Saturday, March 10, 2012

Can you tell by the package?

I have learned in all these food adventures that in order to be sure a food is safe you HAVE to read a package ingredients. It is impossible to know just by looking at something. When we first switched our diet over I went to the grocery store. What normally would have been a quick shopping trip became a LOOOOOOOOONG trip. I read every single label of the foods I bought. And very quickly put them down again. By the time I was done I felt exhausted. But it has made a big difference in that when I go to the store now I know exactly what to get. I know that the mulit grain tostitos are in fact worse for you than the regular ones. I know that every chip bag contains artificial flavourings and MSG - except Regular and Salt and Vinegar. So when we want a treat I buy a bag of regular chips (or S & V for TR). I know that if we want something fizzy I am better off to get the certain brand of sparkling juice that we like that is safer than most pops.

Anyway I say all that to say this:

TR came home the other day after having been at the grocery store for me. He was just going for some butter and cream and bananas. He came home with Pineapple juice and sea salt and pepper chips. Sounds innocent enough. Looked like they were innocent. But alas . . .
The pineapple juice was the blue menu choice. 40% less sugar. Right there my flags went up. The pineapple juice we usually buy is 100% pineapple juice not from concentrate. How do they reduce the sugar from that? So I read the label. Pineapple juice (not from concentrate), water, fruit pectin (contains maltodextrin, corn syrup solids) citric acid, potassium citrate, natural flavour, malic acid, ascorbic acid (vitamin C) turmeric (colour) sucralose (15mg per serving), caramel colouring.

YIKES!! In my opinion that is not okay. They take perfectly good juice and water it down. Then add other sweeteners and colouring to make it taste just as good as before so that they can say it has 40% less sugar. Healthier? NO!

The bag of chips didn't get looked at right away - I assumed they were fine. After all regular is just salted chips so sea salt and pepper should be good too right?
A few days later I was making TR's lunch in the morning and he wanted some chips in a baggy. I let the kids each have two and then proceeded to put them in the smaller bag. I tried one too. And very promptly said - "These are really good!" And then I thought for a second and quickly checked the ingredients. Sure enough. MSG. And artificial flavour, and a few other things that should not have been in that bag. I don't have the bag anymore but it was definitely not a safer bag of chips to eat.

TR doesn't check labels like I do. Which is okay, because I am the main grocery shopper in our household. And the things he bought looked very okay. Maybe you think I am a little silly, over cautious. And I guess I am. But ingredients are very important to me.

Take for example what TR was reading about this week. The U.S. government buying ammonia treated sludge leftover waste groundbeef for the 'healthy' school lunch programs. And not having it being detected for 5-7 years! "Meat" no one else would buy was being fed to kids - some who even got sick from it - and everyone just trusted that the gov't was doing a great thing by feeding the kids a healthy lunch.

I want to know what I'm eating.