! Yes, you are right! It is important for people to not just read the labels, but to know what they are reading. Some of the ingredients are just awful! Thank you for reading!

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      Very useful and interesting information. It's time we read all these labels and then decided on buying the items which are healthy.

    • vandynegl profile image
      Author

      vandynegl 4 years ago from Ohio Valley

      Thank you Wabash annie! I always say that when it comes to our health and the food we put into our bodies, we must MAKE the time to read the labels. If we can sit for hours in an ER or stand in line for 25 minutes to get a prescription, then we obviously find the time somewhere. Thank you for reading!

    • wabash annie profile image

      wabash annie 4 years ago from Colorado Front Range

      What a great hub with excellent information! Some people say there is not enough time to read labels and understand the meaning of the ingredients. We must make time and also remember that manufacturers and processing companies are clever. Keep the excellent hubs and topics coming!

    • vandynegl profile image
      Author

      vandynegl 4 years ago from Ohio Valley

      Hi moonlake! I have an app on my phone called "fooducate" and it scans the bar code of foods that may be "questionable." Sometimes it gives good information about the unknown ingredients in foods. The only thing I don't like about it is others can comment on whether they like it or not and "grade" it, so sometimes, foods that are not really good for you are still graded high. Just a thought! Thanks for sharing!

    • moonlake profile image

      moonlake 4 years ago from America

      When I found something on a label I'm not sure about I check on the internet to find out what it is. I always read labels this is a good hub with good information. Voted up.

    • vandynegl profile image
      Author

      vandynegl 4 years ago from Ohio Valley

      Hi Au fait, yes, you are right! People don't even look at the ingredients because most of the words are confusing! I say, if the word is too long, it's got to be something nasty! It's just not worth supporting that by buying it. Thank you for your response!

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 4 years ago from North Texas

      My professor spent a lot of time on reading labels in my nutrition class at the university. It's important to educate oneself in how to read those food labels so you know what's in the package. Lots of people are intimidated by all those strange sounding ingredients, and manufacturers use those technical names for a reason. They know most people will just glance at the label and then throw up their hands and buy.

      Great hub packed with important information.

    • vandynegl profile image
      Author

      vandynegl 4 years ago from Ohio Valley

      Hi dilipchandra, thank you for your response!

    • dilipchandra12 profile image

      Dilip Chandra 4 years ago from India

      Good knowledge hub, i appreciate your work. Thank you!