In the adventure of eating local foods I have found I have greatly decreased processed foods from my diet. While preparing whole foods for meals takes more time in the kitchen, it takes less time at the grocery store.
I avoid reading in the supermarket aisles.
I’m not talking about the magazines……..I’m talking about labels!
The Nutrition Facts label, required by the Food and Drug Administration on most packaged foods and beverages, provides detailed information about a food’s nutrient content, such as the amount of fat, sodium and fiber it has.
Knowing how to read food labels is especially important if you have health conditions, such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol, and need to follow a special diet. It also makes it easier to compare similar foods to see which is a healthier choice. The more practice you get reading food labels, the better you can become in using them as a tool to plan your healthy, balanced diet.
The Serving Size: Knowing the amount of food that is healthy for you is the first step. The nutritional information given on the label is based on this portion size.
Calories (and Calories from Fat): Calories is a way to analyze the amount of energy a food provides. The issue about obesity is not only that we are consuming too much food, but we are not using the energy it provides, so it converts to fat. If we moved more, exercised more, the food we consume is used more efficiently.
The Nutrients: How Much?: Basically, the label provides information about the unhealthy part of the food being described and its healthy component.
Understanding the Footnote on the Bottom of the Nutrition Facts Label: This area provides information regarding the amount of average daily nutrition the food provides.
The Percent Daily Value (%DV): This percentage tells you how much of your nutritional needs are provided, based on a 2,000 calorie daily diet. Like most people, you may not know how many calories you consume in a day. But you can still use the %DV as a frame of reference whether or not you consume more or less than 2,000 calories.
This information has been provided by the FDA and more information is available here.
Comparing the preparation of a box of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese and a homemade recipe is interesting. Being able to chose and control the components of the recipe is a big factor to nutritional health. Here is the nutritional comparison:
One piece of information that is not currently offered but is up for a vote Tuesday in California’s Proposition 37 is if the food contains any genetically modified organisms. Part of much of our food since the mid 1990s, increasing health concerns have resulted in a fierce battle about adding the presence of GMOs to the Food Nutrition Label. It has been a pretty epic David versus Goliath battle with concerned consumers and farm advocate groups, some food manufacturers and health organizations against the major corporations that develop the GMO seeds and the food corporations who manufacture products using those crops. While Tuesday’s decision will essentially affect only food sold in California, it is presumed that because the market there is so large, manufacturers will end up labeling nationally.
Personally, I hope it passes. It is one more piece of information that will help me decide to include a food item sold in the supermarket on my family’s table. Until then, and even after, whole foods will continue to have a growing role in the food we put into our bodies.