Reading Labels

I’ve never been a label reader on food other than to check for the miscellaneous peanut intruder and I’ve certainly steered clear of the “buy all organic” bandwagon. However, with Luke’s current diet I’ve been forced to become that person who reads every package at the grocery store. I have now read the back of almost every brand of tortilla chips at Safeway, Times Supermarket, Costco and Whole Foods. They all contain either canola oil, sunflower oil or pepper except for the Kirkland brand from Costco. At least there’s one!

If there is anything good that has come out of this so far, it’s that I am much more aware of the things that are in our food. For example, S&W black beans contain prepared black beans, water, salt, sugar, dehydrated onion and calcium chloride (firming agent) compared to the Natural Directions black beans which has organic black beans, water and sea salt. Barilla pasta contains semolina (wheat), durum flour, niacin, iron, thiamine, mononitrate, riboflavin and folic acid. The Natural Directions pasta I now buy contains organic semolina (durum wheat) and water. Two ingredients. Two. Why do we need all those other things?

Calcium chloride aside, reading labels may also surprise you in other ways. I bought cereal the other day (after label reading of course) but we noticed Luke’s stomach was bothering him after a week of eating it. I read the label on the Silk almond milk we use and discovered it contained sunflower lecithin, an ingredient used to create a smooth texture. Sunflowers are on his no-eat list. Bummer.

We were chatting about all this with some friends the other day who happen to have a friend who is a coroner. While I cannot verify the truth in this statement, he said that there was a time where you had to handle a dead body immediately or it would start to smell. Now he can wait a week or so with no issues because we eat so many things with preservatives. If that doesn’t get you thinking, well…

I’m still not isolating myself to the organic section of the grocery store, but I think label reading may be a permanent part of my shopping process.  I won’t even begin to suggest I know best about the science behind processed foods but I am starting to think less is more when it comes to the items I purchase.


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