October 14, 2013

Label Madness Monday

Hey Everyone! In case you were wondering if I’d ever write about something other than digestion, I offer today’s post, the first installment in a new series about the complete wackiness of food labels, ingredients, and food marketing strategies. We’re nowhere near finished with digestion, and I’ll have more for you on that later this week. For now, though, I thought I’d give you a little break from the sciencey-stuff and start your week with something that will make you laugh, smile, and, ultimately, I think, say out loud to no one in particular, “WHAT THE??!!” (No “F,” since, as I have to constantly remind myself, this is a family show.)

Today I’ll highlight a few of the funnier examples I’ve seen lately, just to give you an idea of what we’ll be doing here on Mondays. (I thought about calling this “Freaky Label Fridays” or “Wacky Label Wednesdays,” but I already have dorky alliterative names for series I run on those days. [See here for the latest one from Wednesday 'Round the Web and here for the most recent Food for Thought Friday.])

Okay, here goes. First up:

Your eyes do not deceive you. These are “No Sugar Added” peaches. But don’t let that fool you, kids. Just because they didn’t add any sugar doesn’t mean these peaches are unsweetened. No, no no. Au contraire, mon ami. They added Splenda! My, my. I guess peaches—y’know, ripe, sweet peaches, basically Mother Nature’s candy—weren’t quite sweet enough for Del Monte.

If your eyes aren’t rolling at that one, fear not! Just in case pears were too bitter and needed a little boost in the sweet sector, they added artificial sweetener to those, too. *Whew!* Crisis averted.

This is a joke, right?

Can I give just one more fruit example, in case I haven’t yet hammered home strongly enough the madness of these labels?
Oh, yes, they did.
Yes, folks, they’re at it again. Apparently Del Monte doesn’t think mandarin oranges are sweet enough without fake sugar, either.

So that's mostly what I want to do here: open our eyes to what's going on in food manufacturing and advertising these days, and help us remember how important it is to always, always read labels. What you see is what you get, but most of us shop so quickly and without a second thought to the things we put in our carts that we don't take time to see, and therefore have no idea what we're getting. It's a jungle out there. But the more we know what to look for, the better equipped we'll be to make good choices about real food. (Such as, oh, I dunno, maybe buying whole pieces of fruit that are sweet enough all on their own. Remember: if it comes with an ingredient label, it's probably already been processed or refined in some way.) The more time I spend doing "research" in the average supermarket, the more I understand why some people want professional help with what to eat and how to shop.

And since this is the first one in the series, I’ll throw in a bonus for ya:
 No wheat protein in my mustard? I should HOPE NOT!

I’m well aware of the dangerous effects of gluten and the importance of going gluten-free to heal from a multitude of health conditions. So my point in showing the picture above is not to rag on gluten-free diets, which I recognize, respect, and support. What I’m going for is showing us how whacko our modern food supply has become that they have to specify that this mustard—MUSTARD, for crying out loud—does not contain any wheat protein. Are you KIDDING ME?! Why would there be any gluten in mustard? Mustard ought to have the following ingredients and little to nothing else except maybe some honey (for a sweet version), horseradish, or some spices: mustard seed, water, white vinegar. Personally, I don’t think they should even include turmeric, which they usually add for color, but I guess that’s better than FD&C yellow #5, right?

Next Monday, I’ll have a couple of new ones for you. Fair warning: if your favorite grocery store shares initials with our nation’s third president (that would be TJ, for those of you who slept through history in junior high), prepare to have your bubble burst.

In the meantime, Stay tuned…more on digestion in a few days. We’ll be tackling the stomach next. And in case you want a reminder of what we’ve already covered, check here for the series intro to Digestion for (not-so) Dummies, here for the brain, and here for the mouth.

Remember: Amy Berger, M.S., NTP, is not a physician and Tuit Nutrition, LLC, is not a medical practice. The information contained on this site is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any medical condition.

1 comment:

  1. Turmeric has some purported health benefits, too bad most people only get it from mustard.