The Frustration with Food Labels

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Is it just me or does it seem like every other new item in the grocery store is now chalked full of something “healthy”? Seriously, every time I turn around in a store the words “Full of Fiber”, “Made with Whole Grains” and “Excellent source of Calcium” are screaming at me from multiple boxes. (Inserts eye-roll) Let me tell you all the real deal, if a box has to convince you it is healthy, more than likely, it’s really not. 

Most processed food companies’ entire goal is to sell you their product and they know what keywords to include on packages to catch your eye…especially on food for children. We are not even going to get me STARTED on Pop-Tarts and their new wording on the box “Made with Real Fruit”. Nope, I will not be sucked into that misleading demon collection of words. 

Now, I’m not saying go off the grid, grow ALL your food and build a well in your backyard, unless that’s your thing, then by all means do what you do. I AM saying, however, that I am here to help you figure out how to navigate through these misleading advertisements and point out what exactly you should look for when purchasing a product.


Serving Sizes Can Be Very Misleading

Now, this is one thing that grinds my gears the most, misleading serving sizes and calorie count. The information is usually accurate but if you are not quite sure how to read a label, it looks like the information is healthier.  

 wikipedia.org

wikipedia.org

For example, with this food label, at a glance you see this product LOOKS like it has only 250 calories. If you look closely, that is not the case at all; that number really means 250 calories PER SERVING. That container has 2 total servings, which comes to 500 calories total.

This is why it is so important to understand your food labels.


Don’t Be Fooled By The Word “Natural”

When dealing with food labels, the back (or side) is not all you need to watch for. The front packaging can be just as misleading. When you see or hear the word “natural”, you’re instantly in a mindset of healthy, organic and overall really good for me. This little word has helped sell just over 40 billion dollars worth of products in the food industry according to market research giant Nielsen (Yup, the same folks who monitor your tv watching). 

Unfortunately, this awesome little word can be slapped on just about any product because the FDA has no real regulations on it. I understand your like “uhhh, how in the world is that even possible?” Companies can slap that bad boy on any product that does not contain “added colors, artificial flavors, or synthetic substances”. This becomes tricky because this leaves so much room for interpretation. 

So what does this mean really? It means your “natural” products still can contain things like “high fructose corn syrup” which many companies argue it is healthy because it is made from corn. Which is just not true. 

What “Organic” Really Means

The USDA has reserved the word ‘organic” for food produced without any man-made chemicals. The unfortunate thing is, under government rules, “organic” food may be grown or processed with the aid of synthetic substances, as long as they are deemed essential. 

So technically, your organic foods still may not be completely chemical free and I understand it can be very frustrating. 

 usda.gov

usda.gov

Good news is that, unlike the term “natural”, organic is far more regulated. There are actual regulations that are tightly monitored and the food has to be free of synthetic fertilizers.

When hunting for organic foods, make sure your label has that green logo somewhere on the package,(top right of the photo) if it doesn't, I would consider not getting it. 

Food labels can be so misleading sometimes and it makes me so annoyed when I hear about it. That is why I try to educate people as much as I can! I just want all of you to be aware of what exactly you’re putting into your body and make things a little bit easier in the grocery store. 

Questions? Concerns? Comment below!