Okay, I admit it. I am guilty. I’ve been a hypocrite.
What exactly am I guilty of, you ask?
Not reading labels.
I know, I know, here I am, preaching about how you need to read your labels to know whats in your food, and then I catch myself not doing it myself.
Why am I admitting this? First, to hold myself more accountable. If I tell you I’ve been bad, perhaps it will motivate me to not do that again.
Second, because I want to share more about what I’ve been discovering about the food we eat. If I’m falling into these traps, chances are many of you are too. And I’d rather you learn from my mistakes rather than make them yourself.
So why have I not been reading my labels carefully? Well, because of ignorance. And assumptions. And marketing.
I just assume that because something sounds natural and healthy that it is. Or because the label says “all natural” that its good for me. Or “farm fresh”. Or any of the other phrases companies use to make their product sound like it came straight from Aunt Edna’s farm instead of from a manufacturing plant in Sandusky, Ohio.
I don’t *really* know if any foods are made in Sandusky, Ohio. That’s just the first city I thought of when I thought of a manufacturing plant. Why Sandusky, Ohio? Let me give you some clues.
“Guy puts a guarantee on a box ’cause he wants you to feel all warm and toasty inside.” (We’re playing Name That Movie.) Got it yet? Nope? Keep going.
Take pickles, for example. Now I know the pickle relish I was buying contained artificial colors. So I stopped buying it.
But we use pickle relish (dill, of course, sweet is gross) in our tuna fish that we eat for lunch some days. So what to use instead?
My first thought was the Clausen pickles we already had in the fridge. I just assumed because Clausen are “Always Chilled, Never Heated” and because they are a bit more expensive than other brands that they must be healthier. Right?
“A message? What number did you call?” “Two, four, niner, five, six, seven…” “I can’t hear you, you’re trailing off, and did I catch a niner in there?” Still nothing? Okay, one last shot. Keep going.
Yes, the main main ingredients are cucumbers, water, salt, and distilled vinegar. Whew. Well at least I know I’m actually eating cucumbers.
But the list goes on. The third ingredient in the “contains 2% or less of” list is sodium benzoate. Remember this from my post on “My Family vs. Artificial Ingredients“? Now since I’m still a frugal person I’m not just going to throw out a jar of pickles. We’ll use them up. But I likely won’t buy them again.
And when I looked for new pickles at the store this week, guess what? NONE are without sodium benzoate and/or artificial food colorings. Guess I’ll have to look for some at Whole Foods next time.
And remember a few weeks ago when I said I was going to buy some of the Hormel ham that was on sale? Well I ended up ditching that too. It, along with all the hams for sale at the store, contain sodium nitrates.
If I had remembered the post on nitrates and nitrites from Katie over at Healthnutfoodie I would have remembered that ham is on the list of foods containing these possibly cancer-causing ingredients. As it is the only hot dogs I buy for the girls are the Oscar Meyer ones that are nitrate-free. But because ham is “real meat” (or at least less processed than hot dogs) I figured it would be good for me.
So no ham for us. And I did look to get a natural ham from Whole Foods, but at $4.99 a pound (which equated to a $40+ ham), it just wasn’t in the cards.
I think I will continue on this path of examining foods we typically eat and making sure to read the labels clearly. I’ll try to research some of the unknown ingredients to see what exactly they are. Will I do that 100% of the time? Probably not. I do have three kids under 4, you know. I’m lucky I get this much blogging in as it is.
So what’s my point in this? Companies will market something as natural, wholesome and good for you when it is not. So don’t be ignorant. Read labels. And remember, if you “assume” you make an “ass” out of “u” and “me”. (How many of you saw that one coming? Sorry, had to do it.)
What foods that most would think are wholesome and healthy have you found to contain artificial ingredients?
“Did you hear I finally graduated?” “Yeah, and just a shade under a decade too. All right.” “You know a lot of people go to college for seven years.” “I know, they’re called doctors.”
For those that still haven’t figured it out yet, will someone please post the answer in the comments section?