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Archive for May 7th, 2010

Read those Labels!

Friday, May 7th, 2010

This week it has become painfully clear to me that I’m in a minority. I read the labels on the foods I buy. All of the labels. Every ingredient. Really.

guacshelfsmI grew up in a house where we read labels. When my father died and I was 14, Mom had a full-time job so my brother and I would go to the grocery store with our bicycles and do the grocery shopping. Mom could not have salt, so we read labels. Back in the mid-1970’s, you could get some items at a regular grocery without salt. It would be much harder these days.

In around 1992, I realized that eating yeast/mold foods was making me foggy and I gave them up. I already knew that breathing mold/mildew made me feel bad. Giving up bread, cheese, yogurt, vinegar and a host of other foods in the “mold/yeast” categories, gave me my brain back. I was grateful for the change. I was also in the habit of reading those labels. I learned which ingredients were on the “foggy brain” list and did not buy them.

In the last ten years or so, I’ve discovered more foods that give me problems. I have had to learn about new foods so that I could have some variety in my life, but I was in good shape to spot problem items by reading labels.

One day a really sharp acquaintance turned to me and exclaimed that she was shocked to read her “diet meal bar” label and find out what she was eating. The first two ingredients were corn syrup and a milk/dairy product. Some diet! I was stunned to realize that she had not read the label before purchasing the item.

So this week, I went to the grocery store. I went past the display of new items. Here I saw a display for “Cinco de Mayo.” They had fake Mexican food ready to go. I noticed pretty green stuff in a jar, which said “guacamole.” My first instinct was to read the label.


I know if I make guacamole I use a lot of fresh avocados as the primary ingredient. I may chop some onions and tomato, and perhaps some red bell pepper to put in it. Other folks would surely add jalapeno pepper. Most would add garlic, salt, and flavorings such as cumin, and/or red pepper flakes. None of the secondary ingredients would add up to as much bulk as the avocado, though.

Recently, I have become afraid to eat guacamole in a restaurant. The new, cool, thing, is to mash avocado and add a powdered mix to flavor it. This makes things lower-labor for the business. However, there is usually powdered sour cream in it, and far too often MSG or some sort of corn syrup, none of which I can eat successfully. Now guacamole is a make-it-yourself item for me. It’s not too hard, things could be worse.

But wowie, friends! This pseud0-guacamole is the right color. Other than that, the ingredient list includes two things I have NEVER seen on a label before. The oil is canola, not avocado. The only mention of my own first ingredient, is “powdered avocado,” in the less than 2% portion of the label. Here is what the label says:

Ingredients: water, canola oil, food starch modified, concentrated crushed tomatoes, maltodextrin, and contains 2% or less of: avocado powder, dehydrated onion, jalapeno pepper, spices, whey protein concentrate, salt, natural and artificial flavors, corn syrup solids, caramel color, soy sauce (naturally fermented wheat and soybeans, salt, maltodextrin, caramel color), citric acid, lemon juice concentrate, lemon juice solids, sugar, glucono-delta-lactone, xanthan gum, sodium acid pyrophosphate, datem, lactic acid, monosodium glutamate, yellow #5 & blue #1.

It contains calories, so if you ate it you would stop feeling hungry for a while. It is entertainment. I don’t know if it tastes good. I can assure you it’s not as good for you as what I call “real” guac. The real stuff does have oil/fat (and a good kind, to boot) but is all healthy stuff.

Have I convinced you that maybe you would miss something if you did not read your labels? Can you really believe that eating things you can’t pronounce, spell, or understand… is food? That it’s food in any sense of nourishing?

I’m not lecturing here… but I am urging those who have not thought about this before, to think about it now. I did not grow up knowing about other things. This is something I learned young enough that I just thought everyone else did it!

Please, love yourself enough to read those labels. OK? There is plenty of good food out there. Apples, for example, have one ingredient. ‘Nuff Said.